Now, I know that I've changed pretty significantly since I came to RIT. But I didn't realize that some pretty fundamental aspects of my theology have changed until the final day of rocup. We had a speaker some talk to us about justice, simplicity, and community, and he tied it all together with the cross. This is a guy who has arrived at a place similar in many ways to the life I want to be living soon. He lives in the city and cares for the poor around him through relationships.
But the more the guy talked, the more I found myself disagreeing with him. And our disagreements seemed to be theological. It was matters of interpreting Scripture, matters of Eschatology. And until this point, I did not realize how significantly I had been impacted by adopting whole-heartedly a vision statement which includes the phrase "world-changers developed."
I find myself believing that God is "redeeming" or restoring the whole person (his emotions, intellect, flesh, and spirit) rather that just saving souls; and that God is in a similar way
reconciling the whole of creation, including its systems and structures (in a Romans 8 sort of sense).
If this is true, and we are also commanded to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1), to have the same mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), to walk in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25), then should we not also be seeking to be agents of reconciliation in the world for the whole person and for the world's systems and structures?
I think a lot of this hinges on what I have come to believe about the Kingdom of God. Who is it, where is it, what is it? It's in our hearts, it is the Church, it is our hope for the future. It is somehow "already, and not yet."
Jesus told his disciples to pray that our Father's kingdom would come, and that his will would be done on earth as it is done in heaven. And I have come to believe that it is the role of the Church to strive for the world to look like how it will be when Christ is completely King, as much as possible. We are praying for God's will to be done on earth, and working to arrange the systems and structures and hearts of the world so that his will is done in them, as it is in heaven. We want earth to look like God's Kingdom, because in some way it is: all things were created by him and for him (Col. 1:16).
A lot of this also hinges on what I believe about how things end. I'm certain that this world will be destroyed in fire, and that there will be a new heave and new earth (that latter is probably where we will spend eternity), and that there will be a big, cubic New Jerusalem. But what's up with the millenial reign?
Is the Church responsible for making the world better, to "usher in the Kingdom" (as in Christ now coming until his Bride has prepared the way)? I don't think so.
Will the world get worse and worse until Christ's return and the establishment of his righteousness in the world? I think so.
Does that mean it's not wise or a waste of time and effort to attempt to make the world a better place? I don't think so.
Should we focus on changing the structures of the world and neglect the souls within them? Never.
Should we focus solely on the the souls of the individuals within our influence? I don't think so. I think there is value to changing systems and structures in such a way that can lead to the salvation of many.
This is probably not very coherent.
So, I am making it a goal of the next month to talk to some more people much wiser than I about these issues, particularly the "Kingdom of God" concepts.