March 25, 2013
One does not have to hang around the church very long to hear some weird stuff.1 For example, when I converted to Protestantism, one of the dominant narratives as I picked it up—usually via some kind of epistemological osmosis but sometimes quite explicitly—was that the incarnation was God’s attempt to get the reconciliation ball rolling, that Jesus had laid the foundations for reconciliation and then he went back to heaven to sit down next to God in the great lounge room in the sky to watch over how events would pan out. But just before his exodus, Jesus formed a little community who would work as subcontractors to the big boss upstairs. And foreman Jesus trusted this community to carry on his work while he was away, promising to turn up again when the job was nearly done just to check that it had all been done according to his instructions. What this means, as one often hears, is that if God’s costly work in Jesus is to make any real difference in the world then we need to get off our bums and make sure that we get everyone we know into a home group or along to a church service or, at the very least, reading a book or watching a DVD that communicates, among other themes, just how warm one’s future existence is going to be unless one prays some magic words.
In other words, according to this narrative, although God had once been personally invested in this little project called “creation,” God had now essentially taken a back seat to the whole program. God is now a bit like a corporation’s founding director who still serves on the board in a sort of honorary position but who has really relinquished the right to call the shots—the shareholders now do that. More seriously, in this plot, the church’s central claims about God—namely that God is triune and that God has, in Jesus Christ, embraced a fully human existence—make little if any practical difference in how we think and go about being a faithful community. This is a profound problem.
About twenty-five years ago, I came across a remarkable essay on the place of Jesus Christ in worship.2
Read more at http://theotherjournal.com/2013/03/25/mission-and-the-priesthood-of-the-christ/