Redemption Anyway? The Protology of Creation and Redemption from Eden to the Incarnation

“Incarnation Anyway” proposals have proliferated in recent years, including contributions from J. Arcadi, M. Cortez, O. Crisp, and E. van Driel. Arguing for the logical priority in the Divine Decrees of the Incarnation relative to the Fall, these proposals persuasively argue for understanding the Incarnation primarily in terms of fulfilling the creational purposes of God rather than primarily as a salvific measure brought about in response to the Fall. The thesis of this paper is that the biblical category of redemption should likewise be understood to be logically prior to the Fall.
With the rise of evangelical concern for Creation Care and Ecotheology, so has the interest in cosmic redemption blossomed (J.J. John Leese and M. Steenberg for example). This conversation, often drawing on Romans 8:18-23, interrogates the traditional narrative of creation/fall/redemption/new creation, offering instead a more robust coupling of creation and redemption in God’s protological purposes for the world (ie. J. Gibbs, J. Moltmann, M. Root, C. Gunton, H. Snyder). The concern with this reorientation is clear: are the Fall, sin, and evil now necessary to the achievement of God’s purposes? Did God create a broken world so that he could fix it?
This paper will offer a reading of the Biblical theme of redemption alongside a reading of Genesis 1-2 which supports a creation/redemption narrative in the vein of cosmic procession and return which defines redemption as God bringing his creation into the full fellowship of his presence. Rather than a synonym for salvation, redemption then is the proper conceptual lens for the dynamic development of Gods creational purposes climaxing in the unprecedented presence of God among his creation achieved in the Incarnation. The argument will proceed as follows: (1) redemption as an Old Testament concept does not depend on sin/a fall but rather focuses primarily on fellowship with God’s presence, (2) God in his nature is redemptive, and finally (3) that the Sabbath, a protological picture of rest and the telos of all creation, functions as the link between creation and redemption. The paper will culminate with a creation/redemption reading of Genesis 2, exploring the creation of Adam outside of the garden and God’s “resting” him in the garden as a picture of God’s dynamic work of creation and redemption, with Sabbath as the link, on display before the Fall.
This paper will contribute substantively to the field of Theological Anthropology through an expansion and extension of the Incarnation Anyway conversation, offering a biblical category to use as language and as a conceptual lens for God’s purposes between Eden and Incarnation. Furthermore, this paper contributes to the lively discussions regarding the right understanding of humans as image of God creatures, again offering conceptual language to the vocation espoused by the functional approach: humans as God’s agents of cosmic redemption.

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