De-centered, Re-centered (Volf)

I’m not on board with everything Miroslav Volf is doing in Exclusion and Embrace, but there are some helpful aspects of the book.  Here’s one example where Volf talks about the self being de-centered and re-centered through the gospel:

‘It is Christ who lives in me,’ writes the Apostle Paul after giving the report of his own crucifixion.  This suggests that the de-centering was only the flip side of re-centering.  the self is both ‘de-centered’ and ‘re-centered’ by one and the same process, by participating in the death and resurrection of Christ through faith and baptism.  ‘For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his’ (Romans 6:5).  By being ‘crucified with Christ’ the self has received a new center – the Christ who lives in it and with whom it lives.

Notice that the new center of the self is not a timeless ‘essence,’ hidden deep within a human being, underneath the sediments of culture and history and untouched by ‘time and change,’ an essence that waits only to be discovered unearthed, set free.  …The center of the self – a center that is both inside and outside – is the story of Jesus Christ, which has become the story of the self.  More precisely, the center is Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected who has become part and parcel of the very structure of the self.”

Volf goes on to say that the Christian who has a new center is finally free to love and serve others; it has to do with “self-giving love made possible by and patterned on the suffering Messiah.”

The above quotes are found on pages 70-71 of Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI