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Archive for the ‘Newness’ Category

Pictures of “Passing Away”

Posted by Remy on May 9, 2009

A botanist decides to study a flower and his apprentice follows him out to the field, notebook in hand. They spend weeks studying the bloom and the bloom only. The botanist concludes his study of the flower and begins to pack up. The confused apprentice delays. He says, “Don’t we need to study, say, the rest of the flower?”

“Whatever for?”

“Because that’s a part of the flower.”

“It’s the old flower, the flower has been made new, right here. The bloom is the climax of the flower, in fact, it is the flower. That’s all we need to study.”

“What about the stem, the leaves, the root system, what about the seed it came from and the process it went through to get to the bloom?”

“Bah, that’s the old things. It can’t help us to understand the bloom, look at all those colors, look how much more beautiful the bloom is.” 

 

*   *   *   * 

 

Imagine a husband who anytime his wife began to tell him of her life prior to marriage he cut her off. “That’s all in the past, I don’t need to know that. You’ve been recreated, all things are new, only what happens now is what matters.”

“I had a life before you came along” she responds.

“That life has passed away.”

“But you can’t know who I am unless you understand my history.”

“What really matters is when you and I stood together at the altar and said ‘I do’ anything before that doesn’t matter nearly as much.”

“Certainly that was a big event, changed my life and I admit that you and I have been transformed, but don’t you think there’s value in learning about me before that time?”

“Nah.”

“If you loved me you would want to know everything about me.”

Posted in Newness | 17 Comments »

A 2 Dollar Summary of Genesis : Creation

Posted by Remy on May 4, 2009

In order to understand the newness of the new covenant one must undergo a full study of the old world. What follows should in no way be taken as nearly so full enough as is required and even as a summary is so full of holes and gaps and omissions, and many of them unintentional, that it is only through inflation that I can even call such a measly summary a two dollar summary. This is the first step, I throw it out here so that we can bang it around to make sure we have all the necessary pieces we’ll need to understand the new world. I do not take credit for anything below aside from the mistakes, everything I know was ripped off from someone else and then probably misattributed to GK Chesterton. Mostly, however, the material is from JBJ and PJL.

First things first. There are an interconnected series of triptychs in the early part of Genesis that we need to be aware of. The three problems poised on day one, Darkness, Formlessness, and Emptiness are solved in a protological sense within the creational week, but are elemental issues we deal with in our taking dominion of the world. There are three zones to the creation, matched by three zones of the earth; Sky, Land, Waters, echoed by Garden, Eden or land, and the rest of the world (re-echoed in the temple: Courtyard, Holy Place, Holy of Holies). The Garden is the sanctuary, Eden is the land where man lives, and the rest of the world where the dominion mission takes place. Heaven, God’s throne room, is created complete on the first day, but the world is made incomplete and must be further developed. Heaven, therefore, is the model for earth and Adam is shown a blueprint of heaven in the Garden.

  • Darkness : Sky=Garden=Holy of Holies
  • Formlessness : Land=Eden=Holy Place
  • Emptiness : Water=World=Courtyard

The three “falls” of the early chapters of Genesis, the sin in the Garden, Cain’s murder of Abel, and the sin of intermarriage are the corresponding sins of the three zones of the world: sanctuary, land, world. These three sins reoccur throughout the history of Israel.

I think the three problems of day one, correspond to the three archetypal sins, which in turn break the three fold command given to Adam and Eve:

  • Darkness : Sanctuary Sins : Rule
  • Formlessness : Brother Conflict : Subdue
  • Emptiness :  Intermarriage : Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth

This tells us how to bring light into the world, tells us that the land must be subdued in order to conquer its formlessness, and to fill it means (among other things) raising up covenant children.

Just one other detail we need to notice before moving on. There is only one day that is not pronounced good at its conclusion, day two. This is significant because on that day there is a barrier of water separating God’s throne room from the world. Heaven and earth are not yet made one, this is the mission, still ours today, to unite heaven and earth. This barrier is not good, the world created by God is not finished, it is immature, and He places His image in the world to take up this mission alongside Him. Once the time was right this barrier would have been drawn back, but due to the sin of Adam further barriers would be put up. We’ll look at those barriers later, but for now what can I add or explain?

