From two different angles I’ve described my personal creed of belief. In response to Ray’s question I confessed my affirmative view of existence based on God’s promise of Grace, and in a descriptive piece on leadership I embraced how God’s might deeds and man’s response as the matrix to how leadership should be measured. So now, I see it only fitting that to declare openly what I believe and why (at least in a narrative or confessional sense, given the Meta nature of such declarations).
To start, I’m going to operate from the assumption that you have not read any other piece than this. I have already offered above links back to the referred post, but I will not attempt to retell the situations that generated them. Except that I will introduce the categories defined by H. Richard Niebuhr in “Christ and Culture” – meta-types of those that follow Christ.
1. For the exclusive Christian history is the story of a rising church or Christian culture and a dying pagan civilization.
2. For the cultural Christian, it is the story of the spirit’s encounter with nature.
3. For the synthesist, it is a period of preparation under law, reason, gospel, and church for an ultimate communion of the soul with God.
4. For the dualist, history is the time of struggle between faith and unbelief, a period between the giving of the promise of life and its fulfillment.
5. For the conversionist history is the story of God’s mighty deeds engaging the corruption of man in a dramatic and continuing process. Whereas the reaction is demonstrate in man’s responses to them is mediated by the promise of Grace, and its replenishment. The conversionist lives some what less “between the times” and somewhat more in the divine “Now” than do his various brothers listed above. Eternity to the conversionist, like me, focuses less on the action of God before time and less the life with God after time and more on the presence of God in time. Hence the conversionist is less concerned with conservation of what has been given in creation, less with preparation for what will be given in a final redemption, than with the divine possibility of a present renewal.
What distinguishes conversionist is their more positive and hopeful attitude toward culture and its technology which opens up nicely with the ambitions expressed in working with Addicts to manage their life towards thriving.
So to restate more fully – I stand on three theological convictions.
1 – Christ Persist
The first of these relates to creation. The Dualist tends to concentrate on redemption through Christ’s cross and resurrection. To this follows that creation is a sort of prologue to the one mighty deed of atonement.
Whereas, I see things in the context of Paul’s words of “…all things were created through and for him”. Pointing us this way reflects the creative activity of God and Christ-in-God, neither overpowered by nor overpowering the idea of Atonement. Hence I see man the creature, working in a created world, living, as I see it, under the rule of Christ and by the creative power and ordering of the divine Grace, even through in his unredeemed mind I may believe that I live among vain things under divine wrath –
Christ does persist!
Finding the room for the affirmative and ordered response on the part of created man to the mighty deeds of God is my rock. Knowing that the ordering work of God; even though the creature may go about his work unwillingly as he tills the ground, cultivates his mind, and organizes his society, and through he may administer perversely the order given him with his existence –
Christ does persist!
Unlike those that would place emphasis on the one time back then of the story. I place the work as in the Nowness of everything in the immediate world around us, focusing on the replenishment work of God. Not that I wish to turn away from the historical Jesus to Logos that was in the beginning, or that I deny the wonder of the cross in marveling at the birth in a barn; my task is to dare to manage the ongoing process of holding together in one movement the various themes of creation and redemption, of incarnation and atonement in the face of tragedy and despair.
2 – From Corruption
The second theological conviction I support is an understanding of the nature of man’s fall from his created goodness. Some would place the notions of creation of finite selfhood or matter involved fall. To be in the body is to be away from Christ; noting good dwells in the flesh; to be carnal is to be sold under sin.
To which I take the step to separate the conditions of life in the body from creation. It is a kind of reversal of creation for me, and in no way an action of God’s. It is moral and personal, not physical and metaphysical, though it does have physical consequences.
The results of man’s defection from God, moreover, all occur on man’s side and not on God’s. The word that must be used here to designate the consequences of the fall is “corruption”. Man’s good nature has become corrupted; it is not bad, as something that ought not to exist, but warped, twisted, and misdirected.
He loves with the love that is given him in his creation, but loves beings wrongly, in the wrong order; he desires good with the desire given him and misses his true good; he produces fruit, but it is misshapen and bitter; he organizes society with the aid of his practical reason, but works against the grain of things in self-willed forcing of his reason into irrational paths, and thus disorganizes things in his very acts of organization. Hence we are a world struggling to maintain rather than bent on destruction.
Our problem is one of conversion not of replacement. This is true even if the conversion be so radical that it amounts to a kind of rebirth.
3. His Mighty Deeds Continue
The third is a view of history that holds that to God all things are possible in a history that is fundamentally not a course of merely human events but always a dramatic interaction between God and men. As stated earlier I’ll state again – for me the eschatological future has become for me an eschatological present. Eternity means for me less the action of God before time and less the life with God after time and more the presence of God in time.
Only in this sense do I have to exceed to the mystery of progress and upward movement, the rising of men’s souls and deeds and thoughts in a mighty surge of adoration and glorification of the One who draws them to himself. This is what human culture can be-a transformed human life in and to the glory of God. For man it is impossible, but all things are possible to God, who has created man, body and soul, for Himself, and sent his Son into the world that the world through him might thrive.