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New View - Overview of its Theology

An Essay and Discussion

This page presents the main themes of a theology that is Bible-centred and makes sense of our responsibility in God's world in a full way.

Often, the overview-history worldview or overall conceptual framework of Christianity is said to be 'Creation, Fall and Redemption', with some adding 'Final Consummation': We were created; we fell (turned away from God); God acted to redeem; we will experience full consummation with God. But the Fall is not integral-important to God - though God made provision for it. CFR(C) is humanity's perspective, in which we turning against God is seen as a central event, a necessary precursor to Redemption, and this has unfortunate implications (see below). It makes the negative, against-God central.

What would it look like from God's perspective? This page tries to chart an overview-history or worldview or conceptual framework from God's perspective: in terms of what God intended through Time and into Eternity. It tries to trace major themes of God's Plan? It has grown over the years to have five theological issues rather than around chronological ones. Each of them (too?) conveniently is expressed in words beginning with 'R'.

Click on each to read it, or else read through.

I call it 'New View' but hope to find a better name sometime. There's a lot to fill in yet. And a lot to work out. Please email me with comments, discussion or questions. Some might wonder where Fall is: It's there, but given a more appropriate place. Read on ...

PLEASE NOTE: Though I have tried to write this to be understandable to all people, this version is written mainly for Christians of an evangelical persuasion, and assumes a certain attitude to and knowledge of the Bible. If you are not of that persuasion, you should still find it interesting, even though you might miss some of the connotations or not appreciate the style of argument. I hope to rewrite it for a wider readership later, but want to get the ideas down first.

Reality Rejoicing

Because of the character of God, everything rejoices when God - Yahweh is his personal name - enters the world. Because Yahweh created it all and did so with love for it, and all was designed for joy.

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. Let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant and everything in them. Then all the trees in the forest will sing for joy. They will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he will judge the earth; he will judge the earth in righteousness and the peoples in his truth." Psalm 96:11-13, Psalm 98:4-9, I Chron 16:31

"And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed , and all flesh shall see it together; for themouth of the LORD hath spoken it" Isaiah 40:5, KJV

"You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12

"Let Israel rejoice in her maker" Psalm 149:2

"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." Romans 15:10, Deut. 32:43

"Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again: rejoice!" Pail. 4:4

"God is love" I John 4:8,16

Everything rejoices when it experiences God - and especially his truth and justice because they are what upholds Reality. Human and social situations light up when God comes into them. People gain hope and vision.

Yahweh created it all, and all its potential.
The shape it has is harmonious with him.
All created reality yearns for him.
He rejoices in it.
And, I believe, he gives all things their dignity.

In Genesis 1 God pronounced all created reality Good - meaning, not just morally good, but that all works as it was intended to. Not just in a functional way, but with rejoicing and clean, long-satisfying fun. Reality rejoicing. (If we find God or his influence via people stifling or restraining, we have the wrong idea about God, or his people misrepresent him. More on these problems, and how God overcomes them, below.)

This is for past, present and future. It was so in the original beginning before what we call the fall. It is so now, even though the joy is partial and contaminated. And it will be so in the end - but in a much fuller way than we can ever imagine. Because, at the end of history, the contamination will be removed and all things shall be transformed and be completed in God (or, as the Apostle Paul puts it, completed in Christ). (There is a difference between partiality and being contaminated by evil; see table.) Then our real life will begin.

Pre-Fall Past Present Era Post-Redemption Future: Real Life
Partial Partial Full
Uncontaminated Contaminated Uncontaminated
Rejoicing Rejoicing, with pain Rejoicing in fuller ways

That, I believe, is God's Cosmic Plan.

The rejoicing is rich, diverse and yet coherent. Not one-dimensional. It has many aspects, many diverse ways of being meaningful and good. It is what is carried and intended by the Hebrew word shalom and the Arabic word, salaam.

Let us look in more detail.

Or jump directly to Radah - The Role of Humankind.

God's Love

But why might that be God's cosmic plan? One answer that satisfies me is: because "God is love" (I John 4:8). Not that God can be measured against a standard of 'love', but that the epitome of God's nature, as he has revealed it to us, is love

It seems that God delights in his creation, in a way that is self-giving. See more in the page on love.

We must not over-emphasise the love of God at the expense of all else, but rather we can perhaps see it as the latest revelation of the character of God, which became clear only towards the end of the period of the whole of Scripture - when John was writing his letters. It was always there, of course, but in glimpses in the Old Testament, demonstrated in Jesus' life and death, portrayed and urged by Paul in his letters. But it was most clearly expressed as a universal statement in John's letter - and that is why we quote it from there. In no other religion do we find a clear expression of God's agapé love. The love of God should, therefore, be seen as centrally important, and we should expect it to integrate with all other characteristics of God, even if they cannot be reduced to each other. Later, for example, we see the integration of God's love and justice:

God's justice is because of God's love,
not in spite of God's love.

