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Narrative and Ontology is also discussing worldview. I thought I would repost this old post in case its any use to anyone doing work on worldview.

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I started a paper a few months back which sought to offer a worldview reading of Galatians. Here is the first part of if. I have added the rest of it as a PDF file. See the link at the bottom of the page.

It still needs a conclusion….

It essentially takes N.T. Wright’s worldview model and seeks to read Galatians in a way so that the Pauline worlview can be sketched out.

 

Galatians and the Pauline Worldview

Historiography, Hermeneutics and Worldview

Interpreting Galatians, like any other ancient text, is far from simple for the chasm which stands between the interpreter and the original author is immense—this immensity being created by the differences to be found in historical location, culture, language and rhetorical conventions between the Pauline interpreter and Paul himself.

This hermeneutical challenge, which exists in all forms of communication, is in one sense minimised or bypassed by the ‘naïve’/modernist reader who think that simply by a close reading of the text the intended meaning of the author simply appears when the tools of realism, objectivity and empiricism are vigorously and methodologically applied.1


On the other hand the post-modern Pauline adventurer may simply see the chasm as being insurmountable as the historical tools of modernism are viewed as the worthless and arrogant product of an enlightenment epistemology. A post-modern adventure for Pauline studies may be described as a move from asking‘What did Paul mean?’ to ‘What does the text do and mean for my community?’, thus resulting in a shift away from ‘objectivity’ to the ‘subjective’ approach of multiple possible meanings.2

In contrast to both a modern and post-modern historiography I intend to sketch out and use a ‘Worldview Hermeneutic’ as a methodology to interpret Galatians and begin to construct ‘a’ Pauline theology. This worldview hermeneutic, as discussed in a previous essay3, relies heavily on the methodology of N.T Wright but seeks to apply this to one book within the Pauline Corpus. Before setting out on a worldview approach to Galatians it is necessary to sketch out, in broad strokes, the basic structure of a worldview.

Worldview

In recent decades there has been a steady rise in the use of worldview (Weltanschauung) which is seen not only across the academic community at large but also within the church, at both a popular and academic level, in its development of evangelism, mission, bible translation, ethical theory. The use of worldviews is so pervasive owing to the fact that it seeks not to offer a theoretical construct aimed at one area of life, instead it provides a interpretative framework which can be applied to all fields and spheres of human interpretation and existence.

A worldview (or vision of life) is a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it. This vision need not be fully articulated….this vision is a channel for the ultimate beliefs which give direction and meaning to life. It is the integrative and interpretative framework by which order and disorder are judged; it is the standard by which reality is managed and pursued; it is the set of hinges on which all our everyday thinking and doing turns.4


Any worldview, whether ancient or modern , according to N.T. Wright, contains four basic interrelated components5;

1) Stories: Worldviews ‘provide the stories [grand narratives] through which human beings view reality’.

2) Questions: These grand narratives provide answers to the basic worldview questions. Who are we? Where are we? What is wrong? What is the solution?6

3) Symbols: Stories express themselves in cultural symbols, whether that be the symbol of the ‘credit card’ expressing the consumerist meta-narrative, or the ‘eagle’ expressing the grand narrative of Roman imperialism.

4) Praxis: Stories, Symbols and the answers to basic worldview questions provide a ‘way-of-being-in-the-world’, the stories which people indwell and the symbols which they cherish provide a call to action, whether that be the praxis of a terrorist ideology or the outworking of a nihilist mindset.

I intend in this essay to explore, within Galatians the role of story, symbol and praxis within the Pauline worldview.

  1. Story

Worldview Shift and the Damascus Road

And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,…” Galatians 1:14-16

The events on the Damascus road undoubtedly had a major significance for the Apostle Paul. Once he was ‘advancing in ιουδαισμω Judaism ’ (1:14) but now he sees himself, in some sense, as separate from Judaism (1:13)7. The events of Damascus road have been variously described as conversion—from one religion to another—or by others as calling or commissioning8 which reflect his call to preach the gospel to the gentiles.

