Posts Tagged ‘eschatology’

Poor Bill Dumbrell

Posted: October 11, 2016 by J in Church
Tags: , ,

bill-dumbrell.jpgBill was a Christian man, I don’t think he’d be that fussed about dying.

What would have really upset Bill is the outpouring of Platonic theology that his death has triggered.

Listen to a few examples:

“A great saint has entered glory” – Archbishop Glenn Davies, Sydney Anglicans Website

“Moore Veteran called home” – Sydney Anglicans headline

“Dr Bill Dumbrell was called home into the presence of the Lord” – Moore College Website, Mark Fairful

“Bill now enjoys the presence of the Lord he served throughout his life.” Mark Thompson

“The great Bill Dumbrell has gone to Abraham’s side” – John Dickson, fb

Bill would be turning in his grave. That’s because he spent his entire career trying to teach people a different story about the Christian faith.

Not the ‘dying and going to heaven’ story, where eschatology is individualised, escapist, and death-centred. Not the story where our real home is elsewhere, and we get to go there as a spirit creature when we are finally released from the shackles of our human flesh. Not the story where the moment of death is the moment of achieving glory in the presence of the Lord forever, in heaven.

Bill devoted his public life to proclaiming a gospel different from this greek cosmology. More than any other figure from the Sydney Diocese, Bill insisted on an eschatology that was corporate, creation-focussed, and resurrection-centred. In the story Bill told, the presence of the Lord was something we would only enjoy when Christ returns. That would be the moment of glorification for believers. For Bill, our only home is planet earth, and its renewal is our only hope. Read his published works and search for any hint of the other story, the one quoted above – you won’t find it.

What you’ll find again and again is an eschatology that arises from Bill’s understanding of biblical theology, rather than from c.19th children’s hymns. He always had his eye on the big storyline, and when he thought about goals, it was the goal of that story that interested him.

Consider these quotes from Bill:

… In the epistle to the Hebrews… we refer here to the striking way in which the epistle takes up the biblically pervasive notion of “rest” as the goal towards which the faith of believers… is directed. This dependence upon the total harmony projected for the entire creation, as bound up with the notion of rest developed from Genesis 2, cannot be missed. Such references point to the establishment of the rule of the kingdom of God over an ordered creation     The End of the Beginning, p.192

Through reaffirmation of the believers hope in heaven, 1 Peter encourages resistance to the persecutions experienced by scattered congregations… The prospect for those who persevere will be the crown of glory at the manifestation of Christ.     The Search for Order, p.317

We still search for the city whose maker and builder is God. The primary eschatological event, the death of Christ, has placed us in the last days, which will be brought to a close by the return of Christ. At that time the cosmos will be changed, Christ will reign over his enemies, and believers will enter into their promised inheritance.   The Search for Order, p.326

At the end of the canon, we have returned to the beginning with an overplus… Through the sacrifice of the Lamb believers will rule, taking on the role that Adam had forfeited… For they have seen the face of the Lamb, the image into which they have been transformed, and they will be eternally in his presence. The history of salvation has ended.     The Search for Order p.346

We could go on, he said the same thing over and over. This biblical eschatology preoccupied Bill throughout his writings.

As for the other story of dying and going home to glory, Bill literally had no time for it. Never mentions it.

How sad, then to see his former colleagues foisting this other story onto him, fresh off the pages of Plato, after he is dead and can’t complain!

It’s a kind of betrayal, in effect covering over his life’s work as though it never happened. To speak of him like this is to silence the challenge of his scholarly voice. It is to say, we learned nothing from you, Bill.

These are the same colleagues who professionally ostracised Bill for so many years. When was the last time Moore College invited this ‘dear brother’ to speak at one of its meetings?

That’s fair enough if you don’t like his views. But to speak as though he didn’t hold them shows a lack of respect.

Contrast the acknowledgement outside Sydney, from another Aussie scholar, Mike Bird:

“Vale Bill Dumbrell. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

That’s at least a prayer Bill could recognise and relate to.

