Already Glorified? (part 2)

Here’s my own position (at least as of today!):

If (1) Paul can say that “in hope we were saved,” when “save” (sozo) language is always, even there, future in orientation for him, and if (2) future salvation includes glorification, then he could quite plausibly mean in saying “those whom [God] justified [God] also glorified” that believers were glorified in hope, that is, they were and are partially and proleptically saved/glorified in the initial and daily reality of justification, that is, of dying with Christ and rising to new life in Christ. Of course that new life is always in the shape of the cross!

If this correct, then the term “theosis” to describe what Paul is describing is quite appropriate—a process of being formed into the likeness of the Son of God, though in this life the “glory” is partial, proleptic, and cruciform.

One possible problem with this interpretation is connecting it to the liberation of creation. Is there any sense of proleptic salvation for the creation in Romans 8? Or could there be, implicitly?

(This post is expanded from a comment I made on my previous post on this topic.)

6 Responses to “Already Glorified? (part 2)”

  1. I lean toward “yes” here, Mike. Seeing all of our life as a living into the eschatological future which is already proleptically ours in Christ, I strive to cultivate a vision for our present life which is a taking hold of everything that will be true of our future and bringing it to bear on the present.

    Will we ever be completely “sanctified”? No, but we strive to live into our future identity as holy people–and we have been sanctified in Christ Jesus. (Ok, I’m mixing Pauline and Theological language, so sue me.)

    Will our society ever be rightly ordered under God? No, but we strive for justice, and to bring the eschatological reality of no more hunger, no more broken bodies, no more tears to bear on the present.

    Will our creation ever show full redemption from futility? No, but we strive to live with it and to cultivate it in a way that brings a vision of eternal sustainability and fearless joint-living to bear on the present.

    I’m often surprised at what biblical visions of the eschaton envision to have survived “judgment” (such as the glory of the nations in Isaiah and Revelation), and I begin to think that something of what we do in and for the created order might fall in that category.

  2. Siufung says:

    Michael and Daniel, I really appreciate your post and comment. I am thinking that as the people of God share in Christ’s suffering in this created order, there is something that will survive at the final renewal.

    Can I please ask a question? How do you understand the “glory-with” in Rom 8:17, where the subjunctive aorist passive is used (in a hina clause)?

    Thanks!

  3. MJG says:

    I see the the two “sym-/syn-” verbs as Paul’s summary of the story of Christ (suffering and glorification) and thus of all those who participate in him beginning in the death-and-resurrection that is baptism. The hina clause indicates the narratively natural and inseparable connection between both parts of the story, both for Christ and for us. The one leads to the other because God vindicates the faithful who suffer, most especially the Faithful One who suffers, and thus also who suffer in Him. (For Paul lack of suffering probably implies lack of faithfulness.)

    I also think Daniel is right to suggest that there is an implicit ethical dimension in Rom 8 springing from Paul’s eschatology. If NT Wright is right, all ethics comes from eschatology anyhow. More generally, if theological interpretation is all about asking what the text calls us to believe, hope for, and do (faith, hope, love), then Romans 8 calls us to do something about the creation now because we know what God intends to do in the future. To be like God in Christ by the Spirit is to imitate, in some way, the divine future even while groaning and hoping for the real thing.

  4. Angela says:

    Hi, Michael,

    Yes, I believe there is a sense of proleptic salvation for creation.

    This is the thought I had–if you connect Israel’s rejection and creation’s subjection and their subsequent holding period until this process of becoming Christ-like reaches its fullness then liberation of creation is linked. See (Rom 8:21//Rom 11: 13-15, 25).

    Also, just curious, why didn’t we include vs.29 (Chap. 8), “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be…?” It is interesting because the term “foreknew” is used again in relationship to Israel (Chap 11:2). Yet, in chapter 8, the term “foreknew” is connected to theosis. So, could it be that creation is waiting for the complete reconciliation of people by means of theosis, in order to receive from the children of God its glorification?

  5. Siufung says:

    Thank you, Michael, for your response. It’s very helpful.

  6. MJG says:

    Thanks, Angela, for your thoughts. I’ve been out of commission for a while!

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