I propose that the Damascus event is best seen as a ‘Worldview Shift’. By using the word ‘worldview’ I intend to highlight that this is not simply a ‘religious event’ as the word ‘conversion’ in popular usage suggests, nor does the notion of ‘commissioning’ do full justice to the change in the entire outlook of Paul, a change that, as we shall see, provides an alternative to the story, symbol and praxis of Saul the Pharisee. I use the word ‘shift’ as opposed to ‘change’ to highlight, an obvious although important point, that Paul’s post Damascus worldview is still essentially Judaic through and through, but a modified form.9 By using the word ‘shift’ I mean that Paul’s worldview after Damascus has not changed completely but has shifted from what it once was, the worldview, in my opinion, has been modified.

Footnotes

1 For further discussion see Wright, The New Testament and the People of God Chapter 2-3

2 The phrase ‘Postmodern adventure’ I have taken from the influential essay by Clines A Postmodern Adventure in Biblical Studies: The Pyramid and the Net:

3 For a discussion of New Testament Historiography in the light of postmodernity see Swales, Postmodernity and New Testament History

4 As cited in Naugle Worldview 349, likewise N.T. Wright “Worldviews are thus the basic stuff of human existence, the lens through which the world is seen, the blueprint of how one should live in it, and above all the sense of identity and place which enables human beings to be what they are. To ignore worldviews, either our own or those of the culture we are studying, would result in extraordinary shallowness.” New Testament and the People of God 124

5 For a full discussion see Wright New Testament and the People of God esp pp 122-126

6 Mark Roques Five Big Worldview Questions provides answers to the basic worldview questions from a Nazi, Hollywood, Liberal, Christian, Enlightenment, Romantic, Pagan and a Buddhist perspective.

7 Ἰουδαΐσμός is used within Maccabees to differentiate between the way of life of Seleucid Hellenism and the Jewish religion (2 Macc 2:21, 8:1, 14:38, 4 Macc 4:26) becoming a term of honour amongst the Jews. See Longenecker Galatians

8 As with Stendahl “There is not—as we usually think—first a conversion, and then a call to apostleship; there is only the call to the work among the Gentiles” Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West

9 N.T Wright helpfully shows the similarities and differences between the Judaic and Pauline worldview in his frequent refrain of triad of covenant, monotheism and election. See Fresh Perspectives Wright

The full draft text is available by usign the following link.

Jon Swales. Worldview Reading of Galatians

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It is my contention in this  paper to show that a theology of healing (TH) and a theology of sickness and dying (TSD) find unity within the meta-narrative of scripture. This meta-narrative, or worldview approach, provides the framework by which all reality, including sickness, healing and death, is interpreted, providing a way to fuse together theology and praxis, and is thus a vital component for churches in developing and training those involved in a healing ministry in the local church. At the risk of over simplification we shall explore this metanarrative as creation, fall redemption and consummation.1

 

I) Creation (Gen 1+2)

 

Against pantheism and panentheism the Church affirms that God and the cosmos are not to be confused for the creator is ontologically distinct from the created. Although in developing a TSD we may stress, to some degree, that God suffers and is the ‘crucified God’2 we must likewise affirm the transcendence of God. God is above and beyond creation and is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. This view of God allows the sufferer to know that God knows their pain and is able to stop it. The unhealed sufferer of a terminal illness can be encouraged in seeing God, not only as a brother walking with us through pain, but as the sovereign Lord who directs all things. Likewise the godness of God, his transcendent power, allows the Christian to take confidence that God is able to heal for he is not bound by the laws of science, of cause and effect. A tension between the sovereignty of God in healing and suffering needs to be held together in dialectical tension with without tending towards an anti-sovereign3 or prosperity position.

