13 July 2009

An Exilic Presbyterian's Manifesto

This post begins a multi-series book review, or, rather, walkthrough of Jason J. Stellman's Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and Not Yet. I jotted this down as I was reading the pre-publication manuscript (note therefore that my page numbering may be off) and was thinking I'd cull together some of it for an actual review to be of use somewhere, but the "conflict of interest" factor proved too great. So I'll be posting my thoughts here alone. Again, this is more of a walkthrough, and as such, my personal opinions will be kept to a minimum, except where it provoked a more visceral reaction. Please note that I had nothing to do with this manuscript's acceptance, development, etc.; I have no official role in Reformation Trust. Here goes:

The last thing we need is another book analyzing the problems facing the Western church or how “Christ” relates to “culture,” right? (In fact, once I read Rodney Clapp’s
Peculiar People and then Craig Gay’s The Way of the (Modern) World, not to mention Hauerwas' and Willimon's Resident Aliens, I considered this genre officially closed.) Well, I guess we wouldn’t need another one if the majority of them were more concerned with fidelity to the charter (i.e., Scripture) given to the church by Jesus and his apostles than with “transforming” or improving culture—often through questionable, cultural (and thus ultimately subjective and relative) tactics.


One of the many reasons, it seems, that Christians drift toward this latter tendency is their forgetfulness. What do they forget? The stated central thesis of Stellman’s book: “…the new covenant situates us in a tension between ‘the already’ on the one hand and the ‘not yet’ on the other” (xiii). This tension arises out of the fact that God’s Messiah has already come and inaugurated his Father’s kingdom, while leaving some aspects of it not yet enacted. “God’s delay in ushering in the kingdom in its glorious and final form means that we live in the intersection of the present and the futures as exiles and pilgrims in the divinely ordained overlap of the ages” (xiv).  Sound like a bore? Maybe, if you already have this stuff figured out. But the actions, concerns, and emphases of the majority of American Christians betrays otherwise. Thus the need for yet another book on this subject. In short, what we’ve got here in Dual Citizens appears to be young, restless, and, with apologies to Mr. Hansen, thoroughly Reformed.

The book itself is split in two: part one looks at worship and part two deals with life. Both are discussed under the rubric of living as pilgrims in these times between the times.

Expecting the reader to scratch his head in response to the subtitle, “Worship and Life Between the Already and Not Yet,” Stellman begins by taking to task what is often taken for granted in the Western church. Thus his introduction begins by tearing asunder what many Christians think God hath joined together: worship and life. “Characteristic of this position,” Stellman writes, “is Reformed theologian John Frame, who insists that ‘there is no real difference between worship and the rest of life…[for] it is very difficult, in general, to separate “life” from “worship” in a biblical framework’” (xviii). Contrarily, Stellman argues that God’s Word maintains this distinction, and he spends the remainder of his introduction attempting to prove just that (it is this particular point that distinguishes Stellman’s attempt from so many of the others. Most, in my experience, collapse this distinction, and, indeed, decry it).

The main reason he finds the distinction valid is due to the place Christ’s church now occupies: “The people of God under the new covenant are in a situation more like that of the patriarchs under the Abrahamic covenant than that of Israel under the Mosaic covenant” (xxv). That is to say, the church is not a “triumphant theocratic nation dwelling in an earthly holy land, but a band of dispossessed pilgrims whose true country—of which Eden and Canaan were types and shadows—is not to be found ‘under the sun’ but beyond it, in heaven itself” (Ibid.). Note his connection of the nation of Israel—the ‘cult’ (a religious realm as distinct from the secular realm, see fn. 2, xxviii)—to their land.

Following Meredith Kline (in Kingdom Prologue), Stellman argues that God’s rule over both pre-fallen man and Israel included a realm, namely the garden of Eden and the Promised Land. For both Adam and Israel, God provided “for his covenant people a distinct land in which they are to serve Him as His loyal subjects…[where] cult and culture, church and world, temple and palace, are one” (xix–xx). But under Abraham, as under the new covenant, the situation can be characterized as “pilgrim politics, a term that highlights [the patriarch’s—and the church’s] status not as a triumphant theocratic army but as ‘resident aliens’ and ‘tolerated sojourners’ whose inheritance was not yet a reality” (xxi, emphases original throughout, unless otherwise indicated). Indeed, precisely because of the church’s lack of a distinct country, “we exist in a cultural realm that is distinct from that of the cultic. We are, like the patriarchs religiously particular but culturally indistinct. For the new covenant church, cult is distinct from culture, church is distinct from world, and the sacred is distinct from the secular” (xxvi).

