Christ Plays 2 (pp. 49-84)
This mega-blog with pastors and friends, and anyone else who wants to speak up, is about E. Peterson’s new book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, and we are doing about 30 pages a week. This week’s reading is from the chapter “Christ Plays in Creation” and we are taking a big chunk of that chapter. I am summarizing the material and inviting others to reflect on the reading – but anyone who’d like to respond is welcome. I might add that it is rare that we are treated to a pastor-scholar, like Peterson, who brings his entire ministry and theology to fruition in a five-volume series on spiritual theology.
A major idea in this section is that the spiritual life is a life in this world. It is not simply a life for heaven, but also a life for now.
Thus, the kerygma is Jesus’ birth – that is, God reveals himself most completely in a human, living person named Jesus. “If you want to look at creation full, creation at its highest, you look at a person – a man, a woman, a child” (53).
The threat to the gospel is Gnosticism – a term Peterson will use often enough for the attempt to flee life as it is for a life that is not, or for a life where we’d like it to be what we’d like it to be. “The feature attraction is that we no longer have to take seriously … either things or people” (60).
Peterson’s introduction to Christ and the spiritual life in creation is grounded in two texts: Genesis 1—2 and the Gospel of John (St. John).
The grounding text is Genesis 1—2 and I think Peterson’s section here is brilliant (pp. 62-84). First, creation now: this is not just about the past but about now. Peterson asks this: “How can I get in on this [creating work of God]?” (64)
Creation involves time (Gen 1): he is at his best in discussing rhythms of time. Time is a gift of God in which we presently participate – the end time is not a future but the fullness of time now (67). We are created to live rhythmically in the rhythmical times of God.
Creation involves place (Gen 2): all living is local; we are called to our place. Utopia is a “no-place” but we are called to an actual place. Sometimes we are tempted to go to another place where things will be better. Peterson pulls out a wonderful story of Gregory of Nyssa who labored in Nyssa (ever hear of it?) – and he has this quotation: “His brother told him that he didn’t want Gregory to obtain distinction from his church but rather to confer distinction upon it” (74). How many of us need to hear that?
“Theology divorced from geography gets us into nothing but trouble” (77). God placed “humans” in the place he made: Eden.
He also develops the idea of freedom and necessity and the “enormous dignity” of being human in a place. Our freedom is constrained by our place (necessity). We negotiate between the two as limited constrained humans.
And there is intimacy in this place for humans: Adam and Eve.