Endeavour
52 Guitars: Week 29

The Bondage of Creation

As I have written more than once here, one of the two or three most troublesome questions of faith for me is the apparent contradiction between the biblical narrative of paradise and fall, and that put forward by science: millions of years of nature red in tooth and claw, and primitive mankind slowly rising out of beast-hood, no happier or gentler than any other, progressing through millenia of savagery and only recently arriving at a point where, for instance, there is something approaching a general agreement that slavery and torture are wrong. (Here is the first time I discussed it, almost exactly ten years ago.)

This was last Sunday's second reading, Romans 8:18-23:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

I'm pretty sure that the answer to my question, the solution of the great problem, lies behind these words, obscure though they are. In the meantime, we groan in travail with the rest of creation, but also in hope, as the next few sentences say:

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Personally  I don't know about the patience part. But I wait and hope.

Comments

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I won't be able to quote an example at the moment, but so often I read a scripture and it's like what you wrote above. I don't really understand it, or at least I don't understand it in any rational way, but I somehow grasp some meaning or answer that's probably beyond my ability to understand intellectually, and there's a sense of peace that comes with that. There was a quote in some post on the blog that was like that. And I frequently feel that way when I listened to people who know what they are talking about discuss philosophy.

AMDG

To me this passage says "It's beyond your understanding, but just be cool and trust that it actually does all make sense." Which isn't exactly the same thing as not understanding it in a rational way, because I don't really understand it in a non-rational way, either. I mean, "subjected it in hope" is almost opaque to me. Basically the whole rest of the passage is vague, but it does lay down dogmatically, so to speak, that there's a big problem, it didn't really have to be this way, except that it did, and anyway it's all going to be fixed. And I feel like it's vague because it has to be, because the truth is simply not accessible to us.

Well, I don't know what the meaning or answer is. I just meant that I sense that there is one and that gives me peace. I think we might be saying sort of the same thing, but the truth of this is inaccessible to me.

AMDG

But humanity is very young, by the only measure of time that we have that is not speculative, ie, the past. I mean we, in our present form, have existed what? a few thousand years, on a planet that is 'billions and billions' of years old, which for all we know may be young by cosmic time. And the Church is even younger. There is evidence that the Apostles did not get it even after the Resurrection, Like Peter killing Ananias and Sapphira for not sharing in the redistribution of goods, not quite calling down thunder on them, like in his Sons of Thunder days, but pretty convincingly missing the point, even if as an economic radical I can sympathize.

I mean maybe humanity is around 16 or so...

Do you think Peter killed them? I don't think that God lets people call down power like that on people if he doesn't want it.

Sons of Thunder are James and John.

AMDG

I don't think we're really saying anything much different, Janet.

I don't think I'm getting your point, Daniel. You mean there is progress, I guess? Agreed, but my complaint is that in a sense there has been too much progress--it's all progress, from chemical soup on up (in the evolutionary mythos) where it needs to have been preceded by a fall from a much better state.

Just speculatively, I'm not at all sure God disapproved of what happened to Ananias and Saphira.

Did the Fall of the Angels occur before or after the creation of the world? I can't recall.

I love this passage. I'll have to meditate on it and see if I can understand it. :)

Before I think,but since they are outside of time and space, does before/after have any meaning for them?

Good, you can tell us what it means when you figure it out.

AMDG

Maybe not for them, but it does for me! God must have created the cosmos in time - at least, time is relevant to the cosmos. So had the Angels "already" fallen? I can't remember the passage about it - it's from Revelation, I suppose...

I have the fairly vague idea that it did happen before the creation of our cosmos. Seems like there is something intimating that in Revelation, and it does fit with Genesis. As y'all say, "before" within the limits of our ability to comprehend.

I don't claim to understand anything, but I have a few reflections and questions.

"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

That seems pretty straight forward, even if it's still hard to suffer here and to imagine what it will be like in heaven.

"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God"

The revealing, at the last day, of all who have merited eternal life?

"for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope;"

The creation - is St Paul speaking of the whole of creation including the angels, or is the context here "this present time," meaning this life from a human perspective? The angels have already received judgment, we are waiting for ours.

If creation refers specifically to the material world - the cosmos - then creation was "subjected to futility ... by the will of him who subjected it in hope" may mean that God knew the presence of evil (the fallen angels) would corrupt the material world, but since Jesus would redeem the world, this subjection was not devoid of hope.

But then, Genesis says that creation was good, until the Fall of Adam and Eve.

Hmmm.

It could have been created good, but then "subjected to futility". My big problem, as I keep harping on, is that science does not show us that picture--it shows us only the cosmos as we presently know it, full of conflict and pain and far from paradise. That "futility" is an interesting term--KJV has "vanity." ??

I think the fact that creation is waiting for the "revealing" must mean that our redemption also means the transformation of the creation (whatever-all that encompasses).

Yes, I agree that the scientific view seems to present something different from the scriptural view.

"I think the fact that creation is waiting for the "revealing" must mean that our redemption also means the transformation of the creation"

I think so.

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