Sunday, May 31, 2020

Story of Reality

I've just finished reading Greg Koukl's book of this title.

Its a great idea and a good book, setting out the 'meta' theological contours of Christian faith. As such it represents a superb approach for teaching the faith to new-comers, establishing a program for Christian young people, and for summarizing it for an enquirer.

The language is in 'story' mode, making it quite inviting to read for most, I would think. The flavours of C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer (who with his wife Edith founded L'Abri) come through, which enriches it immensely. In fact, both these authors would be a happy follow-on from SoR.

I spotted three big let-downs, however. Two theological, and one more pastoral.

The two theological let-downs are considerable.

First, the creation is placed 'out of touch'. Koukl relegates this to the timelessness of fairy tales, and makes room for the delusions of materialists that, given enough time, well, just about anything is possible.

Genesis 1-3 and beyond to the chrono-genealogies, controverts both these notions.

The very point of creation both fast and recent is to prevent the dual pagan deceits of fairy tale time (ethereal and not of our time or place), and the possibility of materialism.

Vague time puts Genesis in a time-space place that is dis-continuous with our time-space experience, disconnecting it from our life-world. Genesis 1 sets the creation in the terms of our life-world experience. How its made is how it is. Its 'ontology' to use a philosophical concept, is continuous with ours and thus the place God formed for our fellowship with him is the world that he created by his word. He is close and engaged. Not far off and detached. It is this very word-caused-materiality of the creation that makes salvation by means reflective of our life-world essential.

Allowing materialism's random processes to step in at a formative level ejects wisdom, intention and care from the creation and reduces it to a meaningless cacophony of clashing atoms, where the personal is a result of matter, and not matter the result of the personal (God).

The second is unsurprising.

Koukl's underlying Calvinism and its Western theological roots shines through with its Penal Substitutionary obsessions in the chapters on Yeshua's death and suffering.

Certainly Jesus died for (as a result of) our sin, but he did not in reality (although metaphorically did) 'take' our sin upon himself, like a rucksack of perdition. He took it on because he subjected himself, as the man he was, to the 'life-world' of broken-ness and sin that resulted from man's rejection of fellowship with (and life from) God in Adam and Eve's act to repudiation of fellowship. They voted for the creature, not the creator, and thus our result!

Christ took our path to death, a certain death demonstrated certainly (and not just claimed: God always demonstrates, he doesn't make empty claims: the creation, the Exodus--both set forth as the basis for his worship--the signs Yeshua did (miracles) in his incarnation to underscore his teaching, in overturning our deathly disaster and bringing his kingdom of life as the foretaste of the new creation) and the new life demonstrated with equal tangible drama in the resurrection.

The whole point is the resurrection. On its basis we turn to Christ, repent and are blessed with the gift of  new life by the indwelling Spirit of Christ. From then on, our continuing sin is covered by Christ's death and resurrection. He 'out-died' death, then out-livened' in in resurrection.

The third deficiency is perhaps more one of style, but there is substance there too.

Koukl talks of 'heaven' continuously, even in terms of the new creation. He could have emphasised that our destiny is not a cloud-based,  harp-obsessed life of spirits, but the New Heaven and the New Earth. God's kingdom of spiritual-physical bodies as is the risen Christ's.

He then talks about the great re-union with past saints (and those who we knew in life); and truly, this would be a wonderful thing. One only hopes that our ex-girl/boy friends will not bring to mind the solecisms of our then past life.

But what he doesn't discuss is the main game: we will endlessly be in unalloyed fellowship with our Lord and creator. We will keep knowing him more and more deeply, wonderfully, thrillingly, and satisfyingly FOR EVER.

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