The Rib Cages living in the Valley of Dry Bones are quite certain that they are a live. They are prophesied over with the words, 'A time will come when you will live.' This time has come in the incarnation of Christ in us.
It’s possible to create a religion of the letter. It gives the illusion of certainty while purveying the illusion of godliness. What is fundamentalism? There are different degrees of it. Christian fundamentalism is often characterised by rigid thinking and rigid textual interpretation – and the illusion of certainty. It is either frozen in legalism or heavily influenced by it. In fact it is difficult not to be fundamentalist to some extent if one is contained in the law and one’s being is a product of the law.
In the new covenant one is not a product of the law but the manifestation of Christ a son of God. The scriptures are a point of reference but Jesus is our life.
Jesus met a newly arrived Fundamentalist in heaven. Shaking hands Jesus said. ‘It’s great you’re here. You could have enjoyed infinitely more spirit and life in your earthly body if I had been your life, instead of the law being your life.’
Fundamentalism is a creation of the letter. Never of the Spirit. It is a handy back-stop when we are desperate to fortify some fiction that is ours as a result of our attachment to the law.
What is the relationship of ourselves to God in the new testament age? It is this: ‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20.
This union – this sharing God is the cause of our healing and the source of the spirit and life that is Christ as us.
A FRACTURED LENS
Professor Torrance explains why fundamentalism as a lens is incapable of conveying the truth about God and ourselves.
“Fundamentalism stumbles at the consubstantial relation between the free continuous act of God’s self-communication and the living content of what He communicates, especially when this is applied to divine revelation in and through the Holy Scriptures. It rejects the fact that revelation must be continually given and received in a living relation with God i.e., it substitutes a static for a dynamic view of revelation. …
The practical and the epistemological effect of a fundamentalism of this kind is to give an infallible Bible and a set of rigid evangelical beliefs primacy over God’s self-revelation which is mediated to us through the Bible. This effect is only reinforced by the regular fundamentalist identification of biblical statements about the truth with the truth itself to which they refer. …
The living reality of God’s self-revelation through Jesus Christ and in the Spirit is in point of fact made secondary to the Scriptures.” (1)
This is how we can think that we have a relationship with God when what we have is a relationship with a belief system. Of course we do have a relationship with God. But it’s diluted. We are insulated from genuine interwoveness with God – not because we are not worthy but because we have married ourselves to a substitute.
We can live a religiously respectable life as an adherent of a set of beliefs in a framework that is a construction built by ourselves and others. The Kingdom is lived in community but is it is the community of those who have taken John 14.20 seriously?
Thus Jesus encourages. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ The issue is whether we are fruitful as daughters and sons because we share Christ’s spirit and life.
Our new testament inheritance is union with God. What the trinity have among themselves has become our possession with them and us with each other. We can talk Holy Spirit as much as we like but unless we are living in this new covenant communion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit we will not be able to reproduce it among ourselves – even with the Spirit’s help. Why? Because such communion is a state of being. We need to agree that it is ours and possess it.
(1) Thomas F. Torrance, Reality and Evangelical Theology. Westminster Press. 1981. pgs 16,17,18