From Cult to Culture

How to get around the Bible:

The priesthood in the Old Testament was a bloody business. On the eve of the Exodus, God commands the Israelites to slaughter lambs and paint the doorposts with blood in preparation for the Angel-of-Death Passover. The sacrificial rituals by Old Testament priests included the butchering of lambs and goats.

In the Book of Leviticus we see the priests slaughtering a goat for purposes of atonement and, after the laying of hands, the release or escape of a companion goat into the desert, carrying with him the sins of the people. This is where the word “scapegoat” came from. (In response to the Protestant denial of the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the Church inserted the “laying on of hands” gesture over the bread and wine before the Consecration to remind us that Christ is the sacrificial “scapegoat” of our sins.)

A significant teaching of the Book of Hebrews is that, in Christ, the old priesthood has come to an end. It is no longer necessary for priests to enter into the Temple again and again to offer their bloody sacrifices in atonement for the sins of the people. Why? Because Christ – the Lamb of God – suffered and died, once and for all, for our redemption and salvation. Thus there is no need for repetition of the bloody sacrifices of old.

But why then do we offer the Sacrifice of the Mass every day, throughout the world and throughout history? At first glance, it seems to be a violation of the teachings of the Book of Hebrews. But remember, the Mass is an unbloody sacrifice. Through the Mass we participate here and now in that single bloody sacrifice of Christ – and we also mystically participate in His glorious Resurrection. The key word is “participation” not “repetition.” We do not repeat the Sacrifice. We enter into the one Sacrifice during Mass. It is as if we reach into the heavens (Pope Benedict uses the term “celestial liturgy”) and find ourselves at the foot of the Cross in history – then, finally, encountering the risen Christ.

Why can’t the regeneration of the Holy Spirit do the same thing? And if believers are temples of the Holy Spirit, they have the transforming power of God all the time, even when they cross the street.

But what about transforming culture? The Mass does that too.

This is why the Mass as a ritual cult is so essential. We truly, mysteriously and mystically enter into the sacred events of our salvation. In Communion with Christ, we are transformed and sent forth into the world. And through us our culture is transformed because of our participation in the cult of the Mass.

Imagine simply following the apostles. No more sacramental meat. Assimilation to the Empire.

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54 thoughts on “From Cult to Culture

  1. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t understand how the Mass can be considered an “unbloody sacrifice” when it is carried out by a group of people who believe in transubstantiation, mystery or no mystery.

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  2. Yeah, and why get so excited about “bleeding” statues and images? What is transubstantiation if the wine is not turned into real blood? Scam.

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  3. “If medieval Catholic theology had the bathtub of grace filling up the faithful at the Mass, modern Catholic theology has said grace leaking out their finger tips to transform society.”

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  4. As with many of these RC arguments, it’s not that it’s not possible in the sense that one could theorize and come up with a coherent argument, it’s that it departs from or adds on or takes away from the actual apostolic tradition we do have. And that’s a problem when you your shingle says, “The House of Apostolic Succession”. Actually that sounds like a likely name for a Pentecostal church.

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  5. All things aside, this is simply a terrible understanding of sacrifice in Leviticus. The author really should have consulted experts in the field before he wrote about the nature of sacrifice. How one understands sacrifice in Leviticus will then inform the ways in which it is transformed by Christ’s self-sacrifice (technically, I suppose, we should reverse this hermeneutical process by reading Leviticus Christologically, but I’m playing by the historical-cultural critical method employed by the author) and what this has to do with Eucharistic worship and with man’s relationship to/communion with God.

    “Why can’t the regeneration of the Holy Spirit do the same thing?”
    I have no desire to argue about the reality of Mysteries, but it may be interesting to note that at the Epiclesis (the calling down of the Holy Spirit from on high), the Holy Spirit is invoked to transform the bread and wine to the Flesh and Blood of Christ. Not really what you’re objection is about, I know, but the Holy Spirit is involved here, and I find that interesting.

    “And if believers are temples of the Holy Spirit, they have the transforming power of God all the time, even when they cross the street.”
    ***Again, not to argue for the Real Presence, but from it (question begging, I know), but if one believes that Christ does indeed abide in the believer and the believer in Christ through the Eucharist, and if this gift is brought to us via the Holy Spirit, then we are indeed Temples of the Most High. Again, my observations aren’t meant as any sort of trump card at all, but a way of demonstrating that the Eucharist is doing something similar to what you’re asking.

    I don’t really do apologetics (Darryl knows this), so if you’re looking for a debate, I’m really the wrong guy. I like sharing information and insights and prefer to be left to my heretical ways, and to leave others to theirs–but much better informed afterwards. In short, I’m really not here for a fight. Sorry.

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  6. They don’t need to be in Fatima. There was an amassed interest in the Chicago area a few years ago by those who saw her image in the limestone deposits from water seeping down the inside of a freeway overpass abutment – until the DOT workers came along and sandblasted it away to keep the gawkers from getting run over by adjacent traffic. Maybe a little more sandblasting here and there and a few other places would do some good, as well.

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  7. Justin, it’s ok. Most of us don’t bite and as far as I know, we’ve all had our shots. Still, Detroit is in the area. I can’t vouch for what comes out of Detroit. So, Justin, we’re back to magic. The priest does his incantation, we eat the magic product and we’re magically transformed. Just like with the RC’s I can make it work, I just can’t get it back to the inscripturated tradtion.

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  8. I’m not afraid of scrapes. I just find apologetics mind-numbing; no one gets anywhere because there’s so much to unpack, so many paradigms to sift through, so many questions to unbeg. Est quod est.

    Ah, yes, the old Hocus Pocus (hoc est corpus meum). Yeah, I guess I wouldn’t phrase it the way the Baltimore Catechism does.
    “Q. 893. How do the priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of
    Christ?
    A. The priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ through the
    words of consecration in the Mass, which are words of Christ: “This is my body; this is my blood.”

    Of course you’re aware that not all sacramental churches rely on the priest’s words as the vehicle for change. Again, see Epiclesis at the Anaphora. It’s all God’s doing. Though I find it lacking in a fullness of participation in the Divine, I’ve always appreciated an understanding communion/Lord’s Supper to be symbolic. If we understand symbolic as a “bringing of things together” (opposed to diabolic–a rending apart), then I can appreciate the commemorative effect of what’s going on. Often “symbol” in this context comes to mean something like, “not real,” but I think that’s a weak understanding and would think most who believe in a symbolic Lord’s Supper (or whatever it may be called–again, my ignorance in this stuff is staggering) see something as very real taking place.

    Anyway, what I really wanted to say was that I’ve always enjoyed my trips to Detroit–where the weak get eaten.

