The Animal Kingdom and the Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy, Part Two

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)…

Your Ways by Chris Manfre Compliments of CreationSwap

Your Ways
by Chris Manfre
Compliments of CreationSwap

Last week we began a discussion of a summary of The Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy which expresses the biblical view that the world we live in is involved in a war between God and Satan.  The bible says Satan is the prince of this world (John 12:31; Eph 2:2; 2 Cor 4:4); Anything that falls short of Yahweh’s character found in Christ is not of Him (Heb 1:3).   All character and behavior that does not display love (1 Cor 13) is not part of His will for creation.

In the TWT view, He is not allowing evil for a greater purpose or for His glory (or his character’s sake), though He may use evil intentions, free agents (human and spirit) who choose evil, as well as use worldly kingdoms, to bring about His purposes.  He may orchestrate that which Satan or people intend for evil to bring about as much good as He can  (Rom 8:28).

The OT shows God continually reaching out to His people trying to draw them back to Him, meeting them where they were, to woo them away from the cultures that surrounded them.  Christ’s death and resurrection is the ultimate sacrifice our God makes  – to destroy Satan’s work; pay the penalty for sin (separation from God); restore the created order for all flesh; to give us the authority over evil through the power of the Holy Spirit whom He leaves with us; He defeated death so we may have eternal life (Jn 3:16).

To continue from last weeks post, what God did by becoming human while still being God   is the ultimate sign of His incredible love for ALL of His creation.  Jesus’ death and resurrection was the ultimate sacrifice to save us:

  1. He became a human to live a life in continuous communion with the Father which we were unable to do in Eden, leaving an example of how to live in communion with Him.
  2. He fulfilled the law of the OT (Matt 5:17) which, as was said last week, was for the purposes of showing us we could not live life in His Image on our own according to certain established laws or guidelines.  He is our Source of Life; we lack the power without Him. We are not able on our own to live up to His high standards of moral and ethical conduct toward one another and the creation.
  3. While God has always held up His end of the covenant (covenant means the agreements and promises between two parties), what Jesus did in essence, was to hold up both ends of the covenant (Hebrews 9:8-12). In other words, while Jesus (being One with God) was tempted/tested by Satan in every way we are, He did not fail to uphold the Father’s will in our place (Hebrews 4:15).
  4. He conquered the eternal nature of “sin” (anything and everything that separates us from God – all judgments and decisions we make apart from God. Christ made no judgment or decision apart from and in conjunction with the direction of the Father). As a human he lived out the “say-so” of the human will without falling from His commitments to the covenant between God and humans as the first humans were supposed to have done (Phil 2:5-8).  See also this article and this blog post.
  5. In fulfilling the task of the first man and woman, He restored the covenant (agreement and promises made between God and humans). In this context, it is similar in nature to what happens in a marriage covenant. The promises made are to be faithful and true, loving, kind, trustworthy – to be the spouse in character that our spouse is trusting in – and to fulfill an arranged agreement between the two parties – an arrangement that is freely spoken/agreed upon from one to the other, and vice-versa (Hebrews 8:6-8, 10).
  6. He restored the created order for all of creation – the original intent and purpose of creation in relationship to Himself, one another, the animal and earth creation.
  7. It was His plan from the beginning to make us heirs to the throne; to be counted as sons and daughters, equal to Him in essence (Phil 2:6; Jn 5:18; Jn 10:30), to reign (govern/care for) in His Image alongside Jesus over the Newly Restored Earth* (Eden). But we fell, joining Satan and plunging the creation into corruption.  *Note: the restoration view posits that God was attempting to restore the earth from a previous devastation, conceivably by the same war that is currently being experienced between God and Satan (this view would perhaps explain dinosaurs….but that is for another post!).  Eden, at the time of the first humans before their fatal choice, was being experienced in it’s pristine state after re-creation, undamaged by the implications of the fall; the earth itself, however, is probably as old as science says it is.
  8. The TWT view supposes that likely, had we partnered with Christ, God’s original plan (a plan that included us as guardians of the newly restored earth) to defeat Satan would have eventually been successful without the creation experiencing what we are now experiencing and have been since the fall.
  9. In being raised again, taken up to sit at the right hand of the Father, He leaves with us the Holy Spirit – the Comforter, our Guide, our ever present Helper (Jn 14:16).
  10. Christ is now Mediator between us and the Father (1 Tim 2:1-6). Having experienced what it is to be human, separated from the Father, paying the price for the consequences of the broken covenant on our behalf (broken covenant or “sin”= anything that separates us from the Love that is God).
  11. It could be said He tricked Satan.  He knew Satan would of course try to defeat God by winning over His Son, and if that didn’t work, Satan would try to have Him killed. He freely came to earth and gave Himself for these purposes for us. He trusted the Father, was risen victorious over Satan’s power – over death; over Satan’s self-centered influence; over destruction and violence – and upon leaving this earth, give us authority over Satan through the power of the Holy Spirit. Think about it: Why did God’s people not recognize Jesus as the coming Messiah? They were looking for a militant Savior, not one that instead came to serve, even His enemies, and then die at those enemies hands! The ONLY way to defeat evil purposes is with the OPPOSITE response.
  12. Being free moral agents, love (which God eternally is – 1 Cor 13) must be chosen; God created us because He wants a family He can love, that will choose to love Him, as well, and to have that family share in the Triune love. (see Genesis 1)
  13. Look at the marvelous and beautiful creation – all His animals, the beauty of the unspoiled portions of earth! He wanted to share this with creatures that would choose to love Him, who are able to partner with Him and govern the creation in the Goodness of His Image! It is a MARVELOUS picture!!
  14. This will be our reign (govern/care) again one day; however, right now, we need to make some choices! This is what it means to be “in the probationary period” or the “already-not-yet tension.”  Jesus paid the price; the work of the cross is finished; yet the creation has yet to fully display His character.  We are still human, subject to death and decay. “We are to be the ‘already’ in the midst of the ‘not yet’. We’re to put on display, as much as possible, what heaven will look like when it finally comes” (Greg Boyd, from His Q&A: Already-Not-Yet).  When He comes again for the final restoration, those that are in Christ will be “changed, in the blink of an eye” into our eternal state.  Those that are not found in Christ, will be judged with Satan and fallen angelic powers, and undergo the final destruction which, according to annihilationists, will be annihilation (1 Cor 15:50-58).  Note:  ReKnew.org has two posts on this view of hell, as well, worth reading.

