Q // What is the work of creation?
A // The work of creation is the making by God of all things from nothing, by his powerful word, in the space of six days, and all very good.
Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6, 9; Hebrews 11:3
Q // How did God create man?
A // God created man, male and female, in his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with rule over the creatures.
Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:1-9
The doctrine of Creation has become a sticky subject for many Christians. Many fundamentalists use it as a litmus test for a literal interpretation of Scripture. Many intellectual Christians use it as a means of separating from an ‘ignorant’ view of the world we live in. Before we delve into these differences, we must first affirm 5 ‘truths’ that ALL Christians are required to believe:
- God alone created from nothing in accordance with His plan (by His powerful Word).
- There is an order to how God created (describes here in the phrase ‘in the space of six days).
- God created everything good.
- God created people in His image.
- The Bible records the truth of Creation, fully revealed by God.
Our part is to understand the description of Creation that God gives us in Genesis as we live in a world of observation and general revelation. When it comes to creation there are 3 main approaches to this:
Contradiction | to view the Bible and science at odds is to understand both the Bible and Science as doing similar jobs of telling the chronological story of events in literal terms. In this, the two cannot coexist. Many Christians decide to hold the Biblical explanation as truth for science to bow at the feet of, with the belief that our observations are flawed and all truth is God’s truth.
Harmonious | the second perspective comes from an attempt to make these two seemingly contradictory set of facts harmonized. A harmonious view sees both the Scriptural account and observation as both working to tell a similar story, and because both are true, they must be synergized. This perspective includes the ‘gap’ theory, day age view (this article does a good job of describing some popular views on creation including this one), and theistic evolutionists.
Un-Harmonious | the third perspective does not feel the need to try to fit all of the pieces together, because they believe that the Genesis 1-2 and observation of general revelation are not doing the same thing. Scripture exists to reveal the truth of God primarily and not just the ‘facts’ of His work. In other words, God’s description exists apart from and for a different purpose than general revelation. This includes the framework view and the anilogical perspective.
Before we start throwing around terms like heretic, recognize that these views are all affirmed as valid by conservative denominations and were held by various Orthodox theologians through time (see list here). All of this to say, the details of creation are complex and we are better off focusing on what God has made clear than allowing our theology to be driven by matters that God intentionally did not fully detail. He gave us thinking and righteousness in His image, meaning we are able to search these things out and to worship God in them, even as we struggle to figure it all out.