I was at a most unusual Christian meeting a few short weeks ago on 5th December 2009. Convening the meeting were the leaders of several of the main Christian denominations, a sight you would rarely expect. And strangely, most of the congregated faithful were wearing something blue, and not just blue clothing – people had on blue face and body paint, blue wigs, blue tinsel and draped themselves in blue flags, bedsheets and banners :-
During the meeting, readings and expositions were given from some of the most hotly argued and prayerfully analysed passages of the Bible : Job chapter 38 and Romans chapter 8, verses 18 to 30 :-
The debate centres on the Created world. What should the faith position be as regards Nature, Ecology, Environment ?
There are many Christians that teach that this current Earth will be swept aside in favour of a New Heaven and a New Earth. (Note : clearly “Heaven” in this context means the Sky, not the Heaven where God resides which shall never pass away.) Many Christians disregard the concept of “stewardship of the Garden” painted in the first Chapters of Genesis. They disregard care of the Environment, and move to the end point of time with no context, Isaiah chapter 65 verses 17 to 25; and Revelations chapter 21 verses 1 to 4 :-
But on that day in early December, the faith leaders were courageous and bold and taught the “greater gospel”, the Good News that the Earth will be brought back to life, just as people will be resurrected in the everlasting, eternal House of God.
And here we come to Clive Stapleton Lewis who studied the Bible intensely and wrote many references from the Bible into his much-loved Narnia Chronicles for children.
Why is there a Lamp-post in the woods behind the Wardrobe ? It’s not just a symbol of the non-stop light of Heaven. It’s not just a “light at the end of the tunnel” to guide the young girl into the next world. It’s not just a miracle that it never burns out despite not having any source of fuel or power. And why is it broken ? The Lamp-post appears to be a “new creation”, something entirely new in the young world of Narnia, a living thing, sprung from a lump of iron…you’ll have to read the whole chapters to find out the back story.
C. S. Lewis knew that death, or “corruption” was, according to the theologians, a state that only came to the Earth after Adam and Eve “missed the mark” and failed God’s standards in the Garden of Eden. According to the Bible, people lived a very long time just after the Earth was made, but God stopped them eating the fruit of eternal life, and then limited their lifespans :-
A New Heaven and a New Earth could could come as the Old Heaven and the Old Earth are returned to this state of youthful innocence, this fertile longevity, this reconciliation between God and his beautifully crafted Biosphere.
It’s strange that very few Christian denominations or sects teach the Resurrection of the Earth. I know the Jehovah’s Witnesses do. It’s been a thorn in the side of the Evangelical Protestants for decades :-
I congratulate the Christian leaders who started to teach the Greater Gospel earlier this month : that Salvation and New Life are not just for people; the whole Earth can be renewed, both spiritually and physically, and that this is what God is planning for.
You will probably know that the miracle of the coming of the Lion in Narnia brings the end of a hundred-year Winter. We may be seeing the last shreds of Winter. Over the next few decades it may fail entirely to snow or freeze, and Winter will be banished, and it will become forever Spring. Our “Lion Heart” courage must be set on making sure the Earth does not become perpetual Heatwave Hell.
True power is not force, it is gentle influence. I find myself averse to regal and warfare language in Christian songs, but just ignore the references to “king” and “prince” and the cultural violence of domination and patronage implied in this Christmas carol and see the promise of healing, the divine repair :-
“Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His Wings.
Mild He lays His Glory by,
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the New-born king!””
“Prince of Peace” : http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+9:6&version=NIV
“Sun” or “Son”, meaning “Son of God” : http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%205:16-30&version=NIV
“Mild” : http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=phillipians%202:5-11&version=NIV
“second birth” : http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%204:10-14&version=NIV
“Born to give them second birth” : http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%203:16-21&version=NIV
Elements of my vision :-
Everything is the responsibility of God, who made it :-
Everything on Earth will be renewed, refreshed and sustained :-
Sustaining the universe, God gives new strength to mankind :-
The Earth itself is a witness to the power of God’s creative forces :-
The Earth can be renewed, just as people can be :-