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Reclaiming Participation

Reclaiming Participation: Christ as God's Life for All

Cynthia Peters Anderson
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Reclaiming Participation
    Book Description:

    In an era that oscillates regularly between nihilism and the erosion of moral vision, on the one hand, and pseudo-gnostic myths of self-apotheosis on the other, the classical Christian claim of human participation in the divine as the story of the transformation of human life in its physical, moral, spiritual, and eschatological dimensions takes on radical, countercultural color. It is an affirmation that offers hope and meaning for humanity secured by God’s participation in human life through Jesus Christ. The christological ground of this claim is crucial to secure and animate the argument of this text. The author performs, in this, a retrieval of the christological vision of the unification of the divine and the human in the single subject of Jesus Christ as the programmatic center point of human transformation and participation, articulated particularly by Cyril of Alexandria. The patristic pattern is used as a lens through which to examine and assess modern iterations—those of Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar. In this, the author provides a critical updating of this vital classical theme, annotating a vision of divine life opened up for created participation that can foster hope in the climes of contemporary life.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8956-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The transformation of human life, the concept of humans becoming more than they currently are, has occupied pagan and religious thought for thousands of years. The captivating idea that humans are destined for something different, something more, is certainly not confined to the past. From modern and post-modern philosophy and science to an array of popular novels and films, this theme of a metamorphosis of human life pulsates deeply through western culture’s veins despite the increasing secularization of western society.

    It is a particularly poignant yearning in a postmodern landscape littered with the violent ravages of the twentieth century and...

  4. 1 Deification in the Early Church and Cyril of Alexandria
    (pp. 15-74)

    Cyril of Alexandria was passionately convinced that if we want a true and faithful understanding of Christology, if we are to worship and live rightly as followers of Christ, then we must start with the economy of salvation and God’s intended telos for humanity. The “why” of the incarnation remains Cyril’s focal point throughout his writing—before, during, and after his contentious debate with Nestorius. For Cyril, the telos of human lifeisdeification. The Word becomes flesh to “reconstitute our condition within himself.”² It is the unique union of divine and human in the one person of Jesus Christ...

  5. 2 Barth Elected for Covenant-Partnership with God
    (pp. 75-146)

    For Karl Barth, the relationship between God and humanity is a covenant relationship, initiated wholly by God, who determines God’s self to be God in fellowship with humanity and who elects humanity to that covenant fellowship. God’s freedom is freedom to love the human beings that God has elected to covenant partnership, and to save those human beings from the consequences of their own disobedience and failure to keep that covenant. Through Christ, who is both the subject and object of election, humans have truly been freed to be God’s partners in fellowship, freed for wholehearted, inward, and outward obedience...

  6. 3 Balthasar The Christological Analogy of Being
    (pp. 147-210)

    Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theology seeks to place the dramatic event of God’s love in Jesus Christ before us. He hopes this allows us to see the role we are invited to play in the Trinitarian life of God, and to actively take our place in this drama of Christ’s full redemption and renewal of creation as we are directed and empowered by the Spirit. While adhering to the classical Trinitarian and christological understandings expressed in Nicaea and Chalcedon, Balthasar uses this framework to expand our view of the dynamic event of the incarnation, which enacts the ever-greater dynamic love...

  7. 4 Realizing the Promise Barth’s and Balthasar’s Conceptions of Participation in the Life of God
    (pp. 211-252)

    The search for transformation, the drive for something more, the poignant yearning to become fully human continues. We continue to oscillate between a cynical despair that any such transformation is possible and a false hope that, given enough time, humanity will find its own way through the development of its inherent capacities—that we will become the gods of our own world. In such a landscape, it is critical for Christians to understand and to confidently proclaim and embody a proper understanding of participation in the life of God as a pure gift of grace that truly does transform human...

  8. 5 Reclaiming God’s Vision for Human Life
    (pp. 253-266)

    In many ways, we would do well to remember Barth’s cautions about the whole notion of deification as a concept that can lead to an array of atrocities undertaken in the name of human advancement and the resulting deep disillusionment and hopelessness in the wreckage left behind. Thesearethe dangers of a conception of deification stripped of its explicitly Christian parameters and applied through a humanistic confidence in the inherent capacities of humans to develop and to transcend the currently perceived boundaries of human existence. From the horrors of genocide and the drive toward technological developments that outpace ethical...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-280)
  10. Index of Authors
    (pp. 281-284)
  11. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 285-301)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 302-302)