The Politics of the Mist

I have a reflection on Ecclesiastes and politics over on Political Theology Today, largely drawing upon some previously posted material:

‘Vanity of vanities’—or, more literally translated, ‘vapor of vapors.’

There are few more potent and fecund metaphors for human life, activity, and thought than that of vapor, breath, or mist.

Life is like groping through a dense fog, which shrouds and veils reality, preventing us from seeing through to the heart of things. It is an experience of inscrutability: we can read neither the comings nor goings of being.

We can neither grasp nor control it. It slips through our fingers, eluding all of our attempts at mastery. It is fleeting and ephemeral. It leaves no trace or mark of its passing, but passes into nothing. It produces no lasting fruit nor gain, and has no permanent effects.

It is insubstantial, formed of nothing, and providing no bedrock for security against decay or change. Humanity’s attempts to fashion and understand the world for itself will all ultimately founder, as the unforgiving wind of time whisks away our kingdoms of dust.

It is this metaphor that lies at the heart of the book of Ecclesiastes: Ecclesiastes declares the ultimate futility of all of our attempts at building and figuring out the world for ourselves, comparing these to attempts at ‘shepherding the wind’. This is the character of life ‘under the sun’. Life lived beneath the veil of heaven is inescapably vaporous.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted in Bible, Christian Experience, Ecclesiastes, Guest Post, OT, Politics, Prayer, Providence, Society, Theological | Leave a comment

Transfigured Hermeneutics 10—Transfigural Interpretation

Introduction
Transfiguration and Exodus
Transfiguration as Theophany
Jesus as God’s Glory Face in John’s Gospel
The High Priest and the New Temple
The Climactic Word
The Bright Morning Star

Moses’ Veil
With Unveiled Faces

This is the final part of a ten part series of posts upon the Transfiguration. Within the series, I have argued for the immense significance of the event of the Transfiguration within redemptive history. I have maintained that the Transfiguration has far-reaching implications for the way that we read and relate to Scripture.

Kevin Vanhoozer writes:

The transfiguration is a mini-summa that recalls God’s presence in the history of Israel and anticipates the consummation of the covenant: the glory of God’s presence in his people and all creation. As such, it provides program notes as it were for understanding the whole narrative sweep of Scripture.[1]

The glory revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration discloses the identity of Christ and thereby the character of his mission. This is the glorious Saviour that came to earth in the incarnation. This is the glorious Son that was declared in the vision associated with his baptism. This is the glorious suffering Servant that went to the death of the cross. This is the glorious Lord that rose from the grave and ascended into the cloud that received him from his disciples’ sight. This is the glorious King that will come again to judge the living and the dead. It is in this glory that we will be caught up to dwell with him forever.

The Transfiguration is an apocalypse (an ‘uncovering’) and parousia (a ‘presence’ or ‘coming’) of the Lord Jesus Christ, anticipating his future return in that same glory, with all of the holy angels, to judge the living and the dead. All of God’s promises concerning the future kingdom are made more sure to us on account of the apostles’ witnessing of Christ’s royal majesty.

Not only does the Transfiguration manifest Christ’s identity in his earthly mission and guarantee the promises of his future appearing, it is also an event that stands as a key to the Scriptures and all of God’s earlier work in history. It is from this point that all of the threads of meaning can be tied together. The Law and the Prophets—Moses and Elijah—all witness to the glory of Christ. All of the Old Testament looks forward to, prefigures, anticipates, and foretells the ‘Exodus’ that Jesus would accomplish and fulfil in Jerusalem. This era of Law and Prophets was passing, but Jesus’ glory endures forever. The Transfiguration declares Christ to be God’s very Word, the One whom we must ‘hear’.

The Transfiguration is the unveiling of the identity of the great Actor in Israel’s history. The Son is the archetypal Prophet, the heavenly High Priest, the Messenger of the Covenant, the Angel of the Lord. It was the Son who visited Abraham at Mamre. It was the Son that Moses saw on Mount Sinai. It was the Son that Isaiah saw in his vision in the temple. All of God’s appearances to his people in the Old Testament were glimpses that culminate in the great unveiling of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. John speaks of ‘glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’ Paul speaks of ‘the glory of the Lord’ and ‘the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.’

The Transfiguration reveals that the glory of Christ is the beating heart of Scripture, its great Referent, its final telos.