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  9. Justin, If the Mass does what the Holy Spirit does, does the Mass wear off? Why receive it more than once? The Holy Spirit comes only once and stays.

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  10. Darryl,

    I’ll be descriptive and not apologetic; I’m assuming you ask the question because you don’t know. How the Holy Spirit works, I don’t know. How the mystery of salvation works, I don’t know. There are lots of things I don’t know in the economy of salvation and simply live by faith, believing Christ has conquered death and desires my salvation.

    I won’t speak for the Mass but for Liturgy. I don’t quite know what you mean by does the Mass/Liturgy wear off? Do you mean the consumed Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ (oh the medieval debates over this one; Luther is also an interesting case)? Gosh, I think your question could be pushed back even more. Why have communion if one is Baptized into the death and Resurrection of Christ. The Holy Spirit is there both at the Baptism and the Chrismation. These are gifts of the Church founded by the Holy Spirit for believers to have a life grafted onto Christ who then unites us to the Father. It’s all economically Trinitarian. So why do we even have to have the Eucharist if by Baptism we are united to Christ? This is a gift of the Church, to unite us in the hear and now to the eschatological reality to come. So we are both living with the Spirit (“who is everywhere and fills all things”–a common prayer recited a number of times throughout the day) and united to Christ, and we keep doing this continually even though at Baptism we’ve already done so–having been justified by Christ in Baptism. We also have Confession/Repentance for when we turn out backs on Christ. The Sacrament of Confession then is also a uniting force. Through Baptism and Chrismation one is united to Christ and Confession and Eucharist (and Marriage and Unction).

    So it’s not a matter of these Mysteries being there and then not being there (at Baptism one is made alive with Christ) but about their continually being there and then our continually participating in them. Life in the Church is the saturation of the gift (that ought to drive some of your readers to vomit a little in their mouths). You’ll note that there is no assurance of salvation here–for good or for ill.

    I suppose the same question could be asked of you, right? If you’re filled with the Spirit, then why go to church at all or read Scripture? I’m going to assume that it’s because that the Spirit continually reveals itself in the life of your church and points us to Scripture in order to point to Christ. The Spirit always points us to Christ, the salvation of the world. So you go to listen to Scripture and a pastor give you the teaching of the day. But if I asked the question you ask, then it would look something like, “why do you need any of this if the Spirit has done it’s work. Scripture should be obvious and your life in Christ complete since the Spirit ought to move you in that direction continually.” I wouldn’t ask, because I assume the Spirit works in your tradition in a similar way to my own: to move us to Christ, which is what I assume every Christian denomination would teach, though each will have very different expressions of this economic activity.

    I should say that all of the above is predicated upon some notion of sanctification.

    Will there be a cigar for the Saturday walk? What kind? I’m still in Lent and will live vicariously through you.

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  11. Justin, how come real presence get the short shrift when we emphasize the spiritual over the carnal? Seems an odd thing for people who believe so earnestly in the Holy Spirit? But, I have to say it still looks like magic to me. I’ll leave the deification alone, for now. More magic stuff.

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  12. Sean,
    “Justin, how come real presence get the short shrift when we emphasize the spiritual over the carnal?”
    ***I don’t understand this question.
    So I don’t have the context for “Seems an odd thing for people who believe so earnestly in the Holy Spirit? ”
    So I don’t know what “it” refers to here: “But, I have to say it still looks like magic to me.”
    “I’ll leave the deification alone, for now. More magic stuff.”
    ***Then lots of different denominations practice magic stuff, which doesn’t negate your claim at all. Perhaps what you call “magic” is what I refered to when I say I don’t know How the Holy Spirit woks. I also don’t know how an uncircumscribable God became circumscribed, how the Uncreated came down and became created, how the uncontainable became contained in a virgin’s womb. Hell, it all seems like magic to me. I can’t explain any of it, not even how something is created out of nothing.

    Ye are a god, Sean, son of the most high, a partaker of the divine nature. Ha!

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  13. Justin, you seemed to go with symbolic(us) as counter, while still trying to rescue it as ‘something real'(I appreciate the generosity). But, what if the real is actually the spiritual(our actual position-feed spiritually through faith) and the carnal(rc, eo, lutheran) is the pretend(magic-thus the pageantry, for example). The spiritual rendering would seem to make the most sense of John 6:58-65, or the discourse with Thomas(blessed are those who haven’t seen, necessary that I must go that another may come), or, on the macro level the devolution from Temple(elablorate, pageant, priesthood-formal, from visual and spatial to without tongue, race or temple). It would seem Paul spends much of his ministry explaining this devolution as fulfillment while also arguing the reality of the invisible and the return of sight(no more need of faith) in glory. But for now, we have meagerness-pilgrim church(Hebrews-waiting in tents for a heavenly city). Too much there to unpack it all in a combox and keep it from being a treatise but that’s the general idea of the polemic-Sorry for that. We don’t like living by faith we want the visual, the pageant and the carnal(stuff I eat that I can handle and see -Thomas that bypasses faith or even changes me-deification, or in our circles, immanentizes the eschaton-social justice/christendom.

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  14. Sean,
    I see now. Thanks. I have no desire to start quoting Scripture to prove some doctrinal point; as you note, to many questions to be unbegged. I would say, however, that an overemphasis on the spiritual side seems to diminish Christ and our life in the New Adam. We are creations of body and soul, and Christ assumed the whole Old Adam. We are Baptized into the person of Christ, not simply Christ’s spiritual aspects of His human nature. If our body is not grafted onto Christ, then we are not resurrected bodily unto him and do not get to participate in that eschatological reality that Thomas witnessed–the spiritual body of resurrected Christ. Christ Himself was baptized, fully immersed for all of those who followed. He didn’t need ablution, for He had no sin. But He bodily (and ensouled) underwent immersion so that we could in all of our humanness. In all of this I don’t mean to overemphasize the body; I’m just trying to assert its role in our salvation.

    “But, what if the real is actually the spiritual(our actual position-feed spiritually through faith) and the carnal(rc, eo, lutheran) is the pretend(magic-thus the pageantry, for example).”
    ***On a historical note, and I’m certainly no charging you with this, this position seems to have Docetic echoes (sounds like a Pink Floyd album)–that while Christ SEEMED to be human, this was all semblance without any reality. The Church fought against this position because if there is no REAL humanity of Christ, then, quite simply, there is no salvation for man, because what Christ did not assume He did not heal.
    “deification, or in our circles, immanentizes the eschaton-social justice/christendom.”
    ***Well, that’s simply a different ordo than what I employ: it seems in this sentence above that you begin with a political position (2K) and then filter your theology through this. You may not have meant this and would reorder it the other way. In other words, you reject a teaching of deification because it may have consequences in the political realm. That’s fine. But I’m not sure this has to be true: there are a number of Orthodox thinkers (and even priests) who do work with the Acton Institute (blech!). I mention this simply because these individuals would accept a doctrine of theosis/deification and still not get into social justice. They get Jesus and the free market. Hurray!!!!!

