Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption Promo Video

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Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption now has a promo page on bjupress.com. If you haven’t yet purchased a copy, you will want to do so now that there is a promo page. Bryan Smith, the presenter on the video there, is the one whose vision I was trying to live out in the book. His theological mentoring made a major impact on me during my nine years at BJU Press. He knows his Bible extremely well and works to apply it across all the academic disciplines with a depth and rigor I’ve never seen in anyone else I know personally.

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Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

10 thoughts on “Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption Promo Video”

  1. Someday we’ll have to have a conversation about the odd fit between the transformationalist ideas of the BJU Bible Integration team and the (“soft,” “mild”?) dispensationalism taught at the seminary where you all received your training. I associate transformationalism with a branch of Reformed/covenant theology, so it is interesting that not only did your group pick up the ideas but that you were allowed to shape the curricula of a place not known for its friendliness to Reformed theology. There’s a good story there, I think.

  2. I can tell you why I found a CFR view persuasive. Biblical theology has always been taught in the seminary. It tended to be taught as a collection of themes, a totally valid vantage point from which to view Scripture. But when I was presented with the one-story-of-Scripture view, the CFR view, I found it absolutely captivating. It put my Bible together, making sense of OT passages that previously had been a mystery to me.

    When I arrived at BJU Press, a bomb went off in my brain when I saw that CFR is a worldview, because it’s a grand story, and metanarratives are a/the major component of their respective worldviews. I saw that everything is fundamentally Created good, twisted by the Fall of Adam, and will be/can be (partially, and perhaps impermanently) brought under Christ’s feet.

    The order of the insight went mainly from Bible to worldview/theological superstructure, not the other way around. That I take to be BJU’s M.O., one for which I am undyingly thankful.

    A specific instance of going from Bible to theology: I felt as if the transformationalist view makes use of Gen 1:26-28 in a way that my previous view had not. In fact, I don’t believe I ever heard anyone in my formative years who gave any weight to those verses aside from the image of God element. I have now subsequently seen that there are dispensationalists of various sorts (I’m one of those sorts still), such as Eugene Merrill, who are happy to speak of the “creation mandate” as still in force. I do not see the CFR paradigm as fundamentally inimical to the soft-mild-dispensationalism of BJU. I see it as a very natural outgrowth of our biblicism.

    Now, of course, that’s the claim that everyone will make for whatever his or her view is. But I wrote a book (with a lot of teamwork) detailing how I think the Bible teaches what we’re saying. What else can I do but pray that it will be edifying and persuasive?

    In fact, I think BJU has long been doing precisely what I argue for, but doing it without a full and publicly acclaimed theological basis. That is, we have rightly followed the brilliant Ron Horton, for whom I have great respect, in viewing the image of God as central to Christian education. But with the exception of an excellent chapel message from Brent Cook right before I left, our public self-talk about what we were doing rarely foregrounded the image of God as a reason for engagement in the liberal arts. Instead, evangelism was the major stated purpose for what we did. We stage operas because you might sit next to an opera buff on an airplane.

    Now I judge this to be an insufficient theological reason to stage expensive operas and require thousands of students to sit (and some to suffer) through them. Bringing in the well-roundedness proper to a Christian concerned to reflect the image of a creative God—that’s good. But we’re not fully there yet. We need the other major pillar for Christian ed in Gen 1:26–28. We need the creation mandate. Why bother cultivating the Western classical tradition of art or music or literature as we have so long done? Because it is given to us to work and to keep the cultural garden we’ve inherited.

    One more thing: I actually feel that the fundamentalism of BJU adds weight to the F in CFR in a way that will be helpful for the church. Fundamentalists need to hear more about the C—the physical world and cultural structures are fundamentally good. But evangelicals need to hear more about the F—the fact that the fall has twisted both culture and the consumers of cultural artifacts. These are massive generalizations that obviously have many exceptions, but I believe they are true as generalizations.

  3. And one more thing: where the so-called transformationalism of Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption doesn’t quite line up with other versions is in its Ecclesiastes-like refusal to assume that anything redemptive Christians do will be permanent—or permanently good. Crouch is the same way. This is not postmillennialism.

  4. “Fundamentalists need to hear more about the C—the physical world and cultural structures are fundamentally good. ”

    The key is finding the part of the structure that is actually good, or perhaps better, truly reflective of the image of God.

