How God is in the world

Longtime Cranach reader and commenter Dan Kempen “got” yesterday’s post Makoto Fujimura on art, paganism, and worship. His reflections are worth considering in themselves:

God is in the world, not merely as the one who has authority over it, but as the one who is creating it. Even in a broken world, everything God creates is a work of art. Everything God creates is a masterpiece. There is a wonder of God in the created world that is both immanent and transcendent. It is not the deification of “nature,” but the perception of the handiwork of God, and, to follow Makoto Fujimura, when your eyes are opened, you can even see the second article woven into the first. You can perceive the Grace of God in the very fabric of his creation.

Granted that, strictly speaking, the grace of God is revealed in His Word rather than creation as such, in what sense is that last sentence true?

Could this be the basis of a Christian environmentalism? How would it be different from regular environmentalism?

Do you see how this relates also to vocation?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fws

    Do you see how this relates also to vocation?

    this does not just relate to vocation. it is all about vocation.

    read the small catechism explanation to the 1st article and the 4th petition to see exactly how what Dan says works itself out in our day to day life. the second article woven with the first.

    environmentalism IS true god pleasing righteousness if it is about self restraint ie conserve-ation, AND by this, betters the life of our neighbor, including future generations of neighbors eh? This is not “christian” environmentalism. this is simply being righteous and doing what truly pleases God here on earth. Pagans usually do this better than we christians.

    Why is this so? We christians tend to make right and wrong about pleasing God rather than bettering the life of our neighbor (ie biblically loving our neighbor). so we neither please God NOR do anything useful to better the life of our neighbor.

  • fws

    Do you see how this relates also to vocation?

    this does not just relate to vocation. it is all about vocation.

    read the small catechism explanation to the 1st article and the 4th petition to see exactly how what Dan says works itself out in our day to day life. the second article woven with the first.

    environmentalism IS true god pleasing righteousness if it is about self restraint ie conserve-ation, AND by this, betters the life of our neighbor, including future generations of neighbors eh? This is not “christian” environmentalism. this is simply being righteous and doing what truly pleases God here on earth. Pagans usually do this better than we christians.

    Why is this so? We christians tend to make right and wrong about pleasing God rather than bettering the life of our neighbor (ie biblically loving our neighbor). so we neither please God NOR do anything useful to better the life of our neighbor.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    Fujimura:

    “But material reality has significance, and potency, because of the Gospel of incarnation, the fact that God became a man. God pours his Spirit in all people: from our cave days to our fog of post-modern time, art if full of signifiers that point to the Reality of God.”

    This sounds a lot like “our daily, ordinary lives are charged with spiritual significance” because of what was accomplished here by Christ. (To paraphrase Dr. Veith)

    Also, the pursuit of high quality art presupposes that there is a God who has established a “Golden Mean”, an ideal that is worthy of our aspirations and affections as we seek to serve one another.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    Fujimura:

    “But material reality has significance, and potency, because of the Gospel of incarnation, the fact that God became a man. God pours his Spirit in all people: from our cave days to our fog of post-modern time, art if full of signifiers that point to the Reality of God.”

    This sounds a lot like “our daily, ordinary lives are charged with spiritual significance” because of what was accomplished here by Christ. (To paraphrase Dr. Veith)

    Also, the pursuit of high quality art presupposes that there is a God who has established a “Golden Mean”, an ideal that is worthy of our aspirations and affections as we seek to serve one another.

  • liz

    This reminds me of “God’s Grandeur” by Hopkins, in that all three persons of the Trinity can be seen in nature. Although I think Hopkins believes nature can reveal the Grace of God in itself, I would say grace is revealed in His Word. So I agree with Fujimura that once your eyes are opened you can perceive the Grace of God in the very fabric of His creation. So I think Christian environmentalism might differ from regular environmentalism since nature is a place to see God’s creation and grace, it is worth preserving not only for ourselves but for all. So in our vocation as neighbor we would show our love to our neighbor by being environmentalists. (Just a thought)

  • liz

    This reminds me of “God’s Grandeur” by Hopkins, in that all three persons of the Trinity can be seen in nature. Although I think Hopkins believes nature can reveal the Grace of God in itself, I would say grace is revealed in His Word. So I agree with Fujimura that once your eyes are opened you can perceive the Grace of God in the very fabric of His creation. So I think Christian environmentalism might differ from regular environmentalism since nature is a place to see God’s creation and grace, it is worth preserving not only for ourselves but for all. So in our vocation as neighbor we would show our love to our neighbor by being environmentalists. (Just a thought)

  • Jerry

    God commands us to be environmentalists–why else would he give us dominion? However, many worldly environmental concepts are based on world views that either there is no god (atheist), or that god is in everything (pantheist). Christians are too quick to adopt these and try to apply Christianity to them after the fact.

    I keep thinking of Romans 8:22, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”

    1 Cor 1:25 also comes to mind, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

  • Jerry

    God commands us to be environmentalists–why else would he give us dominion? However, many worldly environmental concepts are based on world views that either there is no god (atheist), or that god is in everything (pantheist). Christians are too quick to adopt these and try to apply Christianity to them after the fact.

