Cosmic Christ and Cosmic Salvation

(PG)

In some of the later Pauline Epistles like Colossians, in Hebrews, and pre-eminently in the Johannine Prologue, one encounters the biblical view that the Cosmos (a) came to be through Christ, (b) subsists in Christ, and (c) will be reconciled and subdued by Christ.

This undoubtedly means that the Incarnation of Christ has positive significance not only for the Christian Community, but also for the rest of Creation. The various levels at which this cosmic salvation is effective are only hinted at in the New Testament. More explicit is Psalm 104 where Yahweh declares his purpose for the whole of creation. Hebrews 2:5ff. corrects the Old Testament idea that the nations are under the control of the angels of the nations, and affirms that they are now "put under the feet" of Christ; the Epistle admits that "we do not now see that all things have submitted to him (to Man), but we see Jesus", who having tasted death, has risen and ascended to heaven, and rules the whole creation as an incarnate human person, who in the new Adam through whom Godís dominion over the creation is exercised.

In Colossians 2:9ff. we are told that Christ reigns over all the powers of the cosmos, that everything is fulfilled and consummated in Christ. He is the first born of the new creation. He thus participates with the members of his body in the new creation and rules over it. This new creation of a new heaven and a new earth and Christís rule over it is what we have called the Cosmic Christ and Cosmic Salvation. It means, as St. Paul says in Romans 8. 21 ff. that the whole of creation is to be liberated from its present enslavement to death and disintegration, sharing in the qualities of the resurrected bodies of the sons and daughters of God. This is the positive significance of the present "groaning" of creation, agonizing for this liberation, which is linked to the liberation of human beings from the slavery of death.

If the creation is thus to be redeemed along with human beings, then its value is certainly not merely temporal or instrumental. But what needs to be clarified is the various levels at which this cosmic salvation is experienced by the various levels of being in the earth:

(a) Christians - consciously acknowledging Christ

(b) humanity as a whole - being transformed by values derived from Christ

(c) animals and plants - experiencing the redemption in a manner as yet unknown to us

(d) in organic matter - dancing its own rhythm, waiting for the redemption which will reconstitute it.

All this should "be understood, however in the light of three other Ďactors :

(a) the powers of darkness which militate against Christís dominium still operating;

(b) the suffering of Man, the groaning of Creation, and theí groaning of God; and

(c) the "day" of Judgment which will test everything with "fire", redemption being effected only through death, resurrection and judgment.