Sunday, July 22, 2007

Argument From Cosmic Redemption

Hello folks,

I’m coming to my fifth argument defending my Satan-in-Nature (S.I.N) hypothesis -- the view that “natural” evil can only adequately be explained by positing that evil cosmic forces have a corrupted nature. If you haven’t read my arguments up to this point, you might want to go back and start with the July 12th blog.

These S.I.N. blogs are generating lots of great feedback! Thanks. I appreciate all the thoughtful input. (The “you-godless-heretic” sort of feedback not so much). I’ve had a few suggest I develop this material into a little book. Hmmmmm. I could call it, The Cursed Creation, or The Corruption of Creation, or Creation at War, or Who the *^&$%! Made the Minnesota Mosquito?

Interesting idea, but it’s going to have to wait. I’ve got three book projects I’m already juggling! Beside, I already have two chapters on this topic in Satan and the Problem of Evil (which, by the way, went into its fourth printing this week! Yeahhhh!)

Okay, this argument could be called The Argument From Cosmic Redemption.

The New Testament teaches that Christ died not just to redeem humans; he died to restore the entire creation. In Col. 1:19-20 Paul says that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" (emphasis added).

Now, if “all things” will be reconciled in Christ, then “all things” must have been in need of reconciliation. This tells us that nature as we now find it is not nature as God originally intended it.

So too, Paul says the whole creation is groaning to be “liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). When humans will be reinstated as the rightful rulers of the earth, reigning with Christ (2 Tim 2:12; Rev. 5:10), the creation will cease groaning and will no longer suffer decay. (Paul, like other ancient people, saw the earth as the center of creation). This further suggests that the groaning creation we currently live in is not in every respect the creation God originally spoke into existence. It’s been corrupted.

As James Kallas noted, the New Testament concept of “salvation” isn’t limited to human beings. He writes:

…. since the cosmos itself is in bondage, depressed under evil forces, the essential content of the word “salvation” is that the world itself will be rescued, or renewed, or set free. Salvation is a cosmic event affecting the whole of creation.….Salvation is not simply the overcoming of my rebellion and the forgiveness of my guilt, but salvation is the liberation of the whole world process of which I am only a small part. (The Satanward View: A Study in Pauline Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966), p.74.)

I couldn’t have said it any better myself! Just as we humans impact everything under our authority for better or for worse, depending on the decisions we make and the kind of people we become, so spirit agents impact everything under their authority, for better or for worse, depending on the decisions they make and the kind of agents they’ve become.

Unfortunately, it seems in a previous epoch there was some sort of mass rebellion among agents who had great authority over material creation, and they used this authority against God as they tried to throw his creational project off track by corrupting it.

Now, God couldn’t simply destroy these rebellious agents when they rebelled or began corrupting creation, for as I’ve argued in Satan and the Problem of Evil, freedom is intrinsically irrevocable. If God gives an agent x a certain amount of “say-so” to use this way or that way (that is, if God makes an agent genuinely free), God can’t simply revoke it because he disapproves of the agent using it that way. If God did revoke it, then he clearly didn’t give agent x any amount of “say-so” to use this way OR THAT WAY. In other words, if God revokes freedom, he clearly didn’t give it in the first place. Follow?

So God must, for a limited amount of time (conforming to the amount of “say-so” he originally granted to agents) put up with and work around the corrupting influence of spirit agents – just as he must put up with and work around the corrupting influence of human agents.

So the scenario I at present tentatively envision is something like this. Evolutionary history reflects God’s advancing his creational objectives, despite the corrupting influence of diabolic cosmic forces. This is why evolutionary history -- and nature and the animal kingdom today -- reflect both the marvelous creativity of God as well as the ugly corrupting influence of demonic powers.

By this means, God finally arrived at the creation of human beings, which was his goal all along. Unlike everything that preceded us, we were to be (and yet are to be) the rightful rulers of creation, administrating God’s loving providence “on earth as it is in heaven.” We were specially designed in the image of God and, I believe, we were free from the corrupting influence of the oppressed creation. It’s possible that with the creation of humans God formed a sort of beachhead (Eden) from which he planned to advance his Kingdom and ultimately bring an end to the warfare that had engulfed his creation. We were to partner with God to take back the earth. I believe this has never stopped being God’s plan.

But humans, like spirit agents, have free will, for love is impossible without it. And, unfortunately, like many spirit agents, we humans used our “say-so” to rebel against God and go our own way. We thus surrendered our dominion over to the very powers we were supposed to protect Eden from and acquire dominion over – at least as it concerned their influence on the earth.

And so it is that God’s goal of reigning with humans on the earth has had to take a much longer, more circuitous, and more painful route. The biblical narrative is a small peek at what this detoured route looks like. Ultimately, God’s union with humanity in Christ (which, I’m convinced, was at the center of his plan from the get-go) had to now become a “rescue operation” that involved him in the suffering of Calvary. And it is by means of this “rescue operation” of love that God in principle restored humanity, recovered the earth, and reconciled the entire creation.

I know there’s a number questions this scenario raises that will need to be worked out. But I think that at least something like this has gone on, and is still going on.

The good news is that some day, what became true “in principle” on Calvary shall be manifested as fact throughout the whole creation. All things will be reconciled to God. This Kingdom of God. At this time, the lion “will lay down with the lamb” and “eat straw like an ox”. At this time, finally, creation will be free of all diabolical influences, and we shall reign with Christ on the earth, extending God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven.”

I, for one, am very much looking forward to this!

One more argument to come. Till then,