Bishop's Blog: Mottos Part 3

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On Mottos III: Seven Hard Things ‘We are Resurrection People’ Means. This is our motto, and for good reasons. At the same time, it might appeal for reasons short of what the term really means in the Bible. So let’s clear away some underbrush so it can be better heard. It doesn’t just mean that the Bible gives us an old-fashioned word for being a member of the Optimists’ Society.  It means more than "hope springs eternal."  Nor is it emphasizing the appealing bits of the faith and soft-pedalling the hard parts.  So in this spirit, lets list what it really does mean in Scriptural perspective. 

  1. The same God who made the world has redeemed it, and will bring it to its consummation, by His hand and in His manner and time.  "The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His Temple, but who can abide the day of coming…" (Malachi 3:1)  We have no power to build His Kingdom nor bring it in - see Temptation of Jesus story!
  2. He means to reclothe us in spiritual bodies and have us stand before His throne. No easy continuation in some disembodied heaven - see any book by Tom Wright! But what a spiritual body is is quite beyond us. The judgment that ensues involves heaven and hell…
  3. Resurrection is life from the dead! It implies that all intra-mundane means of hope for the redemption of this world are vain. It implies that on its own the world as it is is a dark and broken place. Resurrection is the kind of hope that can be heard, however, in a war or in a cancer ward…
  4. We are indeed a people, not just a conglomeration of individuals. But we do not have the power or vision to execute Resurrection. We are witnesses to what He has done. We are totally dependent on grace, being ourselves powerless.  Christianity is the original 12-step program!
  5. In this vein, resurrection fulfills the prophetic words of Ezekiel 37 and Daniel 12, whose domain was the despair of exile and alienation from our home.
  6. Our resurrection follows on that of Jesus not only in time but in being. And Jesus’ resurrection is tied to his death.  He still has the scars, now glorious. To be Resurrection means we are necessarily Vicarious Atonement people.
  7. Jesus’ resurrection was bodily, and so shall ours be. It is hence all of us He now claims as Lord. And it is our ecology, our society, our cosmos that he rules over. Getting our mind around these facts is the main agendum of Christian ethics.

All this and far more packed into a sentence….




On Mottos Part 2: Honorable Mention List

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I concluded in the last blog that we should keep our motto. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other good roads departing in the woods we could have gone down. Let me list them too, along with a reason of how each says something useful to the moment in which we stand as Episcopal Christians.  Some have the disadvantage of not appealing to Biblical terms, but you will judge them for yourselves….

Ancient Faith, Future Church: This one is actually a quotation from the late professor at Wheaton, Robert Webber, an evangelical who discovered the great tradition and became an Episcopalian.  We benefit from many who follow in his footsteps.  It also assumes that it is the re-hearing of what is old, but maybe overlooked, that will galvanize the present; it connects theological retrieval and mission to our time and culture.

Perspicuous! This one would force people to their dictionaries! It means “clear” and it is what the Bible is - one the great and saving matters (though not in every detail.)  It assumes that trusting the Word of God is the real issue in our hectic and self-absorbed and skeptical age.

Bible, Creeds, Sacraments, Bishop: This one is also a quotation, from the Lambeth Quadrilateral which has had an important history as our Church’s contribution to Anglican self-understanding. These are the sources of our theological self-understanding, though Bible is the first, with the other three providing trustworthy guides and defenses of its right interpretation. But as a motto it is quite a mouthful!

Generous Orthodoxy: This one is a quotation from the late theologian Hans Frei of Yale, whose neo-traditional theology was all about rehearing the Bible on its own terms (which really is what all theology ought to be about.)  I think it tries to make a distinction between the ethos and the content of our re-hearing.  One problem is that many think it describes them, as opposed to someone else!

Ye are the Body:  A quotation here too, from the late Bonnell Spencer, a monk of Holy Cross, who wrote a popular catechetical history of our Church two generations ago.  We mean to produce such resources. The sentence reminds us, as did John Donne, that we are not islands.

Disciples of Christ on the Prayer Book Road: This one is unworkable for several reasons, but at least it puts first things first (being His disciples) and gets to the heart of our spirituality (the Prayer Book).

I hope these worthy aspirants that didn’t make the cut say something, each in their own right, about who we need to recall that we are, in this time and place.






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