Dr Desmond Ford died last year. Here was a man. He opened a door for a community that lived blind in a tunnel of delusion – in another gospel - a gospel that bound people as individuals and as a tradition in narcissism and uncertainty. He had a brilliant mind and an abundance of grace.
He was one of those addicted to truth rather than obsessed with pumping up an identity and promoting a piece of ecclesiastical real estate.
He was pure in heart in a way that some are not.
As an academic he could appear to some to be distant and obsessed. He was obsessed. Obsessed with the truth because it is truth that sets people free from death in their souls and spirits. There are people like Ford who attract the displeasure of the religionist. Seen as villains by some, they bestride the Kingdom of life like a colossus, while the petty peep about under the huge legs perpetuating the humbug from which they derive an identity of sorts and a kind of status that limits them to an existence in a false gospel and a false self.
We can limit ourselves to ‘what we have always believed.’ We can live this pedestrian, phlegmatic religious life of routine, plodding around our mulberry bush, erecting fictions against truth and barriers that keep out real life.
Real life is a state of being, a state of being swept along in gale of unlimited life, yet perfectly safe in our life in God – in the Real Presence of living Wholeness and Adventure. Karl Barth talks of the wonder of theology that is more than positions and postulations but an absorption in life itself. Absorbed in the law and religion we will be baptised in the knowledge of good and evil but not in the knowing of God.
“Another kind of wonder assumes control over a man when he takes up the subject of theology. Certainly this amazement also obliges a man to wonder and compels him to learn. But in theological wonder it is a sheer impossibility that he might one day finish his lessons, that the uncommon might become common, that the new might appear old and familiar, that the strange might ever become thoroughly domesticated.
If a man could domesticate this wonder, he would not yet have taken the step into theology, or he would already have stepped out of it again. Man is never dismissed from the wonder that forms the sound root of theology. The object of theology never encounters a man routinely as does an ordinary object of the world. Instead, it constantly hovers on the edge of his circle of reflection, however large the circle may be.” (1)
So much for the virtue of living inside the rabbit burrow of your own assumptions.
THAT STAGNANT CONFIDENCE
Once we cease to wonder; once we cease to follow Jesus where ever He wants to lead because we have come to the boundary of our personal and denominational suppositions - we being to die. Torpor overcomes our sensibilities, stagnation becomes our norm and spiritual blindness our mode. We talk spirit and live letter and are not aware of our disease.
Jesus is the Light that leads to the Light and ever more light. It is an expanding light because we inherit from Him infinite grace. There is no lesser light that leads the Greater Light. Any addition to the Light of Jesus is darkness and futility.
The incarnation is the ultimate grace and the ultra-radical grace. It’s His life as ours to the utmost. Theologically speaking this has been called the vicarious humanity of Christ.
Holy Spirit, the anointing and the gifts are incapable of fending off a progressive rigor mortice when we don’t live in new covenant union. Such ministries end in decay and never experience the limitless life that is available. But we all have available to us a state of being that is Christ in you, Christ manifesting by His Spirit as us. This is the new creation Kingdom of God. There is nothing more astonishing that this.
SIGNS THAT ALARMING LIFE IS HERE
It’s not a continuation and not an adjustment to an Adamic life in the tree of deceit. Barth speaking of the signs of Jesus observes, “As fundamentally astonishing stories, they function first of all in a formal way as a sort of alarm signal, which is the reason the New Testament likes to term them "signs." Scattered at times thickly and at other times more sparsely throughout the history of Immanuel, they alert the hearer and reader to a central fact: this history is concerned with a fundamentally new event which, although undoubtedly occurring within time and space, is not to be identified with other events occurring within the limits of time and space.
NOT A CONTINUATION
This event springs up in their midst and is not some sort of continuation of what otherwise has happened or still happens in time and space.
The Word which is spoken and speaks in this history is a fundamentally new word. Although it undoubtedly exists within time and space, it can be heard only in this history and is not to be compared with any other words.
When the biblical miracle stories excite serious and relevant wonderment, they intend to do this as signals of something fundamentally mentally new, not as a violation of the natural order which is generally known and acknowledged. This way they excite the type of wonderment from which no one can excuse himself once he has begun to pursue the subject of theology.”
MORE THAN A THEOLOGY
The new covenant is both theology and what God did and is doing in Jesus Christ. More than this it is what Jesus is doing in you. The incarnation is a present work, an ongoing mystery that sees Christ manifest in the world through ordinary folks who believe that Jesus is their life and that He is expressing Himself in them.
(1) Karl Barth. Evangelical Theology: An Introduction (Kindle Locations 709-714). Kindle Edition. (2) Ibid. (Kindle Locations 737-744). Kindle Edition. (3) This article deals also with the issue of claiming to be of the Body of Christ while remaining in the separation of the law. We are not one with Christ by definition or proof text but by a state of being – oneness with God.