According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Monday, November 25, 2013

N.T. Wright, "Paul and the Faithfulness of God" (Vol 4) - Jewish Monotheism Leapt Towards Christology & Pneumatology

What did the Creed do to the early Christian beliefs about Jesus?

by Scot McKnight
November 14, 2013

One of the most common observations about the development of Christian theology, particularly classical orthodoxy, is that it grew, sometimes dramatically, and that those special lines in the Nicene Creed owe their origins to Greek philosophy and not the Jewish faith of those earliest followers of Jesus. Put differently, the creed is not the faith of the early Christians, especially Paul. This leads many, and I’m thinking of folks like Harnack, to prefer the simple, monotheistic and Jewish faith and orthopraxy of the 1st Century over the complex, philosophical trinitarian orthodoxy of the creed.

Many today seem to me to want to return to the pre-Creed version of our faith. What do you think? Possible? Impossible? Wise?

It appears to me that NT Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, would do more than disagree with Harnack. Listen to these lines:
Indeed, with both christology and pneumatology it seems that the normal assumption of many writers is radically mistaken. It is not the case that the New Testament is unclear or fuzzy on these subjects, and that the early Fathers invented a high view of Jesus and the spirit which was then wrongly read back into the early period. Rather, it seems as though the earliest Christians, precisely from within their second-temple Jewish monotheism, leapt without difficulty straight to an identification of both Jesus and the Spirit within the divine identity, which the early Fathers then struggled to recapture in the very different categories of hellenistic philosophy. As with christology, so with pneumatology. The idea of a ‘low’ Jewish beginning, from which a gradual ‘ascent’ was made on the dictates of Greek philosophy, is exactly wrong. The Jewish context provided the framework for a thoroughly ‘high’ christology and pneumatology, and it was the attempt to restate that within the language of hellenistic philosophy, and without the help of the key Jewish categories, that gave the impression of a difficult doctrine gradually attained (710). #boom
In particular, exactly as with christology, what strikes me as most important is what has normally been omitted from discussions. Paul uses, of the spirit, (a) language associated with the long- awaited return of YHWH to Zion, with Israel’s God coming back at last to dwell within his temple and (b) the closely related biblical language associated with YHWH being present with his people in the Exodus, leading them in their wilderness wanderings. These features indicate that, for Paul at least, the spirit was not simply a generalized or sub-personal divine force that later theology would turn into a third ‘person of the Trinity’. As far as Paul was concerned, the Spirit, just like Jesus, was doing what YHWH himself had said he would do. The Spirit was the further, and ongoing, manifestation of the personal presence of the one God (710-711). #boom
This is NT Wright’s big picture. How does he work this out? Wright sees the Spirit in the NT as the new Shekinah (presence of God in the temple) and the new Exodus. Hence…
My point can be simply stated. When Paul speaks of the individual Christian, or the whole church, as the ‘temple’ in which the spirit ‘dwells’, such language from a second-temple Jew can only mean (a) that YHWH has returned to his Temple as he had promised and (b) that the mode of this long-awaited, glorious, tabernacling presence is the spirit. If we can speak, as we have done, of a christology of divine identity, drawing on the eschatological side of second-temple monotheism, the evidence compels us to do exactly the same with pneumatology (711).
He looks at 1 Cor 3:16-176:18-202 Cor 6:14–7:1, and Eph 2:19-22 with Romans 8:9-14— these are new Shekinah passages.
What God did in the original Exodus is what God has done for the church in the Spirit.
All of this, then, leads Wright to see “nascent trinitarian monotheism” (721). He sees those Jewish categories as “more helpful” than later Greek philosophical categories.
2 Cor 13:13 is the hard earned theology of Paul.
Kingdom language, with Jesus as the one who secured victory, is the same idea: what was God’s work in the OT is the work of Jesus in the NT. Hence he looks at 1 Cor 15:20-28
That is why, as we shall see in the next chapter, Paul’s hailing of Jesus precisely as Messiah is so important –and why, we may suppose, that category has for so long been thoroughly out of fashion in New Testament scholarship. Without pre-empting our later discussion, we may just say this: where theologians concentrated their efforts on the task either of demonstrating Jesus’ ‘divinity’ or of questioning it (or, at least, of questioning whether it was present in the earliest Christian sources), the category of Messiahship seemed irrelevant. It was Jewish; it was political; what role could it play in Paul’s ‘Christian’ theology? How could it befitted in with the obviously central theme, that of the crucifixion? But such a way of thinking (which has now in any case run into the sand) comes nowhere near the rich integration of themes in Paul’s actual letters. This, in fact, is where the present chapter and the next two are tied tightly together. It is because the redefinition of monotheism we find in Paul focuses on Jesus in order to highlight the inauguration of God’s kingdom in and through him, particularly through his crucifixion that we are forced to put the category of Messiahship back where it belongs, right at the centre of Paul’s thought.348 The kingdom has been inaugurated through the work of Jesus, who, both as the embodiment of Israel’s God and as the single bearer of Israel’s destiny, has defeated the old enemy, has accomplished the new Exodus, and is now, by his spirit, leading his people to their inheritance – not, of course, ‘heaven’, but the reclaiming of all creation (734-735).

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