The community of the Beatitudes and the restoration of creation

Sun, 24/10/2010 - 11:59

Brian MacArevey picked up on a comment I made about the relationship between suffering and prosperity in my post on sonship and suffering in Romans and wondered out loud what I would make of a piece he had written about ‘eschatological blessing’ – and you really have to ask yourself, How did we ever manage without hyperlinks?

This is how Brian explains the emphasis on suffering in the Beatitudes:

…first of all, the Beatitudes reflect the way in which God, from the beginning, had intended for His creation to operate.

Secondly, they also reveal the pattern of life which God was promising to restore to His creation through the mediation of Jesus, by means of both His life and teaching (which includes this “sermon”), as well as through His subsequent crucifixion and resurrection from the dead.

Third, although God has inaugurated, and will unquestionably consummate, the restoration of the created order, we (and more central to the current discussion, Jesus’ initial audience) are living in a time of eschatological tension, normally referred to as the “already” and the “not yet”.

Finally, included in the “blessing” itself is the promise that the Spirit of God will bring about the completion of His restorative work in the world (the reversal of the fallen “natural” order) through the cruciform suffering of those who trust in Jesus’ words, as they live in accordance with them, in this time of tension.

I think this is a powerful way of putting the matter and I resonate with the language and intention to a large degree; but I would tell the story rather differently. So, in response to Brian’s four points…

1. The Beatitudes presuppose a counter-narrative concerning the strong who are violent and unrighteous. This is clear internally: the poor and meek, etc., who are blessed are either victims of oppression or are presented as an alternative to the narrative of oppression. It is also confirmed by the Old Testament background: Jesus’ ‘manifesto’ draws on the language not of creational blessing but of eschatological transition (see my commentary on the Beatitudes). So I don’t really see how we can say that the Beatitudes reflect how God originally intended for his creation to operate. Rather they presuppose a situation in which creation has already broken down.

2. For the same reason I do not think that they ‘reveal the pattern of life which God was promising to restore to His creation’. What they reveal is a pattern of life for the community that must endure the afflictions and tribulation of eschatological transition in order that the people of God, in the first place, may arrive at a state of new creation. From Jesus’ perspective this would be the difficult path leading to life that his followers would have to walk, carrying their own crosses, in order that the people of God might survive the catastrophe which the Jews would bring upon themselves within a generation.

3. I think the ‘now and not yet’ argument is not without point, but is unhelpful in a couple of ways (I have made the case at some length elsewhere). The first is that what the New Testament focuses on is a much more immediate, historically relevant, ‘now and not yet’ – that what the emerging community was experiencing was an anticipation not of a final end-of-history dénouement but of decisive, politically and religiously transformative events in a foreseeable future: principally the destruction of Jerusalem and the conversion of the pagan world to Christianity.

Secondly, I think the emphasis should not be on some putative and rather abstract overlap of two ages but on the concrete calling of the people of God always to exist as a sign in the present of a future judgment or restoration or transformation or reconciliation or whatever. The early church – the community defined by the Beatitudes or Romans 8 or the letters to the seven churches – was a sign first to Judaism and then to the Greek-Roman world that YHWH was about to turn things upside down through the faithful, obedient testimony of a suffering community that associated itself more or less literally with the faithfulness of Jesus. Our own situation, further down the road of history, is somewhat different…

4. There is, nevertheless, an important ‘new creation’ part to this. First, as I have just said, Jesus calls a new community of Israel into existence, redefined not least by the Beatitudes as a community of the poor, meek, pure in heart, of those hungry to see a renewal of righteousness in Israel, who can expect to be persecuted for their commitment to him, for this specific purpose: that Israel might be made new, that the people of God might become a new creation, that they might recover something of the original creational blessing that was bestowed first on Adam and Eve, then on Noah, and then on Abraham and his descendants.

This is the point at which ‘prosperity’ becomes relevant again: prosperity or shalom is an aspect of and sign of God’s good creation. This prosperity ought to be evident in the life of the church – we ought to manifest in ourselves, at least potentially or prophetically or symbolically, the full goodness of what it means to be created. But we do so always under the conditions of corruption, evil, injustice, suffering, and death: they are in us and they are around us.

