Tuesday, June 8, 2010

An Incomplete Manuscript

"What we must notice at this stage is that, both in the Old Testament and in the New, the present suffering of the world – about which the biblical writers knew every bit as much as we do – never makes them falter in their claim that the created world really is the good creation of a good God. They live with the tension. And they don’t do it by imagining that the present created order is a shabby, second-rate kind of thing, perhaps (as in some kinds of Platonism) made by a shabby, second-rate sort of god. They do it by telling a story of what the one creator God has been doing to rescue his beautiful world and to put it to rights. And the story they tell…indicates that the present world really is a signpost to a larger beauty, a deeper truth. It really is the authentic manuscript of one part of a masterpiece. The question is, What is the whole masterpiece like, and how can we begin to hear the music in the way it was intended?

The point of the story is that the masterpiece already exists – in the mind of the composer. At the moment, neither the instruments nor the players are ready to perform it. But when they are, the manuscript we already have – the present world with all its beauty and puzzlement – will turn out to be truly part of it. The deficiencies in the one part we possess will be made good. The things that don’t make sense at the moment will display a harmony and perfection we hadn’t dreamed of. The points at which today the music seems almost perfect, lacking just one small thing, will be completed. That is the promise held out in the story. Just as, in one of the New Testament’s greatest claims, the kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdom of God, so the beauty of this world will be enfolded in the beauty of God – and not just the beauty of God himself, but the beauty which, because God is the creator par excellence, he will create when the present world is rescued, healed, restored and completed."

N.T. Wright in Simply Christian:Why Christianity Makes Sense. Harper Collins hardcover p 47.

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