Has your hair begun to bristle? So keen are we Christians to transform or improve culture in the name of Christ that such notions of seeming withdrawal produce reflexive scorn. But Stellman doesn’t back down (nor does he intend for the church to “withdraw,” as we shall see). He sees himself comfortably couched not just in the Reformation principle of Christians simultaneously living in two kingdoms but in the Pauline notion that culture has its own legitimacy apart from cult (again, understood as a secular realm distinct from the religious realm). The American nation is decidedly a “non-theocratic context” and thus we Christians, like the Christians of the first century, are to submit to the governing authorities, as well as participate in them (ibid.). Both the secular and sacred are under the reign of God, and thus distinguishing between life and worship, as the subtitle of his book suggests, Stellman argues is “a necessary consequence of careful Bible study” and life under the new covenant (xvii).

I suppose I could just leave the whole discussion here, since this series is filled with spoilers…

31 comments:

John Yeazel said...

Looking forward to the upcoming reviews of the book. Am now going to have to read Peculiar People, The way the (Modern)World, Resident Aliens and this new book by Stedman. Of the writing of books there seems to be no end- isn't that somewhere in Ecclesiates?

John Yeazel said...

Ooops, that is Stellman not Stedman

Chris Donato said...

Funny that you mention that Ecclesiastes 12:12 quote, John. Craig Gay quotes it in the first sentence of his "Acknowledgments."

Jason Stellman said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Chris. Any idea when this thing actually drops?

John Schaefer said...

Great beginning! I look forward to reading the rest of it.

Could you define "culture" for me in a sentence or two, the definition implied here for Stellman? Too much graduate school--I'm having a bit of trouble understanding...

Chris Donato said...

Hi, John. I'm grateful for your reading (given your anthropologist hat), if for no other reason than to keep us poetasting theologians honest on certain points.

Normally, I'd define "culture" as Peter Berger did in A Rumor of Angels: "the totality of man's products," both material and immaterial (p. 6). But note that two anthropologists in 1952 (Culture: a Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions) counted all the different definitions of "culture" from among social scientists and came up with more than 160 distinct meanings. Still, I prefer Berger's broad definition.

It might be best for Stellman to come by and give us his working definition. My understanding is that in his context he's simply referring to that which is distinct from cult (religious devotion). I know from my sociological perspective (and maybe from your anthropological one) these things cannot be bifurcated. But for his purposes in this book, he assumes a kind of two-tiered cosmogeny (this is the assumed view found throughout the ancient Near East incidentally, from which the Hebrew scriptures spring)—the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Both have the creator God as their lord. But one sphere concerns everyday life, while the other concerns worship specifically.

So, to follow Stellman on this brief journey, you might need to "forget" about your anthropological training on this point.

Jason Stellman said...

Hello gents,

When I write about "culture," I'm simply speaking of whatever aspects of man's life and existence that are non-cultic. God rules two kingdoms: the kingdom of man and the kingdom of Christ. Whatever is not specifically tied to redemption (art, sports, labor) is by definition part and parcel of the kingdom of man, the earthly kingdom.

Now originally, all of man's endeavors--whether specifically religious or not--were designed to bring about eschatological glory. But once man rendered himself incapable of this by his fall into sin, the same cultural mandate was given, but now (as in the case of Noah) man's cultural work can only build the temporal, earthly kingdom. The heavenly kingdom, on the other hand, is being built by the second Adam through his Body, the church.

Hope that helps.

Chris Donato said...

That is helpful, Jason, thank you. Also, I "heard" that it might not show up on the shelf till sometime in the latter half of August. But take what I say with a grain of salt. I am not in the loop.

steve said...

The last thing we need is another book analyzing the problems facing the Western church or how “Christ” relates to “culture,” right?

Well, if people would stop publishing things like "The Patriot Bible" (released around the same time as this) maybe things like Dual Citizens wouldn't be so needed. Something tells me the back and forth won't stop anytime soon.

John Yeazel said...

