According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Friday, November 9, 2012

What Do We Mean by God as "Creator-Redeemer"?

 


We have spent a lot of time reviewing the theological concept of Evolutionary Creationism at Relevancy22 (cf. sidebars under Science and Faith) and one of the questions that should be asked is how does this biblical theory turn our view of God around? That is, what were the eternal purposes of God from the beginning of creation? Why did God create? What moved God to create? What did God create? Is there value and meaning in the Trinity's relationship to creation? How is this meaningful to us? What is God's place in indeterminate creation? What is sin's place in indeterminate creation? Did God create short-sightedly when sin entered in? What is sin's relation to creation? At what point does redemption enter into creation? Was it a planned event? And finally, who is God? Is He our Creator or our Redeemer?

As background, Evolutionary Creationism is the view that the universe was created by God in evolutionary terms as described by all of our present day sciences. And that Earth, and especially life on Earth, received as much attention by God as all other parts of the universe did - even though we would like to think that we received God's very special attention as the" height" of His creation. As Christians we surmise this because (i) we were created in God's image and (ii) because God's redemption of creation came as a result of His incarnation as a man through the Second Personage of the Trinity, namely, Jesus the Messiah. But, in evolutionary terms, humanity seems only to be the mere recipient of the cosmos' creative evolutionary ordering. And that throughout this process - even up to this present day - God has been intimately involved with the cosmos' formation and sustenance even as He has been with mankind's development. The fact is, evolution is still evolving and has not stopped. It is in the very nature of the cosmos' progression - even as it is with humanity's progression - that it continue to evolve because this is the very nature of (evolutionary) creation itself. Consequently, God is every bit as much involved today as He was 13.7 billion years ago in the formative event we describe as the Big Bang event (which we now understand to be but a mere cosmic bubble of an infinite number of multiversed bubbles). That God has never stepped away from the task of creating, that is, of evolving His creation unto His purposes and ends. And that we too often think of God in classical terms merely as sustaining and maintaining His creation. But the concept of evolution demands that God is continually shaping and evolving the worlds to come as expressed in relational theism's updated terminology (please refer to the sidebars under "Theism").
 
Furthermore, it can also be said that the universe, life on Earth, and humanity itself, each received God's specialized attention resulting in each becoming intimately interlocked and interdependent with the other. And though we could argue that it is humanity that is mostly dependent upon the cosmos I suspect that the cosmos is as much dependent upon humanity for its very existence when contemplated in juxtaposition to God's initiating purposes (more will be said on this in a moment). For each-and-all are highly specialized instances of God's creative power and will. We say highly specialized because at no time was God an absentee Creator during each and every formative period of evolution - contra both Scientific Naturalism's agnostic/atheistic view, nor Classic Theism's non-evolutionary understanding of this event. The first sees no necessity for God within the process as it is a self-sustaining process; and the second disavows any evolutionary understanding of God in the role of creation according to its literalistic interpretations of the bible. However, Evolutionary Creationism states that throughout creation's formation God was intimately involved in every aspect of creation - from its atomic structures and forces through to the development of biological life itself, even unto this day.... Which is a phenomenal statement in-and-of itself, made all the more phenomenal when we think to include the concept of multiverses into this statement! (Should this concept live beyond the mathematics of its expression.) Accordingly, we have a very difficult time grasping the former concept of a singular universe let alone the additional concept of a multiversed creation. It simply becomes unimaginable. Suffice it to say then that our Creator God is beyond our imagination.


We may now observe three things relative to the creation event. Firstly, as Christians we often loose sight of the fact that before God ever created the cosmos He had first pondered its relevance and constitution within the depths of His eternal being. Which of course would mean that He pondered its meaning within the fellowship of His Trinity. Which is a very important fact to notice because it was at God's deepest level of desire to fundamentally share Himself on a relational level that He would in fact take this step to do this very thing. But how could God wish to do this if He were but a singular entity without the fellowship of His Triune Being? Only a relational God would wish to create in relational paradigms. A God who could understand the meaning of sharing, sacrifice, forbearance and longsuffering from first-hand experience. These are relational terms not the cold, static, impersonal terms borne by a non-Trinitarian God with no knowledge of their meaning or presence. Nor terms simply held within an intelligent and all-powerful, but unfeeling, God who Himself was unacquainted with love and what it would mean to love (this discourse almost feels like a Star Trek episode doesn't it?!).
 
Moreover, as a Trinitarian God, He wished to be at peace, and in harmony, with all that He created. For humans, we describe this in terms of the love of God. That God wished to share the fellowship of His Trinity with humanity in the loving terminology of holiness, eternality, purpose, and sustenance. If we were to diagram this it would show both man and creation become as a "fourth" point of an expanded relational triangle morphing into that of a rhombian fellowship outside the Godhead (in ontologic terms, though perhaps not in metaphysical or existential terms). As such, man would fundamentally differ from the Godhead in that he would be a created, finite, aspect of God's personage who would be given life and light, and borne up unto the breast of God Himself. And so, the fellowship of the Trinity would thus be extended to all of creation. And in human terms to man himself. This is what God had in mind before He even began to create. He created with purpose. He created with an end in mind. And in the chaos that followed creation's wake God continually, and intimately, superintends with the goal that creation would ever be (as it now is in its imperfect form) a part of the divine fellowship of the Godhead. That God would be in relationship with all that is. And all that is would be in fellowship with its Creator God. Both now and forevermore (which sounds a little Eastern to me in my Westernized ears, doesn't it?).
 