(See also: God: Power or Love?.)

In Christ

All things were created through Christ. Things are saved by Christ. All things will be completed and integrated in Christ, and Christ will inherit all things in their beauty, health and strength after all evil is purged (Eph 1:10, Col 1:20, Heb 1:2). There is a tendency to think of Christ's work as mainly for salvation and defeat of evil on the Cross, but even in the uncontaminated states Christ has a central role.

The Law of God for Creation

I used to believe that 'Law of God' was terrifying. Some believe God's Law constrains. Others believe it condemns. God's Law is seen by many of us as Bad News.

I now believe that Law is Good News, not Bad News. God's Law is there to enable diverse blessing and enrichment of, and joy within, the whole Creation. It is there to enable and guide, not to constrain nor to condemn. Paul seemed to recognise this in Romans 7:7, 3:31, perhaps Jesus had this in mind in Matt 5:17,18, and how could the Psalmist exclaim "How I love your Law!" in Psa. 119 if he did not see God's Law in such a way?

Yet - and this is the wonderful multi-functionality of what God created - Law has several other purposes too. It also has an extremely important role in a fallen world in that, when it is expressed in verbal ways (not always an easy task!), it shows us what the deepest types of good and evil are.

But it does even more: it gives every thing in Creation dignity. I used to assume that God had created all entities (animals, plants, mountains, humans, etc.), designing and fashioning them individually. I now believe, rather, that what God has created is not so much the entities as the potential, the laws by which things come into being, live, function and pass on. The beautiful crystal in the rock is not fashioned by God's 'finger', but rather by physical entities responding with joy to the laws of physics that God set in place.

See a brief essay on law according to this view.

I further believe (as outlined in that essay) that these laws are of many and varied kinds, not just physical and biological, but also lingual, aesthetic, social, ethical, and many others. This can explain why the rejoicing is so rich. Every one is designed for the diverse blessing of the Cosmos. Whether this is an intrinsic part of the New View, or just one variant I don't know, but my belief is influenced by the notion of aspects in philosophy.

The dignity of a rock crystal differs from that of a plant, which differs from that of animals, which in turn differs from that of human beings.

We humans have the dignity or joy of working as individuals, but there's lots more. We also have joy of working together. Further, we also have the joy of, together, building social and societal structures, like the political, economic and transport systems, which can (and are intended to) amplify, conduct and spread the blessing-effect of individual action. See page on power.

The Future Redeemed State: The Glory of God

In the third section we see that sin has spoiled this rejoicing and in the fourth that God intends to restore it in a redemption that is rich beyond all imagining. So the future, redeemed state may be understood as reality rejoicing once again.

In Isaiah 40:5, "all flesh" (not "all mankind" as the NIV erroneously has it) shall see the glory of Yahweh together. This includes the non-human natural world. The "seeing" of "glory" will be a rejoicing for all Creation. Isaiah 51:1-6 contains a picture of this. Not only does the natural world rejoice when it experiences God, but all humanity ("the coastlands") look forward to the restoration and redemption that God will bring.

What is the "glory of God" but that all that God has created works well together? Is it not that which most leads to the worship that is spontaneous and exclaims "He has done all things well!" [c.f. Mark 7:37].

Only in Yahweh God's plan that reality should rejoice can we make full sense of this. But that anticipates all the rest.

God's Holiness

An important thing we learn about God is that he is utterly distinct from us in the most basic way - which is what the Bible means by 'holy' and philosophers mean by 'transcendent'. It is not so much the difference between a cat and a cabbage, as between a cat and a lion. We see something of the characteristics of God in us and the creation, but they are so much more real and magnificent and joyful in God himself. We cannot even guess at their full exhibition in God because the laws written into the fabric of creation by which we know and imagine are not sufficient to the task of grasping them.

Holiness is thrilling. It is not stuffy nor confining. It inspires, first awe and an awareness of something utterly greater and more real that we are. It inspires a sense of 'this is my home', 'this is where I really belong', 'this is what I am destined for'. Holiness is deeply satisfying. But, to unholy people (because of the fall), holiness is also terrifying, and as we see below that terror must be assuaged by the action of God before holiness can be thrilling and satisfying.

Holiness of God relates to glory. Glory has two meanings: visual brilliance that astounds, and vindication of being right and working well. The glory of Yahweh is both combined together. Moses saw the visual glory. But also the people of Israel were "for my glory", the second sense of vindication among all people of God's ways. Paul speaks of "the glory that will be revealed in us" immediately before he tells us how those who have been made like God in character will treat the Creation (see below).

