Friday, January 06, 2006

Notes on Exclusion and Embrace- Intro and Chap. 1

Here are my notes on Exclusion and Embrace which I'm reading again in light of the Emergent Theological Conversation with Miroslav Volf in a couple of weeks.

The Cross at the Center
p.22 For Moltmann, God's solidarity is revealed through his suffering on the Cross. God is for the weak and the oppressed. But what about the oppressors and the enemies, asks Volf.

Theme of book: "Without wanting to disregard (let alone discard) the theme of divine solidarity with victims, I will pick up and develop here the theme of divine self-donation for the enemies and their reception into the eternal communion of God."p.23. The reason for this is that Volf wants to move beyond the oppressed/liberation dichotomy, which only perpetuates itself. (see p. 24)

"A genuinely Christian reflection on social issues must be rooted in the self-giving love of the divine Trinity as manifested on the cross of Christ; all the central themes of such reflection will have to be thought through from the perspective of the self-giving love of God. This book seeks to explicate what divine self-donation may mean for the construction of identity and for the relationship with the other under the condition of enmity." (p.25)

Chapter I: Distance and Belonging


“What should be the relations of the churches to the culture they inhabit? The answer lies, I propose, in cultivating the proper relation between distance from the culture and belonging to it.” (p. 37)


Abraham is the paradigmatic figure for one departing from his own culture. To be God’s he must leave his native land, even though his wife was barren. What would his future be? “The only guarantee that the venture will not make him wither away like an uprooted plant was the word of God, the naked promise of the divine “I” that inserted itself into his life so relentlessly and uncomfortably”(p. 38). “To be a child of Abraham and Sarah and to respond to the call of their God means to make an exodus, to start a voyage, become a stranger”(39). Abraham’s departure is not a life as a nomad, never desiring or unable to commit (postmodern restlessness, p 40-41), nor is it the penultimate masculine will to power to go and establish himself (modern transcendental self, p. 41-42). Abraham’s mission and success are demanded and given by Another, nor from himself (contra Babel, p42).

…Without Leaving

The problem is that God is truly universal. So, how is it that the true universal God of all mankind is revealed to a particular people? How does the promise to one family, tribe, people, become a blessing to all nations? The question is resolved in the scandal of the incarnation, esp. the cross of Christ (p. 47). Difference is not the same as enmity, and sameness is not the same as peace. Christ came to abolish enmity and bring peace, but this does not means the difference is overcome in sameness.

The solution: “Paul’s solution to the tension between universality and particularity is ingenious. Its logic is simple: the oneness of God requires God’s universality; God’s universality entails human equality; human equality implies equal access by all to the blessings of the one God; equal access is incompatible with ascription of religious significance to genealogy; Christ, the seed of Abraham, is both the fulfillment of the genealogical promise to Abraham and the end of genealogy as a privileged locus of access to God; faith in Christ replaces birth into a people;. As a consequence, all peoples can have access to the one God of Abraham and Sarah on equal terms, none by right and all by grace. The one body of Christ, the crucified body, is the one body that unities, in the bread of communion, which constitutes the Body of Christ, the Church and is many members.”(45).

On this view, unlike Abraham, departure does not entail leaving a space (49). Why? Because following God does not means joining a people of a place. Yet we do leave to follow God while we stay in the same location.

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