Secondly, we also loose sight of the fact that before God created He understood and planned for the chaotic nature of the creative event (and please do not associate "chaos" with "sin" as we'll shortly see). That within the fabric of creation there would be required the principles of indeterminacy (as related to non-sentient life) and free will (as related to sentient life) governing its "finite or creaturely" structures. This was a planned event. Planned by God Himself. It was no surprise, mistake, or result of sin.... And here I should immediately stop to observe that these states of indeterminacy and free will are the holy building blocks (or, the fundamental creative elements) of creational being and becoming. No, sin did not determine creation's indeterminacy or free will. God did. We know this because when at last God reigns over all there will be a new creation and new humanity... that is, a creation and humanity freed of sin, but not freed of its indeterminacy or free will. However, please notice, that sin was the corrupting force that entered in AFTER God created creation. And, as I've explained here in earlier articles, sin did not come from God but resulted because of the indeterminacy and freedom that God had originally placed into creation's core structure. So that sin is the aftermath result of God giving to the cosmos its structure of being and becoming. Sin does not define the creative structure but gives to creation its resulting affect upon the creative structure. Hence, Paul describes sin as a corrupting influence even as John describes sin's removal as a time where we witness a new heaven and new earth that keep their original structure and purpose but are freed of sin. Where a new humanity lives in obedience and harmony with the fellowship of God as free willed beings who likewise keep their original structure and purpose. Sin did not create indeterminacy and free will. God did. Sin but corrupted them. Truly, these things we think we know but do not understand.
 
Thirdly, we also seem to loose sight of the fact that before God created the cosmos He had likewise thought through, and determined, the necessity of His further involvement as its Redeemer. To thus create indeterminate objects and events and free will life would necessitate His involvement as creation's Redeemer who would restore, or redeem, creation back to its originating purposes of fellowship. And so, before God created He first understood that His creative work would require not only His sustenance of creative power and will, but His redemptive sustenance of power and will as well. Consequently, God understood the results of His creative endeavor and planned for its restoration back from an imperfect fellowship to a perfected fellowship with the Godhead. These things He was acutely aware of according to the bible's account of creation.

In Summary then, we have: 
  • A Creator-Redeemer who continues to create in both evolutionary and spiritual terms.
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  • That God is involved with the intimate sustenance and development of His creation at all times.
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  • That at no time did God create and then leave His creation to itself (even though from our perspective it seems that He could from an evolutionary scientific viewpoint. Still, the bible tells us differently).
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  • That it was at God's deepest level of desire to fundamentally share Himself on a relational level.
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  • That He wished to share the fellowship of His Trinity with humanity in the loving terminology of holiness, eternality, purpose, and sustenance.
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  • That God understood, planned, and created the chaotic nature of the cosmos when inputting the random process of indeterminacy and unhinderance of free will.
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  • Inferentially, this means that God is creation's Sovereign but not its Divine Controller (sic, Classic Theism posits that God controls all things while confusing the term Sovereign with the term divine Controller). When we think of God as creation's Divine Controller we then errantly view God as either Strong or Weak in the wake of harmful circumstances. If then God is viewed as a Controller of all events the answer must be yes, He is shown to be both Strong and Weak based upon the indeterminacy or free will of His creation. (Progressive Theism points this out time-and-again; PT is the syncretic twin of Relational Theism (RT) and the opposite of Classic Theism). But as a God who rules Sovereignly (per RT), He then is understood as a God who is present in (or, enters into) the harm and destruction that we are experiencing to help as He can. That is, God is neither Strong or Weak but IS according to His counsels. What this means is that we can count on His presence and help, but we cannot count on any determinative outcome according to our prayers and wishes. Amongst other things prayer tells God of our pain and allows Him to enter into our devastations and joys. Prayer provides opportunity to our hearts to receive the ministrations of the Holy Spirit. It likewise provides opportunity for God to act in accordance with a free willed being's broken heart as He can. However, this is part-and-parcel of what it means to live in an indeterminant and free will creation held hostage under sin's corruptive domain. However, through it all God will destroy sin and bring creation back to its original purposes in the long view of things. We call this the process of redemption. This is yet another mystery we do not understand and have discussed before.
  •  
  • That creation's sustenance would require God's intimate involvement both before the presence of sin and after the presence of sin.
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  • That sin's arrival was not unplanned nor unknown. And in the face of this knowledge of sin's affective reaction and presence into God's creative handiwork God did still create knowing this to be a true result.
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  • That God is not sin's author or creator but that sin did result from the handiwork of God which gave to creation free will. Much like as mold will appear on the fresh bread we bake. Or UV light will break down a painting that we create. Or that Utopian societies are non-existent but ever seen as a community's optimistic goal. Sin is a result (or consequence) of indeterminate and free will creation. But is not a created metaphysical presence or power in-and-of itself directly from God.
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  • That when God created He knew beforehand and planned becoming creation's Creator-Redeemer and not simply be its Creator. But creation's Redeemer. This elective role was not a divine afterthought when discovering sin's affective presence. No. God already knew the consequences of creating creation in the way that He did and before creating considered in what way He would necessarily become willfully involved.
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  • That as creation's Redeemer, God was moved by love to share the fellowship of His being with that of His creation as originally intended for the pure joy of sharing-and-expressing Himself much as any artist would do with his art to the public before him.
 
This then is what is meant by Evolutionary Creationism's expression of God as "Creator-Redeemer" using Relational Theism's understanding of God.
 
R.E. Slater
November 9, 2012

 
For further discussion consider several sample articles listed below -