What it means to be a true Church

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Binding and LoosingThere are some startling implications to be drawn from the Gospel passage this week.

Jesus proclaims the nature of the Church and seems to tie it intimately to the recognition of the Creator in the Incarnation which is given to us by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Once again in this theophany, this unveiling of God’s nature, we see the actions of all three Persons of the Trinity.

What you bind will have been bound already

Look carefully at what Jesus promises.

You will act in accordance with God’s will.

What you bind on Earth is being bound in Heaven. What you loose on Earth is being Loosed in Heaven. The greek tense contains a great deal of information here that many translations fail to give the flavor of.

(God will not be bound by what you say to make my point explicitly.)

This is not just a trivial point. It reinforces the truth that God is different than we are, and that God’s freedom cannot be limited by us. (We can’t force God to do something. That would be magic and the Church does not do magic.)

The really, to me, interesting thing here is the way that the Confession of Jesus as God incarnate – and the vehicle for the reconciliation of our human nature with the Divine – is how the narrative immediately turns to the ethical. Binding and Loosing is all about declaring actions “in bounds” or “out of bounds”.

(You can view the sermon directly by using this link.)

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

1 Comment

  1. Matt Marino says

    Great sermon, bishop.
    Interestingly, “will be bound and loosed…” in the original Greek is in future perfect passive tense – an event in the future, that is sure to occur, and the actor is the recipient of the action. Ie. It isn’t God doing what we want, but God guiding us to help us want what God wants…which is the nature God’s of sanctifying work in our lives.

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