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, May 6, 2016

The Spirit of Jesus, part 11 of 13

    "It presents this characteristically in connection
with the feeding of the five thousand (vi. 1-14, 26 f.).
Down to verse 51 (or 5la) there is no difficulty ;
the homily, in Johannine fashion, represents Christ
as the source of spiritual nourishment for believing
men, which is communicated to, and assimilated by,
personal faith. I am the bread of life; he who comes 
to me shall never hunger, and he who believes on me shall 
never thirst. . . . I am the living bread, descended from 
heaven; if any one eats of this bread he shall live for 
ever. It is at this point that the difficulty begins. 
The following intermediate passage down to verse 56 
(57, 58) insists that eternal life depends upon eating 
the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of man. 
Then the dialogue explains this strange language. 
To prevent any misconception, it is pointed out that 
the food is the heavenly personality of the risen Son 
of man. It is the spirit--i.e. the ascended Christ-- 
who imparts life, the flesh is of no use whatever. The 
words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. And, 
as if to emphasise the fact that this is the determin- 
ing and crucial thought of the entire dialogue, Peter 
confesses, Thou hast words of life eternal
    It is natural that the middle and so-called 'sacra- 
mental' passage should have raised critical suspicions 
of an interpolation or an authentic source which 
has been worked over by the evangelist ; but, even 
taking the entire section as it stands in the canonical 
text, we can do justice to its theology from the 
historical point of view by recalling the fact that 
this realistic tendency, against which the author of 
Hebrews protests (xiii. 9 f.) in the name of spiritual 
Christianity, is carried out still further as the post- 
apostolic age proceeds. By the time of Justin 
Martyr the bread and wine of the Supper effect a 
change in the bodies of the participants which 
guarantees to them eternal life, very much as in the 
contemporary mysteries. Now, the Fourth gospel is 
sometimes held to reflect an earlier stage of this 
tendency, and sometimes to express a sympathy 
with such sacramental views which is hardly recon- 
cilable with the author's more spiritual standpoint. 
For each of these interpretations, especially for the 
latter, a case can be made out. But there is good 
reason to hold that neither is adequate to the entire 
synthesis and situation of the Fourth gospel. What 
the author seeks to do is to show that the communi- 
cation of the Spirit and life eternal is independent of 
any such feeding upon the Christian deity as present 
in the bread and wine of the Supper. This is one 
reason why he deliberately omits the institution of 
the Supper on the last night, and why at an earlier 
stage in the gospel he as deliberately inserts a para- 
graph full of realistic sacramental language in a con- 
text which indicates how it ought to be taken. As 
the long passages of table-talk in chapters xiv.-xvii. 
plainly indicate, he was thoroughly alive to the 
communion of Christians with Christ and one another, 
which shone out in the sacrament from Paul to the 
Didache. But we have no clue to the significance 
which he attached to the Supper in the praxis of 
the Church, except the indirect clue to be found in his 
attitude of aloofness towards the realistic tendency 
of the age. Among the mystically minded it has been 
usual either to remain indifferent to the sacrament 
of the Lord's Supper, or to permeate its ritual with 
an inner significance of their own. The history of the 
Church offers instances of both attitudes. It is not 
possible, however, to determine the positive outlook 
of the Johannine theology upon this sacrament. The 
probabilities are that it did not differ essentially 
from that of Paul and Luke. According to the 
eschatological passage in the Apocalypse of Baruch 
(xxix. 3 f.), at the beginning of messiah's revelation 
those who hunger and thirst are to be miraculously 
fed in the latter days by the manna which is again 
showered from heaven, after which the messiah 
comes back in glory, and those who have fallen 
asleep in the hope of Him are raised from the dead. 
The Fourth gospel represents the living Christ as 
the real, spiritual manna which is to be enjoyed here 
and now by those who believe. Thus in the interpre- 
tation both of baptism and the Lord's Supper it is 
the Spirit which dominates the argument, the Spirit 
in connection with the personality of the risen Christ. 
Now, in the Fourth gospel the Pauline antithesis of 
flesh and spirit is conceived as a cosmic antithesis. 
The world or (see link for Greek) is opposed to the divine nature, 
which is spirit, light, love, and truth. But the 
antithesis is not left as a metaphysical or moral 
dualism. The Father loves the world, and his love 
is the source of Christ's mission. Christ, as the 
Sent and the Son of God, has the Spirit in full 
measure ; He possesses the divine life, and mediates 
it for men through His words or (see link for Greek). It is signifi- 
cant that in the third and the sixth chapters alike 
these 'words' are put forward in the climax of the 
argument. He whom God has sent speaks the words 
of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 
It is the Spirit which gives life . . . the words I have 
spoken to you are spirit and life. The words are 
semi-personified, like the Spirit. They have a role 
not unlike that which Philo assigns to the logoi or 
(see link for Greek) in relation to the Logos; 1 they are not 
utterances or words, in the modern sense, so much 
as real powers of the divine nature, acting on behalf 
of God or Christ. Only their effect is not repre- 
sented as magical, and indeed it seems to be in view 
of such a misconception that the author refers to 
them in connection with baptism and the Lord's 
Supper. The divine life which the words express and 
convey is conditioned by obedience and trust on the 
part of men ; thus only do they taste the heavenly gift."

*See link for footnotes.

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