This blog post is a response to a post by Steve Bishop over at ‘An accidental blog’ on the topic of Structure and Direction. I have been thinking about this topic for several months now and have had the pleasure of quizzing both Al Waltors and Jonathan Chaplain on it. Although I will be posing some questions about ‘Structure and Direction’ I would want to say that I agree with the general thrust of it. I quote approvingly the follow remarks by Gordon Spkman on the curse/fall,
“In Genesis 3:14-19 the dark clouds of divine judgement descended on human life from the cradle to the grave. Nothing escapes its curse. Every creature great and small bears its brunt—the soil, plant life, animals, human relationships—not least of all, marriage and vocation. Like a drop of ink falling into a glass of water, our origonating sin has a ripple effect on our enture environment….. Yet even in the midst of such radical distortions God maintains the structures of his creation.’
The question which I am asking myself is whether the ‘fall’ resulted in any changes to the structures of creation. I posed the question to Steve Bishop
Did the fall result in some of the structures of the world being changed. Death entered the world…
It is only in the unveiling of the eschaton that creation, at least in this aspect, will be redeemed. Death is normative for this world, but death is also to be seen, in some sense, as the enemy…
Steve got in touch with his friend Roy Clouser who kindly offered a response
The death that entered the world was human death, not the death of plants or animals. St Paul puts it that after sin “death reigned from Adam to Moses” because it’s only human death that is at stake. So there’s no need to think that creation changed structurally because of sin.
Prior to the fall humans were completely under God’s protection so that they were protected from animals, accident, and anything else that could cause death. But they were still by nature mortal – able to die (the “dust of the earth” always refers to mortality). After the fall they were no longer under God’s complete protection but God’s partial protection is a constant covenantal theme. So the promised land is the promise of protection, and its conquest is undertaken by Joshua with the comment that the enemies they will encounter ‘have lost their protection but God will fight for us”.
Eternal life is a gift to humans who are not by nature immortal, and it is secured by standing in right relation to God. It is literally true that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God”.
I appreciate this kind of interaction. Thankyou Steve and Roy.
In no particular order I offer the following rambling comments,
1)God curses the earth (Gen 3:17) so that human work becomes difficult. Does this not imply a structural change
2)Human Death enters the world: I appreciate Roy’s comments but the structure of man in a fallen world is one in which decay and death happens. Are we saying that God’s covenental hold on humans actually worked against their creational structure.
3)In Genesis we see a shortening of the lifespan of humans.
4)In the flood narrative we see a changign in the structure of creation. Gen 7:11, Gorden Wenham comments,
1.. In releasing the waters pent-up below and above the earth, God is undoing his great acts of separation whereby the dry land was created and the waters were confined in the seas (Gen 1:9). The earth is going back to Gen 1:2, when the waters covered its face.1
5)It seems that after the flood humans were given permission to eat meat (Gen 9:1). Does this have soemthign to add to our conversation
6) All creation is groaning…. in what sense?
6)The eschaton is described poetically as a time when the lion and the lamb will lay down together. I know this is poetic but is the vision of the eschaton one in which there will no violence in the new creation. This makes the new-creation, which we may sugegst follows the initial creation, as radically different from the violence in a fallen world.
7)If we except Structure and Direction are we not faced with an ethical problem. Is a cancerous part of God’s good creation or a structural change which occurred in the fall? Is violence built in to the structure of creation?
It is getting late and this post is beginning to lack both structure and direction….