20060102

a theological problem

Here is the problem I have with the idea of a "fallen world” [a “fallen humanity”]; it does not express the reality God, it can't. It can only express evil. In that, the reality of evil, because it is evil, can not express the reality of God. If the world is fallen, then the 15yr old I saw give her food to a homeless man did it for some other reason than to share her food with someone in need. if the world is fallen, then the 90yr old women taking in aids babies is doing it for more than the love of the child and the care of those in need. If the world is fallen, we must have an alternative reason, or desire, for helping people other than helping people. If the world is fallen, God can not be in the world, because [as traditional theology teaches] God can not be in the fallen/evil.

If we live in a fallen world, and we are never “outside” that world, "redemption" can only truly happen after this world - and with that thought, "the kingdom of God" can not be "here and now" - and I believe that the kingdom of God is here and now. When we think of a "fallen world" we can not express the salvation offered in Christ, because we always turn back to the fall and not the resurrection. We are stuck in the words and reality of “the fallen” and are unable to speak the words of salvation. I can not live in the fall, it is too negative, and I need to life in the resurrection, the light of Christ; and it is a place where [as Paul puts it] I “moved out from.”

When ever I hear terms like "original sin," “fallen humanity” and "the fallen world" it is seldom accompanied with the idea that salvation is here, now - but that it comes at another time. No matter the statements, when we start with the fall we never pick ourselves up, we are “always fallen.” We always see the worse in people and we never see the possibility that Christianity can truly change a life. When we center our theology on “the fallen world” we find the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the criminal, and the “ugly” and we never see in them the possibility of salvation. We seek to punish those who do wrong, and justify that punishment via law, and we never see the power and love of grace. We do not move forward in Christ, because we use the excuse of being a fallen people to hold us back. We think in terms of what we can not do, because of the fall, and not on what we can do because of the resurrection.

I firmly believe we need to get past this idea of a "fallen world" and move to the idea that we are a people living in a new land, a land of Christ. I see it all the time in talking with those who have "come from church." When questioned as to why the church hurts its own, we are told that we do not move forward in out faith, because we are fallen; people in church treat you poorly, because we are fallen; people in the church talk and gossip, because we are fallen - yet, all those are not what we are told to be in scripture. When I hear "we are fallen" from church people, I wonder if they truly understand the Christian walk. Yet, in that the misguided theology of the fall, we forget that as a believer in Christ, we are made new, and in that we must act anew – not fallen, but resurrected.

12 comments:

Rich said...

"When ever I hear terms like "original sin," “fallen humanity” and "the fallen world" it is seldom accompanied with the idea that salvation is here, now - but that it comes at another time."

Just because you hear these things in a context that may be wrong does not make them untrue. And you may not be saying they aren't true, I'm not sure. But this is not the way to build this new theology that you want to build. It's a common theme through your writing. Person A and B say X and Y about something and have no grace whatsoever about it and so now we have change all of it.

john o'keefe said...

rich,

interesting. i am not sure the personal attack was worth the effort, but that was your call.

to "build a theology" is not what i am striving to do - to question the current theology is what i am striving to do. if you notice, i am not addressing any person, or anything a person expressed. it is me thinking about current doctrine of the church in cyberspace - is that "wrong?"

now, if you have a comment on what i said, instead of how you think i said it, i would be happy to hear that :)

Rich said...

I'm truly sorry you percieved my post as a personal attack. Please tell me which part felt like an attack so that I can either put it in context or restate it. I was not attacking you, promise. In in the past, while I have asked questioned and even disagreed I have always operated with a good level of grace. My comment here was not out of the blue and I think builds on our prior online conversations.

In past comments and posts you have talked about 'developing theologies' and that is how I should have said it, not build. And I shouldn't comment on what I thought you said. I didn't think I was doing that since I was pulling from your larger body of work here online. It all fits together. Right? Maybe if you'd let us know what you think is true while doing your questioning we'd understand better. Or at least I would. And I know you are not obliged to do that and that's ok. It's your site and your posts. I'm just a guy reading and commenting.

john o'keefe said...

rich,

all is good bro, and i am not upset at all - just wondering :)

the part that got me, and felt very personal, was "It's a common theme through your writing. Person A and B say X and Y about something and have no grace whatsoever about it and so now we have change all of it."

and if you did not mean it, cool - i'm good with that.

it's funny, i got an email from a friend not too long ago telling me that i was a "leader in the emerging conversation" and i laughed for a long time - i never think people are reading my stuff - i just think i send it into cyberspace and it just rests some place in the world of "1s and 0s" :) but maybe he was right, who knew.

i never thought of my writings as a "collective" - that's weird :) but you are right, maybe i could explain better what i mean, or how i am meaning it - or even what i am striving to accomplish - very cool, thanks for pointing that out.

Rich said...

I'll recant that line as it truly was poorly written.

I do pay alot of attention to what you say if for no other reason, you are doing some very different in my part of the country. You guys are only about a 100 miles or so away. I keep up with your 247 site and we hope to come visit with you guys there sometime.

I'll never be able to fully put in words what it was like growing up in the Bible Belt and being different. And now, that I am no longer going with the flow and I am embracing that difference, I am looking to others and trying to learn as well as share where I am coming from in order to better move forward...

MoNoMo said...

I have to say that your interpretation is OFF BASE. The Bible teaches us that this world is utterly corrupt, and that human beings in particular are UTTERLY DEPRAVED. This is the most important. This is because of the influence of Satan. God in his mercy chose 144,000 -- while they were still in eternity -- to descend to the earth and live their lives of perfect grace in a fallen world to be a witness of the goodness of god. These are the elect -- and since the notion of "free will" contradicts God's holy omniscience, we know this must be true. The whole point of the world was to demonstrate the Law by creating flawed human beings in rebellion against that Law. God knew how depraved human would be, but he made them like this anyway. The demonstration of the Law will come when the unholy masses are consigned to the flaming pits of hell, and the 144,000 elect souls will gather round and watch in astonishment as vile families are torn apart, flames consume the unrighteous, and tortures and enacted upon the fornicators, the apostates, and the unbelievers. There will be great joy among the elect at this time as they watch the process of Law and realize that they will be spared from these horrors -- in just payment to their righteous earthly existence. This is why we speak of a fallen world which is to be redeemed -- by the fire and the sword.

Evilnomore said...

Maureen,

Thank you for the "real life" example of why people like John are re-thinking current theology.

Best Wishes,
Evilnomore

Rich said...

Yikes. Now who is it you worship Maureen?

d3techy said...

i can't say i always agree with you but i thank God for people like you who help me refine my own faith. as iron sharpens iron, that kind of thing.

i agree with what you have said. i've actually been thinking a lot about this very topic. i have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that without God there is no good, but good does exist in this world. you listed some good examples. but since this good must come from God what would be a properway to describe this world.

by the way good work with ginkworld, i was thrilled to see my Flatland essay up there!

postmodernegro said...

"The Bible teaches us that this world is utterly corrupt, and that human beings in particular are UTTERLY DEPRAVED."

This sounds more like gnosticism than Christian faith. Just a thought.

john o'keefe said...

postmodernegro,

interesting. "utterly depraved?" it may sound "gnostic" but than, you would have had to change the defination of "gnostic" for that to be a reality :)

Luthsem said...

A fallen world does not express God's intention but it does express the reality of the world we live in. We all sin and we all bear responsibility for it and we are living in the consequences of systematic sin. The good news is that there is a new creation, a new kingdom or reign of God and we can live in that reality now. Jesus came into the world not to condemn it but save the world through him. This is not talking about the afterlife but an eternal life that starts now.