In unveiling the glory of the Lord, the Transfiguration establishes a different way of approaching Scripture. The telos of the text of the Old Testament is now disclosed to us as it is uncovered as a mirror of the surpassing glory of Christ. The prophets speak of and anticipate this revelation of glory. The Scriptures are now seen to refer to Christ in a way we never formerly knew: he is the unknown Stranger who has accompanied the people of God to this point on our journey. We now know the point of Scripture, what it ultimately refers to. Vanhoozer proposes a model of ‘transfigural’ interpretation:

This “Spirited” referent (for this is how we should now think of the spiritual sense) is the “glory” of the literal sense: the divinely intended meaning. Typology is less a matter of sensus plenior than of sensus splendidior—the “how much more” glorious referent that the letter signifies when seen in the radiant light of the event of Jesus Christ. As the transfiguration displays the glory of the Son in and through his flesh, so “transfigural” interpretation discovers the glory of the prophetic word in the “body” of its text. De Lubac has it right: “the Old Testament lives on, transfigured, in the New.”[2]

As the veil is removed from the text and our hearts as we turn to our new covenant Lord the whole body of the Old Testament is transfigured, exposing his glory, a glory which was hidden there all along. Beholding this glory, we are similarly changed, conformed to the glorious image of the Son. In such a manner, we are brought into its narrative in a new way ourselves:

We have been transferred into the story of Jesus Christ, emplotted into his narrative, drafted into the drama of redemption. We too, the divine addressees of Scripture, are being transfigured, transcending history not in the sense of leaving it behind but of participating in the mystery—the glorious theodrama—in its midst.[3]

As those who reflect the glory and bear the image of Jesus Christ, the Glory-face of God, the glory the Scriptures declare is a glory that is ours too: ‘We too “figure” in the story.’[4] We are becoming the transfigured humanity that is the text’s telos. As we perceive the glory of the Lord in the mirror of Scripture, the Spirit of the Lord ‘inscribes’ the Word upon our hearts. By the work of the Spirit, we are now epistles of Christ, embodied proclamations of the enduring glory of his new covenant.


[1] Hans Boersma and Matthew Levering (eds.), Heaven on Earth? Theological Interpretation in Ecumenical Dialogue (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2013) 220.
[2] Ibid. 222
[3] Ibid. 223
[4] Ibid.

Posted in Bible, Christian Experience, Eschatology, Hermeneutics, NT, NT Theology, Revelation, Scripture, Theological | 1 Comment

The Eternal Subordination of the Son Controversy: 4. The Need for Trinitarian Clarity

1. The Debate So Far
2. Survey of Some Relevant Material
3. Subordination

The fourth part of my series on the recent controversy on the Trinity and subordination has just been published over on Reformation21.

The manner in which various ESS positions speak of the relations between the persons of the Trinity and of the persons more generally is a further area of concern for critics. Within the ESS position there often seems to lurk at least an incipient social Trinitarianism. Social Trinitarianism conceives of the persons of the Trinity as if they were three distinct subjectivities—three ‘I’s—in communion and speaks of their relations accordingly.This is a significant departure from the Church’s historic doctrine of the Trinity, within which the language of ‘person’ functions rather differently and does not carry the meaning that it does in popular parlance. The ‘persons’ of the Trinity are not three distinct centres of consciousness or agencies–which would suggest something resembling tritheism and undermine the oneness (and the simplicity) of God. The persons, or hypostases, are three instantiations of the one divine nature. However, most of the things that we would associate with personhood—knowledge, will, love, wisdom, mind, etc.—are grounded, not in the three hypostases, but in the one divine nature. In this respect, if we were working in terms of our modern usage of the term ‘person’, in some respects God might be more aptly spoken of as one ‘person’ with three self-relations, rather than as one being in three persons. This language still falls far short, though.

Read the whole piece here.

Posted in Controversies, Doctrine of God, Guest Post, The Triune God, Theological | 4 Comments

Transfigured Hermeneutics 9—With Unveiled Faces

Introduction
Transfiguration and Exodus
Transfiguration as Theophany
Jesus as God’s Glory Face in John’s Gospel
The High Priest and the New Temple
The Climactic Word
The Bright Morning Star

Moses’ Veil

This is the ninth of a ten part series on the Transfiguration and its significance for Christian theology and the reading of Scripture. In my previous post I began to discuss Paul’s development of themes associated with transfiguration in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4. I argued, following Richard Hays, that Paul presents Moses both as the representative of the old covenant, but also as anticipatory of the new.

