Friday, January 23, 2009

Plantinga Ch 4: "Redemption"

I found that Plantinga’ s chapter on redemption relates very well to what Lewis is talking about in “Man or Rabbit.” For it is Christ’s gift of redemption to us which creates the life-transformation of which Lewis speaks – with redemption comes the ability to “fly.” Christ’s death and resurrection is the foundation to our faith. Redemption is what gives our life meaning beyond simply trying to live ethically.

In this chapter, Plantinga walks the reader through many of the basic Reformed beliefs about redemption. He explains how God humbled himself to become human (he was incarnated). It is only through the perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Christ (God incarnate) that we are saved from our enslavement to Sin. Plantinga also talks about the double blessing of atonement. When we are redeemed, we are made “at one” with God. We are simultaneously justified and sanctified. Justification is somewhat like our legal standing with God. God sees us no longer as guilty, but as holy instead. He decides to credit us with Christ’s holiness and credit our sins to Christ himself. Sanctification is a life-long process which begins at the moment of justification. This is the transformation of which Lewis spoke in “Man or Rabbit.” It is our gradually becoming more and more holy as we grow in our relationship with God. Sanctification is fully realized when we die and live again in heaven. Plantinga describes this process of atonement as the death of our old and sinful selves and the resurrection of a new child of God; a person who has realized the potential with which he has been created. Plantinga closes the chapter by talking about the brokenness of all creation and our responsibility as stewards on this earth to restore all things to their original state of shalom. In giving us redemption, God has called us to care for this world which he has given to us.

As I mentioned in class, when I first read this chapter, I didn’t think very much of it. I was much more excited about reading the Lewis assignment for the day and I usually think of reading Plantinga as more of a chore. I quick skimmed through the chapter and ended it a little disappointed, feeling I hadn’t learned anything and that I had just wasted time reading it. The whole thing seemed routine, basic, and obvious to me. During class the yesterday, however, I started to really think about what I had read. I was humbled to think about the weight of what I had casually skimmed through the night before. Yeah, I had heard the story before, but shouldn’t I, no matter how many times I’ve heard the story of redemption, stand in awe, meekness, gratitude, and faith at the sheer magnitude of what Christ has done for me and for all of humanity?

But then this got me thinking. How often is this a fairly typical story for Christians, especially those who have grown up in the church as I have? I think that in America, the church in general has lost her enthusiasm for the Gospel. We have heard the story of Christ’s life, death and resurrection so many times that we hardly give it a second thought anymore. As a result, we do not live as though we have been saved. We do not live in the awe, gratitude, and faith in which we need to live. The Christian life should be one which is exciting, involved, and joyful. Instead, we are bored. We need to fervently pray that God brings a revival to the North American church and do what we can in our own lives and church families to facilitate this change.

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