In this series of blog posts, I will discuss the Christian doctrine of Redemption: its scope, its basis, and its implications. In other words, we will consider: (1) how wide the doctrine of Redemption is; (2) how the resurrection of our Lord is the theological foundation for our call to the work of redemption; and (3) how the notion of “critique” is crucial to our work of redemption.
Let’s begin with Acts 10.9-15: “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour[a] to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.'”
As the Holy Spirit of God is beginning to establish the Early Church, some of its would-be leaders are being trained (by God himself!) on certain foundational theological matters, one of which has to do with the Mosaic Law of the Old Covenant. Is it lawful to eat only certain kinds of foods made from particular animals and not others? Or is all that God has made indeed “clean”? The resounding answer from the Lord of all creation is that all creation is of the Lord.
And all things are “for the Lord”; this is why all of life is worship: because all that we have and do and say and think are avenues of worshipping the Creator of all that we have and do and say and think about. We know that all things are for the Lord – truly all things: from governments to gourmet dishes – as we read in Colossians: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (1.16). Paul details the list of “all things” even further in 1 Timothy chapter four where he argues that, contrary to those who “devot[e] themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons … , who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created” (vv. 1-3) – contrary to such demonic teaching (!), Paul reminds us that: “[E]verything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (vv. 4-5). Everything in life is to be enjoyed and engaged in their own right – e.g., proper marriage, various foods, political life, hip hop culture – insofar as they are enjoyed and engaged as one prayerfully considers what the Scriptures have to say about them.
To note, this seemingly new lesson for the leaders of the Early Church is really not so new at all. As we read in Genesis chapter 1, verse 31: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Of course, given the doctrine of the Fall, we understand that the world and all that is in it has been deeply marred by the groaning effects of sin and evil. For this reason, as we saw earlier, all of creation longs for restoration, shalom. And this is precisely where redemption comes in: all those in Christ are made new for the sake of joining with God in making all things new (2 Cor. 5.17-21).
So, then: Acts 10 alongside 1 Timothy 4, undergirded by Colossians 1 and Genesis 1, should help us to take on a very wide view of a Christian theology of redemption – indeed a worldview view!
In my next post, I shall discuss how the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ serves as the unshakeable and indispensible foundation for our work of redeeming fallen creation.