Gerrit Scott Dawson
This book is important, to the point of being crucial. More personally, it is for me full of promise and wonder. As all Scripture, all preaching, all faith must center on Christ, our thoughts and beliefs about Christ necessarily take the center stage of our faith. But
He doesn’t so much point out this gap in our theology so much as he simply surveys the church with the reader and realizes that something is missing. Or, more properly, something is too present. Who can deny that the “world is too much with us”?
Having accomplished an ascension theology, it remains to ask, so what? Part 3 of Jesus Ascended addresses how this epic story changes the way we live. First, Christ our Priest along with His Spirit take us to God, accomplishing atonement and adoption, clearing the way for our prayers to reach our Father who is in Heaven. Perhaps the most wonderful chapter is “Citizens of a Far Country” (Ch. 7); here, the author warmly expresses the tension in our hearts: striving to “set our minds on heaven at the same time as we plunge into the world with the message of grace.” To live out this tension with excellence means clinging to the ascended Lord, maintaining our vision of Him. That vision continually calls us homeward, calls us to become, by His power, more like our perfect older brother. We rejoice, knowing that Christ became what we are that He might make us what He is – not that we will become deified, but that we will finally become human. God’s purpose of restoring our humanity should lead to renewed passion in spiritual disciplines, especially that of holding the things of this world lightly. We are given fuel for this journey of ascension through baptism and communion and acts of obedience and charity – “we have our head in heaven, so we may drink from his living waters, the water of that far country even in this dry and parched desert of earth.”
Throughout the book, stirring quotations from the church fathers are used and explained, helping to ground our theology in history as well as Scripture. Due to these quotations and a couple sections of dense theology, Jesus Ascended is a slightly difficult read, but well worth the effort. For those who believe that “God has given the exercise of all authority to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Divine Lawgiver, Governor and Judge” (RPCNA Testimony, 23:2), the doctrine of the ascension should be a bedrock of our faith – may it be so!