As for his Sydney colleagues, they’ve sent him off to some other-worldly paradise where I imagine he would not feel in the least ‘at home’. He certainly never looked forward to it while he was alive.

That’s why I say poor bloody Bill Dumbrell.

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empty tombTHE EASTER EVENTS

So many of our gospel presentations today are content to end the story with Jesus’ death, then switch their focus to our repsonse. But it is notable that none of the four apostolic gospel presentations is willing stop there. They all press on to reach their climax and denoument at the resurrection.

Jesus, having announced his intention to live out Israel’s prophetic hope of resurrection, then goes and does it. He allows himself to be cast out and killed. He bears Israel’s exile in crucifixion, and then undergoes their resurrection. The tomb is found empty, and his disciples begin to speak of ‘what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands’ (1 John 1).

In the context of Jesus’ ministry the meaning of his rising is clear: he has entered into the new age, and done it on Israel’s behalf. ‘We have seen it … and declare to you that the age-to-come life that was with the Father…has now been revealed to us’ (1 John 1). Now all his people can enter the new age also, restored to God and to their inheritance as his people.

In other words, Jesus’ resurrection was this sort of resurrection: an eschatological event of epoch-making proportions. And the salvation it achieved was this sort of salvation. At his death Jesus closed off the path of sin that humanity had been travelling since Adam (see Post 3). Now at his rising he achieves a way forward for mankind, a future: “In Christ shall all be made alive.”

THE APOSTOLIC WITNESS

In the earliest apostolic preaching, it was the resurrection which established Jesus as redeemer and judge of Israel:

“God has exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and release from sins.”  Acts 5:31

The Jewish title for this saviour/leader was Messiah. Israel expected this Messiah would be a new David-figure, the king sent by God to bring the nation back from exile. Peter, after describing how Jesus was murdered, announces to the crowd at Pentecost that God has appointed Jesus to this kingly office.

“David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades…’. Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”   Acts 2:31, 36

What Peter is announcing, of course, is Jesus’ resurrection. In his view this was quite simply Messiah’s coronation – an  enthronement which secures blessing for his people. For now Messiah is ushering in the age of the Spirit, bringing Israel release from their old captivity and return to live in God’s presence in the new kingdom:

“Be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for release from your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”          Acts 2:38

Paul shares this view of resurrection-as-enthronement: at the opening of his master-epistle, to the Romans, he uses another traditional title for the Davidic king: son of God.

…the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was appointed to be son of God with power according to the Holy Spirit by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through who we have received grace.          Romans 1:3-5

He rose to reign in the Spirit-filled new life of God’s kingdom. But because he does this as Israel’s leader, he opens up that new existence for the whole nation.

In other words, Jesus’ resurrection is being shared with his people. They become a resurrection community enjoying the blessings of the new age, here and now. Or, to use Isaianic terms, enjoying salvation:

By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead… Although you have not seen him, you love him… you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are already receiving the goal of your faith: salvation for human people.      1 Peter 1:3-9

THE CHURCHES

The NT epistles are written with the express purpose of helping this new community grasp and live out its resurrection life to the full together.

But God, who is abundant in mercy…made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. …He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus… For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them…So I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle… Ephesians 2, 4.

Of course the key-word here is ‘so’: their community life springs out of the reality of resurrection. All Paul’s ethical instruction is given on this same basis: the people are already part of this resurrection community. Indeed it only makes sense with that as its premise:

No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness.   Romans 6:13

The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!    1 Corinthians 6:13-15.

He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer to themselves, but to him who died and was raised for them… So if anyone is in Christ, new creation! – the old has passed away; see, new things!      2 Corinthians 5:14-17

This view of the Christian communities is not unique to Paul but common to all the apostolic writers.  Their letters are written to encourage and admonish resurrection-gatherings:

Through Jesus you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now you have purified yourselves by obedience to this truth that leads to genuine brotherly love. So love one another deeply from the heart. For you have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring Word of God.  1 Peter 1:22

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love remains in death.  1 John 3:14

The letters to the churches hardly ever mention Jesus’ resurrection without linking it to the present life-experience of the recipients. The two things – his resurrection life and theirs – are not treated as two but as one and the same thing.

