Saturday, March 17, 2012

Restoration (Wes Theo Series)

This weekend I want to finish my sketch of what my outline/overview of a Wesleyan theology looks like.  This is not the Wesleyan theology, but one that I think is forward looking.  Here's ground that I have covered so far:

1. Faith (Introduction)
2. God
3. Creation and Alienation
4. Revelation
5. Reconciliation

In this second to last post, I look at Restoration.

7.1 Christ's Resurrection
The physical resurrection of Jesus points to the beginning of the end and to the restoration of humanity.  In his full humanness, the resurrection body of Jesus points to the what humanity will be in the final resurrection.  However, we do not have to wait for the resurrection to see the restoration process begin. Sanctification in its common sense refers to the work that the Spirit is already doing to restore us now, in this age and in this life. We are being transformed from glory to glory now (2 Cor. 3:18).

The resurrection indicates the power of Christ over death and demonic forces in this age, begun in Jesus' own exorcist ministry on earth. "We do not yet see everything under his feet," but the day is coming and the day is begun.

7.2 Second Coming
Christians have continued to believe throughout the centuries that Jesus will still literally return to earth at some point to save those who are his own and to judge the rest of the world. The notion of a rapture, that Christians will be removed from the earth to go to heaven, leaving everyone else behind, is a more recent twist. Biblically, it is more likely that eternity will be on a restored earth and that Christians will participate in the final judgment in some way (cf. 1 Cor. 6:2-3). We meet Jesus in the air to come back down for the final judgment (1 Thess. 4:17). Nevertheless, Wesley believed we would spend eternity in heaven.

7.3 Final Salvation 
The salvation of the world is not historically limited to humanity but includes the created realm as well. For humanity, salvation means in the first instance an escape from the judgment coming on the rest of those on earth. Full salvation means the transformed body of the resurrection. For the creation, salvation means restoration from the forces of decay and corruption brought on by the Fall. If one accepts evolution, perhaps one might still look to some transformation of natural law in these areas at this time.

7.4 Final Judgment
Christians have historically believed in some sort of eternal punishment for those who are not in Christ.  Traditionally, we have pictured an eternal burning.  However, various Christians have seen some of these images as pictures rather than literal understanding. A significant strand sees hell as an eternal place without the presence of God and does not venture to say exactly what that looks like.  Another looks to some sort of final annihilation of those who by their own decisions are not redeemable. Finally, some look to universal salvation or hold out the possibility that those in hell might switch destinations even there if they truly repent.

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