So here is the second part: the people of God that was delivered from historical destruction through the radical sacrificial faithfulness of a community defined by the Beatitudes, by Romans 8, by the letters to the seven churches, must still exist as a counter-narrative – not to unrighteousness in Israel but to unrighteousness in the world, not as a response to Israel’s eschatological crisis but as a response to a cosmic crisis, to the narrative of injustice and exploitation and godlessness and hopelessness and greed and depravity and folly that determines human existence.

This gives us reason to transpose the Beatitudes, if we wish to do so, from the key of Israel’s judgment and restoration to the key of creational renewal. Because there is still sin and oppression, we must remain a ‘cruciform’ people – which means we have arrived more or less at Brian’s conclusion, only by a somewhat different route. But the cruciform shape is given to a people that has come to know shalom – the full spiritual, material, relational, ecological goodness of being created. Our ‘prosperity’ is always under constraint, always under duress: on the one hand, we always invite opposition and hostility; on the other, we are always blessed in order to be a blessing.

Comments

Andrew, good job. I agree with about everything you've said here. The Beatitudes are not a list of virtues but a revolutionary critique of a culture that needs to be turned upside down.

Andrew,

I am very appreciative that you took the time to think about these things and to write out such a thoughtful response. You have given me a great deal to consider, and I have to say that I agree with what you have said almost entirely. (I also agree with Scot's comment).

I guess that, in my post, I was more focused upon the larger creation narrative than the more immediate narrative of Israel. I'm not sure what drew my focus to this larger story and away from the smaller one which you have done a fine job of representing above.

All that I can think of was that for some reason I kept focusing in on the meek inheriting the world aspect. I guess as a question: do you think that Jesus mention of the world in that particular Beatitude was supposed to draw our attention to Israel's role in the larger creation narrative? I most certainly could be mistaken.

The only other things that I can think of that took me in this direction were the light and salt passages, the love your enemy (unrighteous/gentile?) passage and so I was thinking Israel's role in God's overall plan. I would appreciate any other thoughts/helps that you could offer as I continue on.

Thank you :)

Brian

Hi, Brian. Thanks for the response!

As I see it, the place of renewed Israel in the world is probably not absent from Jesus’ outlook here, as you point out. And if Paul had stated the third Beatitude about the meek inheriting the , we might well suppose he had expansion of the church into the whole of creation in mind (cf. Rom. 4:13). But I am more inclined to think that Jesus means ‘the meek shall inherit the land’ ( can mean either ‘earth’ or ‘land’). It seems to me from the particular background passages (Psalm 37:11; Is. 61:7) and from Beatitudes generally that Jesus is here redefining the community of true Israel under the present eschatological conditions.

Here’s what I wrote in the commentary on Matthew 5:1-12:

The texts from the Psalms that lie behind the third and fourth beatitudes have as their focus the repossession of the land. So when Jesus says that the meek ‘shall inherit the land’, this is in the first place the land of Israel – not the ‘earth’, as the later universal church has come to understand it.

The point of the saying is not that ‘meekness’, as a general moral or spiritual quality, is a prerequisite for personal salvation. In Psalm 37 the meek are differentiated from the ‘wicked’, who plot against the righteous and ‘bring down the poor and needy’ (vv. 12, 14). Written on the back of these words of blessing, therefore, are words of judgment on the hypocrisy of establishment Judaism, which is why in Luke the beatitudes are matched by equivalent woes. The fate of the wicked will be destruction; they will be ‘cut off’, but ‘those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land’ (v. 9) - this is where Israel’s hope lies.

Thanks Andrew :)

I will be sure to consider the earth/land issue. Your commentary is helpful.

Brian

Hey Andrew,

I have been thinking alot about this earth/land issue and am being persuaded to go along with you on this point. The only other issue I'm considering is the Lord's prayer when Jesus says "on earth as it is in heaven". What is earth here? Is there any relation in your thinking?

Thanks,

Brian

Hi Brian. I think that the Lord’s prayer has a much more direct relevance to the renewal of Israel than is suggested by its place in liturgical tradition: Matt. 6:9-13 - The Lord’s prayer and its eschatological context. I have always assumed, though, that ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ simply refers to the general earthly context in view of the contrast with heaven. Do you have any other ideas on the matter?

Hey Andrew,

I read through the link you posted and found it helpful. I can see it's place in the Israel narrative much better than I could before...so that is good...I think :)

I guess what I continue to wrestle with is the idea of kingdom as you present it. I mean, I understand it to a large extent, and I tend to agree you on a great deal.