Chris,

Looking over your web-site I appreciate the overall theme; "Growing Grace-full, ramblings and remorse." Could not have expressed my sentiments, hopes and desires any better. Just wanted to mention that.

I agree with Zrim, the nature of our dual citizenship always causes much confusion in the Body of Christ. Any contribution which brings clarity and greater insight into the discussion (from differing political ideologies is even better) seems to be very much needed and timely today.

I remember reading a book by Craig Gay (I cannot remember the name of it) while attending Calvin College in the early 90's on trying to reconcile the differing political and economic ideologies and viewpoints being expressed by various Christian writers during that time. The hot topic back then was Clinton and his economic policies which the "Christian right" was predicting disasterous results. It did not turn out that way and Gay's book helped me understand the issues better. Perhaps Stellman's book will do the same for today's issues.

Chris Donato said...

Thanks, John. Perhaps that Gay book was With Liberty and Justice for Whom? The Recent Evangelical Debate Over Capitalism.

steve said...

I know what a book written by a gay person is, but what's a "gay book"?

Kidding. Little 2K humor, that.

Zwingli 2.0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zwingli 2.0 said...

Sounds like a very interesting book. But regarding the division between worship and life, isn't that also an attempt to define the church in terms of (counter-)culture, albeit vis-a-vis the 'world'?

According to the post, it seems like the church is being viewed as an anti-world, or at least a concrete, visible alternative to the world.

There's precedent in the tradition for that, of course. That's definitely how we've thought of the church since the 4th century (e.g. Augustine's two cities), but I wonder if the gospels suggest something entirely different; after all, Christ's metaphors for the church are salt and leaven, two effective, but largely invisible substances.

And then there's Paul's talk of being a 'living sacrifice', worshiping and thanking God in all we do, not just within the context of a 'worship service'.

Does thinking of the church as God's new visible tribe (a la Israel), revive a hard 'us-them' ecclesiology that Paul suggests is over and done with, 'here and now' as well as 'there and then'?

Didn't the old ethnic and cultic divisions collapse into Christ?

Chris Donato said...

Hey, Zwingli 2.0. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

I do think the cult/culture distinction Jason employs is more of the same a la Hauerwas, et al. (counter-cultural and all that). It might be going too far to say "anti-world" though, since he doesn't propose withdrawing from the world like, e.g., the Anabaptists (of M√ľnster).

Note that the precedent for his position is more akin to Luther than Augustine, however, and I encourage you to explore their differences if you have not already done so.

Regarding Christ's metaphors, I certainly don't disagree, and I'm not sure Jason would either. Christians are still in the world, and as such, are to be both salt and leaven. Moreover, the church just being the church (i.e., being true to itself), as distinct from the world, will produce both salt and leaven.

As for St. Paul's rhetoric, I suppose we could say again that of course disciples of Jesus are to live lives of living sacrifices, but let's not confuse that with the sacred space/time of corporate worship, of the gathering of the assembly. Indeed, being zealous for the latter will inform and motivate us on toward the former. I'm a big fan of tribal Christianity too, and I think it comports well with the apostle's ecclesiology—he doesn't blur the lines between the church and the world. Surely there are no distinctions (Jew-Gentile; male-female; slave-free) within the church, but that's not the same as suggesting that there are no distinctions between followers of Christ and those who refuse to follow him. Absolutely the old ethnic and cultic divisions collapse in Christ, but there are still two kinds of people in this world: those who glorify and give thanks to God and those who do not.

Zwingli 2.0 said...

I totally agree with you, Chris. Thanks. As I've become more familiar with the ‘theoblogosphere’, I guess I've grown very wary of the (surprisingly) enormous influence of Anabaptist thought (via Hauerwas, Yoder, et al.), especially on ecclesiological conversations.

Whenever I hear – or think I hear – calls for the church to set itself apart from the world, to practice ‘God’s politics’, etc., I switch into my contrarian-mode. To me, it seems like many of these voices are calling for leftist versions of what rightists are doing, that is, reducing Christianity to politics. God and Caesar are identical in many of these conversations, and that’s troubling to me.

It’s as if some of these voices would be happy swapping the Grand Inquisitor for Cromwell or Munzter.

I’m glad you brought up Luther. After hitting ‘send’ this morning he came to mind as somebody who might shed light on some of these distinctions. Unfortunately, I think, Luther’s thinking about the church’s relationship to the world gets unfairly ignored (or worse) as a result of National Socialism, which was certainly a moral catastrophe, but part of a much more complex situation than Lutheranism gone awry.

