…[An] image deeply embedded within the created order itself: that of new birth…Paul again uses the imagery of the Exodus from Egypt but this time in relation not to Jesus, nor even to ourselves, but to creation as a whole. Creation, he says (Romans 8:21) is in slavery at the moment, like the children of Israel. God’s design was to rule creation in life-giving wisdom through his image-bearing human creatures. But this was always a promise for the future, a promise that one day the true human being, the image of God himself, God’s incarnate son, would come to lead the human race into their true identity. Meanwhile, the creation was subjected to futility, to transcience and decay, until the time when God’s children are glorified, when what happened to Jesus at Easter happens to all Jesus’s people…The whole creation is on tiptoe with expectation, longing for the day when God’s children are revealed, when their resurrection will herald its own new life. Paul then uses the image of birth pangs…Once again this highlights both continuity and discontinuity. This is no smooth evolutionary transition, in which creation simply moves up another gear into a higher mode of life. This is traumatic, involving convulsions and contractions and the radical discontinuity in which mother and child are parted and become not one being but two. But neither is this a dualistic rejection of physicality as though, because the present creation is transient and full of decay and death, God must throw it away and start again from scratch. The very metaphor Paul chooses… is not the unmaking of creation or simply its steady development but the drastic and dramatic birth of new creation from the womb of the old.
N.T. Wright. Surprised by Hope. HarperOne, 2008. First Edition. pg 103-104.
This serves as a follow up to yesterday’s post where I said that the new hopeful eschatology springing up from the rubble of post-modernism is generally reacting against one thing: a misreading of Christian eschatology. Post-modernists have to find hope somewhere because we have spent the last 80 years wandering about in survivor’s guilt. But modernism’s tendency is to view the world on a spectrum of progress that will finally achieve its own immortality. Since much of the language involved in these eschatologies is essentially borrowing from the Christian one, I felt like it would be worth an honest reading of first century Christians in the wake of their own upheaval: that of Christ resurrecting. N.T. Wright is about as good a source to look to as one can find.
I found a passage that sums the theme of Christian eschatology that is not one where the “good” people get sucked out into a floating city of heaven, but rather this creation is remade, transformed, in the hope of resurrection. Which has very real consequences now, presently.