Rebirth to Life (part 3)

What then is this new life with Christ characterized by? What is the experience of sanctification in this life? Sanctification is about a renewed experience of living, a holistic renewing that encompasses far more than the narrow, moralistic ideals so often implied by the word. Out of the work of the Spirit we are enlivened into a context of love of life. Moltmann writes, “Out stirrings toward life are experienced by God, and we experience God’s living energies. In the open air of the eternal Spirit, the new life unfurls. In the confidence of faith we plumb the depths of the Spirit, in love we explore its breadth, and in hope its open horizons. God’s Spirit is our place for living” (161) Sanctification is not an inward Pietistic renewal, but encompasses the whole of our experience and expression of life, in an interplay “between what is inward and what is outward” (161).

This growth of faith has three different expressions. The first is our growth of faith in our stages of life, our experiences confront our awareness, our beliefs intersect with our environment pushing us towards a progression in our stages of faith.

The second growth of faith is not determined by stages in some kind of linear progression, but is more about filling in gaps and pieces within a larger reality. In the Spirit we begin to see and live in an eschatological way, no longer limited to our present experiences, but rather expanding our vision in light of the Spirit’s life and love. Like new born children we see the world with a fresh perspective, beginning a life of re-learning, becoming more fully aligned with the image of Christ in us, this image that is the reality of our glorification. “Sanctification is the beginning of glorification,” Moltmann writes, “glorification is the consummation of sanctification” (163)

Third, there is a qualitative aspect to the growth of faith. This is a creative manifestation of our renewed life that expresses itself in words and actions. Growth of faith contributes to a holistic field of experiencing and contributing to life, shaped by the source of life itself (163).

From here, Moltmann moves on to a brief discussion of Luther and Wesley. For Luther (and with him, Calvin), Moltmann points out the strong emphasis on penance in their theology, which emphasizes a mortification of the self, but does not as much emphasize the more positive reality of being enlivened by the Spirit in a “daily resurrection.” This leads towards a more legalistic, medieval conception of conversion, which does not lend itself towards the idea of salvation as a positive new beginning. For this idea, Moltmann turns to Wesley, who was more interested in the continuing process of renewal (164).

Moltmann suggests that with Wesley we can see holiness not as a legalistic marker, but rather holiness means “harmony with God, happiness a person’s harmony with himself.” (165). This reality includes both internal and exocentric renewal, that leads us into harmony with others, sharing with them in their joys and fighting with them against their oppressions. He writes that the “Christian testimony must be related to the sicknesses of the given society in a healing way.” The Good News is truly, actually good news to specific settings and issues, always related to the time and context. The Spirit is not a set of idealized ethical guidelines, but the power of life with and for us leading us to continual newness of life (171).

This entry was posted in Holy Spirit, Moltmann, rebirth to life. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Rebirth to Life (part 3)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *