In God’s Good World: Reclaiming the Doctrine of Creation, Jonathan Wilson argues that the Church has neglected the biblical doctrine of Creation–he calls it a case of “teleological amnesia”–and all of Western culture is the worse for it. Rather than responding to the onslaught of naturalism, materialism, and Darwinism, theologians of the last 250 years turned inward. Instead of developing a robust theology of Creation, they focused on salvation history. This abdication had consequences–nearly all of them bad. Theology as an intellectual discipline was banished from the academy, the Church embraced a nearly-Gnostic view of salvation (salvation came to be understood as deliverance from Creation rather than the redemption of Creation), and society came to view technology in messianic terms.
One of the worst effects of abandoning Creation as a worldview is that, in the modern mind, Creation has been transformed into Nature. This left the modern world with four miserable options:
- We can conclude that there is no meaning, purpose, or teleology to the universe.
- We can try to manufacture meaning for ourselves.
- We can try to believe that the universe creates its own purpose or telos. However, if death is the final outcome for all then it is difficult to avoid fatalism.
- Or we can attempt to construe meaning in the light of another god besides the Triune God of the Bible.
Wilson contends that the only proper telos is Jesus Christ (Col 1:15-21). Failure to recognize this leads to despair, and much of modern society’s frenetic activities are attempts to deny, manage, or ameliorate this despair. Only a recovered theology of Creation–a theology that always views Creation in the context of redemption–can heal the pathologies of society.
Wilson presents his case in three parts. First, he surveys the damage caused by ignoring the doctrine of creation. Second, he presents an approach for developing a robust theology of creation. Last, Wilson devotes the remainder of the book to applying the motifs developed in part two. This book identifies an important issue. It’s not the final word on the subject; Wilson doesn’t claim that it is. But he makes a good case for where the discussion should go from here.
This posted is also available at www.theologyforthechurch.com