Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Are We To Live? Part-3 (continued...Redemption Part-2)

(from previous post)…so what’s the point?

The point is that the “death” that we’re delivered from is estrangement. And this “death” that is estrangement has occurred because we’ve become less than human (sub-human) through The Fall. Remember, our nature as “image-bearers” is due to the fact that we were created as human beings. No other creature or aspect of Creation is said to bear the image of God. We are uniquely qualified as “image-bearers” because we are by nature (created nature) human beings. There are many aspects of what it means to be image-bearers, e.g. our rational capabilities, our creative ability, our moral bent, etc.; but they are all sourced in our humanity. It is our humanity that makes us image-bearers; and it’s in our humanity (not in the things that we do) that we testify of our Creator and enjoy intimacy with Him as our Father. And this is precisely our problem: because of the entrance of sin and death (estrangement), we have become sub-human. Our “humanity” has been “vandalized” by sin so that we don’t bear God’s image as intended and we don’t enjoy communion with Him as Father. We need a new nature—we must be “born again”!

Before the Fall, when Adam and Eve were simply being who they were (as human beings), they testified of God to each other and the rest of Creation by enjoying intimate fellowship with Him and living their lives in the freedom of their created nature; and this was the paradigm that was to mark all of Creation for all time. “Man” lived in intimate communion with God, with each other and with the rest of creation in the state of Shalom. They didn’t have to do anything but live out the reality of who they were. It’s when they decided to exercise autonomy and take upon themselves the definition of who they were created to be that they disobeyed God and brought “death” to themselves and the Cosmos. They became less than they were created to be (they became sub-human) by disbelieving God and taking it upon themselves to (re)define themselves. Like a fish that will only find “death” if it tries to redefine itself (what it means to be a fish) by jumping onto dry land because it thinks that’s where life and meaning is found, so Adam has plunged the entire human race into “death” by trying to redefine what it is to be “human”. Our communion with God is broken because we are not what God has created us to be—truly, fully human. Because of the entrance of sin, we have become “sub-human” and are said to be “dead” in our trespasses and sins. Estrangement (death) has replaced intimate communion (life) because we are not what we were created to be.

Oh, we still bear some marks of our humanity and thus, we haven’t completely destroyed our nature as image-bearers. But to borrow again from Plantinga: our humanity (as well as the entire Cosmos) has been “vandalized” by sin. And with the entrance of sin, Shalom has been broken as “death” has infiltrated the entire created order. Things (all things) are not “The Way They Are Supposed to Be” (Plantinga). We need redemption! The creation needs redemption! And so, Christ has come—Jesus the Christ, the last Adam and True Man! What was typified in the paradigm of the original creation has found its anti-type in the fulfillment that has come in Christ! It’s not simply that He restores all things (including “man”) to its original created design and function; no…Christ fulfills the typology of “Eden” so that all things find their purpose & meaning in Him. As I’ve mentioned before in various contexts, God’s purpose from the beginning was to have all things made complete in Christ. When I speak of “restoration” I’m speaking of the fulfillment of the purpose of God to “sum up all things in the heaven and earth in Christ”. The design and purpose of Creation (“Eden”) is fulfilled or completed in its purpose & meaning in Christ!

I’ve spent a bit of time talking about the concept of “life” out of “death” (see Redemption Part-1) so that we will realize that the Life that we’ve been granted in Christ is the “life” of true authentic humanity. As the True Man, Jesus Christ is the only fully authentic human being that has ever lived (remember, Adam was “perfect” in his humanity as a type of Christ—even Adam finds his true and full humanity in the True Man, Jesus Christ). And as the True Man, only as we are joined to Him by the Spirit through faith, only as we are participants in His life through the indwelling Spirit (new creations), only then are we “redeemed” to our created purpose and function as authentic human-beings who truly and fully (though not always or perfectly until the consummation) bear the image of God. Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of a new humanity because we have become “new creations” in Him. We now truly (though again, imperfectly until the consummation) bear the image of God as the Spirit works to conform us into the likeness of Christ. By God’s grace through faith, we now share in the Life of Christ! Death has been swallowed up in victory because it’s been swallowed up by the Life of Christ, by the Life that is found only in Christ. Christ has overthrown the curse and restored all things to their created design and function in Himself (the “summing up of all things in Christ”).

