Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor

Morgan Park

 Baptist Church

11024 S. Bell Avenue 

Chicago, IL 60643


Reflection July 22,2018

"The Gift of Being" Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth

     Last week I wrote about the field of cosmology, where science and faith overlap. In this week’s Advance, I’ll place some thoughts from my favorite professor, Rev. Dr. Zachary Hayes’ book, The Gift of Being: A Theology of Creation.

     “Anyone whose understanding (of faith) is grounded in a deeper knowledge of the Christian tradition does not need to be forced to choose between the Bible and science.”

     The message of the Bible is not about the physics of the universe, but about the truth of human salvation that becomes conscious for us in the history that creates the Bible.”

     “Science offers the best available knowledge of how the world operates. Theology offers a vision of value, meaning, and hope. It would be a mistake to let either of these disciplines become the total picture.”

 “The conflict-model (for the relation between science and religion) is one that makes it necessary to choose either science or religion to the exclusion of the other. This model is the most familiar to us since so many people have grown up in modern, Western culture with the assumption that there is inevitably and necessarily a conflict between the claims of science and those of religion (note the Galileo case).” (This conflict-model produces the science-phobia underlying most Biblical fundamentalism - also seen in Islam’s repudiation of most modern science.)

     “Science asks objective questions about what and how; religion asks personal why-questions about meaning and purpose and about our ultimate origin and destiny...We might think of science as a source of empirically-based knowledge about the what and how of the physical cosmos, and religion as a source of values and wisdom in the light of which we might invest our existence…with a sense of meaning. Neither religion nor science alone can do this effectively. Both are needed in a project that is larger than either one of the disciplines in isolation. ”

     (In reading the Hebrew Scriptures/the Old Testament) the following truths can be seen): “The creative activity of God embraces the world from the beginning to the end of its history. The created world is in essence good. Humanity has a special role to play in this world of God’s creation …The problem of evil enters the picture primarily in the form of moral failure through the activity of human beings. With that moral evil (seen biblically as the Fall), human beings find themselves at odds with one another and with the world around them in as far as they are at odds with God… Salvation is, in essence, the completion of God’s creative work with the world and humanity.”

     (In Christian Scriptures/New Testament - we come to see the pivotal role of Christ in creation - look closely at the great hymn to Christ found in Colossians 1:15-20) “Adam stands at the beginning of the old creation; Christ, the new Adam, stands at the beginning of the new creation.”

     “God creates so that creation itself can come to participate in the mysterious fullness and goodness of the divine life of love…To be created is to exist in absolute dependence on the free, loving creativity of God. Created existence, therefore, in the deepest sense is pure gift.”

     “It is through nature (creation) that God brings us into being and sustains us. To know (and study) nature (creation) more deeply is to sense its mystery, its depth, and its value. It is to know nature (creation) as a reflection of the sacred; a sacrament of the divine. The cosmos truly speaks to us of God. But what it says is difficult to discern…in all this, we see ‘indistinctly, as in a mirror’ (1 Corinthians 13:12).”

     “The deepest potential in humans is the potential for receiving the mystery of divine grace in the depth of the human person.”

     (In the biblical stories found in Genesis we clearly see that) “humanity has freely chosen a condition of alienation from God. For this (choice) humanity pays dearly.”

     “Are these stories true? We need only look at the constant experience of human history; the twisted character of human relations with others and with the entire world of creation, and the moral ambiguity so pervasive in human history. (Even recent human history) bears eloquent testimony to the remarkable realism of the biblical vision. This is not God’s creation as God would have it.”

     “The (divine) creative power that undergirds all cosmic reality is enacted in Christ as personal, self-sacrificing love seen most fully in the cross of Christ.”

     (Ephesians 1:9-10 sums up what we are saying: With all wisdom and insight, he (God) has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth. All creation, therefore, will come to salvation in and through Christ. “All will be returned to unity under the headship of Christ…The God who creates is also the God who saves.”

     “Creation, then, may be seen as a preparation for that sort of kinship between God and humanity that has been realized in the mystery of Christ.”

     “The creative love of God can well be thought of as a power that ‘lets things be’: a power that calls creatures to realize the potential that lies within them...God calls to all creation from the future.”

     Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2) “Christian faith is a hope-filled openness to the future…(but) what we make of ourselves and of our world is crucial for the final, transforming self-gift of God by which God brings creation to its completion.”

     Lots here for us to ponder! Come to the Theology 101 series at Smith Village to learn more (or watch live on my Facebook page or find the presentations under “Posts.”)!