In short, if there had been no Fall there would have been no Redemption either, and hence only Creation. But would not that remove some of the most poignant glory from God's Cosmic Story? If Fall therefore necessary for showing God's fullest glory? Somehow that seems wrong. Can we not find a way that is rich and fully glorious without Fall being necessary as a major theme? Fall could be there as a minor theme, accommodated as part of he glory but not necessary to it.
CFR, though presumed for centuries, is not a truth but a theory, one way of interpreting what Scripture reveals to us - but is there another? The New View outlined in these pages might offer one. First, we look at a number of problems that CFR raises, in addition to that one above. Then we look at this New view, and then suggest we might see God's Cosmic Story as five 'R's, in which Fall is part of one of them. This gives Creation a bigger theme.
1. Did not the traditional CFR framework emerge when we try to understand the Story from within time, as three aeons one after the other? That makes me suspicious that it is too dependent on presupposing Time. I would like to avoid that.
2. CFR also leaves open the possibility that God had three plans: Plan A as Creation, which 'went wrong', Plan B, in which he steps in to save his fallen cosmos, and then Plan C, after the Eschaton when he begins again. It has always troubled me that this suggests that God was not wise enough to foresee or forestall the evil of the Fall.
3. Does the CFR view adequately reveal the inner nature of God's positive purpose in the Story? It lumps it all into Creation, and focuses on what went wrong. The detail is devoted, given, to that which is evil and to the repair job, rather than to the Good.
4. Does CFR not glorify the Fall by making it a necessary component of the Story? Redemption, in which the glory of God is most chiefly revealed, is only necessary because of Fall. I want a way of seeing God's glorious action in the Story (in Christ) as more than just a repair job.
5. Does not CFR mean that the wrong becomes the generator and the drama of the whole Story? Would not the Story seem boring without it? Creation, by which we chiefly mean as mentioned in early Genesis and a couple of Psalms, seems a bit thin by comparison. (Simone Weil once remarked that, in literature, evil seems exciting and good seems boring but in real life it's the other way round.) I would like a view of God's Cosmic Plan that finds the Good interesting and rich. I would rather view the Story in such a way that the Story itself is exciting and what was intended, whether or not the Fall occurred. I don't want to see the Fall as generator of interest and drama, but as (what it was) a spoiler.
6. Finally, under CFR, it is hard not to think that sin (which entered with Fall) is seen as cosmically beneficial. The argument goes like this: At first sinless humanity was on earth; humanity sinned; God saved them; God brought redeemed humanity into a much better new earth, where God is worshipped better than before; if we had not sinned we would have remained on this old earth; so, when all is considered, humanity's sin makes things much better in the end, including for God; so sin is good. But Scripture portrays sin as evil and destructive, bringing harm and not good, even in the long run. So is there another way of looking at it? I would hope so.
I don't want to abandon CFR. I believe its main tenets are valid, and I take the Christian Scriptures as unique revelation from God. But I think there might be a better framework for understanding the Cosmic Story, which accommodates CFR but in which CFR is only a subset of something even more glorious. Of course, this will be challenging, since we are within the fallen regime, but at least there are hints within Creation that we might be able to to some extent: Romans 1:20.
This New View tries to avoid such problems. It tries to unpick the Good that God intended, show it as varied and interesting, show how it itself generates the Story, and in particular the drama of the Story. It sees the Fall and Redemption as dependent on, and expressions of, this Good, rather than as generative and necessary.
In the Forever, the other four 'R's will still pertain, though slightly different. As far as we can tell from the hints given us in Scripture:
radahor shepherding the rest of creation, though it will be much richer and more glorious, and will be done with God always present.
This is the reason why the Five Rs are what characterize God's Cosmic Story and Plan, rather than Creation-Fall-Redemption.
This page, URL= 'http://abxn.org/nv/cfr.html',
is part of the on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology and practice that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome by emailing
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.
Written on the Amiga with Protext in the style of classic HTML.
Created: 20 November 2011. Last updated: 21 November 2011 why.5r, new intro, new name. 4 August 2020 slight rewording in Whats Wrong with CFR; new .end, .nav, bgcolor. 24 September 2020 new intro.