The Universal Christ

"The resurrection gives us a Christ who is spiritually present; the Holy Spirit gives us a Christ who is universally present. By the coming of the Holy Spirit the risen Christ is made omnipresent, and the whole process of revelation here and now completed. Nothing higher can be looked for until the veil is dropped on the other side. Momentous consequences follow the acceptance of this truth. If the age of the Spirit under which we are now living marks the final outgoing of God to man; if the God who is manifested in Christ is every-where present in the Spirit; if through the medium-ship of the Spirit he dwells in the inner sanctuary of the soul; if he is not only with man, but in man; if through the Holy Spirit his presence within the soul is realized as the presence of Christ, then the time foretold by Jesus has come when temples and shrines are no longer indispensable, when every man has immediate access to God as the Father, and when every humble receptive soul may become "an habitation of God in the Spirit." "
- James Mann Campbell (The Presence, p. 89)

The New Covenant Gift of the Spirit

"Let us recall the three considerations that have been
mentioned. First, that our Lord Himself in His Divine-human nature was on earth, and is now in heaven, possessed of the fulness of the Spirit, and this in such a manner that the Spirit entered into all He was in the one sphere, and enters into all He is in the other. Secondly, that the Spirit given us by our Lord in His glorified condition is His own Spirit in the most definite and particular meaning of the words. Thirdly, that when the Spirit is bestowed upon us He must be made inwardly and experimentally ours, entering into all that we are in a manner similar to that in which He entered into all that Jesus was and is. Let us fix these three points distinctly in our minds, and it will follow that the Spirit promised as the chief gift of the New Covenant is pervaded by human as well as Divine elements. As the Spirit of the exalted and glorified Lord, He is not the Third Person of the Trinity in His absolute and metaphysical existence, but that Person as He is mediated through the Son, who is human as well as Divine. It is on this particular aspect of His being that He diffuses Himself through the members of Christ's body, and abides in them. Only as human, entering into and coalescing with what is human, can He be also our Spirit dwelling in a living and real way within us."
- William Milligan (The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord, p. 189)

Monday, March 28, 2016

St. Paul the Christian, part 1 of 6

    "An experience which St. Paul looks upon as caused by God, which betokens with absolute certainty that the living Christ has been revealed to him, or that he himself has been taken possession of by Christ, and which includes also the inward transformation and at the same time apostolic commission 3 of the man who hitherto had been a persecutor—all this the event near Damascus was to St. Paul himself. And this description of the incident of his conversion is amply sufficient for the historian. We can, however, taking this one experience in connexion with the whole of St. Paul's later mystical experience of Christ, gain one more important result by combining two statements in the letter to the Galatians. To the man who describes his position as a Christian by saying,4

'Christ liveth in me,'

Damascus was the beginning of this indwelling of Christ:—

'It was the good pleasure of God ... to reveal His Son in me.'1

    The incident near Damascus must therefore not be isolated, but must be regarded as the foundational experience in mysticism of a religious genius to whom also in later life extraordinary ecstatic experiences were vouchsafed.
    The conversion of the persecutor to the follower, and of the apostle of the Pharisees to the apostle of Christ, was a sudden one. But it was no magical transformation; it was psychologically prepared for, both negatively and positively.
    Negatively, by the experiences which the soul of the young Pharisee, in its passionate hunger for righteousness, had had under the yoke of the Law. We hear the echo of his groanings even twenty or thirty years afterwards in the letters of the convert: like a curse there had come upon him the awful discovery 2 that even for the most earnest conscience, in fact especially for the most earnest conscience, it is impossible really to keep the whole Law.
    Positively the conversion was no doubt prepared for on the one hand by the prophetic inwardness of the old revelation acting on Paul the Jew, and on the other hand by a relatively close familiarity with genuine tradition about Jesus and the effects that Jesus was able to produce in the persons of the confessors of Jesus whom Paul persecuted. I do not consider it probable that the young zealot was ever personally acquainted with the earthly Jesus, although weighty voices have again declared recently in favour of this hypothesis.1 But it is most certainly probable that the Pharisee was acquainted with his opponent as far as He remained an influence in His words and in His disciples.
    Thus the lightning of Damascus strikes no empty void, but finds plenty of inflammable material in the soul of the young persecutor. We see the flames shoot up, and we feel that the glow then kindled has lost none of its force a generation later in the man grown aged: Christ is in Paul, Paul in Christ.
    With these words we have not only grasped the secret of all St. Paul's religion—we have also described it in terms made sacred by St. Paul:—

Christ in Paul,2 Paul in Christ.3

    It is no doubt generally admitted that St. Paul's religion centred in Christ, but how differently people conceive of the Christ-centred Christianity of St. Paul! Often it has been represented as identical with Christological Christianity. But the religion of St. Paul is Christ-centred in a far deeper and far more realistic sense: it is not first of all a doctrine concerning Christ, it is 'fellowship' with Christ.4 St. Paul lives 'in' Christ, 'in' the living and present spiritual Christ, who is about him on all sides, dwells in him,1 speaks to him,2 speaks in and through him.3 To St. Paul Christ is not a person of the past, with whom he can have intercourse only by meditating on his words that have been handed down, not a great 'historic' figure, but a reality and power of the present, an 'energy'4 whose life-giving power is daily made perfect in him. 5"

- Adolf Deissman (St. Paul: a study in social and religious history, pgs. 121-124)

*See link for footnotes.

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