Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christianity as the Ideal Humanity

                What is Christianity all about? Of course, there are a lot of good answers to this question. I often think of the Westminster Catechism, when it asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The correct answer being, “To love God and enjoy him forever.” I like the wording, here. Notice that the question doesn’t ask, “what is the chief end of Christians?” It’s a bit more broad than that. It asks, “what is the chief end of man?”

                This is important, because Christianity is not about escapism from the world. It is about redeeming the world. It is not about “what is true for me.” It is about what is true. It is not contrary to humanity. It is the ideal humanity.

                Recently, Anglican bishop, N. T. Wright, along with Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum, have helped me more clearly see this idea that being Christian is about being human.

                A brief look at the overarching story of Scripture is helpful in fleshing this out. God made man in the garden to be his image bearers, his representative rulers on earth. Then, the fall happened. Ever since, God’s work has been about the redemption of humanity. God redeems humanity progressively, manifesting his praiseworthiness in each moment. He also chooses to carry out his salvation, not to the all, but to a remnant, that He would be justly glorified in both judgment and salvation. Let’s look at a few moments in history:

God judged the world, yet established a remnant through Noah and his family. Noah is a type of new Adam and his family a type of new Eden, looking forward to a new creation.

God chose Abraham out of the world and blesses his seed. Abraham is a type of new Adam and his seed a type of redeemed humanity.

God set Abraham's descendants apart from the world to be His people. Israel is a type of new Eden, looking forward to a new creation.

God sent Jesus to die and rise from the dead for the redemption of sinners. The church (containing both Jew and Gentile) is a type of Eden, looking forward to a new creation.

                The church, as Israel was, imperfectly in the Old Covenant, is set apart, as a more ideal community in the New Covenant. Through the cross, Jesus has redeemed an ideal humanity, a holy remnant, that looks forward to being a fully redeemed civilization at the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the new heavens and new earth.

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