 

Conclusion:

Many Christians have an unrealistic view of what we can trust God for.  We live in a war zone.  According to the TWT view, the world is not being meticulously controlled by God.  He has allowed free agents, angelic and human, a certain amount of say-so over what transpires. In a war torn world, there will be casualties; God is doing His best to minimize them, we can trust Him for that.

While at the same time God works to minimize the impact of evil choices, those who believe in Him have a responsibility to stand up to evil just as Jesus did and push back against it.

It makes sense that to have a realistic view of God’s part, what we can trust Him for, is imperative in understanding the war torn world we are experiencing; imperative to reconciling the problem of evil, our place in it, as well as our response to it.  We must seek to trust God and follow Him with the simple faith of Abraham. We can trust His character.  He is not a magician and we are not puppets.  In the TWT view all of us are morally free agents, Satan and angelic beings as well.  We have some allotted say-so in the choices we make as to how things turn out in this world, whether for good or for evil.

The foundation of our faith is to be built on Christ, allowing Him to foster a cohesive understanding of the meaning of scripture and what it requires of us.  Mankind tends to read scripture from an anthropocentric point of view.  A Christocentric point of view is warranted in order for us to properly prepare for the coming of Christ, to be ready to take our place as heirs to the throne with Christ as our leader, capable of reigning with Him in the new kingdom over the creation.

We should not stand on tradition in our faith for traditions sake.  As Greg Boyd has said in Satan and the Problem of Evil,  “the first Hermenuetical principle in interpreting the OT is in the light of the NT; we must start our reflections about God with our minds fixed on the person of Jesus Christ… He is the decisive revelation of God (Jn 1:14,18; 14:7-10).  Throughout His ministry Jesus opposed all infirmities and diseases as things that God does not will. …Throughout the OT God was laying the foundation for subsequent revelation.” (pgs 397, 398)

Whatever stand we take theologically, caring for the earth and animal kingdom is all our responsibility.  Every denominational perspective needs to develop and teach animal theology, as with all other imperative doctrine we follow as Christians, and adhere to it.  If our theology stands in the way of doing so, I posit that a review of that theology is essential.  As our doctrine has changed over the centuries due to new revelations, new findings of ancient text that shed light on our perspectives, as God has revealed more and continues to, so should our view of an Augustinian animal theology (see *note at the end of this post; click on the link to view the entire post at Dominion In The Image Of God) .

It is my belief that from a faith perspective, the animal welfare movement needs to develop a comprehensive understanding of the problem of evil in order to combat evil humans freely commit toward the animal kingdom; to create a well-developed theological foundational perspective that will enable welfarists the means to address the issues in such a fashion as to re-establish God as the Lord of ALL creation. I think the TWT is the most promising theological perspective able to do this.  This is why I think it imperative that we are willing to look more critically at our theological viewpoints.  We are here to stand with Christ and revolt against evil in all it’s forms.  If this is true, the lens (theological context) in which we view the world through is crucial, or we fail at that task.

We risk blaming God for things that God does not do, trusting Him for things we cannot trust Him for, when our picture of Him is anything other than the view of Him found in Christ.  We also do not do that which we should do, as well as do what we shouldn’t, when our lens of who God is, is skewed.   The probationary period before Christ comes again to complete the redemption process for all flesh, is about getting ourselves right (right-related = righteous) with God and right-related with all that He has created. Though of course eternal life is a gift from God, is freely given, it does, however, come with a price (Luke 9:23; Acts 17:11; Matt 16:24). We must learn to live as Jesus intended us to and to depend on the Father – trust in His character- in ALL things, and to mirror His Image to a world that desperately needs to see His love through us, INCLUDING how we treat His animal creation and the earth.

 

*Note:  Lois Wye writes:  Among the analogies for the Trinity Augustine relied on were mind, love, and knowledge and memory, understanding, and will. In her writings, LaCugna talks about how Augustine’s inward-looking trinitarian theology has been used to justify a variety of systems of oppression. Cruelty to animals is decidedly among them. Augustine’s modeling of the Trinity on human interiority often used the touchstone of rationality. Augustine was heavily influenced by Aristotle, and accordingly placed great stock in human “rationality,” a feature he believed set humans apart from other creatures. According to Augustine, therefore, humans are “dissociated” from animals because of the animals’ “want of reason.” Therefore, according to Augustine, “by the just appointment of the Creator,” the animals are “subjected to us to kill or keep alive for our uses.”

Thank you for reading and for following our blog; we pray you were blessed by it and will share it with others!  Your comments always welcome.   ~Kathy

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