Monday, February 16, 2009

A touchstone

I have been turning over and over in my mind the idea that the basic criteria for Christian theology are that it must be all Christ, and that it must give us a view of Christ that includes Christ as creator, Christ as redeemer and Christ as judge. The degree of harmony and unity between the portraits painted of Christ (necessarily there will be three distinct portraits) is a good indicator of how particularly Christian a system of doctrine is.

If I am correct, contemporary evangelicalism has a problem.

For most of us Christ as creator barely features - and certainly bears no particular weight within our doctrinal system. And for many of us, Christ as judge is not recognisably the same person as Christ as redeemer. This has knock-on effects on our theology. On the one hand, the neglect of the doctrine of creation (and therefore also of the care for and enjoyment of creation) amongst evangelicals is massive. On the other hand, it is all too easy to posit a divide in Jesus - the Jesus who wants people to be saved and the Jesus who is rather threateningly waiting to turn up and bring the salvific mission to an end. The result of that is that the second coming becomes bad news, and we end up working against Jesus to save as many as we can before he turns up and ruins everything.

We know God as he is revealed in Christ. That means that the incarnate Christ is also our view of the creator and the judge. There is no other shadowy Christ with contrary aims and a different character. I need to integrate my three portraits of Christ, and thus enrich my worship of the one Lord Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. superb stuff dan

    I've found that really helpful in evangelism too - but in reverse for what's essentially sub-christian religion:

    Having spoke to a ton of people in mission weeks, I found this question really opened up hearts, "do you think there's a differnece between trusting in God as creator and trusting in God as a redeemer?"

    amazing - one lad who'd used all biblical language, "I live by faith" immediately said God created us and has a purpose for us which gives us meaning, but we have to redeem ourselves.

    what good news that in Christ we find God is our creator, judge, redeemer and hope!