This is, in fact, one of my conclusions, several months from now, but I’ll post it now, so you can scoff and ridicule, and several months from now, you can feel sheepish. Because I’m that kind of tyrant.
It is my goal to establish that Social Constructionism (that very Human Greatness that I’m attempting to describe in other conversations) is the “Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
It is my goal to establish that Man, in his rebellion, learned the secrets of world-building.
It is my goal to establish that, upon these premises, we can understand a God who does not create pain or death or suffering in the world, but constantly strives to prevent it.
Also that God keeps no record of wrongs. God is Love, right, and Paul lists it right there with the rest, “Love keeps no record of wrongs,” and how — EXACTLY how — does that jive with the Book of Life, in which some are scheduled for destruction? Eh?
Yeah, I kinda left my pattern there.
That’s the point, though. Where does “Love keeps no record of wrongs” fit into it? What about Jesus, lecturing in the Sermon on the Mount about not worrying? Consider the lillies of the field, and how beautiful are they, and how much more valuable are you, and yet even Solomon in all his glory couldn’t match them.
That one strikes a discord for me. Are you saying (forgive me for getting into theoretical math here, but)
Solomon < lillies < me
I don’t think that’s the point. I think Jesus’ point is that Solomon got it wrong. In all his striving, he couldn’t achieve what the lillies do just by living, in complete submission to God. And, more importantly, any one of us CAN achieve far greater glory than that, by doing the same.
But very few of us could even get CLOSE to what Solomon did, no matter how hard we try.
So it’s all about submission. It’s about giving up. It’s not about works, it’s not about effort, it’s about living entirely in submission to God….
Yeah, nothing new there. And yet….
Go read the Fall of Man. It’s Genesis 3:16-19 (at least the bits I’m talking about here). Oh, fine, I don’t trust you at all, so here’s a pasting:
16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
That’s NIV, and it’s not my preference necessarily, but it’s the first one I found. Read it in your own version, if you’ve got one handy.
Okay, this is where I’m heading with these articles:
God didn’t punish Man by cursing the ground (not even because it was God’s fault). God didn’t cast Man out of Eden. God didn’t hit woman with birth pangs. None of that happened in the passage you just read (although we’ve been taught that it did since we were two).
Here’s what did happen:
God created Man, and made Reality to contain him. He shaped Reality exactly like Heaven.
Man discovered within himself the ability to shape Reality, to make it what he wanted. Man had a perfect example available (Heaven, Eden, it’s where he’d been living for his whole life), but out of pride, chose to create his own, inferior reality, rather than living in perfect happiness in the one God had given him.
“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven,” and all that.
And God looked down on Man, and saw what he had done, and in his wisdom recognized what Man would do with his power. Now listen closely: at this point, God did NOT punish Man in order to encourage him to grow up better. He didn’t expel him from Heaven to protect Heaven’s purity. He looked down on Man, and said to him, “Look, you have chosen to exercise the ability to shape worlds. You are not God, you are not good enough to make what I made for you. As long as you keep trying to build your own world, it’s going to look like this…” and then he described what life would be like in a Constructed world.
And THAT is what you read, above, in Genesis 3. Not his punishment, not his divinely-inspired, unknowably mysterious justice, but a simple prediction. He said, “This is the BEST you’ll be able to do,” and described what we know as Life. And in sharp contrast to that was the immediate memory of Heaven, in the form of Eden.
Which was still there. Which still is. It’s just submission. It’s just Constructing a world like the one God provided, not like the one we want for ourselves. It’s surrendering. It’s living like the lillies, not living like Solomon.
The angel with the flaming sword? That’s Man’s pride, it’s no agent of God’s. So say I. I’ll get to it, in time.