I've enjoyed reading Wolters' Creation Regained in our staff study programme. It's a great call to a reformation wordview, rather than an all-too-gnostic division of world into sacred and secular. He helpfully gives categories of structure and direction, with which to analyse - structure is what we might think of as substance, material (whether physical or not); direction is essentially how it's used or acted upon - in conformity to God's good creation or in a distortion or perversion of it? This thinking prevents us from throwing good babies out with bad bathwater, or from drinking dirty bathwater just because sometimes it's useful for cleaning babies.
However there seemed to me to be a drawback with the book - a looming absence. It might have been because of the subject material, but God seemed rather distant. Impersonal. His power acts in Jesus Christ by the Spirit to transform the world. He's Trinitarian in formula: "God is renewing the creation and the whole of human life in the work of Jesus Christ by the Spirit." Yet somehow this comes across as impersonal. It's a project to renew creation and human life. To this end Jesus defeats sin and evil in his death and resurrection. But what about, "Eternal life is to know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent"?
There is a problem when salvation is reduced to the realm of personal communion with God, and our role as God's glory - his image-bearers, his vice-regent representatives of his rule over creation under him - is forgotten. But we mustn't neglect the place of personal reconciliation as well as cosmic: of not only restoring creation but knowing God as Father in Christ by the Spirit. God's Kingdom is not merely that God is renewing the creation and the whole of human life in the work of Jesus Christ by the Spirit. The good news of God's kingdom includes the announcement of how one may take part in this kingdom in repentence and faith - i.e., how this kingdom's arrival is indeed good news for you! And that involves the Trinity covenanting together to call and provide a way for us to come to Himself. And it centres on a cross and empty tomb. Not merely a place of victory over evil, but a victory over evil because it is place of satisfaction of God's justice, of taking of his curse on creation on himself, so that we who were once not only failed-caretakers but hostile are reconciled by his blood.
I'm not writing off the book for that - on the contrary, it's a clear and persuasive introduction to its stated topic. But when the authors have taken the opportunity of a second edition to write a postscript describing the gospel more broadly than their remit, it was disappointing that they didn't bring in this glorious personal aspect, indispensible for their topic.
Perhaps I'm being unfair, on a first reading. It got me thinking, though, of this null hypothetical: Say you had reformed all of life - church, family, politics, business, art, education, journalism, thought, emotion, plants and animals, inanimate matter - in a Godward direction, so that, by God's power in the work of Christ by the Spirit, it was as it should be in God's good creation. And you did not know the Father in Christ. Would you be happy? Would you have fulfilled the gospel? The kingdom? (It's an impossible hypothesis, of course, but perhaps worth pondering.)
Fool's Talk - a review
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