Some of the most exciting and fruitful thought in recent theology can be described as the ‘turn toward participation.’
Reflection of the Week - 2 November 2021
Posted in Faith
On a more negative side, Paul says, ‘You’re all sinners’ (Romans 3:23), ‘You’re slaves to the flesh’ (Romans 6:20), and ‘Your sinful passions bring death,’ (Romans 7:5).
We stand guilty and shame-based under these words if we hear them as individuals, or we rebel against Paul’s words, thinking, ‘I’m not going to sit here and be told I’m terrible and unworthy.’ Of course, the little psyche, the little ego, is just too little to carry this great big theatre piece of drama and shame on its own.
Paul knew, that these proclamations were far too huge to be carried by the individual person. He is trying to find words and categories, searching for ever-new language to describe the corporate, historical, larger-than-life body and participative phenomenon we’re all caught up in, which he calls ‘the Body of Christ.’
Fortunately, we now live in an age where we have a language to describe this. The evidence from science is that the foundational reality of this world is consciousness or what we call spirit, not materiality.
We cannot easily be told that we, on our own, are evil, bad, sinful, or responsible. We’ll block it or deny it. But we cannot deny that we are a part of a species that has killed one hundred million people in wars within the last century. We don’t find ourselves resisting that quite as much because, somehow, we’re carrying this together. There is a level of acceptance as we move toward social accountability and social responsibility. We’re all participating in the evil of unjust systems and it’s at that level that we can and must carry the pain and hear that we are sinners. More positively, we must carry what seems like the complete opposite, that we are saints.
Both are true at the same time, and believe it or not, ‘in Christ’ they don’t cancel one another out! They include one another.
Source: Richard Rohr, Stillpoint Newsletter, October 21st, 2021.
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