BEYOND A SKELETAL FRAMEWORK
Our reconciliation into oneness with God differs from law-based formulations and legalistic versions of Christianity in that it is based on what God has done in drawing us into His Communion. Not in what we do in shaping up and proving ourselves worthy of acceptance by Christ.
Years ago I noticed in an Advertisement for an Anglican High School that they offered an alternative to fundamentalist education. I did not understand what that meant then. I am clearer about that now. Not only is the Christianity of the Church Fathers, not a form of legalism. It is not inherently legalistic because it is less about doing than it is about being. Such a life in Christ, is not so much the effect of words, propositions and precepts as it is a state of being. We have been enfolded in the trinity in Jesus Christ.
In Christ is not a moral program or doing Christianity. It’s in His incarnation which is your inheritance as a daughter/son. It’s not even our doing of our own version of Mother Theresa. It’s Christ in you so that you are fruitful as you.
LIVE TREE/DEAD TREE
Baxster Kruger is most helpful in distinguishing the difference between the live tree of our inheritance in Christ as a state of being and the dead tree of legalism and fundamentalism. Significantly his work is based on Thomas Torrance who in turn was influenced by Athanasius, the Church Fathers, John Calvin, Karl Barth and the Reformers.
Baxter explains that an abstracted divinity is the effect of the legalisation of the Gospel, which is a curiosity, given that our inheritance in Christ is takes us out of the law and the knowledge of good and joins us to God and God to us, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Baxter could not help noticing how religion sucked the life out of people when the Christian religion was supposed to do the opposite – charge people up with agency and life.
Kruger became convinced that God is not a legalist, is not the law incarnate but God is the Ultra Life that it the joyous communion that is our trinitarian God. Baxster asserts correctly, that the divine enterprise has drawn us into this Communion of Life that is God.
Baxter wrote his PhD thesis and his books based on the theology of Thomas Torrance. Myk Habets observes that “Torrance’s doctrine of reconciliation, his favoured term for soteriology [salvation in Jesus], is heavily influenced by Calvin and Barth and thus critically draws upon the Reformed tradition while also contributing what he believes to be significant corrections and advancements to it…
“Habets observes that “Torrance believes theosis constitutes, the sustaining inner cohesion of our cognitive union with Christ through faith and the very substance of our personal and corporate union with Christ through the Word and Sacraments, for in Christ our human relations with God, far from being allowed to remain on a merely external basis, are embraced within the Trinitarian relations of God’s own Being as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (1)
Law can surround you with a bunch of externalities. But it will not change your being. Jesus does this for us by making Himself one with our being.
It is significant that theosis in the quote above – union with God- is cited as the substance of the sacraments and the scriptures because it is this reality, the Reality That Is Christ that Baptism, the Lord’s Table and the communion of the Believers attest. These rites are not the reality. Incarnation is the reality in which we are invited to live in order to be real as daughters and sons.
(1) Myk Habets, Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance, p.93,