Sunday, January 03, 2016

Sunday Reading: The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View #6

HarrisWe are continuing to read through The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View, by Brian Harris. Chapters eight and nine close the second section of the book which focuses on the “Big Building Block’s of the Christians Faith.”  Eight is entitled, All Creatures Great and Small: Building a World with a Better Name; Chapter 9 deals with eschatology and is entitled Ever Hopeful: Living in the Light of Eternity. As always, I will be posting some quotes and a link to this post on my Facebook page and you are welcome to discuss the posts there. (The numbers after the quotes are Kindle locations not page numbers).

In chapter 8 Harris discusses “creation care” and human responsibiliity to be God’s agent in a comprehensive mission to care for all of God’s creation and not just be concerned for human well-being and thriving. He cites Adam’s naming of the animals as God entrusting to humans the resopnsiblity to enable all creation to reach its potential. He sums it up this way..

We are the voice of the voiceless. God still watches to see what we will name the birds and animals. And while God will ultimately birth a new heaven and a new earth, we should align ourselves with the mission of God by taking seriously our brief to build a world with a better name. 2906-2907

A biblical world view of creation care avoids the mistakes the church often makes in its mandate to be the stewards of the world including exploitation, where the earth simply exists for the use and benefit of people, overestimation of the Fall, which assumes we are such sinners we cannot make any difference despite the fact that we live in light of the resurrection and in the power of the Spirit, secularization that tries to manage the world apart from relationship with God or embracing the status quo. We need to avoid the errors of both the “right” and the “left” and accomplish our “creation mandate” by bringing the blessings of relationship with God to all creation.

If we ever think that we will build Utopia, we have lapsed back into the original sin of thinking that we can replace God, and sort out the difference between good and evil unaided. Rather, we should recognize that our call is to spot the work that God is already doing in the world. As we identify the missio Dei, we align ourselves with the future that God is building for this planet.  2842-2845

In chapter 9 Harris ties eschatology very closely to the fulfillment of the creation mandate of chpater 8. I thought this was one of the best chapters in the book. His argument in the chapter is…

I will argue that a Christian world view is better served when we avoid apocalyptic terrorism and refuse to link eschatology to escapism and idle speculation. Rather, we should build a world view emboldened by the resurrection of Jesus, and the confidence that gives of our long-term security. You can’t believe in Easter and live timidly.  2964-2966

Jesus’ resurrection is the paradigm for all eschatological hope. Just as he returned to a earth with a new body that had points of both continuity and discontinuity with the old one so the new heavens and new earth will have both continutiy and discontinuity with what has gone before. It will be a physical place and we will be physical people, but with the effects of sin, death, pain, estrangement removed. “Heaven” is located on the new earth. Ultimately it will be the answer to Jesus’ prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Thus, the main point of eschatology is not speculation and dates and millennial arguments, it is living NOW in the light of what God has promised for eternity. We operate now based on “faith, hope and love” and what we do for Christ now somehow has effect on the life we will live for all eternity.

God’s will can never be done outside of relationship with God precisely because God wills to be in relationship with the creatures made imago Dei. If we are not in relationship with God, life is not as God wills it to be. In short, the ethical quest and our spiritual formation should not be separated.  3065-3067

Eschatology is not about speculative timelines, or an avoidance of the present. It is the quietly insistent affirmation that God’s love triumphs, and that this love lasts forever. It is the invitation to live in the light of the future, a future which while perhaps distant, has been rendered certain by the resurrection of Jesus. This hope does not disappoint us. 3138-3141

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