 

The creation narratives describe this world as being the purpose and design of God in contrast to other near-eastern creation narratives where the world is the result of a cosmic battle between the God’s or a cosmic accident. The Christian worldview, as opposed to platonic duality, affirms the goodness of physicality. This means that a Christian theology which does not pay attention to physicality and focuses simply on the ‘spiritual’ is not fully reflecting the metaphysical and ethical demands of createdness. A TH and TSD find unity in the belief that the human, as part of the the cosmos and as imago dei, is to be valued, and that physicality, wholeness and sickness, are the realms in which God is working. As a conservative evangelical, I join with Francis Schaeffer in an internal critique of conservative evangelicalism which has, at a popular and academic level, sought to view physicality as of secondary importance, with a tendency to view the Church’s task as that of evangelism.

We warned earlier against allowing Platonic concepts to color our Christian thinking. Platonism regards the material as low. But we certainly cannot think the material low when we realize that God created it. We can think of things being created in different orders, but that is a very different concept from thinking things are low in the sense of base, as opposed to high. God made everything, and any sense of lowness (with its poor connotations) has no place here. To think of them as low is really to insult the God who made them. 4

 

In the creation narratives human life is made up of spirit and matter and is thus opposed, not only to platonic thinking which emphasises the primacy of spirit, but also a non-theistic evolutionary worldview in which humanity is nothing more than physicality.

 

ii) The ‘Fall’

 

The biblical worldview affirms the original shalom, beauty and goodness of creation. This present world, although still in some sense God’s creation, is not how God intended it to be for human rebellion caused humanity to become estranged from God’s presence and this brought with it a ‘fall’ in the cosmos.

 

This present world of tears, suffering and death are anti-normative to God’s creational norm5. In pastoral ministry, the worldview lens of ‘fall’ should be allowed to function. Cancer, brain tumours and AIDS should be brought under the worldview of the fall and in doing so the church can humbly affirm that they are not part of God’s good creation, they are not the way things are meant to be. In one sense they are, to use a line from Barth, the “possible impossibility”. Sin, suffering and illness are permitted by God, for he is still sovereign, but they are an affront to his original creative intention.

 

Nigel Wright and Shiela Smith, in ‘Suffering’(1997), seem to deny the ‘falleness’ of creation and, in my opinion, offer a distortion of the biblical metanarrative. They conceive of creation as ‘an evolutionary-developmental picture of creation’ in which ‘God’s creation displays a dark side of ‘experiences of pain, failure and disappointment, loss and capacity for death’6 which is not evil nor anti-normative in itself for ‘a glorious creation displays inglorious traits and is capable of producing the brutal and the ugly’7 This view cuts against the grain of orthodox Christian belief and thus offers a distorted Christian worldview. In response to the sufferer this view may say ‘in God’s good world this is the way it has to be’ whereas the Christian worldview may say ‘suffering is anti-normative to God’s good creation’.

 

The church is given the task of proclaiming and living in a way which shows that these aspects of the present creation are anti-normative. The sufferer, and TSD, can be encouraged to embrace the tension between suffering and illness being sovereignly and providentially sifted through the Lord’s hands, and suffering and illness being rebellion to God’s creational norms. A TH can embrace the reality that suffering is the antithesis to God’s creative shalom.

 

ii) Redemption8

 

God did not abandon his creation at the ‘fall’ but has sought within history to bring about salvation and redemption. This redemptive turn in the biblical drama stems from the covenantal promises to Abraham and finds its climax in the God-Man, Jesus the messiah. Redemption is not simply concerned with the salvation of ‘souls’ but is about the kingdom of God which calls for the restoration of creation and physicality to its normative status. 9 The task of the church is to become agents of redemption in the world.

As N.T Wright states,

And what he [Jesus] was promising for that future, and doing in that present, was not about saving souls for a disembodied eternity, but rescuing people from corruption and decay of the way the world presently is so that they could enjoy, already in the present, that renewal of creation which is God’s ultimate purpose-and so that they could become colleagues and partners in that larger project itself10

 

In the ministry of Jesus we see that the reign of God includes, amongst other things, a healing ministry. Therefore, we may say that a kingdom focussed church will seek to bring God’s reign and rule into all spheres of life which include the alleviation of suffering. This move against suffering may take the form of social or political action against injustice, but may legitimately find part of its expression in a healing ministry. A Christian ministry, unlike cessationalism, is not to marginalise a healing ministry nor is it to be reductionistic in seeing a healing ministry, as does prosperity teaching, as the dominant kingdom action.

