Monday, January 19, 2009

Away with asceticism!

"An ascetic lifestyle predicated upon the notion of an evil body or material world is inconsistent with the Old Testament’s affirmation of the goodness of God’s world, its bounty, and the joy it brings the heart (e.g., Ps 104:15; Eccl 3:12–13; Jer 31:10–14). It is thus an insult to the “Creator of heaven and earth” (Gen 14:19, 22). Gnosticism taught that the material world was inherently evil.136 But Paul opposed such heterodoxy at Ephesus by appealing to God’s “good” creation as evidence that all foods were lawful (1 Tim 4:4; also Rom 14:14). Christian tradition recognizes that the material world is distorted by the aftermath of human sin, but it also affirms that it was not always so; the “earth” remains the salvific object of God’s desires, and for the Christian it is subject to the eschatological dominion of the “new creation” entered by faith."

K. A. Mathews, vol. 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1995), 147.