Along the Way: Reconciliation

Midway through Holy Week I am connecting the redemptive work of Christ with something Thomas Aquinas wrote. They both shed light on the word ‘reconciliation.’ On Friday of Holy Week, the grand clarification occurred.

Aquinas wrote, “a mistake in our thinking about nature is a mistake in our thinking about God.” [1] In our day, we are living under the curse of two main mistakes with respect to nature, viewing it as binary and with a “chain of being” that gives rise to supremacist thinking. Both mistakes come to us from an Aristotelian philosophy which has been supplanted by contemporary understandings of reality [2], but which continue to be the lens used to interpret the world by those whose world views are advanced by a binary/supremacist ideology.

We are under the harmful influence of those whose power is protected and preserved by these two mistakes, and who make them with the accompanying mistake that God is supportive of their efforts, mistakenly alleging that God blesses what they are saying and doing.

This may seem to have little to do with Holy Week, but actually it has everything to do with it. Paul astounded the political/religious milieu of his day by writing that God “reconciled all things to himself” through Christ, bringing peace through the cross (Colossians 1:20). Jesus cleared up (and overcame) the two main mistakes about nature haunting us today: binary creation and supremacy. This is part of what it means to believe that Christ has reconciled all things to himself.

He has overcome the mistake of binary creation by furthering God’s honoring of eunuchs in his day (Isaiah 56:3-5, Matthew 19:12), so that Paul could say “Christ is in all” (Colossians 3:11). In Christ the intersex/transgender dimension of humanity is recognized and affirmed. The human family is reconciled by the cross to its original nonbinary spectrum of sacredness.

Furthermore, Christ has overcome the mistake about supremacy by removing walls that divide (Ephesians 2:14), so that we declare “all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). In Christ, all the idols of supremacy and privilege (injustice) are cast down, and the common good (justice) is advanced. All means all. [3]

Christ has corrected our mistaken thinking about nature with respect to binary creation and superiority, and in doing so has revealed that God does not support or bless either one. Instead, God reconciled (brought back together) the oneness of reality and the relationships we are meant to have with each other.

The cross stands in every Holy Week, clearing up our mistaken notions of nature that lead to mistaken notions about God. As E. Stanley Jones put it, “Jesus puts a face on God.” [4] It is the face of reconciliation, through the cross, so that everything belongs. [5]

[1] Quoted in the April 2022 e-letter of the Center for Christogenesis.

[2] The theology of Open Theism corrects the Aristotelian errors, integrating Scripture and science (e.g. cosmology and physics) in a radical and inclusive theology of love. I recommend Thomas Oord’s books, ‘An Introduction to Open and Relational Theology’ and ‘Pluriform Love.’ Oord rightly notes that John Wesley’s theology is in this stream.

[3] E. Stanley Jones, ‘The Word Made Flesh,’ Week 2, Saturday.

[4] Richard Rohr, ‘Everything Belongs.’ He sees the cross as the focal confirmation of nondual reality.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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