Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Is salvation located as a process in history or as something completely transcendent from history? If it is only about an eternal destination external from history then we might as well sit this one out and wait for the real deal. Good luck with that. But if it is embedded in history, redemptively embracing the suffering of this world as the incarnational appearance of Christ suggests, then our action in history takes on a whole world of meaning. We are either participants in God's redemptive passion for this world, or we are opponents of what God is doing. When we take history seriously, then we are doing political theology.


Les said...

Fantastic! Great thoughts. The idea that we have to learn "stuff" and then get a "ticket to heaven" seems so deeply embedded in evangelicalism.

I love the simple but profound explanation of political theology or, as I might say, "lived" theology.

Bless you mate.

cleireac said...

Is salvation located as a process in history or as something completely transcendent from history?

Simple answer: yes.


One of Freedom said...

I wish it were that simple. How do you reconcile these two polarities?

cleireac said...

This is why I went for the simple answer. I was just talking to someone earlier this evening and was thinking about how so very often we tend to be drawn to the extreme edges of things and develop false dichotomies.

For example, we noted that many Catholics have an overdeveloped awareness of the awesomeness of God, to the extent that they are actually afraid of Him, while many Protestants have the opposite problem - they are so 'familiar' with Him as to not appreciate His majesty and glory.

Or perhaps a better example is in the US we are either regularly painted into either a 'Red' corner or a 'Blue' corner; either Conservative or Liberal, either Republican or Democrat, 'and never the twain shall meet.'

But I believe God transcends these artificial distinctions, and encompasses every aspect.

Maybe I misunderstand your original question, but I'm convinced that it is a both/and issue and not an either/or one.

How is this possible? I don't fully know, but I believe it, much like I don't exactly know how the Trinity works, or how Jesus is simultaneously God and man, yet I believe all the same.

So, if I'm right, then the real question is not what is it, but 'how then should we live?' Again, I think it is living in such a way that affirms the reality of both.

Remember, you asked for it.


One of Freedom said...

And I want it, the dialogue that is.

I think there are quite different presuppositions at work in these paradigms. It is those presuppositions that are not completely compatible.

For instance what stance does God take in these two positions (if any)?

I get the desire to hold these in tension, and I actually agree with that to some extent. Metz would say that the best transcendent theologies point symbolically to the desired new reality but remain devoid of the capacity to effect that reality in the historical present (Faith in History and Society, p.24). That is because the arena of human action is like a second (and even inconsequential) thought in the development of our soteriology (theology of salvation).

Does that clarify the problem any?

I tend to agree the most with Moltmann on how to reconcile these things. History is the main arena of our theology, but always with the understanding that the last word belongs to God who will be all in all (as Moltmann so loves to declare). The eschatological kingdom of God becomes the true utopian edge by which we hope in this tortured world. Of course Moltmann also implicates God in the world through panentheism, passability and social Trinitarianism.

I don't see this as a false dichotomy but rather a fundamental question of where do we start our theology, and why? And from there you are quite right, we are confronted with the question: how shall we live then?