Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More on Paradise

After you read "Saving Paradise," (see below), then go find a copy of the latest issue of Christianity Today and read David Neff's article, "Second Coming Ecology: we care for the environment precisely because God will create a new earth." Neff is a leader in the new environmental activism focus by evangelicals. I haven't found the article posted yet or discussion of it online but if you do let me know.

There is a tendency among liberals to jettison eschatology, the fulfillment of things, what is often referred to as endtimes. Sometimes we liberals manage to hold on to it by thinking of it as the "ends' or "aims" of life. In those ways a re-imagined eschatology informs Brock and Parker's new book; they also "take aim" at the standard view of conservative evangelical Christians as being too future oriented to be focused on the Present Good. There's value in that critique, as even the CT piece by Neff says. Brock and Parker and Neff also seem on the same page in the critique of liberal Christians. B&P take on Emerson's legacy of elevating the personal, and Neff talks about liberalism's "unbounded optimism" for helping our culture have a sense of itself without limits, which fuels consumerism, which destroys the earth.

The Neff article does a good job of re-imagining eschatology as Promise, and because we have the promise of a new Earth, transformed Creation, then we have an imperative to preserve This Earth Now, as it will be part of God's promised renewal. I like his point that eschatological viewpoints themselves have a way of lifting us up out of our focus on ourselves, our own times, etc. and putting us into the bigger picture, which helps us to be better stewards. So we are once again into a 180 degree shift in perspective. Once upon a time the Christian "bigger picture" made us forget the paradise here and now, along with all the other likenesses of God in the here and now; but now, a "bigger picture'" view is vital for reminding us of the likenesses of God in and among and around us.

There is some critique in B&P of the "arrow of time" and progress and future focus and how that is tied in theologically with the Christian notion of "salvation history' which can tend to put all the value of things in what is down the road instead of below our feet. Well and good. The Neff article, and of course the bigger movement among evangelicals which this article taps into, shows how the theology of anticipation, how Christians as a people of anticipation, can shift all that.

Worth checking out.

Type rest of the post here