Creation, Fall, Judgment, Redemption

If you haven’t heard already, these days even many Reformed theologians are jumping in head over heels to sing the glories of “Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration.”  CFRR theology (yes, I made that term up) has several enjoyable, even biblical, qualities:

  • It accurately sums up a good portion of the Bible’s storyline.
  • It focuses on God’s saving action over against the ravages of sin.
  • It puts the focus explicitly on God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .sort of, as we’ll see . . .

But for all that CFRR brings to the table, saying that it accurately sums up the biblical narrative and all that, it removes something very important: judgment.  You see, when CFRR goes straight from the fall to redemption to restoration, it intentionally omits God’s judgment.  This move is deceptive and devastating for at least five reasons:

  1. It reduces “the fall” to simply man-centered ramifications – loss of God, loss of self, loss of creation, loss of community – and totally negates the biggest effect – God is justly angry at us!
  2. In other words, it turns sin into a man-centered problem.
  3. It minimizes God’s “negative” action against sin, that is, holy wrath.
  4. It subtly exchanges the truth of the perfect character of God for the lie of the “it’s-all-good” god.
  5. It loses a giant portion of Scripture in the process (think: all the prophets).

To sum up, too many Reformed theologians, in an effort to join arms with more modern types, have moved toward CFRR theology without careful reflection on its premises.  When CFRR dismisses God’s past judgment, it minimizes His final judgment.  When CFRR hides God’s holy wrath against sinners themselves, it reduces His holy wrath against His Son in exchange for sinners.  When CFRR focuses solely on the lighter side of God’s grace, it loses the true meaning of God’s grace altogether.

“Behold, then, the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”  Romans 11:22


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

2 Responses to Creation, Fall, Judgment, Redemption

  1. Bruce Ashford says:

    Britt, hi. I’m wondering who of the CFRR theologians leave out judgment? The ones I’ve read (and I treat the biblical narrative under that rubric) do not do so. The last plot move (sometimes termed restoration, but other times consummation or new creation) includes both final salvation and final judgment. Who are you talking about?

    • B Treece says:

      Bruce, thanks for dropping by, reading, and commenting. I’m thankful for your sharpening feedback, because I probably didn’t explain my concerns clearly enough. My concern would be not that judgment is excluded (although with people like Keller, it’s hard to discern at all), but that it is minimized. Judgment is so prevalent in the Bible, it seems that it deserves more than a cursory treatment.

      These are just my observations, but in the classes I’ve sat in (yours included) and the books I’ve read, CFRR theologians seem to be overly concerned with only the positive nature of the new creation (final salvation). You said it yourself, “The last plot move . . . includes final salvation and final judgment,” but that’s not the story of the Bible. The story of the Bible is both that God is judging sin and saving sinners all along. My whole point was that we need both – both emphasized, both clarifying the other, and both for the gospel.

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