Many of us are comfortable with a literal reading of Genesis, finding its account of human origins more plausible than anything else we’ve heard. If that’s you, this post will either bore or offend you. But if you’re like me—unable to swallow a literal reading of Genesis—this post’s for you.
I’ve believed in evolution for a couple decades now, and I spent much of that time in the closet, afraid to talk to anyone about it. I spent a couple of those years not believing in God, because I’d grown convinced that my science and my religion were incompatible. It’s been a long and fruitful journey for me, and today I can’t imagine doing theology without evolutionary science by my side. My science provides my theology with fantastic depth, fruitfulness, and beauty that it couldn’t have any other way. I love where I’m at with it.
But a friend recently brought up a question about this, and it’s relevant to our theological project here in the Trinity and Humanity blog community, so I thought I’d post about it here.
Many Christian evolutionists believe in a historical pair of Homo Sapiens named Adam & Eve. I do not, for a variety of reasons. Does this fundamentally conflict with Saint Paul’s “Adam Theology” (expressed in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15), which is a really important piece of the Trinity-and-Humanity vision of God?
In these passages, Paul uses Adam to illustrate the universality of Jesus’ saving work. The basic idea is expressed succinctly in Romans 5.18:
Just as [Adam’s] one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also [Jesus’s] one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.
Here are two quick reasons why my belief in Paul’s theology doesn’t conflict with my non-belief in a historical Adam:
1. Divinely-inspired ancient people don’t know quantum mechanics.
Or Newton’s laws of motion. Or that the Earth orbits the Sun. Or that all life on Earth is related by birth. As far as I can tell, Paul believes in an Earth-centered cosmos and a historical Adam & Eve, and that’s okay by me. My trust in Paul as a divinely-inspired messenger of the Gospel does not compel me to agree with his notions about the natural world.
2. Paul’s argument rests on Jesus, not Adam.
In these passages, Paul wants us to know that Jesus affects all of humankind, and he uses his understanding of human origins to illustrate how that can happen. Similarly, Hosea says that God is as trustworthy as the sun’s movement around the earth (Hosea 6.3). The truth of his theology does not rest on the accuracy of his science. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright backs me up on this:
I understand that some of my friends might not like what I have said here. If that’s the case for you, please know: I don’t need you to agree with me, but I do hope I can continue being welcome at your table. I think our theological project here is big enough for us to continue working side-by-side.
In this 1st message of a new Good News series at New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Maryland, entitled: “Being Jesus’ Body (A Church For Others!), Part 1″, Pastor Tim Proclaims the Good News of the Other-centered God Revealed in Jesus; THE God we can See, Know, Experience, Taste, Hear and Hear About, Fellowship With and In, Proclaim, Be Humbled By, Be Set Free By, and Be Thankful For!
In short, be met by the God you CAN’T say “No!” to! HaHa…
*Picture by Ridgedale Baptist Church (Chattanooga, TN.)
From a youth I have had a keen appreciation for antiques… sort of. Let me explain. While I do appreciate fine antique furniture and ornate wrought iron gates it is the tools used to create them that have always intrigued me. I have a growing collection of antique tools that I love to use. I am not one to buy an old tool and put away only to look at it or show it off to visitors- I put them to use. From my anvil that was made in England in the 1830’s to old chisels and hand planes (some of which were made before the Revolutionary War) I use them to do the tasks for which they were intended.
One of the first rules of hand tools or any tool for that matter is to use it for its intended purpose. I once saw someone take a finely honed 19th century Lakeside chisel and scrape a sticker off a metal lunch pail. YIKES!
In Proverbs 22:6 we are told to “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Wow, those words can either be an encouragement to parents or worrisome. It mostly depends on how you read it.
Well without boring the reader with the grammars and morphologies of ancient languages let me just tell you that the original text would read more like… “Train up a child the way he/she is bent and they will not depart from it even in old age.”
So the writer of the wisdom in Proverbs 22:6 is basically admonishing parents to look for where the child is naturally gifted and then to encourage and assist them in exploring that gift.
Think of another type of tool, a bow, if one wishes to launch an arrow with a bow one must draw the bow the way it is “bent”. If one were to draw the bow a different way from how it is bent the bow will perform poorly and may even break.
Our children are certainly not tools that we use but they, like a finely set Isaac Field smoothing plane, must be carefully observed and encouraged to do what they were created to do.
Some children love mathematics, some love animals, some love to act and entertain, some are gifted musically. Whatever gifts the Father, Son, and Spirit have given your kids encourage them, in any way possible, to chase their passions and even when they are old they will not depart from it.
