Friday, June 14, 2013

"Creation and Reality": Creation and "the Model of Causation and Production"

In my last post I introduced Michael Welker's book Creation and Reality, noted his disdain for "abstraction" and "reduction," and said that I'd next demonstrate Welker's approach. Welker's first chapter, entitled "What is Creation? Rereading Genesis 1 and 2" serves as a good place to begin to do just that, because here he observes "misleading, distorting definitions of creation," "false abstractions," which he wants to "shake up." (6)

In chapter 1 Welker wants to shake up "the model of causation and dependence" (11). This model defines "Creation as an ultimate process of being produced by a transcendent reality and as absolute dependence," and is based on a very narrow reading of Genesis 1-2; according to Welker "God's creative action corresponds in only a few ways to the pattern of causation and production" (9). Moreover, and more importantly at this point, this model "has fortified and passed on a simple pattern of power," (7-8). It "connects images of production and of the exercise of power," and there's no avenue "behind" this "process of production" (8).

Thus according to this model one must accept "the absolute dependence of the creature on God" (9). This however raises problems, like "anxiety about the creature's own power" in Genesis 1-2 and in the doctrine of creation (11). Furthermore, given this model's "focus upon one-sided hierarchical arrangement and absolute dependence," concerns of feminist thinkers likely begin to appear at this point (13).[*]

Now if I've garnered much of an understanding of the audience here at DET, I'm sure that by now you're screaming (at least in your head), "go to Christology!" However, Welker does not address this by going to Christology, but rather by going back to Genesis 1-2. It is important to recall the previous post, perhaps this statement in particular; "it is necessary not to give up the christological, pneumatological, and other debates with classical theism but to supplement them in the area of the theology of creation" (2). Welker believes the doctrine of creation still has a major role to play, and as I argued in the previous post, Welker wants to move away from utilizing "a single theme" to solve all our theological ills (3). Of course this does not mean that Welker wants to downplay the role of Christ; rather, it means that Welker sees that texts like Genesis 1-2 have much more to them than this "model of causation and dependence." In the next post I will try to show what it is that Welker sees.

[*] While Welker doesn't explicitly mention it in this chapter (aside from possibly pgs. 14, 17), from other writings it seems fair to assume that he wants to argue against "hierarchical arrangement(s)" for at least some of the same reasons as feminist thinkers (see writings on and by Welker here and here).  I was stimulated to make this connection due to some recent discussions around the blogosphere and on twitter regarding Tony Jones.


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