I wrote at the end of my last post,
In short, the story begins with God creating the earth, intending to fill it with his animated eikons living in perfect shalom. The story ends with God recreating the earth, and dwelling among his animated eikons who now fill the earth, living in perfect shalom.
This speaks to the end purposes, or telos, of God. But knowing the end is not enough. We live in between the pivotal point of Christ’s resurrection and the consummation of God’s work in the world. What is asked of us today? Jesus said the greatest commandments were to love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. What does that look like?
In writing about Anglican social ethics, David P. Gushee and Dennis P. Hollinger write,
Love therefore can only be understood within the framework of an evangelical ethic in which the resurrection of Christ vindicates the order of reality from creation, points us toward the fulfillment of that order in the eschaton, and allows us to participate now in the Christ who himself makes love intelligible. (1)
This framework places creation at the beginning, the New Jerusalem at the end, and draws us to the life and work of Jesus Christ in between the two. Creation, eschaton and incarnational revelation must ALL be kept front and center in our minds as we think about how to love others and make ethical decisions.
Gabriel Fackre echos this sentiment when writes that we must not lose the holistic continuity of the entire revealed narrative of God and must avoid the inclination to overly focus on one revelatory act of God. Fackre sees at least the following ten episodes as part of the narrative story that most not be lost from the story:
- Covenant with Noah
- Covenant with Israel
- Jesus Christ
- Epilogue (2)
There is a tendency by theologians and movements to champion one element or episode of God’s revelatory activity as the definitive lens through which everything must be filtered. For instance, he lists the following examples provided by William Abraham as acts that have been used as organizing principles to the exclusion of other revelatory acts:
- Creation (Preservation)
- Speaking to the prophets and apostles (Inspiration)
- Jesus Christ as bearer of revelation (Action)
- Illumination by the Holy Spirit (Illumination)
- Revelation that comes only at the end of history (Illumination) (3)
Focus on one to the exclusion of others ultimately creates distortion in our understanding of God's work in the world.
My posts to this point have focused on telos and have given a narrative summary of the biblical story only in so far as it points to what the telos is. The purpose of this series is to investigate how economics relates to the telos of the biblical story and investigate what it means for engaging culture today. I will turn to economics soon. However, before I go to the specifics of economics, I want to say a little more about "loving God" and "loving neighbor" as the base principles in our lives in this era between Christ's resurrection and the eschaton.
(1) David P. Gushee and Dennis P. Hollinger, Toward an Evangelical Ethical Methodology. Chapter Six in, Ronald J. Sider and Diane Knippers, Toward an Evangelical Public Policy: Political Strategies for the Health of the Nation. “Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004, pp. 135-136.
(2) Gabriel Fackre, The Doctrine of Revelation: A Narrative Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997, p. 9.
(3) Ibid, p. 8.