It Goes Deeper (RJS)

There is an excellent article in the March edition of Christianity Today: Bigger Than We Think by David Wilkinson that describes how the Christian doctrine of creation goes far deeper that just explaining how the world began. It goes far deeper than explaining the origin of life or the origin of the diversity of life. David Wilkinson received a PhD in Theoretical Astrophysics from the University of Durham and a  PhD  in Systematic Theology from Cambridge University where he explored Christian eschatology.

From the CT article:

The Christian doctrine of Creation has often been hijacked by controversies over how old the universe is. It has been hollowed out by the theory that God simply ignites the universe and then goes off for a cup of coffee, never touching his masterwork again. It is interesting that attacks on belief in a Creator, whether from Hawking, Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, or Lawrence M. Krauss’s recent A Universe from Nothing, tend to target this diminished deity. But the Bible has a much bigger understanding of God as Creator. Not only does the doctrine of Creation feature in Scripture beyond just Genesis 1, God’s creative activity permeates every moment of the history of the universe.

Scientific explanations can only go so far. To address the big questions we have to go deeper into the transcendent meaning of the facts. In this clip from Test of Faith (an excellent resource by the way) Wilkerson goes to George Lucas and Star Wars and to the scientific description of a kiss to explain what he means.

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At 2:04 in the video:

What is the scientific definition of a kiss? Well a kiss is the approach of two pairs of lips, the reciprocal transmission of carbon dioxide and microbes, and the juxtaposition of two orbicular muscles in a state of contraction. That is a kiss in scientific terms. But if I go to my wife and say to her, “Allison, I’d love to get together with you for a mutual transmission of carbon dioxide and microbes” she would say “Get lost.”

In this next clip he takes this transcendent meaning back into the interpretation of Genesis.

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In the Christianity Today article Wilkinson makes five points – good for a five point sermon on creation perhaps. You can read Wilkinson’s article at CT. I will add a few of my own comments here.

First: the Christian doctrine of Creation is never an abstract, academic concept.

Genesis isn’t a scientific account of the origin of the world. It is an account of God shaping the world, in relationship, for his purpose. Wilkinson points to other creation narratives in scripture as well to make his point. Proverbs 8:22-36; Psalms. 8, 19, and 148; Job 38-42; Isa. 40:9-31.

Second: the Christian doctrine of Creation has Christ at the center.

Our doctrine of Creation must have a key place for Jesus. The incarnation is not plan B and “it will not suffice to look for gaps in the scientific account into which God can be squeezed.” A few key passages:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5,14)

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col. 1:15-17)

Third: the Christian doctrine of Creation affirms that God is the sole creator of the universe.

He is also the sole sustainer of creation, and here we have Christ as well – for in him all things hold together. The Genesis narrative affirms God as sole creator and undermines the creative powers in all of the competing stories in ANE culture.

Fourth: the Christian doctrine of Creation needs to be seen in light of the reality of new creation.

Wilkinson emphasizes that the creator is also redeemer. Creation is good, or why would God redeem it? “And if creation has been redeemed, then we can look forward to a new creation, the “new heaven and new earth” described in Revelation 21.” I think we should go a little further than Wilkinson and flip our perspective. As Harrell points out in Nature’s Witness (see last week’s post), the whole biblical narrative, including the creation narrative, is best viewed from the perspective of Revelation. Being drawn toward the future rather than wandering along from the past, God’s plan takes shape.

Fifth: the Christian doctrine of Creation shows that humanity has the capacity for an intimate relationship with God.

Wilkinson suggests that “[b]earing God’s image is about relationship with God more than any specific human attribute or pattern of behavior.” The Trinitarian picture of God as love puts the focus on relationship. Both Daniel Harrell (See A Competent Creator under God as Relational) and Tim Keller (The Divine Dance) emphasize this.

And I will wrap up with Wilkinson’s summary:

In the Christian doctrine of Creation, we thus find a common theme. The meaning of the universe is not to be found in an impersonal cosmic force, or in a mathematical theory, or in a philosophical abstraction. Instead, it is found in a personal God who wants relationships with human beings. To be human is to receive the gift of relationship, to love and be loved by the God who created you.

The doctrine of Creation is far deeper than science, and far more important.

What do you think?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

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  • Rick

    Many of the church fathers put a lot of emphasis on the importance of God as Creator. Irenaeus even mentioned it in the “rule”:

    The rule of truth which we hold, is, that there is one God Almighty, who
    made all things by His Word, and fashioned and formed, out of that which had no
    existence, all things which exist. Thus saith the Scripture, to that effect “By
    the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them,
    by the spirit of His mouth. And again, “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.”

    Clement of Alexandria on God as Creator and “relationship”:

    For assuredly He does not hate anything, and yet wish that which He hates to exist. Nor does He wish anything not to exist, and yet become the cause of existence to that which He wishes not to exist. Nor does He wish anything not to exist which yet exists. If, then, the Word hates anything, He does not wish it to exist. But nothing exists, the cause of whose existence is not supplied by God. Nothing, then, is hated by God, nor yet by the Word. For both are one—that is, God. For He has said, “In the beginning the Word was in God, and the Word was God.” If then He hates none of the things which He has made, it follows that
    He loves them. Much more than the rest, and with reason, will He love man, the
    noblest of all objects created by Him, and a God-loving being. Therefore God is
    loving; consequently the Word is loving.”

  • NateW

    Great, great, post RJS.

    The key quote, to my mind, is this: “[b]earing God’s image is about relationship with God more than any specific human attribute or pattern of behavior.”

    As we actively partake in the form of Christ, taking upon ourselves his life and his death through faith in his resurrection, the fullness of God’s plan is revealed as a radically PRESENT reality. Future and past fade into mere abstractions and all truth is bound up the immediate time and space of our present experience.

    When genesis was an oral tradition it was true NOW for those who heard it. When it was written down as Torah it was presently true for the Jewish people who studied it. Today it is equally True in describing the this precise moment in which I live and act and choose whether to take on the form of the first Adam or the Second. The old-self or the New. To borrow Rob-Bell’s words, the deepest Truth of Genesis isn’t ultimately in the fact that it happened, but that it HAPPENS NOW. 

    To debate about whether it literally happened or not might be intriguing, but it is a sad sad endeavor if for a single present moment we give up dying to self for one another in order to pluck from the tree of knowledge. 

  • http://www.yeshua21.com/ Yeshua21.Com

    Through the eyes of the flesh— i.e. through our natural perception as employed by the carnal or egoic mind
    —we perceive, evaluate, and attempt to manipulate the apparent
    unfolding of our lives in space and time (appearing, as it does, to
    originate horizontally, so to speak, or naturalistically). But through the eyes of the Spirit— i.e. through the mind of Christ —we see the eternal creation which is fresh and new every moment [originating from deep within and high above us—originating vertically, so to speak, or epiphanously—bubbling
    up from within our hearts, like an eternal spring of living water (John
    7:38); or coming down from above like every perfect gift from the
    Father of lights (James 1:17)]. As it is written, we are in the world (as perceived by the carnal or egoic mind), but (Christ-like) we are not of the world (cf. John 17:14-16).

    http://jeshua21.wordpress.com/additional-essays/the-beginning-is-near/

  • http://www.yeshua21.com/ Yeshua21.Com

    Amen! :)

  • RJS4DQ

    For those who might be wondering … the image at the top of the post is of the Darth Vader Gargoyle at the National Cathedral. It fits (perhaps) with Wilkinson’s comments in the first clip.

    And Disqus already had a RJS, so I had to change the name a bit.


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