Performing the Fifth Act
Since we lack a script--a detailed "say this, do this"--for living out the gospel in our lives today, how do we "perform fifth the act"? This is the function of theological hermeneutics. It is a way of thinking, reflecting and seeking the will of God. It is imaginatively entering into world of Scripture to draw analogies for living in the present. We seek the mind of Christ to be Christ in the present.
Theologically, I use a short-hand model for this reflection process. It is only suggestive as it moves us along the trajectory of biblical theology. It is four-fold (and, of course, this would not be the only way of saying this).
1) Creation as divine intent--God created community, intended humanity represent (image) him in the world, and to fill the earth with his glory (humans who image him in caring for the cosmos).
2) Community--whether in Israel or the Church, God intended a kind of community where there are no poor or needy; a community that shared life together and shared the task of imaging God in the world, a redemptive community in a fallen world. Through Scripture--through his messengers, prophets, etc.--God sought to shape his community into that redemptive community which bore his image.
3) Christ--God entered the world as flesh and lived among us. He is the image of God; he is the true human just as he is truly (authentically) human. He is what humans are supposed to be in a fallen world. The incarnation answers the question what would God do if he were one of us.
4) Consummation--the divine goal. What is God's kingdom climax? This is the world that God will ultimately recreate. It is the kind of world that should intrude into the present--the eschatological reality should be present in the church. The church should be shaped by the divine eschatological goal.
Each of these perspectives bear witness to the character of God. They say something about God, and thus say something about us since we are called to image God, to be like God.
Consequently, these models offer a way to enter into the story of God so that, discerning who God is, we can imaginatively and creatively embody that character in the present. We are thus enabled and empowered--by the Spirit of God hermeneutically and morally--to be the presence of God in our world.
Performing the fifth act is living in a way that embodies the divine intent (creation) and goal (eschaton), guided by how God sought to shape his historic redemptive communities (Israel and Church), and definitively demonstrated in Jesus (incarnation).