Justice and survival

Daily Reading for October 12

The doctrine of the Trinity is a koan which represents the faith that God creates all things, reconciles all things, and redeems all things, the faith that the being and end of all things is encountered in the bringing of order out of chaos, in the reconciliation of persons and communities, and in the hope that God’s glory will finally irradiate all things. Because that is the case, it follows that everything that we do as Christians, including our politics and our fashioning of the world, should be shaped by that hope.

Church is the community that lives out of this vision and this hope. It is true that worship and praise of the Triune God is that which is most distinctive about this community, but this does not make it primarily a community of piety. The word ecclesia used in the Greek New Testament translates quahal—the meeting of the tribes of Israel to debate policy and action. Ecclesia itself was originally a political term, the meeting of the free citizens of Athens to do the same. The church worships God, but it does so as part of that people who left Egypt on the journey from bondage to freedom. It is still on that journey. Its primary task is to witness to the God of hope, to live from the visioning of Scripture in regard to every task that confronts us, for the founts of our faith, the Scriptures, know no division between sacred and secular, no separation of powers.

In their insistence that God called for justice and mercy the prophets of Israel had what today we would call a “holistic” vision of reality and saw human behavior as bound up with the flourishing or failing of the natural world. Because there is no knowledge of God, says Hosea, “therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; . . . even the fish of the sea are perishing” (Hos. 4:3). Today in many places of the world, including the Gulf of Mexico, this is a bitter truth. Knowledge of God is the instruction of Torah—a vision of what it is that makes human life possible and fruitful. . . .Torah is not religious mumbo jumbo, as secular rationalists imagine, but fundamental reflection on justice and survival, on what makes human flourishing possible. Torah is not the letter that kills but the Spirit who makes for life, the effervescence of the divine imagination in us.

From “Living Toward a Vision: Cities, the Common Good, and the Christian Imagination” by Timothy Gorringe, Anglican Theological Review 91:4 (Fall 2009).

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