"Religionless Christianity"

I've just finished giving a sermon on "Jesus in Our Politics" and a particular quote from John Stott has stayed with me. Stott wrote many years ago in Issues Facing Christians Today, "Our God is often too small because he is too religious." Stott was challenging our tendency to confine God to an airless spiritual box called "religion." It's the old mistake of the Greek dualists: to elevate things "spiritual" while denigrating things "material." Spiritual, good; material, bad. Stott's plea in this section is for Christians to regain the traditional Judeo-Christian view of God's holistic commitment to all that he has made. Because God declared his creation "good" (see Genesis, Chapter 1's resounding refrain) and because God took on human flesh in Jesus, God's creation and redemption honor all things--things "spiritual" and things "material." In fact, as we look forward to the world to come, we need to be reminded that God will create a new heaven AND a new earth (Revelation 21:1). The goal of God's salvation project in Jesus is not to rescue us from the burning house called earth (or to deliver us from our bodies); rather, God's goal is to rebuild the house altogether and give us even better bodies!

If you think about it, this is pretty exciting. It's also captivating, both for the Christian imagination ("Wow, heaven will have even better mountains to hike and rivers to enjoy...") and for our Christian witness (our unchurched friends might be attracted to this idea of their potential future).

I heard someone say recently, "I hope heaven isn't just one long hymn-sing..." Don't worry. The Bible tells us it's going to be a whole lot more than that!


Anonymous said...

Seeing thing as you describe brings new light to the part of the Lord's prayer, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven."

Carl Hofmann said...

That's EXACTLY right! God's kingdom come in Christ is both now and not yet--and it involves heaven and earth now, as well as the new heaven and new earth to come. Because of this renewal of all things, we find our mission not just in soul salvation, but in wholistic ministry. I like John 20:21, for it captures all these dimensions of Christ's sending. Thanks for checking in!