History and the Gospel Revisited

When thinking about the power of memory, I often think of how those prior experiences with which I have lived still live with me. History connects us with the narrative we are engaged in. Having a view of history that sets us vs. them fails to give us the connection we need as the people of God with those who have gone before. Neglecting the great cloud of witnesses is not a detriment to them but to us, who aimlessly wander about attempting to make up in harshness what we lack in depth and connectedness with time and place.

We need a sense of time and place, a sense of historicity, a sense of the validity of history so that dispensationalism cannot grip us, because history is still a place where God is active. God’s activity in history has not ceased, and when we recognize this, we will not neglect our connectedness to those saints which have gone before us.

The doctrine of Historical isolation has harmed us far more than helped us, because we have lost the idea of generations. The legitimizing myth that has fueled Christianity since the reformation has been a disconnection from history and tradition, an emphasis on well reasoned choice as the basis of human salvation rather than God’s work in us and gift to us. Salvation is not something achieved through reason or intellectual assent, nor is it reducible to participation in history alone.

Salvation is about something beyond myself, it’s about my part in participating in God’s narrative of salvation, so that if I pray the kingdom of God has come upon the earth. If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, by the Spirit of God that I now live, then the kingdom of God has come with me and through me. If we are all one in that same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead we have an assurance of unity of all Christians in that self-same spirit experienced in time and space, through History as God does his part and we join Him in reconciling all things to Himself.

The reconciliation of all things is the aim of God’s redeeming work so that our sense of time is directed by the continued work of God in succession through the church, so that the self-same spirit which Christ empowered the apostles with is still alive in the church, there is no cessation of gifts or of the spirit because the Church is still actively the place which Christ meets the world in the sacraments and extends his lordship through where His will is obeyed.

Why a sense of place is necessary: by sense of place I herein mean a sense of grounded identity in the historical world which is open both to the past and to the future through a people connected to traditions and the past of the church, and their locationality in culture. So that we are aware of our current location in both the world and as people who have emerged from a certain tradition. As we become aware of our place, in the world, we shall embrace that place, and become a people of place, a people with a narrative connected to a location, re-embracing over against the modern ideal a world in all its worldliness and extending the kingdom to it. It is only in having a sense of place and the validity of our connection with the place in which we find ourselves that we will ever be able to extend God’s saving narrative to the place in which we find ourselves. The goodness of creation demands that we work the location in which we find ourselves, toiling over it, and bringing it redemption through our lives.

A sense of place, it’s still an idea I’m working through, but I guess to sum it up it’s realizing where I am locationally and embracing whatever it is that I find myself in and moving from there. It’s a movement of realization for myself that only in embracing my current location and treating it with respect and connecting myself with it can I hope to change it or see it redeemed. A sense of place also connects me with those around me as a community, in this place. I don’t have to hope for the ideal Christian community, but to embrace the one i find myself in and be connected to it, rooted in it, and sincere about living in and through it.

A sense of time simply put is a recognition that I am not the first Christian, nor am I alone in this. I have the saints backing me, praying for me, aiding me, i have the future to look to, and a connection with the present, so that I can be fully present, awake and alive today. I can live for today, and with a power for today, looking to the day with vigor and courage to tackle today, to have a sunrise that’s for today, a spirit for today, for now, for strength in this moment. To change myself today, to submit to Christ today, to love my neighbor today.

Today, I live for today, choosing not to worry about homework, stress, the future, I’m going to take it one moment at a time.

thanks for tuning in,

eli

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