If God is holy, transcendent creator of all that is, and even of all possibility, then none of these possibilities are self-dependent. All depends on God, the ground of our very existing. So (and this is a philosophical argument that I won't go into here) we cannot get to God by any means other than those that God himself enables. God proactively revealed himself. Most of this revelation is written in the Bible, and much of what is revealed therein is an expression of God's diversity of Law to enable blessing, fulfilment and blessing within creation, so that Reality will Rejoice.

Knowing and Experiencing God Truly

It is difficult for the creature, especially the sinful and distorted creature, to know God truly. For one thing, God created the very possibility of knowing, and so he himself is not subject to it. So God must take the initiative and reveal himself. He has done so by ensuring that a written record exists (Scriptures) that tells us about him. But nothing is sufficient in itself; language is not absolute so not even Scriptures are sufficient. So God chose to be represented by a subset of people. Initially, that was humankind, but we shall see the idea of representation expands.

Some Christians find joy only in church or other religious activity ("joy in Thy Presence"), often seen as in contrast to the world, or an escape from it. Joy should be experienced in the very midst of life, everyday life. Everything in creation is destined for joy. Fullest joy of the Lord, which is our strength, is to be found in the midst of life, not apart from it. (This is not to say that the religious enclave cannot be a haven, but this should be abnormal rather than the expectation.)

Radah - The Role of Humankind

The start of the Bible gives an overview of the purpose of God in creating the world, and its structure. He created good things, among them one type of creature with a special role.

"Then God said 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule ..." Genesis 1:26

In Genesis 1:26-28, the Bible tells us that humankind has 'dominion' over the rest of creation, and is made "in the image of God". What do these mean? But what sort of dominion? What may we do with this dominion? Why did God give us this dominion? And how does dominion link with image? Centuries of Christian and humanist assumptions about this might have been wrong.

Mistaken View of 'Dominion'

For centuries, during which humanism held sway, and before it a mediaeval Christianity that downplayed nature, we have assumed this dominion or authority we have over the rest of creation to mean that we can use the rest of creation as resources for our use, convenience, enjoyment, etc. [1] Though curbed somewhat by notions of decency or a Christian notion of justice, the central assumption is: authority implies a right to use-as-I-please, and authority implies that we cannot be questioned by those below us.

But, I discovered, this is not what God meant by authority, by the 'dominion' humankind has been given. Though others recognise something similar too, what I discovered took me further than most. Let me tell you how I came into it; you can take this route too if you like.

I examined how the Hebrew word for 'have dominion over' is used in Scripture in order to find out what the kind of dominion given to us should be like. The word is radah, and is relatively rare, used used twice here (vv. 26,28) and in only ten other places. In most of the others, it is used descriptively, as in I Kings 4:24 (Solomon ruled over many kingdoms), I Kings I Kings 9:23 (Supervisors of workers); see all its uses in Radah Analysis.

In only a few it is used normatively (indicating what God values). In Leviticus 25 it is used several times to require Hebrew slaves to be treated well. In Ezekiel 34, God says:

"Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves.

Should not the shepherds take care of the flock?

You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool, and slaughter the choice animals
but you do not take care of the flock.

You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured.
You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.

You have ruled them harshly and brutally." (NIV version)

The word 'ruled' is the one that is, in Hebrew, radah. Now, ask yourself:

Are sheep there for the sake of the shepherds?
Or are shepherds there for the sake of the sheep?

I realised that shepherds are there for the sake of the sheep, not the other way round. The role of shepherd is one of care, protection, healing, leading the sheep to good things. It is not the role of consumer - which is what the condemned shepherds had assumed. Shepherds have authority, radah, over the sheep, but this authority was to be used not for their own sake but for the sake of the sheep.

It was not wrong per se for them to use the wool, the milk and even eat the occasional sheep. But they should only do this if they were expending themselves for the sake of the sheep, taking care of them. Two attitudes are contrasted here:

(Christians might remember that Jesus talked about the good shepherd who "lays down his life for the sheep" [John 10:11].)

Realising this was the same word as in Genesis 1, I applied this idea back to our dominion/authority over the rest of creation.

New Kind of Authority / Dominion

This is a completely different notion of authority from the one we are used to. It no longer implies use-as-I-please. The authority they had over the sheep was tied up with their role of caring and even living for the sheep. The kind of radah God hates is when shepherds live as though the sheep are there for their own sake. The kind of radah God wants is when shepherds live as though they were there for the sake of sheep.

Apply this to Genesis 1. By comparison with Ezek. 34, ask yourself:

Is the rest of creation there for the sake of humankind?
Or is humankind there for the sake of the rest of creation?

I suggest, the latter. Humankind is there for the sake of the rest of creation, and the authority we have over it is specifically so that we can care for it, for its sake and blessing rather than our own. The Westminster Confession suggests "the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever" - and it is wrong; the chief end of man is to shepherd the rest of creation, for its own sake and blessing.

