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The theological resonance of creation.
God’s ability to call forth light from darkness examples what makes him the Creator.
In Millard J. Erickson’s Christian Theology, the author identifies seven ways in which one’s doctrine of creation is impacted by the discipline of theology, chief of which is God’s premier place as the only absolute reality. The biblical narrative of creation demonstrates God’s unimpeachable authority over all things. This is exemplified in his prerogative to bring everything into being from nothing (creatio ex nihilo) — a point which is crucial to make, considering that if God created all that is from something that already was, there would, accordingly, exist matter that was as eternal as God is. “By creation,” Erickson declares, “we mean the work of God in bringing into being, without the use of any preexisting materials, everything that is” (338).
As it is, the scriptural account insists on God’s ability to create ex nihilo, which further establishes the utterly unique power of creation that he alone possesses. “God did not work with something already in existence,” Erickson notes. “He brought into existence the very raw material he employed” (345). God’s ability to call forth light from darkness, to shape worlds from formlessness (Gen. 1:1–3), examples what makes him distinctly the Creator nonpareil. Human creativity is more akin to “reconstruction” than pure creation, seeing as humanity’s creations are merely remixes of what already exists. Furthermore, as Erickson asserts, what God has called into existence from nothing sprung into being by “the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3) with nary a hint of evil in tow.
All things, in their original form, existed without the taint of sin or sedition. Such forces came to be at the moment of Adam and Eve’s Edenic insurrection. Their Fall fractured what God had designated “very good” (Gen. 1:31), plunging all of creation into ruin. This, likewise, denotes what makes the tragedy of the Garden so tragic — namely, that it is a result of human failure and not divine intent. Whatever one makes of the debate concerning man’s will being free or predestined, the fiasco of Eden testifies to humanity’s culpability.
As responsible parties, therefore, mankind’s mess of creation is self-made and, as such, necessitates One who can undo what has been done. That this remaking, redeeming One is none other than God himself is striking enough, but the Bible reveals that God takes on flesh to effect this remaking and redeeming of the world (John 1:14; Phil. 2:5–11; Col. 2:9). Accordingly, a biblical theology of creation places heightened emphasis on the biblical account of the incarnation of Christ. His assumption of a human body necessarily dismantles the theory that matter itself is incoherent with true spirituality.
Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013).