Creation: The Evangelical Failure
Posted on November 17, 2018
If you wonder why too many evangelicals are caving in to same-sex “marriage,” or “attraction,” surrogacy, “gender fluidity,” and transgenderism, part of the fault lies in the DNA of evangelicalism itself. Evangelicals champion of the biblical evangel, the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead so that sinners can be saved. This is their paradigmatic specialty and we should thank God that they have enjoyed great success over the last two centuries.
The Creational Marginalization
But with this specialization has come the marginalization of other parts of the Bible, notably creation. Not that evangelicals deny creation. They’re often at the forefront defending six-day creation and the universal flood. However, they have tended not to integrate creation into their worldview. Worse: they have not understood that creation is the foundation of the gospel. This is very easy to prove, if you think about it. The gospel offers salvation from sin, but what is sin? It is a violation of God’s law (1 Jn. 3:4). But how did this violation come about? It came about as result of man’s distortion of creation. Genesis chapters 1-2 lay out creational laws, or norms. These include the Creator-creature distinction, humanity made in God’s image, the distinction between man and woman within that single divine image, the fruitfulness imperative, the cultural mandate, the Sabbath, and the goodness of creation itself. We might call these the creational operating system. This is how God designed the cosmos to work.
Not that evangelicals deny creation. They’re often at the forefront defending six-day creation and the universal flood. However, they have tended not to integrate creation into their worldview.
And it is within just this operating system that the gospel software works. Sin introduced a virus into that operating system. The object of the gospel is incrementally to eliminate that virus. The virus doesn’t obliterate the operating system, but it does impair it. The gospel is God’s hunt-and-destroy-the-virus mission.
Evangelicals have tended, however, to internalize, privatize, and Gnosticize the gospel. The gospel is chiefly about getting sinners forgiven by God and fellowshipping with him and taking them to heaven. It’s understandable that, in this telling, addressing same-sex “marriage” might be a tangent to keep the church away from the gospel. Taking on surrogacy, egg harvesting, and transhumanism (like the Center of Bioethics and Culture) is at best a secondary cause and, at worst, a distraction from the church’s mission.
But if we understand that the objective of the gospel is the restoration of God’s created order, increasing adherence to his creational norms, not just for his glory but for our delight, we will recognize these tasks and many others as well within the framework of the biblical gospel.
The Mediator of Creation
A fundamental theological flaw is at the root of this truncated gospel. Modern evangelicals see Jesus is the mediator of redemption, but seem less interested in him as the mediator of creation. But the Bible plainly teaches both. See what Paul writes in Colossians 1:13–19:
He [God the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins [here’s Jesus, the mediator of redemption]. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist [here’s Jesus, the mediator of creation.] And He is the head of the body, the church,who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
For Paul, Jesus’ mediation in both creation and redemption work together to convey the fullness of God to and within the cosmos. The Jesus who died on the old rugged cross is the same Jesus who shaped the universe’s laws and upholds its existence.
Because evangelicals have embraced a truncated view of the Bible, because they have emphasized the evangel (narrowly construed) as the be-all-and-end-all, they have been willing to sacrifice the more fundamental creational truths on which the true evangelis founded. They didn’t set out to do this. And if someone had told them even 20 years ago that they would one day endorse or surrender to “gender fluidity” or same-sex “marriage,” they would have scoffed. But their preoccupation with one vital part of the Bible and relative neglect of other vital parts paved the way for these wholesale changes. The seeds of the present compromises were there from the beginning. The neglect wasn’t intentional, but it was neglect, and we’re now paying a bitter price for it.
The solution to this neglect is a return to a full-orbed robust view of creation and creational norms. Let’s preach the Jesus of the old rugged Cross and the even older creational Lordship.