Kevin, a Celtic Saint, was praying in his tiny cell with outstretched arms. One of his arms was through the window. A Blackbird settled on his hand and laid an egg. Kevin remained in place while the bird laid and hatched her eggs and flew. Imagine the self-giving in the aching arm, the sore knees, determined not to move but welcome what God had allowed, for two weeks or more. But also, if the arm was not numb, the joy in feeling the warmth of the bird, the fluff of chicks, the pricking of beak and claws. Perhaps that is the kind of radah that God wants us to exbibit - just as he himself did for us.

By contrast, humanist dominion over creation consists of: taking stuff from the world, without replenishing it; 'having a good time' while the world is hurting, and believing it is right to do so; not realising that our having a good time is what actually hurts the world indirectly, and refusing to listen to those who tell us so; refusing to take any pains to heal the world, even while lamenting some of the problems we see on TV; or healing only those bits that are of interest to us. We are like the shepherds of Ezekiel 34 - whom God destroyed. Our hearts are almost getting to the level of Ezekiel 16:49, arrogant, affluent, unconcerned - which is what led God to destroy Sodom. There is currently (5 November 2009, coming up to Copenhagen meeting) much talk of climate change, and much fear, but our hearts are not changed.

If our role is to rule the rest of creation for its own sake rather than our own, then we are stamped with responsibility before and under and with God, the God Who is Love, not the kind of grudging, indifferent responsibility of the employee or servant. We, in the image of God, are to be, in heart and not just superficially, like God. If God has compassion on all He made [Psalm 145:9], then so should we. If God rejoices in His works and calls them good, then so should we. If God is patient and faithful, so should we be.

Consumers, Stewards or Shepherds?

This is summary of a fuller discussion of this.

We have heard it said that we should not see ourselves as consumers of the rest of creation, using it for our own pleasure, convenience or to serve our own agendas (as Humanism has assumed), but as stewards of it. We should recognise that the rest of creation belongs to God and so we should care for it for that reason. But I want to suggest another role: shepherds of the rest of creation.

Stewards are responsible to the Owner to manage his resources, and expect to give an account when the Owner returns; they have a duty but do not love the stewarded objects. The good shepherd loves the flock, even laying down their lives for the sheep. Theologically, the steward view separates radah from being in the image of God. Would not angels make better stewards than humans would? In any case, why does God need stewards? Believing we have a duty towards God is not compelling enough.

Instead, we are called to be more like good shepherds of the rest of creation, loving it with a love like God has. And thus being 'image of God' to it, with the same inner attitude of heart as God has towards it. "God is love." God wants more than mere management or stewardship; he wants us to love the rest of creation as he does. When we love the rest of creation, as the New View interpretation of radah implies, we are relating to it in the way God would: with self-giving love.

As we shall see later, this radah-as-love is not just for the pre-Fall Garden of Eden, but is what is restored in Rich Redemption and is what will continue into eternity under the theme of Representation.

Support for this view

One should never build a theology on a single verse or two. So, consider a couple of points in support:

What Do We Shepherd?

Genesis 1:26 tells us that God planned that we should rule over "the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground", and v.28 humanity is told to rule over "the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground". The two lists raise at least three questions. Why were livestock and "the earth" (the plant and non-living kingdoms) omitted in v.28? Is our radah, our shepherding, only over part of what we now call the animal kingdom (insects, for example, are missing from both lists)? What about art, technology, politics and culture; should we let them rampage as they will without our control?

I choose to believe that our radah, as loving, self-giving shepherding, is to be interpreted broadly in God's intention for humanity within the Creation. That is, I take it to be God's intention that humanity is to open up the potential of all of created reality - the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, and the human 'kingdoms' of theory, of technology, of language, of relationships, of economy, of art, of politics, of ethics, of faith, and so on. They are opened up by research (the 'sciences') and practice.

The reasons I believe this is: (a) That there is a difference between the two lists suggests that their meaning is approximate, and not fully compassed in the lists, but rather in the word radah; (b) That it does not make sense that the realms of technology, art, etc. are allowed to go where they will; (c) That research and practice both seem to be blessed by God allowing Adam to give the animals their 'true names' (Genesis 2); (d) That at that time the most pressing need, the most obvious thing for humanity to rule over, was the natural world, and that art and technology had yet to begin, so God spoke only about what humanity would immediately experience; (e) That this view gives ultimate meaningfulness to 'secular' things like technology and art, not just to serve 'sacred' ends, but to be part of the rejoicing reality and to enable the rest of reality to rejoice the more.

A philosophical note: This chimes with Dooyeweerd's 'Christian' philosophy, which sees the mandate of humanity as the 'opening up' or the 'positivization' of the potential of all aspects (from whose list of aspects my list of realms above was derived). It also chimes with Heidegger's idea that technology is 'revealment'. It chimes with the idea that the sciences (from maths, physics, biology, through sociology to theology) have a role in God's Plan.