In summary, Jesus’ expectation had been realised: in his resurrection as Messiah, he had raised up Spirit-filled communities which began living the new life of the age to come, even in the present. Those far away had released from sin and brought near, to enjoy favour with God and peace with each other. Isaiah’s ‘salvation’, Ezekiel’s ‘resurrection from the dead’, or Jesus’ ‘kingdom of God’ (see Post 4) – whichever name you want to call it by, it had arrived.

CONCLUSION: A Better Theory of the Atonement

We have suggested that Jesus achieved two things at the Cross: a death and a resurrection. Both of which we needed. Satisfaction Theory finds little atoning value in the resurrection: how can rising from the dead satisfy anything? But now that we have told the story the apostles were always telling, it should be apparent why they place the greater share of the theological weight on the resurrection. It was essential that our sinful human flesh be put to death, and Jesus accomplished that. But this was really just the ground-clearing. The real goal was the building which God had planned in its place: the kingdom of God.

The death of Christ was God’s ‘No’ to sin and sinful mankind. But that was not his final word. God’s ultimate word to us was given in the resurrection: and it was ‘Yes’. This is why all four gospels push on beyond Good Friday, to land on Easter Sunday.

body-soulWe’ve seen that belief in ‘everlasting hell’ is wrapped up with the traditional Christian doctrine of the ‘immortality of the soul’. And we’ve seen how Calvin’s deep investment in that doctrine created serious problems for his theology. Now its time to consider the alternative approach of Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century A.D.). Cards on the table: Irenaeus is extraordinary on this. Sit back and watch how real theology is done.

In Against HeresiesIrenaeus was writing against a popular belief now called gnosticism, which made use of Christian terminology, but combined it with a big whack of Greek cosmology. These gnostics taught that there were two orders of existence: a lower order of material stuff which had been created, and a higher order, including some people’s souls, which existed alongside God and was, like him, eternal. These souls were able to transmigrate from one person to another – a kind of reincarnation. They were ultimately destined to return to the higher spheres, while lower stuff like the human body was fit only to be burned up and annihilated. Not that different from Plato. (Or from Calvin, actually!) In fact, Irenaeus holds Plato responsible for a lot of these ideas (2.33.2): and he’s not that impressed!

Many Christians in Irenaeus’s time, however, were being swayed by these ideas. To counter gnostic teachings, Irenaeus employs Christian theology. He doesn’t take the usual proof-texting approach which we all know and love. Rather, we are going to see four powerful, big-picture theological ideas which Irenaeus brings into play – like a battery of hand-picked, long-range guns, which he feels are more than adequate to knock out the opposing forces. Let’s see if he’s right.

First, Irenaeus introduces the idea of God’s freedom in creating:

If He (the Creator) made all things freely, and by His own power, and arranged and finished them, and His will is the substance of all things, then He is discovered to be the one only God who created all things, who alone is Omnipotent, and who is the only Father rounding and forming all things, visible and invisible, such as may be perceived by our senses and such as cannot, heavenly and earthly, by the word of His power; and He has fitted and arranged all things by His wisdom, while He contains all things, but He Himself can be contained by no one: He is the Former, He the Builder, He the Discoverer, He the Creator, He the Lord of all; and there is no one besides Him, or above Him.

Against Heresies 2.30.9

As you can see, this idea of God’s freedom gets Irenaeus a lot of mileage. He asserts that God made the world the way he wanted to make it. He was able to arrange his creation ‘by his wisdom‘, not by any external necessities. His will is bedrock for the creation: it is ‘the substance of all things.’ This all seems hard for any Christian to deny.

But if this is so, then there could not have been any other heavenly beings or souls existing alongside God. For if there were, then the necessity of those things’ existence constrains and limits God in his creating. God would be surrounded, or as Irenaeus puts it here, ‘contained’. His freedom is compromised. It follows that for God to be truly free as Creator, then he must have created alone. So then, anyone else that is, was created by him:  ‘then He is discovered to be the one only God who created all things…there is no one besides Him:

God alone, who is Lord of all, is without beginning and without end… always remaining the same unchangeable Being.