As with Moses, those who turn to Christ—in repentance and faith—are transfigured by the sight of his glory, with the effect of renewing them into his image. Kline writes:

Glory is again to the fore when the Scriptures speak of man’s recreation in God’s image. The renewal of the divine image in men is an impartation to them of the likeness of the archetypal glory of Christ… The mode of the impartation of Christ’s glory in image renewal is described according to various figurative models appropriate to Christ’s identity either as Spirit-Lord or as second Adam. Man’s reception of the divine image from Christ, the Glory-Presence, is depicted as a transforming vision of the Glory and as an investiture with the Glory. Moses is the Old Testament model for the former and Aaron for the latter. Beholding the Sinai revelation of the Glory-Face transformed the face of Moses so that he reflectively radiated the divine Glory. So we, beholding the glory of the Spirit-Lord, are transformed into the same image (II Cor. 3:7-18; 4:4-6).[1]

The end—the telos—of the old covenant was the glorious renewal and transfiguration of humanity in the image and likeness of God. Moses manifested this glory, but had to veil it for a people who weren’t ready for it. In Christ we see both transfigured humanity and the Glory-face of God himself—the telos of all previous revelation.

Paul’s discussion in 2 Corinthians 3:1—4:6 helps us better to appreciate the centrality and import of the themes of the Transfiguration. The Transfiguration declares that the glory of God, formerly only briefly glimpsed by Moses and a few prophets, is now openly proclaimed to all in the gospel of God’s Son. The Transfiguration also unveils the true telos of revelation—the transfiguration of humanity—so that we are renewed and glorified in the image and likeness of our Creator. Christ is the archetypal Image of God and Glory-face of God: as we gaze upon him, we are transformed into his likeness.

There is a pivotal move in Paul’s argument in verse 14:

In verse 13 Moses is the prophet and lawgiver who veils his own face; in verse 15, Moses is the sacred text read in the synagogue. The single intervening transitional sentence tells us that the veil over the minds of the readers is “the same veil” (to auto kalymma) that Moses put on his face. How can that be so? Because Moses the metaphor is both man and text, and the narrative of the man’s self-veiling is at the same time a story about the veiling of the text.[2]

A crucial implication of this is that the (veiled) glory of Moses is not just the glory of Moses the man, but also the glory of the Old Testament Scriptures that he stands for. Although Paul’s earlier contrast between inscription and incarnation may have led readers to expect that he was about to associate Scripture with the veil concealing the transfigured humanity, he makes the critical move of associating the Scripture, not with the veil, but with the glorious face of Moses that lay beneath it.

Having carefully developed the multi-layered metaphor of the veiled Moses, Paul’s stage is now set for the dramatic unveiling. Hays remarks:

The rhetorical effect of 2 Cor. 3:16 is exquisite because it enacts an unveiling commensurate with the unveiling of which it speaks. The text performs its trope in the reader no less than in the story. And—the final elegant touch—the trope is performed precisely through a citation of Moses. Moses’ words are taken out of Exod. 34:34, unveiled, and released into a new semantic world where immediately they shine and speak on several metaphorical levels at once. Thus, rather than merely stating a hermeneutical theory about the role of Scripture in the new covenant, 2 Cor. 3:12-18 enacts and exemplifies the transfigured reading that is the result of reading with the aid of the Spirit.[3]

Paul’s argument, which has been steadily building throughout the chapter, now erupts into a magnificent crescendo. The face of Moses—the face of the Torah—is no longer veiled when he turns—when we turn—to the Spirit-Lord, the giver of liberty. For those who turn to Christ in repentance and faith, the Scripture is now seen to be the mirror in which we perceive the glory of the Lord. Through gazing steadfastly at the glory revealed in that mirror, we ourselves are transformed into the likeness of the One revealed there by the Spirit of Christ, from glory to glory.

As our reading of Scripture is transformed in this new covenant manner, we ourselves are transformed by our reading, to bear the same image—of the glory of Christ—that we perceive within its mirror. The telos of the Scripture, the transformation of humanity, is thereby achieved in us as the veil is removed from our hearts, enabling us to perceive the glory of our Lord that fills it. The figural and Christological reading of Scripture that Paul exemplifies here involves a sort of ‘transfiguration’ of the text, as the glory of the Lord is encountered within it. What had formerly been veiled is disclosed and opened up in Christ, revealing his radiance throughout its pages.

