Sunday, January 15, 2012

Theology of Creation

What is the meaning of the Theology of Creation? A large body of literature exists on this topic. Creation and creationism is often conflated with a record of the creation event, dealing with the who, the when, and the how of origins of our world and the cosmos. The topic generates a great deal of interest across a broad age range from our young children’s early Sunday School lessons to our deeper discussions with adult friends who may or may not be believers in the reality of the Creator.

Taken alone, this view of creation falls short of a more satisfying and enriching concept of creation in the present tense.  Creation in a broader sense is the existing product of God who sustains its existence, structure, and order from moment to moment and maintains its operational processes with purpose and functional integrity. Too often discussions within our church circles and with skeptics become bogged down with inquiries concerning duration of the creation “days,” geological time scales, and related wrangling about death before the fall and the extent of Noah’s flood. Such discussions sometimes assume importance as a primary apologetic for the very existence of God or even a test for doctrinal purity. This understanding of the original acts of creation, important as it is, may have less value in affirming our own belief system or in witnessing to an unbelieving world than understanding the workings of creation in the present tense.   

There exists no set of “proofs” to convince a doubter of the reality of God or the claims of Christ. In Luke 16:31, Christ expressed the poignant truth that “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if one rises from the dead.” (NLT) This passage may affirm a previously existing strong state of unbelief on the part of the subjects of Christ’s statement, Lazarus’s five brothers. Nevertheless, we are called upon to present meaningful evidence pointing to the reality of God. There are many evidences of the handiwork of the Creator to substantiate His creative work. An oft-cited verse is the familiar Romans 1:20: “From the time the world was created people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.”

The Romans passage refers to evidence we can submit to open minded truth seekers. The natural world manifests ubiquitous evidence of functional integrity difficult to attribute to mere chance. Many writers distinguish the process of creation from the product of creation. We are unable to observe the process of creation. Scripture tells us in concise, simple terms the identity of the Creator and the fact that He created. It does not, however, give extremely detailed accounts of the functioning product--how our planetary system works. In our present day, particularly in the past fifty years, the evidence for God’s reality in the created order has become overwhelming.

As a science teacher I did not find it difficult to share my enthusiasm for the natural world and the benefits it provides the human race. In retirement, my sense of wonder has increased even more. As a Christian it is not personally difficult to recognize an intelligently designed, orderly world operating with intricately functional, interrelated systems for a clear purpose, the benefit of its living residents, especially man. To perceive our world as naturalistically produced, particularly the forms of life inhabiting its physical systems, seems absurd. Understanding God’s relationship to the creation he produced and the purpose for which he created it, a rational grasp of its incredible operating systems, and reveling in the enjoyment of the creation we experience as God’s sentient beings--these all contribute to our understanding of the broader concept of the Theology of Creation.