At the same time, I tend to see the Israel story as the world's story "small scale"...am I wrong in this? Therefore, I don't have a problem expanding the idea of kingdom beyond the Israel narrative, and applying it worldwide, since Jesus is Lord of the world...does that make sense?

I want to understand first and foremost in the way you put it, but expand beyond, not only as a way of making application, but also because I think that this is the role of the Israel story in the world's story.

Maybe I'm not making any sense? I do want to emphasize that I agree with you on this whole earth/land issue, and on the Lord's prayer point.

Brian

My question to you would be: What exactly do you have in mind when you speak of applying kingdom language to the whole world?

Kingdom language in the New Testament, as I understand it, refers forwards to a decisive, transformative event or series of events, which I think should be equated historically with the transition of the people of God from second temple Judaism to the conversion of the empire. Jesus’ thought focuses on the end of second temple Judaism; Paul understands this but also looks beyond it to the victory of Christ over the pagan oppressor of God’s people.

This does not mean that kingdom language ceases to be relevant after Constantine. Once the reign of God, deputed to Jesus, has been established, then we naturally as God’s people continue to live and function under that kingship, until the last enemy is destroyed, which is death.

Since the church has been projected into the world as a witness globally, first, to a good creation in microcosm and, secondly, to the redemption of that good creation in Christ, it serves as a vehicle of the sovereignty of God on a worldwide basis. This is not to say that God does not act sovereignly, as king, apart from the church. But it seems to me that the tenor of biblical thought points strongly towards the view that kingdom language has to do primarily, and almost exclusively, to do with God’s dealings with his people as their struggle to preserve the integrity of their witness in the midst of the nations.

I mentioned the idea that the people of God constitutes a good creation in microcosm. Perhaps this is similar to your suggestion that Israel’s story is the world’s story ‘small scale’. I certainly think that Israel was conceived as a small scale replica of creation, with the intention that it should model for the world how creation was meant to be. But I’m not sure that in all respects we can say that Israel’s story parallels the world’s story. What would be the implications of this?

For example, Reformed theology works on the assumption that Judaism under the Law is a microcosm for the world under law, so that Paul’s argument about justification by faith and not by works of the Law can be translated into universal terms. But this seems rather suspect. What evidence is there that scripture places all humanity under law as such? Under a spectrum of existential or spiritual powers perhaps, but it seems to me that the issue of Law and faith in Paul’s thought is bound up with the situation of Israel facing eschatological crisis.

Thanks for having this conversation Andrew. It is causing me to think and I am learning alot.

Let me start with the long part...where I agree with you. I too, do not agree with the reformed translation of works of the law and justification by faith into universal terms. It is a fine way to present things, as you did, to say that Israel functions as a good creation in microcosm. This does capture my intentions.

I would also agree with you that kingdom language is overwhelmingly used in relation to the people of God, and primarily with reference to the second temple period, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the ultimate victory of the people of God over the pagan oppressors.

I am not sure that we have any substantial disagreement with the rest with regard to how this all is supposed to work out. It's probably more about the language we wish to utilize. I am in agreement with all that you say about the witness of the people of God in the world.

Already/not yet has briefly come up in this conversation, but I'm not sure how (or if) you believe that this applies today, epecially with regard to the death of death. For me, this is consumation language, of course, that has to do with new creation, but I think it is also kingdom language as well (but I could be wrong I suppose). 1st Corinthians 15 focuses in on the kingdom here.

Jesus' reign seems to be over the church, but it seems to me that He has already secured the not yet defeat of death in the world through His death, and so Kingdom language could be applied in this way, as the not yet to the church's already. So, as I see it, death is the final enemy which must be subdued under the king. The Kingdom of God and the new creation seem to become one at this point.

The kingdom is the mustard seed and the leaven (though maybe you think this is more historically applied as well?). It is God's means of simultaneously bringing in the new creation, and also re-claiming all that is His under His kingly rule. Since the whole earth is guaranteed to be restored or regenerated, by means of the spread of the kingdom, I'm not sure why we couldn't apply kingdom language, in this not yet sense, to the world. 

I could very well be wrong, and am more than open to help and correction, this is just the way that I have been seeing things.

