We ended (Part One) on Creation with Greg Boyd’s suggestion that, whether you believe in the Young Earth Theory; or in Evolution; or in some other view; the important thing that we all can agree on is simply the fact THAT God created the world and all life – not HOW He did so.
On The Tree Of Knowledge
We acquire knowledge every day of our lives. We are innocent of the quest of knowledge in the sense that we cannot live a normal life without learning more of the world around us, the people around us and of our own reactions to them – it is thrust upon us. However, the setting of the Garden of Eden shows mankind with a choice; the choice of remaining within dependence upon God’s loving care, or a choice of disobeying Him and eating of the ‘Tree of Knowledge’, which was always within reach. Having opted for independence from God, mankind is now left with the choices of what to do with his ever increasing store of knowledge. It is usually the choices which go wrong, mankind being what it is. We live on a planet where the rich, the technologically skilled and the politically powerful allow a large proportion of the world’s poor to starve, when a different choice of organising the world’s food resources would provide food for all. Experimentation on animals and embryos show how ruthless mankind has become with his medical learning, in what sometimes seems to be a quest for eternal life. I dread to think what ruthless exploitation would result if mankind ever did have the opportunity to eat of the ‘Tree of LIFE’. But God knows of the disastrous potential of mankind’s use of knowledge, “He must not be allowed to take fruit from the tree that gives LIFE, eat it, and live forever” (Genesis 3 v 22).
Another danger to be found in knowledge is the danger which we see in Gnosticism. (See ‘Are All Faiths Of Equal Value, Part Four). Both old and new Gnostic religions suggest a conflict between good and evil, the struggle which Jesus Himself spoke of as existing between light and darkness. Jesus also proclaimed the Good News that He is the Light of God in this darkness. But in contrast, Gnosticism claims that enlightenment is to be found in one’s SELF by means of self-effort, self-searching, self-awareness, self-realisation. To help achieve this knowledge of the god of SELF, there are various methods and procedures, but the offer of Jesus for us to simply turn to God in penitence will not do. Once again it is a case of knowledge versus God; SELF versus God – a repetition of the Fall. And yet, perhaps God actually used the Fall to work for good, for if humankind had never eaten of the ‘Tree of Knowledge’, had never opted for independence, we would never have been able to CHOOSE to return to God, and God would never have known that He had been chosen freely, willingly, and in love.
On The Predatory World
Many animal welfarists are confused about the predatory aspect of nature and about how it relates to a loving God. I never cease to be amazed at people, sometimes animal welfarists, who claim that it is healthy and natural for cats to torment birds or for lions to feed upon the gentle gazelle because it is their ‘nature’. Of course it is their nature now that they are fallen, as we are, but the ‘tooth and claw’ aspect of the predatory world is dreadful and this is reflected in the so called ‘food chain’ of living creatures. Broken relationships, wars, natural disasters, plagues, disease and death are equally attributable to the Fall. I cannot believe that a loving God, as reflected in Jesus, intended such a world. (For an excellent article on Vegetarianism, see Marcello Newall’s blog post, Is Vegetarianism Biblical?) Part One, Part Two.
The Adam and Eve narrative tells of the devil, in the form of a serpent, tempting mankind after which both the animal and human Creation ‘fall’. I believe that animals, like humans, are now a mixture of light and darkness; and that they will ultimately share in the redemption of the WHOLE Creation. Although this belief may not be reflected in the ‘philosophical’ areas of the Church, it is upheld by Christ-related doctrines.
The metaphor of ‘curse’ in the form of a serpent, which continues throughout the Old and New Testaments, is important to our understanding of the purpose of Christ.
Early in Jewish history, the Israelites were tormented by a plague of snakes, which they believed was a punishment by God for their faithlessness. As many Israelites had died and the people were afraid, Moses, after penitential prayer to God, made a bronze snake and hoisted it on a pole as a symbol. All those who looked at the bronze snake would be healed. Thus, in the grip of evil, the Israelites were healed by God by a symbol of that same evil. Jesus tells His followers that He Himself would become the instrument of healing for the world as He is lifted up as a symbol of evil – on the Cross, “As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life” (John 3 v 14).
The Book of Revelation, Chapter 20, tells of the ultimate defeat of the devil, again represented by the serpent, as Christ’s Kingdom is established.
In Christ Jesus is the redemption of fallen Creation!
Thank you for reading and following our blog! We hope you will ‘like’ and ‘share’ it! Your comments are always welcome! ~Ros