CREATION: Worldview Revisited

Al Wolters gives us fresh insight into CREATION > FALL > REDEMPTION with his recent article in Comment.

In much of Christianity, there is affirmation of the glory of Creation. The wonder of a sunset - or a mountain range, or a blooming flower, or the depth of the stars in the sky, or the birth of a baby - all makes us go, “Wow! God is incredible!”

But the Neocalvinist tradition takes this wonder of the glory of God’s creation to the next and best level: As Wolters writes, “Creation is conceived of in a particularly comprehensive way, and even salvation is in large measure understood as the retrieval of creation as God originally intended it. Creation is foundational to everything. Moreover, creation is good in a deep and primordial sense— so deep, in fact, that the goodness of creation continues to manifest itself even in the midst of terrible perversion.”

The Creation-Fall-Redemption story as understood by Kuyperians is more nuanced that that of other Christians, including other Calvinists (for more on the differences between Neo-Calvinism and Neo-Puritanism, see this previous post).

According to Wolters,
“Unlike other understandings of orthodox Christianity, this vein of the tradition does not see redemption as something pitted against creation (as in dialectical theology), or as supplementing and fulfilling it (as in some understandings of Thomism), or as standing alongside it without intrinsic connection (as in various two-realm theories), but rather as renewing and restoring it. Thus creation, embodying God's intention from the beginning, is the very goal of salvation in Christ. The whole point of redemption is to restore life and the world to the way they were meant to be from the beginning. Salvation means re-creation; grace restores nature.”

If you haven’t read Wolter’s essential book, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview, stop everything right now and order this book! This is one of the best articulations of the Neo-Calvinist understanding of Creation-Fall-Redemption.

Wolter's recent article in Comment underlines that when those in the Neo-Calvinist (or “Kuyperian”) tradition speak of “Creation,” we don’t just mean the “natural world” (that is, the physical and biological world). We have a more all-encompassing view of God’s good creation
“In the biblical view, creation is everything which God has ordained to exist, what he has put in place as part of his creative workmanship… Creation includes such human realities as families and other social institutions, the presence of beauty in the world, the ability to appreciate that beauty, the phenomena of tenderness and laughter, the capacity to conceptualize and reason, the experience of joy and the sense of justice. An almost unimaginable variety of objects, institutions, relationships and phenomena are part of the rich texture of God's creation.”

Since “Creation” encompasses all things, then God’s order for these things has been in place since the beginning. In other words, the sovereign king has put into place his “creational law” for everything that is.

The next two chapters of the story, of course, are “Fall” and “Redemption” (which we'll cover in our next two blog posts). And these relate directly to this all-encompassing view of the good creation. Wolters writes,
“It is difficult—in fact, impossible—to speak of creation as a Christian in abstraction from the two other fundamental categories of the biblical story: sin and salvation. Sin means the distortion of creation, and salvation its recovery in Christ. This means that creation comes back with a vengeance (so to speak) in the redeemed Christian life. It is in the richly textured glory of created human life, in which mothers sing lullabies to their babies, and children run for the sheer joy of going fast, that God wants to be glorified by our service and witness to him, so that all the world can see what true created human life is like, despite the scars and scourge of sin and death. That applies to our moviegoing and our moviemaking, to our parties and our philosophizing, to our imagination and our determination.”

Posts in this series on WORLDVIEW REVISITED:
Wonder, Heartbreak, Hope
For more on this Reformational Worldview, see my web resource,
Friend of Kuyper


Ann said...

I loved this article from comment magazine so much that I bought a subscription! What do you know about Comment? I went on their website and there were no references to anything Reformed, but all the Dutch last names (and the content in the stories) I have to guess it must be affiliated in some way to Reformed circles. Just wondering where they come from.

Bob Robinson said...

You're very perceptive! They are in the Dutch Calvinist tradition (also known as "Neo-Calvinist" or "Kuyperian"). I am very familiar with and am friends with the people who publish this magazine. I wrote the cover story for Comment's third annual "Making the Most of College" issue a couple years ago.

For more on the Kuyperian tradition, go to my other website, "Friend of Kuyper." You'll find articles, resources, and institutions that advocate this view of the Christian life.