I’m sometimes asked why The Behemoth has so many history articles in it. “I thought this was mostly a science and nature magazine,” someone said. Another counseled that if we wanted to evoke awe and wonder, it’s a lot easier to do it without doing a lot on the social sciences, since the effects of brokenness and sin get in the way.
They’re right; we do a lot of science and nature here. But we also do a lot of looking at human stories. And this past week, Pope Francis helped to explain why.
“In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word creation has a broader meaning than nature, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance,” he wrote. “Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion. … The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion. Creation is of the order of love.”
One of the key themes of Francis’ encyclical is that talking about creation rather than nature reminds us that we are part of that creation—that human history is part of the history of “our common home,” pointing to its ultimate goal.
“The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things,” Francis wrote. “[A]ll creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.”
That journey back to our life in God, leading others along with us, is a theme that emerges in both our lead story on invisibility and our profile of Hudson Taylor (which we’re publishing to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of his China Inland Mission, now OMF, this week).
Wonderfully, that feeling of awe we experience in seeing a majestic creature or hearing a heroic story will not end once we reach our destination. As Francis notes, “Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all.”
I can’t wait.
—Ted Olsen, co-editor
The Behemoth is a small magazine about a big God and his big world. From the editors of Christianity Today, these articles aim to help people behold the glory of God all around them, in the worlds of science, history, theology, medicine, sociology, Bible, and personal narrative.
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- How to Become Invisible
Scientists are working harder than ever to help us disappear. But maybe Christians already have. /
- ‘Prayed for 24 Willing, Skillful Laborers’
150 years ago this week, Hudson Taylor launched one of the greatest missionary endeavors in church history amid despair and euphoric faith. /
- The Beginning of All Serious Thought
One’s every encounter with the world has always been an encounter with an enigma that no merely physical explanation can resolve. /
- Forty Years
‘That summer sojourn, / forty years gone’ /
- Wonder on the Web
Issue 25: Links to amazing stuff. /
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