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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Work of the Spirit According to N.T. Wright

I am currently wrapping up my reading of N.T. Wright’s work titled Paul in Fresh Perspective. While this book is not actually another stab at the “New Perspective” issues on the part of Wright, rather, it is a type of condensed culmination of Wright’s work up to this point. Toward the end of the book, in chapter seven (7), Reimagining God’s Future, Wright details Paul’s eschatology. Within this eschatological context, Wright comes forth and describes the work of the Spirit in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus (who Wright claims is raised by the Father through the power of the Spirit), and in light of Paul’s epistles.

In other words, Wright declares that Paul is communicating to his audiences that the Spirit is part of a major eschatological task of being the arrabōn, the “down payment of what is to come.” (p. 146). The Spirit is a gift from God for His future and His people’s future. In fact, the Spirit is the guarantee of the future. Wright draws from 1 Corinthians, as well as Romans and Ephesians to bring forth these points. However, in Galatians, Wright details how Paul describes that in chapter 5 the Spirit and the flesh is by no means an attempt to reduce the passage to a set of rules for Christians to observe. This is not what is meant by Christian ethics. However, walking by the Spirit one is already a part of God’s new age and part of God’s renewed people; as Wright puts it, “part of that inaugurated-eschatological family who have been delivered from the present evil age — and, as such, you are ‘not under the Torah.’”

In essence, the Torah as nothing more to do with the one who walks by the Spirit; rather Paul describes all sorts of character traits which the Spirit will produce in the individual (i.e. fruits of the Spirit). The work of the gospel in an individual is the work of the Spirit to put wrongs to rights. This is applied to the overall work of God in eschatological terms in that God has put the whole world from wrong to right through the death and resurrection of His Son. So, as Wright declares, “that initial putting to rights by the power of the gospel is simultaneously, and necessarily, a vocation to each person thus ‘justified’ to enlist in the ongoing work, by the Spirit, of making God’s saving, restorative justice as much of a reality as possible in the present age, in advance of the final putting-to-rights of the whole creation. This is the point at which ‘justification by faith’ can be firmly located on the map of Paul’s Reimagining of Jewish eschatology in light of Jesus and the Spirit.”

This is very theologically rich and rewarding. Unfortunately, this little post summarizing this part of Wright’s work does meager justice to the overall thrust of what Wright is communicating in this chapter.

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