Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sub Specie Aeternitatis and Bill Johnson's Theology

Linda and I left Green Lake Conference Center this morning after an extremely rich week spent with Bill Johnson and Kris Valloton of Bethel Church in Redding, California.

Bill is the author of When Heaven Invades Earth. I found him to be an extremely effective communicator and very inspirational. I’ll spend the coming weeks processing and digesting the things God spoke to me through Bill and Kris.

Here’s, for me, the major theme of last week: as followers of Jesus we are to advance the Kingdom of God, push back the powers of darkness, heal the sick, release persons from demonic captivity, and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom. What especially allows us to do this is the reality that being truly born again spiritually transforms us from earth to heaven. We now have Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

For example, when Jesus calms the storm on the lake of Galilee the reason he is calm in that storm is that, spiritually, Jesus is living in a non-earthly realm; viz., “heaven” or eternity. Medieval theologians would say tat we need to see sub specie aeternitatis, or “from the perspective of eternity. Thomas Kelly, in A Testament of Devotion (a spectacular book!), taught us to pray “see earth, through heaven.” When we, as followers of Jesus, see sub specie aeternitatis, the things of earth are seen “from heaven.” One main result of this kind of spiritual seeing is that fear of earthly consequences would be non-existent.

The medieval reference and the Kelly quote are mine, not Bill Johnson’s. My familiarity with this kind of seeing allows me to relate some historical things to Johnson’s contemporary interpretation.

Familiarity with this theme in Johnson’s theology makes sense of his approach to healing, which is: our spiritual situatedness in eternity (=, for me, dwelling in the presence of God + a variety of other biblical metaphors of spirit) is brought to bear on earthly illnesses.

I hope to take time to piece together my own understanding of such things with Bill’s approach to healing. In the meantime, I much appreciated him and Kris as persons and am thankful for their ministry, which strikes me as quite Real-Jesuslike.