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  15. Justin, I don’t think there’s any denying of the dichotomy(body and soul) but doesn’t the glorification of the body await the resurrection, while in this life it undergoes decay? Again isn’t that part of the eschatological tension of the Already-not yet? Now, I’m rounding back to my immanentizing the eschaton critique. We don’t like this pilgrim existence, we want Thomas’ experience not ours. We want sight, now.
    .
    Not much I can say but no Docetism meant. This life and body are good just not holy, anymore,-see the fall. Tragedy of the splintering of cult and culture in Eden. Though even that wasn’t glory but probationary, penultimate.

    I can see where you’d think that about the deification transition. Not really my intent, though I have a 2k lens, church distinct from state, primarily. I meant more a rejection of deification(sorry) but still seeing it as an attempt to bring glory down. A premature termination of this pilgrim state(being on this side of glory). Illegitimate attempts to try to ease the tension of the Already-not yet.

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  16. Justin, saw Bruce this a.m. Sorry to make him bark, but he’s well behaved and won’t cross that one seam in the driveway.

    I see your point and agree in the main with the ongoing work of the Spirit through the means of grace. I’m mainly pushing back — get this — on the way RC’s talk about finally coming to Jesus in the Mass, as if we don’t have Jesus through the work of the Spirit in a (no pun) host of ways. It’s the RC triumphalism that drives this question, as if I have Christ in my mouth and then, well, I better get back to Mass tonight. It’s a mechanical and magical view.

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  17. Justin, is it possible to take Sean’s view of the spiritual over the physical because the whole Christ went awol physically from this world and is preparing a home for his people — where that home will be is a mystery but Peter seems to think this one is going to be not drowned but toast. So it’s not docetic to look beyond what we see because the physical Christ can’t be seen and we are hoping to be with him in the new heavens and earth. This world is passing away, which makes it easier to embrace the suck rather than turning the city or Europe or aerobics into a sacrament.

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  18. Hi Justin,

    Even though you don’t call it “doing apologetics”,I appreciate your input. It’s refreshing.
    You’re something of an enigma though, as your knowledge is darn good ( even though I disagree with your thoughts conceding it),but your writing style is sort of anachronistic. I get the impression of Stephan Fry but who can’t spell or use mechanics. Still, your presence feels somewhat like a truce.
    You can have wine and oil tomorrow even though you can’t enjoy a good cigar! A very blessed Lent to you:)

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  19. My apologies, Justin, concerning your spelling and mechanics. I must have mixed it with someone else’s that I read earlier:)

    My only disagreement with you is about what constitutes the church, of course.
    Everything else you said is well said!

    You have interesting and likeable neighbors, Darryl.

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  20. Darryl (and I think I this may answer Sean too),
    Bruce is a good dog–scary looking as hell–but he likes his barking and protecting the property. We find UPS boxes in the just on the other side of the sidewalk because the delivery driver wants nothing to do with him, whereas various neighborhood kids come walking through to play with him. Our cat HATES him, but I have him trained as if the cat has a seam about five read around him.

    “is it possible to take Sean’s view of the spiritual over the physical because the whole Christ went awol physically from this world and is preparing a home for his people”
    ***I’m not comfortable with the language of spiritual OVER the physical. As you point out, Christ resurrected IS physical/in the body, or else salvation is a lie. Now this may be a spiritual body, of course, as our Scriptures depict it, but it is a body nonetheless that can be felt (Thomas) and that can eat. If Christ is a Divine Person (and we both agree He is), then His person is of two natures–Divine and human. And if His person has both Divine and human natures, then he too is physical (in a new spiritual resurrected way, but physical/bodily nonetheless). And I have to imagine that the two of us agree on these terms, far more than less. So I’d grant your point above. But . . .

    But he also sent the Holy Spirit. And then the whole establishing of the Church thing, with baptism explicitly uniting us to Christ physically and, I would argue, with an eye both towards the spiritual reality you argue for above, but also an eschatological already-not-yet; see Romans 6.4-13ish not as a proof text at all but just so you can see where I’m coming from. But all of this brings us back to the question about whether this Church is physical, spiritual, etc. And then we’re back at square one and citing Scripture, etc. We know where we both stand, and neither of us can stand triumphalism.

    “and is preparing a home for his people”
    ***I’d rewrite this “has prepared a home for his people.”

    “So it’s not docetic to look beyond what we see because the physical Christ can’t be seen and we are hoping to be with him in the new heavens and earth. ”
    ***I agree. Docetism is predicated upon Christ’s physicality being a mere semblance, not really a body. But if we look beyond what we see, then we have to imagine, I think, that we “see” (with our noetic faculty no doubt) in His Divine person Christ crucified, resurrected, and ascended sitting at the right hand of the Father. This is the eschaton. Of course, this consciousness of the physicality of that spiritual reality then means we can do all things with the physical world in trying imagine that spiritual reality. Scripture, hymns, icons. I say this not as an argument; indeed, our understandings about these things no doubt demonstrate why my parish has icons and crosses all over the walls and incense always burning. The physical becomes the vehicle through which we come to the spiritual reality (physically spiritual? spiritually physical?) you describe. These things would never be mistaken for the Divine but simply act as pointers to a spiritual reality which we anticipate and which we will experience bodily-spiritually.

    Does this physical-spiritual approach risk superstition, magic, and even idolatry? Yes, no doubt. But I think the approach you describe risks an impoverishment of the fullness of God becoming man, the fullness of a rich Christology–not only Christ crucified, but resurrected and ascended. Again, I don’t mean to say that what you describe is inherently impoverished any more than I would say that what I describe is inherently magical (though Sean thinks so) or idolatrous.

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  21. Susan,
    My writing is as poor as my theology. I’m really not interested in apologetics. I read Darryl and others here because I have students who ascribe to these same beliefs. How can I understand and explain things to students (who aren’t nearly as well-read or articulate as others here) if I don’t know where they’re coming from? I explain my position so that Darryl can clarify his own, and so that we can come to a clearer understanding of where we agree and differ. It makes conversations much more interesting. I don’t engage others here so that they’ll admit I’m correct and sure as heck not so they’ll convert to Orthodoxy. People here are knowledgeable, so I can learn something.

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  22. Justin,

    “My writing is as poor as my theology. ”

    No -no -no, I was mistaken. You are interesting.
    Maybe my copy of Imprimus will have something you’ve written some day:)

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  23. “Maybe my copy of Imprimus will have something you’ve written some day:)”
    ***That will be the day Darryl kisses an icon of the Theotokos.

