Monday, April 29, 2024

The Fall and Transfiguration of Time

The Biblical Fall
is not an event in time.
Time itself is a fallen state,
in which everything tends
toward decay and death.
But in the Incarnation,
divinity is united with humanity,
God with humankind,
and eternity is united with time,
so that time itself is transfigured
and the world is healed.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” as the book Revelation tells us. He is at once the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last (Revelation 1). He who is the firstborn from the dead is the firstborn of creation (Colossians 1). Indeed, Christ Crucified and Risen is the foundation of the world, the beginning and completion of all creation. Lord Jesus, seated on the Throne of Heaven and Earth, declares, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). And that includes us.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The transfiguration of time takes place within time, from the inside out, through the mutual indwelling of time in eternity and eternity in time. John the Elder tells us, “The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). 

We presently find ourselves in that curious transition of what is coming to pass into what is eternally so, and all of creation waits in eager anticipation together with us.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:18-22)

Saturday, April 27, 2024

The Light Who Makes Us Divine

You are the Light of the World,
O Christ, in Whom we become
Partakers of the Divine Nature.

In the Gospel of John, the Logos, the Word who has always been with God and is God, is “the True Light which gives light to everyone coming into the world” (John 1:1,9). And it is of him that the psalm writer sings, “With You is the fountain of life; in Your Light we see light” (Psalm 36:9).

Paul exclaims and exhorts, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10). And, “When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him” (Colossians 3:4). Other New Testament letters speak similarly:

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the True Light who gives Light to everyone who comes into the world. In His Light, we see light and become light, participating in his Glory, and in him we become partakers of his divine nature.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

God is Both Willing and Able

Christian universalism
is the belief that God
is both willing and able,
that God can and will save
all in heaven and on earth,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Jesus Christ, God has shown both the willingness and the ability to save all in heaven and on earth. This does not require that God in any way ignore or override the will of anyone — that is contrary to the way of Love. But it does require that the human will be set free from ignorance, deceit, darkness, and bondage to sin — all of which render human will defective, and anything but free.

Freedom of will is the ability to live according to one’s true and inherent nature. The true and inherent nature of human being is to be like God, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), in whom all the fullness of divinity of dwells in bodily form, and in whom we are made complete (Colossians 2:9-10). 

By the Incarnation, Jesus Christ has become human being, the humanity of which we all now partake. He defines what it means to be human. It means that all who once were headed up in Adam are now headed up in Jesus Christ. It means that Christ is not only God’s faithfulness toward all humankind, but he is also our faithfulness toward God. It means that we are inextricably united with the One who is the Image of God. Through this union, we become transformed, conformed to the image of God (Romans 8:29). And in Christ, we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

Just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). And so, whatever happens in the meantime, in the end, God will be “All in All” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Monday, April 22, 2024

Salvation is an Ontological Reality

Salvation is not
a juridical determination
but an ontological reality,
through the faithfulness of
Christ in the Incarnation
and the Cross.

Salvation is not a proposition but a Person, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, from whom and in whom we receive life, being and personhood. Faith is not a contractual agreement concerning propositions about Christ but a dynamic relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ himself.

Eternal life is not only in Jesus Christ, but he himself is eternal life. And it is in him that we live and move and have our being, both by the Creation and the Incarnation. It cannot finally be lost because the Incarnation cannot finally be undone.

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Only God the Gospel Knows

The only God
the Gospel knows
is the One revealed
in the Incarnation,
the Cross and the Creation,
as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:9-10)

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Continuity of All Things

Though the world be in chaos, Jesus Christ is the continuity of all things. For in Him all things consist and hold together — in Him who is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He is making all things new.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:5)

Monday, April 15, 2024

They Speak of Him

If we find something in the Scriptures but we do not find it in Jesus Christ, then we are not reading them correctly, for they speak of Him. Lord Jesus taught that the Scriptures are about him. If we read them as being about anything other than Christ, we are not reading them as Scripture.

One thing this means is that any interpretation of Scripture that is contrary to what Lord Jesus did and taught is an interpretation we should reject. Likewise, any interpretation of Scripture that portrays God in any way contradictory to how he is revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ is an interpretation we should reject. For Jesus Christ is the full and perfect revelation of God, the image of the invisible God.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Where We Encounter Christ

Christ is clothed with the Scriptures,
embodied in them and truly present in them,
that there we may encounter him.

