kaine ktisis ("new creation")
i've been reading geerhardus vos's the pauline eschatology for a class. for those who don't know of vos, he was a theologian at the turn of the 1900's at princeton theological seminary. he basically wrote the book on eschatology and biblical theology (in fact, his book biblical theology is a great book) and how both of those topics relate to systematic theology and classical reformed theology.
what i want to comment on, however, stems back to christian's post on "cruciform community." brian had asked me to comment on paul's use of the "new creation" language in 2 corinthians 5. my basic point is that we are new creatures in christ because of the fact that christ has ushered in a new world order which we are transferred into when we participate in his resurrection by faith.
1 cor 5.17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.the normal interpretation of this passage is merely a transformation of the individual who is "in christ." paul certainly has this in view, but that is not all that is in view. Vos states on page 47,
There has been created a totally new environment, or, more accurately speaking, a totally new world, in which the person spoken of is an inhabitant and participator. It is not in the first place the interiority of the subject that has undergone the change, although that, of course, is not to be excluded. The whole surrounding world has assumed a new aspect and complexion."this is especially apparent when we see how paul uses the word translated "creation" (ktisis) elsewhere, such as romans 8.19-20 or colossians 1.15 where paul has the whole creation in view and not just individual people.
what vos is really trying to get it is the climactic change that has been wrought by the resurrection of christ. this event changed the world. people who are united to christ by faith certainly undergo a change, but the change they undergo allows them to see the world as it really is. they then continue to change as the holy spirit continues to illumine to them the truth about the resurrection. for me, this is why we can expect whole communities to change as the gospel penetrates every facet of society.
i can't think of a better illustration for this than the movie, the matrix. when neo takes the blue pill he is immediately transformed out of the world of bondage-where he is finally able to see the false reality of the matrix-and has his eyes opened to the reality of the world as it really is.
i could illustrate this with other scriptures from the new testament (see 2 peter 3.5-7 where peter speaks in terms of two world orders with reference to the time leading up to the flood and the time after and correlates that to the before and after of the cross. or look at 1 cor 15.42ff where adam and christ are compared as the representative heads of two distinct epochs-one physical and one spiritual.) but i don't have the time to expound on them.
basically what vos is trying to get at is that a major change in the world happened at the resurrection. it is not a complete change, as there is a future element, as we all know (already/not yet). what we need to realize is that the christian is living right in the middle of this transition, yet the future aspects of christ's kingdom are present now in the holy spirit, acting almost like a tractor beam, pulling us into the future.
paul puts it frankly, we are new creations. the blinders are off. we can see the world as it really is. so wake up and start living like a new creation. there's so much more i could say on this, but i have to end this. i'd love to see some discussion on this idea. one last point to make is that this in no way diminishes my view of sin. in fact, part of seeing the world as it really is, means i see myself and others truly as well and we still struggle. life is still hard and there is a still future aspect to be expected and anticipated.