Chris Donato said...

I speak exactly to that point here.

Re: the Yoderian infatuation. It's borderline nauseating. I mean, I think he had great things to say, but he's merely one among so many (and a smaller one at that).

Bobby Grow said...

You must not like Halden then ;-).

What do you think about Barth? I tend toward his view of the interrelationship between "church and culture" as one "objective" reality in Christ.

Bobby Grow said...

Here's a link: The Politicized Gospel: Paul Metzger and Karl Barth to a post I penned on this; it unpacks a little more in depth on where I am coming from on Barth's perspective.

Chris Donato said...

Greetings, Bobby. Thanks for coming over. I'm sure I'd enjoy Halden very much—from what I've read on his blog, he likes greasy food and tasty ales. All that other stuff just fades away at that point.

Seriously, though, he seems infatuated with the guy. I mean just the other day he suggested that Anabaptists were the practioners par excellence of semper reformanda. I mean, come on.

Regarding Barth, I'm not familar enough with that concept as you write it to really say, but I don't think it stands in opposition to what I have said thus far (nor does it seem to necessarily oppose what Stellman writes about). If I go back to Berger (see comment #6 above), then yes, I'd agree that cult and culture are one objective reality. But I'm not sure what the "in" Christ bit is about, unless it means something like "under Christ's lordship." Or maybe it can be construed in the following manner? "The community lives and grows within the world—an anticipation, a provisional representation, of the sanctification of all men as it has taken place in [Christ], of the new humanity reconciled with God" (CD, IV/2, p. 654).

?

Chris Donato said...

After reading it, at least according to Metzger Barth seems to maintain the proper distinctions. So on the surface I've got no problem with it at all. I'd only be careful to say that both church and state fall under the rubric of Christ's lordship (see above post). I know this is tantamount to saying that both are part of the "kingdom of Christ," but the tradition we're dealing with here in this post likes to use the language of kingdom in a twofold manner: kingdom of God/kingdom of man, yet both under Godt's lordship, his sovereign rule.

Zwingli 2.0 said...

Lol, I enjoy Halden's blog, a lot, but, yeah, that's where I often find myself getting revved up.

I'm not too familiar with Barth's views on church and culture, but I've found much, much spiritual consolation in Barth's commentary on Romans. On the same page where he criticizes Muntzer, Barth lobs one of his pithy bombs: "All reformers are Pharisees."

He's not writing about Luther and Calvin, of course, but about attempts to turn the gospel into a program (left, right, political, cultural, intellectual, theological, whatever).

Stephen Sykes, an Anglican theologian who has written extensively on power, says this about Moltmann, which I think could be applied to lots of well-meaning theobloggers:

“By identifying the movements of liberation as movements of the Spirit of Christ, Moltmann is in danger of propounding a new form of Constantinianism, that of a left-wing social democracy.”

Speaking of Barth, John Updike's novels (particularly A Month of Sundays) do a good job at reminding theologians (quite counter-culturally, vis-a-vis the academic theological establishment) that God's grace knows no bounds -- it even ventures into those nasty suburbs! :-)

Bobby Grow said...

Chris,

I also enjoy greasy food, but can do w/o the ale (I'm a bit of a theological Recabite).

As far as Halden's infatuation with Yoder, I think you're right, obviously. Of course I'm probably just as guilty of being infatuated with T. F. Torrance. I really haven't read Yoder, what I've gleaned from what I've read, indirectly, I think Zwingli 2.0's points are well taken; of course this double-edged sword cuts both and many ways.

As far as Barth, as I understand him, he is applying his concept of election and its Christic focus to the sacred/secular; so that the "kingdom of God/man" is no longer competitive (church against culture), but complementary (in a militant kind of way ;-). Just like Barth's reification of election (Christ is both elect and reprobate) so this follows for his view on church and culture (objectively vs. subjectively understood).

Zwingli 2.0 said...

"Just like Barth's reification of election (Christ is both elect and reprobate) so this follows for his view on church and culture (objectively vs. subjectively understood)."

I'm trying to wrap my head around this -- are you saying that Barth thinks of the church and culture as indistinguishable, in principle? That there's (Barth's phrase) an "essential atheism" about both the church and culture, inasmuch as they're both empty "spaces" where men may hear God's Word?