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  24. Justin, if you keep talking and if the OPC ever goes all PCUSA, maybe I could worship with you.

    Where we part company for now is likely on Scripture. Sure, I can do a village atheist routine and ask where are icons in the Bible (and I don’t expect you to respond)? But if I could be really clever and smart I might go logocentric and talk about Christ as the eternal logos, how he reveals himself by his Spirit in the inscripturated word, and so words hearing and saying have a sacramental quality that comes even closer to the second person of the Triune God than any wafer or icon could.

    But I’d need to be smart to do that.

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  25. Justin, thanks for the response and here’s the crisis;
    “These things would never be mistaken for the Divine but simply act as pointers to a spiritual reality which we anticipate and which we will experience bodily-spiritually.

    Does this physical-spiritual approach risk superstition, magic, and even idolatry? Yes, no doubt. But I think the approach you describe risks an impoverishment of the fullness of God becoming man, the fullness of a rich Christology–not only Christ crucified, but resurrected and ascended”

    This is where I zig away from what’s possible, I can make your setup work after a fashion, and zag toward what was prescribed in apostolic tradition(lots of question begging, I know). But, speaking as a cradle RC, now protestant, with family bridging the Vat II divide and raised among good intentioned spirituality with little or no scriptural warrant, the good intentions always eclipse and eventually distort the reality, not maximize the meagerness. But that takes us into pitting scripture vs. tradition and interpretation and you’ve noted that’s not what you’re really signed up for, but I’d thought I’d give some pushback.

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  26. Darryl (and, Sean, this response will both elude to and amplify your crisis above–Scripture v. Tradition; I recognize the tension and appreciate your pointing it out and noting both the necessity we engage it but the mind-numbing opening and middle gambits that have been played out so fruitlessly in the past),

    “But if I could be really clever and smart I might go logocentric and talk about Christ as the eternal logos, how he reveals himself by his Spirit in the inscripturated word, and so words hearing and saying have a sacramental quality that comes even closer to the second person of the Triune God than any wafer or icon could.”
    *** Well, neither of us is none too bright, but we should be able to cobble together something here. I’ll throw out the first meatball, and you knock it out of the park. I’ll jot down a few ideas to move us forward, and you can correct, add to, pretend they never existed, and/or tweak all of my missteps.

    Yes, to being logocentric, but I guess I’m not sure why we wouldn’t simply be Christocentric or even, since we’re talking about Scripture, Christotelic. I keep trying to bring Christ into our discussions because I believe all theology is Christology, and He’s the quickest way to unite us in agreement and then to show us where we disagree in the most fundamental aspect of Christian theology. So, yes, let’s be Christocentric, the sceonf person of the Trinity, the Logos made flesh, who reveals the will of the Father, the icon of the Father Himself.

    “how he reveals himself by his Spirit in the inscripturated word”
    Yes to this. Your obvious play here is on word–logos. But that word is NOT the same as Christ, the Logos incarnate. It is merely (in the truest sense of the word–Ha!!!) an icon of Christ. Scripture is not Christ himself. That is Muslim teaching, not Christian. Language is a limping gift of God that points us to God and allows us to know ABOUT Him (sorry for the caps–just trying to add emphasis and not yelling) but this is a limited knowledge. The highest way of knowing, which doesn’t exclude the rational faculty, is relational. So . . .

    “so words hearing and saying have a sacramental quality”
    ***I’m a bit nervous with this. Sacrament/Mystery means something very particular in my tradition. I would say iconic and leave it at that. Mystery always points to something participatory, relational. And as much as I love Scripture (I teach biblical narrative and poetics; much of my scholarly output concerns itself with historical exegesis and theopoetics from the ancient Church to the Middle Ages; I mention this not to pretend I’m an expert but simply that I love Scripture and am moved by it–perhaps even in a relational way). So . . .

    “that comes even closer to the second person of the Triune God than any wafer or icon could.”
    ***And this is where you and I will parse things and probably just disagree. But I do want to gain your understanding of Scripture here. You are equating it, at least from the way in which you see its connection to Christ Himself (Eucharist), with God. I’m wondering how far you push this. I can’t imagine you mean this literally. So let me start with your second item: that Scripture comes closer to Christ than an icon. Well, for me Scripture is an icon, the greatest icon, an image of God but most certainly not God himself. Scripture is not participatory the way in which Baptism or Communion is. And maybe Baptism is our best gloss here. Do you see Scripture as uniting you to God more closely than Baptism does? Is Baptism more efficacious in the way in which it’s spoken about IN Scripture than it is in your life in Christ? For me it’s not even close. The Holy Spirit inspires Scripture, but He literally/really unites me to Christ in Baptism (again, see Romans 6.4-13ish). Scripture is an icon that fleshes out God (sorry, I couldn’t resist) more fully than any other icon (again, unless we take Christ as an icon of the Father). But, for me, epistemologically (i.e., the way in which we know God), it is not close to the Mysteries, the Eucharist most especially, in which we abide in Christ and He in us. Again, I don’t expect you to accept my understanding here. But, all things considered, if we lived in two different universes that crossed paths so that we could see both simultaneously, where both of our ideas could be true, I’d still say that a knowledge of God in which we consume Him and He literally lives within us is a far greater “knowledge” than one of Scripture. What I offer as knowledge is an eschatological knowledge of God, communion, partial of course, already but not yet fully. By the way, the Orthodox don’t use wafers. We use loaf/loaves of bread (with azymes to iconically represent the resurrection) mixed with wine in the chalice.

    What you seem to presented as worship of Christ, if we put it in Jewish terms, is purely synagogal–Scriptural readings that point to the Temple and liturgical relationship with God or to the messiah who is to come. But now that Christ the Messiah has fulfilled all of Scripture we must move past both synagogal and Temple (animal sacrificial–which was my original objection to the horrible gloss if the original post) worship and into Israel assumed and transformed and taken up to the eschaton and celebrated (as it is in Saint John’s Revelation). The liturgical worship as depicted in Revelation is always already being celebrated, and we are called to join in (as the martyrs do in the text). In short, we can read about that liturgical celebration, or we can join in–here and now, in a limited way of course, to be experienced even more fully when we die, and at its fullest at the second coming.

    Please, again, all of this is an argument from an (not THE–I’m not sure what that is) Orthodox position and not an argument TO it.

    Thanks for putting this out here, Darryl.

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  27. Sorry about all of the typos above. Composing on a different machine that 1) doesn’t have a spell-check in default mode and 2) has a change the word function. Why would anyone want to compose in this manner. I just noticed all of my other posts are composed in this manner. Ugh.
    “Elude to” and “allude to”–just shoot me in the face.
    “sceonf”–that pidgin for second (and now that I have spell-check turned on and auto-replace off, there is a red squigly line underneath.

