Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shameless Foundations: Part 3-Things Go Wrong

Part 1
Part 2

So God chose to make this world and put us in this world. God has largely ordered the cosmos out of his primordial lump of chaotic stuff but a significant degree of disorder remains. Into this he decides to carve out a a bit that looks remarkably finished. Into this corner of the world God then sticks creatures that are made out of the stuff of this world and makes them alive by putting his own life into them, making these creatures become his own very presence in this world, not above this world but in this world. He then makes clear why he made these creatures with a great commission: "Go out from this corner, become numerous, and bring this world to completion."

And then we ate a bit of fruit, started blaming each other, and lost the ability to do what we were designed to do. Instead of us going out and bringing the chaotic futility in the world into useful structure, we went out and became subjected to that very futility.

Now, even though we had the breath of God in us that gave us the sort of life force that would enable us to carry out our commission we did not have all that was needed. However much of himself God put in us was enough for us to do our job but we still needed instruction on how to get that job done. We can see our lack of knowledge in that God gave us a command: "do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if you do you will die." This is something important that he seems confident that we would not know otherwise. I don't think that this sort of lack of pragmatic knowledge about what may be dangerous in the environment is all that is going on. It would seem that God's direction to us to "finish the earth" would indicate that there is a completed state that God is expecting. Furthermore, it appears that he has some manner of strategy whereby to achieve it that he hasn't built into us, neither into the earth stuff he made us out of nor into the bit of himself that he put into us. So to be successful at the purpose for which we were designed and put on this earth we would need to obey God.

Okay, wait. Where did this obey stuff come from? Remember that this story does not necessarily intend to be a historical account of some dude named Adam and his hot broad Eve and whether or not they had bellybuttons. The primary point of this story is to get at what is going on in the world in terms of God, humans, the rest of the world, how problematic the world is, and that the world is at odds with how we expect it should be. So the tree might not actually be a magic apple tree that takes away our superpowers. It may just represent something else. Now remember that the tree is not the tree of evil, we do not consume evil by eating of that tree. It is the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil." Knowing both good and evil. Consuming this "fruit" is taking into ourselves the distinction of good from evil. We gain our own understanding of right from wrong. We have a term for this: systematized morality or ethics. Why is it that this would lead to death?

Well, remember the thing that I haven't mentioned yet? There was another tree in the garden. The tree of life. Remember what made us living beings? God breathing into us his Spirit. In the two trees the story places these two things in opposition: knowledge of good and evil (ethical regulations as such) and life (being the very presence of God in the world.) Now, God is not us, God made all of this, and God has a plan and strategy for how to finish what he has started. For us to know what this plan and strategy is he has to tell us, for us to execute God's plan and strategy we need to obey him. If we are obeying a set of ethical regulations are we obeying God? No, we are obeying a set of ethical regulations. If we are not obeying God and his strategy and plan for this world are we truly his presence in the world? No, in disobeying God we set ourselves over against his plans for the world and in doing so we lost that which made us alive (the tree of life, the breath of God), that which made us the very presence of God in this world. Having lost that life force by which we would have been able to subdue the useless chaos of the not yet complete creation, we became subjected to its futility.

Out in the chaos of the world, unable to break free of the stupid futility, useless chaos and weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

Part 4

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