Creation Or New Creation?
When Christ summons someone, it’s like Genesis 1 all over again, bringing something into being that was not. – Will Willimon
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! – 2 Corinthians 5:17
There’s a School of Homiletics going on in Colorado right now. A friend of mine and classmate of Lisa’s posted the above quote from Bishop Will Willimon. It caught my eye because I was more than a little surprised someone as prominent as Bishop Willimon would say such a thing. Everything in Scripture, in our doctrine and practice, all make clear that our lives as Christians are no longer wholly a part of this Creation that is passing away. Baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, ours is all ready a life living in to the New Creation. Our calling, whatever it might be, is a call to bring about the full realization of the Kingdom of God. When we see, we see with eyes able to recognize those signs of the Kingdom. When we hear, we listen with ears attentive to the New Song. When we act, we are acting as those living toward the Kingdom.
Now, perhaps this distinction I’m making is some kind of piddling word play. That might be true. But, it troubles me that someone like Bishop Willimon would say that our life in Christ is like Creation. The whole New Testament understanding of our life in Christ, rooted in the prophetic promises of the Hebrew Scriptures, is that we are even now a living part of the New Creation. We are not wholly a part of that Kingdom. That tension must always be kept, and we can never fall too far to one side or the other, as Luther made clear. St. Paul above all, however, was very clear, as stated unequivocally in the above passage from 2 Corinthians, that we are a new creature. That one day all will be made new; that our current existence shall pass away to become we-know-not-what (1 Corinthians 15), yet we do know this promise will come true because it has already been made true in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
I know there is a tendency in our denomination to give celebrity writers, pastors, and Bishops a pass when they say or write things. Whether it’s Maxie Dunnam, Mike Slaughter, Adam Hamilton, or whoever, we tend to be happy enough that we are encountering another United Methodist and pass over in silence those things that might cause us to pause. Even Bishops aren’t perfect, however, so rather than repeat their words with adulation, it might be a good thing to stop, think, and maybe even raise our hands (figuratively or literally) and ask the hard question: Are you sure you want to go with that?