Saturday, 17 May 2008

It's All About Union

There are many metaphors used to speak of our relationship with God, and what Jesus has done for us in his death and resurrection. But I am going to make a statement which is not fully thought out or researched, but intuitively seems right. All of these metaphors (e.g. beatific vision, messianic banquet, forgiveness of sins, etc) are summed up in the metaphor of union with God. I realise that this is using one of the metaphors as the metaphor, but it seems to me that this metaphor takes us directly to the underlying consistency of the Christian gospel. Our end is to be united with God, and we see this end in Jesus. All the other metaphors fall under the power and meaning of what this metaphor refers to: our deep and abiding union with God through Christ and the Spirit. The forgiveness of sins is a good example. An absolute ton has been written about the forgiveness of sins, and some Christians make it the determining metaphor for Christ's work of salvation. There is nothing wrong with this as long as we realise that 'forgiveness of sins' is about union: sin prevents our union with God; forgiveness of sins makes union possible.

The doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity teach us this. They are, if you like, the abbreviations of the whole Christian schema. They direct our theology as the spectacles through which we read the rest of our experience, and guide us in our interpretation of Scripture. Both doctrines are about union: the union of humanity and divinity in Jesus, and the union of love of Father and Son in the power of the Spirit within the Trinity. Some metaphors have a natural affinity with this abiding vision of God, others need its correction. Forensic metaphors (like judge) are useful, but need to be kept in contact with the union of love we call the Holy Trinity.


  1. I think this is quite a sensible metaphor because if we for example try to answer the question of "why did God create the Universe" It is to have something into which God's love could be poured out into. Not that God needed to Create but that is the outcome of the extend of God's love. That God's love continues beyond God's self.

    This would suggest that indeed we are called by God to be in relationship with God so in other words in union with God.

  2. I think it was Tony Kelly I heard say that the point of redemption was to enfold creation back into God at a higher level of relationship than when created.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Well if it was Tony Kelly who said that he is building on the foundation that was laid by St.Irenaeus. Whom saw the fall as unfortunate but in some ways necessary for humanity to reach the level that God intended Creation and in particular Humanity to reach.

  5. Yes, I too am persuaded that the 'fall upwards' is part of this enfolding back into God at a higher level of relationship.

  6. I like that term "fall upwards" because to my 21st Century mind to not know the difference between Good and Evil I would consider not so much innocents but as foolishness.
    Its part of the reason I always struggled with the Adam and Eve story. Why would God not want humanity to know what is right and what is wrong. As to know this is to be closer to the image of God. Which is perhaps closer to the story than I'd like to admit.
    I think if anything the story is about; yes we know what is wrong and what is right and now that we know this we need to choose life and choose right! For then and only then can we find ourselves in union with God.