A Personal God and a People’s God
If covenant theology is to be believed, God does not exclusively involve Himself with the individual consciousness, but also directs Himself to men in relation to one another. Collective consciousness, the vehicle of ‘culture,’ is not a paranormal or supernal capacity of man, nor is it the developmental product of an esoterica, but rather lies in the shared data that constitute our relations. That is, it is a subject of epistemology proper. The God of Scripture is always the God of a people, knowledge of Whom is secured, at least in part, in communal belonging. In the determination of those to whom God is also Father, the question of a ‘corporate’ remnant is moot. For whether Israel is constituted in blood or in belief (or both, as I have elsewhere maintained), either object of covenant promise is a peculiar people, a community that bears the stamp of collective understandings, related to one another by, among other connections, their relation to God, whether by ‘origin’ (which is as much God’s design as election to belief is design) or by ‘will.’ The institution of the Church (yes, the Church is an institution, and not a mere congueries of anthropomorphic units of non-specific ‘belief’) is the prime mediator of this relation to one another in God. To deny this is to deny that there is a single Gospel, and rather to say that there are many Gospels -that is, as many as there are believers. In the sovereignty of God, neither of the two sources of community and covenant derives from accident. Thus the question of election is never one of biology versus belief, as both are determinate. It is for this reason that Christians are referred to as a chosen race. Thus 1 Peter 2:19,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
These concentric circles of identity (race, nation, priesthood) are what it means to be psychologically and sociologically human. Just as we do not cease to be “man” in our rebirth, we do not cease to be members of families, of tribes, or any natal collectivity. From the self-identified person, proceeding outward to the family, then to the nation (understood as a people), and finally to the Church. These are our several identities. The latter is the true and only unity of nations, exclusively by which they come into spiritual commerce with one another. To each of these spheres of existence, God as Father addresses his covenant. There are those who would oppose what is chosen to what is given by birth, but it is only in the decay and decline of social consciousness (those data we have only just spoken of) that such opposition of freedom and belonging can be posited.
The exclusively personal god, the god who is ‘my god,’ and yet who is not also ‘our God,’ is not the God of scripture. In both senses, that of the man as individual (that is, indivisible, in the sum of his being) and man qua man (a member of a people), our common Father is One who is a genuine father, and has by adoption a particular human progeny among whom is this vital commonality. The ‘genetic’ aspect of this spiritual pro-gen-y is by grace, but also by constitution. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit imparts to man a spiritual ‘gen’ or set of attributes originating in a progenitor, while man’s status as an image bearer assures the presence of the shadow, or outline of his spiritual Father. Thus it is man’s corporate constitution in God that undergirds Kinism’s insistence on regarding him as such. Man himself is corporate, defined by shared attributes which distinguish him from the remainder of nature. This corporate being of man as man, which swallows up without destroying his indivisible personhood, is the tupos by which his corollary identities must be understood. Man as a member of family, of tribe, of race. This unity-in-diversity, which man as image bearer reflects in his being from the Tri-unity of the Godhead, no subsequent “reform” can fully efface.
1. This is the mediatorial error that befell the Roman church, by which it confused the roles of a mediator of the understanding of God among men (or certain men), and mediator of the relation between God and any man. The usurpation of latter mediatorial role supplants the salvational role of Christ himself, our actual mediator.