Twas a Tale of Two Falls

A theological poem using the rhyme scheme known as anapaestic tetrameter found in Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Illustration for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost“ by Gustave Doré

Twas before the beginning when God formed a plan
to create heavens and earth and even a man.
Before earth’s big debut, there was a prior start.
The angels were created and given a part.
Praising the Ancient One in His glorious light. 
The winged creatures serve Him all day, there’s never night.

But wait. How can we know the order of these things?
Can angels rejoice before they’re made by the King?
For eternity has no before or after.
It’s one endless now without former or latter.
Now, if time is the space that’s between two events, 
then to order them ask: when did the clock commence?
Before earth and sky are spoken into being,
what else can give things chronological meaning?

Let’s go back to the start before our inception 
when angels were pure and were without deception.

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Ancient Theologians weigh in on Genesis: Basil’s reflections on creation (part 4)

This post is part of a series looking at Basil’s views on the creation account in Genesis. If you have not already read it, I recommend starting with part 1.

In the last post we looked at Basil’s homilies as they related to the makeup of the universe. Basil accepted the idea that the cosmos was made up of 5 elements and correlated the heavens, earth and water in the first few verses of the account to them. In this post we will continue to explore how Basil explained the creation account in Genesis with the “science” of his day.

Is the Universe eternal?

One characteristic of the universe that was commonly held during the fourth century was that the universe has always existed and always will exist. Basil describes some philosophers as those “who have imagined that the world co-existed with God from all eternity”. Others he describes as atheists that see the universe as “conceived by chance and without reason”.

Basil rejected any view of the universe that suggested it was eternal or created by chance. He strongly argued that the universe was created by God and thus had a beginning as well as a purpose.

He first establishes a beginning, so that it might not be supposed that the world never had a beginning. … [The Creator] needed only the impulse of His will to bring the immensities of the visible world into being. …

Do not then imagine, O man! That the visible world is without a beginning … do not vainly imagine to yourselves that the world has neither beginning nor end. … In the beginning God made. That which was begun in time is condemned to come to an end in time. If there has been a beginning do not doubt of the end.

Homily I

Basil is careful to elaborate on “the beginning” as referring only to the “visible world” and not the “invisible world”. The former would be the universe in which we dwell and the latter is the abode of angels which is “outstripping the limits of time” and existed before the “beginning”.

The purpose of the visible world was a place to train the souls of men who were mortal.

To this world (referring to the abode of angels) at last it was necessary to add a new world, both a school and training place where the souls of men should be taught and a home for beings destined to be born and to die.

Basil astutely notes that time, itself, was among the things created “in the beginning”.

In the beginning God created; that is to say, in the beginning of time. 

Thus was created … the succession of time, for ever pressing on and passing away and never stopping in its course. Is not this the nature of time, where the past is no more, the future does not exist, and the present escapes before being recognized?

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Have you understood the Expanse? How the Lord might answer Job today

At the end of the epic poem Job the Lord answers the main character Job with a series of questions that help establish his perspective on his Creator.

Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.

Job 38:18 (NASB95)

In chapters 40 and 41 he asks Job to consider the Behemoth and the Leviathan which seem to be large creatures that we could equate with “pre-historic” dinosaurs like the Brachiosaurus and the Mosasaurus (made famous in Jurassic Park).

In the intervening millennia, we may not be able to behold the Behemoth nor the Leviathan as it seems Job was. However, we have been afforded the great privilege of living during a time of great discoveries about the universe. What we are able to behold is perhaps even more incredible than these creatures were.

Living in the Bronze Age, Job would have had a very limited understanding of the universe. For most of mankind’s existence the universe was viewed as a relatively small place with the earth at the center surrounded by the sun, moon and stars. This general understanding prevailed (under the models proposed by Aristotle and Ptolemy) until the 17th century. Did you know that it wasn’t until the early 20th century that we were able to establish that the universe was larger than the Milky Way galaxy? With incredible advances in telescopes and the ability to send probes into space we are able to see and study the universe in ways unimaginable even 100 years ago.

This got me thinking. How might the Lord respond to a person today that struggles with the problems of evil, justice and the vastness of the universe. This exploration relies on various scriptures and replaces the Behemoth and the Leviathan with some of the majestic images from the farthest reaches of the universe.

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