The Bible reveals three profound realities that provide a rich understanding of the way things are and should shape our engagement as we try to tackle injustice and make the world a better place.
First, the truth of Creation. All things have their source in God the Creator, and are endowed with an original purpose, order, goodness and beauty. This doesn’t just apply to the natural world, but also to the things which humans have made as we fulfil the Creation mandate of Gen 1:26-28. God has embedded creational ‘norms’ in each area of society for us to discover – the good and right way of doing things, providing identity and setting boundaries. There is something intrinsically good about developing culture and technology, as we discover and follow God’s creational intentions and norms – ‘going with the grain of the universe’.
Secondly, the fact of the Fall. Just as all things have been created, so all things have been distorted by the impact of sin and rebellion against God. The world is not how it should be, nor how God created it to be. It has been spoiled. But sin doesn’t abolish creation, nor take it over; it can only corrupt what is already there. The fact that there is prostitution doesn’t nullify the beauty of sex, nor tyranny the value of ordered government. Tolkein’s orcs were once noble elves but were tortured and disfigured to become the evil creatures we encounter in Lord of the Rings. All things, like all people, are simultaneously created and fallen.
Thirdly, the reality of Redemption. Through the cross and resurrection of Christ, God has brought healing and redemption to every part of the Creation that was corrupted by the Fall. Redemption doesn’t introduce a new element to the world though; it seeks to restore the whole created order to its original goodness. Just as an art restorer painstakingly removes dirt from a blackened and torn canvas to reveal the original masterpiece, so God doesn’t destroy the spoiled creation – he rescues it, and calls the church to join him in that mission. Just as unredeemed humanity carries on the rebellion, Christians are to participate in bringing Christ’s redemption to every sphere of society. This doesn’t mean a ‘return’ to Eden or some golden age, but restoring culture in its present stage of development.
To read more about this way of looking at the world, one of the best books is Creation Regained by Albert Wolters.
Reformation2017’s three-part structure of the New Theses reflects this way of seeing the world, and we’re encouraging participants to use this format to reflect theologically over the issue which they are passionate about.