*from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim
Three chapters left. The last third of the book is notes. Philosophizing without application isn't worth much, is it. Here is chapter 6 "Creation, Judgment, and Salvation in the Prophets." Not sure I'm understanding of how relational creation theology differs from the way most of the church thinks. Not sure I understand how the application of such thinking would differ from the way live now.
I'm reading, reading, reading and I say, "He keeps saying the same things over and over."
Then I realize that he (the author) is systematically examining creation and relational theology in the Old Testament section by section. If he's finding the same basic understandings over and over as he goes book by book (or section by section) then we probably need to pay attention.
In this section he looks at the prophets (especially Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos).
He asks if natural disaster is linked to God's judgement. He looks at different definitions or understandings about judgement.
This is interesting: He says, "If, for example judgement is only or primarily a spiritual matter, then the healing of the body or the environment will tend not to be comprehended within the understanding of salvation." (p. 159) He suggests that salvation includes the healing of body and land. To me this adds to the meaning of Jesus' healing men and women as He forgave them, but that's NT.
"God's judgement is never simply justice." He reminds us that "God is much too lenient. God is patient, forbearing, and 'slow to anger' (e.g.,Jonah 4:2), and open to changing the divine mind-- both before and after (!) the judgement has been exercised. (e.g., Jonah 3:8-10)." (p. 159) Rethink your understanding of God as judge.
He speaks of judgement when a relationship is at stake. (p. 159) He draws our attention to the fact that God is not an independent, objective observer or representative. He is bound to what He has made. He grieves, He gets angry, He expresses remorse and anguish. The author says, "When thinking of God as judge remember that the judge behind the bench is the spouse of the accused in the dock." (p. 160)
"The world of nature is also caught up in divine judgement through no fault of its own. . .a further testimony to the interconnectedness of life...moral order affects the cosmic order..." (p. 160)
God used Nebuchadnezzar to judge and Cyrus to deliver - neither was a member of His chosen people. God used the Red Sea, natural phenomena (plagues) and foreign armies. (p. 161)
The author talks about sin and consequence. He says history teaches us about consequence but "God's salvific will remains intact in everything, and God's gracious concern is always for the best; but in a given situation the best that God may be able to offer is burning the chaff to fertilize the field for a new crop." (p. 165)
"God's creation is at stake in Israel's behaviors, not simply their more specific relationship with God." (p. 165) It's not just about me & God. It's not just about God and Israel - God's redemptive, salvific intent is much bigger.
Our purpose, the consequences of our actions are more far-reaching than we realize - past, present, and future.
The author references "oracles against the nations" again reminding us that God is Creator. He is the God of all flesh. (Jeremiah 32:27)
The author draws our attention to "creation language . . . used to interpret redemptive events and not the other way around" and relational language as it pertains to God, Man, Israel, nations, (all of our actions), and the Living and Non-living natural world - all inter-related, inter-dependent (more Hebraic than Greco-Roman)
He ends the chapter "It is important to be clear, however , that this text does not speak of a return to Eden. The most fundamental difference from Eden is that this new covenant does not have the possibility of being undercut by human failure; that cycle will never be repeated." He references Isaiah 32:15-18, 20.