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)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Christ the Archetype of Humanity, part 3 of 8

    "In contrast is Jesus Christ, the Man in whom God is Immanent, and who, in consequence, realises the Ideal of our being. In Him also were Spirit and Flesh, but related to each other as they ought to be—the Spirit of God controlling the flesh and determining all the activities of the personal life, so that He became the Type of the Spiritual Man. To this peculiarity in the Person of Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit of God, is to be referred the fact, so fundamental in Paul's thought of Christ, of His personal holiness and entire freedom from sin. What distinguished Christ from all other men in the view of the apostle, and constituted the secret of His power to save, was His sinlessness. And in referring this exceptional position of Christ in humanity to His supernatural endowment by the Spirit of God, we are not to understand him as implying that it was not also the personal attainment of Christ. The apostle, indeed, says nothing explicit as to the process by which Christ achieved holiness, but that the latter was in no sense a ready-made virtue, or the result of a natural and necessary process, may, I think, be inferred from the fact that the apostle asserts the solidarity of Christ with mankind in sharing with them the flesh or material nature, with its weakness for good, its openness to temptation, its mortality.
    I can refer only in passing to the controversy on which so much has been written as to what precisely is meant by the term "flesh" in Paul's writings. A certain class of writers maintain that he was influenced in his use of the term by the usage of Greek philosophy, and that he held the essential evil of matter. According to them, his teaching is that the flesh, in virtue of its being material, is in itself evil, and that assumed by Christ it was in Him, as in us all, the seat of sinful passions and desires; His personal sinlessness being conserved by the admission that while it was an objective reality in His flesh it never became sin subjectively, or His own personal act, having been kept from passing into an act of will by the opposite principle of the Spirit. There is no proof, however, that Paul used the term in this metaphysical sense, while the strong probability is that he held the Old Testament view of the historical connection between the flesh and sin. The two things are separable in idea, although in concrete experience and in the life of the race the flesh is sinful; but the distinction leaves us free to hold that the flesh of Christ was that of unfallen human nature. It is another question whether it really was so. The doctrine that Christ was not born by ordinary generation seems to secure for Him a participation of flesh exempt from sin. But whatever Paul's view was concerning the supernatural origin of Christ's life, this doctrine was not taught by him, and we can scarcely proceed upon it in the interpretation of his language on the subject under consideration. Some accordingly have held, not on speculative grounds but on grounds of Scripture, and what appear to them the necessities of the case, that the flesh attributed by the apostle to our Lord in His humilation was in itself, and apart from His personal will, identical with ours,— convinced that unless we take this view we cannot hold that His temptations were ours, or that His victory over evil is available for us. On the other hand, we have statements of the apostle's that make us pause before we go so far. We are told that "Christ knew no sin";1 and such an aloofness of it from His very consciousness is scarcely consistent with its presence as an active principle or power in His material frame. Again, we read that He came in the "likeness of sinful flesh,"2 a phrase that seems to have been chosen to guard against the idea of a perfect identity between the flesh of Christ and that of ordinary men. Two things may be like without being the very same. And the similarity between Christ's flesh and our own may well have been accompanied by a difference affecting the experience of the moral life, when we remember the strength of the Divine consciousness in Him. At the same time, the dissimilarity must not be pressed. The likeness was real enough to involve Him in a conflict with sin in the flesh that called forth His active "condemnation"3 of it. For whatever else the apostle may mean to imply by that expression, he points to a dealing on the part of Christ with sin, in which He practically denied its right to rule in human nature, and demonstrated that a man who has the Holy Spirit for his life and strength is superior to the flesh, and need not succumb to its weakness. And this practical condemnation of sin in the flesh involved a continual resistance to it in its manifold approaches and forms of assault on His integrity, that establishes a community of feeling and experience between the sinless One and His brethren of a very real description.

1---2 Cor. v. 21.    2---Rom. viii. 3.    3---Rom. viii. 3."

- David Somerville (St. Paul's Conception of Christ: or, The Doctrine of the Second Adam, pgs. 37-40)

*Re-post from 9/15/15

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