Posts tagged Michael Goheen
18 Jul 2012
The final chapter of Al Wolters' Creation Regained (1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5-6) is a postscript that was added for the second edition of the book in 2005, 20 years after the first edition was published. It is authored jointly by Mike Goheen and Al Wolters, with the title Worldview between Story and Mission. The reason it was added was to set the worldview themes of the book in the context of the broader biblical narrative, and to spell out some of the implications for the mission of the church.
Throughout the main body of the book, I had been understanding the themes of creation, fall and redemption primarily as elements of the biblical narrative, rather than as abstract worldview categories. So I couldn't quite understand why the idea of the biblical narrative was being introduced almost as though it was something the book hadn't mentioned so far. But, regardless of that, the postscript provides an excellent articulation of the big story of the Bible, through creation, rebellion, Israel, Jesus and the church to the final judgment and renewal of the entire creation.
As well as unpacking the biblical narrative, the postscript provides lots of helpful material on the mission of the church, linking it with themes from earlier in the book. Here are a couple of quotes picking up on the book's major themes of structure and direction:
The life of the church is to be a billboard broadcasting the good news that the kingdom is coming. This announcement comes in the extraordinary ordinariness of our daily lives—extraordinary because of the renewing power of the Spirit, ordinary because of the common creational stuff of our daily existence. Or to put it another way: directionally extraordinary, but structurally ordinary (p.132).
In every cultural product, institution, and custom is something of the good of God's creational structure. At the same time all of it, to some degree, is misdirected by a shared cultural idolatry. The mission of God's people is to discern and embrace the good creational insights and structure, and at the same time to reject and subvert the idolatrous distortion (p.137).
The final few sentences provide a good summary:
For followers of Jesus Christ, their place in the [biblical] story is to make known the good news that God is healing the creation from the brokenness of sin. This will mean conflict and suffering. This will demand a deepening spirituality and dependence on the Spirit. This is the context in which we must understand what it means to elaborate the most basic categories of the biblical story. Worldview articulation can play a mediating role between the gospel and the missionary calling of God's people. To that end "Creation Regained" is offered to the church to equip her in a world that desperately needs to see and hear the good news that God's kingdom has come: God is renewing the creation and the whole of human life in the work of Jesus Christ by the Spirit (p.143).
26 Jan 2012
After the cover, the first chapter—What Is a Worldview?—introduces the theme of the book, which is "an attempt to spell out the content of a biblical worldview and its significance for our lives" (p.1). A worldview is defined as "the comprehensive framework of one's basic beliefs about things" (p.2). Everyone has a worldview, which emerges "quickly enough when they are faced with practical emergencies, current political issues, or convictions that clash with their own" (p.4), and "our worldview functions as a guide to our life" (p.5). Unpacking that a bit more, Wolters introduces two key terms that will feature throughout the book: structure and direction. Our worldview tells us how everything is structured, and our worldview tells us about the basic direction things are taking through history.
So what might a biblical worldview look like? We could start with
the basic definition of the Christian faith given by Herman Bavinck: "God the Father has reconciled His created but fallen world through the death of His Son, and renews it into a Kingdom of God by His Spirit."
The biblical worldview presented in the book is one which takes
all the key terms in this ecumenical trinitarian confession in a universal, all-encompassing sense. The terms "reconciled," "created," "fallen," "world," "renews," and "Kingdom of God" are held to be cosmic in scope (p.11).
Now, this might not seem particularly out of the ordinary, but many (perhaps most) Christians would, in practice, tend to limit the scope of these terms. There would be a "sacred" realm and a "secular" realm, where the "secular" realm is perhaps not entirely fallen, not entirely reconciled, or destined to be discarded rather than renewed, and where the "sacred" realm is perhaps something over and above what God originally created. So, in order to distinguish this cosmic-in-scope biblical worldview, it is often called the reformational worldview, partly because it builds on some emphases associated with the Protestant Reformation, and partly because this worldview carries within it the hope that nothing of the created order will be rejected or replaced, but that the entire created order will be—and is being—reformed, renewed and restored: creation regained. (Another way of identifying this view of things is to say that "grace restores nature", p.12.)
The next chapters look in more detail at the components of this worldview, looking at the structure and original direction of things (Creation: part 1, part 2) and then the story of the shifting direction of things (Fall and Redemption), before unpacking what difference this might make to our lives (Discerning Structure and Direction). The postscript (with Mike Goheen) sets this whole discussion in a broader framework of the biblical narrative.
16 Sep 2011
I don't know what to make of the USA. On the one hand, it is in many ways the most Christian nation on the planet. But on the other hand, I'm coming to see it as also the most destructive nation on the planet, in terms of the values (and weapons) it exports, and in terms of its military, political and business activities around the world. I struggle with this. Perhaps, as hinted by Michael Goheen 85 minutes into a talk, the answer "is that no Western country has done a better job of separating the gospel from public life - in reality - than the United States".
Anyway, this typically perceptive post from Vinoth Ramachandra outlines some of the problem:
Ten years on, media commentary on 9/11 is legion, while other events, equally horrific, are quickly forgotten. Three days after the 9/11 attacks, Howard Zinn, the distinguished American historian and author of A People’s History of the United States, wrote: “The images on television horrified and sickened me. Then our political leaders came on television, and I was horrified and sickened again. They spoke of retaliation, of vengeance, of punishment. I thought: they have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the history of the twentieth century, from a hundred years of retaliation, vengeance, war, a hundred years of terrorism and counter-terrorism, of violence met with violence in an unending cycle of stupidity.” Read more...