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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.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Church: A Simple Beginning (Part One)

The kick off this series on worship I thought it was necessary to simplify matters. The basis of any complete understanding of worship begins with ecclesiology; better yet, the ontology of the Church. Rather than diving into deep theological waters I would like to focus on the basic ontology of the church; in other words, the basic identity of the church, not in terms of what it does, but what it is (and/or what it is not). By doing so, I think we can gain a better grasp of worship within the context of ecclesiology, which, in my estimation is the basis of understanding worship.

First, let’s look at what the church is. The church is a culture, as David Yeago has described it in his essay “Messiah’s People.” Without going into too much detail, simply put, this idea delineates that the church precedes creation rather than it coming from creation; as Simon Chan has declared, “The church does not exist in order to fix a broken creation; rather creation exists to realize the church.” (p. 23). Paul declares in Ephesians 1:4, the church was chosen in Christ before the creation of the world. Robert Jenson describes the world as a raw material from which God will use to perfect His church in Christ. Therefore, as a culture, the church is a divine-humanity, as a body, and with Christ as its Head.

Moreover, the church is “the people of God.” Simon Chan describes the church as the people of God in this way, “To call the church the people of God is to recognize that it exists in continuity with the ancient covenant people of God, the people of Israel.” (p. 24). I will be your God and you shall be my people is an oft repeated phrase from both the Old and New Testaments. The people of God in connection with the people of Israel within the identity of the church are described by Paul in Romans where we as gentiles are grafted into this body. We should never let this simple fact escape us, the church was established by a Jew (the Messiah), through a Jewish people, and we as Gentiles are included only by being engrafted. Therefore, the church was never intended to replace Israel. [To be continued]

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Blogger Steve Scott said...

Mr. Vick, your series sounds pretty yummy. I'll be sure to come back for seconds and dessert, too.

It's interesting how a quite simple picture in Romans 11 is distorted. The same tree that existed before Christ came just had some branches lopped off, intimating that some would remain, and others grafted in. It's still the same tree. I've never heard a classical dispensationalist category for those who were members "both" of Israel and the chruch. That is, those Jewish believers at the time of Christ who later were part of the church. The disciples/apostles and their beliving contemporaries. Which promises would be for them? Some? All?

7:55 PM, December 30, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Steve,

Welcome to my blog. Interesting point regarding the metaphor of the tree - it does seem to get distorted quite often.

I'm not a classical dispensationalist so I'm not sure about your last point. Those Jewish believers at the time of Christ were actually those through whom the church was established. Moreover, the first converts as a result of Peter's "sermon" in Acts were also Jews. In answer to your final question (if I'm understanding it correctly), I think all the promises would certainly apply to them, would they not?

11:13 PM, December 30, 2006  
Blogger Steve Scott said...

I'm talking about the idea that God has different plans for Israel and the church. Isreal will supposedly have the OT promises while living in an earthly kingdom, while the church will have the NT promises while in heaven. A sharp distinction, but my point was that some people were members of both, so I'm asking tongue-in-cheek which group they belong to. Yes, I think all promises belong to all of us.

2:06 AM, December 31, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Ah, I see now. Sorry 'bout that. Yes, good point.

8:33 AM, December 31, 2006  

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