Bobby Grow said...

No. And I'm no Barth expert, but as I understand him, (and I'm going to use the Incarnation analogously) he is saying that just as there is a distinction between the human and divine natures in Christ; that there is also perichoretic union between the two. So that one is shaped by the other, and the other is shaped by the one remaining distinct but nevertheless inseparably related.

I "think" this is how Barth wants to frame the sacred/secular relationship; distinct, but inseparably related through the objective/subjective life of God.

I'm curious, how does a classically Reformed person frame this discussion Christocentrically, i.e. the relationship between church/culture, w/o doing so in an apparently ad hoc ways (e.g. just "saying" that the kingdom of God/man are under the sovereign rule of God)?

I'm off to work, so I won't be able to respond to any other comments until later.

Chris Donato said...

Zrim, that's totally gay.

Bobby: I appreciate your constant "as I understand him." The more I read Barth, the more I wish those interpreters of him would add that caveat more often. But if one must have a standard interpreter, I do think Torrance does the trick.

Regarding how you articulate his view of cult/culture, I'm unable to get at this question apart from sociological concerns, and for that reason Barth's concept seems "natural" to me—they're distinct but not separate.

Since no one "classically Reformed" has engaged your question, I suppose I'll entertain it (please forgive any apparent lack of conviction on my part). But first, you'll have to explain a little further how the deeply Reformed conviction that Christ is Lord over all and thus over cult and culture is ad hoc…. I mean, Christ's lordship isn't just slapped on to the equation; it's part and parcel of the redemptive purposes of God in history.

Zwingli 2.0 said...

I look forward to Bobby's comments, as this is a complex issue, and Barth's very challenging!

I do think that Barth's commentary on Romans is worth looking at, as Barth quite explicitly describes the church in christological terms.

He spends a lot of time speaking about the church in terms of a "theology of the cross", in which the visible church, like the earthly Jesus, assumes a “divine incognito”.

With the naked eye (that is, without the eye of faith) the church looks like an instance of culture; there’s no difference.

Attempts to discern a visible difference between church and culture are akin to a "theology of glory". On this side of the Eschaton, it's only by faith that we can perceive anything "different" about the church.

Without faith, the church can only be described sociologically, just as examining Jesus' life without faith can only yield anthropology.

Zwingli 2.0 said...

Besides pure theological reasons, I think Barth pursued this line of inquiry in an effort to make sense of the contemporary church:

How can the church be special if it's full of the same crap that non-church organizations are full of? What makes the church different from any other cultural entity?

These questions are just as pertinent today, as a review of statistical data reveals that evangelicals, for example, reflect general trends with respect to divorce, abortion, and other hot-button issues. Partisan politics may differ, but behavior and attitudes don’t, so much.

This flies in the face of Anabaptists and politicized Christianity (right and left) that insists that the church is -- or ought to be -- “different” from the world in some measurable way.

To paraphrase Berkouwer, the Incarnation conceals God, just as much as it reveals Him.

And it’s precisely the Incarnation that provides the key, I think, to understanding the visible church and its members -- simul justus et peccator.

Bobby Grow said...

Chris,

I suppose my point has to do with prolegomena. Given the classical conception of "election" and Christ's mediatorship; how is it that Christ is supreme over all of sin, over all of creation? It seems as if He can only truly be said to be supreme over the elect.

Richard Muller in his book: Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology from Calvin to Perkins, has really helped me to understand how Federal theology has relegated Christ's mediatorship to His economic disclosure; as distinct from His ontological being --- so that the two are distinct and thus we seem to have a de potiente Theology Proper at work.

This is signigicant to me for a few reasons:

(1) This makes God's life predicated by human life.

(2) This means that Christ's particularity is shaped by creation and not His free self-determinate relationship within the ontic relations of God's life.

(3) This means that Christ is not universally supreme over all of creation; but instead His mediatorship (priesthood) is determined by the particular "needs" of creation (the shape of His incarnation is determined by us).

(4) This is why I said the classical frame might be ad hoc. It is because I don't see how the classical understanding on many things --- primarily Theology Properly --- can place Christ at the center, universally, of all creation; when in fact His particularization is determined by that creation to begin with (and only a particular segment of that creation, "the elect").

