Getting Serious with Siris: IB
Siris has written up two rejoinders, his Body and Bride IIIA and IIIB, to my Getting Serious...IA; here I will respond only to his IIIA. It seems to me that we have not quite hit the point of voicing bedrock commitments yet.
Siris (who it seems is actually Brandon--Hi) paraphrases Ephesians 5:21-34--accurately so far as I can tell--this way:
be filled with the Holy Spirit(among other things) being mutually subject to each other, wives to their husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church (=the Body) as Savior of the Body; as the Church is subject to Christ so wives should be subject to their husbands.
Before the paraphrase he says "But there is no hint in this passage of an eschatological relation," and after the paraphrase he drives the point home:
Now, since Christ is Head qua Savior (that this is the intent is made very clear when he goes on to talk about husbands), then the subjection or subordination that is the reciprocal complement to the Headship of Christ -- the only relation that can be in view here -- can only be eschatological in this passage if Christ's Headship and salvation are eschatological. However, Paul throughout Ephesians talks of our salvation and our incorporation as things that have already been done in Christ; and his exhortations (including the exhortation to be filled with the Spirit that starts him off on this topic) are exhortations for individuals to live worthily of their call to grow into Christ as parts of his body.
I have highlighted the bit I wish to address with boldface. Surely he is at least part right--the headship of Christ is already accomplished with the Ministry, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ--no doubt. But he is only part right; Christ's headship has yet to be brought to fruition. There is still--speaking from the Creeds--Christ's Second Coming in power as King of kings and Lord of lords to await, and indeed Paul speaks of all creation as groaning in anticipation. Christ's headship is in part eschatological, something already and still not yet. Though Ephesians acknowledges Christ's victory already secure, it also emphasizes--and much more than anywhere elase in the Pauline literature--the fact referred to in 1:8b-12:
With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,* having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.
The very facts we are heirs and that there is a plan for gathering all things up in Christ imply the headship of Christ is not yet completely fulfilled. I do not think we can avoid acknowledging his headship is at least in part eschatological.
I do not need to say that the relation between Christ and the Church is entirely eschatological; that would imply--absurdly--that the Church does not exist at all here below. Rather, it seems to me that something has been begun already between the Church and Christ that will reach fruition in the future, at the eschaton.
The most I should need to say, I think, in order to make my case is that 5:21-34 looks forward to the eschaton in speaking of the Church's subjection to Christ. We should see it under the species of eternity, so to speak, as the spotless bride of Christ about to enter into the blessed consummation of everlasting salvation. Scripture elsewhere holds out wise virgins, the spotless bride, et al as ideals for rather more imperfect communities of the people of God here below--I hardly need to invent the trope for Ephesians 5.
That the fulfillment does not--I take it all will agree--imply any imperfection in Christ is trivial; the current imperfection of that relationship is in the imperfect submission of the Church to Christ here below. But that is just what we may expect of the Church, as here below it can only be a mixed body with even its saints sinners. In this sense I uphold the Church here below is not a fit model for emulation--why look to it here below, when its perfected status is available instead? Hasn't Paul or his school already held out eschatological fulfillment earlier in Ephesians as a desired ideal building up the courage and determination of struggling believers here below, such that we could read him or them as doing the same here with regard to embattled marriages?
Brandon is exactly right to think I want to distinguish or "pry apart" Christ's headship and the Church's submission to Christ. Christ for his part is head now of the church exactly as he should be; the fact his headship has yet to reach fruition does not imply imperfection on his part. On the other hand, the Church is not now all that it ought to be; in its submission, it is imperfect. It is not merely a matter of individual failures among members of the Church, but the Church as a whole, taken collectively.
Suppose the Creeds set out necessary conditions for the Church's perfect submission here below: that it be one, holy, catholic, apostolic...see the problem? Taken as a whole, surely the Church is not one but many, surely it is not holy in the relevant sense of being perfect and spotless, it is not yet universal, and its apostolicity is a matter of internal contention and hot division even now.
So, to sum up--I wholeheartedly concede that Siris is right to say "the relation is not exclusive to the eschaton". However, that does not mean "emphasis on the eschatological can be nothing more than a matter of convenience"; it is rather a matter of great import both to Christ and the Church here below. In particular, from within the warring,fragmented body of the Church the eschatolgical unity of the Church in its relation to Christ provides not just a moral model but even more a point of hope.