Biblical Creation Theology
I’m writing a paper. The thesis is that the main goal of creation theology throughout Scripture is to bring about the praise of the Creator. To argue this thesis, I’m examining the motifs of creation as temple, creation and chaos, and creation and redemption.
Here’s a segment of my introduction:
In many conservative evangelical circles, biblical creation theology has been hijacked and eclipsed by the vitriolic debate between Young Earth Creationism and Neo-Darwinism. It is often difficult to see beyond this morass the beautiful tapestry of creation themes in biblical theology. Waltke summarizes the problem well: “Instead of metaphysical questions that shape culture, questions about dinosaurs, a young earth theory, and such dominate the evangelical landscape. This is unfortunate.” Nevertheless, there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Scripture’s use of creation themes, whether the evangelical community gives them appropriate attention or not.
Bruce Waltke and Charles Yu, “Chapter 7: The Gift of the Cosmos” In An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007) 174.
Can I recommend three excellent resources which have helped me in my study of Biblical Creation Theology?
The first is The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate by John H. Walton (Ph.D., Hebrew Union College), professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College.
In this astute mix of cultural critique and biblical studies, John H. Walton presents and defends twenty propositions supporting a literary and theological understanding of Genesis 1 within the context of the ancient Near Eastern world and unpacks its implications for our modern scientific understanding of origins. Ideal for students, professors, pastors and lay readers with an interest in the intelligent design controversy and creation-evolution debates, Walton’s thoughtful analysis unpacks seldom appreciated aspects of the biblical text and sets Bible-believing scientists free to investigate the question of origins.
Second and third are two works by Michael W. Pahl (Ph.D. Theology, Birmingham, UK), The Beginning and the End: Rereading Genesis’s Stories and Revelation’s Visions and From Resurrection to New Creation: A First Journey in Christian Theology.
First, The Beginning and The End:
Have you ever wondered if there might be more to Genesis than fodder for anti-evolutionism? Or have you ever thought, ‘Revelation has to be more than simply a roadmap for the future of the Middle East’? You’re not alone.
In The Beginning and the End Michael Pahl surveys the opening chapters of Genesis and the concluding chapters of Revelation, taking seriously both their historical and literary features as ancient texts and their theological purposes as inspired Scripture. The result is a reading of the first and last books of the Bible that sketches out, from beginning to end, a story of God, humanity, and all creation–a grand narrative in which we are placed in the middle, and which calls us to live in a particular way as our identity and our values are shaped in light of our origins and our destiny.
In The Beginning and the End, Dr. Pahl does an amazing job of handling both origins and eschatology. I’m not quite sure how he does it, but he somehow avoids the vitriolic debates which have unfortunately characterized these areas of doctrine for far too long. I appreciate his handling of the creation accounts in Genesis because they can be read by both Young Earth Creationists and Theistic Evolutionists alike. Members of both groups will walk away from this work challenged, chastened, and instructed by the words of Scripture.
Secondly, From Resurrection to New Creation:
This is the way to do theology, as rooted in Story, God’s own Story that emerges with yearning for resolution at the time of Jesus and which only Jesus Christ resolved. Theology has too often lost sight of this Story, but Michael Pahl’s book calls us back once again to the Bible and to the earliest theologians’ way of doing theology — let the gospel story be told and let that Story shape how we understand theology. ~ Scot McKnight.
Although I am mainly using only one chapter from this book (Chapter 7: Creation, to show the link between Creation and Redemption), it is a fantastic and well-written introduction to Christian theology.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m sick of sacrificing the words of Scripture on the altars of our own agendas. Hopefully these resources and others will help anyone interested in seeing past the Ken Hams and the Richard Dawkinses of this age to the timeless and beautiful themes of biblical creation theology.