Christian Theology in a Thumbnail: Creation (8)
Don’t worry - we’re not going to get into creationism or evolutionism here! Creation in the Bible is a far richer reality than that.
I want to highlight three matters here. First, is that the dominant view of God’s creative activity in the Bible is creatio ex nihilo (“creation of out nothing”) by the sheer word of God (Psalm 33). God is creative in a sense that no creature is. We fashion, make, produce, and build but God requires no pre-existing matter to act on. He creates by fiat, by the power of his Word. God’s Word is world-making, history-making, and people-making. This is an extraordinary way to say “Grace”. We contribute, can contribute nothing to our own existence. Life is given to us as “pre-existing” material on which we can shape, fashion, build, or produce what we can. But none of us can create our own life.
Secondly, the thrust of the doctrine of creation can be best summed up I think like this: matter matters, and it matters eternally. Contra the dualist tendency in the west to play off spirit and matters against one another, valorizing the former and denigrating the latter, the Bible insistently refuses such an understanding. The Christian God does not make junk nor does he abandon what he has made. Creation is destined for glory, for the full flourishing of its Creator’s gifts and graces. He will not give up on it until it is all he created it to be. Like I said, matter matters, and it matters eternally.
Thirdly, creation is the indispensable “stage” on which humanity plays out our drama with God and each other. We come from it (the dust of the earth, Gen.2) and return to it at death. In resurrection God will give us a new body to live on the new earth forever with him. Even Jesus retains his body for all eternity. Humans are “ensouled bodies” or “embodied souls,” or as someone put it, our bodies are the face of our souls.
These, I suggest, are the critical theological and ethical learnings we need to take away from our reflections on creation.