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A Christian Cosmology

Cosmology and Nature

A Christian Cosmology
Sunday, June 21, 2020

The word cosmology has been used more frequently in recent years, even in religious circles. If cosmology is the study of the origin, processes, and shape of the universe, then it also involves the study of God, the universe’s Creator. I find it utterly enticing, but I also know how threatening it has been to Christian thought as a whole.

Up until Copernicus and Galileo, western cosmology was very linear and largely informed by faith, with little attention to science. With a kind of extended egocentricity, Christians thought the earth was the center of the universe. God dwelled on his throne (and God was considered male), Jesus somehow dwelled beneath God, with heaven, the earth, and hell set below in their fixed places. But after the Copernican revolution, scientists have discovered ever more galaxies, and demonstrated that we humans are not the center of anything. We are just a small part of a much bigger ecosystem and universe. It is a very humbling lesson that we are still adjusting to five hundred years later! From that revolutionary moment, religion and science largely stopped talking to one another and started going in two different directions.

At a minimum, we need a God as big as the still-expanding universe. Otherwise, many earnest people will continue to think of God as a mere add-on to a world that is already awesome. However, I believe our traditional faith has a key to open the door to a new cosmology. That key is the proper understanding of the word Christ.

Christ, as I like to say, is more than Jesus’ last name. Christ is God, and Jesus is the Christ’s historical manifestation in time. Jesus is a Third Someone, not just God and not just human, but God and human together.

If we cannot put these two seeming opposites of the divine and human together in Jesus Christ, we usually cannot put these two together in ourselves, or in the rest of the physical universe. A merely personal God becomes clannish and sentimental, and a merely universal God never leaves the realm of abstract theory and philosophical principles. But when we learn to put them together, Jesus and Christ give us a God who is both personal and universal. Jesus is a map for the time-bound and personal level of life, and Christ is the blueprint for all time and space and life itself.

When cosmology became largely a secular science, a large number of Christians felt free to reject evolution and history. Today, however, we are living in a wonderful time of convergence. We have a chance to bring them together again. As author Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014) wrote: “We need a new theology of the cosmos, one that is grounded in the best science of our day . . . so that all the world turns sacred again . . .” [1] I hope this week’s meditations offer you a vision of a cosmology that is scientifically accurate and still entirely suffused with the presence of God.

References:
[1] Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (Crossroad Publishing Company: 1997), 13.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Christ Cosmology and Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See, (CAC: 2010), MP3 download; and

The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, And Believe (Convergent: 2019), 6, 17–21.

Image Credit: Una “rete” di rami all’Arte Sella (Wood and Art in the Forest of Italy) (detail), 2008, Arte Sella, Trento, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: God is the web, the energy, the light—not captured in them, as if any of those concepts were more real than what unites them—but revealed in that singular, vast net of relationship that animates everything that is. —Barbara Brown Taylor
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