Paris COP21, Advent and the New Creation: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

This year Advent and the start of the Paris conference on climate change coincide. How does climate change challenge the ways Christians understand and pray,

Source: Paris COP21, Advent and the New Creation: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Shortly after my posting of this column, Br. Taylor Burton Edwards posted the following. I am grateful for Br. Taylor’s corrective of my over emphasis on “continuity” and think that it is an essential to what I wrote in the column. Theology is an ongoing and communal enterprise.

He wrote:
“Thank you for this, Br Daniel.

“The one caution I would offer is the potential for a real (and ongoing) tendency to underplay the actuality of the discontinuity the apocalyptic frame, which underlies Christian proclamation. The New Testament (and the minor prophets before it in the OT) maintain a call to vigilance and participation in this age AND a hope for a discontinuous (if equally incarnate and earthy) age to come. It seems to me that both affirmations are vital to the core of the Christian faith.

“So yes, by all means, the incursion of the kingdom of God (age to come) already within this present age calls us to do all we can to “serve this present age, our calling to fulfill.” But the hope with which we do this, as well as the authority and power by which we do it, is precisely from the age yet to come– an age and a culmination of God’s kingdom which is indeed discontinuous with this present age and its arrangements, including its arrangements of matter and energy, economics and politics.

“The discontinuity is at once declaration and reality. This age is thoroughly vitiated, beyond final reclamation as it stands, even if also infused with another vision and signs of life of the coming age.That reality does not lead us to abandon it, however. Rather, it sets us, as it did the Judean exiles, to be a sign of what God ultimately intends and “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7, NRSV).

“We need not (and I would argue must not) reject the discontinuous vision of the biblical apocalyptic frame simply because some have used that illegitimately to distract us from our mission here and now. Rather, we are called to affirm both– the discontinuity and the mission, and indeed the power of that discontinous/infused kingdom/age to motivate our participation in God’s mission– and so the care of the earth– here and now.”