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  28. Justin, not much time before Sunday school but the reason for thinking Jesus is closer to Scripture than the sacraments is John 1 with all that stuff about the word of God becoming flesh. It’s been a long time since my intro theology classes, but I seem to recall something about Christ revealing the father in ways comparable to Scripture (Road to Emmaus and all) and hence the affinities between the word incarnate and inscripturated. Thus my sola scriptura Protestant sensibilities.

    As for worship, I’m not sure Revelation is the best place to go since read literally we might have lambs on thrones and seven-headed beasts. Anyway, at that point, we will be in the company of the lamb. But for now, while we’re in exile, the synagogue works pretty well.

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  29. I trust Sunday school went well.

    “but I seem to recall something about Christ revealing the father in ways comparable to Scripture (Road to Emmaus and all) and hence the affinities between the word incarnate and inscripturated.”
    ***Well, yes, OK. Christ is the icon of God. But he’s also homoousios (of one essence). Your analogy of Christ to Scripture or His being inscripturated breaks down here, I think. So it may be comparable, but it’s not identical (which of course you know). We too are made in the icon of God, but that too is “comparable” and not homoousios.

    So when you refer to the “affinities” between the Logos incarnate (Christ) and the logos, well, that is the precise definition of an icon that is not homoousios and thus not particpatory. We share our nature with Christ and thus participate. All sorts of Sacraments are participatory in their exercise.

    I’ll ask this again t because I’m curious how far you’d push your analogy here and how you view Baptism (from above): “Scripture is not participatory the way in which Baptism or Communion is. And maybe Baptism is our best gloss here. Do you see Scripture as uniting you to God more closely than Baptism does? Is Baptism more efficacious in the way in which it’s spoken about IN Scripture than it is in your life in Christ? For me it’s not even close. The Holy Spirit inspires Scripture, but He literally/really unites me to Christ in Baptism (again, see Romans 6.4-13ish).”

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  30. Sorry, this is perhaps a bit vague: “OK. Christ is the icon of God. But he’s also homoousios (of one essence).”
    ***Because the will is a faculty of nature, Christ shares a will with the Father. Thus, whatever Christ wills, we can say the Father wills. This is the way in which Christ reveals the Father.

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  31. Justin, I want to tie in to your thread of participation but rather than setting Baptism against scripture as a more organic, intended or even better participation, I want to set up faith as the means of participation/identification with Christ and that faith as being peculiarly/uniquely animated from the prophetic word(there’s your christotelic thrust-prophetic word as redemptive history). How about a doxology of the ‘sacramental’ preeminence of the prophetic writings and even more precisely those writings preached.

    Rom 16: 25

    25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

    And here, again, this is done purposely in a prescriptive manner as to shame even the religious intentions of a fallen creation and establish God’s wisdom and power through a means of weakness, even foolishness to an unregenerate, fallen world

    1 Cor,
    13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

    Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom

    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

    20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

    I get the appeal of pageant and sacramental intention(other than preached word) as a better participation, I just don’t find it’s support in scripture.

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  32. Sean,
    Thanks for this. Good stuff.
    “I want to tie in to your thread of participation but rather than setting Baptism against scripture as a more organic,”
    ***I didn’t intend to set the two against one another: I was responding to Darryl’s putting Scripture “over” (his words) a wafer (which is sacramental, as you well know). I used Baptism simply because, I assume, this would be something we share in belief (perhaps not; I shall again admit my ignorance on many things Reformed). I don’t see Scripture as participatory, but as iconic (a status which I hold in HIGH regard, as you know). But it is not participatory, uniting us to God, as does Baptism or Eucharist (though I realize the latter does not have the same status in Reformed tradition). Again, for me, this is not one-upmanship. We have different/competing narratives, but i don’t mean to compete but simply illumine the differences and, simultaneously, perhaps what we share (Gasp!).

    “I want to set up faith as the means of participation/identification with Christ and that faith as being peculiarly/uniquely animated from the prophetic word(there’s your christotelic thrust-prophetic word as redemptive history).”
    ***Yes, to much of this. Yes!!!! tot this: “faith as the means of participation/identification with Christ.” Now it’s simply a matter of what “faith” means. Is it simply a hermeneutic? An intellectual ascent? So . . .
    ***”faith as being peculiarly/uniquely animated from the prophetic word(there’s your christotelic thrust-prophetic word as redemptive history).”
    ***But the prophetic has already been accomplishes. Christ Incarnate, Crucified, Resurrected, and Ascended. But I live in the reality of this eschatological act. I don’t need to keep coming back to Scripture to “prove” this. Now Scripture adds to this eschatological fact and points to Christ in the life of the Church. You may know this and, if not, find it interesting: there’s an oft-stated hierarchy of books of the New Testament in the ancient Church based on this. Gospel of John, Pauline letters, synoptics, others. I find that interesting because Saint John really teases out theological implications of Christ Incarnate, Crucified, Resurrected, and Ascended. And Paul also teases these things out.

    But the hierarchy reveals one thing, I think: once one is in the Church and past the catechesis stage, then there is something rich eschatologically in the life of faith.

    “I get the appeal of pageant and sacramental intention(other than preached word) as a better participation, I just don’t find it’s support in scripture.:
    ***I know. It’s just an exercise in begging the question for me. You guys have been great about avoiding the sola Scriptura first principle in our interaction, and I have resisted tradition and/or history. I appreciate your patience. We may get around to it, I suppose. But I much rather a rich conversation of looking at biblical texts with all questions begged and starting with the other guy’s first principles than trying to argue for my own so that someone will read from them. I like reading Scripture from your first premises so that I can see where they really differ from my own (and are really horribly wrong:-)).

    Finally, I brought up Romans and Baptism, specifically 6.4-13ish and would love to know how you read this. I think it’s obviously participatory and, even more to the point for our particular discussion, how it in fact reveals the eschatological already-not-yet (and of course your own eschaton not of this world–and I agree with your reading here; I just want to add a little but more–just a little bit).

    Thanks, Sean.

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  33. Ugh. Sorry, Sean. I should have noted that my repeated emphasis on Christ Incarnated, Crucified, Resurrected, and Ascended is simply an expansion on your “Christ crucified.” Christ any of those things always implies the other in my estimation, so I just wanted to make that explicit. Maybe you think Christ crucified is sufficient, but that would be a really, really odd theological claim, and I can’t imagine that’s what you implied. But my expansion was not intended to imply any deficiency in “Christ crucified” but to express the fullness of that phrase.

    I have problems. Obviously.

