This week I’ve been caught up in an idea. The article above has perhaps unintentionally given me a new tool in my theological toolbox. The author uses the word “cosmology” in a new way – at least for me. He talks about the cosmology of Christianity.
Now cosmology is the study of the origin of the universe. We have gone through many different cosmologies in the history of science and the field (much like the universe!) is continually expanding. However today most agree it starts with the Big Bang and proceeds from there.
In Christianity (not Christendom and there is a difference) the Big Bang would be Jesus Christ – his birth, life, death and resurrection. This event lasted longer than the Big Bang obviously, but this is the place where it was formed. Some might argue that Christianity started with the formation of the universe and I can see that viewpoint. After all, did God not create all of space and time? But I postulate that Jesus was Christianity's Big Bang.
After the Big Bang, within nanoseconds, much of the universe was set into existence. Within nanoseconds, the constant Pi was set to be 3.14 and so forth. With different initial conditions, Pi just as well could have been set to 3.16…. And our universe would be different. All of our constants would be different – Pi, Phi, e, square root of 2, i, the speed of light and so forth. Mathematically all of them are related. If you change one, you change the others. And another idea – all mathematical constants are somehow inside all the others. They are intricately linked. The mystery of Pi is that it somehow contains the universe, but I digress.
If there is such a thing as a cosmology of Christianity and Jesus is our Big Bang, then our constants would be our essential doctrines and all of them are intricately linked together. There are lists of such things and if you hold to all of them, then you are called “Orthodox.” All flavors of Christianity have them in common – and they all start with Jesus. (And I am NOT going to go down rabbit trails at this point debating what is and is not essential on this list, but needless to say there are commonalities.)
And just as mathematicians might have one favorite mathematical constant (mine is Phi or the golden ratio -- yes mathematicians are weird) then people might have their favorite doctrine. Each of us comes to the journey from a different place and will each walk a different path. I asked various people what they thought was the most essential doctrine of Christianity outside of the person of Christ and I received different answers.
One of my daughters said, “Forgiveness.” There’s a lot packed in that one word – enough to write entire books about. One of my friends said, “The Law of Love.” She meant the statement, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, minds, soul and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Another said, “Imago Dei” or the Image of God from which we were created. For me it’s actually the concept of the Trinity – the fact that God exists as a network of relationships and we have been invited into that relationship.
For the author of this article, it’s the church being the Bride of Christ. Now from each of our own favorite doctrines we get a certain spin or twist on our faith. For me, since God is actually a network of relationships, I feel that relationships are very important, almost primary in the way that I deal with this world. For someone who answered Forgiveness, then forgiving and being forgiven is primary. And so forth.
If your starting point is the church being the Bride of Christ – well there are many very interesting places you can go with this and I’ll talk about that tomorrow…..