Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock has always resonated with me theologically. “We’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden” was her hippy dream at a time when she admitted having a born again Christian experience and believed songwriters were the new prophets from God. Yes. We do need to get back to where it was once good, before it all got tainted by Adam and Eve’s fall.
I spoke about this during a lecture last year and afterwards Desi Alexander (curator of the said lecture) spoke to me of the idea that we shouldn’t be going back to the Garden but heading forward to the New Jerusalem. The theory is that the project God set up in the first chapters of Genesis are fulfilled in spite of the fall in the last chapters of Revelation. The New Jerusalem is what God intended all along, what he set humans in Eden to cultivate as he asks them to do. Interesting I thought, and then Desi gave me his book From Eden To The New Jerusalem (under the name T Desmond Alexander for Amazon searching) and I got to look closer at his thoughts.
I found the book an excellent read. As someone who always needs to know more about The Old Testament there were insights a plenty. Indeed, when brings Christ into the meta-story he even shows his New Testament prowess which might be just a little bit of showing off. I always wish experts would confine themselves to one thing! Desi brings his academia down to a very easy read, well laid out arguments and no unnecessary theological jargon to look good at the Conferences! He delivers a lot of knowledge in very little reading time. Particularly interesting is the dwelling places of God from Eden to The Tabernacle, to the Temple to The Church to ultimately the great hoped for Garden City. Humans redeemed and restored to royal priesthood in that process is fascinating and inspirational.
My only fault would be in some ways a positive. Too rarely does Desi go for modern application. When he does as in his critique of consumerism late in the book, the downsides of capitalism are exposed with plain-speak and challenge. More of the preaching Desi; it cut through!
Christians, for too long, have been caught up in the minutiae and failed to grasp the panoramic perspective of God’s big picture. My students as they graduate wrestle with which job, which Church and which spouse. If they could see the project that as believers they are invited, no commanded to be involved in, the Eden-New Jerusalem blue print would give them the framework to make all those decisions not for momentary selfish Babylonian reasons but for the good of the eternal Kingdom. Guess which book will be found influencing my teaching in the first term of the next academic year.