Thanks,

Brian

I had a look at the ‘now but not yet’ argument a while back. It may actually be quite a good example of what you’re looking for. The early church through the nature of its witness anticipated the coming of the kingdom to transform the circumstances of the people of God under empire—the church was a sign in the present of what was yet to come. Similarly, we could probably say that the church now by its witness to the renewal of creation anticipates the ultimate victory of the creator of sin and death—the church is a sign in the present of what is yet to come.

Yes, I agree, the defeat of death is kingdom language, on a number of different levels. Death is a symbol of the spiritual condition of Israel. Death is itself the judgment on sinful Israel—a judgment that is lifted in the eschatological restoration, again in anticipation of a final defeat of death (cf. Is. 25:7-8). Jesus’ resurrection is a vindication of his prophetic testimony, but it also stands for the renewal of life in Israel and grounds the hope of the suffering community of his followers that they will likewise share in this outcome. The life of the church in the Spirit is a sign of a life beyond the final destruction of death. And so on…

The mustard seed parable can certainly be interpreted historically. But this I’m not sure about…

Since the whole earth is guaranteed to be restored or regenerated, by means of the spread of the kingdom…

I think we can say that the empire, the oikoumenē, was transformed by the witness of the church as it spread into the Greek-Roman world, and that this witness was effective only because God had acted sovereignly to transform the circumstances of his people. But I would hesitate to argue that the final restoration of the whole is achieved by means of either the activity of the church or the impact of the kingdom of God. There’s perhaps not much to go on, but it seems to me that the basic template throughout scripture is that the people of God constitute—or struggle to constitute—a counter-testimony to the narrative of humanity, not that it is to be the agent of global or cosmic transformation.

Thank you Andrew...I'll  keep studying :)

Hey Andrew,

I'm sorry I keep bothering you over these same issues, but I had a question as I consider this earth/land issue.

If the issue is the land, how come the renewed Israel never really inherited the literal land? I see that they avoided the judgment of 70ad, and that is an important point, but it seems to me that the fulfillment of this promise never occured if the inheritance was the land.

I'd appreciate clarification...I really want to go along with you on this because I see alot of benefits to seeing things this way, but this is currently a sticking point for me.

Thanks,

Brian

The beatitudes certainly have fresh significance when seen in the light of conditions which prevailed in the immediate historical context, with both hostile Judaism and Rome in view. This is a helpful insight.

Do the beatitudes cease to have direct application to the church after AD 70 or the 'pagan conversion' period? It might be argued that the church would have done better to pay even more attention to the beatitudes, not less, after it had won political favour with Rome in the 4th century, and subsequently.

The beatitudes also have a universal significance where conditions prevail which Andrew describes as "the narrative of injustice and exploitation and godlessness and hopelessness and greed and depravity and folly that determines human existence." In the light of this, when will the beatitudes not have universal significance, before the future in-breaking of  "a new heaven and a new earth"?

The main valuable insight I draw from placing the beatitudes in their immediate historical context is that there is rather more of a political dimension to Jesus's agenda than has often been realised - though even here, it is not a straightforward political activism which Jesus is promoting.

I do therefore see the beatitudes as having more universal significance than is suggested in this post. I haven't explored this, but is there a literary echo in the beatitudes of the Mount Gerizim blessings? But instead of delimiting the beatitudes, I would see this parallel as placing the beatitudes as a prelude to an eschatological widening of their significance, in the light of Israel's subsequent history, and the role of the disciples/apostles and the church.

Do the beatitudes also contain more distant echoes of God's blessing on Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham - the last through whose seed all nations of the earth would be blessed? In which case, Israel's 'blessedness', and Matthew's beatitudes, might be related to God's worldwide intentions - the creation-wide covenant (Noah, Abraham) within which is contained the covenant with Israel (Moses, David), delivered through the New Covenant, brought by Jesus in a Passover, New Exodus, fulfilment. Light the blue touch paper and retire!

And while Matthew 5:7 does contain an echo of Psalm 37:11, how can Jesus's blessing of the meek be a like-for-like equivalence with the Psalm and limited to the land of Canaan, when the disciples did not inherit a land limited to the national and geographic boundaries of Canaan/Israel? Perhaps then, the meek would inherit the land in the sense of what the land stood for and was intended to prefigure, in relation to God's intended purposes through Abraham to the world, rather than a literal, material inheritance of Canaan. 

Just thinking out loud, as usual.

