Agony Until the World’s End – The Transformative Sufferings of the Ascended Christ

In his Pensées, Blaise Pascal says starkly that “Jesus will be agony until the end of the world.” This arcane yet profound statement reaches toward the ongoing meaning of the pro nobis mystery of Christ, gesturing toward a union between the particularity of historical redemption and the ongoing travail of the church and cosmos. This paper presents a constructive attempt to translate Pascal’s more mystical contemplation into a dogmatic proposal, marshaling a range of insights from Irenaeus’ incarnational thought, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s radical ecclesiology, and Eleonore Stump’s notion of “psychic indwelling.” The paper argues that both incarnation and ascension facilitate crucial alterations in creation’s relation to the divine Son, catalyzing progressive extensions of the communicatio idiomatum. Moral and material predicates of the ascended Son’s recapitulated human nature are made available to the world via the ministrations of the Spirit, and the humanity of Christ also bears the ongoing suffering of His body, the church. This ongoing Pascalian “agony” (contest or struggle) of Jesus is thereby coterminous with the transformative movement of redemptive history, uniting soteriology and eschatology via the continuing incarnation of the One who is ascended yet present.