Foundations of a Transformative Church

“To live is Christ,” Paul wrote to the Philippians. While this statement may take on various elements of meaning, I argue that this is not merely an ethical exhortation or a religious orientation. This is an ontological transformation in those who are participants in Christ through the Spirit with the Father. We do not lose our identity, we gain it.

In becoming transformed into the likeness of Christ we become most fully who we truly are, our identity enlivened inasmuch as it is rooted in the source of all identity, that of God. The process of this ontological transformation is the process of salvation and sanctification.

The mode of this transformation is participatory and communal, initiated by God, oriented by God, inviting us toward responsibility in responding to this transformation.

It is participatory in that we are not passively formed but formed through our contextual practices, practices that shape our response to this world, to God, to ourselves in ways that either lead us toward fulfillment in God or dissolution away from God.

This is not a salvation by works. Grace continually sustains and orients us, a free space within which we can find real freedom of being.

It is communal in that our participation is never isolated but always involves other people, and it is only in the context of other people that we learn what it means to be free as a person in the fullness of God’s identity.

~from Patrick Oden, The Transformative Church, 9-10

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