Velvet Elvis pgs. 157-161, “Our Environment”


I begin to have some definite issues with Bell’s wording and theology in this section.  And it begins with a single word, on page 158.  It’s in the paragraph continued from page 157, and it’s the word forward


Seems like an innocuous enough word, but it seems to be loaded with baggage that I’m not sure I’d like to pick up and carry along.  Forward connotates that creation is on some sort of continually improving road.  It’s a very modernist concept that is being ported over to creation in general, and which I think is problematic in a variety of ways. 


It leads one to think that things are constantly getting better.  This is true, theologically, only in the sense that each day brings us closer to Christ’s return.  Aside from this decided eschatalogical interpretation, the perpetual improvement idea just doesn’t hold water.  It didn’t hold water in terms of the modernist associations with human nature & mankind, and I don’t think it holds water for creation either.  Creation is broken.  It was broken in Eden with the fall.  A continual improvement model seems to imply that creation is somehow fixing itself.  This certainly isn’t Biblical.  There is, as Bell states, “potential and possibility and promise” in creation, but it’s being frustrated. 


Bell is right.  All Christians should be environmentalists.  Heck, all people should be environmentalists.  None of us can afford to not care about this world. 


I think Bell’s distinctions and definitions of good vs. perfect are probably overstated and not entirely adequate.  Perfect in my mind, does not equal stagnation or imovability or unchangeability.  It just means that whatever movement and change there is continues the perfection, rather than disrupting it.  We don’t have to eliminate Eden as a perfect environment just because it isn’t static.  While the Bible doesn’t refer to Eden as perfect, it does refer to it as good.  If God is going to call something good, then it has to be entirely good, it would seem.  Free from any blemish.  Without sin.  That’s generally how we think of perfection, isn’t it?  God didn’t say “This is all pretty good, but it could be better.”  It simply was good.  And in an environment without anything non-good, is there even a necessity to differentiate good from perfect?  It would seem to me that’s a linguistic distinction post-fall, rather than pre-fall.  But of course, that’s all just as hypothetical as Bell’s argument.  I just tend to think my approach is more Biblical


I really like the way Bonhoeffer presents a possible explanation for Adam & Eve’s choice to eat the forbidden fruit.  The idea that they were really attempting to obey God to the most of their ability seems a lot more reasonable to me than that they were simply stupid or inately evil.  Again, just a hypothesis, but one that makes more sense to me. 


And, upon a third reading, I suppose that Bell’s point about the forwardness of creation could be read within the pre-fall context only.  He might not be purporting that creation still maintains this potential.  But we’ll see

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