Moltmann Monday: Christ the Redeemer of Evolution

Happy Moltmann Monday! Today’s excerpt is from The Way of Jesus Christ in a section entitled “Christ the Redeemer of Evolution.” I hope it will serve as a Lenten devotional as we seek to finish strong in these 40 days awaiting Easter.

Creation is not a work once performed and then finished and done with. It is a process, extended over time and open to the future. God continually creates something new, and develops what he has already created. From the inexhaustibly-creating creative ground of all things, continually new forms of life emerge. In this creative process God is not only a maker. He communicates himself in a certain way to what he has made, for through Spirit and Word the Creator enters into his creation and drives it forward…

Matter is built up stage by stage into ever more complex forms. But we can also see catastrophic breakdowns in evolutionary series. Consequently it is difficult to extrapolate a holistic goal for the universe out of the trends that are discernible in the history of nature, without falling victim to irrelevant speculations…

Theological cosmology has always seen the goal of creation together with creation’s beginning: all things are from God, so all things are for God and move in his direction…

God desires to come to his rest. That is the goal of all things he has created. So in their history God is restless and keeps all things in a state of suspense- he holds his breath, as it were; but in this breath all things are also held, for it is the breath of his Spirit. The creator will arrive at his rest when the whole creation becomes his temple, into which his glory can enter and dwell. This is the eschatological image in the Revelation of John too (Rev. 21). So creation does not return home to God in order to be absorbed into the divine eternity from which it has come. On the contrary, God enters the world, making it the dwelling place which corresponds utterly to him. All things then take an unhindered share in the indwelling glory of his inexhaustibly-creating creative life.

So, first, I love this simple and yet roomy definition of creation as a process that stretches over time and also is open to the future. There are thousands of pages written on time and space and how they intersect with theology, but saying just this might be enough, no? It reminds us that creation was not finished in Genesis but was rather begun there, and the unfolding of the work of God and the will of creation is happening all around us. And though creation has a choice in how this history goes forward (which is why I kept that line in there about catastrophic breakdowns), we profess also that God is working in and with creation, driving it forward. And not just toward some “goal” but more personally and beautifully, toward GOD. I also love Moltmann’s phrase that God has an “inexhaustibly-creating creative life.” Unbounded, limitless, never hemmed in or short-circuited.

I know that Lent is often construed as a time to remember the frailty of our nature and the mortality of our bodies. It’s a time to acknowledge all the catastrophic breakdowns, not only in our own lives and routines but in the world at large, in the way we’ve created systems of oppression and vehicles of violence. But if we only think of that, we’re just going to become depressed over 40 days. We have to remember the deeper truth at work, the engine that drives us in our Lenten practices: God is moving us forward.¬†We are not only from God; we are also being recreated to be for God. And when we become more fully for God, we do not lose ourselves in the process. We don’t get sucked up into a bigger reality. Instead, God chooses to indwell in us, and in all of creation, until we are all our most radiant, in accordance and likeness to the One who created us.

So have no fear of your ashes. Ponder our catastrophic breakdowns, and seek to turn toward God. But let’s do so knowing that it’s because that’s the holy design at work, the future of the world unfolding before us.

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