Craig McBride
Craig McBride

Project Title: The imperative for Christians to be transformed and changed through Spirit-enabled conformity to Jesus Christ, who is the total actualization of humanity's divine potential for increasing in capacity to act ethically

Principal Advisor: Associate Professor Rick Strelan

Project Abstract: The idea of union with God in Christ is one of the oldest symbols of salvation, and has been expressed by both the Eastern and Western Christian Church as Deification/Theōsis/Divinisation/Divinization. However the notion of Theōsis/Deification has always found more of a home and more extensive development in the Eastern Church.

The Western Church, separated by historical factors such as the rise of Islam from the Eastern Church, and influenced by Roman Law and puzzlement about God's justice following the sacking of Rome, developed their own understanding of the saving work of God.

Following the Enlightenment and the philosophical and theological emphasis on foundationalism, major reformed theologians such as Luther, Calvin and others, came to understand salvation as justification - primarily as the presence of Christ in a believer's faith. However later theologians such as Melanchthon and developments such as the Formula of Concord, tended towards a forensic and juridical understanding of justification.

A contemporary exegesis of St. Paul's Letter to the Romans by Douglas A. Campbell, points out that St. Paul by demolishing argument and exposing the false Gospel of a particular legalistic Jewish Christian opponent in the earliest chapters of Romans, turns in Romans 3:21 onwards to demonstrating that God has done everything necessary for salvation and ethics in the Christ event - without remainder. Human Beings experience salvation by participating in the faithfulness of Christ.

For both Western and Eastern Christians, a Participatory and Theotic Soteriology provides a way of navigating between the Scylla of an irrelevant abstraction of salvation and the Charybdis of a domestication of salvation - which often tends towards authoritarianism and self-serving. The Orthodox conception of justification, taking into account their view of sin as a rupture in God's intentions for humankind, have emphasized that salvation as justification and deification involves both forgiveness of sin and deliverance from death.

In a recent journal article entitle "God's Action of Furthering Nature in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ" (Pacifica 25, October 2012, pp.217-238), Eco-Theologian Dr Henry L. Novello points out that a higher and better universe has already evolved out of this universe with event of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The data of God's revelation reveals that there is no more suffering, death, decay sin, pain etc., in this newly evolved universe or "Heaven", because new laws of nature have been introduced that apply to the permanency of the new order of the risen life. (p.236).

Novello writes that that "In the ecstatic reality of the risen life, we will enjoy new patterns of relationships to the living God, to others, and to the cosmos as a whole, which are vastly different to the present patterns which gave rise to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ." p.235).

Novello also writes that Heaven should be thought of as " a "different universe" (discontinuity) within our universe (continuity), which has to be postulated on the basis of the bodily dimension of Christ' glorified condition." (p.235).

Novello writes: "Those who who enter into the new spatiality of heaven through the gateway of death and are introduced to the beatitude of the risen life, actually communicate new direction to the world by turning its "run-down" [see the Second Law of Thermodynamics] in the opposite direction...so that we can actually speak of the "run-up" of of the process of creation towards much higher levels of ontological reality" (see p236), which results in "the plenitude of life." (p.217).

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