This mirror of God’s glory precedes a greater revelation yet to come, when we see Christ face-to-face (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12). The transformation we currently experience is a partial one produced by a mediated encounter; it will be surpassed by the direct vision which it anticipates and promises. Once again, the self-forgetful vision of Christ will be the means of our transformation—‘when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is’ (1 John 3:2). The shadowy and fleeting glimpses and intimations that we have of transfiguration in our encounters with ‘transcendent’ natural or artistic beauty—as cynicism, fear, and distrust wash away from countenances that light up with joy, awe, wonder, hope, and love and the world and its peoples are bathed in a glorious radiance—may give us the faintest of apprehensions of the great transfiguration that awaits humanity and the creation in the age to come.

In my next and concluding post I will reflect upon what it means to read Scripture in the light of the Transfiguration.

[1] Meredith G. Kline, Images of the Spirit (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1999), 28-29

[2] Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (London: Yale University Press, 1989), 145

[3] Ibid. 147

Posted in 2 Corinthians, Bible, Christian Experience, Hermeneutics, NT, NT Theology, Scripture, Theological | 2 Comments

Transfigured Hermeneutics 8—Moses’ Veil

Introduction
Transfiguration and Exodus
Transfiguration as Theophany
Jesus as God’s Glory Face in John’s Gospel
The High Priest and the New Temple
The Climactic Word
The Bright Morning Star

This is the eighth of a ten part series on the subject of the Transfiguration of Christ. I have been exploring the significance of the event both within the New Testament and within redemptive history more generally. We will now turn to examine the Apostle Paul’s discussion of themes associated with transfiguration in 2 Corinthians.

In 2 Corinthians 3:1—4:6, Paul provides a deftly theological and richly intertextual defence of his apostolic credentials, which seem to have been called into question by his opponents. To any who might suggest that he needs letters of recommendation, Paul counters that the Corinthian church itself is his letter of recommendation, a letter written by Christ himself, on ‘tablets of flesh’, rather than on ‘tablets of stone’. That an echo to the new covenant theme of God’s writing on human hearts and replacing stone with flesh (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:26-27) is intended here is supported by Paul’s reference to himself and his missionary companions as ‘ministers of the new covenant’ of the life-giving Spirit, rather than the death-dealing Law.

Richard Hays observes: ‘Paul’s intertextual trope hints, in brief, that in the new covenant incarnation eclipses inscription.’[1] The new covenant is ‘enfleshed rather than inscribed’ and its ministry ‘centers not on texts but on the Spirit-empowered transformation of human community.’[2] Paul is not challenging Scripture itself here—for Paul, Scripture is a dynamically living and life-giving word—but a ministry that is merely one of a disembodied ‘written code’, without the power to effect transformation.[3]

To elaborate his case, Paul turns to Exodus 34, as a passage that provides a powerful illustration of the nature of the glory of the old covenant. The old covenant and its ministry were not without glory: the face of Moses, the great mediator of the old covenant, radiated with such dazzling reflected glory that the Israelites could not bear to gaze at it. However, this reflected old covenant glory pales in comparison with the surpassing glory of the new covenant. The temporary and transitory glory of the old covenant is now being eclipsed by the enduring glory of the new. If even a ministry of condemnation displayed such glory, the ministry of new covenant righteousness should be expected to exhibit an overwhelming splendour.

Paul writes that Moses covered his countenance with a veil, ‘so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the telos of what was transitory.’ The term telos has been taken by many as referring to the ‘cessation’ of the supposedly ‘fading’ glory of Moses’ face. Hays argues that we should interpret the term as referring to the ‘goal’ or ‘purpose’ of the transitory covenant. He précises Paul’s argument in the passage:

The veil on Moses’ face hid from Israel the glory of God, which Moses beheld at Sinai, a glory that transfigured him. Israel could not bear looking at the transfigured person and concentrated instead on the script that he gave them. That text, too, bears witness (in a more indirect or filtered manner) to the glory, to the person transfigured in the image of God, who is the true aim of the old covenant. For those who are fixated on the text as an end in itself, however, the text remains veiled. But those who turn to the Lord are enabled to see through the text to its telos, its true aim. For them, the veil is removed, so that they, like Moses, are transfigured by the glory of God into the image of Jesus Christ, to whom Moses and the Law had always, in a veiled fashion, pointed.[4]

The old covenant was a covenant of veils, hiding the glory of God—the veil of Moses, the veil of the tabernacle, and the veil upon the Law. The ministry of Moses—both the man and the text—was one of concealment, providing only glimpses of the glory it harboured. The glory was present, but not manifest. The new covenant is a covenant of the removal of veils—the removal of the veil of the temple, the removal of the veil upon the text, and the unveiling of God’s Glory-face in Jesus Christ. It is also characterized by openness; what was formerly hidden and concealed is now declared freely.

