5/24/17

Fixation

In the United States in particular, 'Christians', and fundies and other evangelicals tend to be fixated on eschatology. End times theories. The wackier the better; they tend to really go for heresies like 'The Rapture.'

But Fr. Richard has an opinion on that:

Paul believes that corporate evil can only be overcome or confronted with corporate good. He uses primitive yet powerful words for the negative side of corporations, institutions, and nations: he calls them “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers” (Colossians 1:16). These are not “bad angels” as much as collective attitudes that are almost impossible to break. Because they are so widely shared as mass consciousness—the way we’re programmed to think—they no longer look like evil and are hard to resist. Murder is bad, but war is good; greedy people are bad, but capitalism is going to save the world; ambition and pride are supposedly major sins, but not in the good ol’ USA. Do you see the problem?

and

For Paul, community is the living organism that communicates the Gospel message. Paul, like Jesus, wants to change culture here, not just send people away to a far-off heaven later! If Christ’s cosmic message doesn’t take form in a concrete group of people, then, as far as Paul is concerned, it is an unbelievable message. An autonomous Christian is as impossible as an independent arm or leg. Arms and legs exist only as parts. No single one of us is the whole Christ, and “the eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you” (I Corinthians 12:21). Believers exist as parts of the whole, the Body of Christ. Their very existence is an objective, shared state that Paul calls love or living “in Christ.” When Paul says, “without love I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2), he implies that he is inside of another Being who is Love.

Paul sees what we will eventually call the “communion of saints” (by the fifth and sixth centuries) as an organism that is very alive, real, and operative in this world. I like to call it an “energy field” created by all those who share in the various parts of Christ. “Salvation” is thus something we can participate in right here and now. When Paul addresses his letters to “the saints,” he is clearly not speaking of our later idea of canonized saints, but of those who make up his living communities and who are participating in this shared life of love in this world.

Evangelicals in particular should spend less time on eschatology - particularly the wackier heresies such as 'the Rapture' - and give a bit more attention to the here and now. Fundies are pretty much beyond the reach of reason, so they can just continue to gnash their teeth, wail, and rend their garments or whatever.