“Some Important Features of the Doctrine of Creation”
The rather lengthy quote below comes after Fergusson provides a quick reading of the most important biblical discussions – both OT and NT – of the doctrine of creation. These four “important features,” then, represent the payoff of this reading. They also serve as the rough contours of the doctrine of creation as a whole.
David Fergusson, Creation, Guides to Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 9.
(I’ve thrown in some bold to help with navigating the paragraph, and to emphasize a couple of good lines.)
Some important features of the doctrine of creation emerge from this reading of Scripture. It is not primarily a philosophical hypothesis about how the world got started. While there are philosophical elements in Scripture, particularly in the wisdom literature, the theology of creation is set within the circle of faith. Four features should be noted. i) It shapes an account of the God-world relationship. The world is not divine since it comes into being by the will and word of God, rather than any emanation from the divine being itself. This enables the Bible to depict God’s transcendence and otherness from creaturely reality, while at the same time allowing it to signify a relationship that can be characterized by the language of covenant and fellowship. ii) The goodness of the world is affirmed. The creation narratives of Scripture do not allow a denigration of the material world or a dualism that depicts the world as a battleground between rival cosmic powers. Even while it is the arena of decay, suffering, and sin, this world remains God’s good creation. Its goodness is not limited to some past golden age in Eden. Even in a postlapsarian setting, the Psalms still testify to the beauty and providential ordering of the cosmos. While this generates problems in the face of evil, the Bible seems willing to embrace these problems rather than to seek an escape route by diminishing either the goodness or the power of God. iii) Creation is imperfect and incomplete. The making of the world is only the first of God’s works. As the beginning of a history, it sets in motion a narrative that has a focal point in the coming of Jesus. The ordering of the Christian canon itself suggests a pattern of promise and fulfillment. God’s creative work is ongoing throughout the history of Israel and the church, even embracing resistance and struggle in its dealing with people and natural forces. Yet this work of renewal embraces rather than abandons creation. It has been said that the Bible offers us not so much a doctrine of creation as a doctrine of the creator. This remark reminds us of the ways in which the description of the world’s creation is deeply related to God’s other works of preservation and redemption. iv) The expression of creation is a doxological act. The making of the world by God is a cause for celebration and praise. Creation is an article of faith that engages both the heart and the mind, and elicits an attitude of trust and confidence. As we shall see, this is particularly evident in the Lutheran and Reformed confessions and catechisms of the sixteenth century.