Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Covenant Curses and the Messiah

While rereading St Athanasius' On the Incarnation to teach from it in class tonight, I came across a very interesting passage that I'd not noticed before (para. 35):
But perhaps, having heard the prophecy of his death, you ask to learn what is indicated regarding the cross.  For not even this is passed over in silence; but is expounded with great clarity by the saints.  For first Moses, in a loud voice, predicts it saying, 'You will see your life hanging before your eyes, and you will not believe' (Deut. 28.66).
This rather caught me off guard: how could I have missed such a stark Christological note in Deuteronomy? Looking it up in the ESV, however, I noticed that it was translated:
Your life shall hang in doubt before you.
While it is feasible to get the same sense from this as the Saint does, it is a bit of a stretch.  However, in the LXX (closer to the version that St Athanasius would have used) we have this:
Your life shall hang before your eyes...and you will not believe in your life.
St Athanasius, reading the Scriptures christologically, sees here a potent prophecy against those of the Jewish Faith as to why they don't believe.  We might fruitfully connect this to Romans 9-11, where St Paul's argument is precisely why this is currently the case and the role of the Gentiles (such as the Alexandrian bishop) to rectify the situation.  It is, rather than being a terror passage of Calvinism, a hopeful statement of our co-labor with God in Christ.

What is particularly of interest to me, though, is the connection this makes between the covenant curses found in Deuteronomy 28 and the Cross.  Just as He had warned Adam, so YHWH warns the ancient Israelites: this is the consequence of rejecting Life in Me.  Being separated from our Life in God leads, naturally, to death: from dust we are and to dust we must return.  Man, whether as an individual or as a people, is not naturally immortal: we become immortal by sharing in the eternal life who is God.  The curses, then, are not threats (just as Adam was not threatened, but warned) -- they are an eschatological declaration of what happens when we break the communion with Life.  Corruption, then, is the tendency of all things when separated from the Communion of Christ.  St Paul, again, will pick this up as a prophecy of how the Gentiles will come to the Faith, followed again by the Jews in Romans.  What is fascinating to me is that the Cross is found smack dab in the midst of the curses: they are not general "this will happen any time someone sins" in Deuteronomy, but they are a specific prophecy, given all the way back on the edge of the Promised Land, for what will happen in Christ for the salvation of the whole world.

This means that the point of the curses, in the end, is not juridicial (curses come to satisfy the wrath of God); rather, they are eschatological -- Israel's calling is to go through, in the Person of her Messiah and King, the death of Adam and so liberate the world from the power of sin and death.  She would not, though, understand this ("you will not believe in your Life") and so will have the hard tasks of bringing Adam's sin to the full.  Instead of merely seeking to be "like God" in a way other than that already ordained by God Himself (Gen. 1:26), they will seek to usurp God by putting Him to death.  In that fulfillment, what St Paul calls the condemnation "of sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3), God Himself will trample down death and call all to Himself to partake of the freedom of the sons of God (8:21, etc.).

Monday, April 18, 2016

Over-determination and Inspiration

Douglas Campbell, author of The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul, has a helpful metric for discussing the rhetorical strategies we use to understand texts: over- and under-determination.  Over-determination is where the text under consideration says something unhelpful or even contrary to what the claims based on it needs (think of how St James says "justification is not by faith alone" (2:24) and then look at the collective hand-wringing being done by searching that phrase in Google).  Under-determination is where the text does not provide the necessary backing for the claims based on it.  He makes a compelling argument in the book that the standard Protestant reading of St Paul and 'justification' is riddled with over- and under-determinations.  The book (which is massive) is well worth a read, even if you don't end up agreeing with his conclusions.  I'd like to use that metric to return to the topic of inspiration of the Scriptures, which I've written on before and will repeat some of the things I said there.  (And, as always, I reserve the right to disagree with myself.)