So he said to them, “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”

So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:27-32)

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus encountered the Risen Lord not only by his physical presence with them but also as he opened up the Scriptures to them. Their hearts burned within them, though it was only later that they realized why, when the Lord opened their eyes and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. Notice that there was a double action of unveiling. 

First, there was the opening of all the Scriptures, of what Moses and all the Prophets said, revealing that they are about him and the things it was necessary for him to suffer as he entered into his glory. The Greek word for “opened” here is dianoigo and means to open up thoroughly. Christ opened up the Scriptures to them, thoroughly expounding and explaining their meaning — which is Christ himself, his suffering and his glory. This unveiling of Christ in the Scriptures was so stunning and unexpected, and yet so thoroughly coherent, the hearts of the two disciples were ignited by it.

Second, there was the opening of their own eyes. Again, the Greek word is dianoigo. It happened when Jesus took the bread, blessed the bread and broke the bread before their eyes. And suddenly they recognized Jesus in their midst.

When they recognized him, his physical form disappeared from before their physical eyes, for they had encountered him and learned to recognize him in the opening of the Scriptures and in the Breaking of the Bread. We in the Church today are no less advantaged than the Emmaus disciples, for Christ is always with us, and we always have the opportunity to encounter him in the Word and in the Sacrament.

The image above is Supper at Emmaus (1601) by Caravaggio.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Creation, Incarnation and Inclusion

Inclusion is not something we can create but something we can only discover. What we discover in the gospel is that all are included in Christ from the very beginning and to the very end.

We are included in Christ by the Creation. In Colossians 1:15-17, St. Paul tells us that all are created by Christ, through Christ, for Christ and in Christ, and in Christ all Creation consists and holds together.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

We are included in Christ through the Incarnation, in which Christ became human being. There are many human persons, but there is only one human being, of which we all partake. In the Incarnation, Christ became human being; he defines what it means to be human, and showed us at the Cross exactly what being human, and being divine, looks like — it looks like self-giving, other-centered love.

We are included in Christ at the Cross. For in the death of Christ, we all died. This is a necessary consequence of the Incarnation, by which Christ united divinity with humankind, joining himself with all humankind. Paul said, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

We are included in Christ in the Resurrection and the Ascension. In Ephesians 2, Paul says,

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

In the Resurrection, Human Being, which Christ has become and of which we all partake, was raised from the dead. And by that resurrection, human being has been born again. St. Peter said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

In the Ascension, Human Being, of which we all partake, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and so all humankind is seated there with Christ, in Christ, forever and ever.

The purpose of this inclusion is deliverance from death, from the power of the death (who held the power of death), from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14), and so from the power of sin. That we may live unto God (Romans 6:11). That, through Christ, we may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and enjoy divine union with God, experiencing forever the relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit that Lord Jesus knows and experiences.

If, as the gospel shows, all are included in Christ, partaking of the one Human Being, who is Jesus Christ, then we cannot ignore anyone, for we are all part of each other. Apart from each other, we cannot finally know the fullness of our humanity, nor can we finally know the fullness of humanity’s union with God, which is revealed in Jesus Christ. 

The Good News of the Gospel is that
All are in Christ by the Creation and
Christ is in All by the Incarnation.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Deeply Connected With One Another

The Incarnation Means That
We are Deeply and Inextricably
Connected to One Another,
for Christ is Deeply and
Inextricably United with
All Humankind.

Though there are many human persons, there is only one human being, only one way of being human, of which we all partake. Christ, who is the Creator of all and from all derive their being, is being itself. By the Incarnation, he has united with all humankind by becoming Human Being.

This means that humankind, which was once defined by and headed up in Adam, is now defined by and headed up in Christ. And this is why St. Paul can speak so inclusively concerning Adam and Christ.

For if, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. (Romans 5:17-18)

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

This deep and inseparable connection of Christ with all humankind, and of all humans persons with each other, means that, if there are any who are not finally restored, then none of us will ever fully be restored. There will always be something missing. Humankind — Human Being — will be eternally diminished.