Continuing from a previous post, teachings of Timothy Keller * The Social Consequences of Sin. . . .

The Bible speaks even more comprehensively (and more mysteriously) about the effects of sin than we have indicated so far. The first and second chapters of Genesis show God speaking the world into being and, almost literally, getting his hands dirty. “And God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). The contrast with all other ancient creation accounts could not be greater.

In most ancient creation accounts, creation is the by product of some kind of war or other act of violence. Virtually never is the creation deliberate and planned. Secular scientific accounts of the origin of things are, interestingly, almost identical to the older pagan ones. The physical shape of the world as well as the biological life is the product of violent forces.

Unique among the creation accounts, the Bible depicts a world that is brimming with dynamic, abundant forms of life that are perfectly interwoven, interdependent, and mutually enhancing and enriching, The Creator’s response to this is delight. He keeps repeating that it is good. When he creates human beings he instructs them to continue to and draw out the vast resources of creation like a gardener does in a garden.“Go keep this going,” the Creator seems to be saying in Genesis 1:28, “Have a Ball!”15

The Hebrew word for this perfect, harmonious interdependence among all parts of creation is called shalom. We translate it as “peace,” but the English word is basically negative, referring to the absence of trouble and hostility. The Hebrew word means much more than that. It means absolute wholeness—full, harmonious, joyful, flourishing life.

The devastating loss of shalom through sin is described in Genesis 3. We are told that as soon as we determine to serve ourselves instead of God—as soon as we abandoned living for and enjoying God as our highest good—the entire created world became broken. Human beings are so integral to the fabric of things that when human beings turned from God the entire warp and woof of the world unraveled. Disease, genetic disorders, famine, natural disasters, aging, and death itself are as much the result of sin as are oppression, war, crime, and violence. We have lost God’s shalom—physically, spiritually, socially, psychologically, culturally. Things now fall apart. In Romans 8, Paul says that the entire world is now “in bondage to decay” and “subject to futility” and will not be put right until we are put right. ~Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (Penguin Books: 2008, 2018) p. 176-77.

(Next. . . “What Will Put it Right?”)

(Posts with a preamble asterisk * are for a more general audience and not specific to teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

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