Sunday, August 29, 2010

Huh? Does it really say THAT?

Random thought this morning: Christ is spoken of in the New Testament as the "new Adam" or the "second Adam" (Rom. 5:15-21; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45). The goal of God's work in his redeemed people is to form Christ in them (Gal. 4:19), to conform them to Christ's likeness (Rom. 8:29), or to clothe them with Christ (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:24*; Col. 3:10*). Naturally I guess I therefore thought of our sanctification--our growth in Christlikeness as we follow him in the power of the Spirit--as becoming truly human, becoming the people God had always intended for us to be from our sinless beginning in Eden (Gen. 1-3).

But if you look at the attitudes and behaviors we are to put on and "wear around" as the fabric of our lives, they involve all sorts of things Adam could never have done or been capable of prior to the Fall. Adam never needed to know how to be kind, tenderhearted, or forgiving, because no one had ever sinned against him. He didn't need to know compassion or how to serve the hungry or the homeless because hunger and pain and homelessness didn't exist. So in some way, if God's entire purpose from before time has been to conform people to the likeness of his Son (Rom. 8:29)--and God is doing that now--then somehow God always intended for there to be sin, for our truest humanity to take place in the context of a fallen, sinful world.

Which begs the question too: Did God intend evil and the Fall from the beginning, before his creation of the world, so that we could know and enjoy and celebrate even more of his nature than we otherwise would ever have been able to? We could not know what love is if there were never hatred. We couldn't know faithfulness if it weren't for infidelity and backstabbing. We couldn't know beauty if it weren't for ugliness. We couldn't know grace and mercy if there were no evil to punish. We could never know justice if there were no injustice. Love, faithfulness, beauty, purity, grace, mercy, justice--these are all true and wonderful attributes of God united in the very center of his being which we otherwise couldn't know and glorify him for, were it not for the Fall.

Have I lost my mind?**

*Most translations speak of putting on the "new self," but the Greek literally says "new man," probably a reference by Paul to Christ himself. The risen Christ who defeated death and was glorified by the power of the Holy Spirit is said to be a "firstborn among many brothers" who would follow in God's family (Rom. 8:29). Therefore, to quote Switchfoot, Jesus is the "new way to be human."

**If you really want to know, look up the terms infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism. Apparently other people are crazy enough to have wondered this too. And while you're at it, look up terms like transducianism and hypostatic union too. You'll feel smarter . . . or at least smug and theologically righteous.

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