The stereotypical argument concerning inspiration, at least as I learned it, went something like this:

A: The Bible is God's Word
B: God is Truth (or, negatively, God cannot lie)
C: Therefore, God's Word is true ("in all it speaks on" is a possible under-determination)

None of this is, for the most part, controversial (that the Lord Christ, member of the Trinity, is actually God's Word, from whom the Scriptures derive their authority, is an important point, but more is made of the difference between the two than is actually warranted).  Also, none of this speaks a whit about inspiration.  Inspiration is a teaching about the origin of the Scriptures, not their veracity or reliability.  There may be correlations between the two topics, but they cannot, and so should not, be collapsed into one another.  To do so would be to commit the genetic fallacy: the conclusion that the truthfulness of something is inherent in its origins.  This particular fallacy has gotten lots of play in biblical scholarship over the years, especially in Old Testament studies with the Documentary Hypothesis; it also has a long life within the culture wars when we assume that if we have evolved from brute animals, we must be nothing more than animals (and do note that I'm not making any claims about this subject: it is beyond my ken).

It is possible, though, that even saying inspiration is a doctrine of textual origins is an over-determination.  Once we clear out the texts about God's (and, consequently, His Word's and Spirit's) truthfulness, we have precious few didactic texts about inspiration itself.  The main one is found, of course, in 2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God..."  Unfortunately, there is no parallelism, nor any explanation of the term used for inspiration, which happens to be, alas, a hapax legomenon.  The term itself, θεόπνευστος, is a compound word from "God" and "breathing," so it could mean "God-breathed." Again, though, this may be problematic as compound words in all languages do not necessarily equal the sum of their parts. As this seems to be a word of Pauline origin (it is not extant in any other relevant ancient literature), it would seem best to look at how God's breath/Spirit is understood in the rest of the Scriptures. Here we find, of course, God's breath fluttering over the primordial Creation (Gen. 1:2), or the filling of Bezalel and Aholiab "in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all workmanship" (Ex. 31:3 -- the connections between this passage and that of 2 Tim. 3 should not be overlooked), or His dwelling with -- and leaving -- the judges and the kings, or the famous passage in Isaiah 61 ("The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me...to preach..."). God's Breath, then, is God's coming in power, especially in regards to the granting of words and wisdom. If we take this background back to 2 Tim. 3, we might see that the passage isn't speaking of origins, but rather how the Scriptures, bearing the Spirit of God, have power and authority: it is because they are a conduit of the divine Spirit that they can "make wise unto salvation...[be] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." Read like this, the passage is utterly non-controversial. It does not speak about how the Scriptures came to be (other places speak vociferously about that: "the Word of the Lord came to me..."), but about the power of the Word in the apostolic ministry.

That last clause merits some unpacking. The biggest under-determination of this text is using it divorced from its canonical context. While one of the beauties of the Reformation was its opening of the Scriptures to any literate person (and the subsequent drive for mass literacy that is only now waning in Western culture), it came at the heavy price of all Scripture being read flatly, as if all Scripture was addressed to everyone in the same way at all times, and, worse, led to Scripture being read outside of its necessary ecclesial context. An argument I heard while listening to a podcast called "Kingdom Roots," made by Scot McKnight, assumed that this text meant anyone picking up the Scriptures could utilize that power and be "trained in righteousness," etc. However, this misses the point that St Paul the Apostle is writing this epistle to St Timothy, the designated guardian of the Apostolic Deposit (2 Tim. 1:14, 3:14, etc.). For him who has "carefully followed my teaching, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, etc." the power, the God-breathedness, of the Scriptures is made available to him for teaching (as a catechist), for reproof (as a pastor), for correction (again), for instruction in righteousness (note the chiasm), "that the man of God [those in St Timothy's care] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (3:16-17), or as St Paul put it elsewhere, "and He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors-teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ..." (Eph. 4:11-12). What tools do these gifted by the Spirit have for this work of equipping and edifying? The God-breathed Scriptures. Along with them, though, and inseparable, is that Apostolic Deposit, that way of life learned from the Apostles, what came by mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). There is no tension here between the Scriptures and the Tradition, for both came from the same Source: the Spirit given to the Apostles by the Lord Christ. The Church, which is the dwelling place of that selfsame Spirit, is the keeper of the Deposit -- which includes the Scriptures -- and the place where they must be properly understood and applied to the life of the believers in communion.