 

In Jesus’ miracles we see that physical healing is not the only factor in the provision of wholeness to the ill. A blind man who receives sight, not only receives a physical change of circumstances but is seeing the transformation of his religious, economic, social and psychological worlds. A church which seeks to model Jesus’ redemptive action must pay close attention to religious, economic and psychological wholeness and not simply reduce its ministry to the alleviation of physical ailments. It may be that a person is prayed for in a terminal situation and no physical change takes place. If this is the case it does not excuse the church from moving in a more practical manner to bring economic, societal and psychological wholeness.

 

The 2nd temple Judaic world-view looked to the arrival of the eschaton as the time when God would set the world to rights, when Israel would be vindicated, the gentiles welcomed in, and YHWH’s spirit would be placed in the heart of humanity. The early Church, most noticeably Paul, proclaimed the arrival of these promises with the advent of Jesus and Pentecost.. The Holy Spirit, according to Paul, give gifts to his church and this includes the gift of healing. It will not simply do, as some cessationalist state, to assume that the gifts of the spirit are no longer valid. Cessationalists often turn to 1 Cor 13 interpreting the ‘that which is perfect’ to be the completed canon of scripture. However it makes more sense to view the perfect as the second coming of Jesus who we shall meet face to face. With this non-cessationalist reading we should actively encourage the reception and use of the spiritual gifts including that of healing, for in some sense a healing ministry shows itself to be an advance guard of the consummation.

 

In contrast to an overrealised eschatology, such as prosperity teaching, the Christian affirms the ‘now and not yet aspect of the kingdom’, for the present kingdom age, in the midst of a fallen world, is simply a foretaste of the consummation which is yet to come.

 

(iii) Consummation

 

Consummation, or in more traditional language ‘eschatology’, has often played a marginal role in christian dogmatics.11 In recent decades though eschatology has made a comeback through the writings of N.T. Wright, Moltmann, Pannenberg and Grenz. We have seen that sickness, suffering and death are a product of the fall. In the light of redemption, and the advent of Jesus, we see God embarking on a rescue plan, a rescue plan which will find its fullfillment in the full arrival of the eschaton, in the consummation of the cosmos with the Almighty. The consummation provides hope and joy for the sufferer who can be confident that although at present ‘ all creation groans’ there is a time coming when there will be no more tears and no more suffering. The church is not to provide cheap hope and glib promises to the sufferer but is, pointing to the resurrection of Jesus as the first fruits,to proclaim that there is hope.

 

Christianity offers a radically different worldview, for the sufferer, than non-theistic materialism or even a platonsied christianity. For non-theistic materialism there is no life after death, for platonised Christianity this world is an illusion from which we will one day escape. In contrast a biblical worldview holds to a utter confidence in life after death, but also, in contrast to Platonised Christianity, does not minimise the material and physical world for the future hope is not escapism to heaven but is a restored heaven and earth in which God rules over the physical world as King. A Christian worldview names pain and suffering for what it is looking to the future for blessing, shalom and vindication.

 

A church healing ministry embedded in its cultural context must be confident in its eschatological vision, for this vision and hope can inspire the ill and bring inner peace in the most painful of deaths. This inner peace is not, as in the case of Buddhism, escape from pain and suffering, but a hope within the midst of pain and suffering in future blessing and vindication. 12 A Christian church though, as Wright has shown most clearly, must seek to become signposts of the coming kingdom in all areas of life. It is within a healing ministry, enabled by the power of the holy spirit, that we should expect, as with all spheres of life, God’s future to burst into the present.