Against Heresies 2.34.4

Irenaeus’s second contribution follows close on the first. He teaches that the soul, is therefore created, just like the body:

But, as each one of us receives his body through the skilful working of God, so does he also possess his soul.   2.33.5

Not only are souls created: Irenaeus defines them with reference to the body:

[Souls] preserve the same form [after death] as the body had to which they were adapted…  2.34.1

…the soul possesses and rules over the body     2.33.4

Wow. The soul is not a prisoner of the body (cf. Calvin): it is actually the proprietor of the body! The soul possesses its own body. Moreover the soul is tailor-made and adapted to that particular body, and after the body’s death, the soul continues in that same form. The two parts of the human have a strong and permanent affinity. For the soul has much in common with the body with which it has been ‘mixed up’ (2.33.4). In other words, the soul’s true home is not a disembodied spirit world: its true home is its own proper body.

Blown away are the eternal souls of the Gnostics, who pre-existed uncreated alongside God. Such souls are not compatible with a free Creator. Irenaeus places everything, including souls, firmly and unambiguously in the ‘created’ camp, as the beneficiaries of God’s wise, sovereign, free creative action, and belonging within the created order. Note the difference with Calvin, who creates an ambiguous special category for souls, with both divine and creaturely qualities.

Now we come to the really interesting thing: Irenaeus also believes in ‘the immortality of the soul’. How does he maintain this, if souls are mere creatures? Here is Irenaeus’s third theological idea, perhaps his most important contribution to this whole debate. Irenaeus describes a different kind of immortality:

But if any persons at this point maintain that those souls, which only began a little while ago to exist, cannot endure for any length of time; but that they must…if they have had a beginning… die with the body itself— let them learn this:  [Souls] endure, and extend their existence into a long series of ages, in accordance with the will of God their Creator; so that He grants them that they should be thus formed at the beginning, and that they should so exist afterwards.

Against Heresies, 2.34.2

This is an immortality which is not intrinsic but given, and not built-in but maintained from without. God, who is the only one to have essential immortality, grants length of days to his creatures as he wills it. Irenaeus compares souls to the sun and moon, which had a beginning from God, but which last on through long ages as he upholds them by his will.

Importantly, this immortality is seated not in the soul’s nature, but in the will of God:

When God bestows life, it happens that even souls which did not previously exist, henceforth endure [for ever], since God has both willed that they should exist, and should continue in existence. For the will of God ought to govern and rule in all things, while all other things give way to Him.”

Against Heresies 2.34.4

God’s freedom, then, extends to maintaining the creation he first made.

This is so important that we will dwell on it a bit more. Here is how Irenaeus sees this ‘supported’ immortality functioning in Scripture:

The prophetic Spirit bears testimony to these opinions. He thus speaks respecting the salvation of man: “He asked life of You, and You gave him length of days for ever and ever;” indicating that it is the Father of all who imparts continuance for ever and ever on those who are saved. For life does not arise from us, nor from our own nature; but it is bestowed according to the grace of God. And therefore he who shall preserve the life bestowed upon him, and give thanks to Him who imparted it, shall receive also length of days for ever and ever. But he who shall reject it, and prove himself ungrateful to his Maker, inasmuch as he has been created, and has not recognised the Giver of life, deprives himself of [the privilege of] continuance for ever and ever.

Against Heresies 2.34.3

Continued existence or life is not automatic or intrinsic to our nature, not even to our souls. Rather it is a gift given moment by moment by the God who has promised eternal life to those who trust him. As he says later, “the soul herself is not life, but partakes in that life bestowed upon her by God.

In this one move, Irenaeus blows away the cosmology of Plato and the Greeks, so beloved of many in the medieval Church. He replaces it with a model derived from the doctrine of God’s free creation out of nothing (ex nihilo): souls are by nature mortal, not immortal, like every other part of creation. They belong down here, with their respective bodies! The world just turned on its axis!