All this to say, and the true impetus behind writing tonight, is that we need to locate the Source of the Scripture's inspiration: the Spirit working through the Church. We over-determine 2 Tim. 3:16 in an attempt to ground sola Scriptura in Scripture, creating a bizarro circular argument in a text that was never meant to bear the weight of the Chicago Declaration. What is missing in the arguments about inspiration, precisely, is the Church herself. Inerrantists will be quick, in the face of all the text critical facts, to say that the Scriptures have been preserved from all error; yet the Church, the dwelling place of the Spirit (according to those Scriptures), is untrustworthy, fallible, corrupt, etc. What the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy should make us do is to probe further our own understandings of what God is doing in history through His people, whom He has promised to indwell by His Spirit. The hard questions raised by post-evangelicals who have modified their views of Scripture based on the dilemmas and problems sola Scriptura and inerrancy (particularly) can be answered, but only as (paradoxically) we return to the Scriptures -- in their proper context, the Church -- and see what God has actually said about those Scriptures and the Church (and not just already assume our post-Reformation traditional answers).

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Difficulties with the RPW

On Facebook, a friend commented on an article shared by someone I don't know (such is social media and digital eavesdropping, I suppose).  The post is from a website that seeks to see "Worship Reformed According to Scripture and the Customs of the Ancient Church," an admirable goal if there ever was one.  The commented upon post was their "What hath Geneva to do with Canterbury?", in which they defend the RPW (Regulative Principle of Worship), a Reformed standard that they lament is slipping in our day.  As a Reformed Presbyterian who works at an Anglican seminary, it was of particular interest to me.  I'll let you read the argument and weigh its merits -- this post isn't a response, per se, but a reflection on some of the issues raised.

1) Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's take that the RPW is "the chief foundation of the error of the Anabaptists, and of diverse other sects” is fascinating.  I hadn't heard that particular quote from him (and, alas, it isn't cited as far as I can tell).  What the RPW does, though, is to take the Church's authority away from worship/liturgy/what-have-you entirely, as it puts the onus of figuring out what the Scriptures proscribe and prescribe squarely on the individual interpreter.  Now, of course, a collection of such interpreters (say, at Westminster Cathedral) could draft a series of statements meant to guide the Church in perpetuity; however, who is to say that their interpretation is, in fact, sufficiently biblical?  The Bible is a liturgical book, born out of and guiding the worshiping community: its interpretive context is the worship of the Church (which, as a side note, is why the Psalms are indispensable during worship and Scriptural interpretation).  If we are using the Bible, not just to critique what the Church has done in worship, but to determine what should be done in worship (sort of "proof-texting" our way into a liturgy), then we are putting the cart before the horse.  There are many oblique references to already established liturgical practices in the Epistles (and, arguably, in the Gospels): the texts would be used to explain what was happening in the liturgy itself.  Baptism?  John 3, Romans 5-8, and wherever St Paul talks about being 'clothed' or 'putting on Christ'.  Eucharist?  The "Last Supper" narratives, John 3, Revelation, etc.

It should be noted that I'm not accusing the author of the post of doing this: the strong RPW argument that we must build our worship off of Scripture is Baptist than Presbyterian.  As he states, "Presbyterians are abandoning their liturgical heritage," which implies that there is already a heritage, a tradition, that is being assumed, not constantly in question and therefore constantly being rebuilt.  (That most modern evangelical and Reformed worship would be unrecognizable to the first couple generations of Reformers is beside the point.)

The point, though, is that the RPW falls into the very same trap (and has historically) that sola Scriptura is prone: the community of interpretation (the Church) takes second fiddle to the individual, all in the name of protecting the laity from idolatrous imposition of shoddy practices by fallible men (the leaders of the Church).  The question of authority is not solved by sola Scriptura, it is just shifted so that it is difficult to see where the authority really is coming from.  It is easy, alas, to hide behind "this is the clear teaching of the Bible," when, in fact, there is no such thing: such a statement says much about the authority of the teacher, but precious little about the authority of the text.

