John Speller's Web Pages Ascension

John Speller's Web Pages - Church Music

Ascension Untitled Untitled
Notwithstanding the presence of the doctrine of the Ascension in most Christian credal statements, the Feast of the Ascension has been sadly neglected in many churches for the last several hundred years. Many churches today have no religious celebration at all on Ascension Day, and if the festival is kept at all it is often kept on the Sunday following Ascension. For the last thousand years Anselm's doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement has been the dominant Atonement theology of the Western Church, and is still strong today, especially among Fundamentalist Christians. Yet the emphasis of Substitutionary Atonement theology up the Cross, leaves the Ascension in a much less central position than it was in the Early Church when the Atonement was seen primarily as a victory over the forces of darkness. Within this theology of the Atonement, as is very apparent in the Gospel of John, the triumph of Christ on the cross, the Resurrection and the exaltation of Christ in the Ascension are all integral parts of the same process. It is to be hoped therefore that, as the Substitutionary Theory is increasingly rejected by mainstream Christians the Ascension will once more come into its own.

The artist, architect and stained-glass designer John La Farge (1835-1910) produced a number of works based on Raphael's painting "The Transfiguration." One such is the Transfiguration east window of Christ Episcopal Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. When, however, he came to produce an Ascension east window for Christ Episcopal Church in Reading, Pennsylvania, and an Ascension mural for the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in New York City, he rather curiously used the same design. It makes a pretty good Ascension as well as a Transfiguration. Perhaps there is a theological lesson to be learnt from this ...
"The Ascension" by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669). Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Site Contents Untitled