indicative/imperative, worship/ethics

Some (possibly) related ideas:

Colossians 3:1-17 represents a particularly vivid example of the way in which imperatives in the New Testament (e.g. “seek the things above” [v. 1b]) are regularly linked to indicative statements about reality or identity (e.g. “you have been raised’ [v. 1a]; “Christ is seated at the right hand of God” [v. 1c]).

… conduct must cohere with … resurrected status.

— Michael Barram, “Colossians 3:1-17”


But it is crucial here to recognize that the indicative already includes and implies the imperative.  Paul’s image of identification with Christ in his death and resurrection means that the “imperative” does not obligate one as a command external or alien to the believer.  Rather, the imperative reflects and grows from the reality of being joined with Christ, hidden with Christ, belonging to Christ.

— Marianne Meye Thompson, Colossians & Philemon, also on Col. 3:1


Christians learn how to be praiseworthy people through worship. …

… worship is not something Christians do to make them “moral” and … worship and the holiness of life intrinsic to worship cannot be related as cause to effect.  Rather, the activities of worship are not intended to effect a direct consequence exactly because they are purposefully directed to God.  Because worship puts all that we do before God, we are made part of God’s praise and joy.  That is why the first task of the church is not to make the world more just, but to make the world the world.  For the world can only know that it is the world through its contrast with the church that rightly knows the joy of worshipping the true God.  Insofar as ethics has a task peculiar to itself, that task is to assemble reminders from the training we receive in worship that enable us to rightly see the world and to perceive how we continue to be possessed by the world.

— Stanley Hauerwas, “The Liturgical Shape of the Christian Life: Teaching Christian Ethics as Worship”


I’m coming to love this word ‘cohere’ to describe what’s going on here.  Indicative and imperative feed on/into one another, worship is ethics is worship…  

Hauerwas is saying much more here, of course, than what I find to be an ecclesial/theological echo of Barram and Thompson’s Biblical notes.  I find the ideas he’s touching on very hard to accept or reject.

More on this later.

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