Thinking About Salvation II

Now, here I am, just barely underway, and that rascally Tripp accuses me of a high Christology, wants me to clarify how the Sacraments (Mysteries) fit in to this salvation thinking, gives an oblique warning about exclusivism, and, as if that weren’t enough, lumps me in with Rowan Williams. (You can look under the comments for the previous blog in this series of thinking.) Rowan Williams, for crying out loud! Hmph. (Or, as Tripp says: Urf.)

Since Tripp caved to the feminine lobby on shopping yesterday, I’ll just have to simply make him wait, since I need to further iron out some of my previous thoughts. High Christology, or just simply the Church’s working out of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth, I’ll leave for others to decide, though I’m shy of the label, since it implies that a “Low” Christology (whatever that is) is equally plausible.

Romans 5, Hebrews 1, Colossians 1, and pretty much the entire epistle to the Ephesians clearly indicate that Jesus Christ is the type of the fulfillment of humanity, in a way that Adam is the anti-type. In Christ the entirety of humanity reaches its end, its culmination, its completion. The bodily Resurrection of the Christ from the dead, was God’s seal of approval on the work of Christ. That is to say, the Resurrection completed the salvation event, and made possible the salvation of human beings. The human nature, which the Son of God took on becoming a human being, has been hypostasized, joined with the divinity of the Son in the union of one person, without confusion, change, separation, or division (per Chalcedon). Thus, the union with God, for which Jesus prayed in John 17, has, in Jesus Christ, become an accomplished fact.

But for humans to receive this gift of salvation, it takes the action of the Trinity. God the Father has sent forth the Spirit, not merely to accomplish the conception of Jesus, but also to bring forth the Body, the Church, of which Christ is the Head. The ministry of Christ is now the ministry of his Church, his Body. This Body was brought forth, or perhaps confirmed, on the day of Pentecost, a week and a half after Christ had ascended to the Father.

Furthermore, as Acts 2:38, and elsewhere in Acts and the epistles, shows, on a personal level, the Holy Spirit is also involved, in baptism. Especially in Acts, but also in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14 (and, of course, 1-3), and all of Ephesians (but especially 4), this salvation is accomplished in the Church. Frequently through Acts, there is the phrase “and x were added to their number.” Without getting too pharasaical with the text, the salvation and the adding are presented together as one complete act. One could say, adding is being saved.

The very first account we have of the Church, in conjunction with the Pentecost narrative, is their devotion to the apostles teaching, to prayers, to fellowship and the breaking of the bread. This breaking of the bread has most often been associated with the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist. And clearly, in light of 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, this is among the most natural ways to interpret the text. Be that as it may, Paul emphatically states in the Corinthians letter that participation in the Lord’s Supper is participation in Christ. Though Protestants have disputed the intepretation of the text in ch. 11–where a “face-value” reading of the text indicates the elements of bread and wine are, in some unexplained way, the body and blood of Jesus–the force is clear: partaking of the Lord’s Supper is participation in Christ.

The import of this is that the Church makes possible, on the human level, for one to receive salvation. Baptism is done by the Church (Acts 2), the Eucharist is the locus of the Body of Christ, so that appropriation of salvation and participation in Christ take place within the Church.

Well, Tripp, I hope that touched on the Mysteries for you. But clearly, you can see, I’m still processing these thoughts. Sorry, though, this thing about exclusivism will have to wait.

Now, I need to get ready for worship!