Saturday, 4 January 2014

Responses to Your Top Comments

My recent blog post generated some great comments (here and on Facebook) and I want to give them space for a response. I'll do my best to accurately represent a couple of comments without repeating them verbatim.

Matt Baunach commented that Christianity is more than a system of ethics but a new world.

I should say that generally speaking I take a materialist or physicalist view of the world. Because of that I presume that the kingdom of God is entirely about this world and about how we ought live in this world. Tack my existentialist view onto that and we come to the position that the new world comes about through the subjectivation of humanity as individuals. That's great, Andrew, but how does that answer Matt's question?

Ethical living is epiphenomenal to the Christian transformation. In short, the single individual becomes a Christian and ethical living flows from that. This transformation of the single individual is the starting point for the transformation of the world because it is the transformation of the world of that single individual. To put it another way, the kingdom of God is what the world looks like when there is a community of people who have begun to be transformed by God as individuals. It's not an ethical checklist, it's evidence of a subjective change.

(How was that, Matt?)

Ben Eames commented that I was a little reductionist.

I'm going to assume that I came across as though Christian maturity is the teleological point of Christianity. If so, I didn't mean that. What I should have said was that the movement to surpass torah, the prophets, and the poets, was within the general movement of Christianity to surpass legislated morality in favour of outworking of an internalised truth. The letter to the Hebrews is marked by things being better now (better high priest, better sacrifice, etc.). The reader (in particular, the Hebrew reader) is encouraged to leave behind former ways.

But where does that stand in the grand scheme of being Christian? It's within the scope of grace and outside the scope of law. Within that context we can point to this definition of Christian maturity as part of the larger shift from law to grace, from death to life. This element in Hebrews is another aspect of that general shift.

(How was that, Ben?)

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