Authentic theology always rises above wannabe positions and desperate rationalisations. ‘God’ theology is about who God really is, what He is really saying to us and who we really are in God’s eyes: Then bringing ourselves into agreement with what God thinks about God and ourselves. Bad theology comes from the need to find an identity in something in addition to Jesus. Thus we find in the introduction of the The Trinitarian Faith,
‘It was always Torrance’s contention that good theology should be clear and precise. ‘Too often’, he wrote in a 1966 review of Beardslee’s Reformed Dogmatics, the demand for ‘simple’ statement has only meant that people have shut their eyes to the profounder issues and have wanted to avoid the hard thinking that is demanded of us in the face of divine realities.’ (1)
Divine reality is found in Christ our life. His reality is the new covenant which is why this reality need to be our reality.
Katherine Murphy writes in today’s Guardian, ‘I’ve spent much of 2018 angry about the ubiquity of stupid in our [political] system. … I’m not sure what’s worse: the banality of it or the rank self-indulgence.’
Self-indulgence is not only a property of the secular world. People shut their eyes for many reasons. There’s more to a life in the fullness of Jesus than believing what we have always believed and doing so because it suits us. If we have to rely on a proof text or resort to a definition to support ‘our truth.’ It’s probably not the truth and what we are doing is what we have always done in attempting to rationalise our position: Support it with poor arguments and denial. In our journey, we may have routinely erected barriers to unpalatable truth by accumulating fictions that we hid behind in the attempt to validate what cannot really be validated.
We can fellowship with Christ if we are wrong. It is He who affords us belonging with the trinity. But it we who construct false christs and walls of separation by attaching ourselves like limpets to long held ideas and anti-gospel notions.
Truth sets us free ‘to be ourselves’ and error contains us in prisons of ‘who we are not.’ Bonhoeffer observes, “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this.” (2) Our communion is less than this if our christ is less than who He is and our gospel is warped. Diseased communion warps communities. The kind of community we enjoy with Jesus, ourselves and others depends on Christ being the Christ of God and the gospel we are attached to being the Gospel of the Kingdom. Thus we must look to the Christ of God and His gospel and not some ‘other gospel’ and lesser christ.
False Christs are not just demonic figures. They are diluted Christs stripped of their authenticity by bad teaching and revisionist gospels that drag us back to the law and the life of half-alive Adam. Christian community is ruined by the law and Christian work-places are rendered dysfunctional in a law-bound culture. In the law one loaf is an ideal and never a reality because in the law the notion of one loaf as a possibility is a lie.
Genuine community with Jesus and each other depends on our living in the genuine gospel of the Kingdom. Not some proprietary variation of it. Of this community of Christ, Bonhoeffer writes, “What does this [community] mean? It means, first, that a Christian needs others because of Jesus Christ. It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. It means, third, that in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity. First, the Christian is the man who no longer seeks his salvation, his deliverance, his justification in himself, but in Jesus Christ alone.” (3)
It means that Christ is our life. That He is our life without addition or subtraction. It means that His life is incarnated in us and that the life of the trinity is expressed as us. It means that we live in the Spirit and not in the flesh and that we are married to Jesus and not to the law.
It’s clear that a Christian needs others because they are an expression of Jesus Christ. It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. It means, third, that in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity. First, the Christian is the man or woman who no longer seeks his salvation, his deliverance, his justification in himself, but in Jesus Christ alone.
(1) Torrance, Thomas F.. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (T&T Clark Cornerstones) . Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
(2) Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Life Together. Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd. Kindle Edition.
(3) Ibid. Life Together. Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd. Kindle Edition.