Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's the New Creation, stupid!

Bill Clinton brought "clarity" to the national debate back in 1990 when he campaigned on "It's the economy stupid!" Biblical Theology is making a comeback in the "national debate" over what is the nature of the Gospel and Culture. 19th-20th century Evangelicalism (read Dispensationalism) said it's about the Rapture, stupid! (In other words, get on the soul train and don't bother polishing the brass on the ship of Culture, it's gonna be nuked!) Late 20th and early 21st century Evangelicalism (from Warren's PEACE plan, Bono and Live8's Make Poverty History campaign, to Keller's wholistic Gospel of word and deed in NYC) is seeking to make "his blessings known far as the curse is found"). The New Creation message and mandate preaches and practices the truth that God is as interested in bringing a new creation as he is in bringing people to personal new creation via regeneration and union with Christ.

This New Creation emphasis was brought home to me recently while I toiled away shoveling dirt from one pile to another ( a la Monty Python), redeeming the time via iPod. I've been listening to Tim Keller (a long-time favourite) and NT Wright (the Christian blogosphere's patron saint/resident devil) . Don't tell anybody, but the messages were almost identical in their punch line: Jesus is God's fulfillment of the Isaiah promise of New Creation! (Don't say you heard it here or that I've been listening to Wright! I could get in big trouble with Who Knows Who!) Jesus Christ came not to do cool miracles and drop little gems that we could turn into Christian T-shirt's and fridge magnets, but he came to embody and bring about God's promised reversal of sin's curse through the death/victory of the Incarnate Word/Saviour King.

At this point in your reading this post you're probably playing connect the dots. You're trying to find some way to look up the email address of someone in Keller's presbytery to warn them about his reading habits!! But all joking aside, let's look at how these two sharp minds and practitioners of Christian proclamation and exposition come to the same conclusion.

NT Wright's talk is worth your time not only for his insights, but also for insights into his method. When he began his research into the infamous field of "Historical Jesus studies" he was coming as an evangelical to the task. He had gained much inspiration and most likely personal encouragement from JI Packer, an evangelical Anglican, and no slouch either on either of those counts. What set Wright apart from his contemporaries is that Wright was convinced from the Scriptures that Jesus was not only historical but was also REDEMPTIVE, in his divinity and humanity and also in his fulfillment of Scriptural hope regarding the New Creation. So Wright comes at the Redemptive Historical bit through seeing Jesus as Redeeming Lord, and as Jesus of Nazareth, the human embodiment of God's promised Redemption.

Keller comes at the Redemptive Historical bit (as a good Westminster graduate) through the likes of Murray and Vos, and a healthy reading of Edwards, etc. He is telling gnostic evangelicals that Christ has not just brought individual redemption and healing to his People, but has brought his people the church into the task of curse reversal that Jesus was engaging in while "on this guilty sod." As evangelicals we are keen on seeking Christ for redemption, but aren't seeking to see redemption applied beyond the eternal state. If Christ's coming and ascension are about Creation Regained, we are not to twiddle our thumbs during the "parenthesis", but are to be about the "thesis": "Joy to the World, the Lord has come, let earth receive her king . . .come to make his blessings known far as the curse is found."

Our gospel message brings joy to the city: freedom has been preached to the captive. The Lord has come, but the blind cannot see that he's come and what he's come for. Rampant collectivism and multiculturalism and rampant individualism must both bow to the King of heaven and earth. We proclaim the year of the Lord's favour while men have time and ears to hear. This proclamation and exhibition of the Lord's victory is the mandate for the biblical, missional Christian until Christ has everything put under his feet and hands over the kingdom to his Father and our's.

Take time to filter your theology through the fact and the hope of the New Creation. Keller and Wright are helpful corrections to our gnostic, disconnected "gospels" of a purely "personal Jesus" who makes no difference in the world at large.

1 comment:

pilgrim said...

our gnostic, disconnected "gospels" of a purely "personal Jesus" who makes no difference in the world at large.

Interesting way of putting it...
But it makes a lot of sense.

Good to see you're using your time off wisely...