RealityBites blog

Creation Regained

It's often good to begin by quoting other people…  So here's Jon Swales' review of a small book called Creation Regained by a chap called Al Wolters:

Creation Regained, although a short book which can be read and intellectually digested within several hours, is a remarkable book and one which has transformed, not only my understanding of the Bible, but my entire outlook on the world. In recommending this book I would like to tell my story of how this book changed my life, embarked me on a major paradigm shift which has led to not simply a greater understanding of the Bible and theology, but also a greater appreciation of the theological dimensions of friendship, fine wine, hill-walking, teaching and love making.

My evangelical upbringing, as with much of evangelicalism today, is inherently dualistic. I once asked a number of Sunday school kids to give me a list of spiritual professions and also to list spiritual and unspiritual activities.  They gave me the following list:-

Spiritual Professions/Activities

Vicar, Missionary, Choir Member, Doctor, Choir Member, Sunday School teacher, Pastor, Deacon, Monk, Nun, Prayer, Reading Bible, Singing Hymns, Exorcisms ???,  Making religious artefacts, street preaching

Unspiritual Professions/Activities

Teacher, Artist, Politician, Pop Singer, Athlete, Baker, Butcher, Candlestick Maker, Banker, Scientist, Computer Programmer,  Eating, Sleeping, Drinking fine wine, sex, playing games, painting a picture, watching tv. Hill walking, banking

Although I never undertook this task myself as a child, the results help to highlight the worldview which I inhabited and absorbed as a child and in my teenage years. As my pastor once remarked, "Two things matter in life, the saving of souls and personal holiness". This became my mission, my way of looking at the world. I wanted to be spiritual and would try and fill my life with as many activities from the left column of the table and would see the tasks/professions on the right-hand side as being a waste of time, unhelpful or at best just a necessary part of my life. I could not wait to get to heaven in order to escape the mundane tasks of the world and live in disembodied bliss. In the words of the Negro spiritual ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through’.

When I arrived at university I found Christian friends who viewed and approached the world differently, who seemed to enjoy life more and were, in my past opinion, involved in unspiritual tasks of art, politics, gardening and finance. It was then that everything changed, my worldview shifted, I read and talked about this little book by Al Wolters Creation Regained.

In this book I discovered that the essential worldview and story of Scripture is opposed to dualistic thinking—that creation (humans, hills, wine, art, culture) is a divine gift which is to be enjoyed and celebrated.  This world is fallen, but it is our home, and because of Christ we need to work towards the redemption of all spheres of life (Banker, Teacher, Gardener) until the day when Christ will make His home on earth.

This shift in thinking, often described as reformational, is transformative and means that as a Christian I should enjoy this world as a gift whilst simultaneously working by the Spirit for the redemption of all of life/created reality.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book and do hope and pray that this reformational vision will spread throughout the church and encourage God’s kingdom to spread in all areas of life and culture.

Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview, A.M. Wolters (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985; 2nd edition 2005), ISBN 0-8028-2969-4

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