Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Creation and Evolution

I'm interested in the Creation versus Evolution discussion not so much as regards which is true but rather how to read the Bible faithfully within this discussion. As a Christian, I take as a given the reality that the God revealed in Jesus is the Creator of creation, though as this God revealed to Job, I have no idea what God as Creator really means. I wasn't there.

But is that the end of the story?

In what I've read on this discussion there is a reality conspicuous by its absence in any Christian talk of creation or evolution, and that reality is New Creation. If the resurrection of Jesus changes everything, then one of the things it changes is our understanding of what it means for God to be Creator. New Creation is an ambiguous reality. It is here, but not quite. The seeds have been planted, but the flower is not yet in full boom. The child has been conceived, but there is growth in the womb still to be done. There is new creation, but it is still being created.

Moreover -- and I may come back to this with a giant eraser after I've slept on it -- creation gets to be part of its creation. God as Creator chooses to be co-Creator, at least when it comes to his most glorious creation. That is not to suggest equality between Creator and creature, but rather what Brueggemann might call "incommensurate mutuality". I think of Paul's directive to the Philipians to "work out your salvation...for it is God who works in you..." New Creation is not a passive process from humanity's perspective. We are actively involved in one way or another, not as isolated individuals but as a church - building each other up, iron sharpening iron, allowing the creative grace of God to flow through us and to cause us to be participants in the new creation of our brothers and sisters. Paul could even know himself as Timothy's father in the faith, recognising that God had made him part of this young man's birth into the family of God. This may all sound very "unphysical", but I think that is to draw lines between physicality and character that Scripture doesn't always know.

The particulars of reading old creation texts through the lens of new creation texts (and experiences) could provide some space for an imaginatively faithful rendering of the hotly contested phrase "In the beginning, God created..."

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