Sunday, August 30, 2015


I'm reading Grudem's Systematic Theology and have just completed the chapter on creation. What a disappointment! Two other views: A supportive view and one not quite.

Apart from its light skate over the surface, which is the plan, I think, he got derailed on 'creation'.

Grudem allowed himself to become entwined in current debates about naturalistic/supernatural factors, the timing of creation and 'scientific' approaches to interpretation (without being sufficiently critical of the world view that is typically entailed in what are presented as 'scientific' statements).

As I wrote to Grudem, this type of discussion more belongs in an appendix to a systematic theology, not in the body. In the body we look for theology. He didn't provide much, in my estimation.

Here, theology means to me that we deal with the text, as Thielicke says in The Evangelical Faith: "[the] relation of biblical authors to specific points in history means that their statements have to be seen in their historical determination, their contemporary reference."  We then discuss what the text means theologically in the light of what other Christians have thought and do think that it says, dealing with their reasoning.

Coming to creation, then, what should we look for?

Here are some thoughts.

The relation of God to the cosmos (I'd use the word 'creation' but that might become lexically awkward); considerations such as the continuity of rationality and being between God's willing and its result in our experience. God's timing of the creation, whatever one may think of it, is important as it provides (or some may think, purports to provide) an historical location, and moreover an historical location that places it in uniform time-space that we inhabit and from within which we are in fellowship with God: into which God breaks. Its specificity guards against mythic takes on the account in Genesis.

The creation allows us to consider the parameters of the setting for fellowship between God and man. It sets up one 'book end' for the counterpart to come in the new creation, joined by the trajectory of redemption.

It also helps us to make ontological considerations, grounded in what is actually real, compared to the flights of fantasy that idealist philosophers take us on. It tells us that 'reality' is basically personal, not material, and that reality is conditioned at base by love, either positively in God's actions, or inversely, in ours, but for Christ.

The causal, and indeed, ontological connections between the account, which must be the point of reference for John 1:1-3 and Hebrews 11:3 and God as agent eliminates any possibility of either random inherency in the created world being able to bring about the created world, or there being some sort of principle in the creation which would do similarly and displace Christ's mediating agency.

The creation is thus 'really real' in its connection with God. Understanding of it cannot be fueled by idealist frolics such as theistic evolution. If it were (that is, if it were not framed in a concretely real structure) then it would tell us nothing about who we are or who God is...its 'story' crumbles to fantasy.

The final thing I want to mention, and Grudem does mention this, is that the creation being very good at its inception does not allow Christians to despise the material world, or, as it is made by God, worship it.

Apart from the preceeding paragraph, Grudem touches on none of this.

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