Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 95

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE For me, Metzger’s brief article points to a central mystery of the Christian faith: God and humanity, in the person of Jesus Christ, are intimately related from the very beginning of creation. God has a predilection for humans, a desire for us, and not just for our minds. After all, the incarnate Jesus Christ is the foundation of creation (Eph 1:4). All things were created by, through, and for him (Col 1:16; also see Rom 11:36 and Heb 1:2–3). The body of Jesus matters, and so does our own flesh and blood. Jesus Christ ascended in his resurrected body to heaven, and we will join him some day in a physically transformed state that will share in his glory. God does not just liberate our immaterial souls from their physical bondage. Matter is not a weight that drags us down, ballast that needs to be discarded so that we can take spiritual flight. God is “for us” and became “one of us” because God values the whole of creation, persons and things together. Although persons are more than just things, they are also not less than things. We are embodied souls, material beings, just as God is forever defined by his oneness with that particular person named Jesus. God does not love us in spite of or instead of the world. God loves the world, and yes, God loves us most of all, but for our sake he loves the whole world, which was created originally for his Son. The history of nature culminates not just in the human species but also in the single individual Jesus, and his resurrection demonstrates how our destiny is caught up in his triumph over dissolution and death. God could not have become a dog, then, because God was always planning on becoming Jesus. He created us with Jesus in mind, and he created us to be the privileged species who could call him friend (Jn 15:15). So what is the relationality that we embody, and what will happen to our bodies after we die? Significantly, physicists now speak of matter not just in terms of sub-atomic particles (the smallest bits of stuff that we can know) but in terms of relations. When matter is conceived relationally, many of the old metaphysical dualisms start to disappear. Minds cannot be simply reduced to brains, but our thinking does not take place nowhere. Souls, as Aquinas taught, are the form of the body, and thus body and soul are united in ways that make it almost impossible to think of them apart from each other. Consciousness glimmers more darkly in the minds of dogs, but our canine friends are not therefore without value in the world God created and called good. Matter itself, we could say, carries within it the desire for God, a desire that culminates in the restless seeking of human nature. At the very least, matter enables us to be the creatures who have the greatest relational range in creation. We perceive through the senses and feel with our bodies. Embodiment is not the limit of but the condition for our unlimited imaginations. We encounter God not in acts of pure understanding but where 94