Symptomatic Theology II: Christology

I wrote this in response to a friends meme where he asked something he always wanted to know about me. What he asked was “So, how’s your Christology these days?” (He likes odd questions) Its rough and off the top of my head, but I thought it would be interesting, particularly as I try to censor myself less for the sake of genuine-ness as a sort of discipline.

always wanted to know? i doubt that. well, we haven’t gotten there in Theology I yet, so it probably hasn’t changed much really. so, complicated. i think that the person of jesus is the major way that a christian comes to know god. in fact, you can just define a christian as someone who knows god primarily through jesus. i think jesus was a concrete, personaly person, human in every way i’m human or you are human, but that somehow jesus embodied god for the people around him so completely that it was a life-changing event.

i think that jesus functioned as god similarly in some ways to how trickster deities function – through reversals of the expected order, in order to achieve revelation or transformation or wisdom. jesus embodied god’s reversal of the order of winners first and losers last, of in-groups and out-groups based on ethnicity, of violence as a means to any end, of retribution as justm, of wealth as deserved, of injustice as natural, or rules as of primary concern, of authority as trustworthy, etc.. for these things, for living them out, jesus was killed.

i don’t know if there was a physical resurrection. i think that the answer there lies in paul’s language of the church as the body of christ. i think that christ is resurrected in his disciples who seek to live like he did and, if it comes to that, die like he did.

as for eternal life, i view it not as a lifeline stretched out to infinity, but as life as a point, a now, that is expanded infinitely in all directions. that is, the unitive experience of transcendence and immanence at once. the eternal life is the infinitely connected life, and the path to that eternity is annihilation of the self through love of god and love of other human beings. in the same way that christ didn’t have a self that was separate from god, neither should we.

this seeking, this discipline and discipleship, forms communities of others going on the same Way (the original name for Christianity – interestingly like Dao, or Tao) who constitute christ, or at the very least seek to constitute christ.

the eschaton, or the end-time or whatever, is a world that is entirely christ – that is, a world that is entirely god, which i see as sort of folding back into itself and becoming a sort of divine singularity.

of course, this is all idealistic and theoretical mumbo-jumbo. my functioning christology is very simple – i am called to be christ. everyone is called to be christ. because god calls for it, it must be possible, or at least a valuable goal to seek. because jesus, we believe, achieved it, it must be achieveable by a human being.

but, in an everyday sense, you quickly get the sense that it is very much impossible to do the above, preposterous even to ask or suppose that it might be done by any person, and so you turn again to god, in the hope that god will reach you where you are and not just stand aloof and say “catch me if you can.” my experience is that, in brief flashes, god does just that.

3 thoughts on “Symptomatic Theology II: Christology

  1. Hey dude. My reflections:Overall I can jive with much of what you say. In fact, I found so little to disagree with in it that it has taken me several days to come up with a response. So obviously my points below are a bit nitpicky, though a few of them seem pretty relevant to me.First, though I definitely agree that part of the meaning of the resurrection is that the church as the body of Christ continues his ministry. I wouldn’t be very satisfied with that as a complete interpretation of the resurrection. The Gospels (and Paul) emphasize so much that this is something God has “accomplished”. It seems that we have to talk about it as an historical event, not just a paradigm change or an ongoing phenomenon or a subjective experience.In fact, there’s not much in your christology that deals with Jesus as an historical individual at all. You kind of describe his ministry by characterizing it as “trickster deity”, but you give the impression that Christ could have been anyone at any time in history and it would have been much the same. Also it isn’t just that Christians come to know God through Christ, but that they come to know a specific God – the God of Israel. Again it seems to me that there is a universalizing trend in your thinking which strips the gospel of it’s particulars.Finally, the call to “be” Christ is a very heavy one. I don’t disagree at all that this is what we should aim for and you do a good job at saying how God intercedes to make this impossible calling possible. I guess my question for you about this is a personal one: if you see your calling as becoming Christ what are you doing (or failing to do) toward that end? Surely this sort of thing ought not to be tossed out lightly and ignored.


  2. I’ll number these so I stick to one comment at time (and, as always, comments are welcome and appreciated – otherwise I’d just write for myself)1. I think you can look at it as something accomplished that is ongoing. Perhaps there is a more infant-like sense of God that looks to God to save you while you cry and wave your arms. From this you are moved to the sense that God has called you to be a grownup and to help make other people’s lives better through your effort and to be responsible for how you live. Then, you learn this doesn’t work, and so you go back to crying to God, and so on.More specifically, I see Christ as trans-historical. Christ-in-history is a manifestation of Christ-beyond-history. With so little evidence, its hard to talk about as an historical event beyond that it had to happen sometime and somewhere (did it?) and in this case it happened then and there.2. I do think Christ could have been anyone anywhere in history. I don’t even rule out other Christs in other places and other histories. In fact, I think our ‘very heavy’ call is to be Christs everywhere and throughout all history. Christ-in-any-history-at-all is the miracle to me.3. I think the Gospels’ particulars are necessary but not absolute. Christ in any history, any place, will be a particular Christ to a particular people at a particular time. That is the lens through which we perceive no matter what. But I don’t think the God of Israel is *real* in the sense that language about this God is perfect. The God of Israel in turn points beyond itself to the transcendent God of which it is a reflection seen from a certain vantage point.4. Could the call, ultimately, be any lighter? Like an artist seeking beauty or a philosopher seeking truth or an athlete seeking a perfect time or perfect record, Christians seek Christ. Like these examples, we succeed some and we fail some. We try and fail and rest and reflect and try again. Unlike the above examples, seeking Christ encompasses every other worthwhile seeking (in my opinion), so it is infinitely harder because it contains the others. It isn’t just perfecting a skill or even finding a perfect expression or experience – it is being perfect even as God is perfect. It is perfecting Being.Like these other quests, however, it gives life meaning. It also orients life toward the Divine, bends it in a long arc toward God. Will you get there? Magic 8 Ball says “answer uncertain”. No one seems to have thus far. Do we stop trying and hoping? No more than an artist gives up on beauty.So what do I do personally? Everything and nothing. In any act of self-care or self-injury, I have this in mind. In every interaction, I judge on this basis. Every idea is set before this standard.In pursuit of this, what I have put the most effort into cultivating is patience. I think impatience leads to a lot of things – self-righteousness, despair, absolutism, hubris. In essence, if there is no hurry, then it doesn’t matter how long it takes for us to become Christs, or how many imperceptible steps forward you must go, or how many times you fall back and have to begin again. In the meantime, you can find the journey to be its own value – maybe part of why early christ-cults were referred to as the Way, as opposed to the Destination đŸ™‚Another that I’ve been at for a long time (relatively long, I guess, since I’m not that old) is getting rid of my expectations. At the very least, living with as few as possible. I’d rather be open to what is than to see what I expect to see. Obviously, in the annoying postmodern sense, I am still a social construct in a particular location, but I think this is a sliding scale, like most things. You can get further from your location, or look with more clarity, or with less. It also helps deal with anxiety, since if you have a lot of anxiety, you never expect good from anything, and vice-versa.


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