Redemption is so much more than simply “the forgiveness of sin”. There are many salvific ideas related to redemption (e.g. justification, propitiation, imputation, reconciliation, etc.), but redemption is not confined to any one of these soteriological aspects: Redemption is no less than re-creation! Beginning with Man, the first-fruits so-to-speak, Christ’s redemption is no less than the inauguration of the New Creation (what the Scripture refers to as the Kingdom of God-a concept that deserves its own “series”) in Himself. Eden has not simply been recovered, it’s been redeemed! It’s been fulfilled in Christ!

Of course, there is the already/not yet aspect to the work of Christ in redemption; He has already redeemed and fulfilled all things in Himself, though we still await the not yet of the consummation when His completed work will realize its full fruition. But the reality of what He has accomplished is certain and is even now present as the Kingdom of God continues to grow by taking into its realm people from every tongue, tribe and nation to glory of God our Savior!

So how does all of this speak to the issue of “How Are We To Live”? Stay tuned for the Consummation/Conclusion where I hope to tie it all together and show us that God’s calling upon humanity (all of us!) is the same today as it’s always been: “Be perfect as I Am (your heavenly Father is) perfect”—only the paradigm has changed.

9 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

Hi GGM,

'The point is that the “death” that we’re delivered from is estrangement. And this “death” that is estrangement has occurred because we’ve become less than human (sub-human) through The Fall.'

I think we basically agree on the concept, although I would not personally use the term sub-human in the context of UK academia or on my blogs. If you ever take doctrinal work I would drop it...trust me liberals and some conservatives love to pick at stuff like that! If they do not know your central subject well they could very well make you do revisions on secondary issues that they are a little more familiar with! It and related could be challenged by critics to Biblical Christianity, as with Prof. Pailin when he noted that a pre-fall humanity was non-historical (Adam and Eve story being pre-historical at best in their view) and humanity as we historically and empirically know it is imperfect and does wrong at times and therefore the natural and would not be fallen and sub-human by his definition and many others.

I would personally then add Biblically and theologically the concepts of sinful and corrupted to imperfect in regard to human beings in my writings.

I would call resurrected humanity, restored humanity as opposed to true humanity for the same reasons.

Speaking of death, please check out my vids in comments. I am very busy and have worked through highlighting probably 10% of my approximately 3, 000 photocopies for revisions.

Russ:)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hey Russ,

Thanks for the comments.

Yes, I think you're right about the use of certain words or ideas not being helpful in academia. And I appreciate your words of caution regarding how some people will take certain words and ideas if not fully developed (especially along "party" lines! :-)

I know my use of "sub-human" is provacative, but in this instance it really does make my point in a powerful way. Sub-human is simply another way of saying "less than human", and I really do think the Bible speaks of "man" apart from Christ in this way. If, as Hughes says, the destiny of "man" is (in) Christ (and I believe that's what the Bible teaches), then we are not complete apart from Him. In other words, we are less than (fully) human apart from being joined to the true (fully authentic) Man, Jesus Christ.

I agree that "sin" and "corruption" are a part of the calamity that has befallen man; and maybe I could have (and should, in the future) made these concepts more prevalent in my post. I did state that our falleness was due to the entrance of sin and that our "humanness" has been "vandalized" (corrupted), but I see your point that using more Biblical and theological language would help clarify my position.

I really do like the terminology of "vandalism". To me it conveys the idea of something that was not previously inherent to a particular "thing" now infecting that "thing" to make it not what it was intended to be. And of course, that's the point I'm trying to make. Humanity has been "vandalized" (corrupted) by the entrance of sin so that we are not what we were created to be. Of course, as you suggest, we have now become "corrupted" in our very nature--and this is why, according to my post, we have become "less than human" and in need of a "new nature" (to be "born again") to become fully human (authentically human) in Christ.

