A Biblical Theology of Covenant, Creation and Community
Thesis submitted in part for the award of a Master of Philosophy degree.
Clements, John B. The Eternal Purpose of God—A Biblical Theology of Covenant, Creation and Community. In Intercultural Studies. Thesis, Master of Philosophy. Lake Worth, FL: New Covenant International, 2008. Available at: https://jbclements.wordpress.com/work/eternal-purpose-of-god-thesis/
The Bible was almost entirely composed by Jewish writers. An examination of its Jewish or Hebraic roots provides considerable fresh insight into the Christian faith and worldview—particularly in respect of covenant, community and creation.
Covenant forms the dominant paradigm governing the biblical worldview. The new covenant inaugurated by the Messiah likewise forms the dominant paradigm governing the New Testament. Each biblical covenant is associated with a community. A “covenant community” who receive a vocation commensurate with the relationship into which they have been brought.
The biblical view of creation ultimately anticipates its global renewal, whereupon heaven is united in harmony with earth, God dwelling amidst his people. En-route to this finality, the biblical worldview incorporates the bondage of creation to the effects of sin and its partners: death, disease and decay. Amidst this corrupted creation, the vocation of the covenant community is to be an incarnate Messenger of Hope. Both recipient and giver of New Life; a sign, symbol and harbinger of creation‟s ultimate, glorious liberation from bondage.
The thesis seeks to express the message of Scripture according to Scripture’s own priorities. It uses biblical rather than philosophical terminology, presenting the Bibles message within the framework of a primarily Hebraic worldview. To aid recognition of vital theological threads woven throughout the biblical narratives, the thesis develops a graphical “panorama” of the biblical narrative.
Significance and Value of Findings
Traditional, post-Enlightenment theologies—i.e. reformed, dogmatic, systematic, critical, non-contextual etc.—having undergirded Western Christendom during the past two centuries, are presently creaking under the strain of post-modern, post-colonial critiques and worldviews. In order for Christian faith and community to flourish within this hostile cultural climate, the challenge of missiological renewal and reformation needs to be embraced, so that Christian theology, missional praxis and culture to flourish in new ways.
Insight into the Jewish roots of Scripture and, in particular, the biblical covenants and the vocational communities of both Israel and the Church, proffers a significant contribution towards such a renewal, potentially rendering a widely appealing paradigm: centering upon God‟s commitment to creation, in partnership with his covenant community; incorporating the combating of evil through pursuit of this-worldly peace, justice and dignity for human beings; lived out amidst the biblical backdrop of an ultimate Judgement and Regeneration.
- Within an increasingly agnostic West, a covenant, creation and community centred worldview offers fresh insight and a significant contrast to the individualistic drift of modern, protestant-evangelical culture and praxis, with its dualistic perspective of earth and heaven and concomitant focus upon personal salvation and eternal heavenly “escape‟ from earth‟s “mortal coil.‟
- Within the increasingly Christian South—where community-centred readings of Scripture are normative and worldviews are more free of anti-biblical, secular, atheistic and materialistic philosophical presuppositions—burgeoning, missional Christian communities can relate readily to a biblical theology of covenant, creation and community as a vital, educational, theological introduction to the Bible.
Finally, the recognition and incorporation of the Jewish roots of the Christian faith builds a small, but potentially significant, cultural bridge with the Jewish people.
By aiming at a biblical theology based upon an Hebraic worldview centred upon creation, covenant and community, this Thesis seeks to provide an educational resource inviting people to enter into and comprehend the worldview, culture and theology of the Bible, rather than the worldview, culture and theology of the West.