Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Greatest Common Denominator: Creation

I'm putting down some notes in case I ever want to write a book something like, "The Common Denominators of Scripture."  A few days ago I sketched out what a chapter on God might look like. Here are some thoughts on what a chapter on Creation might look like.

1. First, if we take creation out of nothing by faith, certain things follow. I will assume that it is appropriate for a Christian to read Scripture with the assumption of ex nihilo creation, even though Scripture does not seem to teach it explicitly, as far as I can tell. We might argue that it is the trajectory of Scripture (e.g., Heb. 11:3).

If God created the world out of nothing, then he presumably has all power in relation to it. He will also know every truth about it and its working. Simply as creator he will know every possible eventuality about it and, as we said in the previous chapter, we believe he knows every actuality about it as well.

2. Sovereignty and providence
The Bible teaches that God has ultimate authority over the creation. Nothing happens without his permission, good or evil. There is a strand of biblical language that sounds like God not only has authority over the creation but that he also determines everything that will happen. This is not, however, the only strand, and it fits better with the common denominator of Scripture to consider this language the unclear rather than the language of God's love and the freedom he gives the creation.

Nevertheless, God does work for good in the creation and he works good for us before we even know it. Indeed, he works good for us even while we are his enemies and even on those who are evil. He has been at work to reclaim us long before we existed.

3. Freedom of the creation
The greatest common denominator of Scripture will privilege those Scriptures in which God wants everyone to be saved and in which he gives substantial freedom to humans and the creation. This is more in keeping with his nature as love than to privilege the opposite. We can extend this basic principle to the way God has made the creation to follow the laws that he has planted within it. Some of the suffering and pain in the world could be simply the playing out of natural laws.

Christians disagree on whether this freedom might include the power to generate new life and indeed, a creative indeterminism on the quantum level, a kind of creational free will.


Susan Moore said...

Part 1 of 8.
In the beginning the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
But then our one plural God spoke and time began; with those words God made light, and there was evening and there was morning –the first day.
On the second day our God spoke and separated the sky from the water, and gave us both outer space and the viable atmosphere.
And on the third day He spoke and gave us water, dry ground, and seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to all their various kinds.
On the fourth day He spoke movement into existence. And His Word also produced for us the things that give off light; the huge sun and moon and the stars in all their multitudes to mark our seasons and days and years and to give light on the earth. And to do that He made them all move in harmonious patterns.

Susan said...

Part 2 of 8.
And on the fifth day He spoke and gave us living creatures in abundance; all the creatures in the sky and in the water. He saw that they were good and blessed them. He told them to be fruitful and multiply.
On the sixth day He spoke more living creatures into existence; He gave us livestock, and the creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals. He made them each according to their kinds.
And He then made us; in His own image He created us, male and female he created us.
And He blessed us and told us to be fruitful and multiply. And He gave us dominion over all the creatures. And He gave us every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be ours for food.
And on the final day He rested from all the work of creating that He had done (Gen. 1:1-31 & Gen. 2:1-3, paraphrased).
And with those scriptures God spoke into His physical creation His eternal plan for our spiritual salvation.

Susan said...

Part 3 of 8.
But, for instance, the NIV, ESV and other English translations say He did not give us seed, He gave us offspring, and the RSV and others restated God’s Word to say that through a mortal man, Abraham, He gave us descendants (Gen. 12:7).
The incongruence in those translations becomes evident on a future day, when God gave us eternal Jesus. Jesus is not the offspring of Abraham. For if Jesus was the offspring of Abraham, then Abraham would be His father. But Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit through a virgin woman. No, God did not say that He would give us the offspring of Abraham in Gen. 12:7; by His Word He promised to give us the seed of Abraham: the seed of Abraham’s faith -the Word of God, who is faithful and true (Rev. 19:11).

Susan said...

Part 4 of 8.
But seed requires light to grow, so God covered us there: on the first day God created the light He dwells in. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus is, indeed, Emmanuel, “God with us”; “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). There is always a message in the names that God gives.
And seed requires space and the right atmosphere to grow. But God covered us in day two, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).
And seed requires living water to grow, “…whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

Susan said...

Part 5 of 8.
And seed need movement to reproduce, disperse and grow; the movement of rain and wind and warmth and seasons. And seed needs longer days and shorter nights. But Jesus, our God and Messiah, has covered that, too: He tells us, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go…” (Matthew 28:18-19). “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-15).
But what do we do with His seed? He answers that question by using what He created on day five, the fish; “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

Susan said...

Part 6 of 8.
And on the sixth day God made us in His image and gave us dominion over the creatures, “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me –just as the Father knows me and I know the Father- and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).
And He tell His sheep, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my [seed], if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
And bread is made from seed; “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).

Susan said...

Part 7 of 8.
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). And lambs eat seed. And He is the Lamb of God and we are His lambs. He is the light of the world and we are His lamps. And He is our cornerstone, and we are His living stones. And with us and through us, by His grace through our God-given faith, He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). And in His finished creation “the city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp…there is no night there” (Rev. 21:22-27).
In the beginning of time God gave us light and space and atmosphere and water and fish and snakes and wolves and lambs. Then He gave us each other. And finally He gave us His seed: and He swaddled that infant, Jesus, and laid Him in a manger; because in a manger is where His seed goes.

Susan said...

Part 8 of 8.
There is no randomness in God’s creation. He does not create with survival of the fittest competitions or random mutations. Therefore there has been no cessation of His signs, wonders and miracles.
And the Word of God is more than a collection of historical events and philosophical ideas. Although the above are only excerpts, and therefore it is difficult to discern their God-given pattern, when the Bible is correctly transliterated and interpreted from His original words –from the names of the elements of His creation that He first spoke into existence- the word of God is illuminated as His work of art; a work of art in which He used more than 1500 years, 40 scribes and 3 human languages to create. For the same revelation that His Word first spoke creation into existence, and for which His Word became flesh, in its correct and completed linguistic form His Word is also a love poem who reveals our consummate Creator’s passion for us, His love-children; for we are each the product and the carrier of His living seed that grows (2 Cor. 4:7), and therefore, by His grace through our God-given faith, we are made in His image.

Susan said...

Thanks, Dr. Schenck!! How did you know that was what my present was about?!

Ken Schenck said...

:-) Merry Christmas and thanks for the word!