6/2/2009 7:13 AM
“Seeing the Light” as the personal goal of the redeemed is inseparable from seeing in the Light others who share that end. Sociality is also destiny. We’ve already anticipated that in the foregoing.
The early church fathers, with their strong sense of a social Trinity, regularly included the human-life-together aspect of the final state. Gregory of Nazianzus, taking up the light imagery, spoke of a heaven of “perpetual festival, illumined by the brightness of the Godhead of which here we can only catch fleeting glimpses, and it will be our joy to gaze on the Trinity of divine Persons.” (quoted in DORNER ON THE FUTURE STATE, p. 140.) Ambrose, Jerome and others stressed the fellowship we will have with “the saints,” reflecting “the communion of saints” [in the interim state] that appears in the Apostles Creed….
Scripture and tradition range through the continuum of ultimate social destinies, from the most intimate to the most corporate. There is no strict counterpart in heaven to earth’s one-flesh union, for the very Christ who declared it sacred (Matt 19:5-6) also reminds us that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (22:300 Yet the blessing that concludes the solemnization of marriage in one tradition appeals for “the Lord (to) “mercifully with his favor look upon you, and fill you with all benediction and grace: that ye may so live together I this life, that in the world to come you may have life everlasting. in the life to come.” (BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER) And if God “setteth the solitary in families” (Ps. 68:6 KJV), and granted such an “order of preservation” for this world, why would the redemption of that life together not be part of the eternal purposes too?
Then there is the family of faith. Again, we have the qualifier regarding a too simple continuity between earth and heaven, with the word from John that “I saw no Temple in the city, for the temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22) But what of the “church triumphant” gathered “for the marriage feast of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7,9; Matt. 22:2), the promise of Christ to share the Supper, face-to-face, the “fruit of the vine…when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29)? An eternal life together could not exclude the communion of saints around the Tale, a body of Christ in heaven, whatever temple-less form the brothers and sisters in this family of faith might take.
And the circle widens. Many biblical metaphors have to do with the polis-to-be. Next time to examine those and how eschatology impacts ethics in these representative expectations.
Copyright2004 ©William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co(mostly)
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