Thursday, December 8, 2011

Man is called to a different vocation than the angels

Question for Pence

Here is Pastor John Piper on C.S. Lewis:

In his book on the Psalms, he says, “The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever’. But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy him.”
Many Christians assume that is man's central duty in this vale of tears. But you contend that this is a slightly skewed perspective -- corporate humanity was meant to replace the fallen angels, and to wage battle against Satan. How did we lose sight of that?


The old Baltimore Catechism answered the query "Why did God make me?" with “To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world; and be happy with Him in the next.”

To read the Piper/Lewis emphasis is to wonder: "Is man, then, an angel?" For the duty to glorify and enjoy was certainly the primal purpose of the higher ranks of angels, the Cherubim and Seraphim. But Adam was not meant to simply stay in the garden and worship. He had an "out-of-garden" mission to order the Earth where a serpent reigned.

So there is something in man’s nature and original mission that involves a purgative task before he enjoys and worships God forever. It is a task which is intrinsically related to man’s nature as a material being with a spiritual soul who is meant to struggle and suffer to restore justice. "To serve Him in this world" means to carry out a peculiar mission assigned to Adam and renewed by Christ. The purpose of human nature and the fullness of man was only made clear by the life of Christ. To understand Christ is to understand man; not just in his fallen nature, but in his original mission and ultimate purpose. Christ came to restore justice—so did Adam. Blessed are those who thirst after justice! This restoration of justice is not simply atoning for original sin—that is too anthropocentric a view of the history of sin.

There has been a great offense by an angel against the Creator; and the particular role of the spiritual but non-angelic soul of man is to act as a lower creature in defeating the higher sinner. The accuser will be forever deceiving us and accusing us of having no such high function since we too have sinned.

The Calvinists, indeed, define their destiny in angelic-like terms -- but their historical practice of Christianity is anything but “angelistic.” They manifest a unique powerful public element of struggle. They thought their own personal salvation was already decided. To give glory to God they entered a struggle as free churches and civic communities to manifest His Glory. They shaped masculine protective Christian-ordered commonwealths from Geneva to Massachusetts in order to give glory to God. From Cromwell to Winthrop to Jackson, they understood armed brotherhood as a necessary manifestation of Christianity in history.

Christopher Dawson reminds us that the vocation of Abraham as a friend of God was as head of a chosen people. Dawson says nations have vocations as well as individuals -- that individuals have vocations as part of communal bodies.

The missions of Adam required communal forms for their fulfillment. He needed Eve to fill the earth, as Abraham needed Sarah to be the father of nations. To subdue the earth, Adam needed his sons; and to establish a Promised Land and a People of the Law, Abraham needed every male willing to shed his blood for the covenanted community. For Christ to drive out demons and baptize the nations he called into being the masculine apostolic communal body.

Christ did not let Peter set up permanent worship tents at the Transfiguration. There was a cross to embrace and prisoners to set free.

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