So, to summarise, I believe that radah is intended, in God's Plan, to mandate humanity to open up all aspects, for the blessing of the entire Creation.

For Its Sake

To sum up, we can ask for whose sake we have been given dominion. Here we are saying that God gave us this dominion over the rest of creation:

The Possibilities

Humankind has, to a certain extent, been contributing to this role, despite being in rebellion against God and His Plan (see The Fall). Maybe this is because God's mandate for us and the rest of Creation is written into the very fabric, the very fundamental structures, of Creation including us. However, if humankind were to wholeheartedly adopt this role, the possibilities are amazing. Scientific discovery would have been more fruitful. Technology would have brought more benefit with less harm. David Lawrence writes about this a little in his work.

Instead, however, humankind has tended to look to itself as the pinnacle of Creation and, in recent centuries, as the sole creator. Instead of living and working for 'the rest' humankind has lived for itself.

At the individual level too, do we not find selfishness, self-centredness? Those of us who have plenty resources use them for our own pleasures, comforts and conveniences, rather than to give away to benefit others or to bless the rest of Creation. All of us seek self-actualization ahead of service engaged with others.

All these might be valid activities, but all have been oriented to meaningless ends instead of fruitful ones in God's Plan. We are meant to enjoy life, but not to put our enjoyment above all else. Love has disappeared.

The Importance of Heart-Attitude

Love is not so much a feeling, nor an action, nor even an act of will, it is an attitude of heart. It is from the heart-attitude that our beliefs, lifestyle, thoughts and actions arise. So the challenge is:

What attitude do we have towards the rest of creation:
An attitude of consumers, of stewards, or of shepherds?

See also:

Back to start of this section.

Relatedness - Interconnectedness

The Nature of Creation: Is it static things? Is it dynamic happening? The New View sees the nature of creation as relatedness, meaningfulness and joy. In this version, relatedness is focused on. We are created to be related, to the rest of creation and to each other as human beings, and to God himself.

The full discussion has been moved to a separate page on Interconnectedness and Relatedness, where you can read the following ...

I was challenged by Eric Enloe of Handong Global University as to whether interconnectedness is really in Scripture. The above indicates it is, but they could be explained another way. So, just as for the Representation section, I have set up a separate page to discuss Interconnectedness, Relatedness in more detail.

See also:

Rich Redemption - Romans 8 Revisited

The Scope of Salvation: what is saved? Is it souls? Is it only for the next life, or can we experience salvation in this life? What is the nature of salvation in this life? Is salvation only for humans? The New View has a three-dimensional view.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son." John 3:16

"there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1

"those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God ... you received the Spirit of sonship. By him we cry 'Abba, Father'. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:14-16

"the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" Galatians 5:22-23"

"... the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager longing for the sons of God to be revealed" Romans 8:19

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38,39

Three-Dimensional Salvation

John 3:16 tells us "God so loved the world" - and it seems to mean not human souls or even only human beings, but the world as a whole, his whole creation - "that he gave his only begotten Son, so that those who perish should not die but have eternal life." The creation is in pain, and will be saved, but this salvation comes about via the salvation of human beings. Because the human beings are meant to be the channel of blessing for the entire cosmos (see 'radah').

This is clearly set out in Romans 8, perhaps my favourite passage of Scripture at present, because it reflects my theological development of three dimensions of salvation:

In these three stages, of 'no condemnation', 'Spirit of sonship', and 'creation awaits God's sons', the circle is completed, right back to Genesis 1's statement of God's cosmic plan, and our mandate to 'shepherd' the earth with the self-giving love that God has. It is this, and this alone, which enables humankind to fulfil its mandate to be image (representative) of God to the rest of creation, so that the rest of creation would experience something of God via us as well as directly.

We, whose hearts were turned away from God, are to be no longer condemned, are to be lived-in, cleaned, transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and are to reflect again God's own character and attitude to the rest of Creation and work God's work in his world, so that reality will be able begin rejoicing again. No wonder Paul expresses confidence and joy in the fourth part of the chapter: "We know that in all things God works together for good with/for those who love him", "If God is for us, who can be against us!", "I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love".

This is expanded in a separate page on Romans 8 and on Three-dimensional salvation.

Repentance and being purified

There is, what some would call, one condition. The condition is: repentance and being purified. At the deepest level, our way of seeing things is turned away from God and his creational order of responsibility and rejoicing, so we must repent. That is, we must turn to God, without condition, and say "I'm sorry; I was wrong; Please put me right." This is necessary - we won't become God's people without it, and won't taste the richness of the redemption. Three classes of things to repent of, not just one: repentance for wrong actions, words and thoughts, repentance for wrong attitudes, and repentance for wrong lifestyle and assumptions or beliefs.