    I had a native friend (since deceased) who had a huge chip on his shoulder. If you wouldn’t knock it off, he would often knock it off for you, just because! One time he asked me, “So do you think Native Culture is evil?” Sensing a trap, I said, “You mean like white culture?” He wasn’t expecting that one! But it really is the point. There are aspects of Native culture that reflect the image of God, but so much of it is distorted by demonism that it is hard to tell whether it can be useful at all.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. May I seek clarification? Are you distinguishing your interpretation of the creation mandate from transformationalists like Wolters or Kuyper because you want to articulate that man’s creative endeavors are necessarily tainted and fallen? Would you critique transformationalism for not distinguishing between God’s and man’s creative endeavors?

    I’m asking because I’ve heard Christians argue that technology and pop music—to choose two random examples—are bad/evil/wrong/sinful (etc.) because humans “created” them. The syllogism goes something like this:

    MP: Humanity is fallen.
    mp: Humans make culture.
    C: Human culture is fallen.

    While I acknowledge that the argument is valid (even true?), I see it structuring the responses to ultra-conservative Christian rejections of culture—rejections that I, in turn, feel the need to reject. (See, for example, the first comment to this article about why pastors should read fiction: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/4-reasons-pastor-theologians-should-read-fiction#)

    In my opinion, this is the same argument that structures conservative Christianity’s rejection of alcohol. They concede that, yes, people in the Bible drank *naturally* fermented drinks, but we shouldn’t drink today because the fermentation process is *engineered* to unnatural levels. Whether or not you think that Christians should drink is beside the point (at least for this discussion). What bothers me is the implication that technological innovation and progress itself is the problem. (Maybe alcohol isn’t the best example because of its controversial reception in Christian circles, but it was an example that came to mind.)

    So, my question: How would you response to this paradigm?

    Forgive this layperson’s lack of theological know-how. (I had to look up transformationalism…) If I haven’t made my point clear, and I fear I haven’t, please let me know and I will try again.

  6. I’ll try to answer this multi-part question in the order in which it was received…

    1. No, I’m not distinguishing myself from Wolters and Kuyper by saying that man’s creative endeavors are necessarily tainted and fallen. They would say the same thing. There’s no need to distinguish myself from them on that point.

    2. I think that the MP, mp, and C are formally valid but ultimately untrue, because incomplete. I think there is an equivocation in the word “fallen,” the same one that bedevils Christian discussion about total depravity. Depravity is total in that it touches the totality of man, every part of him, not in that man is completely wicked, as bad as he can be. Likewise, humans are fallen and human culture are fallen—but before that they’re created good. During their fallenness they retain that good, and by God’s common grace and Christ’s kingly work of redemption there is still much good in human culture.

    The Bible simply doesn’t call “evil,” tout court, every cultural artifact produced by man. From the work of Bezalel and Oholiab to “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” in Matt 4 to “the glory and the honor of the nations” in Rev 21—the Bible recognizes truth, goodness, and beauty in the work of non-Christians, even while never forgetting the fact that the fall has its effects, too.

    3. That comment on the Gospel Coalition blog (I made a screenshot) was intense! And I think the major scriptural antidote to it is founded in the Creation Mandate. I’m still processing what Ken Myers says here, but I know I like the line about our being involved in culture because we’re created:

    I would like to present a case that the activity of Christians in the culture is not usually kingdom work in the sense it is assumed to be, nor is it redemptive in any useful sense of the word. But it is nonetheless imperative for us to be active in the culture, not because we are saved, but because we are created. Pursuing an understanding of and engagement with our culture is necessary for Christians because we must first bow to God as Creator, to thank him for the goodness that remains in his fallen creation, to live creatively, that is, in keeping with the patterns and norms he has established for creation, even as we eagerly await the advent of a new creation.

    4. Far from technological innovation and progress being problems, I believe the Bible calls us to unlock the potential of the natural world precisely by maximizing its usefulness for mankind. Drinks with high alcoholic content aren’t bad because people tampered with a process God invented; they’re bad because (and when) they tend toward drunkenness. To pick literally the extreme example, it’s difficult to imagine any purpose for the production of Everclear aside from drunkenness. But it’s not bad because humans developed it but because of the purpose for which they developed it. There are valid purposes for making liquids with high alcohol content.

    Does that help?

  7. Don, let’s talk again when you get through more of the book. =)

    Yes, all goodness is founded and sourced in God. But I’m not sure “the image of God” is the right concept to appeal to for finding the “created structures” in culture. I think Wolters’ concept of “creational norms”—and of “structure and direction”—are more helpful. But you started a train of thought, because I have tended to see the image of God in individualistic terms, and perhaps there is more of a communal aspect to them that I haven’t given enough attention to.

  8. So good to see this book in print! The folks I met at BJUP have the right stuff to produce a great worldview book. Thanks to all the authors for working hard on this for so many years. The bits I’ve read are outstanding. Looking forward to reading more.

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