[NOTE: There was a previous version of this essay that is accessible here. It was originally the second article of the "foundational concepts" section, and is preserved for historical purposes.]
Motivation for This Essay
This essay is a follow on to "Only A Metaphor?", which was the first half of this prior version of "In Christ". In this essay, I will address the meaning behind the terms "In Christ" and "Christ in us". As can be expected, I will touch on a variety of associated concepts that always seem to come up when I write these essays. In retrospect, I now see that the length of these essays stems from the need to briefly explore those associated concepts to establish their validity so that we can have confidence in the truth of any contribution they happen to make to the understanding of the main subject. In a sense, the more fundamental and important a truth is, the more it impacts on other truths, including those not initially seen as true or relevant. This appears to be the case with this version of the essay, where its length partly comes from the fact that I 'toss off' and briefly explore many important side-truths. This was not the case with the former version of this essay, which was essentially a dead-end once we got past the discussion of metaphors. Thus, if there is any apology required, it is because I may explore a side-truth whose discussion gets so long it deserves being spun off as a separate essay, or it turns out to be a fundamental truth understood in a way that up-ends a lot of invalid pre-conceptions. This also accounts for the long time period between this one and the previous essay.
Only A Metaphor?
In the prior essay, I cited the following text from Ephesians 3 as an example of how the "its a metaphor!" counterargument is employed:
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now, this passage appears to be fairly straightforward: the bolded text states that it is Christ that dwells in our hearts by faith. However, the bold text with the grey backgound in verse 16 that precedes it is also a straightforward statement that needs hardly any interpretation if we view it in light of Symbiosis. The only way to evade the literal implications is to damn it by calling it a proof text, implying that anyone trying to take it literally is a clueless amateur unable to really extract the "nuances" of this verse that only those privileged ones who have a Theology degree are capable of doing. The "proof" of amateur-hood is the fact that I am interpreting the text as if it actually meant exactly what it says. In support, modernist Bible scholars will cite the bolded text in verse 17 and point out that that proves that this entire passage is metaphorical. Jesus Christ is clearly "That Christ" in verse 17. How can it be said that Jesus dwells in us when he came in the flesh (bodily and physically) and later ascended to heaven? It is these people who then go on to tell us that verses 18 and 19 are to be understood metaphorically, not literally, and are "really" just Paul telling us that Jesus and God really love us, and that's all there is to this passage.
I disagree, and insist that the reverse interpretation is the correct one: because verse 16 is a plain reference to an actual reality (symbiosis), then verse 17 is not metaphorical, but must refer to a reality as well. The appeal to "It's a metaphor!" has actually prevented the investigation of a phenomenon of vital importance to living the Christian life.
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