Chrisentheism, a new way forward

Reconciling the intersection of Christian faith and science is a noble aspiration. The creation narrative in genesis seems to cause much debate. A new way forward toward reconciliation I believe is possible. Pondering this for some time I have began to ask new questions of the text. I would like to invite thoughts critiques around a new theological construct called
Definition “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3) …all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15,16)

  1. The doctrine creates a metaphysical and philosophical foundation for the creation narrative that transcends science, and explains the foundational essence of all things.

  2. It acknowledges the death of Christ as the first cause and essence of creation

  3. Science is free to observe, measure and test the creation, understanding it’s potential truths are only possible in the actual foundational truth, Jesus Christ.

  4. The creation narrative is free to confirm the actual truth , the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  5. Faith is free to exalt Christ as Lord of all things.

“ I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

I will post a poem that might help get the discussion started deeper.

That’s not in the above text. What does fit the text, though, is that the Incarnation of Christ is the first cause and the essence of Creation. That ‘material’ things can exist is only possible because the eternal Logos could become material and dwell among the material.

I totally agree, and thanks for engaging! Could we expand this notion to say the work of Christ… incarnation, death, resurrection? All have a role in creation?

Do any other verses support this doctrine, specifically with death as first cause? Can you think of any ?

Death can’t be the first cause since dying requires material existence in the first place.

Consider, though, the opening of the Hymn of the Firstborn [my translation]:

  1. He is the icon of the invisible God,
  2. firstborn of all creation.
  3. For in him all things were created,
  4. in heaven and on earth,
  5. visible and invisible,
  6. whether thrones, whether dominions, whether rulers, whether authorities—
  7. all things through him and for him have been created.
  8. And he is before all things,
  9. and all things in him hold together.

[numbers for reference]

Start with line 2, the bold word: the Greek is πρωτότοκος (proe-TOH-toh-kos), “prototokos”, and it’s not just any word, it’s a very specific philosophical term with a root meaning of “first” (πρῶτος) + “brought forth” (τίκτω, I bring forth), (thus “firstborn” as of a child) and so “prototype” of things that are made – note here that Joseph was a τέκτων (TEK-tone), a builder, so the word carries the meaning of “first-built”. The concept is used philosophically for “opener of the way”, which indicates not merely that something or someone forged a path (through some barrier) but that opening that way imparted the way/passage with the opener’s shape or form, such that every single thing which comes through that way takes on something of the form of the opener. So Jesus as “firstborn of all creation” is the One Who opened the way for anything and everything else to be created – and as a result, everything that has been created takes on something of His “shape” or form.

And that’s where the terms in 3, 7, 8, and 9 that I put in italics come from: they are expanding and expounding on the title Πρωτότοκος, Prototokos: “in Him” cast in a mold; “through Him” as through a die or mold; “for Him”, or more literally “into/unto Him” as into the realm He shaped; “before all things” (or “before the entirety”) because He is/was the first; “in Him [they] hold together” because since He gave them form it is He that maintains their form and thus their existence.

Now, in terms of temporal sequence this appears to be nonsense unless one goes the route that Arius took and reduced Christ to a mere creation – which he did as an attempt to force the scriptures to fit Greek philosophy, but he erred by conceiving of a “prototokos” as the first of a set of manufactured items, something that only works if you ignore all of creation except humans! so Arius wasn’t just a bad exegete (interpreter of scripture) but a bad philosopher as well.
But we get a clue in the fact that Christ is referred to as having been “slain from before the founding of the world”: in terms of time, Christ wasn’t slain until the Cross, but plainly time doesn’t bind Him, and the perspective from within time is not the important one, the perspective from eternity is. So if Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, then the Cross came before Genesis, and thus since Christ was the “prototokos” of all creation then the Incarnation came before Genesis (I know; this sounds like time machine stuff, but it’s really just trying to see things from the perspective of eternity).

So the Incarnation was the first moment of Creation, regardless of the timeline and our limited mortal perspective.

Bonus note: Christ being before all things makes Him the Alpha; all things being for/unto Him makes Him the Omega – “Alpha and Omega” gets translated as “First and Last” but philosophically it’s more accurately “Source and Goal”! Christ is where we come from, and Christ is where we’re headed! And the means of coming from Him and getting to Him is being “in Him”… which happens to be one of Paul’s favorite ways of describing our status before God!
Isn’t it awesome how Paul’s theology is all one ‘piece of cloth’?

Okay: having said that, where does death fit in?

That’s easy: death is both the exit from and the return to Christ. We start out shaped in His form (we’re in the image of the Image of God), but we departed from that form substantially by/due to sin, and we have to get that form back/restored/perfected. Departure brought death, and so – thinking in terms from the above post – the timeline split; rather than a nice even march from material to material-plus, the timeline “dropped” from that progression into one where everything is flawed, so there are two timelines going on: one where there was no sin (a non-reality, since there is sin) and the one we’re trudging along in. In order to hook the timeline back to what it was supposed to be, the initial flaw has to be reversed, and that means two things: the sin needs to be expunged, and death needs to be reversed – though in truth those are just the same thing; expunging sin reverses death.

