On Oct. 7, pastors and ministry leaders gathered at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary for the Fall 2015 Talking Points conference. The theme of the conference was “Thy Kingdom Come: An Exploration of New Creation Theology.” A huge thanks to all who attended and helped make it an amazing day. If you missed it, you can download the recordings here.

Our next Talking Points will be a series in the spring called “Everyday Works: Pursuing a Discipleship that Matters,” which applies new creation theology to areas like work, economy, poverty and justice. Hope you can join us!

Here are some notable quotes from the October 7 conference:

Dr. Douglas Moo on “new creation” in the New Testament:

“New creation is Paul’s way of summarizing the unlimited scope of God’s redemptive plan, a plan that ultimately encompasses new heavens and new earth.”

“Romans 8.19-20 is probably the most important single text on the subject [of new creation]. As the context here reveals, Paul brings creation into the picture to make a point about believers. Like the created world in general, believers groan, suffering an eagerly anticipated completion of God’s plan. And like the created world, believers will one day enjoy release from decay…By introducing the created world…Paul makes clear that the cosmic dimension of God’s redemptive work continues to be basic to Christian thinking, just as it should be basic to ours.”

Dr. Cornelius Plantinga on the biblical vision of shalom:

“In many Western forms of Christianity today, the definition of ‘salvation’ is very narrow. You get your sins forgiven, and you go to heaven when you die. But in the Bible salvation is very broad…God isn’t content to save human beings in their individual activities. God wants to save social structures and economic structures too. If the labor management system is corrupt, then it needs to be redeemed. If the health care delivery system reaches only the well to do, then it needs to be reformed. The same goes for hostile relationships of race or gender or class…Everything corrupt needs to be redeemed, and that includes the whole natural world…The whole world belongs to God, the whole world is fallen, and so the whole world needs to be redeemed…In short, ‘salvation’ is a way of spelling ‘shalom.'”

Dr. Michael Wittmer on the significance of “heaven” in Scripture:

“The Bible doesn’t say much about heaven because it’s not the focus…When we die we’re with the Lord, and that’s the part that makes heaven heaven. Heaven by itself is not the point. What makes heaven heaven is that Jesus is there.”

“I think we should stop using the word ‘heaven’ as our final destination. I think that just needlessly confuses people. Jesus is our home, not heaven. The way I think of it is Jesus is our spiritual home, and the earth is our ontological home. Or, to say it another way, earth is where we’re supposed to live, and Jesus is who we’re supposed to live with…Wouldn’t it be great if we could combine the two? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in the end, Jesus actually came here? In Revelation 21.1-3, John says that’s exactly what happens.”

Keith Getty, on the role of music in the Christian life:

“God’s people learn their sense of history, their sense of identity, their understanding of the huge canvas that is the God of revealed Scripture in large part through what they sing—how it commits to memory, how it communicates with our emotions, and how it joins us all in solidarity to declare these things, and indeed, from that, how the Psalms themselves give us the whole spectrum of humanity…Deep believers sing deep things.”

“The ‘holy act’ of congregational singing is just that—it’s the congregation singing….We don’t actually need musicians…what we need are congregations that sing vigorously. Our congregational singing is a witness. It’s not ‘could be a good witness.’ It’s a witness. It’s a witness to something. And that witness might be that my iPhone is more important than what’s going on here. It might be ‘This is something I feel apathetic about,’ or it might be ‘This is something I feel very strongly about.'”

“Ultimately, it is the job of the pastor. The pastor will stand before God someday and say, ‘These are the songs that I put in the congregation’s hearts and souls and mouths and minds and imaginations to help feed them.’ So I think it is an incredible responsibility that each of us have.”

Over the next few weeks, we will continue this conversation about new creation and the Church. We will feature guest posts by two of the speakers and a pastor who attended the conference. They will explore the practical implications of new creation theology for life and ministry.

Join the conversation by adding your comments!

What insight have you gained from studying new creation in Scripture?