Two weeks ago, I was invited to Berkeley Divinity School at Yale to give a couple talks on the Catechism of Creation, a teaching tool and discussion aid dealing with creation, evolution, science, and stewardship. I highly recommend the catechism and drew up some responses to preliminary questions. Those responses are posted in three sections. This one deals with the theology of creation. Thank you to John Hainze for the questions.
How do we understand the Biblical stories in Genesis?
As setting the groundwork for our relationship with God, neighbor and world. The primary lesson I take from the opening of Genesis (and the openings of the Gospel) is that God set the boundary conditions for the world, loves what was created, and seeks a deeper relationship with us. These stories have a great many other lessons as well, but it would be a mistake to interpret them in ways that work against that principal truth.
Are there other Biblical creation stories? What do they tell us?
Job 38-41 tells us that creation is greater than humanity and human interests. Job and Jonah assure us of God’s care for all things, even plants and animals. Psalm 104 speaks of God’s relationship with all created things. The Gospel of John and Romans speak of God as that principle which informs and orders as well as enlivens all things.
HOW GOD CREATES
Why do we believe that God is the creator?
We believe that God is the creator because of revelation passed on through scripture and tradition. We also believe because the idea of God as creator provides coherence to our theories of meaning and value in the world, our ability to understand, and the fundamental worth of all knowledge.
How does God create?
God creates graciously: out of nothing, in abundance, with care and attention to detail, and for the sake of that which is created. It is of God to create, insofar as we know God, we know a gracious artist, who knit us together.
What roles do Christ, Wisdom, and the Holy Spirit play?
All things were made through Christ. For me this means they were made in the light of Christ. There were made by that care and love which is most clearly manifest in Jesus of Nazareth but which extends through all Creation. In Christ all things hold together. Wisdom expresses this orderliness, not as an imposed blueprint but as a craft that shapes as it creates, listens as it speaks, and makes things well. The Holy Spirit is the action of God that makes existence, the wind on the face of the deep, the breath of life, and the fire that enkindles the Church.
HOW GOD RELATES TO CREATION
How does God relate to human beings and the rest of creation?
With curiosity, care, and love – that very love of I Corinthians 13 that demands nothing, but hopes abundantly, the self-giving love of Philippians 2 that empties itself as it fills others, the wise love of Isaiah and Romans that plans for the future as it recalls the past. God calls us to use our gifts in the service of all our neighbors. I do not know what God calls other species to, but I suspect it is equally challenging and worthwhile.
Does God continue to create?
I think one of the greatest mistakes in Christian theology is the idea of a watchmaker God who, having once created, steps away. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, just as is the deep. It is the breath of God that makes all time to be. In God we live, and move, and have our being from moment to moment. God’s hand supporting me is as close and constant as the breath in my lungs. Creation was not a past event, but an eternal and continuous outpouring of Divine power.
What is meant by New Creation?
The new creation is the mysterious deepening and fulfilling of creation completed and begun in Jesus death and resurrection. It is mysterious in the classic sense – a fundamental truth about the universe which cannot be fully comprehended but can be realized in action and contemplation. It is manifest in the church not solely as doctrine – though through doctrine we approach truth – not solely in worship and ritual – though in the sacraments we find an outward and visible sign of an inward and pervasive grace – not solely in community – though the Church at its best is the New Creation. In short, we can participate in it, but we cannot explain it – not unlike dancing.