Repentance for wrong actions, words and thoughts is the best-known and most visible. For example:

However, two deeper ones the Holy God has revealed. In various revivals, the Living God has challenged people about deep attitudes. If we are willing and active in repenting the above things, we often find ourselves with wrong attitudes, such as:

Now the kind of repentance that is perhaps hardest for those who know these two: repentance of lifestyle and way of seeing the world. In his excellent booklet on The Great Divide, Mark Green calls us to:

Repentance is not always the huge barrier that traditional Christianity seems to magnify it into. Whereas traditional 'born-again' Christianity focuses on this repentance, I don't think New View does. It focuses on the good news. Whereas traditional Christianity gives the impression that repentance is a huge barrier, New View suggests it is a natural response to God's goodness in redemption. Whereas traditional Christianity gives the 'bad news' of "Unless you repent, you'll go to hell", New View gives the good news of "Repent, and you'll be part of the rich redemption." But those differences need closer examination.

Let us look at this rich redemption in more detail: Christ, freedom from condemnation, the Holy Spirit, an being like God. Or jump directly to Representation - Knowing and Experiencing God in everyday living.

See also the essay on Repentance.

Christ the Centre

The centre of all this is Christ, the anointed Saviour, Jesus, who is in fact God himself in human form. He is two things:

No wonder, as Paul said also the another group of believers, "For this reason God has highly exalted him [Christ], to a Name above all other names, and to him every knee shall bow." And the author of the letter to the Hebrews echoes this in saying [1:2] that Christ will inherit all things, and God places all things under his authority.

Now, let us look at the threefold redemption in more detail.

No Condemnation

The insight of the evangelical and calvinian streams is that Christ died to free us from condemnation. As the apostle Paul and others pondered the amazing person, Jesus Christ, who had recently lived among them and died and risen, with searching the Scriptures, it seemed inescapable that one of the major things this Christ did was to obtain forgiveness by paying for our own wrongdoing. The letter to the Hebrews especially makes this plain, seeing the Mosaic system of sacrifices as pointing to the Real Sacrifice.

God himself has paid the penalty for our wrongdoing. That is the ultimate in love. Even forgiveness, letting us off, is not the ultimate in love; it is when God himself suffers to the ultimate, in order to forgive us. When we see it this way, a huge swathe of Scripture, including the life and sayings of Jesus, make sense and become a coherent story.

The strong implication of this is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This means not just when before God's judgement seat, but right now. Right now, in life, there is no condemnation. We are justified (before God, before the cosmos and in our own eyes) not by being good, not by avoiding wrong, not by not making mistakes, not by saying sorry, but by the sacrifice of Christ. And, unlike these other uncertainties, this one is certain and strong. And nobody, but nobody, can gainsay it while Christ stands.

"My name is written on his hands.
My name is hidden in his heart.
I know that while in heaven he stands
No power can force me to depart."

That is precious especially for those who have been downtrodden or are suffering. It does not stop there, however.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit lives in us who are Christ's. We find ourselves loving God rather than trying to obey the command to love God. We find it natural to think of God as our father, not just a lord. We might also find some spiritual gifting has occurred. But most important of all is his work to fashion us to become like Christ. This is the way the Holy Spirit is centrally involved in the importance of Creation.

The work of the Holy Spirit is not an add-on, but is essential. Three things the Holy Spirit does: growing his fruit, changing our world view and aligning our will with that of God.

This is the fulfilment of what Jeremiah 31:31-34 called the New Covenant: God's law is written in our hearts, no longer will one person tell another "Know God", and sins are forgiven. Because of this, we can afford to take risks ("with great caution" though), because our inner tendency will be as God wants (and also because there is now no condemnation if we get it wrong). No longer need Christians be risk-averse. Hallelujah!

We can see that redemption is not just 'to accumulate souls into heaven' nor just to get a band of loving worshippers for God. It is much more glorious: it is to find a way in which humankind could once again image God to the rest of creation and bring about that realm of joy and peace and shalom that God intended.

But, someone will ask, is it not possible for people to be responsible carers for God's creation on their own, without the Holy Spirit? Maybe for a time, and maybe for a few individuals, is this so, but not sustainably. We have a small example of this in the U.K.: in the 1980s many people wanted low-consumption cars, aiming for 50 mpg. But 20 years later we no longer heard much about this; what people aspired to then were SUVs and sporty bits that do less than 30 mpg. IN the 1980s, only the fashions outside people changed; the hearts of the people were not changed.

What this world needs is people whose very hearts are changed so that, even when fashions are for damaging lifestyles, those people will ignore them and still seek after responsible lifestyles. And a lot of such people, not just a few individuals. Moreover, such people must do so, not out of a sense of fulfilment or self-actualization, but out of a changed heart. This is why the work of the Holy Spirit is essential, not an add-on. (See Hand - Face - Heart.)