    I keep thinking of Romans 8:22, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”

    1 Cor 1:25 also comes to mind, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

  • Rev. Bob

    To the first question: Couldn’t we say that we can find the grace of God in the very fabric of creation when God put on the very fabric of creation in the incarnation?

  • Rev. Bob

    To the first question: Couldn’t we say that we can find the grace of God in the very fabric of creation when God put on the very fabric of creation in the incarnation?

  • Gulliver

    Reading through Dr. Luther’s commentary on Genesis I get the impression that 1) Luther appreciated God’s creation, and 2) Luther saw many “sermons” in nature, that is the beauty and grace of God in a tree bud, the providence of God in providing for all creatures, etc. The Gospel is revealed in the Word of God, but for Luther it was also illustrated in the things he saw in nature.

  • Gulliver

    Reading through Dr. Luther’s commentary on Genesis I get the impression that 1) Luther appreciated God’s creation, and 2) Luther saw many “sermons” in nature, that is the beauty and grace of God in a tree bud, the providence of God in providing for all creatures, etc. The Gospel is revealed in the Word of God, but for Luther it was also illustrated in the things he saw in nature.

  • Dan Kempin

    “We christians tend to make right and wrong about pleasing God rather than bettering the life of our neighbor (ie biblically loving our neighbor). so we neither please God NOR do anything useful to better the life of our neighbor.”

    +1 to that

  • Dan Kempin

    “We christians tend to make right and wrong about pleasing God rather than bettering the life of our neighbor (ie biblically loving our neighbor). so we neither please God NOR do anything useful to better the life of our neighbor.”

    +1 to that

  • fws

    rev bob. bingo

  • fws

    rev bob. bingo

  • http://www.drunkenkoudou.com Stewart K. Lundy

    Can’t the laws of nature, of physics, of science be the self-revelation of God himself?

    If God, the Ground of all existence, is personal, then the fullness of our being is to be personal stewards of Being itself. What can be our greater duty than to take care of ourselves and that which is around us?

    How does consumerism, with its blind destruction of the world around it, relate to this?

  • http://www.drunkenkoudou.com Stewart K. Lundy

    Can’t the laws of nature, of physics, of science be the self-revelation of God himself?

    If God, the Ground of all existence, is personal, then the fullness of our being is to be personal stewards of Being itself. What can be our greater duty than to take care of ourselves and that which is around us?

    How does consumerism, with its blind destruction of the world around it, relate to this?

  • Dan Kempin

    Stewart,

    Once upon a time, the pursuit of natural science was seen as the study of God. God is more than the ground of existence, He is the source.

    I’m not sure I go along with your premise that consumerism is “blind destruction of the world,” though. Consumerism is essentially financial freedom. Money is the ultimate ballot. Wal-Mart thrives in spite of much complaining because in the end people vote for it with their money. That’s not really my point, though.

    If you accept the idea that God is the source and ground for all existence, and further accept (as discussed above) that He is present in and creating the world today, then all things are in His hands and we (people) don’t have the power to destroy what He creates. We can dishonor it, yes, abuse it, deny God’s work in creation and reject Him outright, but we are still here. The world is still here. How can our environmental behavior be of any threat to the God who called it all to existence in six days?

    This is not to justify the despising of creation–quite the contrary. However, the destructive power that is undeniably in the world is not from our environmental actions or economic policies. It is the power of the curse. That curse will still be there even with the best of intentions, for example the long list of “save the environment” policies that have turned out, over time, to be environmental disasters.

  • Dan Kempin

    Stewart,

    Once upon a time, the pursuit of natural science was seen as the study of God. God is more than the ground of existence, He is the source.

    I’m not sure I go along with your premise that consumerism is “blind destruction of the world,” though. Consumerism is essentially financial freedom. Money is the ultimate ballot. Wal-Mart thrives in spite of much complaining because in the end people vote for it with their money. That’s not really my point, though.

    If you accept the idea that God is the source and ground for all existence, and further accept (as discussed above) that He is present in and creating the world today, then all things are in His hands and we (people) don’t have the power to destroy what He creates. We can dishonor it, yes, abuse it, deny God’s work in creation and reject Him outright, but we are still here. The world is still here. How can our environmental behavior be of any threat to the God who called it all to existence in six days?

    This is not to justify the despising of creation–quite the contrary. However, the destructive power that is undeniably in the world is not from our environmental actions or economic policies. It is the power of the curse. That curse will still be there even with the best of intentions, for example the long list of “save the environment” policies that have turned out, over time, to be environmental disasters.

  • Dan Kempin

    Addendum:

    I see your point about the problems in consumerism. I just do not believe that the problems are OF consumerism, as though changing the system would make them go away. The problem goes much deeper.

  • Dan Kempin

    Addendum:

    I see your point about the problems in consumerism. I just do not believe that the problems are OF consumerism, as though changing the system would make them go away. The problem goes much deeper.


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