2) "The NPW [the so-called "Normative Principle of Worship"], however, says the church has the right to require acts of worship as long as those acts are not forbidden in scripture. On this principle, the church can invent all kinds of ceremonies and rites and impose them on the saints so long as the required actions are not in themselves sinful."

This quote, in my mind, gets to the meat of my own difficulties with the RPW.  Note the language of 'invention' mentioned in it: of course it would be a bad thing, since all humans are totally depraved, for them to 'invent' ways of worshiping God!  However, this assumes that the rites, rituals, liturgies, and customs that have come down to us are, in fact, inventions.  St Paul, in a number of places, mentions the Apostolic Deposit and the things "taught by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15).  St Basil of Caesarea, at least, understands these "word of mouth" things to be the liturgical, mystagogical, and hermeneutical standards of the Church that aren't necessarily found in the Bible (or, at least, in the surface meaning).  Could it be that the Apostles did more than hand down a collection of inspired texts?  Could they have provided the necessary interpretive context in the institution of various rites, rituals, and liturgies (which, we should expect, would have some elasticity over time)?  (This, also, doesn't rule out that some things are, indeed, inventions -- but that is why there was a college of apostles: to check one another and rebuke as needed, such as is seen in the Sts Paul-Peter encounter recorded in Galatians, or, in post-apostolic times, the letter from Rome to Corinth by the hand of St Clement.)

Going deeper, and my argument for this can be found in fuller detail if you follow the link above ("there is no such thing") at the end of point 1, there is good reason to affirm that the canon of Scripture itself, particularly the New Testament, is a "commandment of men."  There is no divinely inspired list of canonical books: there is an ecclesially sanctioned canon of inspired books.  I won't get into the fruitless debate that reduces this to "the Bible created the Church" or "the Church created the Bible": both polemics are sufficiently vacuous for themselves.  What is important is to note that the Church's sanctioning of the books (say, in the fourth century) says that they thought that these specific books sanctioned the way they "did" Church: there is no hint of reforming in Sts Athanasius, Gregory (pl), Basil, Chrysostom, etc. except getting rid of the heresies that had arisen out of changes made to the liturgies traditioned to them.  Why was Arianism such a problem as to need an ecumenical council to defeat it?  It changed the worship of Jesus Christ, which had been passed down from the Apostles, into worship of a mere creature.  What about Pneumatomachianism?  Again, it changed the worship by denying the Spirit personhood and divinity.  This last one is itself fascinating, as St Basil found that the worship of the Church did need reform, but only to clarify what had "everywhere, always, by all" been believed.  How did the men, guided by the Spirit we hope, who determined what books would be preserved, passed on, expounded, and applied to the Church's life, miss the RPW?  How did they miss sola Scriptura?

Alas, I do not have the answers to these quandries.  I wish that I did.  But they are nagging at me, always.  God forgive me where I have erred.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Baptism and the Believer

In my earlier post, I teased out the liturgical connection between saving faith and baptism.  This was followed with a Patristic source bearing some witness to the exegetical and historical moves I made there.  As I come across them, I'll add them on the blog (reading is, alas, something I don't get to do often: such is the "Valley of the Diapers").

This next quote comes from St Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures.  Key to what I'm attempting to argue is the role of the title 'Believer':

"Thou [the Catechumen readying for baptism after Lent] receivest a new name name, which before thou hadst not: before thous wast a Catchumen, now thou wilt be a Believer."

Why, if faith was rational assent to a series of propositions, would they go from "catechumen" (a learner) to a "believer"?

Saturday, January 09, 2016

A Patristic Note on Baptism and Justification

In St Paul and Baptism: An Early Foray I said:

"One was justified by their faith, their profession of allegiance to Christ, in the rite of baptism: there is no conflict between the two, rather they are an integrated whole. This goes a long way to explaining why some of the 'quirks' of the earliest church exist, such as why catechumens were considered 'saved' if they died in martyrdom before baptism: it isn’t that baptism became a proto-Pelagian 'work,' but rather that it was considered the moment of saving faith through the work of the Spirit."