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  34. @Justin – not to butt in (who am I kidding, of course I’m butting in), you wrote,

    I used Baptism simply because, I assume, this would be something we share in belief (perhaps not; I shall again admit my ignorance on many things Reformed). I don’t see Scripture as participatory, but as iconic (a status which I hold in HIGH regard, as you know). But it is not participatory, uniting us to God, as does Baptism or Eucharist (though I realize the latter does not have the same status in Reformed tradition).

    I thought you might find the following tidbits from the Belgic Confession about the sacraments helpful if only to clarify where our traditions diverge (as opposed to those of baptists and evangelicals who have a different understanding of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper):

    On the sacraments:

    We believe that our good God, mindful of our crudeness and weakness, has ordained sacraments for us to seal his promises in us, to pledge good will and grace toward us, and also to nourish and sustain our faith…by means of which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    On baptism:

    By it we are received into God’s church and set apart from all other people and alien religions, that we may wholly belong to him whose mark and sign we bear. Baptism also witnesses to us that God, being our gracious Father, will be our God forever.

    On the Lord’s Supper (probably pasted too much tl;dr: participatory, real presence – spiritual not physical…yet):

    We believe and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ has ordained and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Supper to nourish and sustain those who are already regenerated and ingrafted into his family, which is his church.

    Now those who are born again have two lives in them. The one is physical and temporal— they have it from the moment of their first birth, and it is common to all. The other is spiritual and heavenly, and is given them in their second birth— it comes through the Word of the gospel in the communion of the body of Christ; and this life is common to God’s elect only. Thus, to support the physical and earthly life God has prescribed for us an appropriate earthly and material bread, which is as common to all people as life itself. But to maintain the spiritual and heavenly life that belongs to believers, God has sent a living bread that came down from heaven: namely Jesus Christ, who nourishes and maintains the spiritual life of believers when eaten— that is, when appropriated and received spiritually by faith.

    To represent to us this spiritual and heavenly bread Christ has instituted an earthly and visible bread as the sacrament of his body and wine as the sacrament of his blood.He did this to testify to us that just as truly as we take and hold the sacrament in our hands and eat and drink it with our mouths, by which our life is then sustained, so truly we receive into our souls, for our spiritual life, the true body and true blood of Christ, our only Savior. We receive these by faith, which is the hand and mouth of our souls.

    Now it is certain that Jesus Christ did not prescribe his sacraments for us in vain, since he works in us all he represents
    by these holy signs, although the manner in which he does it goes beyond our understanding and is incomprehensible to us, just as the operation of God’s Spirit is hidden and incomprehensible. Yet we do not go wrong when we say that what is eaten is Christ’s own natural body and what is drunk is his own blood— but the manner in which we eat it is not by the mouth, but by the Spirit through faith. In that way Jesus Christ remains always seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven— but he never refrains on that account to communicate himself to us through faith.

    This banquet is a spiritual table at which Christ communicates himself to us with all his benefits. At that table he makes us enjoy himself as much as the merits of his suffering and death, as he nourishes, strengthens, and comforts our poor, desolate souls by the eating of his flesh, and relieves and renews them by the drinking of his blood.

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  35. Here:
    *******”“I get the appeal of pageant and sacramental intention(other than preached word) as a better participation, I just don’t find it’s support in scripture.”
    ***I know. It’s just an exercise in begging the question for me. Another ugh on my part. This is ambiguous: “It’s just an exercise in begging the question for me.”**************

    ***Sorry, this too is unclear. I simply mean that in my post and all that I write *I*, not you, am begging the question. I prefer to be the one begging than accusing others of doing so. My first gesture is to read from my tradition and to allow others to do so from theirs (usually because I am so damned ignorant that I wouldn’t try to speak for them).

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  36. Sean,

    Thanks so much for these statements. It saves me hours of sifting. Others may shudder, but I think there is much here we can share; it just depends (and it may not matter to anyone–present parties included–that we share anything). So I’ll parse these excerpts (in English; I’m pretty fluent in multiple languages, so if you have them in the original, I can probably make my way through them).

    On Baptism:
    ***I find all of this very *doable* and find Darryl’s previous placement of Scripture over ALL Sacraments problematic (again, I’m a rube here, so this is just an impression with the texts I am given). So . . .
    “By it we are received into God’s church and set apart from all other people and alien religions, that we may wholly belong to him whose mark and sign we bear. Baptism also witnesses to us that God, being our gracious Father, will be our God forever.”
    ***”that we may wholly belong to him.” To me that’s language of adoption and therefore grafting and participation. There is nothing here about a rational ascent but an otological meshing.
    ***Baptism also witnesses to us that God, being our gracious Father, will be our God forever.”
    ***Preach it!

    Text: “real presence – spiritual not physical…yet)”
    ***Yep. I find this inadequate, but eventually just fine. *YET* is obviously the key. The parameters of Orthodox soteriology are a bit more flexible than others, so I’m pretty chill with what the text says here (minus other dogmatic teachings–Double Predestination, for example, though this teaching isn’t a deal-breaker–for ME–when it comes to salvation)

    A couple of interesting lines, I think:
    “To represent to us this spiritual and heavenly bread Christ has instituted an earthly and visible bread as the sacrament of his body and wine as the sacrament of his blood. . . ”
    ***So then it’s not really “symbolic,” i.e/, bringing two things together. Its’s only commemorative and rationally looking forward, which is fine and bolsters the faith. The promise of blessings to come. It’s really only an epistemological thing: you know/believe rationally; I do so intellectually; that is, with the suora-rational part of the soul. It may sound triumphalistic, but it’s how our two traditions frame it. For the Orthodox, the supra-rational (the noetic) trumps the rational, and we have a taste of that in the hear-and-now. I imagine you guys hold off until death or the second coming. Great.

    “Now it is certain that Jesus Christ did not prescribe his sacraments for us in vain, since he works in us all he represents
    by these holy signs, although the manner in which he does it goes beyond our understanding and is incomprehensible to us, just as the operation of God’s Spirit is hidden and incomprehensible.”
    ***”although the manner in which he does it goes beyond our understanding and is incomprehensible to us, just as the operation of God’s Spirit is hidden and incomprehensible.” Wow. Yes!!! Who can explain how this stuff works? That’s why the Orthodox allow baptized infants (40 days old) to receive. They need not come to a rational understanding of the Mysteries of God. Who can?
    Here’s a line that I find extremely interesting, and I think you will too since the RC hasn’t historically dealt well with the Orthodox notion of the Uncreated Divine Energies (Grace): “just as the operation of God’s Spirit is hidden and incomprehensible.” “Operatio” is the Latin gloss in the Vulgate for the actual New Testament Greek energia (Energies). But “operatio” for anyone who has studied Latin and Greek IS NOT “energia.” Energia is participatory in a way that operatio is not. But for the Orthodox God’s essence is unknowable; God is knowable ONLY from his energy, the way in which He comes to us in this world. In this way, we are allowed to know the unknown God (whose Face we can not bear; or, for Saint John, “No one has seen God.”). So I find the line above quite interesting that it associates the operatio with the unknowable, where I, via translation (operatio for energia) would say that this is where we find God MOST KNOWABLE. But this gets back to my previous response to Darryl in which I tried to expound that the catgory of knowing in Scripture is relational primarily and rational only secondarily.

