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The first book of the Bible begins with the affirmation that God created the heaven and the earth (Gn 1:1) and the last hymns adoration to the Creator God. (Rv 4:11)

In the OT there are numerous short references to creation, usually as axiomatic bases from which something is deduced (e.g., 1 Sm 2:8; 2 Kgs 19:15; 1 Ch 16:26; Jb 12:7–10; Neh 9:6; Ps 24:1–2; 74:16; 95:3–6; 121:2; 124:8; 136:1–9; 146:5–6; Pr 3:19; 22:2; 30:4–5; Is 37:16, 20; 44:9, 24; 45:9–10, 17–18; 48:12–13; Jer 10:10–13; 51:15–16; Hos 8:14; Zch 12:1), and some longer sections on creation (e.g., Gn 1–2 [often divided, as in the RSV, into 2 sections: 1–2:4a and 2:4b–25]; Jb 38–41; Ps 104; Pr 8; Is 40:18–26; Is 51:9–16). The Bible speaks of creation by fiat (Ps 148:5), creation by Word (Ps 33:6), creation in the past (Gn 1:1; Jb 38–41), creation in the sense of providence, or preservation, in the present (Neh 9:6; Jb 10:8–12; 38–41; Ps 95; 104), and creation of events (Is 48:3–7). God's entire creation and preservation is connected with trust, adoration, judgment, and mercy. (SC II; LC II)

The NT also emphasizes creation and preservation. Jesus and His contemporaries presuppose both (Mt 5:45; 6:26, 30; 19:4); the prayer of early Christians Acts 4:24–30 begins with a declaration of faith in God as Creator; in the sermons of Acts 14:15–17 and 17:24–28 Paul emphasizes God's continual creative work. Creation is referred to for various purposes (e.g., comfort, Acts 4:24; show the nature of faith, Heb 11:3). Creation's close relation to salvation and redemption stated in the OT (e.g., Is 45:17–18) is emphasized, and creation is explicitly connected with Christ in the NT; in “the Word” who became flesh and “by Him” (or “through Him”) and “for Him” all things are created (Jn 1:1–3; Cl 1:15 to 17). Creation out of nothing (ex nihilo) is based on such passages as Gn 1:1; Ro 4:17; Heb 11:3. In Pr 8 wisdom is personified in terms related to Jn 1:1–18 and is connected with creation (Pr 8:24–30). Wisdom is identified or associated with Jesus (1 Co 1:24, 30; Cl 2:3). As the Word, so the Spirit (wind, breath) was active in creation (Jb 26:13; Ps 33:6). In the work of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit creation reaches its climax. (Mt 3:16; Lk 1:15–17, 35; 4:18; Jn 3; Ro 8:18–27; 1 Co 12; 2 Co 5:17–21; Rv 21)

In the early ch., esp. against gnosticism, creation of the world by the one, good, all-ruling, omnipotent Father was emphasized. There is one Creator, the Father of the world, the Father of Jesus Christ; with His Word and Wisdom, His Son and Spirit, He created all things visible and invisible out of nothing. The nature and role of the Trin. in creation became a matter of discussion in the 3d c. (see Adoptionism; Arianism; Monarchianism). Differences on other matters connected with creation did not develop into serious controversies in the early church. Some fathers held a creation out of nothing; others assumed a preexistent or precreated material. Some (e.g., Clement* of Alexandria, Fragments, XII 1) held that God's creative activity ceased after the 6th day; others (e.g., Origen,* De Principiis, III vi 7) held that the created universe is in process of transmutation and transformation. The 6 days of creation were conceived as 1,000 yrs. (Barnabas 15:4) or long periods (E Orthodox Ch.), or as an instant (Athanasius, Contra Arianos, II 60); Augustine relates time to form, order, and change (Confessions, XII xii 15; XII xiii 16; XII xv 22; XII xxix 40). Rational reconstruction of the how of creation differed in the early ch.

The Reformers spoke of 6 days of creation, though their interpretations differed. Luther emphasizes that the personal, holy, almighty God, Creator, Redeemer, and Vivifier, is his Lord. This God is still creatively active and is the Source of all action. Man and world are creatures of the Creator, dependent on and responsible to Him. Luther stresses the role of Christ, the Word, in creation. He lauds the present creative work of God. The beginning and the present is often held in tension by Luther, as when he speaks of man's birth as unconnected with the beginning of creation, yet holds that in God's sight he was born already at the beginning of the world. He relates natural birth to spiritual rebirth. Man and Satan are God's creatures even after the fall, but God is not responsible for sin (FC SD I 54–62 follows some of the early fathers in solving this problem by distinguishing substance and accident). Because the world and total man are God's creation, Luther rejected the division of life into spiritual and earthly duties. Finally, according to Luther, God, veiled in His creatures (larvae dei), actively confronts man. In the Luth. Confessions the doctrine of creation is treated at length in Luther's explanation of the 1st Article of the Apostles' Creed. (SC II 2; LC II 10–24)

Theistic creation has frequently been challenged in modern times. Idealists tend to despise the material world and favor Platonic idealism. Materialists regard only the empirical and material as real and often ally with atheistic evolutionists.

Christians have at times joined humanists or idealists in opposition to materialism. When they have placed the Bible in opposition to science, they have at times wrongly interpreted some statements of the Bible; yet there must be proper Christian apologetics and even polemics.

Some have applied the personalist emphases of existentialism in such a way that creation becomes only an affirmation of one's creation in the present. In the middle of the 20th c. a tendency to emphasize the soteriological significance of God's revelations regarding creation became prominent.

W. F. Albright, The Biblical Period from Abraham to Ezra (New York, [1963]); D. Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall (London, 1959); L. F. Gruber, Creation ex nihilo (Boston, 1918) and The Six Creative Days (Burlington, Iowa, 1941); A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis (Chicago, [1942]); E. Jacob, Theology of the Old Testament (London, 1958); J. W. Klotz, Genes, Genesis, and Evolution (St. Louis, 1955) and The Challenge of the Space Age (St. Louis, 1961); P. L. Maier, Test-tube Theology: A Postscript on the Conflict Between Science and Religion … or IS There a Conflict? (St. Louis, 1963); M. Metzger, Die Paradieserzählung, die Geschichte ihrer Auslegung van J. Clericus bis W. M. L. De Wette (Bonn, 1959); H. W. Reimann, “Luther on Creation,” CTM, XXIV (January 1953), 26–40 and Let's Study Theology: An Invitation to the Excitement of Christian Thought in the 20th Century (St. Louis, 1964), pp. 23–31; H. Renckens, Israel's Concept of the Beginning: The Theology of Genesis 1–3 (New York, 1964); A. Richardson, The Bible in the Age of Science (Philadelphia, 1961); W. R. Roehrs, “The Creation Account of Genesis: Guidelines for an Interpretation,” CTM, XXXVI (May 1965), 301–321; H. Thielecke, How the World Began (Philadelphia, 1961); B. Vawter, A Path Through Genesis (New York, [1956]); G. Viehweg, “The Doctrine of Creation,” The Abiding Word, I (St. Louis, 1946), 1–17; W. Wegner, “Creation and Salvation,” CTM, XXXVII (September 1966), 520–542; C. Westermann, The Genesis Accounts of Creation, tr. N. E. Wagner (Philadelphia, 1964); Darwin, Evolution, and Creation, ed. P. A. Zimmerman (St. Louis, 1959).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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