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 13, 2016

95 Theses, #78 - On the Identity of a Christian


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

(Painting: "The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs," by Fra Angelico, c.1424)

78.) The Identity of a Christian - As Christians, human beings sharing in the already-but-not-yet new creation of the renewed human nature, we have several identities and roles which Scripture brings to light. First, following from the Genesis mandate for all humans and from our ontological role as the bridge between material and spirit, we once again inhabit full the role of God’s viceroy over all creation. As such, we have a responsibility not only to our fellow human beings, but to all creation, and even now, through our care for the natural world, we can actively anticipate the firstfruits of the final restoration of all creation. Second, we are also royal ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom, bearing his own image to the world and winning more and more of that world into Christ’s direct dominion as made manifest in his church. And as members of the church, mystically united to him, we are, even now, reigning with Christ, “seated with him in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2). Third, we are saints, the “holy ones of God.” Though we remain in the already-but-not-yet, and thus must continue to struggle against our sin nature, we also share in the firstfruits of the renewed human nature in Christ, fully healed from sin’s disease and with the consequences of our individual sin-acts having been overcome in Christ’s death and resurrection. As such, we share in Christ’s own holiness, and every single follower of God is a saint. We are called, then, to increase our practice of holiness so as to make real what is already true of us “in Christ.” Fourth (and this will sound strange to evangelical ears, but it's solidly rooted in the Bible and in early Christian theology), we are also “gods,” as Christ inferred when quoting the psalms (Jn. 10:34-35; Ps. 82:6). Our great destiny is not merely to reflect God’s image in our rational and moral natures, as we already do, but to become so united to God’s own nature and being that we ourselves undergo what the early church fathers called theosis ("god-making"), not losing our essential nature as creatures, but having that nature transformed by the energies of God’s nature, like iron heated in the fire until it seems to take up some of the properties of fire itself.

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