For a primary source documenting this, I found this in St Hippolytus' Apostolic Tradition (while looking for something entirely different, naturally):

"If a catechumen should be arrested for the name of a the Lord, let him not hesitate about bearing his testimony; for if it should happen that they treat him shamefully and kill him, he will be justified, for he has been baptized in his own blood" (II:19, emphasis added).

Note here the close connection between baptism and justification, as if one is the cause of the other.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Augustine, Adoration, and Loving the Saints

In his Confessions, as well as elsewhere, St Augustine propounds a way of understanding love that may shed light on another, seemingly unrelated, Patristic concept.  His proposal, following Sts Irenaeus and Athanasius (as well as the Neoplatonists), is that the fundamental way we operate in the world is through love.  However, we were intended to love God, to "enjoy" Him (using the language from On Christian Doctrine), and, through that enjoyment, to love our fellow creatures (to "use" them -- a difficult term for us moderns).  Sin is loving something inordinately, improperly, or disorderedly, especially if they are loved instead of, or in place of, God Himself.  If ou loves are rightly ordered, though, there is peace.  If we love God properly, we can love others as they are to be loved.

Augustine's understanding can, I think, be fruitfully used in another context: the Iconoclastic Controversy.  St John of Damascus uses a technical distinction between latreia and proskynesis: adoration and veneration, respectively.  (It is important here to note that both actions fall into the larger category of what we call "worship."  The difficulty with this is that our contemporary use of "worship" is closer to that of adoration; one has to only go back to 1611 to see that it wasn't that long ago we had a broader understanding.  Moses worships Jethro, and so on.  Or look to the BCP Rite of Marriage: "with my body do I thee worship."). While God alone is worthy of adoration, the saints, the Theotokos, and holy objects are to be venerated.  St John faced stern opposition from his fellow coreligionists, as they understood veneration to be a form of idolatry.  However, St John (and St Theodore the Studitie after him) said, in effect, that one cannot honor the saints who crushed the idols by making them into idols -- in other words, veneration of the saints was not the same as adoration of them.  Rather, if one was to properly venerate, it could only be done in the context of adoring the Triune God.

The West, even though it technically adopted the distinctions as proper theological method, long struggled with them -- the Carolingian Franks viewed the use of religious art in a distinctly different light than the Byzantine Romans.  This came to a head, of course, in the Third Iconoclast Controversy of the Reformation (and, yes, not all Reformers were so inclined -- Luther's view seems to me to be a republication of the Carolingian understanding).  However, if we bring Augustine and Damascene together, we will find that they are speaking the same language.

Augustine's "enjoyment" of God corresponds almost perfectly with St John's "adoration."  God is the only One worthy of such actions, which involve complete love and devotion offered to Him.  "Use" then is analogous to "veneration."  This provides the clarifiying paradigm that we need to fully make sure our veneration (of one another, the saints, or the Theotokos) does not lapse into idolatry by adoring that which is not God by nature.  If we love God properly, that is as God, we will love His saints, His mother, and all other things in their proper place.  If our adoration is of Father, Son, and Spirit, then we actually can honor and venerate all other things in freedom and safety: our love of God, poured into our hearts by the Spirit Himself, guides us in this.

This, for us Protestants, is very unsettling language.  We are used to thinking that, even after the coming of Christ we are under the rule of the Law, instead of the freedom of the Spirit.  Certainly, we've seen many abuses by this who have claimed the Spirit -- but abuse does not negate the possibility of proper use.  If we actually have the Spirit, though, we have freedom to move and breathe, all the while never forgetting the Law we do live under: the Law of Christ, that we shall love one another and so fulfill the Law.

