Read Along with Pastor Matt: Simply Christian–“Believing and Belonging”

Posted: February 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

Bishop Wright asserts that “the church is the single, multiethnic family promised by the creator God to Abraham.  It was brought into being through Israel’s Messiah, Jesus; it was energized by God’s Spirit; and it was called to bring the transformative news of God’s rescuing justice to the whole creation.”

The early members of the church indeed saw themselves as the new Israel called to be God’s redemptive instrument as well as a close-knit family who cared for each other.  They called themselves “brothers” and “sisters” because they were all the adopted children of God, who had become their true Father.

This new family is also held together by “faith,” which is often regarded as belief as in “I believe Jesus is the son of God the same way I believe that water is wet and the sky is blue” but the Greek word translated as “faith” is much deeper than that. 

Bishop Wright argues that faith includes belief but also confidence in-, trust in- and loyalty to-, which is why Jesus’ great disciple Paul can speak of “the obedience of faith” in his letter to the Roman church.

It is by faith (belief, trust, loyalty, etc.) that we are “justified” or declared to be in right relationship with God (although the particulars of Wright’s definition of “justification” have been questioned by a wide range of scholars).  

It is in gratitude for this declaration that, as a church family, we worship God and work for his kingdom in the world.

We enter into this family through a public declaration of this faith evidenced in part by baptism. 

Wright doesn’t spell this out but it is important to note that baptism in the ancient world was always “in the name” of something.  The “name” was not some magical formula but was a way of speaking about identifying with a person or god and pledging loyalty to their goals and desires.  Thus, to be baptized “in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit” is to publically leave all former loyalties behind by symbolically dying with Christ and raising again to a new life of worship and redemption.

As Wright puts in his massive tome “The Resurrection of the Son of God”, the church is to live the future reign of the Messiah now!

So may it be. 

Next week, we will wrap up Simply Christian and then, in the Wednesday ahead, briefly sketch out Wright’s arguments in his books, “The New Testament and the People of God”, “Jesus & The Victory of God” and “The Resurrection of the Son of God.”

Until then, grace and peace.

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