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Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Church’s Freedom

Stringfellow had this whole apocalyptic ecclesiology thing figured out a long time ago:

“Christ shares the gift of Pentecost, and the Church is born in that sharing of the Holy Spirit.

It is Christ, possessed of the Holy Spirit, who is triumphant in all his encounters with the powers of death, with all the principalities, and, indeed with the presence of death itself. And it is this, concretely, which is the gift which the Risen Christ shares in Pentecost with the Church. The gift of the Holy Spirit is, then, authority and victory over death and over every power of death.

Specifically, that gift, that freedom, lies in the power given to the Church by the service of Christ to discern and identify, and then to expose and exorcise, the powers of death, whatever form they may take, however they may be disguised, whenever they insinuate themselves against the Church, or put forth their false claim to dominate the life of the world or of anybody in it.

The Church, notice, does not, independently of God, have, hold or exercise any strength against the principalities. God, as the world has been shown in Christ, reserves to himself this awesome prerogative. But the Church, in the gratuity of Pentecost, is enabled to witness to God’s authority over the principalities in his victory over death by its knowledge of death, its discernment of the powers of death, and by unveiling and laying bare the works of death in this world.”

~William Stringfellow, Free in Obedience, 102.

The church’s supreme gift, through Christ’s Spirit is to be able to truthfully discern and name the things that make for life and the things that make for death. And the same Spirit makes possible the church’s own life of living free from the powers of death, tasting the power of the age to come, the power of unbounded life. Stringfellow gets it.

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