 

‘I know that he calls his followers to live in him and by the power of the spirit, and so be new-creation people here and now, bringing signs and symbols of the kingdom to birth on earth as in heaven. The resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit mean that we are called to bring real and effective signs of God’s renewed creation to birth even in the midst of the present age.’13

 

Conclusion

 

In this brief essay I have sketched out the Christian worldview in such a way that a unity is found between a TH and TSD. A worldview approach is theoretical and pressupositonal, yet it is an approach with ‘hands and feet’ for if we change the way the church community, and the sufferer, see the world we will also change its praxis, for worldview and praxis go hand in hand. A church committed to a biblical holistic metanarrative will be a church of action towards those who are ill and dying. It will live as it prays,

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’

 

Bibliography

 

Bartholomew, C. G., & Goheen, M. W. (2006). The drama of scripture : Finding our place in the biblical story. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Carson, D. A. (2006). How long, O Lord? : Reflections on suffering and evil (2nd ed.). Nottingham: Inter-Varsity.

Lucas, E. (1997). Christian healing : What can we believe?. London: Lynx.

Naugle, D. K. (2002). Worldview : The history of a concept. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.

Piper, J., & Taylor, J. (2006). Suffering and the sovereignty of God. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

Schaeffer, F. A. (1970). Pollution and the death of man : The Christian view of ecology. Hodder Christian paperbacks. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Schaeffer, F. A. (1996, c1982). The complete works of Francis A. Schaeffer : A Christian worldview. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books.

Spykman, G. J. (1992). Reformational theology : A new paradigm for doing dogmatics. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans.

Wolters, A. M. (1986). Creation regained : A transforming view of the world. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press.

Wright, C. J. H. (2006). The mission of God : Unlocking the Bible’s grand narrative. Nottingham: InterVarsity Press

Ware, B. A. (2000). God’s lesser glory : The diminished God of open theism. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

Wright, N. T. (1993). The New Testament and the people of God. London: SPCK.

Wright, N. T. (2007). Surprised by hope. London: SPCK.

Christainity Today 2006/Vol 50 available online at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/septemberweb-only/137-41.0.html#prosperity7 p

1In doing so I follow Spykman (1992) and Wolters (1985) and from modifications of this Wright (1992) and Bartholomew and Goheen (2006) who include Israel in their metanarrative.

2Moltmann (2001)

3In recent years Process theology and Open Theism have undermined the classical view of God as being sovereign. See Ware (2000)

4 Francis Scheaffer (1996) . Also Wright 2007

5 Gorden Spykman (1992) who offers systematic theology sensitive to the narrative of scripture states, ‘In Gen 3:14-19 the dark clouds of divine judgement descended on human life from the cradle to the grave. Nothing escapes its curse. Every creature great and small bears its brunt-the soil, plant life, animals, human relationships-not least of all, marriage and vocation. Like a drop of ink falling into a glass of water, our origonating sin has a ripple effect on our environment.’ 319

6ed. Ernest Lucas (1997,126)

7Ibid. 124

8 As with Gordon Spykman ( 1992,151) ‘The plan of salvation represents God’s way of restoring the fallen creation to all it was and is meant to be. To that end God in Christ intervened redemptively in the affairs of our alienated world to win it back. That mighty act of redemption is still going on.’

9Nigel Wright (2006) offers a holistic view of Church Mission. In particular see chapters 12 and 13.

10Wright (2007, 204)

11 Barth(1993,500) remarked that the conclusion of Christian Dogmatics is often ‘a short and perfectly harmless chapter entitled–’Eschatology”

12 Buddhism seeks to alleviate suffering, as in the third noble truth, by detaching oneself from pleasure, pain, good and evil.