How, though, do we know we are adoring God properly, so that we might venerate with order?  It should give us pause to consider that this is the driving question behind all the various debates that led to the Ecumenical Councils.  Is Jesus God? (Nicaea I) Is the Holy Spirit God? (Constantinople I) Is Mary the Mother of God, or just a man associated strongly with God? (Ephesus)  Does the human flesh of Christ share in the properties of the divine Word? (Chalcedon) Is the humanity of Christ true and full humanity, complete with distinct will and activity? (5th and 6th Councils) Does the divine nature deify created matter? (Nicaea II)

It is Nicaea II, which declared iconoclasm to be of non-apostolic origin, that brings all this together.  If we properly venerate that which is venerable, through such we adore God.  Since we are creatures of matter, it is only through the mediation of matter that we can love God.  Can God so use matter in a way that opens up true and proper worship of Him?  If we confess the Incarnation in any sort of orthodox way, we must answer 'yes.'  The infinite God truly became finite man (without ceasing to be either true God or true man), so that we finite men might share in His infinite Life (or, God became man that man might become gods -- St Athanasius in On the Incarnation).  If that is the case, then can God share Himself through other parts of creation?  If so, then when we properly venerate where He chooses to share His grace (through bread and wine, through His saints, etc.), we are adoring Him through their mediation.

Augustine's proper ordering of loves, then, works in two directions: if we love God rightly, we can rightly love all lovely things.  If, as well, we love all lovely things in the way they are to be loved, then through them we can adore God.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Full Disclosure in Evangelism

This reflection does not arise, alas, from personal experience of evangelism: I live in a Christian bubble most days and so find little opportunity for it.  My own method, especially as I tend towards introversion with age, is to pray for those around me, with as much unceasing effort as can be managed.

This reflection, instead, arises out of my existential experience as a Christian.  Or, maybe more, in the tensions I've noticed in the theology of broader evangelicalism of which I am a part.

In some ways, and maybe this is because our evangelistic context is America, our sharing of the Faith tends to sound like political campaigning: Jesus will "save" you from your sins, from your loneliness, from your brokenness, from your X, Y, and Z.  If only we will vote Him in as "personal Savior" or "Lord of our life," then...well, what?  Here's the tension.  We make great claims as to what Jesus accomplishes through that moment of decision (or whatever), but then are catechized into simul iustus et peccator, with particular emphasis on the peccator.  For some of the preaching that I have heard over the years, even after salvation we are just as mired in sin as we were before.  Our wills are inable, after conversion, to seek the good.  All our actions are sin, or as Luther supposedly put it, all our works are mortal sins.

It is a preaching of despair.

The point, as it has been explained to me, is to drive us again and again to Christ on the Cross.  Having forsworn works in the earning of our salvation, we must now be sure to not use them to maintain or prove our salvation.  (Yet, how do we know we are saved? Good works.). In other words, it is a continual chopping down of our Self, so that God alone may get glory.  God and man are locked in a zero-sum game: what is good for one necessarily takes from the other.  Our will, created by God to seek Him, is essentially or naturally at odds with Him, as salvation itself does not restore us to any Adamic (or Christic) freedom -- it only tackles the problem of legal justice and wrath.

It must be noticed, then, that the "salvation" offered is wholly eschatological: there is no actual deliverance from the power of sin and death until the afterlife.  It is possible -- nay, required -- that one become more moral, but there is no real power given with which (or by Whom) to accomplish and maintain it.  In this, again, our evangelism seems political: sure, we've got the right man in office, but he's unable (or unwilling?) to actually effect any change. We just have to hope that the future is better (which, of course, it will be, since the promise that this is so came from the same folks who promised us that we were going to be delivered from our sins...).

If this is, in fact, the Christian message and how it is lived out, is it any wonder Millennials are leaving the Church?  Especially when this message is juxtaposed with the optimistic narrative of Western materialism?

Could it be that our message of what salvation in Christ is, is too beholden to that dominant narrative? That the problem is primarily individual and legal (me and my sins), instead of ontological and relational?  Is the fundamental hope of our salvation fixing my broken actions and attitudes, or deliverance from what causes such things in the first place? (You'll notice, I hope, that I'm not "making light of sin" here: a doctor doesn't make light of the symptoms in treatment, even if they aren't worth mentioning in the context of the overarching disease.)

