One of the books I read last year that had a profound impact on me was Creation Regained by Albert Wolters. I knew the book was going to be amazing as soon as I realized the author's first name was Albert, and thankfully the content of the book lived up to the penmen's name! Creation Regained is primarily concerned with breaking down the modern conception of the sacred and the secular that has infiltrated the western church like a plague. Wolters shows how modern Christianity has set up a false dichotomy that does not exist in the Bible and is suffering, both internally (in discipleship) and externally (in evangelism), because of it. The false dichotomy is that there are certain areas of life that are secular like business, the arts, sports, food, etc. and there are other areas of life that are sacred like church going, prayer meetings, Bible studies, etc. Wolters shows how the Bible is in fact concerned that all of life be understood as sacred before God and gives us a couple of tools to help us sort through the milieu.
Wolters explains that as Christians we should look at the different areas of life through two different lenses:
- Creation, Fall, Redemption; &
- Structure & Direction
What he means by "Creation, Fall, Redemption" is that everything there is, including institutions and societal mechanisms, are apart of the creation order and intent (he spends substantial time backing this claim Biblically and I will not do so here). Next he goes on to show that not one of these things in creation has not been affected by the Fall. And lastly, he shows how the redemption that Jesus has initiated intends to bring redemption to all of these areas of life!
In terms of "Structure & Direction", Wolters desires that his readers begin to look at everything in the created order in terms of its structure (how does it compare to the creational intent that God had for it?) and its direction (is it moving toward or away from that creational intent).
All in all the book is a very helpful corrective for the gnosticism that is rampant in modern evangelicalism and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the way the Bible is to relate to the whole of creation. One of the reasons I loved it so much is because it infused a unique mix of theory and practice that is rare in a work like this. The following quote is a fine example of what I am talking about:
The scope of biblical teaching includes such "secular" matters as labor, social groups, and education. Unless such matters are approached in terms of a worldview based squarely on such central scriptural categories as creation, sin, and redemption, our assessment of these supposedly non-religious dimensions of our lives will likely be dominated instead by one of the competing worldviews of secularization. (pg. 8-9)
You see how clearly Wolters sets up what theologians like to call "the antithesis". Some worldview will inform your approach to secular things like education and social groups. The concern is whether or not a biblical worldview is doing the informing. Wolters worries that in many cases it is not. I believe his fears may be warranted. So much of modern evangelicalism's practical application of the scripture is too shallow to truly give a biblical guide to issues such as education and politics. Furthermore, the places where modern evangelicalism does give ample biblical application are all on the personal level and never reach beyond implicating (at most) two people.
I hope you can tell from this post how much I enjoyed the book and may be encouraged to go and check it out for yourself!
Food for thought!