Shalom is the Way it is Meant to Be

Recently, my wife and I bought a tapestry from Ten Thousand Villages (a fair trade store with goods from third world countries). It featured the word "PEACE" in several different languages around the outer edge with a nice design in the middle. I love that concept: PEACE ALL AROUND THE WORLD. Sounds like what Jesus is called--the PRINCE of PEACE.

I've read many books that made the biblical teaching of SHALOM a central theme. Mike Wittmer's Heaven is a Place on Earth shook my world. Then there was the manuscript Scot McKnight invited me to be a reader on, interacting with it and adding my two cents - Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us was so insightful. Of course, there was the excellent books by Cornelius Plantinga Jr., including Engaging God's World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living.

This last book teaches that the grand "meta-narrative" that is true (as opposed to the other meta-narratives that destroy life and are used to manipulate others) is the biblical one of CREATION, FALL, and REDEMPTION.

"The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets called shalom. We call it "peace," but it means far more than just peace of mind or cease-fire between enemies...(it) means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight--a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, all under the arch of God's love. Shalom, in other words, is the way things are supposed to be." (pp. 14-15)

"Evil is what's wrong with the world, and it includes trouble in nature as well as in human nature. It includes disease as well as theft, birth defects as well as character defects. We might define evil as any spoiling of shalom, any deviation from the way God wants things to be. Thinking along these lines, we can see that sin is a subset of evil; it's any evil for which somebody is to blame...All sin is evil, but not all evil is sin...all sin is culpable evil...Sin grieves God, offends God, betrays God, and not just because God is touchy. God hates sin against himself, against neighbors, against the good creation, because sin breaks the peace...God is for shalom and therefore against sin." (p. 51)

"The whole natural world, in all its glory and pain, needs redemption that will bring shalom. The world isn't divided into a sacred realm and a secular realm, with redemptive activity confined to the sacred zone. The whole world belongs to God, the whole world has fallen, and so the whole world needs to be redeemed--every last person, place, organization, and program; all 'rocks and trees and skies and seas'; in fact, "every square inch,' as Abraham Kuyper said. The whole creation is a 'theater for the mighty works of God,' first in creation and then in re-creation." (p. 96)

The way it is meant to be!


Scot McKnight said...

I've got to read this one by Plantinga because I thought his Not the Way It's Supposed to Be was one of the best books I read this year.

Bob, what do you recommend from Kuyper?

Bob Robinson said...

Easy question.

Lectures on Calvinism.

Anonymous said...

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Dick Padro said...

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Anonymous said...

I just discovered this site by searching the Net for “shalom harmony”. Our church just recently completed an 18 month series on Sacred Space; specifically, the “Recovery of Sacred Space” in Christ, defining “Sacred Space” as the realm in which God is present in relation to His creation: it’s not simply where God is, as if the heavens could contain Him, but its how God is with respect to His creation. Sacred Space, as we understand the Bible to speak of it (though the exact term is not found in the Bible, as we know), is the “place” of Relationship, of intimate, harmonious (Shalomic!) communion between God and His entire created order, focused primarily in Man (as Image-Bearer), and then flowing out from Man to the entire creation (as typified in the Garden and the Mandate before the Fall). Following the paradigm of Creation/Fall/Redemption with a thorough redemptive-historical understanding, we sought to show biblically that the purpose of God in redemption was to Recover Sacred Space which was lost in the Fall. (Lost, however, does not really convey the correct meaning. Eden was simply a “type” of the consummate Sacred Space to come). This recovery comes in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and will result in the New Heavens and New Earth at the consummation where Shalom will reign in the perpetual Shabbat of God’s Rest (though we who belong to Christ experience this now as the First-Fruits, so-to-speak).
I just removed three more paragraphs that I initially wrote to further develop this so that I could get to my main point (I just get excited as I talk about these things!). If you’d like to converse more about this, just let me know. Anyway, my point is that, borrowing from Plantinga, throughout our study we’ve defined Shalom as:
The state of Harmony within the Created Order in which every created thing finds itself in perfect conformity to itself and its created function, and therefore relates with Integrity, in Truth to every other Created Thing. It’s “The Way Things Ought to Be”, as Plantinga would say!
As I’ve been perusing this site, I stumbled across this blog entry and enjoyed it very much. I’ve been scouring the net for books or sites that rightly understand our relationship with each other and the creation in which we live. We don’t deify the earth, we simply recognize it as a part of God’s good creation which He will redeem at the second coming; and that we are to live responsibly in His creation towards His creation: Man and environment.
I thoroughly enjoyed Plantinga’s book “Not the Way it’s Supposed to Be”, though I would say that Sin is, in essence, unbelief (a relational quality) and that the manifestation of sin is the “bad” behavior that we exhibit and see; and it’s because of the curse that “evil” is present in our world. I loved his declaration that sin (even my understanding of sin as unbelief) is the “vandalism” of Shalom!
I’ve been looking for other books that speak similarly to these issues. I plan on getting this other book of his that you have listed here, “Engaging God’s World”, but was wondering if you had other recommendations based on what I wrote. I would like to read some material on culture and/or environmental issues from the perspective of Christians living in this world according to the truth of who we are. To often we are “encouraged” to live our lives according to some idea of “law” or “Christian Ethic” that has no relation to the transformation that has come in Christ through the indwelling Spirit. We are free from the law: it’s not the Law that directs our living in this world, but it is the Spirit who transforms into the likeness of Christ.
Anyway, sorry about the looong post (it was longer, so be thankful for this!), but I get pretty excited when I start talking about these things. If you have any must-read book recommendations, I’d love to know about them. In the mean-time, I plan on spending quite a bit of time here; so far, I’ve been really enjoying what I’ve been reading. If you’re interested in listening to some great redemptive-historical preaching, check out our sermons on SermonAudio.com. Just use the search screen and type in sgccdenver and then click on the Sovereign Grace Community Church link.
Thanks for the site—I think I’m going to enjoy spending some time here!