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"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

James Skillen's new book: God's Sabbath with Creation

James Skillen has a new book published by Wipf &Stock:


God’s Sabbath with Creation: Vocations Fulfilled, the Glory Unveiled
Wipf & Stock, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers
ISBN 978-1-5326-5949-2 / paperback / $35

Full details are here

Jim was interviewed as part of the book launch - with Jim's permission I've reposted it here.


1. What do you offer in this book?
First, I am showing, on a biblical basis, that human responsibilities in this age matter for the age to come. Second, I’m presenting a distinct interpretation of Genesis 1-2 as the story of God’s days, which encompass all of creation from beginning to fulfillment. The text is not first about the “beginning of time.” Third, the book is a biblical, covenantal interpretation of the unfolding of God’s disclosure of creation’s meaning, all the way to God’s sabbath with creation. That climactic sabbath will include the full disclosure of the Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ, whose work will be finished only when he comes again in final judgment and redemptive reconciliation. That will be the the time of God’s sabbath rest (the seventh day of creation) when humans will rest from their labors in God’s rest (see Heb. 4).

2. What is the audience for your book?
Any educated person with an interest in the Bible, in the meaning of creation, and the meaning of human life should find this book rewarding. Among such “educated persons,” those who will have special interest are seminary and university professors, pastors, and students who work in areas of biblical studies, theology, ethics, and pastoral care. The book deals with serious matters in a serious way, but it is not written for experts alone. One need not have a seminary or graduate school education to read it with profit.

3. How is the book structured and how does it progress?
First of all, the book shows my dependence on, and interaction with, a large number of authors in diverse areas of life. I have chosen three authors in particular as interlocutors with whom I converse throughout the book: N.T. Wright, Jurgen Moltmann, and Abraham Kuyper. They are introduced in the Preface.

The book has seven main sections, each containing 4 or 5 relatively short chapters. Part 1 develops the primary interpretive argument of the seven days of God’s creation. Part 2 looks closely at four of creation’s “revelatory patterns”: honor and hospitality, commission towards commendation, revelation in anticipation, and covenant for community. Part 3 presents an overview of the developing and cumulative disclosure of God’s covenantal bond with the human genertaions. Part 4 deals with the relation of the first Adam to the Last Adam. Part 5 takes up the peculiar biblical duality of the “already” and the “not yet” of the revelation of Christ and the coming of God’s kingdom. Part 6 shines new light on the relation of God’s covenant with Israel to the new covenant in Christ. And in the light of all that has been presented up to this point, Part 7 addresses questions about how we should live as followers of the Way, the Truth, and Life.

4. What led you to write this book?
Early in my college years I began to ask what it means to be human. I was not satisfied that traditional Christian liturgies, confessions, and theologies in which I had been raised offered enough to provide an answer. Serious and prolonged study of the Bible (including a seminary degree) and pursuit of my vocations in marriage, family, citizenship, teaching, and more led me to realize that Jesus is not first of all the savior of sinners, and humans are not first of all sinners. The incarnate savior is first of all the one through whom all things are created and hang together, and humans are first of all the creature made in the image of God to be the chief stewards, priests, and governors of creation. Therefore the sin-and-salvation story of the Bible needs to be located more firmly and comprehensively in what the Bible tells us about creation, human vocations, and God’s purposes and goal for creation. Fifty years of studying, teaching, and service in the political arena, have driven me to the completion of this volume.

5. What is your education and experience that grounds the book?
My early questions about “the meaning of life” led me to major in philosophy at Wheaton College, from which I graduated in 1966. Next was a three-year seminary degree at Westminster Theological Seminary where I studied Hebrew and Greek as part of the basic curriculum. My wife and I then traveled to The Netherlands where I studied philosophy for a year and where I became interested in Dutch politics and government. In 1970, we returned to the States where I completed my PhD at Duke University (1974), majoring in political philosophy, comparative politics, international relations, and Christian ethics.

My education after the Duke Years was in the trenches of college teaching, the birth and growth of our two children, and becoming involved in the founding of a civic education and research organization, the Center for Public Justice, which I directed full time from 1981 to 2009. Through the work of that center, I traveled throughout the country and to many parts of the world—east, west, and south—participating in conferences, learning about the multiple vocations of countless people in many different countries.

6. What impact do you hope your book will have?
My primary hope is that people of Christian faith will be inspired to join with others in reflecting on the importance of their earthly vocations and to change their view of life and their daily habits to pursue their calling to follow Jesus in faith, hope, and love. Of course, I hope that many university and seminary professors will engage the book in their classrooms and that graduate students in biblical studies, theology, ethics, politics, and many other fields will take on one or more of the theses in the book when writing their theses. And most important of all, I hope that pastors will look at and preach from the Bible in new ways, having read this book, and that many adult Bible-study groups will read and discuss it.

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