Bonhoeffer on Genesis 1.1 – “And God said…”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1-3 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004): 40-1:
“[T]he God of the Bible remains wholly God, wholly the Creator, wholly the Lord, and what God has created remains wholly subject and obedient, praising and worshiping God as Lord. God is never the creation but always the Creator. God is not the substance of nature. There is no continuum that ties God to, or unites God with, God’s work – except God’s word…That is, ‘inherently’ [‘an sich’] there is no continuum; were the word not there, the world would drop into a bottomless abyss. This word of God is neither the nature nor the essence of God; it is the commandment of God. It is the very God who thinks and creates this word, but as One who chooses to encounter the creature as its Creator. God’s creatorship is not the essence, the substance, but the will or commandment of God; in it God gives us God’s very self as God wills. That God creates by the word means that creation is God’s order or command, and that this command is free.

“God says, God speaks. This means that God creates in complete freedom. Even in creating, God remains wholly free over against what is created. God is not bound to what is created; instead God binds it to God. God does not enter into what is created as its substance; instead what relates God to what is created is God’s command. That is, God is never in the world in any other way than as one who is utterly beyond it. God is, as the word, in the world, because God is the one who is utterly beyond, and God is utterly beyond the world, because God is in the world in the word. Only in the word of creation do we know the Creator; only in the word addressed to us in the middle do we have the beginning. It is not ‘from’ God’s works, then, that we recognize the Creator – as though the substance, the nature, or the essence of the work were after all ultimately somehow identical with God’s essence or as if there were some kind of continuum between them, such as that of cause and effect. On the contrary we believe that God is the Creator only because by his word God acknowledges these works as his own, and we believe this word about these works. There is no via eminentiae, negationis, causalitatis!”


Matthew Frost said…
Interesting resonance with Tillich, for whom God is depth and ground, but never elemental to the structure. The divine autonomy emphasis of the period, as opposed to natural theology, perhaps.

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