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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No Inconsistency Between Creation and Salvation

I have started re-reading St. Athanasius' little treatise, "The Incarnation of the Word of God'. Athanasius wrote this short piece possibly around 318 a.d., to show the positive aspects of the Christian Faith to a non-Christian audience, and to challenge their pesky resistance to Jesus Christ.

At the end of section one, he sums up the reason for Jesus, the eternally divine Son of God, becoming human:
He has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love and goodness of His Father, for the salvation of us men. We will begin, then, with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation; for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it in the beginning (p. 26).
I find it interesting that much of modern Evangelical Christianity in North America, seems to have left creation behind in God's working out our salvation. The assumption appears to be that salvation is about me, primarily me, me, me, me. And in that regard they have stripped salvation of its bigger, grander, more majestic goal: the whole cosmos is being redeemed. We need to recover the good and exciting notion that God has a world rescue operation going on, and that Jesus Christ His Son, embodied, crucified, resurrected, and entroned is the Savior of the world: καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλάσμος ἐστιν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου ("He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" 1 John 2.2 ESV).

That means that there is an important universal aspect to God's liberation enterprise through His Son Jesus Christ. As Jesus has laid down His life for His sheep (limited atonement), He has also become the rescuer of the whole creation (Romans 8.18-22). It is thrilling to think that the devil really was defeated at the cross and the empty tomb! Come, Lord Jesus!

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