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, April 25, 2016

The unveiled face, R.H. Strachan on 2 Cor. 3: 12-18

"Such being my hope then, I am quite frank and open—not like 12-13
Moses, who used to hang a veil over his face to keep the
children of Israel from gazing at the last rays of a fading
glory. Besides, their minds were dulled, for to this very day, 14
when the Old Testament is read aloud, the same veil hangs.
Veiled from them the fact that the glory fades in Christ!
Yes, down to this day, whenever Moses is read aloud, the 15
veil rests on their heart; though whenever they turn to the 16
Lord, the veil is removed. (The Lord means the Spirit, 17
and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is open 18
freedom.) But we all mirror the glory of the Lord with face
unveiled, and so we are being transformed into the same
likeness as Himself, passing from one glory to another—
for this comes of the Lord the Spirit."- 2 Cor. 3: 12-18

   "Not like Moses who used to hang a veil over his face to keep 13
the children of Israel from gazing at the last rays of a fading
glory. Paul here employs a traditional rabbinic method of
interpretation, whereby the words of Scripture are interpreted
allegorically for the purpose of edification. There is nothing
in the Old Testament story of Exod. xxxiv. 33 ff. to suggest
that Moses veiled his face with this motive in view. The actual
motive-in the Exodus narrative is based on a primitive super-
stitious notion that the veil was used in order that the
people might not be injured or die by too long exposure to
the dangerous Divine rays (cf. Exod. xxxiv. 30 ; 2 Sam. vi. 6 f.).
Paul's interpretation is hardly more religious. He cannot be
acquitted of a clever attempt to score off his opponents.1 The
idea is a sudden tangent of thought which would neither
convince nor conciliate them. He can hardly mean to accuse
Moses of subterfuge, but treats him like a lay figure. In
verse 7, he allows to stand, alongside his words here, a tribute
to the ' glory' with which even the administration of death
was invested.
14 Having given this side-thrust, Paul describes the veil that
15 hangs for the Jew over the sacred book, and rests also on
their hearts, hiding the dawn of the new day in Christ. The
16 glory fades in Christ: whenever they turn to the Lord, the veil is
removed.1
17 The Lord means the Spirit. Whom does Paul mean by
the Lord, here and in the previous verse? God or Christ?
    (1) It is held that in both passages God is meant. It is to
God that Moses went in unveiled. Paul, it is said, allegorizes
rather freely the words of Exod. xxxiv. 34, as he quotes them
freely. When Israel turns to the Lord, the veil will be removed
from their hearts. The self-revealed glory of God is practically
equivalent to the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the new covenant
which is life-giving. The clause is regarded as explanatory,
indicating that turn to the Lord means turn in response to
the gift of sonship (Rom. viii. 15; Gal. iv. 6). Moreover,
although 'Lord' is usually the title of Jesus in the Pauline
writings, it is used of God in viii. 19; Phil. iv. 4; 2 Thess.
ii. 13, and elsewhere. 'Lord ' is rarely used alone of Jesus, but
mostly in conjunction with the personal name, Jesus Christ—
'Our Lord Jesus Christ.'
    (2) Another interpretation is that in both verses the Lord
is Christ. The Lord means the Spirit identifies Jesus and
the Spirit, at least in the experience of men. The Lord is
the risen and exalted Jesus, upon whom God has conferred
'the name which is above every name' (Phil. ii. 9 ff.).
Moreover, it may be contended, the Jews did not need to turn
to Jahveh, but to Christ. In Rom. viii. 9-11 the life of Christ
in the Christian is identified with the life of the Spirit. On
the whole, this second view is preferable. If it be adopted, the
term Lord in verse 16 hovers between a reference to God and
to Christ. In other words, Paul sees in the Old Testament
words of Exod. xxxiv. 34 an allegorical reference to Christ.
Two things ought to be said: (1) We cannot read developed
Trinitarian ideas into Paul's thinking. He has in view not the
person of Christ so much as His power. In the O.T., 'Lord'
does not denote God's essential being, but His power. In
Paul's thought, the Spirit is not a distinct theological entity,
but God in redeeming action and movement upon the human
heart. In the experience of men, the power of God, of the
exalted Christ, and of the Spirit are identical. God has
conferred upon Christ His own name, Lord (Phil. ii. 11).
Therein we have the raw material of subsequent Trinitarian
doctrine. Paul is here moving in the region of unanalysed
experience. (2) This identification in experience of the
risen Christ and the Spirit has an important bearing on
Paul's doctrine of the Spirit. By thus identifying the
Spirit as the spirit of Jesus, he teaches that speaking in
tongues and other miraculous phenomena do not include the
whole range of the Spirit's manifestations. The Christian
life is regarded as equally miraculous with the speaking in
tongues. The 'fruit of the Spirit' are those qualities of
character which are found in Jesus Christ (Gal. v. 22 f.).
Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is open freedom.
Christian freedom is not the abolition of all constraint. It is
the acceptance of a new constraint, which operates not from
without, but from within. It is open freedom, not enforced,
but free acceptance of the will of God (cf. John viii. 31 ff.).
It is the end of legal religion. Intellectual freedom is included.
Whatever additional content Christian experience may have,
the exercise of private judgment and freedom to select our
authorities are indispensable conditions of its vitality. The
Christian does not merely accept certainties, but discovers
them.
    We all mirror the glory of the Lord with face unveiled. 18
There are three contrasts in these words : (1) we as opposed to
Jews ; (2) all in contrast with one individual—Moses ; (3) with
face unveiled. No veil hangs between our eyes and the
'glory ' or self-revelation of God in the person of Christ. The
R.V. and the A.V. give different translations of the word trans-
lated mirror. 'Reflecting as a mirror,' and ' beholding in a
glass.' Dr. Moffatt's translation agrees with the R.V., which
seems to be demanded by the context, although both senses of
the word are found. The relevant idea is that Christians,
unlike Moses, do not require to 'veil their faces' when the
glory of the Lord shines upon them. Neither do they need to
conceal from others their changed condition. The Christian
life is a continual testimony to the world. So we are being
transformed into the same likeness as Himself. The glory of
God manifested in Christ, is creative. The transformation
comes of the Lord the [creative] Spirit. Again, in experience,
the Spirit of God and the risen Christ are one redemptive
agency (cf. iv. 6). The change takes place through the
growth in Christian faith and character, from one glory to
another.
    As in Rom. viii. 29, Phil. iii. 21, Paul's language may owe
something to the idea, prominent in the various mystery-
religions, of transformation by the vision of God. Paul must
have grown familiar with their terminology, and, as a mis-
sionary, would make use of conceptions familiar to his con-
verts. But Paul always re-mints what he borrows. His
emphasis here is on the moral significance and power of the
Divine glory. The emphasis in the mystery-religions is laid
upon a quasi-magical transmutation of essential being.1"

- R.H. Strachan (The Second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, pgs. 87-90)

*See link for footnotes.

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