3 February 2024 |
Recently, prompted by a couple of friends, I read a book titled Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul, by John Philip Newel. The book is a survey of a number of theologians in the Celtic tradition. The book offered a vision of being Christian that resonated with my own experience.
I am not competent to critically assess the accuracy of the author’s history. But I have taken the book as a starting point to think again about creation.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . And God looked at everything he had made, and it was very good.” But the story moves quickly to the forbidden tree, the expulsion from the Garden, and the first murder.”
In the world I grew up in, the original creation goodness was dismissed as an “original but lost” perfection, largely irrelevant for our lives in this “fallen world.”
But the Gospel of John begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him, and without him nothing was made.” And the story then moves to the coming of the One who enlightens everyone. The Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.”
In Celtic traditions Jesus is not seen as a contradiction of nature but as a revelation of its full loveliness. Salvation is not a rescue from the miserable condition of being earthly and human. Rather, salvation is the restoring of us to our most lovely natural state.
In the ordinary course of things, humans are born beautiful, adorable, lovely. This is the expected residue of creation goodness. Optimal spiritual life is the cultivation of this native goodness.
John McLarty retired from Green Lake Church of Seventh-day Adventists in December 2020. Since then he has spent most of his time catching up on deferred maintenance on the small farm he and his wife, Karin, own. He also offers geology tours in the Southwest and trailhead shuttle and hiker services in the Cascade Mountains through his company, Talking Rocks Outdoor Company. He publishes musings and poetry on his Substack page. https://johnmclarty.substack.
Gerald Lofthouse is a retired physician, who works in his retirement in hospice and palliative care, as well as helping to staff a volunteer community clinic for those without insurance or other means.
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