I truly believe that if people (non-believers, especially) understood "sin" as affecting us ontologically rather than (or better perhaps, "more than") ethically, then they would understand why it is that they need a Savior. As I've said many times before, anyone with the right motivation can do anything to secure what they think is going to bring them inner peace and satisfaction, either in this life or the next. To convice people that they are "sinners" in need of a Savior is certainly our goal. But so often our "evangelism" stresses our "sin nature" in terms of ethics (we are "morally" bankrupt), rather than in the very reason for our condition (our "nature" as human beings has changed). People (even "Christians") tend to understand our "sin nature" in terms of what we do rather than in terms of who we are. The reason we need to be "born again" is because no matter how morally upright and God-fearing a person can be, unless that person is given a "new nature" he is still not what God had originally created him to be, he is still "less than human".

I really believe that this idea will help people understand what we're talking about with regard to our "sin nature" and how/why it is that we are born "in sin". In my mind, this is the only way that "original sin" makes any sense. Adam's "guilt" is passed onto us because the "nature" of humanity has changed due to the entrance of sin. Not that there is a "sin" gene; but because our "nature" is not what was originally intended to be. No person is born as a "true" human being as God has created and designed "humanity" to be because "man" has been corrupted in his very nature. Jesus, the True Man (the authentic Human Being) has come to change that. He has come to give us what we need--a new "nature"; a "nature" like His humanity so that we can once again be in intimate communion with our Father as "true" human beings who bear His image.

"I would call resurrected humanity, restored humanity as opposed to true humanity for the same reasons."

I understand your point, but I use "true" in order to contrast the humanity of Adam and Eve as originally created. As I've said before, I don't think the Bible speaks of "man" (Adam and Eve) as complete apart from Christ. So in that case, their "humanity" wasn't "true" in the sense that the Scripture anticipated their "perfection" (as with all of "humanity") to be found in union with Christ. Man was created "perfect" for their role as type; but not perfect for their role as "true" human beings--that's reserved for Jesus and then those who the Father joins to Him by the Spirit in redemption.

This is why I'm also not comfortable speaking of a restored or recovered "Eden", though with the right perspective we can certainly speak in this way. But these terms in and of themselves don't convey a "greater" reality, but simply a return to what already was. This is probably just semantics, but wars have been fought over less...so I'll try to be as clear as possible! :-)

As for Pailin's definition about humanity on the basis of understanding a "non-historical" (or pre-historical) paradigm for "man"...well...I just can't agree with that at all. While I'm not arguing against some "mythical" elements in Biblical language, I will stand with my fundamenalist brethren and state that I believe in the veracity of the Scripture and will not compromise on the historicity of the creation account.

But even so, whether non-historical or pre-historical, I think my view best answers the questions of what happened to "man" and why it is that he needs a Savior. If humanity has not been fundamentally altered ontologically, then man has within himself the power to affect whatever change is necessary to restore his relationship with his Maker--Jesus is simply our example of what it takes to do so. But that isn't what the Bible teaches. The Bible does teach that we are morally corrupt, but only because we have become "ontologically" corrupt.

Well, by now you know to expect a book-length response from me now and then--and this is "now"!:-)

I really do appreciate your input and I take what you say to heart. I know my ideas of "true humanity" can sound a little strange in our Western "Christianized" society, especially to those who have been brought up in fundamentalism (like myself!); but hey, since these ideas are coming from The Great Googly Moogly, what can you expect? :-)

Thanks Russ.

If you've given yourself the time to read through this whole thing, feel free to point out errors in my thinking or biblically. I never want to give the impression that I've found all the answers. I mean, I know that I have all the answers, but I just don't want people to think that I think that I know that I have..."know what I mean, Vern?" :-)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

p.s. I'll have check out the vid's this evening--streaming video no longer works here...at work :-(

GGM

thekingpin68 said...

'I understand your point, but I use "true" in order to contrast the humanity of Adam and Eve as originally created. As I've said before, I don't think the Bible speaks of "man" (Adam and Eve) as complete apart from Christ. So in that case, their "humanity" wasn't "true" in the sense that the Scripture anticipated their "perfection" (as with all of "humanity") to be found in union with Christ.'

