Friday, 21 September 2012

A biblical theology of creation for today

Some notes made at a lecture by Prof Stephen Williams of UTC Belfast at the Eco-congregations Ireland conference September 2012)

Before the twentieth century creation and creator were seen as completely separate. However since the beginning of the twentieth century the distinction has become less absolute and belief of all things existing in God has become widely held. (A belief often called panentheism) The theology of creation has been extended with new insights from eco-feminism and other ideas in the second half of the twentieth century.
 (Image courtesy of pixomar /

A biblical theology will be based on the following principles:
1. creation is good which in this context means fit for purpose
2. the biblical command to have dominion will be taken to mean care
3. the covenant of Noah between God and all creation is foundational
4. all creation is sustained by God's providence
5. eschatalogical peace is holistic rather than destructive

Darwinianism ( and other theories of evolution) have problems with these principles.
The problem posed by Darwinianism is that the evolution of the world by natural selection reveals a world of waste, cruelty and meaninglessness. It will be very difficult for anyone who takes that view of the cosmos to believe in a benevolent creator.

There are five responses to that challenge:

1. evil is inexplicable - a mystery - for example from Genesis 3 the story of the serpent makes you ponder on how one of God's good creatures can be evil
2. there is a connection between moral evil (what people do) and natural evil ( earthquakes floods etc) - evil can be seen to come from that which is good
3. We have a two sided universe and the so called natural evils are not evident. So for example volcanoes are necessary and morally neutral in themselves
4. We live in an interconnected universe - you can't have the good without the evil and some evil is just shadow possibility of what is not good
 5. Possibility of meaninglessness - Leviticus states that everything is fleeting vanity - and it is not possible from the cosmos to work out the meaning of the word

Work for creation is work of love not work of HOPE
HOPE in the bible is attached to God's promises

There are many things that we cannot understand and theology cannot comprehend everything. In the Jewish traditions paradox was important as it shows us the nature of reality cannot be comprehended  because of its great depths.

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