Creation Out of Nothing – with Robin Parry – Intro by Brad Jersak
Creation Ex Nihilo, Latin for “Creation out of nothing,” describes the Christian belief that God did just that–God created the universe and everything in it by his Word. I’ve capitalized ‘Word’ there because while Genesis 1 says that God spoke and it was, the New Testament also affirms that the agent of this creation was the eternal Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The prologue of John’s Gospel says, “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
The “Christ-hymn” of Colossians 1 states, “15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Hebrews 1 begins, “1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
So far, the basics: God spoke all things into being ex nihilo by the word of the eternal Son. But this raises a host of new interesting questions and corollaries. Among this, where is God? Is God outside and other to creation? Sometimes this is referred to as ‘transcendence.’ Or is God found inside creation, everywhere present and intimately united to it? Theologians refer to this as ‘immanence.’ How might we affirm both?
To explore these and other questions, we’ve invited the help of Robin Parry, an author, teacher and theologian known especially for his humble but scholarly works on ‘Christian Universalism.’ He previously contributed an article titled “7 Myths about Christian Universalism” to the Winter 2016 issue of CWRmagazine, which you can view by clicking HERE.
Robin will be sharing a series of five videos on aspects of “Creation out of nothing” over the coming weeks. By way of summary, you can expect to hear from Robin on the following topics:
Creation out of nothing. Part 1: overview
This video sketches an outline of the traditional Christian teaching that God created the world out of nothing. Creation out of nothing may appear to be a simple idea, but it is, in fact, a lot more surprising in its implications than many people—believers and non-believers—appreciate. Some of those implications will be explored in later videos. Here I simply map the basic terrain. Whether or not one believes in the divine creation of the world, it is worth taking a little time to understand what traditional Christian claims amount divine creation amount to. At least one then knows what it is one claims to believe (or not to believe).
Creation Out of Nothing. Part 2: Divine Transcendence
In this video, we explore further the idea inherent to the teaching of creation out of nothing that the fundamental distinction in reality is that between Creator and creation and that God utterly transcends creation. This makes speaking and thinking about God a VERY tricky matter. But that realization is a step towards humility.
Creation Out of Nothing. Part 3: Divine Immanence
This video explores another important implication of the teaching of creation out of nothing—that creation is saturated with divine presence. God is not ‘distant’ from the world but to be found in its innermost heart.
Creation Out of Nothing. Part 4: Divine Action in the World (Causation)
Most of the apparent conflicts between science and religious faith boil down to the issue of how we conceive of divine action in the world. What does it mean to speak of God doing something? If science can explain an event does that mean that God didn’t do it? Does the current scientific inability to explain some events provide gaps for us to slot in some divine involvement? In this video, I argue that many of us, believers and non-believers, need to rethink the way we understand talk of divine action. I try to show how the classical teaching of creation out of nothing provides better ways of making sense of God’s involvement with creation. And one upshot of this is that a lot of arguments by both believers and non-believers turn out to be based on misunderstandings of such language.
Creation out of nothing. Part 5: Is it biblical?
Does the Bible actually teach that God created the world out of nothing? Some scholars argue that it does not and that the idea is an unbiblical import into Christianity. In this video, I look at the way in which creation ex nihilo can claim to be a genuine biblical teaching, even if the Bible never explicitly teaches it.