Bloggin' the 28: The New Earth


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Continuing our summer Bloggin' the 28 project, pastor, community organizer and creative ministry guru Monte Sahlin applies the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of The New Earth to contemporary life.

Much of conservative Protestant/Evangelical theology focuses almost entirely on the individual’s personal relationship with God and the hereafter. The most important thing in this approach to Christian faith is to be “saved,” meaning to be with God in some ethereal sense in the hereafter. The risk, to quote my dad, is a religion that “is so heavenly-minded as to be no earthly good.” It revolves around a profound disconnect between the known and knowable world and the world in which God lives. The spiritual sphere is separated from the real world we all experience.

This paradigm has been dominate in Christendom since the triumph of Constantinian values over the Jewish heritage of the Jesus movement. It is the source of much theological and ethical mischief, including dualism, the most monumental failure to “connect the dots.”

Adventist faith is different from this dominant theology in a very significant way. Adventist faith takes seriously Revelation 20-21, which suggests that the ultimate destiny of humanity is with God on this Earth, not with God in some insubstantial and wholly other place. The end of the story for Adventists is here on this Earth in a society in which God reigns fully and all suffering, disease, disaster, poverty and injustice is gone.

peoples. The many symbols of riches and wealth suggest a community of\u003cbr /\>plenty and surplus. There are also hints that this community is deeply\u003cbr /\>related in a kinship anchored in God who presides as the visible, dynamic\u003cbr /\>head of the family.\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>The purpose of the “Bloggin the 28” exercise is to focus on how the\u003cbr /\>fundamental beliefs can be lived out in the here-and-now, how they relate\u003cbr /\>to contemporary social issues. To me the connection for the doctrine of\u003cbr /\>the New Earth is very simple: If God has promised, at the end of salvation\u003cbr /\>history, a world in which suffering, disease, poverty and injustice have\u003cbr /\>been overcome, a society that is inclusive, hospitable and generous, then\u003cbr /\>that is the kind of world I must work right now, right here.\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>To say that I believe the end of religion is for God to have a world where\u003cbr /\>there is no more poverty and then ignore the problems of poverty as they\u003cbr /\>exist today is to live a lie! To say that I believe the ultimate purpose\u003cbr /\>of Jesus is to have a world where is no more prejudice and injustice and\u003cbr /\>then ignore the problems of racial, ethnic, gender and other injustice as\u003cbr /\>they exist today is to live a lie. As Matthew 25:31-46 quotes Jesus\u003cbr /\>stating in the starkest, simplest terms, unless I invest my life in\u003cbr /\>working to overcome hunger, poverty, disease, injustice and oppression, I\u003cbr /\>demonstrate a lack of faith in God’s ultimate purpose.\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>It’s that simple. The last chapter of the Bible story, the last of “the\u003cbr /\>28,” the bottom line in Adventist theology calls us to live now in a way\u003cbr /\>that demonstrates the values of New Earth. Authentic Adventist faith is\u003cbr /\>seen in the lives of those who give themselves to fight poverty, combat\u003cbr /\>disease, overcome injustice, extend hospitality and generosity, and\u003cbr /\>encourage a spirit that is inclusive, compassionate, progressive and\u003cbr /\>hopeful.\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>\u003c/div\>",0] );

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4148