SPIRITED AND CHRISTOFORMED: NEW HUMANITY AND THE RENEWAL OF CREATION IN LIGHT OF JOHN 20:19–23

In recent developments of theological anthropology, some scholars like Marc Cortez, Christa McKirland, and Daniela Augustine have attempted not only to connect anthropology with Christology more directly, resulting in some accounts of Christological anthropology, but also triangulate anthropology, Christology, and pneumatology, resulting in some accounts of what McKirland calls “peumachristocentric anthropology” (McKirland, 2022). Following in this trajectory, this paper aims to biblically and theologically explore John 20:19–23 and its implications for our understanding of the mission and vocation of the church as the “Spirited” and “Christoformed” new humanity. More specifically, this paper will examine John 20:19–23 from two angles, namely the creation-new creation theme and the theme of Christ-Spirit interrelationship. It will attempt to show, biblically and theologically, how the renewal of creation—centered on the resurrected Christ—is portrayed in this passage, and how the breathing of the Spirit by Christ to the disciples becomes an integral part of the manifestation of this new creation reality. Subsequently, I will draw specific implications on how the church, as the new humanity indwelled by the Spirit of Christ (hence, “Spirited”) and shaped/patterned after Christ’s and his vocation (hence, “Christoformed”) accomplish humanity’s triadic vocation as prophet, priest, and king.

The paper will accordingly proceed in two parts. In the first part, in the mode of cumulative case argument of scholars like Jeannine Brown, I will show and argue for the existence of allusions/echoes of Genesis in John 20:19–23 and its immediate context, hence highlighting the creation-new creation theme. More importantly, the new creation is here inaugurated in and through Jesus, the Second Adam, who in important ways transcends the First Adam, as Cortez argues. This Jesus, the Second Adam, then breathes out the Spirit (v. 22), thus inaugurating the creation of new humanity. The second part will focus on how this new humanity, the church, as the descendants of the Second Adam, understands and undertakes her cultural mandate in the world today. More pointedly, I will borrow from the work of Daniela Augustine, who connects Christ’s vocation as prophet, priest, and king to the church’s prophetic, priestly, and kingly vocation in and for the world today. These three dimensions of vocation, which are charisms of the Spirit, are ontological categories which are inherent characteristics of human ontology. If Christ is humanity’s prototype and telos, as Augustine argues, then he is paradigmatic also for understanding human vocation. For the renewal of creation, then, the new humanity’s vocation must mirror this triadic christic vocation, and this can only be done through the Christoforming power of the Holy Spirit.

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