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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Putting the Gospel in the here and now

Excellent post here by John H, in which he quotes Dick Lucas:

The Gospel is not the presentation of an idea, but the operation of a power.

This reflects the nature of God's Word, as opposed to ours: Our word at best merely communicates an idea, His creates a reality. God is such a magnificent story teller that when we hear His voice we cannot help but be made part of His True myth.

This makes the Word of God eminently practical: Seeing the Gospel as the "operation of a power" places it in the here-and-now, not in a far off realm of theory and principle. The Word is no proposition, couched in some Platonic realm of being and divorced from daily experience. Instead, it surrounds and intertwines with our life and breath. Dare I say, it becomes that life and breath.

The great danger we confessionals face is in divorcing belief in doctrine from its very real experience. We are rightly afraid of betraying our confessions, but we make the mistake of holding them at arm's length; rarely allowing them to penetrate our lives. This forces a dualism foreign to scripture: We push the truth of God outside of time and place, apprehended only by the intellect or the spirit. The body, and all of the mundane things that the body must attend to are left to flounder.

But the climax of this pilgrimage of faith we are on will not be in the death of our bodies and the freeing of our "inner selves", but in our real, tangible, physical resurrection. This perspective must guide is completely in line with an orthodox understanding of the soul. As Pastor Snyder writes in his post "That's the Spirit (and the Soul)!":

Most Bible translations use three different words for the Hebrew ruach and the Greek pneuma. Depending on context, you might read "breath," "wind," or "spirit" in the English text. When you realize this, it's easier to appreciate the interplay of words and actions in Scripture. For example, when God "breathed into Adam," you could say God "spirited" or "inspired" the lifeless figure, making him a "living creature."

He continues,

"Soul" likewise defies simple definition. It relates to life or being alive. When God made Adam and breathed into him, Adam became a "living soul"; many newer translations render "soul" as "creature" or "being." An important thing to note: Adam didn't receive a soul; he became one. Too often, we divorce body and soul, or think of one as central and the other as an attachment or an accessory. God here reminds us that to be fully human is to be an enfleshed soul possessed of the Holy Spirit. What we lost in Adam's fall, we received back in Christ's death and resurrection."

Doctrine takes life when I find my place inside it, as opposed to trimming it down to a set of theorems to be prooved or points to be debated. Though we cannot to create a theology of experiences, there must be a relationship between what we believe and the moment-by-moment lives we live. The Gospel was never meant to play by the rules that science invented. It has no place in the realm of mere proposition; it works much better as a mystery hidden in Word and Sacrament, worked out in fear and trembling in the here and now.