The problem, while exhibiting in every human individual, is cosmic: the whole of creation is under subjugation to Death and Satan.  As such, it is the environment in which, no matter how much we may want the Good, we cannot attain to it without egoism and violence against our neighbors: in the state of corruption, creation and man do get locked in a zero-sum struggle.  Here is where we find ourselves, without remainder, and so have a powerful evangelistic message: we are all confined under sin, in disobedience, but God has come in our form to deliver us from the bondage.  What must be remembered, though, is that as you leave the enemies territory, he will not let you go quietly.  He wants you to come back under slavery and will do everything in his power to make you return (why else would St Paul anathematize a different gospel, one that brought the hearers back into subjugation?).  Being delivered from bondage is only the first part: now you must train for war.  It is not that you can't please God -- far from it, as He now dwells in you and with you -- but you haven't yet built up the habitual defenses, the virtues, needed for full engagement with the enemy.  You will slip and fall from time to time -- the point is that you must resist becoming enslaved again.  For this God Himself abides in us, teaching us to say 'no' to ungodly and wordly passions and desires, and granting us access to His Body, the Church, where we labor with and for one another towards the fullness of salvation.

It seems, at this point, apropos to bring in the narrative of the Old Testament.  Here, again, we see its iconic nature, pointing beyond itself to God's larger story.  Israel, those who bear the promise, are under the heavy rigor of the Pharaoh, cry out for deliverance, and are released (set right, justified, etc.) by God the Redeemer.  However, Pharaoh pursues them until they go through the Sea, which St Paul connects to our passing through the waters of baptism.  Just because the host of Pharaoh is decimated, though, doesn't mean Egypt ceases to exist: there are many stern warnings in the Torah to not return to Egypt or take up Egyptian ways.  The Philistines, the perennial enemies of Israel who arise out of the Sea (sort of a Pharaonic redivivus), are descendants of ancient Mitzraim, Egypt herself.  Only King David will be able to fully subdue them...just in time for his son, Solomon, to make his chief consort the daughter of Pharaoh.  From there, his tragic story unfolds of looking more and more like Pharaoh himself: the conscripted labor force, the amassing of an army, the building of a 'large house' (the very meaning of the Egyptian title), and the accumulation of wealth.  It is possible, if we do not completely reject the corruption in the world, to fall back into it: the end will be worse than the start.

There are more layers to this, however.  After baptism, in which our enemies are thwarted and we are brought into union with Christ (symbolized by the covenant ceremonies in the Old Testament -- they point forward to the fuller union of theosis: covenant is iconic, not an end in itself).  However, the old way of life must be progressively overthrown.  Here is where the Conquest of Canaan becomes particularly significant.  We must, using the weapons of the Spirit, cast out and cast down all our passions, disordered desires, and sins, just as the Israelites were to do to the Canaanites.  We, of course, should add the exorcism of the demons, as a larger thread to this tapestry.  We should not, though -- and this is vital -- expect this to happen in a day: "and the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you" (Deut. 7:22, cp. Ex. 23:30).  We are being trained up for spiritual war, which requires smaller battles until we are ready to enter our inheritance.  Or, as St Antony of Egypt put it, "Expect temptation to your dying breath."

What does all this mean for evangelism?  Certainly, Jesus has (not will) saved us from our sins, from death, and from the devil: once someone has been baptized and confessed the Faith, we can assure them that they are, indeed, free from that demonic dominion.  But, the work has just started, there is a practical eschatology: now we must be vigilant, must train and exercise, until we, through and with Christ, have conquered that and those which sought our enslavement and destruction.  That we are at war and expected to take part in it is an essential piece to evangelism.  Jesus has not died to make us comfortably middle class, but to deliver the whole world from its bondage to corruption.  Be free and enlist in the Kingdom that will throw down its enemies and bring the peace of which our satisfied, warmed, and filled human existence is but a shadow.  There is no room for despair here, for the King has conquered and continues to conquer: He gives us the eyes to see it and trains our hands for war.

Hallelujah, for this Lord is born as one of us and will lead us to the Promised Land.