Now where did I put that Stanley no. 48 tongue and groove plane Davina got me…
In this 7th and last message of the Gospel series at New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Maryland, entitled: “Participation in the Coming of Jesus Christ…!“, Pastor Tim continues to Proclaim the Good News of the God Revealed in Jesus! In particular he helps us ask and answer:
“If God is HERE, and the Life of the Age to come has BEGUN, and our LIFE HERE HAS MEANING TOO, then why do we yet look for Jesus’ Reappearance?”
Pastor T also considers:
- What we can and should be doing as we wait for Jesus’ reappearance
- How we can take part in paying God the highest compliment ever in the meantime,
- And responds to 3 questions from the audience in the light of the Jesus proclaimed in this series
Check it out!
I screwed up the other day, and I unintentionally shamed someone. And it’s times like these when I think (or maybe I’m praying), Where’s the new man, the new self? Where’s the changed person that I am supposed to be because the living Christ dwells in me?
I’ll bet I’m not the only one who thinks this, who has a lot of good days and sees wonderful progress in becoming who I think I’m created to be by God, and then just when I look the other way for one second, the old man jumps to the fore, reminding me that he (or she, in my case) is still there. Doesn’t one of my favorite verses, II Corinthians 5:17, say I am supposed to be different?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (NIV)
This verse makes it sound as if once a person recognizes his or her inclusion in Christ, safe in the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit, the old (or false self) is taken away immediately and replaced with the new (or true self).
My experience (and I’m guessing yours, too) has been that these two natures, our false and true selves, end up coexisting during our physical lives, and the balance between them really relies more on our understanding and belief in our acceptance and worthiness before God (because of our participation in Christ’s life now) than it is on some herculean effort on our part to “will” ourselves to behave and do good.
As a “new (wo)man” in Christ, my true self is loving, patient, and kind: that is who I am now, as I knowingly live my life, resting in God’s unchanging love and acceptance of me. However, my false self still is a part of me, still seeking to meet that need for love and acceptance in ways other than resting in the knowledge of who I am as a part of the intimate fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
I think that God is OK with my dual nature, because he sees me through the eyes of Jesus and knows that, ultimately, the true self will win. He made it that way. In the meantime, his grace has created forgiveness in me, for myself and others, whenever my false self or somebody else’s has a brief moment.
I recently came upon this poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez called “I Am Not I,” and it helps me reconcile the duality of my human nature:
I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.
~Juan Ramón Jiménez
My true self is who I really am. It is always with me even when I unintentionally shame someone or screw up, and it is held safe, even after death, by the Triune God. Amen.
~by Nan Kuhlman
He walked and walked all day. Just before sunset, he stopped and found a likely place to camp for the night. Before going to bed, he carefully placed his shoes on the ground, facing in the direction he was headed. That way, he figured, he would set out in the right direction the next morning.
In the middle of the night, something happened. A stranger came along and turned the man’s shoes around. In the morning the man awoke, put on his shoes and set out on his journey again. Thinking he was headed for the “City of Light,” he walked and walked all day.
Just before sunset, he looked down the road and saw a city that looked rather familiar to him. He entered through the city gate, and found a neighborhood that also looked rather familiar to him. He entered the neighborhood, and came to a house that looked rather familiar to him. He entered into the house. And there he lived happily ever after.
The moral of the story is that the journey of faith is actually a journey homeward.
One of the most beautiful and truly astounding things I have learned from Trinitarian theology has been that when Jesus took on and bound himself to humanity it was for good. He made his home with us just as he secured our home with him.
For so many years, I thought that his humanity ended at the Cross, and that he left, triumphant, for his real home to return on a distant day, when he would gather the faithful and transport them (and only them) to that distant home. The great City of Light.
But oh, the real story is so much better. In an interview, C. Baxter Kruger put it this way:
“We are accustomed to hearing preachers talk about praying to receive Jesus into our lives. For me that is a singular disaster. I think I know what they intend, but there is something very wrong in the vision of Jesus Christ that lies behind the wording. How can we receive someone into our lives in whom we live and move and have our being? That would be like me asking my daughter to receive me into her life. We’ve got it exactly backward. The gospel is not the news that we can receive an absent Jesus into our lives, as if we have life at all without him. The gospel is the news that Jesus Christ has received us into his life. We don’t make Jesus part of our world; he has made us part of his, part of his life and relationship with his Father, part of his anointing in the Spirit, part of his relationship with his creation. It is this reality that summons us to faith and repentance.”
Yet how often are we just like the man in the Jewish fable? — looking for truth outside of ourselves, not knowing that we already possess inside, in the person of Jesus Christ, everything we could ever want or need.
