Divine Teaching: Part 3

McIntosh moves into the second part of his volume by grounding his theological endeavor in salvation. He maps the options by posing either the order of knowing or the order of being. He then offers his rationale for beginning with salvation:

Christians believe that the place where our way of knowing and God’s way of being most intimately encounter one another, so that our knowing is transformed, is in Jesus by the Holy Spirit. This is so, first, in the sense that our human way of knowing is, in Christ, taken up into a particular divine way of being, and second, in the sense that as people encounter Jesus in various ways, their forms of knowing are transformed” (59).

Moving in this fashion allows McIntosh to dive into Christology through some low-flying biblical exegesis and discussion, noting that, “the act of salvation becomes the lens by which everything else is perceived and understood” (65). Something I’ve meant to say earlier, which just occurs to me as I’m reading through this section, is how excellent a volume this really is. McIntosh is truly gifted with conceptual clarity, the ability to use graphs, charts and diagrams, not to mention analogies and metaphors, to actually clarify, instead of using them as I do, where I merely muddy the water of even the clearest of issues!

In an attempt to map the views of salvation, McIntosh breaks down the metaphors invoked into several categories: medical, legal, cosmic-historical, military-political, sacrificial, and mystical (66). Furthermore, for sake of example, he charts Origen, Calvin and Elizabeth Johnson on a chart with these four questions sifting their soteriology into various categories: Saved from? Saved for? By what means? Scope? He even puts them on a graph to visually show their relationship. It is aspects like this which really make Divine Teaching accessible. I said it before, but this would make a great intro text.

In his next chapter entitled: “Salvation: Meeting Heaven Face to Face,” McIntosh works through Irenaeus, Augustine and Anselm sequentially to show the variations and similarities of salvation accounts, only after which he works in a more constructive mode. He suggests three issues an adequate account of Jesus’ death should avoid: 1) where it isolates his death from the rest of what Christians believe; 2) where it reduces the import of his death to a form of satisfaction for a divine demand, and, 3) where it legitimizes passive suffering or violence as inherently necessary, praiseworthy and divinely sanctioned (99). His offered solution is the paschal mystery. He claims:

In what follows, I want to propose that we can inquire into this paschal mystery in three dimensions of its transforming or saving power: (1) in terms of the world of human interactions, (2) in terms of the wider creation or cosmos, and (3) in the widest terms of all, that is, the infinitely relational life of God the Trinity. At each level, or dimension, the dying and rising of Jesus leads into a deeper vision of God’s abiding generosity and giving life” (99).

Any thoughts? I breezed through a lot of his material here, so don’t think I hit everything!

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One thought on “Divine Teaching: Part 3

  1. I’ve always been a little suspicious of “salvation history,” from the time it was invented in Germany. Originally, God promised not just an ethereal salvation, the meeting of a moral standard etc., but … saving us physically from our enemies and other physical perils.

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