So death isn’t the first cause, it’s the first flaw, or more accurately the symptom of the first flaw, which is sin (though the two are essentially one; sin resulted in death, but death results in sin – since we are/were spiritually dead, we sin, and because we sin we are spiritually dead, and since dead then we sin, and 'round and 'round like the two sides of a coin spinning through the air). Yet it’s also the repair, since by dying Christ reversed death.

Just BTW, many of the Fathers (at least occasionally) used the term “Incarnation” to mean everything from Christ’s conception to the Ascension and thus as a stand-in for all the work of Christ. Thus the Incarnation serves as a parallel to the timeline in need of repair, with Christ as the new Adam, except this time ‘Adam’ doesn’t choose sin so when He dies it breaks death. And given the mystical bent of much of Judaism at the time and how Jews in the Diaspora made up much of the early church, it became common to hold that Jesus had to have been conceived on the same day of the week and year that Adam was formed… and because the time when new life starts up each year on Earth is the beginning of spring, and back then the beginning of spring fell on what is now March 25, the belief was that Jesus must have been conceived on March 25 – and if you add nine months, you get December 25, which is where the Christmas celebration got pinned! So the date of Christmas arose from early church Christology and imported Jewish mysticism!

Thus Christmas is as much a celebration of the Creation of the world as of Christ’s birth, because He is the “prototokos”, the Firstborn.

Ok lots of good points raised here and I appreciate your knowledge and zeal!
I was heading in a direction that requires a open mind to an slightly alternate interpretation which accomplishes both the inerrancy of scripture and freedom of science. Looking at the creation text as Gospel Truth. Here is that Poem I promised for anyone to comment on

Garden Tomb

Life and death collide
The body of Christ laid inside

The universe created
Dark, chaotic and cold

A sinking corpse
Earth swallowed in the deep

In the belly of that great fish
Great and terrible jaws of death

The Spirit hovers over the dark sea
Over thrashing waters of chaos

The voice of God calls into the void
Let there be Light

A pinprick of hope
The stone is rolled
The Light has come up out of death

And He sees Mary weeping outside of the
Garden tomb

This looks to me like an effort to deify Christianity. I would consider it idolatry. I decide what to believe and that happens to Trinitarian Christianity. But I don’t imagine this to be any more than just a human opinion. It is not salvation and it certainly isn’t God. It may be that I was led to this opinion by the Holy Spirit. But I cannot know that this is the case, for I am not God to know His mind and what He has done. To claim that is little different than imagining that one has saved oneself.

I believe in the gospel of salvation by the grace of God and utterly reject the Gnostic gospel of salvation by some special or secret knowledge. We are saved by the work of God and not by being Christian, by believing some Christian dogma, or by any other of our accomplishments. I reject the entitlement I see in too much of Christianity which sees salvation as one of their accomplishments. Salvation belongs to God, not to us and certainly not to Christianity. Yeah I believe Christianity is a work of God for that end, but that is just my belief.

thanks for the reply! I’m curious as to what your belief is about the the bible? you sound reformed in your soteriology? no?

100% agree, eternal power supersedes temporal causality,
"…That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.” (Ecc 3:14,15)

Here are some other proof texts to I have been thinking about to support this view

“And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.” (Ephesians 4:10)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

“to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.” (Job 33:30)

… And the bread that I will give for the life of the Cosmos is my flesh.” (John 6:51)

Also 100% agree incarnation first born (formed by God’s word) of creation, AKA The Light of Gen 1v3. But look what precedes the “Light” in the text. Gods silence creates dark, chaos, desolation! So the death of Christ (privation event) creates something without Gods word! The privation of the word creates the essence of Space (heavens/Gods aseity) and chaotic, desolation of matter (earth AKA body of Jesus) .

I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things. (Isa 45:7)

Gen 1v3 the word proceeding forms light from darkness and only creates good, The resurrection! The following narrative defeats death three powers.

  1. Gen 1:3 Light and Wisdom (Shekinah glory, intelligibility, logic, mathematics, word), Christ by the Spirit counteracts darkness as the uncaused Light (john 1:1,2)

  2. Gen1: 6-20 Ordering (physics/ chemistry/ biology, botany /cosmology), Christ by the Spirit counteracts chaos

  3. Gen 1:20-31 Life and Love, (living creatures, sociology, psychology, relationships, brotherly love) Christ by the Spirit counteracts desolation and death Rev1:18,

It is the word of God, written by Him using human authors and events as His writing instruments. And it is good for our instruction using all our capabilities and thus this does not imply any sort of restriction to literalism or forcing it to be some kind of science textbook which was never intended when it was written or even very meaningful to those for which it was written.

