Symptomatic Theology: Yet More Christology 6-10

Continued reflections on my brief answers to the question “who is Jesus Christ to you?”

6) The gateway through which the Holy Spirit enters the world

This assertion is biblically based, and less so in personal experience, in the sense that Christ is the Word which existed before creation and by which the world was created. You might say that I see Jesus Christ as the vehicle by which God enters the world, for Christians at least, and that what God does in the world is through the Holy Spirit. In this sense, the Holy Spirit manifests outward from Christ, perhaps.

In another sense, I think that after the crucifixion and resurrection, something new entered the world, or perhaps something was reiterated in a new way vis our experience of it. That new thing was manifested at Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit came, not arbitrarily, but into a community which was committed to following and emulating Christ.

7) The idea of being to which we are to aspire as Christians and

On reflection, this is just a reiteration of (2)

8) into which we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit over the course of eternity

This is in reference to the impossibility (I would say apparent impossibility) of actually transforming ourselves into Christ and is part of my concept of salvation history and the eschaton. A world of Christs is a world of humanity fully reconciled to God, and I believe part of this is human effort (I know, not Reformed) and the rest of this is God’s effort.

To put it another way, Christ is absolutely, or infinitely, reconciled to God (who is, for lack of a better term, infinite). Like an infinite limit in mathematics, we can add to our own reconciliation, but only in finite terms. That is, we can increase and increase in Christ-like-ness by our own effort, and these increases are meaningful, but no matter how far we increase, we are still infinitely far from the infinite limit. We cannot reach it by our own finite means. This means that our efforts are in fact meaningful, but not necessary, in the sense that either way God has an infinite job to do in reaching out to us.

This is what occurs over the course of eternity, or the whole of salvation history. We are lifted up the infinite distance to God.

9) The source of hope and life for the oppressed, the weak, the sick, the outcast, the unclean, the pariah, etc.

If you are reading this, that means you have access to a computer and the internet, which means that, to a certain degree, Christ is not on your side. We are the beneficiaries of a system of oppression and evil that is so massive and deeply entrenched that it appears unassailable. We have the privilige of doing things like blogging because while I am writing this a few dozen people starved to death in some place I’ll never see.

It lends a weight to our words, I think, and also issues a judgment over them. They are so minuscule – our best ideas are absolutely garbage if they do nothing to change what is.

If Christ is with those who suffer the most, as I believe he is, then Christ is sometimes against me. Maybe often, or mostly against me. That’s just how it is if Christ is Christ. This makes me supremely uncomfortable about almost everything I do, deep down, but I also accept it and think furthermore that it is right. I need to preach Christ against me at least as much as I preach Christ for me, and live the same way. Like Christ, I need to be present for and with those who suffer, and always put their concerns at the forefront as much as I can.

Among other things, in the Cross, Christ says “This is where I choose to be.”

10) The source of judgement for the rich, the strong, the comfortable, the confident, the popular, the accepted, the righteous, the healthy, particularly when they assume their gifts are earned and they do not use them in the service of others.

See above. We cannot serve two masters. Where our treasure is, our heart is there also. What does it profit us to gain the whole world but lose ourselves? To find your life, you have to lose it.

6 thoughts on “Symptomatic Theology: Yet More Christology 6-10

  1. ha. i’m not really under the impression that any of this is original. the gnashing-teeth eucharist you posted was the closest thing i’d encountered to an original or new idea in a long time. these are just ideas that i’ve encountered and, for whatever reason, internalized as true.


  2. Why do people act as if God has an agenda of salvation for the poor/oppressed and damnation for the rich/oppressor? (Especially odd in folks who would never suffer anything that clear-cut in terms of non-economic/political morality.) < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Ecclesiastes 4:1<> seems to lament that both oppressed and oppressor need a comforter (paraclete?). Moreover, it was a fundamental tenet of the < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Mosaic law<> that you don’t give impartial favor to anybody – poor or rich!Jesus ate with poor outcasts (prostitutes, etc.) and rich ones (e.g., Zaccheus). And let’s not forget that he supped with Pharisees – the righteous orthodox – on a regular basis. Now <>that’s<> the table-fellowshipping Jesus we need for today!


  3. good question!what i have in mind here are three main threads1. the sermon on the moutn (or the plain), wherein jesus says things like “woe to you who are rich”, etc. it seems that, in general, jesus ministry involved the transformation of the world’s order – an upending, so to speak, which he lived out through his table-fellowship, which is a good example (i think)2. the prophetic tradition, which seems very concerned with the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger/outsider, and combines with this a consistent message of judgement against the trappings of wealth and the empty pieties of the ruling class at the time3. the hermeneutic, which i share, which looks first to the interests of the poor and the oppressed when making ethical or theological distinctions – one i borrow liberally (ha!) from liberation theologies. through the two threads referenced above, i get the impression that god actually has a special concern for the poor and the addressed, that this is in fact part of god’s agendai agree that the poor and the rich both need a comforter, and more than that, both need challenge. it isn’t a difference in who is good or bad, but a difference in who is suffering and who is not, whose needs are massive and whose are fulfilled. woe to you who are full, etc.p.s. – i think that in mosaic law, the intent was to correct for special priviliges the rich enjoyed under other law systems (including our own for example) and was also limited to the law itself – that its bias be corrected


  4. Chris,You’re right that God is for both oppressed and oppressor, but not indifferently. Meaning God isn’t equally for both or indifferent as to which category you belong in. God is FIRST for the oppressed and by being for the oppressed God is also for the oppressor because liberation is fundamentally good for all.You seem to have taken too lightly key texts like the Sermon on the Mount or nearly all of Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom. Also, Deuteronomy is chock full of provisions especially to protect the poor from the predations of the wealthy. In fact, the whole Mosaic law seems designed to compensate and contradict the normal mode of economic oppression that has existed in every society. Full debt remission every 7 years! If actually adhered to there would never be an upper-class.You talk about table-fellowship. Yes Jesus ate with the rich, but count up the number of times he was with them and promptly conflicted with them over justice issues! Luke 14 is a great example. Jesus was not exactly a polite dinner guest. Also, he characterizes it precisely as part of his mission to be among sinners – including the wealthy. You mustn’t take it that by dining with them that he is approving of them or that the basic dynamic of oppression isn’t going to be overthrown.Also, ask yourself who is talking whenever they are prepared to be defensive of the well to do? As educated people in a wealthy nation, part of the wealthiest per capita denomination, we probably should feel convicted by this extraordinarily well attested theme in scripture(so well attested there isn’t a single catholic theologian living and very few protestant theologians living who would contradict it). Preaching anything else is dangerously close to prosperity gospel which isn’t a gospel at all.


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