Mixed up about Creation Theology?

Creation: Not just about how special I am

Christians spend far too much time discussing Creation.

What’s worse is that the theology that comes out of this obsession is very often warped and ‘me centred’. It’s all ‘I believe that God made me to be special, so I can tell you how evil you are and how you should live your life’. I think this is partly because it’s all focussed on just a few verses – Genesis 1-3, and often missing out most of chapter 2 altogether (because it clearly doesn’t fit as neatly into the grand schema).

I’ve come to think that if we’re to have a comprehensive creation theology, we need to take into account the books which have the most to say about the God of creation – the ones no-one really mentions in this context, the so-called Wisdom Books. Job particularly, but also Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and several Psalms, revel in the God who made all things, who holds back the chaos, who knows the most intimate details of the wildest creatures and weather.

Taking into account some of the other things that are written about Creation in the Bible unsurprisingly gives us a broader view of creation. It helps us to avoid the person-centred creationism that seems to dominate the conversation, especially on the other side of the Atlantic.

Andy Alexis-Baker has written a very thoughtful article on Jesus Radicals in response to comments made by Rick Santorum (the Republican Presidential hopeful) that “The Earth is not the objective, man is the objective, and I think that a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down. . . . We’re not here to serve the earth. That is not the objective, man is the objective.”

This story of creation puts humanity at the very pinnacle of the creation, put there to rule and exploit as much as they like, using up ‘resources’ (an un-Biblical word, as Alexis-Baker points out) as they will. I urge you to read the way Alexis-Baker ges through Job, showing what a bigger creation theology looks like, but I want to supply my own illustration of just how short-sighted this kind of thinking is.

Here’s a picture of Tom Cruise, sat on top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. People spent almost unimaginable amounts of money, time and talent to build this incredible building. At the very pinnacle (apart from a very famous guy) is a set of radio antennae, just as there are at the top of so many tall buildings around the world. They have the highest place, the best view, but they are not the purpose or intent of the building! The owners wouldn’t let the lower floors get run down to give more power to the antennae. No one comes to admire the proportions and design of the antennae, not when there’s all that steel and glass and incredible view to look at!

If we accept that humanity occupies a similar place at the pinnacle of creation (or ‘the natural order’ if you don’t believe it was created) it cannot necessarily follow that humanity can do what it likes with the rest of the astonishing tower of the world around us. It especially cannot be a ‘Christian’ argument if we take Jesus’ teaching on what leadership looks like in his community:

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Mark 10:41-45, NIV)

If we take the ‘Creation Mandate’ of Genesis 1:28 seriously, we are to be rulers over creation, which must mean, according to Jesus, that we don’t ‘lord it over’ and exploit creation but serve it, be a slave to the entirety of it.

Now there’s an approach that might get you into arguments with scientists about creation!

But I guess that it doesn’t make sexy headlines when you’re campaigning for the primaries in the USA because you’ll end up sounding like one of those ‘liberals’ that need so much bashing.

What do you think about the ‘Creation Mandate’ and Christian responses to environmentalism? Please put something in the comments below!

Oh, and a reminder, go read the excellent article on Creation Theology in the Book of Job!