I think a lot of the discussion is very healthy. I think it is very beneficial to understand the world in the creation/fall/redemption/consummation framework. And I do believe all of creation including our cities and our jobs and everything else is going to be completely restored when Jesus comes back. We should not view the world as a sinking ship where our role is just to save as many souls as possible before it all burns. So I do agree that it is helpful to have these conversations and understand these ideas.
However, the problem is when there is an over-emphasis on the restoration of creation to the neglect of the glory of God shown in the salvation of the elect through the work of Christ on the cross. I like what Greg Gilbert said in an article over at 9Marks.
"Time after time, in book after book coming off of Christian presses, the highest excitement and joy is being ignited by something other than the sin-bearing work of Christ on the cross, and the most fervent appeals are for people to join God in doing this or that, rather than to repent and believe. In the process, the story of the gospel is made to be (deliberately or not) rather cross-less. That's one dangerous problem.Does anyone else feel like this is a topic being talked about a lot lately? What are your thoughts?
Another problem is not so much the shunting of the cross out of the center, as the remaking of it into something other than the substitutionary, wrath-bearing death of the Savior in the place of sinners for their sins. Thus Jesus’ death is often said to be the result of human evil or greed or power-lust or culture-making or any number of other things coming to their lowest, worst, most concentrated point and killing Jesus, who then conquers that worst-of-all-evils through his resurrection.
Don Carson hit on this in a blog-post some time ago when he wrote that,'In recent years it has become popular to sketch the Bible's story-line something like this: Ever since the fall, God has been active to reverse the effects of sin. He takes action to limit sin's damage; he calls out a new nation, the Israelites, to mediate his teaching and his grace to others; he promises that one day he will come as the promised Davidic king to overthrow sin and death and all their wretched effects. This is what Jesus does: he conquers death, inaugurates the kingdom of righteousness, and calls his followers to live out that righteousness now in prospect of the consummation still to come.'Carson calls this presentation of the Bible’s narrative 'painfully reductionistic,' and he’s right. There is no understanding here (explicit understanding, anyway) that sin is an offense against God rather than just an unfortunate circumstance humans have brought on themselves. There’s no sense of Jesus standing in the place of sinners to take the punishment that rightly should fall upon them. And for that matter, there’s no sense that there’s any punishment involved at all---just consequences. No divine wrath, just bad results. In other words, such a presentation of the gospel essentially leaves out of the meaning of the cross exactly what the Bible makes central to it: A) that Jesus was dying in the place of his people, and B) that on the cross he endured punishment for their sin (not just the results of it—the punishment for it), meted out by God the Father in his righteous wrath."