The inspiration of God pours down in a torrent – so saying it is inspired doesn’t make it special. Being scripture gives it authority according to the words of Jesus – authority for Judaism and Christianity. But Jesus also warns that this is no replacement for God Himself and we must not think that knowing the Bible means we can speak for God. I don’t find the words inerrancy or infallible to be very helpful. But I do think we can trust it to do God’s will in communicating to people according to His intentions.

No. I reject all 5 points of TULIP Calvinism and cannot support the Articles of Remonstrance by Arminius either. But I am an incompatibilist libertarian – believing in free will, though I acknowledge free will is hardly universal or guaranteed. On the contrary it is fragile and very much damaged by the self-destructive habits of sin. But I think God works to liberate it sufficiently for us to make a choice.

I am a 5 solas protestant but I am not in any way anti-Catholic since the counter-reformation. I judge myself to be within the full spectrum of Christianity according to the earliest ecumenical councils. But I don’t agree with many of the trends in western Christianity, going with some of the theological positions of the Eastern Orthodox. Since I was not raised Christian and made my own decisions on every theological issue, I am surprised at how orthodox I turned out to be… Trinitarian and not universalist. But I am closer to open theism than Calvinism, Arminianism, or molinism.

Sure God is outside the space-time structure of the physical universe which He created. But the future is a superposition of possibilities and God created the universe for a relationship. So we write the story of what happens together with God. Certainly God can know what will happen whenever He chooses, but doing so would logically preclude His participation in events. So insisting on God’s absolute knowledge of the future is to believe in the Deist sort of God who simply sits back and watches doing nothing… or turns God into being without free will… which is what many theologians do, effectively enslaving God to their theology. I cannot believe in the God of either of these latter options.

Of course I have no problem with John 1:3 and Col 1:15-16, and I see no problem with 1,3,4, and 5. The problem is 2, that the death of Christ is the first cause and essence of creation, replacing God, creator of the universe, with this Christian idea and teaching. I don’t even buy into the western theology of whipping boy penal substitution (exaggerating one Biblical metaphor to the exclusion of the others), nor that the crucifixion was some plan from before the beginning of creation. Nor do I believe the death of Christ was a demand of God, but think it was a demand of sinful human beings. God requires no great magic in order to forgive. The lack is in us not in God. The power of the crucifixion is not blood magic but the revelation of God’s love.

Dunno. There’s lèse-majesté and skeptical theism.

Is that fixation on the Japanese imperial seat?

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I prefer mountain columbine.

Ah, Aquilegism.

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It is also physical death…proof is that Christ died physically on the cross.

I find it interesting that theistic evolution continues to claim this incomplete doctrine about “the wages of sin is death” in order to promote the genesis account of creation as an allegory.
The Bible consistently speaks of both physical and spiritual death as a consequence of sin. We are cutoff from our lifegiver and therefore eventually die…it’s the same as a plant not being watered…it doesn’t immediately die, but it does begin to wither and eventually dies. Same for us.

Thanks for the comment, yes this hypothesis runs us into a unavoidable theodicy and questioning Gods Goodness. But I believe we can reconcile the two…?

Negative creation is presented as the first state followed by positive forming by the word. Negative to positive. darkness then light. If we posit the death of Christ as the essence and necessary precondition for creation we find support for what we may expect to find in reality, entropy, chaos, death, and snakes in gardens, right along side of life, goodness and love present from the beginning. We find a day and night world (but thankfully eschatologically hope of eternal day coming!). Gen 1vs 1-2 is where we can find some scriptural support for the nature of reality as we observe it. Earth and water form clay which God can mold beautiful things but the clay retains its essence. For me this provides a more biblical and logical explanation for the origin of Evil.

So why is the first state negative ? A privation, a wordless creation? Could Christ’s justifying work on the cross have more than soteriological implications? in other words what is the Universal implication of Christs work?
I’m suggesting we have two problems with God, an ontological problem and a moral problem. We require ontological justification due to Gods Holy and infinite Nature and moral justification due to our disobedience. I’m now thinking the “created perfection” or Ontological Pelagianism doctrine has confused and combined two separate issues, ontology and morality, or stated sacramentally Body and Blood.

Hope I’m making sense? Thanks for hanging in there with me!


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It was not clear what you were responding to… but…

I definitely do not believe in lèse-majesté not for any God that I could worship or respect. That sounds more like a devil to me.

But I have employed skeptical theism on occasion so it works for me up to point. I think some of our complaints about the world can indeed be characterized as the childishly inconsistent demands according to inferior understanding of what life requires. After all, I do think the problem of evil is difficult but answerable. But to use such an argument simply to cover up a flawed theology is another matter entirely, and it is definitely not acceptable as an excuse for attributing devil-like characteristics and personality to God. Sounds too much like some religion trying to con us into worshiping the devil.

Why would it depend on you? And maybe he is more majestic and worthy of awe than you can begin to imagine. There might be a few passages that would indicate that. I can imagine you at the burning bush saying “Nah” when told to take off your shoes. :grin:

I’ll just say no.

It sounds likes it’s handy to have a God with custom attributes you choose. :grin: