"Creation and Reality": "The Reacting God"

So far I've tried to outline the general character of Welker's thought in Creation and Reality, and show how it works out in criticizing one way of approaching the doctrine of creation. In this final post I want to highlight Welker's alternative. He begins by arguing for a more nuanced understanding of God in Genesis 1-2.

As noted in the previous post, Welker concedes that a complete denial of the "model of causation and production" is impossible (11). That said, "the texts are full of instances that emphasize and develop God's reactive experiencing and acting as God reacts to the presence of what is created," whereas the God of the "model" is present only minimally (9). Instead of unpacking his scriptural evidence in depth (though it is certainly worth doing), here's a few examples to support this claim that "the texts describe in a differentiated way God's reacting through perception and evaluation" (Ibid):

  1. "Twice God intervenes in what is already created in order to separate it (Gen. 1:4b, 7b)" (Ibid).
  2. "Seven times the later creation account emphasizes God's evaluative perception: 'And God saw that it was good'" (Ibid).
  3. Finally, according to Welker "The creation account thus emphasizes that divine and human initiative coincide (Gen. 2:5)" in its discussion of "vegetation" (9-10).

For Welker, these examples lead one to believe that "the creating God is not only the acting God, but also the reacting God who responds to what has been created," and "only a distorting abstraction can block out . . . God's action as action that reacts, as action that lets itself be determined"(10).

Going further, Welker argues that "The creature's own activity . . . is embedded in the process of creation and participates in that process" (Ibid). For Welker, "in the classical creation texts" the "anxiety" of the "model" noted earlier (see the previous post) is replaced by an understanding where "repeatedly the creature's own differentiated activity is practically set parallel with God's creative action, without ceasing to be the creature's own activity." And as before, Welker finds this understanding in Genesis 1-2 (11, emphasis mine).

It is at this point that one runs into a temptation according to Welker which he calls "yes-but" (12). Essentially, the "yes-but" seeks "to rescue the conventional model of causation and production" by giving determinative priority to the "differentiated activity" of either the creature or God (11-2). What I really appreciate about Welker here is that he rejects "this false alternative into which the model of production and dependence has pressed us," arguing instead that one should affirm "the connectedness and cooperation of creator and that which is created" as well as the potential to "differentiate sufficiently God's activity and the particular activities of the creature" (12-3). This is a great example of a key aspect of Welker's thinking I discussed in the first post: his resistance to "a single form/theme," to massaging or "fixing" "discontinuities" (3). This is also evident in his concluding discussion of the "limits" in his examination of Genesis 1-2; in other words, there is more work to do, further "rich description[s]" to discover and outline (11, 20)!

Here I must also impose a limit, though an examination of Welker's attempt to address the above dynamic I ended with remains. My hope is that in this brief series you're motivated to check Welker out for yourself. My posts aren't able to capture all that he's up to, especially since my knowledge of his writing is still growing. Or, since I will be posting on him in the future, you could keep visiting DET!



Thanks for these great Book o' the Month features, Derek - well done! I've enjoyed learning more about Welker's work.
Derek Maris said…
You are welcome Travis!

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