Even within the “semi-deist” version of Evolutionary Creation, the Resurrection of our Lord holds a special place as an example (in some cases the only example) of a true miracle within an otherwise “natural” creation. But the Resurrection isn’t actually a miracle at all.
When miracles are introduced into the origins discussion, the word can sometimes (and improperly) be taken as a generic term covering any “intervention” of God into an otherwise autonomous natural order. In this way, any version of “special creation” is often regarded as illegitimate “miraculous” interference with God’s own laws.
On the other hand, the more precise and correct usage of the word “miracle”, as a “wonder” somehow outside the course of nature and with spiritual significance, is often given more leeway. God might, indeed, do special works for the sake of mankind, in order to lead them to faith.
Sometimes this is a grudging concession within a largely naturalistic worldview – hence R J Russell’s term “semi-deism”: the world runs “naturally” – but God might do miracles. Excessively rarely. Maybe. Modern miracles may therefore be largely attributed a priori to delusion or enthusiasm, by a kind of scientistic cessationism. Even biblical miracles may be put down to apostolic wishful-thinking or the early Church’s weaving of legends. But the Resurrection is different, if only because it is the historic touchstone of Christian faith.
But actually, it is wrong to look at the raising of Jesus as an exception to the way God normally runs the world. In fact, it is instead the first example – the first data if you like – of the new order that God is bringing into the entire cosmos through the Kingdom. What Jesus delivered, through the resurrection, was a down-payment on what is destined to become universal throughout Creation, and it’s no less than a new set of “laws of nature” to replace the old set (that which we study through science) altogether.
Paul describes this as the “pneumatikos” replacing the “psuchikos” – as N T Wright helpfully describes it, is is the spirit-powered cosmos as opposed to the physically-powered cosmos. It is the permanent and complete replacement of “physics” (and all the sciences that rely on it) with the spiritual, and it began with the Resurrection.
In Jesus, this new order is seen in his changed appearance, despite the persistence of his wounds; his ability to appear in locked rooms or travel quickly over large distances, yet eat normal food; his ability to live, in the body, in the very presence of God in heaven up to this very day, and yet to appear on earth to Paul (at least); and to govern and sustain the whole creation as he also directs the course of his Church through history. In the order of the “pneumatikos“, every one of the billions of born-again believers is in spiritual union with this resurrected God-man, and knows him as Lord through a supernatural faith.
The process of the transformation of the physically-powered into the spiritually-powered, we are told, continues (though invisibly) with each new person who becomes part of the Kingdom: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”. The process overall is gradualistic but pervasive – it’s the mustard seed that grows until it becomes the greatest tree, or the yeast that leavens the whole lump, or the mountain that grows until it fills the whole earth.
The promised second coming of Christ, then, will be neither an event within the continuation of the old natural order, nor even a future transformation which can be ignored by us for practical purposes. It will instead be the completion of a cosmic re-ordering that began on this Easter Day three days and nights after the Crucifixion, and that continues apace until the definitive “changeover” point when the old standard is finally replaced with the new: the old coinage goes out of circulation: but the new is already extant.
With that in mind, maybe our meditation this Easter should include the question of how much our worldview makes room for the presence of this new kind of “nature” developing in our midst, and whether we’re too interested in studying the obsolete old order to be sufficiently aware of it.
Resurrection blessings to all our readers.