From the series, Ten Turning Points That Make All the Difference
Ten turning points have made all the difference—not just for some religion, not just for some people, but for all of reality. It’s time now to wrap up this series with a summary.
This has been a series with a mixed purpose. I had been wanting to summarize the story of history viewed through the lens of its most crucial events. I ended up doing it with a small group at church, so I’ve been writing with a curriculum purpose in mind. At the same time this series has also been just plain old blogging. The result has been an odd blend of the planned and the unplanned, the systematic and the spontaneous. I think someday soon I will work it into shape for use as a real curriculum.
The other purpose I’ve had for this has been to teach worldview. I haven’t used that word, but this has genuinely been a worldview series. One definition of worldview is that it is our answer to questions like, What is reality at its root? Where do we come from? What are we here for? What’s our purpose? What’s our essential problem? What is its solution? Where are we going?
In ten segments I have tried to answer those kinds of questions. The contrast between this view of reality and other views should be obvious, I hope, even without including a study of those other views. To recapitulate the topics:
The first was creation. (Please get the links from the page I linked above. Each topic has multiple pages, too complicated to link here.) God made the world out of nothing but his own creative power. He did not use some “nothing” to do it, by the way. Hawking, Mlodinow, and Krauss might think that a useful “nothing” is a useful idea for explaining origins, but it’s not, for a useful nothing is a something whose origins remain unexplained.
What about the explanation for God’s origin? Here’s the difference: if there is a God, then God is an eternal being without origin. If there is a useful “nothing” that created our universe, there is no reason to think that it is the kind of thing that has no origin. So on a theoretical level, the question is answered already in God’s case, but not in the other.
The second was the creation of humans in God’s image. We came from dust, but that is not all we are. We are “star-stuff,” as Sagan put it, but even that is not all we are. We are more than material beings; we have the imprint of a knowing, loving, rational, spiritual God upon us. Thus we have infinite worth, and thus we also have the ability to do more than what dust and stars can do: we can think, love, feel, decide. We ourselves exist on the edge of the supernatural.
The third was the Fall. In our original creation we were also innocent, but we turned away from that, which meant turning away from God, his life, his empowerment to do right. It meant going it alone, and experiencing the curse of that. It meant spiritual and physical death.
The fourth was the calling of God’s people. This was one of the topics for which my title “turning point” was a poor fit, for it has not been a simple, single hinge point in history, but an ongoing thing since the beginning. God began calling his people back to him right from the start, inviting them into relationship with him, and showing them the way to live.
The fifth was God’s ongoing self-revelation. God has been making himself known from the beginning, through nature, through his acts in history, and through his inspired Word, now collected in the form of our Bible. His revelation has been progressive, not an instant information dump.
The sixth was the incarnation of Jesus Christ. God came in the flesh as a human, affirming humanity while also confirming our need for God in view of our sin.
The seventh was the crucifixion of Christ. In this one great redemptive act of sacrifice (the words I use are inadequate) our God, in Christ, paid the penalty for our sins on our behalf.
The eighth was Christ’s resurrection. He conquered not only sin but also death!
The ninth was the coming of the Holy Spirit. God has come to be with his people in the person of the Holy Spirit, who brings us the power and the direction to understand God’s self-revelation and the calling he continues to place upon each of us; and to be the loving presence of God in and among us.
The tenth is the coming return of Jesus Christ. Our Lord will wrap up history with his return; he will judge the living and the dead; he will remove all sin, destruction and death from earth in his final victory, and he will rule forever.