I would state that Adam and Eve prior to the fall were true/truly human but were inexperienced and undeveloped in comparison to ultimately restored, resurrected persons in Christ that would have experienced the fall, sin, death, and the atoning and resurrection work of Christ applied to them. Although I understand what you mean by true human and it is not wrong per say, I can also see the academic downside of calling them anything less than human/sub-human, and so I provide you with my approach.

Empirically and Biblically imperfect human beings are human as we know them. Adam and Eve were originally sinless and restored, resurrected humans shall be greater. All could be rightly called human, in a sense.

The critic could state that if present persons are not true humanity as we know it, it is false humanity, and then you would be stuck explaining that and a critic that does not trust the Bible (much perhaps) could label your true humanity, hypothetical humanity. Semantics I know, but I am going through this type of stuff now with Wales. I would avoid trying to explain current humanity as false and rather see it as corrupted needing restoration and resurrection. This of course includes a God given change in nature.

'If humanity has not been fundamentally altered ontologically, then man has within himself the power to affect whatever change is necessary to restore his relationship with his Maker--Jesus is simply our example of what it takes to do so. But that isn't what the Bible teaches. The Bible does teach that we are morally corrupt, but only because we have become "ontologically" corrupt.'

Yes, but even in your own definition above it is still humanity and so one could reason human and not sub-human: a liberal thesis critic could state! We are corrupted in nature, no doubt. Restoration Biblically is never hinted at being human made.

Our libertarian free will friends miss this point to some degree.

'This is why I'm also not comfortable speaking of a restored or recovered "Eden", though with the right perspective we can certainly speak in this way. But these terms in and of themselves don't convey a "greater" reality, but simply a return to what already was. This is probably just semantics, but wars have been fought over less...so I'll try to be as clear as possible! :-)'

We will be restored to human perfection and restored to God (Revelation 21-22). That is very Biblical and Paul points out will be changed and have spiritual bodies as in 1 Corinthians 15. This is why it is good to use the terms restored and resurrected together, this will clearly not be the same as Eden.

Adam and Eve as persons and story are in my mind true Biblical history, which actually occurred, but other than from Scripture, historically humankind has always been evil and imperfect, so Pailin has a good point, although he probably views Adam and Eve as myth, whereas I see them as true and a key connector to Christ as in Romans 5, with likely elements of plain and figurative literal language in the Genesis text.

One more point, I would not necessarily consider someone that takes the Bible in context as the word of God, seeing the literature as plain or figurative literal when needed, as having to be a fundamentalist.

I do not call myself a fundamentalist although I do hold to the essentials as do Biblical fundamentalists and as do moderate liberals (not radical liberals). To me fundamentalist in today's Reformed and secular academic realms is often seen as an approach that looks at Scripture with plain literal lenses even when it is not called for by evidence. There is also cultural baggage too as in listening to Christian/classical music only, etc.

The term fundamentalist could be a kiss of death in a doctoral program. I would not use it.

I do not see you that way, and this ties into our Genesis discussion on Facebook. I would state you are a moderate conservative as am I, but that is my take.

God bless, GGM.

Russ:)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Russ,

Thanks for you charitable critique. As I said in my previous post, "The Body causes the growth of the Body", and you are honoring me as your Brother with this interaction that will no doubt be a part of my maturity in the faith--so thanks!

I was only able to quickly skim your comments as I've just finished taping and caulking in preparation of a big day of painting tomorrow--yeah! :-)

Having had many "conversations" with you already, and even in your comments here, I can see that we are fairly close in spirit regarding these issues. At least it's not the case that you're saying "tomato" while I'm saying...I don't know..."rack of lamb" :-)

I think we're saying similar things, though I can also see a subtle difference of focus.

Let me give your comments a more thorough read before I comment. Upon a quick reading I agree with probably everything you're saying, albeit with a slightly different focus and perspective.

Uh-oh, Mrs. Moogly's home from the store...better run!

Thanks Russ,

GGM

thekingpin68 said...

Hi again Jason,

Yes thanks, we have no major disagreement but my points from academic experience are worth considering which I think you see. Another point came to mind as within the incarnation Christ is considered truly human, even as he took upon himself the flesh of mortal humanity but had no sinful nature.

Christ was and is truly human within orthodox Christian theology.