Irenaeus’s last great contribution to this issue also follows tightly. It follows from all this that immortality is conditional: something which some receive by asking, and others miss out on. Or as Irenaeus puts it, immortality must be entered into. It is not the automatic inheritance of souls by nature.

And this has an unexpected corollary for the poor old human body:

If, on the other hand, [immortality] is on account of their righteousness, then it is no longer simply because they are souls, but because they are righteous. But if souls would have perished unless they had been righteous, then righteousness must have power to save the bodies also [which these souls inhabited]; for why should it not save them, since they, too, participated in righteousness? For if nature and substance are the means of salvation, then all souls shall be saved; but if instead righteousness and faith [are the means], why should these not save those bodies which, equally with the souls, will enter into immortality? 

Against Heresies 2.29.1

Now Irenaeus has an immortal body as well as soul: a scandalous idea for any well-informed Greek! You can’t have it both ways, he says: either immortality is inherent in souls, or it comes only from righteousness. If it comes from righteousness, then it can come to the body of the righteous person also: for the body took part in the righteousness! Good call.

And this of course pushes the whole question about immortality into the future, to the resurrection of the dead:

And then the doctrine which we believe concerning the resurrection of bodies, will emerge true and certain… since God, when He resuscitates our mortal bodies which preserved righteousness, will render them incorruptible and immortal.

Against Heresies 2.29.2

Immortality is something we look forward to, our promised inheritance. It comes at the end of the story, not at the beginning.

And so Irenaeus’ version of immortality relies on the work in history of Christ and especially of his Holy Spirit, to bring this transformation at the appointed time. This view of immortality is eschatological, fully integrated into the Christian hope. Once again we note the difference with Calvin, whose doctrine of immortality tended to sideline both Spirit and eschatology.

___________________________________________

We could show more of Irenaeus’s stunning work in this area. There is more gold here, to be mined. But what we’ve seen is enough for us to say: Ireneaus has given the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul a complete reworking along biblical-theological lines. When it emerges, it is a doctrine of conditional immortality as the goal of the gospel. Not everyone who has been granted existence will be given continuance in life for ever and ever. But some will enter into eternal life. This doctrine seems to sit well with the framework of Christian faith at the very points where Calvin’s did not.

We know that Calvin was familiar with Irenaeus’s work in this area, because he quotes it. But he seems to have been little influenced by it. Calvin acknowledges Irenaeus’s points:

For when we say that the spirit of man is immortal, we do not affirm that it can stand against the hand of God, or subsist without his agency. Far from us be such blasphemy! But we say that man’s spirit is sustained by God’s hand and blessing. Thus Irenaeus, who with us asserts the immortality of the spirit, wishes us, however, to learn that by nature we are mortal, and God alone immortal.

Calvin, Psychopannychia

Ok. But Calvin doesn’t seem to learn much from Irenaeus’s masterly treatment of the subject. He appears not to see that conceding this much undermines his own insistent teaching of the soul’s essential immortality. Calvin here gives the game away without even noticing. He ends up with a fairly confused and conflicted position. Irenaeus on the other hand, shows us what can be done if you start with Christian theology.

I grew up with Calvinist thinking. I spent my time reading Puritans and Spurgeon, checking things in Louis Berkhof, and promoting the books of John Piper. I was fully immersed! I made Mark Driscoll look like a soft Arminian.

Over the years I’ve questioned everything. Naturally. This is The Grit! And as I have, I’ve noticed some structural problems in my faith, some tensions, ways that it didn’t all hang together. I now hold my Calvinist heritage in a slightly more nuanced way. I’m thankful for the truth in it, but willing to acknowledge its weaknesses and critique it also.

I think some of the weakness in Calvinism occurs at a deep structural level. After a decade of thinking this over, I’m ready to sum it up. Here’s my critique:

Calvinism starts with the complete sovereignty of God. Whereas it should end there. 

By starting where it should end, it collapses the space in which the story might unfold. It has an anti-narrative bent, a static tendency, built-in. There is no deep significance to time in the Calvinist worldview. Whatever time it is, at the deepest level all is well, for every molecule is following the predetermined will of God. And so all times are fundamentally the same time.

