Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

5/18/2008

The Church Is Not Ours

The church is not ours. The church is God's. The story is not ours. The story is God's. We are simply stewards of God's story. God's story tells us what God is up to, and God is up to the work of transformation. Transformation happens in the church, not because we are so smart or good at what we do. Transformation happens because God is good and is still at work reconciling the world through Christ. After all, the church's claim is not "He was risen," but rather, "He is risen!"
—Rick Barger, A New and Right Spirit

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3 Comments:

  • At 5/18/2008 7:51 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    When the author says "transformation" does he mean theosis? If not what does he mean?

     
  • At 5/19/2008 7:46 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    November,
    Determining authorial intent is a tricky thing as it involves putting words in someone's mouth. As Rick Barger is a Lutheran pastor, I suspect he would use the word santification, as the theological term behind the word transformation as he uses it. One further quote from the same book illustrates this.

    "Imagine the reaction to a marketing piece that said something like this: 'We invite you to come to our congregation. Here you will be immerses in a story that exposes much of what our world has handed to you about human life—its values and its purposes—as lies, declares our world and all of its schemes dead, and promises to put you to death and raise you to new life. You will be so grasped by this story and pulled into our congregation that lives out this story that you will one day find yourself at odds with the values, attitudes, and priorities of many of your neighbors and maybe even your own family."

    But his use is also quite close to the Orthodox idea of Theosis. As another quote reveals: "Biblical transformation means a complete change, brought about by the activity of God, in which people become different than what they were before—not cosmetically different but really different."

    This fits with those classic formulations given by the Church Father Athanasius of Alexandria when he wrote theosis is "becoming by grace what God is by nature" (De Incarnatione, I). I have preached on this before in the sermon Becoming Like God.

    So, my real authorial intent guess is that as Barger is referring to a real and lasting life transformation in which one is conformed more and more to the image of Christ—a process his Lutheran training would call "sanctification" and which an Orthodox trained person would call "theosis"—both of which can claim the same biblical foundation in verses such as II Peter 1:4 which says that we have become " . . . partakers of divine nature."

     
  • At 5/20/2008 5:55 PM, Blogger RBarger said…

    Well said. On page 26 is a sidebar that uses Romans 12:1-2 as an entree into the biblical understanding of transformation.

     

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