Okay, phew . . . the above was certainly not meant to be a syllogism or anything; just my rambling thoughts here ;-). What I am getting at above is really an appeal to Barth's and Torrance's critique of the classical framing of election and such.

So I just don't see how, methodologically, you can place Christ at the center when the "system" itself cannot.

Zwingli 2.0:

I think your points on "Theology of the cross" and "glory" are very helpful here. I'll have to get back to you, when I can --- I'm quite exhausted after responding to Chris ;-).

Btw, just a caveat, I'm just a lowly pilgrim (not classically construed of course ;-) trying to understand the finer points of all this theological stuff --- I thank you guys for helping me do that!

Chris Donato said...

@ Zwingli 2.0 You won't find at argument from me on that point. We all could use a healthy shot of simul iustus et peccator to curb our "delusions of grandeur" (to steal a phrase from Han Solo).

@ Bobby:

Thank you very much for this. I'm exhausted reading through it.

No doubt, the resurrection (and subsequently, his ascension and session) reveal a kind of de potiente in God (at least in an economic sense). I'm not sure that this demands a de potiente in an ontological sense. Reformed Orthodoxy has pretty much followed Aquinas on this score.

Regarding what you see to be necessary consequents of this point:

1. Yes, mysteriously, God has chosen to wrap up his destiny with ours. It doesn't have to be that way, but he did it. I think Moltmann goes a little too far here, but he's also on to something.

2. I think points that rely on "eternity past," apart from the reality of God's created order and his involvement in it, are generally speculative and useless. Thus, I have no real comment on this one, except, So?

3. Christ is universally supreme over all creation because he was granted such authority upon his resurrection and ascent to the "Ancient of Days." I'm not at all sure how #2 above necessarily leads to your #3. Is the ghost of Karl Rahner lurking around here? Probably.

4. Ah, I think I now see. And I suppose in that sense it can be considered ad hoc. And, I suppose, that's okay. Because God (Father, Son, HS) is the one who has placed the incarnate one in that specific role, situation, etc. But admittedly, classical Reformed folk do speculate that this ad hoc appointment was determined in the so-called Covenant of Redemption in eternity past. How does affect what you've said thus far?

Also, the Reformed are generally careful to not over-realize their eschatology: Christ's enemies are currently being put under his feet. But it is not yet complete. His sovereignty has been granted, and it's the church's job to herald that fact.

Finally, then, I hear you on not being able to put Christ at the center in the sense that you mean. The classical Reformed system itself works against christocentrism (or, put differently, christomonism) for good or ill. And you're right, to change this one would have to change the very concept of election as typically understood in Reformed circles (just like Barth himself did).

I think I've just confirmed that philosophical/systematic/dogmatic theology is not my strong suit, and as such I am clearly not the best person to respond to your concerns, Bobby. Sorry about that.

Bobby Grow said...

Chris,

I'll just be brief (not a point-for-point response).

On your point #2 above, if the economic isn't the outward disclosure of God's ontological nature in univocal ways then we have to deny passages that say "when you see me you see the Father."

To maintain passages like Heb. 13:8 "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever" we have to assume that the economic disclosure is the ontological. To avoid a de potiente (i.e. in equivocal terms) we must (I think) assert along with the positive approach to theology --- that there is no "God behind the back of Jesus" which is what any other theology (besides the one that says that the economic=the ontological) logically presupposes.

So for me, the speculative framework is most certainly provided by the Thomistic/scholastic approach (there's no secret there -- the via negativa).

I'm simply trying to follow scripture's positive disclosure of God on this (with the least amount of innovation and speculation).

As far as Rahner (nah), but T. F. Torrance (Yea!).

Well I would claim to be "Reformed" (not classically though); I'm certainly not Anabaptist (per se), who I do believe over-realize things.

In response to your comment:

1.Yes, mysteriously, God has chosen to wrap up his destiny with ours. It doesn't have to be that way, but he did it. . .

Let me provide this from a smart friend of mine (this is from an email correspondence I had with him on another issue):

Response:Adam may have come first historically, but the real order puts Christ first. In other words, the second Adam is greater than the first, as Paul always reminds us. The incarnation is not, then, a rescue operation, but what God intended all along.

This would sum up my approach to these things as well . . . which does presuppose a Barth/Torrance framing of election.

Thanks for the interaction, Chris!

 
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