The essence of the Christian religion consists therein: that the creation of the Father, destroyed by sin, is again restored in the death of the Son of God and recreated by the grace of the Holy Spirit to a Kingdom of God
Saturday, 19 June 2010
The heart of the Gospel is ontological
I named this blog "narrative and ontology" because of my interest in theological hermeneutics and my conviction that the church needs to emphasize both of these dimensions of Scripture. The text is kerygmatic, proclamatory, verbal discourse designed to do something. And the thing it does is point beyond itself to a reality, a "real" reality, something "ontological" and not just existential, psychological, or sociological. But at the end of the day, it's not the Bible but this reality that really matters. The Bible itself points beyond itself to what Childs called its "substance," its Sachverhalt, its res (Childs considers Biblical intertextuality to be "deictic"). Without the ontology the narrative is meaningless and I personally would lose all interest in the Bible.
So what is the Sache? I usually attempt to answer this by reference to the Church's traditional rule of faith. For an extended discussion on this go here. However, I read a quote this morning and then heard a sermon this afternoon which I think gets to the Sache (gets to the "point") far more succinctly. The quote is by Herman Bavinck:
Here, the substance of the Christian - I would say Biblical - faith really is ontological. It has to do with being. An eschatological being, perhaps, one that explodes all our current categories, but being nonetheless.
I then heard an impassioned sermon on this subject, fittingly preached on Easter Sunday, the day of the Resurrection. It's about Heaven, and Heaven is "Real." The preacher is Phil Hill and the congregation is the Arab Local Baptist Church in Nazareth. You can listen to it here.
[P.S. For thoughts on this issue in relation to the Piss Christ, go here].