Peter, I suggested that the Beatitudes may have significance for the church beyond the immediate horizon of Jesus’ vision by a sort of transposition:

This gives us reason to transpose the Beatitudes, if we wish to do so, from the key of Israel’s judgment and restoration to the key of creational renewal.

This seems to me a good way of preserving the narrative and contextual integrity of Jesus’ language while acknowledging that the underlying attitudes remain largely relevant to the life of the church as it responds to a global crisis.

The setting of a blessing on Mount Gerizim has reference to the terms of the covenant which Israel was obliged to adhere to once it had taken possession of the land. Mount Ebal represents the corresponding curses (Deut. 11:29-30). Although both mountains are in Samaria, at this stage there is no reason to attribute to them an international perspective. They are symbols of God’s covenant with Israel.

The story also reminds us that Jesus did not only pronounce blessings on renewed Israel; he pronounced woes on unrepentant Israel (Matt. 23; Lk. 6:24-26; 11:42-44).

Do the beatitudes also contain more distant echoes of God’s blessing on Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham - the last through whose seed all nations of the earth would be blessed?

I made the point in the post that “Jesus’ ‘manifesto’ draws on the language not of creational blessing but of eschatological transition”. The pronouncement of ‘blessing’ with respect to Adam and Eve, Noah and Abraham is extremely important: this is the blessing of creation that is transmitted through Christ to the renewed people of God. But Jesus does not appear to reference this motif in the Beatitudes. His language and imagery quite consistently, I think, evokes narratives of judgment and renewal, though clearly the two themes are interrelated: it is through the eschatological process of judgment and renewal that the creational blessing is recovered.

I agree that Jesus was not thinking that the meek would literally inherit the land of Israel. But the allusion to Psalm 37:11, in conjunction with the other allusions in the Beatitudes, does seem to tie them into an argument about the renewal of Israel—with implications of course, as you say, for ‘God’s intended purposes through Abraham to the world’.

Transposition (of the beatitudes) to the key of creational renewal. Your concession, Andrew, is very tentative ("if we wish"). I still maintain that the force of Jesus's words remains universal - that, for instance, it wasn't optional ("if you wish") for the Constantinian church to ignore the beatitudes, or fail to apply them to itself. If it had applied them, church history might have been very different. Instead, it was often the marginal, renewal movements, often within the church, which took 'the sermon on the mount' seriously, and injected life into a system corrupted by power, wealth and political compromise. The movements themselves then often became compromised in turn by too close an association with the church they were renewing.

I can appreciate what you are doing, however, in delimiting the scope of Jesus's words to a specifically 1st century context. I am intrigued as to whether the approach really works - ie that we can really say with integrity that Jesus had no horizon in view beyond AD 70, or that he came to fulfil a story which was no broader than the Daniel narrative. I think the story was broader, and that it did have the renewal of creation in view, as an Isaianic (in particular) sermon enacted in Jesus's deeds. I think we get into all sorts of problems if we take your line of thinking.

One of the problems is that the bible becomes a loose compendium of writings which cease to have authority over us, and whose application is entirely subjective. Rather, we are left having authority over it as to which aspects of the sweep of its story, and which injunctions which maintain its onward momentum and inward integrity apply to us or not.

The other major problem with the line of thinking is that it distorts some of the key events in the life and on-going story of Jesus in and beyond the gospel accounts. I would include here cross, resurrection, ascension and outpouring of the Spirit, and of course, the very person of Jesus himself. That life and on-going story did not end, according to Acts 1:1-2, with the "day he was taken up to heaven" in Luke's gospel, but continued throughout Acts as Jesus lived in his church, and continues to do so today.

For these reasons, I would personally be very wary of suggesting that Jesus's words belong somewhat exclusively to an historic 1st century context, and apply outside that context only through a transpositon based on rather debatable and subjective criteria.

Sorry to be Banquo's ghost appearing at the feast yet again. At least I'm not the elephant in the room.

You’re reading too much into my ‘if we wish’. I am simply allowing for different ways of approaching the question. It was not optional for the post-Constantinian church, nor is it optional for the post-modern church, to behave in a Christ-like manner in its interactions with the whole of creation. It’s just that Jesus is so clearly here telling a story about Israel and only about Israel, and I think we should respect that.

One of the problems is that the bible becomes a loose compendium of writings which cease to have authority over us, and whose application is entirely subjective.