But we need space for the story. We need time for the story. Because the story is the gospel. 

For Calvinists, God’s sovereignty is defined basically apart from the resurrection of Jesus. Whereas in the NT, I take it, that event is the defining moment for what it means that God is king. When Calvinists say, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’, they don’t intend to be saying anything much about God’s sovereignty: that’s already been established long ago. Whereas for the apostles, ‘Jesus is Lord’ was pretty much all they had to say about God’s sovereignty.

For Calvinists, the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t really change much. There is no room for a real coronation, and real victory of God at the cross. Because God’s victory has always been total anyway. He was King the day before, just as he is the day after. The main thing that changes is the appearance of the thing to us down here. But the underlying, unseen relationship between God and the world (i.e. complete sovereignty/submission to his will)  remains the same.

In other words, God is not personally implicated or involved in the changes and events that make up the story, because there can be no real event for that sort of God. He is immutable in his utter sovereignty. Try making a story with a leading character like that!

This key aspect of the Calvinist world view, it seems to me, is ultimately anti-gospel.

for PART 2 click HERE

In Psalm 8, David marvels at God’s kindness towards man:undefined

4    what is man that You remember him,
the son of man that You look after him?
5     You made him little less than the gods   [or angels]
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6     You made him lord over the works of Your hands;
You put everything under his feet.

The writer to the Hebrews takes up this text in his argument about Jesus’ superiority over angels. He reads it Christologically, no doubt taking ‘son of man’ as a link to Jesus. Nothing unusual there.

But what he does with the text is interesting. Later theologians in the Nicaean tradition might have seen here the distinction between Jesus’ humanity and his divinity: in one respect he was lower than angels, but in another, he was crowned with glory and over all things. Man and God. The psalm does seem to read as a static comment on the nature of man, after all.

But our writer reads it in quite a different, indeed a revolutionary way. He quotes the LXX:

elattosas auton brachu ti par angelous

You made him a little lower than the angels

But he reads the adverbial phrase brachu ti  in a new way. While it is normally translated ‘a little bit”, here it seems to be read as ‘for a little while’. Elsewhere in the LXX, brachu ti  certainly is used to mean ‘for a little while’, translating as it does the Hebrew adjective me’at, which can also have a temporal sense. So the reading is technically justified, though it sits a little strangely in Psalm 8.

In other words, the writer introduces an element into the reading which we might not have thought of in reading Psalm 8: the element of time. By taking brachu ti temporally, the writer diverts the discussion right away from nature and into narrative. We are no longer reflecting on the static nature of mankind, and his relation to the world. Now we are following a story.

What story is that? The tale of a man who was for a time placed lower than the angels, but in the end crowned with glory and honour, with everything set under his feet. Shades here of that favourite psalm of the early Christians, Psalm 110, ‘sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.’

At present we do not see everything put under his feet. But we must introduce the element of time. As Psalm 110 puts it, ‘My Lord’ must wait for ‘the LORD’ to make his enemies his footstool. But meanwhile he is already sitting at the right hand of God. So here, though we don’t yet see all things under his feet, we do see Jesus going through the death of the cross, and then crowned with glory and honour. He is already raised, and glorified by his Father as Lord and Christ. So we can be confident that the rest is only  matter of time.

In taking the psalm’s description of man Christologically, the writer to the Hebrews has also temporally activated it. It becomes the story of ‘what has happened to the true man, Jesus’. What has happened is that he has sat down on the throne of God. This daring reading has been suggested, or perhaps necessitated, by the writer’s understanding of the gospel. For him to read the psalm Christologically means to give it this temporal dimension. His Christology is inherently narrative.

Why is this surprising to us? Because we live on the other side of Nicaea. This element of time and narrative is what is so sorely missed in the whole Nicaean tradition of Christology, with its insistence on static categories. What is there in that whole tradition that would ever push us to read Psalm 8 in this novel, dynamic way? Nicaea takes back out the time dimension that Hebrews put in.

For all that we value the achievements of Nicaea, it was a bit of a dead end, theologically. Fossilised our thinking, rather than propelling it forwards with the flow of the gospel.