Richard Middleton on the human calling to image God and how this relates to our scholarly work.
A while ago I summarised a talk Andrew Fellows gave at this year’s Transforming the Mind conference. He called on us to further the purposes of Christ’s kingdom in our universities. In his second talk, Andrew focused on the relationship between faith and reason, and how this has been viewed in the church over the past 2000 years.
Last week, I summarised the first part of the first talk Andrew Fellows gave at the Transforming the Mind Christian Postgraduate Conference in June. We saw that our calling as Christian scholars is rooted in the creation mandate and the mission mandate. But how are the two mandates related?
Last weekend, about 45 Christian postgrads, postdocs, early career academics and those who work with them gathered at Dovedale House in the tiny village of Ilam in the Peak District. Together we worshipped, listened to talks, ate, shared our stories, went on walks and even had a barn dance! Having been to the conference every year since 2008, every year I am amazed again by the excitement that develops from recognizing each other’s passion and struggles as Christians in academia.
I’m trying to be a serious academic, but sometimes it feels that considering how my faith impacts my discipline is merely an interesting sideline to my work. It’s a subject to be confined to my Christian postgrad group and occasional books read on the sly, rather than a unifying principle in my work.
A few weeks ago, we saw that redemption is the way in which God, in the person of Jesus, stepped into his creation to gain the victory over the punishment for and consequences of the fall. However, at present we still live in the ‘in-between’, knowing that we are forgiven now, but that the full revelation of God’s kingdom is yet to come. We are taught to pray ‘your kingdom come’. But how do we live in the light of this coming kingdom?
The third key element of the biblical worldview is redemption. That means God buying back what was lost. And if we take the biblical accounts of sin seriously, it’s clear that the whole created order was corrupted by the Fall. So, building on an understanding of Creation and Fall, we see that Redemption is the way that God’s original purposes for the filling and cultivating of the earth may continue despite sin. In other words, it’s not a Plan B, but the rescuing of Plan A: