Creation Purified, Not Destroyed

Christ’s resurrection implies that one day creation itself will  be resurrected, renewed. This present heaven and earth will not be utterly destroyed and ultimately replaced. The great early twentieth-century Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck (who had many wonderful thoughts on this topic) further clarifies the logic behind my denial:

In the same way, the New Testament proclaims that heaven and earth will pass away (Matt. 5:18; 24:35; 2 Pet. 3:10; 1 John 2:17; Rev. 21:1), that they will perish  and wear out like clothing (Heb. 1:11), dissolve (2 Pet. 3:10), be burned with fire (3:10), and be changed (Heb. 1:12). But none these expressions implies a destruction of substance. Peter, for example, expressly teaches that the old earth, which originated as a result of the separation of waters was deluged with water and the so perished, and that the present world would also perish, not – thanks to the divine promise – by water but by fire. Accordingly, with reference to the passing of the present world, we must know more think of a destruction of substance than [we would] with regard to the passing of the earlier world in the flood. Fire burns, cleanses, purifies, but does not destroy. The contrast in one John 2:17 (“the world and its desire are passing away, but those who will do the will of God lives forever.”) teaches us that the first statement does not imply a destruction of the substance of the world but a vanishing of the world in its present, sin-damaged form… Only such a renewal of the world, for that matter, accords with what Scripture teaches about redemption. For the latter is never a second, brand-new creation but a re-creation of the existing world. God’s honor consists precisely in the fact that he redeems and we news the same humanity, the same world, the same heaven, and the same earth that have been corrupted and polluted by sending it. (Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, 717)

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Posted on April 29, 2011, in Eschatology, Herman Bavinck and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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