Creation and Its Competitors
- I. Why Call God Creator?
Nicene Creed: God is "maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible
- Creation names God as the universe's
- "all things ... invisible":
creation is a faith claim (Heb. 11:3)
- Father creates through Son, by Spirit
(Gen. 1, Ps. 33:6, John 1, Col. 1, Irenaeus, creeds)
So creation is not about showing the explanatory inadequacy of science (e.g.,
evolution), but envisioning the universe in terms of God
- II. "formless and void"
(Gen. 1:2): creatio prima/immediata
- God caused the universe from nothing
(creatio ex nihilo: Gen. 1:1-2, Gen. 2:4b-6)
- Apart from creation, God was and
- Alternatives to creation out of nothing:
- 1. Polytheism: The universe has
many causes and powers
- 2. Platonism: God forms (and
is bound by) a pre-existing universe
- 3. Pantheism: All is God; the
universe is divine
- 4. Atheism: No creator-God; the
universe is absolute
- 5. Dualism: The universe is a
battleground for two equal powers
- So our vision of the world influences
our vision of God, and vice versa
- III. "finished, and all their
array" (Gen. 2:1): creatio segunda/mediata
- God shaped the universe, giving it
form (Gen. 1:3ff, Gen. 2:7ff)
- "God is in the details,"
not merely the generalities, of the universe
- Alternatives to mediate creation:
- 6. Gnosticism: God only causes
inferior, mediating creators; the world is evil
- 7. Naturalism: God merely authors
natural laws which govern a closed universe
- So creation is not just about identifying
the "first cause" of the material universe
- IV. "I
will make a helper" (Gen. 2:18): creatio continuata
- Providence is God's continuing renewal, maintenance,
and care for the creation
God is personally involved in creation, including our own lives (Luther's
Providence identifies God as creator with God as redeemer and perfecter (John
1:2-3, John 6:35, Col. 1:16)
- Alternatives to providence:
- 8. Fatalism: God manipulates
unfree creatures, rather than being "with" them
- 9. Deism: Like a watchmaker,
God has no continuing relationship with his creation
- So creation is not just about "intelligent
- V. "It
was very good" (Gen. 1:31): The Point of Creation
Against all these alternatives, Israel affirms all three forms of creation
- The universe is thus creation,
the sign-ificant work of a loving, involved God
- (Gen. 1:14-19, Ps. 104:19; Gen.
1:21, Ps. 104:26-27)
- Creation is radically affirmed,
yet radically relativized
- As an act of God's will, creation
- Goodness names the purposefulness of the work of
God's love (Gen. 1:31)
- VI. "The
way to the tree of life": (Gen. 3:24): creatio nova
- The purposeful creation points forward
to its end (telos), not merely back to its beginning
- Westminster Catechism: Our chief
end is to "glorify God and enjoy him forever"
- Christians alone affirm that the
new creation has arrived
- The risen Jesus is the beginning
of new creation (2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 1:18, Rev. 1:5)
- The Son is the means and form of
the Father's creation, enacted by the Spirit
- The Son's incarnation brings creation
and God into each other (Col. 1:15-20)
- Only here should we speak
of God as omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc.
Is Creation Creationism?
Creation science reads Gen.
1 (but not Gen. 2 or Ps. 104) as a scientific/historical record
- But the doctrine of creation does
not demand such interpretations of Gen. 1-2, Ps. 104, etc.
- Barth: Gen. 1-11 is "saga,"
Gen. 1:1-2:5 is true, but is it a chronology?
- Literary readings of these poetic
texts bypass "creation science" and scientific reductionism