Regaining creation

[Jesus' parable of the talents] means that ... Christians must now employ all their God-given means in opposing the sickness and demonization of creation—and thus in restoring creation—in anticipation of its final "regeneration" at the second coming (Matt. 19:28) (p.76).

Chapter 5 of Creation Regained by Al Wolters (1, 2[1], 2[2], 3, 4) works through some of the practical implications of a "reformational" worldview. How do the themes of creation, fall and redemption help us to see the ways in which particular areas of life can be regained?

The first step is a matter of understanding. We need to discern structure and direction. All of the created order has a God-given structure, but all of the created order can be directed either towards God in his service, or away from God in rebellion against him.

The next step is a matter of strategy. The approach needs to be "reformational": seeking "reformation" in the sense of "inner revitalization" (p.89), and seeking "reformation" rather than revolution, "progressive renewal rather than violent overthrow" (p.91).

Wolters gives some specific examples. In the realm of societal renewal,

Perversion of God's creational design for society can occur in two ways: either through perversion of the norms within a given sphere (as in cases of injustice in the state, child abuse in the family, exploitative wages in the business enterprise) or through the extension of the authority of one sphere over another. In both cases Christians must oppose these distortions of God's handiwork. But that opposition should always affirm the proper and right exercise of responsibility (p.100).

In other words, the the bad direction should be opposed, precisely in order that the good creational structure can be affirmed.

Meanwhile, in the realm of personal renewal, a careful distinction between structure and direction can help to break through false dilemmas, where Christians may find themselves torn between a totally positive view and a totally negative view of something. Examples given are:

  • Agression: in terms of structure, this is a good part of creation, but it is often directed in a harmful way.
  • Spiritual gifts: "As creational possibilities, the charismata manifest structural traits; as serving either the kingdom of God or the world, they manifest directional traits" (p.105).
  • Sexuality: "Human sexuality, a part of God's good creation, ought to be affirmed and accepted with thanksgiving. ... Sexual immorality should be opposed not to repress sex but to show forth its true glory" (p.111).
  • Dance: "Many Christian traditions have developed a negative attitude towards social dancing" (p.111), but distinguishing between the good creational structure of dance and the ways in which this structure has been used and abused (its direction) can lead to a more helpful approach to the issue.

Quoting from the book's Conclusion:

To approach the phenomena of the world in terms of structure and direction is to look at reality through the corrective lens of Scripture, which everywhere speaks of a good creation and the drama of its reclamation by the Creator in Jesus Christ (p.115).

All that remains now is the substantial postscript, which provides a broader biblical context for the material in the main part of the book.

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