Essay / Misc.

Creation from Nothing, by the Trinity

The late Colin Gunton (1941-2003), in a flurry of productivity just before his untimely death, put out a bunch of books that are remarkable for containing enough ideas that they could each have been expanded into more books. Looking for a half-remembered quotation, I recently skimmed back through my copy of his book The Triune Creator. I never did find the quotation I was after, but I found these four thought-provoking statements about the Christian doctrine of creation:

…the view of creation as deified conflict is perpetually renewed in human culture, most recently perhaps in Hegel and Marx, as well as in many of their disciples. Violations of the peace of creation are an offense against the God of the Bible, in complete contrast and opposition to the fact that they are a rational response to the gods of mythical and philosophical paganism. p. 26

The choice is inescapable: either God or the world itself provides the reason why things are as they are. To ‘personalise’ the universe or parts of it, particularly inert substances like molecules, is to succumb to crude forms of superstition. As we shall see, only a theology which distinguishes God from the world ontologically justifies the practices of science without succumbing to a pantheism or crypto-pantheism which effectively divinises the temporal. p. 39

The incarnation implies a certain freedom in the relations between God and the world, and so is the basis of the doctrine that God creates ‘out of nothing.’ The act of creation is accordingly seen to be grounded in an anterior richness in God. pp. 67-68

We are created not to ascend through the material to the spiritual, but to be perfected in time, through Christ and the Spirit, in and with the created order as a whole. p. 170

If those get your mind going, treat yourself to the whole book some time. It’s a couple hundred pages just like that.

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