Article for Baptist Times March 2015

What if Eve… had said no?

When was the last time you read Genesis? I mean, really read it. Not just to know what it says, but to wonder and meditate about what is stored up behind those brief lines? The last time your imagination flew you up to glimpse behind the scenes?

Eden. Paradise. The state to which, we are promised, we will one day return. The day when the lion will lie down again with the lamb, the day we will see Him face-to-face, clearly, and fling ourselves into our Abba’s arms: the day that perfect Relationship will be restored? True joy, true beauty, true wholeness.

Because that’s what they had, isn’t it, according to the Bible? Before it they threw it away, for themselves and for each one of us. So what was it like? What will it be like, when thanks to that one sacrifice that transcends words and history, we are restored to it? And how can we possibly catch that glimpse? After all, the Bible tells us that when Adam and Eve fell, as the first of all humanity, and lords of the world, they dragged with them the entirety of Creation placed under their hand. Only God was left unstained and unfallen: and He’s notoriously hard to interview.

So in Eden Undone a simple question (“what if Eve… had said no?”) leads us to a parable which perhaps permits us to catch such a glimpse. Because if evil had failed at its first attempt, then would it truly have simply given up? That’s what CS Lewis posits in Perelandra: his Venusians can look forward to a future of wise innocence and everlasting purity. But what if Eve saying “no” were not simply the end of the matter? What if evil continued until it found the “right” pressure point to warp someone? Because by then, if Genesis be literal, any Fall would no longer affect the entirety of Creation. The source point – Adam and Eve – would have branched by then. And so only those descended from and under the rule of the sinning branch would have fallen to the stain. There would still be a remnant of the Unfallen who were not under the authority of the sinners, and who would therefore still have shared God’s heart and mind and intimacy… and still have mirrored Him.

I wondered… how would those two populations, fallen and unfallen, have reacted and interacted? And by exploring that, would we, could we, I wondered, better understand how, for example, our own Adam and Eve could have travelled in a single generation from Paradise to murder? We read that it was not until the birth of their grandson that they started calling upon the name of the LORD – why? Surely they of all people truly knew who God was – what on earth could possibly lead to such a long sulk? The answers, I feel, resonate throughout the ages, for they mirror our relationships then and now: with God, and with each other. And through it all, above it all, I believe we also capture a glimpse of God’s relationship with us. He is the same yesterday, today, forever: Jesus tells us He is our loving Daddy. We have a phenomenal track record of messing things up: but He remains the same yesterday, today, forever…

Eden Undone, of course, is not a theological treatise. It is simply a parable, a fiction novel, enjoyable by young and old (its youngest reader whom I know of was 8, I believe: its oldest reader so far, 95…) It takes as its starting point the assumption-for-the-sake-of-argument that Genesis is literal, and then asks how? Why? What if?
And the result is that, like CS Lewis’ Narnia series, or Wm Paul Young’s The Shack, it is unabashedly Christian, yet so gentle that even fervent atheists have discovered to their astonishment that they enjoyed it… and were left rethinking their convictions.

It is a tale of sin and grace, laughter and tears. It is whimsical and thought-provoking, funny and tragic, gentle and powerful. I hope you will be truly blessed by it – and look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

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