He was mortal but it can be theologically reasoned not yet fully humanly developed, in a sense, until the resurrection.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hey Russ,

Again, I appreciate your comments. I had a long response going here before (and it may end up long again! :-), but I realized that we're really not in disagreement so much as we're just using different language. And I agree that certain terms can be misleading and cause misunderstanding. It's definitely always better to use recognized Biblical and theological language; though even here, sometimes these terms don't fully get at what I (or others, perhaps) mean.

"Restored" is a case in point. Even used with "Resurrected", it still only conveys, in my mind, a return in some way to a former reality--even though this former reality has the added paradigm of the resurrected state. The problem, as I see it, is that resurrection conveys the understanding of simply rising from the dead in a new body, not the understanding of a "new creation", as Paul speaks of it in reference to the OT prophetic voice of the New Heavens and New Earth. And, of course, this "new creation" is something that we participate in even now (though not consummately) as those who are redeemed in Christ.

What I'm trying to say is that these terms, while right and beneficial (and even accurate if understood properly) really don't get at the fact (as I understand the Scripture) that "man" as a human being is incomplete apart from being joined to Christ, the "True" Man by the Spirit. As I've said before, I believe that Adam was also not complete apart from union with Christ.

Let me just say this. When I use the term "true" in this case (and probably most cases in my writings here), I'm using it to convey completeness and authenticity. And by "authenticity", I mean a "thing" being fully and completely conformed to its created design and purpose.

So when I suggest that "man" is not "truly human" apart from Christ, I'm saying that apart from Christ "man" is incomplete.

I agree that the phrase "less than human" (and even more, "sub-human") can be misunderstood and even misleading when not understood against the proper backdrop (which I tried to erect). Maybe in my effort to be "provacative" I don't always consider how certain terms will be ultimately understood by those reading my material.

In my opinion, however, "incomplete" doesn't convey something drastically different than "less than"; but I can see how "sub-human" or "less than human" used in conjunction with "true humanity" could be construed as intimating a separate "species" of humanity. As you know, that's not what I mean.

We may end up finally disagreeing as to the extent of Adam's "human" nature prior to The Fall; but since the Bible speaks of all things (including man) finding their fulfillment in Christ, I don't know how else to Biblically articulate the meaning of Christ's Person and His work of Redemption other than to suggest that "man" is not authentically human apart from being joined to the True Man, Jesus Christ. And this is the calamity that humanity suffers from--we aren't what we were created to be apart from the Person and Work of Christ!

Anyway, I appreciate the discussion and the opportunity to learn how to better communicate my ideas.

I also really like your statement here: "I would state that Adam and Eve prior to the fall were true/truly human but were inexperienced and undeveloped in comparison to ultimately restored, resurrected persons in Christ that would have experienced the fall, sin, death, and the atoning and resurrection work of Christ applied to them."

It may be your inexperienced and undeveloped that I'm calling incomplete; though even here there is something missing in my mind. I don't believe that the Scripture confines our "being made complete in Christ" to the fact that we needed "experience" and "development".

If it's true that from the "foundations of the world" (eternity past), God had ordained that the "old creation" be renewed as the "new creation" in Christ (and I believe this is the trajectory of the Scripture), then there was something fundamentally lacking in (Adam) humanity ontologically even before The Fall. I see the Scripture speaking of The Fall/Redemption as the vehicle that God determined to use to make humanity (and the rest of the created order) complete in Christ (the "summing up of all things in Christ").

I don't think I have a problem with the term "true humanity" when referring to Adam as long as it's understood that "man" (humanity) is not authentic or complete apart from union with Christ.

What do you think about that? I hope I was able to make my understanding clear.

GGM

p.s. I know this was rather long, so be thankful I cut it short! :-)

thekingpin68 said...

"Restored" is a case in point. Even used with "Resurrected", it still only conveys, in my mind, a return in some way to a former reality--even though this former reality has the added paradigm of the resurrected state. The problem, as I see it, is that resurrection conveys the understanding of simply rising from the dead in a new body, not the understanding of a "new creation", as Paul speaks of it in reference to the OT prophetic voice of the New Heavens and New Earth. And, of course, this "new creation" is something that we participate in even now (though not consummately) as those who are redeemed in Christ.