Paul’s use of Moses in this passage is a phenomenally dextrous deployment of biblical metaphor, a scintillating juxtaposition of similarity and dissimilarity to considerable illuminative effect. While drawing a sharp contrast between old and new covenant and their respective ministries, the brilliance of Paul’s argument is seen in the way that he discloses the deep affinity between Moses and the new covenant, presenting Moses as a witness to the glory of Christ, anticipating the unveiling to come. As Paul’s argument unfolds, the ‘dialectical crosscurrents’ that Paul’s use of Moses as a dissimile introduces begin to become apparent.[5] While Moses may be a symbol of veiling, more fundamentally he is a symbol of unveiling, a point that surfaces in verse 16: ‘Moses’ act of entering God’s presence and removing the veil becomes paradigmatic for the experience of Christian believers (“we all”) who “with unveiled face, looking upon the reflected glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory.”’[6] However, what was intermittently experienced by Moses in the old covenant, is fundamentally and enduringly characteristic of the new.

When Moses turned to the Lord (an allusion to Exodus 34:34-35), he removed the veil from his face. While the precise reference of ‘the Lord’ might seem to be ambivalent, without clear Christological meaning, in light of Paul’s descriptions of Christ in the verses that follow—‘the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’; ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’—I believe it is not inappropriate to give it full Christological weight. Paul’s use of Exodus 34 is not just a clever allegorical repurposing of the Old Testament text to illustrate a theological point, but is justified by the deep reality shared by Moses and new covenant believers. The glory that Moses saw was the Glory-face of the Son, the Glory-face that has now been disclosed in Jesus Christ.

I will continue my discussion of 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 in my next post.


[1] Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (London: Yale University Press, 1989), 129.
[2] Ibid. 129-130
[3] Ibid. 130-131
[4] Ibid. 137
[5] Ibid. 142
[6] Ibid. 143

Posted in 2 Corinthians, Bible, Hermeneutics, Luke, NT, NT Theology, Theological | 2 Comments

Transfigured Hermeneutics 7—The Bright Morning Star

A few months ago, I started a series over on Reformation21 on the subject of Transfigured Hermeneutics. For various understandable reasons, following a change in editorial direction for the site, they have decided not to run the final four parts (although various posts of mine will still appear there from time to time). For this reason, I am completing the series on my own blog. You can catch up on the first six parts here:

Introduction
Transfiguration and Exodus
Transfiguration as Theophany
Jesus as God’s Glory Face in John’s Gospel
The High Priest and the New Temple
The Climactic Word

The following is the seventh part.

This is the seventh of a ten part exploration of the meaning of the Transfiguration and its significance for Christian theology and scriptural reading. Within previous posts, I discussed the relationship between the Transfiguration and the events at Mount Sinai. In the post preceding this one, I argued that, at the Transfiguration, Jesus is presented as God’s great and climactic Word to humanity. Within this post, I will turn to explore the relationship between the Transfiguration and the parousia.

Each of the accounts of the Transfiguration is preceded by a statement that some of those hearing Jesus’ words will not taste death before they see the kingdom (‘see the kingdom of God’—Luke 9:27; ‘see the kingdom of God present with power’—Mark 9:1; ‘see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom’—Matthew 16:28). What is meant by the ‘kingdom’ is presumably to be appreciated in light of the verse that precedes it: it is the coming of the Son of Man in his own and the Father’s glory. These statements are connected to the Transfiguration accounts that follow by the time reference with which those accounts begin.

