1. Suppose hypothetically that God is still creating the world, using processes we’re only beginning to kinda-sorta understand — processes that entail generating lots of variations and keeping the ones that “work” as the starting point for later variations.
(These processes of the ongoing creation seem to include us as construction workers, incidentally: our powers of imagination let us generate new variations, while our powers of perception and memory let us see and remember — imperfectly — what does or doesn’t work.)
This hypothesis is not totally implausible, not if you take a long view of what we think we know of history. …
Now, D.C. (for whom I have a great deal of respect) and I disagree about much in the church, including what is the very nature of “church” and even what it means to be christian. I would argue that to be a christian means to accept Jesus as Lord, as being God incarnate who died in the flesh and rose again so that we might be released from the bondage of our sin. I will let D.C. speak for himself, which he does quite well, but he would more describe it as following the commandments of Jesus in that we are to love God and our neighbor, and teach others to do the same.
But in this post, I think he has it pretty much right. The main difference is that where he suggests that this world may not be “broken” just “unfinished,” I believe that through the fall it is broken, and will be fixed.
So where the prescription for completion is totally different, and supremely important, I think his observation about our place on the time-line of creation is very interesting. The following is my response to him.
D.C., Surprising as it may be, I am in almost exact agreement with you here. (Of course, “almost” is always where the difficulties lie!)
I think that when/if the definitive story of this age is written, we will find that the time in which we now live has been somewhere early in Genesis. We, particularly my philosophical edge of the church, tend to place it closer to the Revelation.
Like many, I’ve often been made uneasy by the passages which seem to attribute evil to God. Certainly, God permits evil to exist. Thus, if one starts as I do from the omniscience and omnipotence of God, together with absolute goodness, the existence of evil must somehow be in accord with His purpose.
My own thoughts are derived from my understanding of God as triune, and a perhaps unwarranted interpretation that “let us make man in our own image” refers in part back to characteristics of trinity. Among those characteristics are the capacity to receive and give love voluntarily, without compulsion, both to God and our fellows.
Following in a very truncated form, Jung suggested that the two great tasks of personal development were first, detachment, then reattachment. That in order to love with a mature love, there must be the potential for separation, and as “Murphy’s law” suggests, anything that can happen (particularly bad), will happen. If separation is possible, it will happen. But true growth transcends this point, and redeems the relationship by re-identification: with one’s parents, society, the universe at large.
I think perhaps that in order to create such a creature as God has in mind, this is part of the process. This fall, or pulling away, followed by a potential reunion. The “almost” in my first sentence comes in here. Some see that reunion as coming through continued growth on our part, convincing us to return to a love of God and our brothers. Others hold to the traditional Christian view that the return took a redemptive intervention from the Creator toward the created.
But in broad terms, this seems to address those places where evil is dismissed in the bible by an appeal to Divine sovereignty, as in Job, where the final answer to Job seems to be “trust me, it will all work out in the end” or references to the clay having no business critiquing the potter. Finally, there is St. John’s observation (in his first epistle 3:2) that “it has not yet appeared what we shall be”
I am not a universalist, although I am probably as close to one as I can be without turning in my traditionalist membership card. But at the end of the day, I think we will find that this has all been preparation, and absolutely unavoidable preparation for what is to be. With Dame Julian, I think we will find that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”