Restored as noted many times in my writing, is to perfection, sinlessness and fellowship with God, which original humanity had. In context restored/restoration is a proper theological term. The former reality was that of original humanity. The new creation is often called a restored creation, although there is debate of how the laws of science were overturned in the fall, if at all.

'What I'm trying to say is that these terms, while right and beneficial (and even accurate if understood properly) really don't get at the fact (as I understand the Scripture) that "man" as a human being is incomplete apart from being joined to Christ, the "True" Man by the Spirit. As I've said before, I believe that Adam was also not complete apart from union with Christ.'

Sure, and I would use words like incomplete, underdeveloped, and immature rather than true for reasons mentioned.

'Let me just say this. When I use the term "true" in this case (and probably most cases in my writings here), I'm using it to convey completeness and authenticity. And by "authenticity", I mean a "thing" being fully and completely conformed to its created design and purpose.'Lol,

I will be honest my friend, authentic will get you into controversy like 'true'. The critic could say, so human beings are not authentic? Was the mortal Christ not authentic?

'So when I suggest that "man" is not "truly human" apart from Christ, I'm saying that apart from Christ "man" is incomplete.'

I know, and for academic writing I suggest you use incomplete...Lol.;)

'I agree that the phrase "less than human" (and even more, "sub-human") can be misunderstood and even misleading when not understood against the proper backdrop (which I tried to erect). Maybe in my effort to be "provacative" I don't always consider how certain terms will be ultimately understood by those reading my material.'

Yes, I am a good one to talk to if you want to find out how other academics can twwwwwist.

'We may end up finally disagreeing as to the extent of Adam's "human" nature prior to The Fall; but since the Bible speaks of all things (including man) finding their fulfillment in Christ, I don't know how else to Biblically articulate the meaning of Christ's Person and His work of Redemption other than to suggest that "man" is not authentically human apart from being joined to the True Man, Jesus Christ. And this is the calamity that humanity suffers from--we aren't what we were created to be apart from the Person and Work of Christ!'

No, you have done it already by using more clear terms. I know it is less original, but more effective in my opinion. 'Authentic human' and like just puts you with the same difficulty as true. Human beings are (not exhaustive list) corrupted, underdeveloped (theological speculation) and in need of regeneration and resurrection while outside of Christ. Many theologians have accurately described this over the years.

'It may be your inexperienced and undeveloped that I'm calling incomplete; though even here there is something missing in my mind. I don't believe that the Scripture confines our "being made complete in Christ" to the fact that we needed "experience" and "development".'

Yes, persons need to be regenerated and filled with the Holy Spirit which I have always made clear. But Scripture does not use true and authentic as you use them, and so with theology we are left with using the most effective terms available even if not in the Bible.

In love, I can basically guarantee you academic headaches by using the more original terminology, perhaps even with people that agree with you (like me)...Lol.

Thanks, GGM:)

Russ:)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Russ,

Thanks for taking the time to interact with me. I hear you and I appreciate where you're coming from. You certainly have a perspective (the "academic" realm) that I must consider when I engage with people about the Gospel. I must know who my audience is so that I don't spend a lot of time "muddying the waters", so-to-speak, when I don't have to.

But, if by using the terminology that I do I can spark discussion (even if it's just with you or others that I generally agree with :-), then I've at least accomplished something--like conversing about the greatness of our God and the salvation that He grants in Christ! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! :-)

But as a non-academic "witnessing" method, I've found that I've been able to more readily engage non-believers in discussions about the Gospel by using language that they've not been accustomed to from...say...their other Christian associates or "street preachers"; language that sparks their interest. Of course, as I have their ear and begin explaining my terms and what I mean by them I do bring in the concepts that we've been talking about; and in this way they can maybe understand better what we mean by redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, consummation, etc. But initially it seems, the people that I've been able to talk to are...let me just say, less than engaged at the beginning if I start in with "biblical" or "theological" speak.

Anyway, I get your point and, as you know, have nothing significant to disagree with you about. We're of a very similar mind and share a unity of the Spirit that I believe honors and glorifies our great God and Savior.

Thanks again, Russ.

GGM