For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28
Not unlike a fetus. We are quite literally wrapped up, inside and out, in God.
The earth-shattering real story is that Jesus didn’t shed his humanity at the Cross, and he never will. Our humanity is still as much a part of him today — and he of it — as it was then. His union with humanity is for all time and will not end. The Cross showed that humanity can sling and spew its very worst at him, and he won’t let us go.
Because he is here, we are home — though of course we have yet to see the fulfillment of it. There is no distant City of Light to seek.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1:9-11)
It seems to me that not a lot has changed in more than 2,000 years! But every time we witness or experience love, beauty or grace, within or without, it is him. By just raising our consciousness to this regularly, we recognize him, we receive him, we acknowledge him. In so doing, we can make a warmer home for him right now in our world.
It’s hard to imagine Jesus needing anything. But because he has chosen to be in relationship with us, it matters. He wants to feel at home with and in us today. Baxter Kruger noted in his interview that “when one member of the Triune God weeps, the other tastes salt. ” Because Jesus took on our humanity and drew us into his relationship with Father and Spirit, it’s the same with us. When we weep, they taste salt.
When he weeps, do you taste salt?
You can. Wake up. Be aware of him every day. Notice him in places you never have before. By doing so, you make a home for him, and your world will change. More and more, it will be revealed to be the City of Light that it is all because he is here.
~ by Jeannine Buntrock
Readers of this blog have asked certain questions from time to time that have risen out of our underlying theology. Perhaps you have asked some of these questions yourself? Admittedly, this will be more academic than what we usually post, but hopefully useful, nonetheless.
What is Trinitarian theology? This is the question that forms the basis for this blog and one I was required to answer this week for my Grace Communion Seminary course, The Nature of God and Jesus Christ, taught by Dr. J. Michael Feazell.
If we are all included, what is the difference between believers (Christians) and non-believers (non-Christians)?
If we are included and already saved (Universally) why should we seek to help others understand they are saved (Personally)?
What is the difference between Universal salvation and Personal salvation?
What difference does it make how I live my life today?
Why should I obey God if he has already forgiven and included me?
What difference does faith and repentance make?
If it was all “done” by Jesus Christ at the Cross, what is there left for me “to do” today?
Why do the Gospels and Epistles speak about being blind and lost if we are included already?
How can we speak about a loving God when the Bible speaks at the same time about his wrath and judgment?
Who is Jesus?
Who or what is humanity?
How is it that we can say everyone is our brother and sister (especially for someone like me who lived as an only child of my parents)?
I think you will be able to find answers to each of these questions if you look closely enough at my answer to the question “What does Trinitarian theology mean to you (in this case me personally)? Let’s give it a try, but before we begin, please realize that this is my personal definition, written in my own words, based on the many things I have read and studied from many other Trinitarian authors.
“Trinitarian theology means to me that before time, space, and any creation existed, the Father, Son, and Spirit existed as three distinct persons that so completely interpenetrated themselves that they existed as One God in Love and purpose. From that loving relationship came about the desire and plan to create and include humanity to exist with them in union and communion in the same loving relationship. This theology establishes that God is relational with and not distant from all humanity.
“In order to include humanity (created) in them (non-created) a hypostatic union was needed and brought about by the incarnation, God becoming man through the Son, Jesus Christ. Through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension, humanity was united and became one with the Son, and thereby gained access to (was included in) the Father-Son relationship through the Son (by the Holy Spirit) forever.
“This theology provides the foundation for answering who we are by addressing the question who is Jesus? By knowing who we are in union with the triune God gives us purpose and requires a response of belief and trust (faith) through repentance to participate in that relationship thereby living in communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit.
“Only by knowing first who God is, can we fully know who we are. Through our understanding of Trinitarian theology and living out of the love God first had for us, can we truly love others and live into the Kingdom life described by Jesus in the Gospels, and the apostles in their letters.
“When we come to that belief the blindness and darkness of our fallen humanity is exchanged by seeing and living in the light, walking in the Spirit, participating in Jesus’ ministry through the Great Command and Great Commission of making disciples who make disciples.”
The answer to this primary question loosely forms the basis for the team of writers who blog here weekly, as we write about the tremendous relationship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has provided and into which all of us has been included.
~by Craig Kuhlman
This was simply a question and answer session at New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Maryland, with responses given by Pastor Timothy Brassell in the Light of the Good News of the God Revealed in Jesus! The questions in this session had to do with the New Heavens and New Earth, Prayer, and a Facebook post about Miracles that came from this Trinity and Humanity Blog. Check it out!