At the heart of Andrew Purves’ fine book, The Crucifixion of Ministry, is a profound christology: the vicarious humanity of Jesus. I wish more pastoral theologians worked this way.
Purves’ book is not so much repetitive as it is ruminative on a singular theme.
The struggle we all fight, I suppose, is the one that trusts in God to do the work while we yearn for that work to be done. Sometimes our yearning takes over our waiting. Purves attempts to find models for how to conceive of this.
After sketching Athanasian, Nicene and Chalcedonian christology and the fundamental God-centered insight these bring to how we undestand christology — Jesus as the Incarnation of God and Jesus as the Man who stands before God for us, Purves says it can be summarized in a key analogy.
Here is a key at the desk:
1. Medieval Catholicism: you can climb the upward latter and get it.
2. Protestant pietism: you can come forward and get it.
3. Calvinism: the teacher puts the key in your hand and asks you to keep the room clean.
The latter, he says, emphasizes the work and ministry Christ does.
He prays for us, he teaches for us, and he works for us.
Christian worship is participation in Christ’s worship, the Trinitarian worship.
Christian preaching is participation in the words of Christ.
Christian teaching moves from the teachings of Jesus to Jesus to the teacher to communion in the life of the Trinity.
Christian serving is participation in the serving of Christ.