So, it seems like I’ve been reading a lot about people’s praise for Miroslav Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace, so I decided to check it out for myself. I’m only about 65 pages into it, but so far it is, as Tony Jones calls it, “mind-bendingly good theology.” A few quotes that struck me:
His explanation of Paul’s reconciliation of the universality of God’s being with the cultural particularity of his revelation (to specifically the Jewish people):
Paul’s solution to the tension between universality and particularity is ingenious. Its logic is simple: the oneness of God requires God’s universality; God’s universality entails human equality; human equality implies equal access by all to the blessings of the one God; equal access is incompatible with ascription of religious significance to genealogy; Christ, the seed of Abraham, is both the fulfillment of the genealogical promise of Abraham and the end of genealogy as a privileged locus of access to God; faith in Christ replaces birth into a people.(Exclusion and Embrace, 45)
Volf’s addition to the Barmen Declaration:
“You were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer males and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
All the churches of Jesus Christ, scattered in diverse cultures, have been redeemed for God by the blood of the Lamb to form one multicultural community of faith. The “blood” that binds them as brothers and sisters is more precious than the “blood,” the language, the customs, political allegiances, or economic interests that may separate them.
We reject the false doctrine, as though a church should place allegiance to the culture it inhabits and the nation to which it belongs above the commitment to brothers and sisters from other cultures and nations, servants of the one Jesus Christ, their common Lord, and members of God’s new community. (Exclusion and Embrace, 54)
It seems that Volf’s book has vast implications for missions, American Christians (or any Christian for that matter), and hopefully will offer some practical insights into how to deal with the “ethnic cleansing” going on around the world that he speaks about so often in the book. I’m looking forward to the rest.