    Again, Sean, perfect.

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  37. Justin, I see the Holy Spirit uniting me to Christ and word and sacrament testify, confirm the Spirit’s work. If I give priority to Scripture — other than being an academic and not an artist — it’s because Scripture teaches me what baptism is/does.

    I need to think more about or propose something else about Scripture as the Word made word.

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  38. “I see the Holy Spirit uniting me to Christ and word and sacrament testify, confirm the Spirit’s work. If I give priority to Scripture — other than being an academic and not an artist — it’s because Scripture teaches me what baptism is/does.”
    ***Darryl, tease this out for me, please. I don’t quite get it. If the Spirit unites you is this symbolically or really (again, let’s just turn to Romans 6.4-13ish; I don’t mean this as a proof text but as a testing ground for how much symbolism/realism exists between our two readings–as well as how literally we ought to take the eschaton in the already-not-yet).

    So uniting you more than rationally? What does sacrament mean here in this context? Is it a real participation? Does it represent a participation you hope to come (if you are elect)?
    “If I give priority to Scripture — other than being an academic and not an artist — it’s because Scripture teaches me what baptism is/does.”
    ***But I can watch youtube to teach me what a strong grip in golf does for my ability to draw/hook a ball; it’s not until I get out there and do it that it matters. As you know, this applies to everything in this world. Techne (to use a Greek word) is not thinking; it’s doing with theoretical knowledge (which the OPC gives you plenty, it seems).

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  39. sdb,
    So sorry: Sean,
    “Sean, Thanks so much for these statements.”
    ***sdb, you obviously read our previous interactions carefully, so I let my comments stand. Great questions/observations, by the way. So I think you can follow all of my half-thoughts just by reading this thread.

    Thanks, sdb.

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  40. Justin, I think I understand what you intend by the supra-rational and the relational as primary. As an RC this would’ve put you with the mystics and even the contemplatives to the degree that the intent was to pierce the rational to get to the mystery or inhabit it or be inhabited by it. The prots have their version of it with the Pentecostals, I suppose, or historically the anabaptists-enthusiasts. I never had much appetite for it. It always made sense to me that I’d end up worshiping myself or my imaginings, or worse, someone else’s. Maybe that reveals more about me than the truth of the matter though. If I stay with you on Rom 6, I think that brings us into the biblical idea of Union with Christ and while freely admitting there’s a mystical element involved here(how can there not be) my connection or apprehension of Christ isn’t somehow by a means other than faith. The admonitions to maturity, the prayer even, is to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. So, while faith isn’t the object of value, the object of the faith is, it’s still the indispensible means by which I’m united with Christ. And while it’s(faith) certainly more than assent, it’s never less than assent or ‘beyond’ assent-suprarational. So, in our tradition while the sacraments certainly confirm and convey and even nurture, more formally, sign and seal, it’s still the prophetic word that the Holy Spirit utilizes to birth new life, and that, by faith in the one revealed. So, Rom 10

    “Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]

    14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[g]16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

    Gal. 3

    3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? 4 Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

    So I have the Spirit of God by hearing with faith. Hearing what? The prophetic word-the gospel (Christocentric). Which reveals to me whom/what? The God Man, Jesus Christ. That’s your hermeneutical principle. You should find Christ in the scriptures.

    So this word is a creative word or a recreative word, it’s not mere information to which to give assent, it’s more than catechesis.

    What I’m primarily resisting in what I hear you saying, at moments, is this transcendence of faith. This going beyond our humanity( you’d probably say it’s becoming more fully/truly human) this participation in the deity even deification. Where you see participation, particularly as it graduates to the suprarational, I hear idolatry(not saying that’s the case, just that’s what gives me pause). As it relates to the Already-not yet, eschatological reality, well, that’s rather more straightforward, faith, hope, sacramental sign and seal, will all pass away in glory. The ‘not yet’ will be the reality. But, in this life, this side of glory, it’s dimly as through a glass darkly. But here’s the hope 1 Cor 13

    As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

    13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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  41. Justin, by asking what Rom. 6:4ff means aren’t you conceding the point of Scripture’s primacy? Not to say that the text is an engineering manual for pneumatology. But my having to try to explain what Rom 6 means rather than going straight to the work of the Spirit makes the (my) point I think.

    As for what it means existentially, I don’t think words or practices or church membership fully capture the Spirit’s work of uniting us to Christ. If I were a Platonist or an idealist, I’d say something about the world of souls and spirits that eludes our senses and that this world is the primary one — the physical is only a bunch of forms. But I don’t like Plato or idealism. I’m ‘merican and like tangible stuff. So somehow the physical world which is real and good is bound up with the Spirit. But how? I’d have to rely on Paul.

    That’s a shrug, I guess. But I don’t like speculation and will not be baited.

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  42. Sean,
    Thanks so much for the thorough response.
    “It always made sense to me that I’d end up worshiping myself or my imaginings, or worse, someone else’s. ”
    ***That’s the danger. The supra-rational stuff is anthropological (the nous, the highest part of the soul) and need not be understood only as the soul searching out that Divine darkness. We Baptize and commune infants because we don’t think there has to be a rational understanding of the ways in which Mysteries “work.”

    “If I stay with you on Rom 6, I think that brings us into the biblical idea of Union with Christ and while freely admitting there’s a mystical element involved here(how can there not be) my connection or apprehension of Christ isn’t somehow by a means other than faith.”
    ***This sounds right. So . . .
    “So, in our tradition while the sacraments certainly confirm and convey and even nurture, more formally, sign and seal, it’s still the prophetic word that the Holy Spirit utilizes to birth new life, and that, by faith in the one revealed.”
    ***Makes perfect sense.
    “So I have the Spirit of God by hearing with faith. Hearing what? The prophetic word-the gospel (Christocentric). Which reveals to me whom/what? The God Man, Jesus Christ. That’s your hermeneutical principle. You should find Christ in the scriptures.”
    ***Yep.I agree with this. And then you and I are back to how one reads (Scripture and Tradition) because then I posit that Scripture then points to other places in which one finds Christ (Baptism and Eucharist, for example. But you and I know that this is where it leads.

    “This going beyond our humanity( you’d probably say it’s becoming more fully/truly human) this participation in the deity even deification.”
    ***This is more or less an accurate gloss–as is your hesitancy that it could lead to idolatry (which it can, but so can Scripture, well, everything really).