13 Wright (2007, 220)

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For those regualr visitors to my blog you will have noticed that I am not shy about putting my own essays from college on it. Part of my thinking is that its good to share resources, but its also that I want to be challenged and developed in my own thinking. I want my ‘theology’ to be public,open to criticism and accept peer review. In the light of this I offer the followin

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I have been working on an essay on Baptism and the Early Church . The word limit was 1700 words which was an immense struggle to keep to and thus it is only a sketch view of baptism. I wrote a draft copy but then decided that I could incorporate some of N.T. Wright’s thinking into it. The essay, and I think it still fits with the essay title, seeks to show how baptism can only be understood from within the Judaic worldview. However, due tot he arrival of the Messiah and the eschaton, this worldview has been seriosuly modified. Those familiar with N.T. Wright’s brilliant Fresh Perspectives will see how I have taken the themes of covenant, monotheism and eschatology and have sought to show the implications for baptismal practise. The ‘John the Baptist’ bit is simply a table which, if word limit allowed, I could ahve elaborated and developed.

I will include part of it here but full text is available at this link Baptism and the Early Church

To what extent did the earliest Christians initiate new forms and approaches to worship? Discuss in relation to Jewish religious background with reference to the major developments up to 300AD in Baptism

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Method

 

The writing of history, including the history of Christian worship, is not simply the collection and presentation of data by the neutral historian into an objective narrative. Nor, in disagreement with post-modern historiography, are we left to swim in a sea of subjectivity. In light of this I intend to proceed, in this essay on baptism, by a critical-realist method of hypothesis and verification, recognising that although their was a ‘historical reality’ to Christian worship all that can be offered by the modern historian is ‘hypothetical reconstructions’ of this reality, which may or may not find verification from the texts.1


Hypothesis

In answer to the above essay question, and with a disclosed methodology, I want to offer, tentatively, the following two point hypothesis:-

 

(1)Christianity, functioned with a modified Jewish worldview in its early baptismal theology and praxis.

(2) The baptism offered by John, and undertaken by Jesus, influenced Christian baptism more than ceremonial washing, Essene ‘baptism’ or proselyte conversion.

 

This rest of this essay will seek to verify, from primary sources where possible, the ‘reconstruction’ which is being offered.

 

Verification

 

(1)Christianity, functioned with a modified Jewish worldview in its early baptismal theology and praxis.

 

Judaism and the early Christian movement, cannot be understood historically without reference to the meta-narrative of the Hebrew scriptures. The Judaic worldview, as N.T Wright has passionately argued, is the story of the creator God (monotheism) who called to himself a people (covenant) who were to be a blessing to the nations (eschatology)2. This story, within the first century Judaic worldview, is a story in search of an ending, for the covenant people were living, in some sense, in exile under Roman occupation and were still awaiting the fulfilment of the eschatological promise Some Jews sought the arrival of the ha-‘olam haba’ (age to come) through zealous resistance to Rome, whereas others claimed that this time of restoration had begun in the work and ministry of the Messiah, Jesus. This early group of Jesus followers, in believing that the ‘age to come’ had in some sense already arrived, were theological creative with the basic tenants of Judaism. Monotheism, Covenant, and Eschatology were redefined3, and with it the basis of worship.

 

An example of this is seen in the early church as they moved away from the temple cult as Jesus, and those who are joined to him, are seen as the fulfilment of temple practise, for in him dwelt the presence of YHWH, and in him the role of Priest and sacrifice finds fulfilment.4


It is within this context that we need to understand the beginnings of the 1st century baptismal theology and praxis.

 

Covenant Baptism, functioning as the Christian equivalent to circumcision, was the initiation rite by which someone entered the covenant family.

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead

 

This family no longer consisted of an ethnic group but now, in fulfilment of the plan to be ‘blessing to the nations’, was open to Jew and Gentile alike. This ‘welcoming of gentiles’ is a major development from the Judaic ‘ethnocentric’ worship, although, in my hypothesis and with a close reading of Paul, the concept of covenant and fulfilment, can only be understood when it is seen in close relationship with Judaism.5 This view of baptism as membership to God’s family continued through early Church being assumed in Didache (1:1) and the Apostolic Tradition. Justin Martyr shows that circumcision and baptism are linked, although it also demonstrates the early stages of a hyper-successionist theology which became the bedrock of anti- Semiticism.