Like God

When this all happens - the fruit and the world view of the Holy Spirit - then we will tend to react as God would in any situation, without thinking. It becomes 'tacit' in us, second nature. We no longer have to try. This is why the New Covenant involves God's laws or ways being written on our hearts rather than on tablets in front of our eyes.

It is in this way, and not by means of law, that we become like God. We grow into his image. That leads to the grand and cosmic issue of representing God, which is not just for temporary purposes, but is the very heart of God's plan in his creation.

See also:

Representation - Knowing, Experiencing and Working with God - Forever

Recognising the Times. All the above need to be worked out in the times in which we find ourselves. The 'New' of the New View recognises this. It tries to take account of where we are now, rather than were 300 or 100 or 50 years ago. Several things come together, and probably what is most important now is to wider our understanding of representing God, especially two: How we can know and experience God, and do so truly, and the doctrine of the People of God.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them ... Rule ..." Genesis 1:27.

"'You are my witnesses,' declares [Yahweh], 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.'" Isaiah 43:10

"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." II Cor 5:19

"No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. ... And they will reign for ever and ever." Revelation 22:3-5

"Preach the gospel to all creation" Mark 16:15

"You are salt ... you are light ..." Matthew 5:13-16

"My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations." Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17.

Representing God is one of the central ideas in the New View in Theology and Practice. During the fallen period, where humankind is oriented away from God, God's people represent him to the rest of people. But before the fall and after the consummation, when sin will be no more there is still representation: humankind representing God to the rest of creation - and this theme also applies during the intervening period of the fall. It is a possibility always innate in the creational nature of humanity and the rest, and made possible right here and now in Christ and by the Holy Spirit. Notice how Jesus wants the gospel preached, not just to human beings, but to all creation. The New View sees 'image of God' as meaning, not a privileged status with respect to the rest of creation, but as representing God to the rest of creation.

The theme of representing God was there from the start, is here right through history and will be there after the end of this age. In this New View, the following themes are important in, and are elaborated in the separate page on, Representing God.

God's Cosmic Plan

To sum up, this is God's Cosmic Plan - to create beings with dignity of blessing each other as God would, with humans as fuller image of God with the privilege of blessing the rest, and to come himself to save them, and restore us to this shalomic rejoicing, first in the current heaven and earth and then in a new one, and all will be the inheritance of Christ. His Plan is that human beings will have a special role of representing him to the rest of creation, and in the New Testament era, we are to preach his gospel to all creation [Mark 16:15]. In the new one, the shalom, the rejoicing, will be even richer and more exciting than at the beginning. This is why God created in the first place, why he created human beings, why he came to save us and why he will renew heaven and earth.

Just look back to where we began: Reality Rejoicing - That's God's Cosmic and Eternal Plan, and each of us is invited to be a willing, joyful, effective part of it.

Some Notes, Results and Implications


Q: Is this New View not just older views with certain bits bolted on? After all, creation, fall, redemption occur there too.

A: While it is certainly true that there is continuity with earlier views, the difference from older views is more than additions. First each theme is different, second each theme is necessary, and third the differences are in underlying world view and not just in individual beliefs. Also, see tabular comparisons with various doctrines and three ground motives.

Q: New View seems to suggest that the evil effects of the Fall are merely due to our seeing things wrongly and having wrong expectations and goals. But has not nature been 'put out of joint'?

A: Yes, there may be an element of nature being put out of joint and not working as it should, but I am trying to stress something that has been forgotten. The put-out-of-joint theology rests on a single verse. The thesis that much even comes about because we have wrong and idolatrous expectations, goals, views is supported by a huge weight of Scripture, especially in the Judges, Kings and the Gospels. See page that discusses this.


Note 1. This view is still found in US Christianity, as expressed by James Watt "God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back." The quotations from Richard Cizik and James Watt are cited from the UK paper, The Guardian, 20th April 2005, which reports on the US National Association of Evangelicals' adoption of a resolution that emphasises "every Christian's duty to care for the planet and the role of government in safeguarding a sustainable environment."

Note 2. It may be noted that the humanist / mediaeval view, that 'dominion' means we can do with the rest of creation as we wish, does link with being in the image of God, if we see this in terms of a prince being the image of the king. But these interpretations of both dominion and image are more in line with Aristotle than with Scripture as a whole. They have no place for the love or the humility that characterize God in Scripture. The New View not only rejects both these interpretations, but suggests new interpretations commensurate with love and humility.

Note 3. Snyder, H. (2005). 'Salvation means creation healed: creation, cross, kingdom, mission. Kingdom Conference, 2005. Available on Internet. Thanks to Andrew Watson for pointing this out to me.


Schulten, C.P. (2009). Imago Dei: Made in God's Image to be Lords, Stewards, or Servants of Creation?, Integrite: A Faith and Learning Journal, 8(1) (Spring 2009), 12-20.

