Monday, July 02, 2007

Streetwise: The Face of Christ

Again, I find myself surprised at how long it has been since I've posted. To the two or three people who bother checking in to see if I have written recently: Sorry! I've been busy...

Streetwise is an occasional feature on Gower Street wherein I share and sometimes comment on or expand one or more quotations from something I am reading.

I'm still reading - but nearly done with - Rowan Williams' fine On Christian Theology, but I am also reading Meaning and Truth in 2 Corinthians by Frances Young and David Ford, in preparation for writing on 2 Corinthians in my dissertation. (What an amazing epistle, btw!) As one would expect from a book written by such as Young and Ford, one finds numerous insights and deep theological probings into the the apostle's letter: much that is quotable, as well, but a couple particularly worth keeping for later:

"The main features of Paul’s idea of authority can be related to the face of Christ. This face represents the gospel and the revelation of what was hidden by Moses’ veil. Its authority is relational, interactive and non-coercive. It is both and embodiment of ultimate authority, the glory of God, and also is distributed, ‘shining in our hearts’. It has been vulnerable to the point of actual death. It is an interpretative authority, communicating knowledge, and is eschatological, a vision imperfectly grasped by faith until the final ‘face to face’. To live in faith before this face is to have a criterion for all authority and a liberation from the idolatries of power. Above all it is to live in freedom and love, in which the very issue of authority, which is always secondary for Paul, is swallowed up in the reality it serves, ‘transformation into that self-same image, from glory to glory’ (3.18) That is the Church being built up, which is the only purpose of Paul’s authority." (p. 232)

‘All of this [viz. the centrality of the face of Christ] questions our use of the concept of ‘identity’ referring to God, Christ, and ourselves. If identity implies something self-same, with a permanent centre and discernable boundaries, that that is inadequate. If God’s glory in the face of Christ shows who God is, and if this glory is shared with us in a way that ‘transforms us into that self-same image, from glory to glory’ (3.18), usual notions of identity need to be transformed, too. This ‘self-same image’ denies any individualism or autonomy in being a person, but constitutes identity in a new way, through being part of God’s sharing of his own glory. This changes the very idea of the boundaries of self in favour of concepts such as coinherence, exchange, mutual indwelling and living for others. Above all, the new identity is summed up in te face, which is at once the mark of unique personality and the embodiment of receptivity to others. The welcome of the face is not a threat to other selves but is the supreme sign of the possibility that we can live in free, non-competitive mutuality. Yet this is a freedom that is in its very essence responsible, because it only exists face to face with the other who continually puts the self in question and calls us to live responsively.’ (251,2)

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Blogger Steve Hayes said...

Have you read The freedom of morality by Christos Yannaras?

If you have, you'll know why I mentioned it, if not, you might enjoy it, since it explores similar ideas.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007 1:09:00 PM  

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