Note to My Readers: from mid-June to mid-August (6/18 - 8/20), I will be taking a summer break from posting new articles for my Thursday and Friday slots. This will only affect my Thursday series on the global growth of Christianity, and my Friday series, the "Theological Bestiary" of birds, both of which will resume in late August. During the summer, I'll be dusting off some of my best essays from the first few years of this blog (a decade ago), as well as my verse play "Thus Ends the World," and re-posting them in the Thursday and Friday slots. All other weekdays will continue to feature new material throughout the summer.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

95 Theses, #75-77: The Trinitarian Movement of the Life of the Church



To see the introduction and disclaimers for my 95 Theses, first go to: 95-Theses-Introduction

 
 (Ceiling frescos in Sonntagberg Basilica, by Daniel Gran, c.1740; photo by Wikimedia contributor Uoaei1, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)

75.) The Trinitarian Movement of the Life of the Church, Part 1 - The life of the church can be thought of as having three fundamental orientations, a Trinitarian “movement” which sums up all its actions. Correlating to the role of the Father, our first role as the church is as a worshiping community (an “upward” dimension). When we worship, giving glory and thanks to God, we are fulfilling our primary role in the universe; we are, in Irenaeus’ phrase, “man fully alive,” since we have entered into the relational intimacy with our Maker that defines our very being. When we worship, we are taking part in the identity of the universal church, we are, indeed, taking part in the eternal worship around the heavenly throne, together with all the saints and angels. As such, the worship of the church is, in a sense, an event that connects us to eternity, that transcends the bounds of normal time and space. 

76.) The Trinitarian Movement of the Life of the Church, Part 2 - Our second role as a church, correlating to the person of the Son, who has united himself to us and transformed human nature by putting it in relation to the divine, is as a community of discipleship (an “inward” dimension). We grow as “the Body of Christ” in fellowship, mutual encouragement, intercession, exhortation, and confession. By edifying one another in the life of the church, we are fulfilling another of our primary roles. This inward dimension applies not only to the community as a whole, but also to each individual. As members of the church, we seek to grow into ever greater likeness to the image of Christ, being transformed more and more into God’s own nature of love. This is accomplished, at least in part, by an openness to God’s work in our lives, even in pain, by an intentional pursuit of growth by uprooting sin, cultivating virtue, and seeking deeper relationship with God in prayer, study, and contemplation. 

77.) The Trinitarian Movement of the Life of the Church, Part 1 - Our third role as a church, correlating to the person of the Holy Spirit, is as a community of witness (an “outward” dimension). We are called to help make manifest the Kingdom of God, not only in our own lives and within the walls of our own church, but to take the Gospel in all its fullness to the world around us, to make real the inaugurated reign of Christ in our communities. This is done through evangelization, international missions work, helping the poor, healing the sick, delivering those around us from the power of Satan, challenging unjust institutions, elucidating our cultural blind spots, and building up God-honoring values and social systems in the world around us.

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