“the whole world in its interconnectedness”

figura dos corpos celestes - velho

Bartolomeu Velho, ‘Figura dos corpos celestes’

After proclaiming Christ as “the Savior of the whole person and the whole world,” Bavinck discusses how special revelation is aimed at exactly this. Another chunk from his Reformed Dogmatics (1.346):

Clearly emerging from all this, finally, is the purpose of special revelation. The final goal again is God himself, for he can never come to an end in creation but can only rest in himself. God reveals himself for his own sake: to delight in the glorification of his own attributes. But on the journey toward this final end we do after all encounter the creature, particularly the human being, who serves as instrument to bring to manifestation the glory of God’s name before the eyes of God. Precisely in order to reach this final goal, the glorification of God’s name, special revelation must strive to the end of re-creating the whole person after God’s image and likeness and thus to transform that person into a mirror of God’s attributes and perfections. Hence the object of revelation cannot only be to teach human beings, to illuminate their intellects (rationalism), or to prompt them to practice virtue (moralism), or to arouse religious sensations in them (mysticism). God’s aim in special revelation is both much deeper and reaches much farther. It is none other than to redeem human beings in their totality of body and soul with all their capacities and powers; to redeem not only individual, isolated human beings but humanity as an organic whole. Finally, the goal is to redeem not just humanity apart from all the other creatures but along with humanity to wrest heaven and earth, in a word, the whole world in its organic interconnectedness, from the power of sin and again to cause the glory of God to shine forth from every creature. Sin has spoiled and destroyed everything: the intellect and the will, the ethical and the physical world. Accordingly, it is the whole person and the whole cosmos at whose salvation and restoration God is aiming in his revelation. God’s revelation, therefore, is certainly soteriological, but the object of that salvation (σωτηρία) is the cosmos, and not only the ethical or the will to the exclusion of the somatic and physical, but everything in conjunction. For God has consigned all human beings under sin that he might have mercy upon all (Rom. 5:15f; 11:32; Gal. 3:22).

He later circles back on this theme and puts it more succinctly:

Included in objective revelation, i.e., in the person of Christ and in Scripture as his word, is everything human beings need to know God and to serve him. The revelation of God was completed in Christ and recorded with complete adequacy in Scripture. But this revelation in Christ and in his Word is a means, not an end. The end is the creation of a new humanity, which will fully unfold the image of God. Therefore the whole revelation must be transmitted from Christ to the church, from Scripture to the [believer’s] consciousness. God seeks a dwelling place in humanity (1.588).

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