    “The ‘not yet’ will be the reality. But, in this life, this side of glory, it’s dimly as through a glass darkly.”
    ***I agree with this, but offer a slight hiccup. But we see dimly, and for me that’s the already. Dimly ain’t bad; I’ll take it where I can get it.

    Again, really good stuff, Sean. And lots to agree with. Thanks.

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  43. Darryl,

    “Justin, by asking what Rom. 6:4ff means aren’t you conceding the point of Scripture’s primacy? Not to say that the text is an engineering manual for pneumatology. But my having to try to explain what Rom 6 means rather than going straight to the work of the Spirit makes the (my) point I think.”
    ***I think there may be some equivocation here (or I simply misunderstood your previous point). You wanted to posit Scripture OVER the wafer (and I simply took this to mean sacrament and offered Baptism as a common point of discussion) with regards to life in Christ. I simply said that, for me, Baptism via the Spirit unites us to Christ (As Romans 6.4ff makes clear, I think). I also posited that Scripture doesn’t unite us in this way and that’s why we shouldn’t take it OVER (meaning, I thought, “greater than”) sacraments that unite us. But because Scripture points out that we are united to Christ in Baptism doesn’t somehow entail that it is therefore OVER or “greater than” Baptism in the ways in which they are efficacious. The word has shifted to “primacy” now, and I don’t know if you mean that in terms of chronology of events or greater than (as I think you clearly meant earlier). If you mean chronology, then sure, we can learn about Baptism from Scripture (though I think Scripture would have simply been articulating the practice going on in the early Church). And in that way it comes before Baptism and/or even explains the efficaciousness of Baptism. But neither learning about Baptism’s efficaciousness nor learning about Baptism before Baptism unites us to God (through the Spirit) the way in which Baptism does.

    “So somehow the physical world which is real and good is bound up with the Spirit. But how? I’d have to rely on Paul.”
    ***Of course I’d agree about the importance of the physical aspect of life. It was the very point I was making earlier and is the very stuff of which Christology (and our salvation) is made.

    “But I don’t like speculation”
    ***But I was responding to what I thought was your speculation regarding Scripture over wafers (sacraments) and icons. You phrased it in such a way (“if I were smart”) so that I thought you were speculating. Mea culpa. I really assumed that you were throwing some things out there to advance a discussion.

    “and will not be baited.”
    ***I’m not smart enough to bait you or anyone. Despite any rumors you may have heard, I’m no master baiter; heck, I’m not even a mediocre one.

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  44. ,,,partakers… Of the divine nature.. Having escaped the corruption in the world JUstin and John. Thru true knowledge of Him.

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  45. Oh yeah I forgot. Despite that corruption escape… Christian liberty is king and blah blah, self justifying is important and ..blah blah all is for the good of did I mention liberty, and for loving the things of the world, I mean for loving the people in the world by participating in their corruption, etc.

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  46. Justin, not to start the epistemology seminar back up, but how do you know the Spirit unites you to Christ in baptism? You could appeal to some variety of mysticism, I guess. But chances are both of us would appeal to some kind of instruction for that understanding of baptism.

    Am I missing something?

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  47. Darryl,
    Yeah, and I’m going to consciously avoid the epistemology point; Sean and I have been avoiding the Scripture/Tradition tension above. Why avoid? Because we know how it plays out, and I want to see our differences play out differently.

    So I’m going to lay out where we differ (just for my own edification; no need to reply unless you need to correct what I see as your [very consistent] position and just leave it at that. I think we’ve probably done what we can do without having to hash out epistemology, the nature of Scripture, by whom it was given, under what circumstances, etc.

    Nevertheless, we are back to square one in this thread because it really comes down to spiritual (real) and physical (real) and how they play out in our respective visions of salvation. Here’s what I’m seeing as we keep going over the same ground differently: for you (and for me) the logos (Scripture) always points to the Logos Incarnate (Christ) for salvation. Now the believer need only have Scripture and a belief in Christ’s crucifixion (and the salvific events that happened there) to be saved by faith alone–a faith that Scripture is sufficient and that a faith in what it reveals (part of which is salvation by faith alone). This act of faith, and here I’m just assuming this, is a gift of or a movement by the Spirit so that the believer believes. I can see a real possibility for a strong monergism in this hermeneutic. This is why both you and Sean posit a spiritual salvation that is Real, perhaps more real than any physical aspect that may accompany that spiritual reality. Again, I think this is because salvation comes by faith alone in Spirit-inspired Scripture (logos) that depicts the Logos Incarnate and the salvation He has wrought.
    ***It seems to me, and it’s part of your initial emphasis (which I better understand now), that the Spirit is very much at work in the salvation of the believer, for the Spirit moves us to believe in the Christ of Scripture (which the Spirit inspired)

    I have been positing that because God became man and assumed all that we are and that salvation is wrought through participation spiritually of course (since this is part of human nature, which Christ assumed as well) but also physically. And this is what Scripture attests to. So when an infant is baptized or communes (I use this as an example because the infant has made no intellectual assent to this and knows not Scripture), he is still united to Christ by dint of the Spirit who descends on the waters of Baptism and on the bread and wine at the Eucharist. So there is still the Spirit working economically with Christ for our salvation, but the union here is also physical. Taking Sean’s cue, I will not say it’s more real, because I can see how in your gloss one is united to Christ through faith, through a double inspiration of the Spirit–in the believer’s belief in Scripture. My gloss adds the physical aspect because Christ assumed the physical aspect and, as Scripture lays out, unites Himself to us through physical means: Baptism, in the discussion above. Indeed, Sean even says, “If I stay with you on Rom 6, I think that brings us into the biblical idea of Union with Christ and while freely admitting there’s a mystical element involved here(how can there not be) my connection or apprehension of Christ isn’t somehow by a means other than faith.” And I’m good with this. The faith here, in the case of an infant (for an adult the means of faith is much easier to establish by some sort of intellectual assent), is offered here by the godparents who stand in.

    So, as I said, we’re back to square one:
    ***with an emphasis on the Spiritual (i.e., Holy Spirit) uniting of the believer to Christ through faith right now, which will be a physical union at the second coming.
    ***with an emphasis on the Spiritual and physical (i.e., the Holy Spirit) uniting of the believer to Christ through faith, which through is already a physical uniting now–through Baptism, Eucharist, sacraments–in whatever dim way; the full physical union in its full eschatological reality will happen at the second coming (as above).

    This post resolves nothing, but it does show, at least I think, how close the narratives are (until we get into the details at least–epistemology, TULIP, theosis), and I thank Darryl and Sean for having the patience and charity to allow me to tease this stuff out.

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