Under the old paradigm, perhaps. But I think that the old paradigm is flawed and that if we pursue this contextualizing approach we will find ways of reconstructing biblical authority in a diachronic rather than synchronic, in historically particular rather than universal, terms. In fact, I believe we will arrive at a much stronger model of biblical authority, one that will not be so vulnerable to modern and indeed postmodern critique. But it remains to be seen whether modern evangelicalism has the imagination to grasp that.

Naturally, I disagree that this line of thinking distorts the key events that you list. On the contrary, it recovers their historical integrity. Of course, the story continues, and as it continues it acquires an expanded significance, but that significance does not have to be read back into narratively earlier events or teachings.

Why is it not optional for the post-Constantinian church not to behave in a Christlike manner - under the paradigm which you are suggesting?

If 'Christ-like' means according to Jesus's life and teaching, you have restricted that to pre A.D.70, since Jesus only had in mind that time frame. Why should it apply to anyone, according to your paradigm, beyond that period?

It's a separate issue, but just to summarise: the areas not at all established by your line of thinking, and which I think are distorted by it, are the following:

- the person of Jesus, his divine nature, which you reject, but is fairly easily demonstrated within the historically contextualised terms of reference of gospels and epistles

- the outpoured Spirit, poured out by Jesus, which you take primarily as a sign of the imminent AD 70 catastrophe, at the expense, it seems to me, of the more significant aspects of the Spirit emphasised in gospels and epistles

- the resurrection, as to its significance, like the Spirit, as the power at work within the pre and post AD 70 church to the present day, as well as its future fulfilment

- the cross, as to its significance in dealing with the root sin problem of humankind which you highlight in the original post at the head of this thread, and which remains to be dealt with in the lives of those not confined to the restricted narrative of pre-AD 70 Israel, including your life and mine. Or to put it another way, how is the problem of sin dealt with if the cross is exclusively contextualised to the pre AD 70 period?

That's just to spell out simply what I meant by my final comments, and which is what I think your line of argument leads you to.

Peter, this is a good question:

"If ‘Christ-like’ means according to Jesus’s life and teaching, you have restricted that to pre A.D.70, since Jesus only had in mind that time frame. Why should it apply to anyone, according to your paradigm, beyond that period?"

Why should it, indeed?

Here's the thing, though -- just because you want Jesus's life to have meaning, doesn't mean it did in the way you want. In other words, you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, so you therefore understand his words through the lens of many layers of church teaching.

But if one looks at the history dispassionately, the likelihood is that Jesus didn't have eternity in mind. If Jesus was a normal human being discussing the concerns of his day with the people around him, there is no logical reason to think he had any intention of ushering in a "church age" in a "post-70 AD world" or a new way of "salvation" through "propitiation for sins" or the church as the "bride of Christ."

You argue that seeing things in context leads to a loss of faith in the particulars of christian dogma. And I agree. But just because the facts do not point to the conclusion that we were taught from an early age is not a good reason to turn a blind eye to them.

 

I just think that the facts

Andrew, you said to Peter W., “Peter, I suggested that the Beatitudes may have significance for the church BEYOND the immediate horizon of Jesus’ vision by a sort of transposition: This gives us reason to transpose the Beatitudes, if we wish to do so, from the key of Israel’s judgment and restoration to the key of creational renewal. This seems to me a good way of preserving the narrative and contextual integrity of Jesus’ language while acknowledging that the underlying attitudes remain LARGELY RELEVANT to the life of the church as it responds to a global crisis.” 

So, am I completely misunderstanding this (probably,maybe it's the word “transposition”?) or is this a shift in your thinking, a widening of the historical “brackets”, implying a greater relevance of the Beatitudes to our context? Because in some other writings you say, “The problem with going back to the Sermon on the Mount teaching in order to define an alternative way of life for the church NOW is that it was designed to address the needs of the community facing a particular type of eschatological transition”.

I hope I’m misunderstanding, I thought I was just starting to get how historical context really does liberate the church today into ITS eschatological reality! 

Also, really enjoyed the dialog over at Storied Theology between you, Scot McKnight and Daniel Kirk re: Kingdom.

Jim, such a nice comment—it’s rare to find someone who gets what I’m trying to say! See if this post makes things any clearer.

The beatitudes are supernatural acts of God in the soul of the faithful. They are manifestations of a supernatural sharing of divine life. They are the resume of the life of Christ.

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