This page, URL= '', is offered to God as on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

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Created: 14 December 2003. Last updated: 30 December 2003 several bits under Relatedness (Poor, Eternal Life) etc., added FAQ, placed Representation last and wrote much for it. 1 January 2004 added Reality Rejoices cos I needed to say something about joy and the goodness of God. 11 January 2004 law and revelation. 25 January 2004 holiness, 8 February 2004 link to Love; .nav. 7 March 2004 more on Redemption, and 3 headings; rewrote some of Rejoicing. 28 March 2004 No Condemnation, Holy Spirit, Like God. 12 April 2004 blessing by opening up creation. 16 April 2004 poets corner. 18 April 2004 John 3:16, wv.impact. 11 May 2004 To whom does God's law apply? 27 June 2004 Kevin. 1 August 2004 God's people: tendency to pride; love. 27 September 2004 Jer 10:24-5, Jer 11. 2 October 2004 a bit on repn. 23 December 2004 repn ben Sira. 3 July 2005 three reasons for our radah; new email. 4 September 2005 Holy Spirit essential example. 7 September 2005 stewards. 14 September 2005 USA quotes. 23 November 2005 new section 'working with God'. 7 February 2006 lord's prayer link. 8 April 2006 representing = love, trust. 5 August 2007 Alec Smith quote: Gods people to lead; new section. 15 March 2008 cosmic. 27 March 2008 God's people lead. 20 July 2008 stronger on shepherds r.t. stewards. 24 July 2008 redid stewards-shepherds to incl. resources. 30 July 2008 reworded stewards a bit. 10 September 2008 link to hfh. 19 October 2008 better repres'n. 31 October 2008 link to representation. 28 November 2008 joy in everyday life. 17 January 2009 newcov, some rewrite. 20 February 2009 incarnation. 8 March 2009 began redoing shepherds + dominion, cos of Andrew Watson's comments; some small changes; major rearrangement and rewrite of Radah section, moving stewards earlier and sakes to end. 1 May 2009 section. 22 June 2009 Christ in us all-sufficient. 2 September 2009 shalom, ppf (past,present,future), power. 1 October 2009 link to sin. 5 November 2009 polemic re radah. 16 May 2010 God's love. 20 May 2010 not over-emph God's love. 17 October 2010 verses at start of each. 17 October 2010 weary in well-doing, 'essay'. 9 January 2011 Holy Spirit list. 16 January 2011 repentance. 13 February 2011 shepherds. 15 April 2011 name.shepherds. 1 May 2011 'Stewards?' rpl by 'Consumers, Stewards, Shepherds'. 15 July 2011 rep God all invited. 14 August 2011 link to romans8. 21 August 2011 Jim Skillen. 4 September 2011 Representation reorganised a bit, and rewritten to be clearer; the blessings of God's people replaces joy and love. 6 November 2011 representation forever as well as now (thanks to Anthony Smith for prompting this). 11 December 2011 Rep: not distant but God with us. 21 December 2011 link to miracles. 8 January 2012 deep sin. 22 April 2012 Mark 16:15. 23 April 2012 wrath derivative. 4 July 2012 God delights. 3 September 2012 Facilitating RepGod. 7 December 2012 being involved in God's Plan not ours in rep. 25 December 2012 began moving the Representation section to representation.html, and orientating that part of this page towards more specifically New View theology. 26 December 2012 completed that. 27 December 2012 link to image of God and a few corrections. 3 February 2013 salt.light. 21 April 2013 love v resources, some rewrite of intro, repl code by i tags for html 5. 28 April 2013 three classes of repentance. 24 January 2014 Attitude. 20 April 2014 heaven section. 4 May 2014 Each R is linked to a theological topic; eras table slight reword. 18 May 2014 rep: house of prayer for all nations. 15 June 2014 more relatedness verses; new section on what is relatedness. 15 June 2014 preparing for new page Interconnectedness. 19 June 2014 Schulten; some rewrite of shepherds. 9 May 2015 summarised Shepherds, referring to Shepherds page. 27 March 2016 new section 'What do we shepherd'. 1 May 2016 Intro improved, .end, .nav. 29 May 2016 link corrected, new .end. 2 June 2016 Possibilities. 15 September 2016 Andrew Hartley pointed out an empty quote in Radah section (thanks), so I filled it in, with link to radah.analysis. 18 September 2016 rights. 21 September 2016 guilt. 5 March 2017 new intro: CFR human persp, RRRRR God's; dignity. 7 June 2017 Replaced Interconnectedness text with summary bullets that link to interconnectedness.html. 11 February 2018 justice cos love reinstated here. 10 October 2018 Isa 51. 21 October 2018 links to, three,levels. 5 November 2018 Isa 40:5 glory to all flesh. 27 April 2019 glory of God, and one correction, labels, link to repentance. 27 April 2019 role as responsibility. 6 May 2019 link to law. 12 May 2019 corrected huios. 2 September 2020 extra section in interconnectedness.