Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why Creation Is Necessary

The first vital aspect of the doctrine of creation in theology is ontological in nature. Creation is antithetical to dualistic ideas that have persisted for millennia. Dualism states there are two ultimate principles that are essentially real – good and evil, male and female, hot and cold, forms and ideals, yin and yang. Tied up in the dualistic worldview is the concept that matter is evil. Syncretism with ancient philosophical dualistic beliefs led the medieval church into tragic monasticism and its priests into masochistic self-effacement. The biblical doctrine of creation, on the other hand, sees God as higher than and separate from His creation. Evil is not an eternal counterbalance to God’s goodness – it is a result of the free rebellion of His independent creatures. Dualism’s only means of providing hope is by the “progressive” nature of Hegelian synthesis. In reality, hope becomes hopelessness if good (thesis) has to become bad (antithesis) to progress. The non-dualistic nature of biblical creation allows for hope because it declares that evil is not necessary. This is dealt with in more detail by the third aspect.

The second aspect of the doctrine of creation in theology is its uniqueness. It is unique in that God’s creative act was not limited by the nature of preexisting materials. Although man’s mind can conceive of a warp-factor-nine Starship Enterprise, he is unable to create such a vehicle due to the physical and mechanical limits of the materials available. God, on the other hand, spoke the universe into existence ex nihilo. He was in no way limited by the intrinsic properties of raw materials. Even when He created man from the dust of the earth, man did not become special until God uniquely breathed into him the breath of life.

To expand on the first point, the doctrine of creation means that nothing was originally made intrinsically evil. In a dualistic worldview, evil is eternal and is therefore necessary. Existence can be seen as a cosmic seesaw with good and evil in a constant struggle for balance. To the dualist, the highest form of being exists in the balance point. There are many names for this ethereal equilibrium but it is most prominently known as Utopia, harmony, or Nirvana. The Bible contradicts this notion in its opening chapter. God ended every act of creation by declaring the results good. When I previously installed antennas for the Air Force, the team’s final quality control act was to affix a metal tag to the highest point of the tower. The tag was stamped with the words: “738EIG – Installed with Pride, Worldwide.” God’s declaration of the goodness of His creation not only indicated satisfaction with a job well done, but also was God’s personal stamp of perfection on His work. Everything was created good in order to reflect God’s glory but was later marred by sin and the resultant curse.

Fourthly, the doctrine of creation places responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the human race. Once again, this is a natural outflow of a non-dualistic creation. If matter is not evil, and God is not evil, who is responsible for the obvious presence of evil in the world? Where we err many times is when we answer that question by saying, “the Devil.” While Satan is an extremely powerful evil being, it is important to remember that he was created good. The fact is, sin is responsible for the presence of evil in the world. Sin is not a “who” or a “what”, it is a volitional act of the will of God’s created beings. When sin is seen in its proper light, there is no other choice but to see man as solely responsible for the presence of evil in the world.

Another outcrop of the non-dualistic nature of the doctrine of creation is it guards against depreciating the incarnation of Christ. Those who hold to a dualistic worldview cannot reconcile the hypostatic union of God and man in the person of Jesus. The influence of dualism throughout history has led to most heresies that deny either the deity or the humanity of Christ including Gnosticism and Docetism. Immanuel, God with us, flies in the face of any attempt at dualism and could only have been accomplished in accordance with biblical creation.

The sixth aspect of the doctrine of creation in theology is the interrelationship of all creation. According to Erickson, there is a connection and an affinity among the various parts of creation. Francis Schaeffer identifies this by showing the commonalities man shares with the remainder of creation. He also points out common points shared between God and man. Finally, he shows the things that separate man and creation from God. He uses this chain of logic to define what he terms man’s “mannishness”. Erickson indicates this connection and affinity among the various parts of creation leads to responsible ecological stewardship of God’s creation.

The final aspect of the doctrine of creation in theology moves away from the dangers of dualism and tackles the equally hazardous heresy of monism. The biblical doctrine of creation makes it plainly clear that God is separate from His creation. Monism purports ultimate reality as the unknowable force that lies behind all existence. Gods, demigods, angels, spiritual beings, men, and animals all emanated from the unknowable force as light rays emanate from the Sun. Not only does the Bible specifically state that God is distinct from creation, it also shows He is knowable. He spoke creation into existence and formed man out of the dust of the ground. He personally, intimately interacted with His creation while remaining distinct from it.


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