q. i. f.?

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As I understand Christianity, it conceives of the world as wholly oriented to the call of God via the resurrection of Jesus. Christians say that God not only creates and rules over, he also redeems and restores. That he redeems and restores the world assumes first, of course, the fallenness and (therefore) the freedom within it of human beings, who are the weirdest, least obviously integrated piece of an otherwise evidently comprehensive and systematic, generative and entropic material order of God’s making. Human beings don’t introduce corruption and fallenness on their own, but in their freedom they take part in introducing it, and they’re susceptible to it by nature: susceptible, subject to its structural effects and to dealing constantly with its meaning.

Destruction and death make very good sense in the natural order, the system, its infinite variety of cycles of production, consumption, and reproduction. Only — for them, the human beings, destruction and death don’t quite make sense. For them, for us, destruction and death are contrary indications, signals of some basic, pervasive corruption, the system broken down even as it goes on functioning. The human being, oddly among creatures, somehow recognizes, in our relating to each other and to the natural order, the possibility and indeed the necessity of life not merely persisting but being something apart from death, life as over and above death. And God, Christianity says, speaks to the human being in terms of that recognition, affirming in moral categories, love and fidelity, justice and judgment, whatever it is we seem to know about this by way of experience and intuition.

That, by itself, God in moral address to humanity, would present a predicament of hopelessness, since its immediate import is a common human guilt and incapacity vis-à-vis life’s fullness. But Christianity understands God’s speaking as something more: it’s a call, person to persons, not a mere generalized declaration or sentence. It’s an address, naming and beckoning — beckoning out of the corrupted condition into a renewed condition, a new life. Not just for humanity’s sake, moreover, is the human being so named and beckoned, but for the sake of the world, the whole multidimensional thing made by God — none of it left simply to futility in death, as God speaks. The human being, this subject of divine calling, is the weird piece but also the essential piece in the world as creation; the death and resurrection of the Son of God, in a way somehow corresponding, is the weird but essential event in it as history. The world turns around Christ in resurrection, toward God who calls the human subject.

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