I don't know, whether this will add to mutual understanding (though I hope it may!)

I don't even claim to be sure of its meaning (though I have my notions!)

But roughly paraphrasing John Yoder:

" 'Jesus is Lord' is not a statement about the condition of my soul."

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I want to be part of a community who are living in the spirit of Christ. He is the head of our church, he gathers and teaches us. I want to be one amongst many who are committed to a life of evidence that we have received the gospel and order our lives in accordance with it. I want others to remind me when I stray off the track. I want others to help me understand scripture and to pray with me over the troubles I experience.

I want to be part of a church that recognizes any gifts I might have, receives them as God-given through me and holds me accountable for the right use of them. I want to recognize, recieve, and hold accountable others in their spiritual gifts. I want to make progress under the teaching of Christ, together, that the kingdom can be found amongst us, that we love each other and expand outward in the healing, redemptive love of Christ which encircles the whole world and all people.

I want to be part of a people who are blessed to have been anointed and sealed into God's covenant by jesus's blood, and who are resurrected from sin in him, to live lives of praise. I want to see the hungry and outcast fed and welcomed. I want to see peace break out, I want to see the rich giving up their wealth to join the prophetic people in answering God's call. I want to see a living, vibrant, worshipping church body who are joyful in troubles, sturdy in prayer and teaching, witnessing to God's call to a life beyond fossil fuel, war, and hatred.
I agree strongly with much of this. Probably Jesus would too!

But that nasty theopolitical dimension seems to be missing; and that's what I've been struggling to understand recently. It isn't just about what kind of community we (Yes, me too!!!) yearn to serve and belong to!--although I do agree that sibling each other well is an essential element in our personal assignment.

There isn't any 'The Meaning' of all this; there can't be!

This notion that history is a divine art-form, that history reflects God's intention even while it resists God's ultimate purposes... The story of Abraham is more than an expression of tribal conceit; the story of Moses (as the American slaves saw, though their masters could not) is about God's determination to free people from slavery and the will to enslave. It is not about God's hatred or indifference towards Egyptians! The plagues are not there as punishment, but to drive a wedge, to pry Israel free from the way of life they've come to accept! The prophets are not about the wickedness of Israel, but about the way that persistent human tendencies work out in practice... so long as we remain cut off from our divine Root.

The gospel writers sometimes made dubious use of what they called "the Scriptures;" but this, as NT Wright keeps pointing out, is because they conceive the life of Jesus to be firmly in line with their traditional Jewish worldview: that God had chosen Israel to embody his purpose for all the nations. The common vision of this--in the time of Jesus--had not necessarily been that God would send a Davidic monarch (something the period of Maccabee rule tended to discredit), but that by some such means God would once again liberate Israel, this time for keeps.

They saw Jesus as having fulfilled the purpose implied in the tragic disappointments of Jewish history, so far. Because he rose from the dead? Wright: "In the ancient Jewish world, as in the modern Western one, for someone who had been certifiably dead to become visibly alive again would mean that the world was indeed a stranger place than one had imagined; it would not justify at all a claim that the person to whom this odd event had happened was therefore the savior of the world, the 'son of god,' or anything else in particular. If ... one of the two lestai crucified along with Jesus had been raised to life a few days later, we may suppose it very unlikely that he would have been hailed in any such way, or that anyone would deduce from the event that Israel's fortunes had now been restored, that the kingdom of Israel's god was indeed inaugurated, and so forth..."

"... If the resurrection was believed to be part of that complex of events through which the covenant god would restore the fortunes of his people, any telling of a 'resurrection' story about Jesus could only make sense in a context of telling Israel's story in the form of Jesus' story... The gospel of the early church, of Paul, of the evangelists, is that the promises of the Jewish scriptures had come true in the resurrection... Israel's scriptures as a whole tell of the covenant, of the exile as the result of Israel's god punishing his people for their sins, and of the great 'return' that will happen when that dark period is finally over and done. What the early church is saying, in telling the story of Jesus' resurrection and announcing it to the world as the summons to obedient faith, is that the history of, and promises to Israel, had come true [via] Jesus, that in his death he had taken the exile as far as it could go, and that in his resurrection he had inaugurated the real return from that real exile.

