Towards a Charismatic theology of Revelation

This is my proposal towards a specifically Charismatic approach to the doctrine of Revelation.

Point 1. Authoritative Experience

The rule of faith when taken this way sees the bible, and sacred tradition, not as competing, but both are taken to be products of authoritative experience.

The tradition and the bible are subsumed under a new heading in what used to be wesley’s quadrilateral. They’re placed under the heading of authoritative experience. The church is a people gathered to Christ regardless of personal experience, but she appeals to the experience of authoritative witness to guide her own experience.

The Prophets, Moses and the liturgy of Israel call us to be a remembering people. We need to rightly remember and subjectively appropriate ourselves not as recipients of a faith that’s long since passed, but see ourselves as actors in an ongoing story. Every time we break the bread, in the moments before we must think, this is the night that Our Lord is betrayed, this is the night where I shall deny Him, this is the moment where he faces utter isolation and rejection. This is the moment when sacrifice is made, this is the moment that new creation begins.

The epiclesis is a continual moment of resurrection in our midst. The story continues, the resurrection isn’t a far off event it’s something we place ourselves in, when the priest draws the host from the chalice, it is then that we find the tomb is not empty. When we take of the host, it is then that our eyes are opened, and we receive the comission of Our Lord to go and tend His sheep. We live in this story, and have to rightly see ourselves as part of that story.

Point 2. The Anticipation of the Promise

Revelation is summed up in Christ Himself, and everything we say or do must be according to Christ’s specific revelation, the dogmas of the church on Christ, and the subjectivity of the Christ-form taking shape in our lives. The Doctrine of Revelation anticipates the promise and in so doing, calls all other allegiances into question besides allegiance to Christ and His church.

Our theology of Revelation anticipates the promise given to us, and is based in the self-interpreting act of Christ that still takes form among us. The Spirit of Christ is that by which we anticipate the promise, and manifest a visible fulfillment albeit in part, of that promise. This means then that our theology of Revelation is rightly apocalyptic, both in content, and in the form of those adhering to the teachings of the Church.

Point 3. The Sacraments as foretokens of the unveiling

The sacraments are rightly the Church’s anticipation of the promise and our political action made manifest. In and through the sacraments, the Church is establishing itself as an alternative to the violence of the world.

As foretokens of the unveiling, these sacraments are living signs that the world is not as it should be, but already is becoming that which Christians hope to be true by faith.

The church’s worship isn’t an afterthought to what it means to live publicly, as foretokens of the unveiling, baptism says we serve no lord higher than Jesus. We serve no country, no flag or creed other than the creeds of the Church. We serve no authority mindlessly, and we certainly do not debase ourselves in the pursuit of a lasting empire. The Church will stand, and we look to the sacraments as the confirmation of this standing already taking place.

The Eucharist is not the worship of a wafer, it is the rightful recognition that violence is beginning to be undone, and that Jesus’ lordship is the alternative to what we have grown up knowing as peace. We do this in seeing Him as present with us, his broken body as the foundation of our peace with each other and God. He has borne our ichor and malice, and transfigured them into love.

The way the Church wins converts, and goes about her public life with us in Her, is by making us faithful worshipers of the God who as Love is the only one worthy of worship.

Worship done rightly, a life lived as worship, a life lived sacramentally aware, and as a sign of Jesus is the only way to do both evangelism, and ethics. If we desire Justice, it will only be found in the place where none is offered sacrifice save the One God who is Love. We should not assume that we are about the business of bringing new people to church, if we do not ask ourselves the question “Is this Church one that is worshiping truthfully?”

When our lives are shaped by the sacraments, so as to be sacramentals, to be signs of the coming kingdom which we claim to believe in, we are participating in the unveiling. We are showing people the content of the faith we claim to believe in, and offering up a different visible sacrifice for all to see. We are offering up a sacrifice of love, longsuffering and patience in a world that knows only violence, anger and corruption. We’re unmasking the powers, and offering others a different way in a world clouded by famished greed.

In short, the liturgy is our political theology. It is our statement about what we believe to be the center of the world, and the ordering principle of our lives. If it is Christ, our liturgy will reflect this in the actuality of the centrality of the eucharist, instead of personalities, songs or sermons. The liturgy is our political theology. There’s no escaping it. Christ is either Lord of all life, and his body belongs at our center, or we do not truly regard Him rightly.

Point 4. The Church in the Spirit of New Creation

All this leads me to a less Charismatic, perhaps, but important ecological point. The Church as the people of New Creation, living out that new creation as an icon of it, are to be ecologically friendly. We’re to steward the earth as if everything bears already the presence of God as sacrament, because in some ways, it does. Already, it bears the Spirit of God’s life giving presence and is sustained by the Spirit.

But to be more specific, let’s focus on three short things that the church might mean in relation to revelation if she is in fact in the Spirit of New Creation.

1. The Church is an icon to the world about the transfiguration that is possible in and through Christ. The Church is an icon of Christ to the world, and is Christ’s presence to the world. Her duty is to faithfully reflect that which she is according to new creation.

2. The Church in the Spirit of New Creation means a community living a radically different life from the life of the world. It focuses our eschatological and apocalyptic nature into a concrete form that’s still able to have multifaceted application.

3. The Church must be that community which cares for the sanctity of all life and seeks to be that place in which New Creation is anticipated. But this takes form through both our ecstatic joy and celebration, liturgy and worship, as well as our ecstatic intercession, prayer, weeping, mourning, and travail for a world not yet complete.

The church in the Spirit of New Creation is a bridge, between this world and the one we claim is coming. The Church has the responsibility both as an institution as well as personally in the lives of the faithful to be an icon of the new creation, and reveal to the world the absurdity of some of the things that it has called good, true and beautiful.

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