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Christ in Evolution

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Cosmic Christ: Week 2

Christ in Evolution
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ilia Delio, a Franciscan sister and scientist, describes the positive foundation we have in the cosmic Christ:

Franciscan theology on the whole . . . emphasized the incarnation as the love of God made visible in the world. [Bonaventure] did not consider the incarnation foremost as a remedy for sin but the primacy of love and the completion of creation. He recapitulated an idea present in the Greek fathers of the church, namely, Christ is the redeeming and fulfilling center of the universe. Christ does not save us from creation; rather, Christ is the reason for creation. . . . Christ is first in God’s intention to love; love is the reason for creation. [1]

Lacking an understanding of the Good News of the universal Christ, few have the vision to perceive any coherence between the Source and the Goal. The Christian message has had less and less significance for thinking people, for scientists, philosophers, social workers, and those trying to find a purpose for the universe. Christianity became merely another moralistic religion (which loved to “win” over other religions and countries), overwhelmingly aligned with a limited period of history (empire building) and a small piece of the planet (Europe and eventually the Americas through colonization), rather than representing the whole of creation and a glorious destiny (Romans 8:18-21).

Without the cosmic notion of Christ, Christians can’t understand that God is inherent in life itself, that God is the life force of everything who grows things from the inside. The Indwelling Spirit was our way of saying that God creates things that create themselves from within! In humans and animals this is experienced as sexuality, in plants as photosynthesis. Elements participate in the creative process through electromagnetic fields, fusion, and bonding. Even celestial bodies experience death and birth. There is only and always growth. Death is simply a transformative stage.

Not surprisingly, many Christians ended up tragically fighting evolution along with most human-rights struggles—slavery, women’s suffrage, desegregation, racism, classism, homophobia, policies regarding refugees and immigrants, mass incarceration, climate change. We had no evolutionary notion of Christ who is forever “groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22). Yet we should have been on the front line of all of these issues, so our bold proclamation of love and justice could have pulled humanity forward.

The Christian religion was made-to-order to grease the wheels of human consciousness toward love, nonviolence, earth care, and justice. Mature spirituality serves as a conveyor belt for the evolution of human consciousness. Immature religion stalls us at low levels of well-disguised egocentricity by fooling us into thinking we are more moral or holy than we really are.

“Indeed God is not far from any one of us. For ‘In God we live and move and have our very being’” (Acts 17:27-28). If this is true, then it has to be true everywhere and all the time. Small truth is not big enough to save a very large universe.

Gateway to Silence:
In Christ, with Christ, through Christ

[1] Ilia Delio, Christ in Evolution (Orbis Books: 2008), 6.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 217-219.

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