Monthly Archives: February 2011

We are

The model of the God who did not see his divinity something to be asserted but made himself a slave, dying on our behalf is more than a good tale of service to us; it is the model of service for us, suggesting a kenotic ecclesiology as we are the body of Christ. Indeed, “I am,” in sending the Son to us and for us, transforms us, the objects of society, into becoming a perichoretic communion, participating, in freedom, with the Triune God, lifted out of our circumstances into the fullness of community, each as our own person, expressing our true identity, as we participate in the source of all identity. “I am” transforms “us” into becoming the “we are”. We are, with I Am, a new kind of humanity, called to express this in all our lives, modeled and trained within the holistic community that is the church. In the power of the Spirit we are no longer objects to be acted upon, by oppressors or by dysfunctional systems, but rather we become ourselves the subjects of God’s continuing, transforming work.

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Resident Spirit?

So, in my quest to get away from Latin for the tiniest bit of a while, I’m turning back to reading a bit more intensely. It gets me focused on my goals again and inspires me to think there’s something to this whole theology business.

Anyway, I finally got around to reading Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon. It’s a good and interesting book overall, though I’m not quite convinced by the main ideas of the book. Which is curious, because there’s a lot of good points, and I feel like I’m definitely hovering around the same basic goals, but it doesn ‘t grab me. I’d be more specific on why, but I think I need to get a bit more Hauerwas reading in, from some of his other — more academic books — and see if a better critique forms.

Hauerwas is on the list of authors who I feel I need to become much more familiar with as I begin my dissertation this year. Bonhoeffer is another. Right now, I’m resonating a lot more with Bonhoeffer for some reason.

Maybe a reason I’m not resonating with Hauerwas is the curious little fact I noticed about Resident Aliens. The Holy Spirit is entirely lacking in the book. That’s not a spiritual judgment, it’s a note about the content. In fact, as far as I could tell the Spirit is mentioned by name, at all, only three times in the book. Two of these times comes in quotations of Biblical passages, both in Ephesians, I believe. The Spirit is mentioned in the verses, but as that’s not the point of their being quoted, I don’t count these as substantive mentions. Third time the Holy Spirit is named is in a liturgical sort of sentence in which the authors are basically saying that Christians believe in a triune God.

Sure, that’s the confession. But I don’t see the influence of this confession in the book at all. Whither the Spirit? This is interesting in any book on theology, but in a book that’s so entirely about the church and the Christian life and the Christian people, it seems absolutely curious that the Spirit is entirely ignored as a factor.

Now, I’m not suggesting some specific ways this lack of focus leads them off track. Only that it seems that ignoring the Holy Spirit, especially in a book on the church, would lead to an incomplete study and incomplete conclusions. After all, it’s precisely in the discussions on the church and the Christian life that the Spirit is discussed the most in the Bible.

I’m not sure what difference it makes for Resident Aliens, but I have to think it makes a profound difference indeed. I’m going to be thinking on this some more as I continue my reading of other texts.

This is probably, though, why I like Moltmann so much. He is much more comprehensive in getting to the important factors of theology and using these to influence his developing theology. For him the Spirit makes a significant difference not only in action but also in reflection. The Spirit matters for theology, if it is to be a truly Christian theology.

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the sin of being right

It is not only passion-charged thoughts that sully the heart and defile the soul. To be elated about one’s many achievements, to be puffed up about one’s virtue, to have a high idea of one’s wisdom and spiritual knowledge, and to criticize those who are lazy and negligent – all this has the same effect, as is clear from the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee.

—Nikitas Stithatos

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Over on Facebook, my brother made the comment that life is more about struggle than comfort. This is, no doubt, true for most of humanity throughout history. It also is something that can be taken as either a depressing comment from someone or as a sign of hope. The latter comes when having struggled, there is a pause, an arrival, an accomplishment. A long hike that gets you there and back again. A grinding schedule that arrives at a finished, creative, new product. Certainly the life God calls us to is not only about struggle. After all, God insisted that his people take at least one day off a week. To rest. To enjoy comfort in its appropriate portion.

Comfort is more relaxing and holistic after the struggle.

It’s like eating. Eating everything in sight is bad for health, but it can become an obsession. People pursue it because their appetites grow. Food only becomes satisfying in immense portions, distorting the mind and the body and the will. It becomes a drug, a way of calming a frenetic soul. Filling and filling and filling, never an end. Well, except for the much bigger rear end that results.

Eating after hard work and when you are very hungry means every morsel is a delight. Even small portions are ecstatic experiences.

Comfort when all of life is comfortable, or living a life of constant pursuit of comfort leaves a person flabby in mind and soul.

Indeed, I think there’s probably many more people who are morbidly comfortable than those who are morbidly obese.

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