Kazoo, … your contention seems to be that we are ontologically better for having faith. … But I don’t believe we are ontologically better for our faith. Grace doesn’t overwhelm nature. … I still live subject to death, just like everyone else, including unbelievers. I live in the already-not yet tension.
Echo responded with some interesting thoughts on ontology, which I think are worth discussing. Simplifying a bit, Echo outlined 6 possible ontological classes (“states of being”), which are:
- God (ultimate being)
- Glorified man
- Natural man
Disclaiming a Platonic “ladder of being” (Plato’s concept of varying degrees of “realness” is Gnostic), as Christians we understand that God and his Creation are completely real. Nonetheless, there is a clear ontological “moreness” between each of those classes — with the largest gap being the Creator-creature distinction at the top.
Echo then “shoots from the hip” (so don’t quote him on this…)
If you count being made alive spiritually, after having been dead spiritually, then perhaps it is correct to say that some ontological change has begun to take place.
I suspect Zrim is saying that you are implying an ontological change, when we really haven’t changed at all, we’re just forgiven. We have moved to a different legal state, not a different ontological state. I would tend to agree with that, but I wouldn’t want to be quite so absolute about it.
To be sure, we have changed to a different legal status, but some different ontological status might be appropriate here. If not a different status ontologically, then the change to a different ontological status (from corruptible to incorruptible) has at least begun to take place.
However, while there might be some room here, I’ve never thought about it before, and I’m really just shooting from the hip here.
So the question becomes, is a Christian in this world in an Ontological state between Natural and Glorified man? My initial reaction is yes; scripture has so much emphatic terminology: a new creation, regeneration, made alive, buried and resurrected with Christ.
And yet, scripture also makes clear the tension of the already and not yet. None of those terms can be properly understood as complete; a good work has been started in us which will not be finished until glorification. Our carnal man is still at war with our spiritual man. And of course, as good students of the Reformation, we understand the very clear distinction that Justification does not make us good (infuse intrinsic goodness into us or our works), but declares us good (imputes an alien righteousness to us).
And yet again, this is all a question of Sanctification; part of the mystery of the Gospel is that it simultaneously rejects and upholds Law. Sanctification is when the declaration that we possess Christ’s alien righteousness, makes us more like Christ.
So is a Christian at a distinct ontological state between Natural and Glorified man, or is he a hybrid of the two?