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)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

St. Paul the Christian, part 2 of 6

    "We must first of all try to understand this Christ of the apostle. The attempt is usually made under the heading, 'the Christology' of St. Paul. But it would be more accurate, because more historical, to inquire concerning the apostle's 'knowledge of Christ,' or 'experience of Christ,' or 'Christ as revealed to St. Paul.' Anything that tends to petrify the fellowship with Christ, which was felt at the beginning and felt so vividly, into a doctrine about Christ, is mischievous. We ask, What Christ did Paul know and experience? The answer can only be: it is the spiritual, living Christ, of whom Paul is certain.
    This certainty of Christ, however, is of varying quality. Always, it is true, the living, risen Christ is the centre, but we can distinguish two opposite extremes of feeling.
    At one time Christ is to the apostle the Son of God who has been 'highly exalted'6 to the Father, who now dwells in heaven above in glory with the Father, 'at the right hand of God,'1 and shall soon 'come' as a judge upon earth.2
    This assurance about Christ, which is strongly Jewish in tone, and especially influenced by Psalm ex., might be called by doctrinaire theologians an assurance of the transcendence of Christ. It would be more in the spirit of St. Paul and therefore historically more correct to describe it as an assurance of Christ the 'highly exalted.' This word 'highly exalted' is characteristically Pauline,3 and although it afterwards gave a very strong stimulus to the development of dogma, it was originally not a dogmatic expression at all, but a religious formulation of a conviction about Christ in plain, popular style.
    Still more characteristic of St. Paul is the second, more Hellenistic and mystical phase of his experience of Christ: the living Christ is the Spirit. As Spirit (pneuma) the Living One is not far away beyond clouds and stars, but present on this poor earth, where He lives and rules among His own. Here, too, there are inspirations to be found in the Septuagint, and St. Paul himself is responsible for some significant formulations :—
            'The Lord is the Spirit,'4
     'The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit,'5
'He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit,'6

and so on. Still more important perhaps than lines of such symbolical character as these is the fact that in numerous passages St. Paul makes statements about Christ and about the Spirit in precisely equivalent terms. This is specially observable in the parallelism of the mystical formulae 'in Christ' and 'in the (Holy) Spirit.' The formula 'in the Spirit,' which occurs only nineteen times in St. Paul, is connected in nearly all these passages with the same specifically Pauline fundamental notions as the formula 'in Christ.' Faith,1 righteousness,2 justification,3 being,4 standing,5 rejoicing and joy,6 free gift (by grace),7 love,8 peace,9 sanctification,10 sealing,11 circumcision,12 bearing witness,13 speaking,14 being filled,15 one body,1 a temple of God 2—all these things the Christian sees and experiences and is 'in Christ,' and also 'in the Spirit'; that means in fact 'in Christ who is the Spirit.' Therefore also the technical expressions 'fellowship of the Son of God' and 'fellowship of the Holy Spirit' are parallel in St. Paul;3 for the same experience is meant, whether St. Paul says that Christ lives in him 4 or that the Spirit dwells in us, 5 whether he speaks of Christ's making intercession for us with the Father 6 or of the assistance of the Spirit in prayer.7
    Doctrinaire theologians might call this experience of Christ by the apostle an experience of the immanence of Christ. It would be more in the manner of St. Paul, and therefore historically more correct, to speak of the experience of the Spirit-Christ."

- Adolf Deissmann (St. Paul: a study in social and religious history, pgs. 124-127)

*See link for footnotes.

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