 

And we, who have approached God through Him, have received not carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed. And we have received it through baptism, since we were sinners, by Gods mercy; and all men may equally obtain it.6


Circumcision brought with it the obligation, as a covenant child, to adhere to Torah. Baptism brings with it certain obligations to live life by the ethics of Christ (Romans 6:1-14, Col 2:20-3:-13). The ethical demands of baptism continues throughout early church practise as illustrated by questioning the before baptism which appears in Hippolytus The Apostolic Tradition7.

 

Monotheism Early Christian worship, with the arrival of the Spirit and with the high regard given to Jesus, redefined monotheism. This modified monotheism develops within ’New Testament’ baptismal practise as baptism is either in the name of Jesus8 , or in the name of the triune God.9 As the church developed liturgical forms, and increased in the confidence of its Trinitarian identity, baptism in the triune name seems to have become the norm10.

 

In Judaism the ‘presence of YHWH’ was to be found in the temple, whereas the early church often associated baptism with the arrival of the spirit.11. By the 2nd century ‘Oil’ was used during the baptismal rite, functioning as an appropriate symbol of the arrival of the Holy Spirit12 with the exorcism of evil spirits, especially within Apostolic Tradition, becoming a major part of the ceremony.13


Eschatology

 

Within Judaism a part of worship was to remember the past acts of YHWH and look with hope to the fulfilment of his promises in the future. In a similar way Christian worship looks back and looks forward, except, and in this the Jewish worldview has been modified, a major part of Christian worship is that the future has, in one sense, already come into the present. As already mentioned the arrival of the spirit is closely related with the act of baptism which, according to Is 32:15 and Joel 2:2829, is a sign of the arrival of the eschaton. The Christian act of initiation, that is baptism, is offered as a picture of redemption and reconciliation in which the future resurrection life is in some sense already present14. The arrival of eternal life, as Tertullian writes, occurs in the event of Baptism.

Happy is our sacrament Of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life!15


Baptism involves the imagery of taking off the old life and accepting the new. This imagery which has a basis in the Old Testament16 is used by Paul either symbolically or with Wayne Meeks literally17 and is made explicit in what appears to be the naked baptisms in Hippolytus18


1 For a critical-realist epistemology of hypothesis and verification see Wright (1992, 31-44), also Swales Postmodernity and New Testament History

2 Wright (2005, Monotheism 83-107, Covenant 108-128, Eschatology 130-153)

3 ibid. Wright. Although Wright does not, as far as I am aware, develop, as this essay does, the implications that this has for early Christian worship.

4 Eph 2:21, Rev 21:22, 1 Cor 3:16, Heb. 8,9

5 Gal 3:26-27 and Gal 5:1-6 In disagreement with Longenecker (2002) Paul is not simply replacing one external rite (circumcision) by another external rite (baptism)”.

6 Justin Martyr (The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol.I, 216 XKIII)

7 Apostolic Tradition 20:3 and Justin Martyr First Apology LXI

8 Acts 2:28,3:6,10:48, also Paul seems to have seen baptism as being in Jesus’ name (1 Cor 1:12)

9 Matt 28:19

10 Didache 7:1 and Apostolic Tradition 21:7

11 Rom 6:1-11, Gal 3:26-27, Col 2:11-12, Eph 5:26, Titus 3:5-7

12 Apostolic Tradition 21:7,

13 Apostolic Tradition 20:1, 21:6

14 Col 2:12, Rom 6:4

15 Tertullian (The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III :. 669)

16 Is 52:1, 61:10, Zech 1:1-5

17 Gal 3:27, Meeks (1983, 151)

18 Apostolic Tradition 21:1 although the actuality of nakedness is disputed by Guy (2003) who argues that the word gymnos (Eng. Trans. ’naked’) used by Hippolytus have a semantic domain which is far more flexible than the English word ‘naked’. It could then , he argues, refer to the removal of outer garments.

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