A connection between the Transfiguration and the parousia—the glorious final appearing of our Lord—is a natural one. Meredith Kline writes:

When Christ’s parousia is spoken of as a revelation in glory, as it is repeatedly, what is in view is the specific idea that Jesus is the embodiment of the theophanic Glory of God revealed in the Old Testament. Jesus so identifies his parousia-Glory when he says the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father (Matt. 16:27; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). Of the same import is the fact that the major features of the Old Testament Glory-cloud phenomenon reappear in the delineation of the glory of Jesus’ parousia. It is an advent-presence amid clouds and accompanied by the heavenly army of angels.[1]

At the Transfiguration, Jesus is present and manifest in this dazzling royal splendour, unveiling his Glory-face before which the world will stand in judgment, appearing in his Father’s glory. The connection between Transfiguration and parousia is most striking in Peter’s account of the event in his second epistle:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…[2]

Here Peter explicitly and expressly connects Transfiguration with parousia. The Transfiguration is the unveiling of Christ as the majestic king, and of his kingdom rule in his Father’s glory (echoes of Psalm 2, as a fulfilled prophecy, should probably be heard in the Transfiguration account). The Transfiguration, Harink argues, is a proleptic apocalypse, much as that experienced by John on Patmos, or Saul on the road to Damascus.[3] ‘Because the apostles … at the transfiguration have, for a moment, already seen and heard Jesus Christ enthroned at the end of the ages in his divine majesty and glory, they are now also already certain … that he will in fact come to judge the earth and its inhabitants and set up his eternal reign over all things and all peoples.’[4] The Transfiguration is a guarantee of the coming realization of all of the prophetic promises—‘the prophetic word made more sure.’

It is also important to recognize that, for Peter, the parousia is framed less by the times and dates for some future divine action than it is by the person of Jesus Christ: the parousia is the coming revelation of the glory of Christ, a glory that he already possesses and which Peter saw for himself. What we look forward to is not so much a series of eschatological events but the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, as Peter proceeds to argue in verses 20-21, the Transfiguration serves to validate and confirm the prophetic word of Scripture, demonstrating that it is not of human origin or will, but given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. In the Transfiguration both the unifying origin and referent of the prophetic word of Scripture is disclosed. The Scriptures find their coherence in their common Spirit-inspired witness to and revelation of the glory that is seen in Jesus Christ.

The prominence that the Transfiguration is accorded within the second epistle of Peter merits closer attention. In his commentary upon the epistle, Douglas Harink suggests that, for 2 Peter, it is the Transfiguration, rather than the cross or resurrection, that ‘is put forward as the decisive christological event.’[5] This revelation of the glory of Christ is the revelation of the ‘final truth and reality of all things.’[6] The same light that first illumined the world (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4-6), the light that will dawn in the coming final day, is the light witnessed on the holy mountain. Harink remarks:

By recalling the glorious apocalyptic event of the transfiguration of our Lord, Peter directs a strong word against the theological rationalisms, reductionisms, and relativisms of his age and ours. While he offers a vigorous apologia for the truth of the gospel, he does not appeal to a foundation in universal rational first principles, available to everyone everywhere, or to an a priori universal religious sense, variously modified by historical and cultural experience—the standard post-Enlightenment modes of apologia for religious truth. Instead, Peter goes directly to his and the other apostles being eyewitnesses of an apocalypse of the truth of Jesus Christ. That apocalypse of the truth of all things is itself the origin and criterion of all claims about God and the beginning and end of all things.[7]

In the Transfiguration we witness the dazzling uncreated light that pierces and consumes the shadowy illusions of the darkness of the present age. Peter’s vision of future judgment in 2 Peter 3 entails a sort of ‘transfiguration’ of the world before the light of its glorious Lord, its bright morning star, whose coming day will dawn. ‘The transfiguring judgment and new creation that Peter envisages in 2 Pet. 3 amount to nothing less than God’s act of dissolving all other rational or ordering principles (the stoicheia; 3:10, 12) of the world and recreating the world in conformity with the truth of Jesus Christ.’[8]

In my next post, I will move to a discussion of the Apostle Paul’s exploration of themes of transfiguration in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4.


[1] Meredith G. Kline, Images of the Spirit (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1999), 121-122
[2] 2 Peter 1:16-19
[3] Douglas Harink, 1 & 2 Peter [Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible] (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2009), 155
[4] Ibid. 156
[5] Ibid. 21
[6] Ibid. 156
[7] Ibid. 158
[8] Ibid.

Posted in 2 Peter, Bible, Eschatology, Guest Post, Hermeneutics, Luke, NT, NT Theology, The Gospels, Theological | 3 Comments

Podcast: Understanding the Meritocracy

Mere FidelityOn this week’s episode of Mere Fidelity, Derek, Andrew, and I discuss a recent article by Helen Andrews on the subject of meritocracy.

You can also follow the podcast on iTunes, or using this RSS feed. Listen to past episodes on Soundcloud and on this page on my blog.

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Posted in Culture, Economics, Podcasts, Society, The Church | 1 Comment