The Christian Worldview (2): Metaphysics (b)

The next step of the biblical story is the fall. We are told that, because of the Fall, all things have been subject to decay—that God’s good creation is now subject to death. Humanity especially is subject to sin—is by default living under the realm of Satan and devoted to rebellion against God. This is the state of the world as we encounter it: a good creation cursed by God, plagued by death and strife. There is conflict between the earth and humanity, the beasts and humanity, the spiritual realm and humanity, and within the spiritual realm itself. The transition from creation to fall reveals two other significant features of the biblical worldview.

The first is a linear view of history. Whatever we make of God’s relationship to time, it is clear that we as humans experience time in a linear fashion—one moment follows another and the past remains inaccessible to us as something that has passed away, the future as something yet to come. Augustine describes our experience of the present as existing on the razors edge between the past that is ceasing to exist and the future that is about to come into existence. Many worldviews reject the way time seems to function and hold that history is in fact cyclical: nothing only happens once; we are trapped in a cycle of never ending repetition unless we transcend the flow of history. Scripture rejects this cyclical worldview by positing a beginning of history, the creation; unique moments in history, the fall, Christ’s incarnation and redemptive work, and the second coming; and the historical transitions from pre-Fall creation to redemptive history and from the Old Creation to the New Creation (the beginning a of a new history). This linear nature of history is closely linked with a Biblical philosophy of history.

A “philosophy of history” is also called a metanarrative, an explanation or interpretation of the whole scope of history, which explains each event within it. The Bible teaches that all things transpire according to the will of God—His eternal plan—so the Biblical interpretation of History is God’s interpretation of History: all human attempts to interpret the world are attempts to think God’s thoughts after him. In the Bible, we are given a big picture view of the creation’s history, the key events that shape and provide the interpretation of each less significant event. This history—often called redemptive history—is sometimes summarized as Creation, God created a good creation; Fall, humanity brought a curse upon the whole creation through the sin of its first parents; Redemption, God began to work through chosen people to bring about the redemption of a people as His own possession; and Consummation, God will at the end of the first creation’s history return for His people and bring judgment against all the evil works of man, consuming the Old Creation in fire and creating a new heavens and a new earth in its place. Most human history takes place during the Redemption phase of this history: the Bible addresses primarily redemption, explaining it in terms of creation and fall with an eye to consummation. The key moment of this whole history is the incarnation and Jesus’ death and resurrection, the beginning of the New Creation in the midst of the old. The Bible furthers explains the events of history as a conflict between two kingdoms, the kingdom of the man, under the power of Satan and Sin, and the Kingdom of God, as manifest first through Israel and then through Christ’s Church. The history of creation is theocentric and anthropocentric: its revolves primarily around God and His glory, yet the main actors, after God, are human beings—they represent Him, are to be redeemed by Him, and in opposition to Him. Man, relative to all created beings, has the central position in all the created order: man is created to mirror God in His creation, plunges the whole creation into sin, and is the object of all of God’s redemptive activity—climaxing in the coming of God as a man.

 

The Christian Worldview (1): Introduction

The Christian Worldview (2): Metaphysics (a)

This article adapted from the first appendix of my paper, To Love God with All One’s Heart Soul and Strength.

3 thoughts on “The Christian Worldview (2): Metaphysics (b)

  1. Great Work.
    FYI – I have stopped using the Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation schema. Rather, I use Creation, Fall, Redemption, Tension, Consummation. This is imperfect terminology and somewhat clunky. But I felt the need to distinguish salvation history before Christ with after Christ. This helps avoid two mistakes I often see when people use the first scheme: 1) over realized eschatology, putting too much hope in this world/age and our social/political work because this world/age is seen as the venue of all of God’s redemptive work, with the consummation just being a sort of after-party, or 2) a downplaying of what has decisively been accomplished by Christ already and looking only to the consummation. The 5 part schema at least tries to take seriously the already/not yet nature of this present time. I suggest you consider a similar 5 part model and even find a better way to say it.
    Keep up the good work.
    Brad.

      1. Maybe, something like: redemption anticipated, inaugurated, and consumated; or anticipation inauguration, consumation. I have always felt a little bit uncomfortable with the division between redemption and consumation, since consumation is the climax of redemption.

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