creation

Thinking Through the Big Picture

I’ve been thinking through the big picture of the bible and wrote down some stuff from books that I’ve been reading, and also from Adam Ellis’ summary on these blogs. Ellis’ words are in bold.

WHO ARE WE?

We are the people of God, created in his image. That image is distorted by the Fall but is still there.

“God created people in his own image.” 1

“You made us only a little lower than God.” 2

“They will be masters over all of life.” 3

“God made human beings precisely in order to care for the earth. We were made to serve this purpose. It is built into our very being; it is our very design.” 4

“Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world.” 5

“To image God, then, human beings are charged not only with care for earth and animals (‘subduing’ what’s already there) but also with developing certain cultural possibilities (‘filling’ out what is only potentially there). 6

 

WHERE ARE WE?

We live in God’s world which he created and loves. God loves creation simply because it exists. We believe that this world was created “good” (in the “loaded with potential” sense) and not perfect (in the “complete” sense). We believe that God created us and this world to live in harmony with each other and with him.

“The first act in the world’s drama is God’s act of creating and sustaining ‘all things visible and invisible’ out of a generous desire to enlarge the realm of being, to bestow life and goodness on others, and to assist others to flourish in the realm created for them.” 7

“God leads a very interesting life and is full of joy. Undoubtably he is the most joyous being in the universe…We pay a lot of money to get a tank with a few tropical fish in it…but God has seas full of them, which he constantly enjoys.” 8

“God loves creation. God celebrates creation. God even plays with his creation.” 9

“It was good…it was good…it was good…it was good.” 10

WHAT IS WRONG?

Human beings make an extremely destructive choice very early on in the narrative. That choice has far reaching consequences and knocks the entire creation project off course. The shalom, or harmony that is supposed to exist between God, people and creation is shattered. The world is not what God dreams for it to be, and all creation seems bent on moving in the opposite direction.

“The glory of God’s good creation has not been obliterated by the tragedy of the fall, but it has been deeply shadowed by it. The history of our race is, in large part, the interplay of this light and shadow.” 11

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

God does not give up on his dream for creation. He enacts a plan to bring about the “restoration of all things.” This plan involves covenanting with a cummunity of people to operate as agents of shalom in the midst of a broken world. God becomes a human being whose life, death and resurrection open the door for a renewed creation of shalom between a) God and human beings; b) human beings and other human beings; and c) human beings and creation. God calls a group of people to live in his reality now in the midst of a broken world. He calls us to partner with Him to make it more and more the place he always intended it to be. He promises that one day Jesus will return and that heaven and earth will be renewed. He insists that we will be resurrected so that we may enjoy the fulfillment of his promise and his dream for all creation.

“The Christian life is a quest to recover our humanity.” 12

“You have stripped away the old self, with its ways, and have put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator.” 13

“The principalities and powers that kept us in exile have been defeated; they need reminding of this, and we need reminding of it too, but it is a fact – if it isn’t, the cross was a failure.” 14

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

“Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” 15

“The story of Scripture is the story of ‘Emmanuel’, for it describes how God progressively comes to live with us on our planet, at each appearance staying longer and in more permanent form.” 16

“Our destiny is an earthly one: a new earth, an earth redeemed and transfigured. An earth reunited with heaven, but an earth, nevertheless.” 17

“Scripture appears to teach not only that there shall be a new heaven and earth, but also that it shall be this earth, renewed. In Revelation 21 the city of God descends to us. We do not go to heaven; heaven comes to us.” 18


__________

1 Genesis 1:27
2 Psalm 8:5
3 Genesis 1:26
4 Heaven is Not My Home by Paul Marshall pg. 18
5 The Challenge of Jesus by NT Wright pg. 184
6 Engaging God’s World by Cornelius Plantinga pg. 33
7 Plantinga pg. 44
8 The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard pg. 62,63
9 Plantinga pg. 24
10 Genesis 1
11 Plantinga pg. 53
12 Heaven is a Place on Earth by Michael Wittmer pg. 83
13 Colossians 3:9-10
14 Wright pg. 185
15 Revelation 21:3
16 Wittmer pg. 205
17 Marshall pg. 11
18 Plantinga pg. 32

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Are There More Universes?


“Go outside at night in the country, where the sky is very clear. Then look up. Each one of those tiny points in the sky is a flaming sun. We’re a tiny part of an enormous universe, which may be one of many universes. No one really knows for sure what’s out there. So we use our imagination. Imagination allows us to ask big questions — questions that scare us, and for which we don’t have easy answers.”
Madeleine L’Engle

I just read a blog post titled “Civilization Has Barely Begun” at the Desiring God blog. Randy Alcorn is quoted as saying,

“We should expect the social dynamics from Earth to carry over to the New Earth, except when they’re a product of our fallenness or when God reveals otherwise.”

I really enjoy hearing about the new earth, especially since it appears as if it’s going to be a carry-over from this earth. Just now as I was walking around the neighborhood thinking about the ramifications of civilization having only just begun, as I approached an apartment complex with the still-lit April sky behind and a lone budding tree on the side, a quick happy feeling surged through me. Like I said, pondering the infinite possibilities of a new earth gets me really excited.

This is pure speculation, but what if, after thousands of years on the new earth, the pocket-full-of-surprises Overlord reveals yet another mystery — the individual work that each of us started doing on earth and continued to do in the new earth was preparation for something even greater, which after being revealed to us we all tap our foreheads and say, “Of course! It had to be this way — it’s characteristic of His endlessly-giving and explosive creativity.” Our new job, He joyfully announces to the billions and billions of new earth inhabitants during the monthly whole-earth assembly over a speaker system designed by a team of engineers and sound professionals from 40 countries, is to be sent out to a new universe and help the creatures that He’s freshly made begin life in their worlds.

To each universe are dispatched a multi-cultural team of storytellers, engineers, accountants, politicians, teachers, garbage men, police, weather men, architects, comedians, streetsweepers, doctors, even lawyers, to help launch the beginnings of a fresh planet. Each individual joyfully offers their expertise. And who knows whether or not they’ll be able to travel back and forth from New-Earth to their respective planets and share stories over campfires, laughing and marveling at these strange and wonderful new creatures from other universes. Each night the New-Earth inhabitants dream mind-boggling dreams of new inventions and ideas to share with their friends and students many light-years away but somehow near enough to travel to in the morning.

And it all began (or did it?) on a small planet called Earth in the Milky Way galaxy in a small corner of one of the many universes the Overlord began to create.

Of course this is all speculation, but a guy can dream, right?

“Hints that ours is just one of many universes keep cropping up in all sorts of different theories–and in ways that can seem far stranger than fiction.

The first credible suggestion that alternate universes might exist came in the early 1950s when a young physics graduate student named Hugh Everett was toying with some of the more bizarre implications of quantum mechanics. That theory, accepted by all serious physicists, says that the motions of atoms and subatomic particles can never be predicted with certainty; you can tell only where, say, an electron will probably be a millisecond from now. It could quite possibly end up somewhere else.”
–TIME Magazine article Will We Discover Another Universe?, April 10, 2000

Maybe one of these orphans from Mpumalanga, South Africa will be on your team:

photo courtesy desiringgod.org