Posted in Newness | 2 Comments »

The Five Act Play of God’s Story

Posted by Remy on May 2, 2009

From my friend NT Wright, the Bishop of Durham:

“Suppose there exists a Shakespeare play, most of whose fifth act has been lost. The first four acts provide, let us suppose, such a remarkable wealth of characterization, such a crescendo of excitement within the plot, that it is generally agreed that the play ought to be staged. Nevertheless, it is felt inappropriate actually to write a fifth act once and for all: it would freeze the play into one form, and commit Shakespeare as it were to being prospectively responsible for work not in fact his own. Better, it might be felt, to give the key parts to highly trained, sensitive and experienced Shakespearean actors, who would immerse themselves in the first four acts, and in the language and culture of Shakespeare and his time, and who would then be told to work out a fifth act for themselves.

Consider the result. The first four acts, existing as they did, would be the undoubted ‘authority’ for the task at hand. That is, anyone could properly object to the new improvisation on the grounds that some character was now behaving inconsistently, or that some sub-plot or theme, adumbrated earlier, had not reached its proper resolution. This ‘authority’ of the first four acts would not consist -could not consist!- in an implicit command that the actors in the fact of an as yet unfinished drama, containing its own impetus and forward movement, which demanded to be concluded in an appropriate manner. It would require of the actors a free and responsible entering in to the story as it stood, in order first to understand how the threads could appropriately be drawn together and then to put that understanding into effect by speaking and acting with both innovation and consistency.”

Posted in Newness | 13 Comments »

On the Things that have Passed Away and the Things that Have Not

Posted by Remy on April 30, 2009

Amongst the charges that I bandy about from time to time is the charge that the Romanist and Constantinist view of the church, first class Christians and second class Christians, is part of the old world that has since passed away.

The idea that the body of Christ is divided seems difficult to maintain, particularly with that Greek Testament throwing all sorts of wrenches into such thinking. The response from my friends who have invested in these things tends to avoid a Biblical discussion, but I did recently have this thrown back at me:

I’m sure your church doesn’t keep archaic rules about who can serve the Lord’s Supper, who can preach, who can be an elder, and I’m sure women play large liturgical roles in your service, reading the Scriptures and so forth. It’s not like there are degrees of closeness between man and God anymore. It’s not like men can do things in the church that women can’t, because that means there’s gradations. The curtain is torn! We’re all priests! We’re all the same!

Because I don’t want the force of my argument deflected by such flim-flam, but because I can see how someone might use this to avoid the potency of my comments I thought I’d have a go at it.

First, intentional or not, the above response assumes that there is a division between God and women. I assume this is just a confusion in the response and not necessarily an affirmation that women do not have access to the Most High God. My comments on the access to Jesus that comes in the New Covenant has no bearing on liturgical practice. In the Old Covenant there was a division between Israel and the rest of the Fearers of Yahweh, who were not allowed full access to Him. In the New Covenant access to Jesus is not restricted by veils of separation. There are no longer second class citizens in Christ Jesus. This has nothing to do with women having or not having access to the risen Lord.

Secondly, I honestly don’t know of any rules governing who can serve the Lord’s Supper if by “serve” it is meant “hand out”. Anyone at all can hand out the Lord’s Supper.

If “serve” here means “officiate” the Supper there are indeed requirements for who can be in charge of the covenant renewal service and among them is the requirement that the representative of Christ Jesus must be male, but this has no bearing over whether or not women have full access to Jesus. If Romanists or Constantians believe that their gender give them greater access to Jesus then their wickedness is greater than I imagined. More likely is that the comment incorporated an unintended vagueness.

So while the New Covenant eradicated the divisions of access it does not change the liturgical roles for men and women. Romanists and Constantians and any Protestant church that imitates them in a refusal to feed the whole body of Christ is grasping after the old covenant. Jesus says to feed His sheep and there is no hiding behind the temple of Rome, the temple of the Hagia Sophia, or the temple of Wittenberg.

In the future I plan to talk more about the “Newness” of the new covenant. But for now, my point is that the liturgical roles of men and women are not done away with in the new covenant, they are creational and reaffirmed in the new covenant. The division within the worshipers of Jesus, however, has passed away in the new world, all those is in Christ have full access to Him.

Posted in Newness | 43 Comments »