An Even Shorter Christian History of the Cosmos

[Note: the title refers to this longer post from a couple months ago, and this current post contains some inadequate initial efforts to correct and adjust some of the points that I made in that earlier post.]

Trying to grasp creation and the fall rests on concepts of time and wholeness. With the first day of creation, time is pure and in participation with all of cosmic and human history in their fullness. Within this pure time, all of the seven days are contained within the first day in some sense. Angels were created in this light of the first day with their own relation to God outside of this pure time that was revealed with the unfolding of seven supratemporal days. Some of the angelic council did not want the cosmos and humanity to be created. This angelic fall could not touch the cosmos directly but could touch humanity. The seven days of creation in the first chapter of Genesis tell a story outside of time as we now know it, but this story also unfolds (in a distorted and fallen form) within time as we now experience it. We are still inside of those seven supratemporal days but also profoundly estranged from them and their goodness (except in Christ who brings us back into communion with God’s kingdom and His time).

We might speak of ourselves as currently estranged from the Voice of God that is continually creating the world while what we experience now is a resistance on our own part to God’s shaping of the world. There is no resistance possible to God’s Word, but God allows us, the material called into existence, to resist the hands of the Potter to some degree. Our current cosmos, in its entire history, is a result of our resistance to the shape of God’s Word that we will eventually long to express in our fullness.

The creation story reveals the goodness of life with God as it was provided for the entire cosmos created with humanity (in our wholeness—i.e. all of us) as its crown and its integrating link to life with God. As humanity (all of us) listened collectively to the lies of fallen angels, we disintegrated our union with this pure time, with the cosmos, with each other and with God. All of cosmic history and human history (as we experience and know it now) is a result of this human and cosmic fall and this disintegration of time into a constant loss and death rather than an ever-present fullness of a collective unfolding and maturation in participation with the life of God. All of cosmic and human history as we know it is shattered and estranged from true time and from God—a temporary aberration from the plan that we have pursued (apart from God) and a false history that does not show up anywhere within the seven days of creation as they truly exist and are revealed in Christ.

In this account, Adam and all of us are contained within the sixth day (or the first six days), awaiting the seventh day of God’s rest (with Christ’s incarnation, glorification and offering of Himself in the Eucharist) and the eighth day of new creation (which contains the final accomplishment or fulfillment of all seven days as the “Sons of God” are revealed). Even more, as we are contained within these first six days of creation, humanity is actively resisting creation and allowing it to be subject to malicious powers that are perverting it and holding it back from being finished. With Jesus Christ coming out of the tomb on the day after His Sabbath in the grave, however, we have the eighth day of resurrection proclaimed and revealed. John Calvin, in his commentary on Genesis 17:12, says: “It is probable and consonant with reason, that the number seven designated the course of the present life. Therefore, the eighth day might seem to be fixed upon by the Lord, to prefigure the beginning of a new life.” Calvin was agreeing (if a little tentatively) with many other Christian authors who, from the earliest years, drew this conclusion from the Gospels. Augustine reflected on this theme with a little more enthusiasm that Jesus “suffered voluntarily, and so could choose His own time for suffering and for resurrection, He brought it about that His body rested from all its works on Sabbath in the tomb, and that His resurrection on the third day, which we call the Lord’s day, the day after the Sabbath, and therefore the eighth, proved the circumcision of the eighth day to be also prophetical of Him.”

As Charles Andrew Gottshall put it:

For now the first day of creation is closed off until the last. But the glory of that first day, in all its radiance, purity, and possibility shone again in the Taboric light of Easter morning, the dawning of the last day that casts back its light on that other world that was, that should have been, the world that will be when “God will be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).

From “Sergius Bulgakov on Evolution and the Fall: A Sophiological Solution” posted on 1 May 2017 at Eclectic Orthodoxy.

Finally, here are some similar thoughts that Jedidiah Paschall posted to social media yesterday (but even more focused and well-expressed):

There’s hardly a day in my life where I don’t think about the meaning of Genesis 1-2 (nerdy, I know). The more I think on it, the more I read the thoughts of others on it, the more and more I am convinced that Genesis 1 should be read as a promise, or a prophetic outline for the whole of history, and not something that just ‘happened’ in the past. In this sense, human civilization, and the long catastrophic history entailed within it, remains in the 6th Day, and still awaits its consummation in the creation’s great Sabbath. Creation is not a descrete event that happened in the past, but an act, or an occurance in which we are all intimately involved. The big question then, in my mind, is what is the nature of my involvement in this story? Will I look upon the formless and void chaos in this world (or in my own life), and toss up my hands in resignation; or, will I roll up my sleeves and get to work, knowing that when my part is done a true Sabbath awaits me?

Posted to his Facebook page November 14, 2020.

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