Posted by: rogermitchell | June 18, 2010

What boundaries do the people of God have?

In the responses to the last post, below, the question of Christian boundaries is raised. In the next few blogs I will pursue this because I believe it to be one of the most important contemporary issues for the repositioned ecclesia.

As a starting point, every human being is one of God’s people. Everyone derives from the image of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We can learn from them all and belong to them all. As I see it the creation was a deliberate extension of the trinity and the only essential difference between them and us is that they are God and we are in the image of God. There is a lot of theology in that statement however which I will return to in a later post!

Basic to being in God’s image is love. And love is a choice. If not, it is legal or robotic, only duty or reaction and not the freedom of love. God’s decision to create us in his image is huge. It makes humanity only a little bit less than God as the Psalmist puts it. It defines time for God and humans. For after creation God was voluntarily but eternally limited by the existence of us humans in his image. From this perspective the reason for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the creation story was to give humanity the opportunity to choose to love and trust like God. To live by the knowledge of good and evil, to make law primary, was something that God did not do, they chose first to love. If they had chosen not to eat of this tree, we needed the opportunity to make the same choice. I see this as boundary number one. It is the human failure in this choice that separates us from God. The story of redemption is about getting the human race back over that boundary. In the next post I will attempt to explain the people of God as those who have recrossed the boundary into the love-life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As I see it, the intercessory task of the ecclesia is to bring the whole creation through the doorway of the incarnation and to collaborate in the future life of God.

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Responses

  1. This is quite important stuff – particularly where this goes next. I quite like this reading of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and ‘law’ makes a good understandable idea to talk about but I wonder whether it isn’t speaking of something more profound than ‘law’. This is really just me thinking ‘aloud’ to some degree. Law is evocative of (but rarely the same as) justice between people. I think I see this tree as addressing the more fundamental consciousness of identity and difference. If, as I do, you take boundaries to be those markers of difference that we have constructed to bolster our own identity, then this prefigures questions of law or power. This knowledge of difference that seeks to defend the self by doing violence to or excluding the ‘other’ stands in opposition to the pre-tree-of-the-knowledge-of-good-and-evil understanding of difference which was (and remains) about unconditional responsibility and love for the ‘other’. (Levinas is great here) On this basis Adam and Eve knew that they were naked. On this basis, Cain slew Abel. On this basis, nation rises up against nation. There were, I submit, no boundaries in the sense that I mean it here before eating the fruit of that tree. I therefore don’t read the kind of difference that there is between us and God as such a boundary, only a resolvable difference in perspective and practice. The task is then to deconstruct all boundaries that are not for the unconditional responsibility and love for the ‘other’. That’s my very basic working theory anyway… and that leads me to conclude that all boundaries require a positive reason to exist otherwise they are flawed and will destroy themselves.

    Clear as mud?

  2. Not sure if this appeared on the other thread but this is the best place for my question.
    Do we see “one another” as a boundary?


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