Doctrine of Creation Essay

This essay has a total of 1326 words and 8 pages.


Doctrine of Creation





Doctrine of creation

‘What do we mean by creation? How helpful are making, emanation and/or artistic work
as analogies? Is it a doctrine about the world’s beginnings or origin, or about its
present or future existence, or what?


Creation is often referred to as a 'mystery' and this is due to its perhaps ambiguous
nature. Christian theology defines creation in many different ways, which differ greatly
as viewpoints on the same theme. John Macquarrie tries to make the mystery clearer by
using two analogies to try to describe what creation actually is.


The first of these is that of 'making'. This is best understood alongside the literal
understanding of creation, which can be found in the Bible, especially in the Old
Testament (Genesis). The analogy is that of a craftsman producing an article that is to be
used. It stresses the superiority of God; there is both differences and distance between
the craftsman and his product - as there is transcendence between God and God's creatures.
It treats creation as an act of free will on the part of God, not as a process that is
simply part of the Natural Law, which is more a view expressed by the second analogy.


One problem with the 'making' analogy is that it doesn't embrace the traditional 'creatio
ex nihilo' (creation out of nothing) view; if God has made the cosmos in the way in which
a carpenter or a blacksmith would, out of what has he actually created it?


The second analogy is that of 'emanation'. To understand this analogy it would be best to
imagine God, the creator, as the sun, with the created, Gods creatures, as the rays
emanating from it. This view stresses more affinity between the source (God) and what has
sprung from it, thus making this the opposite of the 'making' analogy, with a

much stronger emphasis on immanence rather than transcendence.

As already mentioned, this theory of creation treats it more as a natural process that a
spontaneous act, which is considered by some to be moving too far along the scale; a happy
mean between nature and free will is the ideal view. Emanation is not a very biblical,
traditionalist view of creation, and as such is often seen as opposed

to the view of making. However, Macquarrie would not wish this, and
says

'It should not be regarded as a rival idea to the biblical one...It should indeed be
regarded as secondary to the biblical idea, but as such it provides certain correctives
and gives expression to insights which are not clearly presented in the image of making.'


A suggested 'middle position between these two opposing images is sometimes put forward,
that of the 'work of art' analogy. At first glance this seems to be a good balance between
transcendence and immanence; in creating a work, an artist does put something of himself
into it, while at the same time remaining external to the actual thing itself.


But does this do justice to the extent of the immanence of God in the creation of the
cosmos? The artist analogy now looks to be too external; again there is the wrong balance.
A way of creating the right balance would be to hold 'side by side in their tension with
one another the models of making and emanation’.


All of these images do have something valuable in the search for the correct view of God
and creation, however they all need to be given equal weight in the mind as they all have
bad points and all have good. How you see the balance of transcendence and immanence in
the creation mystery is a matter largely for the individual, however most Christian
disciplines view God as both transcendent and immanent at the

same time in the creation of the cosmos.

Karl Barth claims that as we can not know empirically about creation, the whole doctrine
of creation is in fact a doctrine of faith; the factual account of a world coming into
being could be regarded as a creed of sorts, an expression of belief in God. Christian
doctrine of creation is split into three sections; creatio originalis (the single act of
creation in the beginning), creatio continua ( continuous involvement of creation) and
creatio nova, the new creation still to come.

The obvious teaching in the doctrine of creation is the literal Old Testament view stated
in the Bible; ‘In the beginning…’

But this creatio originalis view cannot be all there is to say about creation; if God is
one who creates immanently, he must be there for us in the present- we can only know of
the creation through the present after all.


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