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)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

St. Paul the Christian, part 4 of 6

    "We may now ask, What was St. Paul's conception of this spiritual Christ? The answer will depend on how we define 'spirit' (pneuma) as used by St. Paul. It is best to start from the sharp contrast in which the pneuma always stands to sarx, 'the flesh.' The 'spirit' is certainly something not fleshly,1 not earthly,2 not material. The spiritual Christ has indeed a soma, a ' body,' but it is a spiritual, 3 that is heavenly 4 body,5 consisting of divine effulgence. Sharp, philosophically pointed definition of the concept 'spiritual' there is happily none in St. Paul. The apostle remains popular and, in true ancient style, vivid in his formulation. He probably thought of some light, ethereal form of existence, such as he doubtless attributed also to God. But there is no binding definition; we have the greatest possible latitude if we should wish to transplant the apostle's ideas concerning Christ into our own religious thought. To Paul the Spirit, God, the living Christ is a reality, the reality of all realities; therefore there was no need for him to puzzle over definitions. The Spirit that is living in Paul searches all things, even the deep things of God,6 but it excogitates no definitions of' God. Religious definitions are always attempts to save something.
    If Paul had given a definition, he would have defined as a man of the ancients, in a manner more realistic, more massive, and more concrete than a speculative thinker of our own time, but certainly not materialistically. There is nothing fleshly, nothing earthly about the Spirit; it is divine, heavenly, eternal, holy, living, and life-giving—these are all predicates that St. Paul gives or could give to it, and they may all be applied to the spiritual Christ.
    What St. Paul formally new created or rather introduced into the mysticism of Christ was not definitions, but an abundant store of technical phrases expressing, often in popular figurative language, the spiritual fellowship between Christ and His own. The not unimportant problem of reproducing this technical language of St. Paul, some details of which we have touched, has not yet been solved connectedly, and it can only be mentioned as a problem here. He that will solve it must be at home in the atmosphere and language of Eastern and Western mysticism."

- Adolf Deissmann (St. Paul: a study in social and religious history, pgs. 128-130)

*See link for footnotes.

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