"...The evangelists, in telling the story of Jesus as the climax of Israel's story, are thereby implicitly saying that this story is not the absolute end.... There is now a further task, that of bringing the world into submission to its creator, through the redeemed Israel; and this further task is not yet realized." (And so what we see as early church 'supercessionist' notions were not necessarily about rejecting their contemporary proto-Judaism, but about the Christian segment of Israel carrying on with Israel's mission in the world.)

We haven't seen the widespread resurrection of all the Righteous that Paul expected to happen any day, a couple millenia ago. We've seen the Early Church become the Constantinian Church and amply demonstrate the same tendencies as the Hellenistic Jewish priesthood and the corporate leadership of the best-intended modern charities... We saw Fox and his contemporaries do their best to "revive primitive Christianity," and gather that small, ornery people we've joined... while their work, too, to some extent, was soon enough subverted by that persistent "spirit that is contrary" (however you may conceive that!)

Not much to hang a borrowed "belief-system" upon. But it does suggest an intuitive notion of Jesus' role--as the divinely anointed ruler of all people who yearn to see God's intentions fulfilled here on Earth. (He is not (necessarily) an 'external' ruler, any more than God could be an entirely external authority.) How this is to work in practice? I don't know, except for the implication that Obama is no more "our" President than Bush, or any conceivable leader of that government which USian Friends strive so touchingly to perfect.

As in 'Mystery's Winstanley quote... It is not the resurrection of somebody else.

It's not about anybody's personal "salvation," except as taking our place within everyone's resurrection, not "after death," but after having been so very dead, so flailing and clueless for so very long...

I myself keep on needing to "figure it all out", yet another time, knowing that it isn't the sort of thing one ever entirely figures out. It seems very much worthwhile.
Sorry to be once again talking to myself (but I do wonder, why does everyone's interest seem so drawn to Christian/Other border disputes?) Here's a piece of Wright that seems right to me...

"If we read the New Testament as it stands, it claims on every page to be speaking of things which are true in the public domain. It is not simply, like so many books, a guide for personal spiritual advancement. To read it like that is like reading Shakespeare simply to pass an examination. The New Testament claims to be the subversive story of the creator and the world, and demands to be read as such. Any authority it exercises in the process will be a dynamic, not a static, authority; the New Testament will not impose itself from a great height, and to attempt to use it in that fashion is at once to falsify it. Its claim is less brittle, and, if true, more powerful. It offers itself as the true story, the true myth, the true history of the world."
Rather than repeat things I've said in the past, I think I give my answer to this question by linking to my post of April 2006 entitled "What This Christian Is Looking For in Quakerism". In that post I tried to explain why I as a Christian identified with Quakerism, and in the process of doing so I discussed, in effect, what Christianity means to me.
Yes, a great post (Thank you!) That was indeed why I am a Quaker rather than a Thisist or a Thatist!--and why I too am bemused by how actual contemporary Quakers seem to have forgotten, to have never known the reality, that it is possible for anyone to be inwardly guided by/toward God's will. (And the ensuing discussion--though it could hardly be concluded--also of great interest!)

As a person who has never had any kind of vision of Jesus... but only the experience of the Father he spoke about, dealing with me in the same spirit Jesus exemplified... I think we share a vision of what Friends were "intended" to be like, in essence. (But there's also "intended" in the sense of the people we have become, which must also be God's intention, as it's manifested so far.)

For any of us to think of ourselves as elements of a "body whose head is Christ's" we would need to form some conception of who/what is this "Christ," anyway.

If one is able to write (or speak) well, isn't part of the assignment the need for one "to repeat things I have said in the past"? Perhaps another way, for a slightly different audience?

I hope you might find it a worthwhile effort; because I believe it would be worthwhile for the rest of us!

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