Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Hebrew and Greek Views of "The Journey" - The Foundation of Our Ecclesiology

I have been describing the different ecclesiological visions which might bridge the gap between the emergent views of the church and the traditional Western Evangelical functional view of the church. I think it is helpful to give some consideration to what I call "the journey".

Sanctification is about change, and it is the longing of the human heart to be delivered from the norm of this life to some eschatological future. This eschatological future, the Promised Land, is viewed quite different in different religious systems.

The Monastic or Greek View of the Journey
When we think of the monastic or Western system, I think it is helpful to understand "the journey of transformation" to be that of the soul journeying through dynamic change and finding its home in heaven. This is so often the system we hear preached from the pulpit. In this system the individual is interacting with God and being transformed and fit for heaven. The journey is of the soul from its current state into the heavenly state. The place of the preferred future is in heaven and the transformation is of the soul only. In this model, we hear stories of rest in heaven and mansions and golden streets. The goal of this system is the sanctification of the individual soul and its destination is a spiritual state called heaven.

Such a view of the journey is so prevalent that it is hard to think that an entirely different paradigm of the journey may actually be the biblical or Hebraic view.

The Biblical View
In the biblical view, certainly the soul is transformed but it is not to travel to heaven but to participate in a changing community on earth. The journey is the journey of the community of the people of God from the current state to the preferred future of the Kingdom through the encounter with God on earth. This journey is the journey of the people of God on earth into the eschatological future. In this system, the power of God is coming down and redeeming creation not just redeeming the soul. The vital difference is that what is ultimately being transformed is human community and the destination of this community is a preferred state on earth.

The following picture displays these two worldviews:

When this Hebrew view of the journey becomes our vision of the preferred future, then our goals and intentions for the church are changed. The ultimate end is not the sanctification of the soul of which the community of the people of God is just a means of grace to this end, but the individual, who receives grace from God and from the community, is participating in a greater ultimate end of the sanctification of the people of God, the city of God. This reformation of our view of the "journey" then becomes the foundation from which flows our ecclesiology or theology of the church.

God Bless,

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