Thursday, 24 March 2011
Redemption - 6
Robert Capon: To return to Genesis: the Movie, the world as it’s presented in the mind of God in chapter one of Genesis is good. Evil doesn’t show up until chapter three. Obviously, however, evil is built into the world from the beginning. When God makes the creatures of the sea, how do they live? They eat each other. When he makes the creatures of the land—same thing.
He makes the world as an ecology—it works by life and death. Death is the engine that drives life—creatures kill and eat one another to stay alive. Even plants die so that animals can live. And it has always been that way—it’s the nature of creation. Creation is an ecology of life and death, and it works! The brilliance of the ecology is that it is created purposely to operate on sheer chance, that is, creatures eat the next edible thing that they see. Foxes eat chickens and so on. All that is done within the ecology God set in place.
One of the great insights we’ve had in the last century is to recognize that we are wrecking the ecology of the world by trying to control it. You might say God runs the world like an honest casino operator—he doesn’t rig the wheels. He doesn’t stack the deck. He doesn’t interfere in the ecology of the world as he has let it unfold. Why? Because he knows the odds.
That’s how insurance companies work. They don’t influence people’s lives to keep them alive or kill them or anything else. The insurance system works because companies know the odds. In God’s case, he built in the odds from the beginning. God made a random creation by design, and he is omniscient—he knows how his creation ecology all plays together and works itself out.
So, what I say about Genesis is that chance is not the enemy of design—chance is the design. And God, in Christ, runs the world by coming into the world and being roughed up by it—by entering the rough world—by accepting the negative odds for himself. He took on himself the part of the creation that went bad, the evil part, and redeemed it by letting it play itself out on him and then being raised from the dead.
TB: Since 9/11, many have questioned God’s goodness in the face of so much evil in the world. Would you share a few of your insights on that topic?
RC: The theological term is theodicy. Theodicy is trying to defend or justify the ways of God to man. Forget it. It’s a useless pastime.
The ways of God are clear enough and they are: You can do anything that you can manage to do. It could be good. It could be bad. It could be indifferent. It could be anything. God doesn’t force people to behave. God doesn’t stop sinners from sinning—he doesn’t stop murderers from murdering. Of course, he does make exceptions, but those are exceptions, not the rule.
The wonderful thing about the ecology of good and evil, of life and death, is that death is given free reign as much as life. But from the beginning God knows the end, and the end is redemption. Redemption is the whole story from beginning to end. God took the evil on himself and redeems it—Jesus’ resurrection is the core of the whole thing—the real meaning of the whole creation. Death is swallowed up in the victory of life. It’s all about redemption.
TB: One other question. You said that you cannot discover history by finding facts?
RC: Yes. History is not lying around out there on the ground waiting for us to discover it and pick it up. History is what we make of the facts that are lying around out there, how we interpret them. History is story told by storytellers. You can’t rummage around and find the real history. That’s the mistake of biblical literalism, and it’s also the mistake of scientific literalism, which is liberal literalism of the left—it’s the same mistake.
They think it’s something objective or fixed lying out there somewhere. It isn’t, it’s only in here—in the mind. You can have one version of history, and I can have another. And we can argue about it. That’s how we function. It’s the ecology of mixed minds, mixed motives, mixed ideas. And we work it out and we slug it out and then we have a drink. (Laughter)
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