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)

Friday, April 1, 2016

St. Paul the Christian, part 5 of 6

    "The question, 'What, according to St. Paul, brings about the fellowship of Christ?' is answered from the hints which we have given concerning St. Paul's conversion. It is God who brings about fellowship with Christ.1 Not that every Christian has an experience equal to that, of St. Paul on the road to Damascus, but every one who possesses the living Christ or the Spirit has received the gift from God Himself, or is 'apprehended' by Christ Himself.2 There are numerous passages 3 in which God is celebrated as the giver of the Spirit.
    The assertion that in St. Paul baptism is the means of access to Christ, I take to be incorrect. There are passages which, if isolated, might be held to prove it,1 but I think it is nevertheless more correct to say that baptism does not bring about but only sets the seal to the fellowship of Christ. In St. Paul's own case at any rate it was not baptism that was decisive, but the appearance of Christ to him before Damascus; nor did he consider himself commissioned to baptize, but to evangelise.2 The Lord's Supper, again, was to him not the real cause of fellowship with Christ, but an expression of this fellowship; it was an especially intimate contact with the Lord.3 The Lord's Supper does not bring about the fellowship, it only brings it into prominence. Neither baptism nor the Lord's Supper is regarded as of magical effect. 4 In every case it is God's grace that is decisive. St. Paul's Christians can say with him 5:—
                                                   'By the grace of God I am what I am.'

    Powerful and original as St. Paul's spiritual experience of Christ is, there are not wanting influences that acted upon him as stimuli, chiefly coming from the piety of the Septuagint. In the Greek Old Testament there are a considerable number of prominent passages—and here, I think, an important Hellenisation of the original is revealed—in which the formulae 'in God' and 'in the Lord' are used in a mystical sense. The words of the prophet,6

                                                        'Yet I will exult in the Lord,'

sound like the prelude of St. Paul's Jubilate,1
                                                             'Rejoice in the Lord!'

The formula 'in God,' which is especially frequent in the Septuagint Psalms, is a great favourite with St. Paul 2 and occurs also united with the formula 'in Christ.' 3 The confession in the speech on Mars' Hill,4

                                      'In Him (God) we live and move and have our being,'

is part of Paul's pre-Christian mysticism, inspired by the Septuagint; Paul the Christian's rallying-cry, 'in Christ,' is the more vivid substitute for the old sacred formula.
    It is justifiable, I think, to speak of Hellenistic influence here, when we remember the importance in Greek mysticism of inspired persons who are filled with their god, and gifted with power in their god. 5 Placed in the great coherent body of mysticism in general, the piety of St. Paul acquires the stamp which really distinguishes it in the history of religion: it is mysticism centred in Christ.
    A quarter of a century ago, in my undergraduate days, a heavy hand had stretched out from the side of the dogmatists and had banished mysticism from German lecture-rooms. The study of St. Paul, like other things, suffered under this hand. The few scholars who then emphasised to us the mystic element in St. Paul might have appealed to the authority of greater teachers than Albrecht Ritschl.1 Luther and Calvin brought a congenial sympathy to the understanding of the apostle's mysticism about Christ, and if we go farther back we find the real St. Paul alive in the ancient Church, especially in the Greek Fathers. The greatest monument of most genuine appreciation of St. Paul's mysticism, however, is the Gospel and the Epistles of St. John; their Logos Christ is the Spirit Christ, made once more incarnate for the congregation of saints in a time of bitter conflict by an evangelist who is equally inspired by the earthly Jesus and by St. Paul.
    There can be no doubt that St. Paul became influential in the world's history precisely by reason of his mysticism about Christ. The spiritual Christ was able to do what a dogmatic Messiah never could have done. The dogmatic Messiah of the Jews is fettered to his native country. The spiritual Christ could move from place to place; coming from the East, He could become at home in the West, could bid defiance to the changing centuries and spread His arms over every generation:—

                                                'The Spirit bloweth where it listeth.'3"

*See link for footnotes.

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