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Center for Action and Contemplation

Unfolding Creation

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Christ in Evolution

Unfolding Creation
Sunday, March 10, 2019

God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. “Now I am making the whole of creation new, . . . It is already done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” —Revelation 21:4-6, Jerusalem Bible

Contrast this passage (repeated in Revelation 22:13) from the very end of the Bible with Christianity’s recent notions of Armageddon, Apocalypse, or Rapture. God keeps creation both good and new—which means always going somewhere even better or, in a word, evolving. God keeps creating things from the inside out, so they are forever yearning, developing, growing, and changing. This is the generative force implanted in all living things, which grows things both from within—because they are programmed for it—and from without—as they take in light, nutrition, and water.

If we see the Eternal Christ Mystery as the symbolic Alpha Point for the beginning of “time,” we can see that history and evolution indeed have an intelligence, a plan, and a trajectory from the very start. The Risen Christ, who appears in the middle of history, assures us that, all crucifixions to the contrary, God is leading us somewhere positive. God has been leading us since the beginning of time and even includes us in the process of unfolding (Romans 8:28-30). We are invited to be a “New Humanity” (Ephesians 2:15b). Christ is both the Divine Radiance at the beginning and the Divine Allure drawing and attracting us into a more positive future. We are thus bookended in a Personal Love—coming from Love and moving toward an ever more inclusive Love. The Book of Revelation brilliantly names this “Alpha” (first letter of the Greek alphabet) and Omega (last letter).

Maybe you personally do not feel a need for creation to have any form, direction, or purpose. After all, many scientists do not seem to ask such ultimate questions. Evolutionists observe the evidence and the data and say the universe is clearly unfolding and still expanding at ever faster rates, although they do not know the final goal of this expansion. But Christians should believe that the overarching vision does have a shape and meaning—which is revealed from its inception as “good, good, good, good, good” and even “very good” (Genesis 1:10-31). How did we ever get from that to any notion of “total depravity”? The biblical symbol of the Universal and Eternal Christ, standing at both ends of cosmic time, was intended to assure us that the clear and full trajectory of the world we know is an unfolding of consciousness with “all creation groaning in this one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22).

As Christian philosopher Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014) put it:

The conclusion seems to be that to share in the divine life I must accept the vocation of consciously living in this self-creating universe. . . . [This] means that I need to know something about the whole thing, how it works, how it’s moving, how to take my place in it, make my meaningful contribution to this general improvisation.

Joining in [God’s] creative work is really central to the whole contemplative enterprise. Cosmogenesis—the generation of the cosmos—can be seen, as Teilhard de Chardin saw it, as “Christogenesis,” the growth of the “ever greater Christ.” This Christ has been “growing in stature and wisdom” (Luke 2:52; read “complexity and consciousness”) these last dozen or so billion years and is nowhere near finished yet. [1]

[1] Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1997), 11-12.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 95-96.

Image credit: Gua Tewet Tree of Life (detail), cave painting, Borneo, Indonesia.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. —Thomas Berry (1914-2009)
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