A Theology of Creation: Moving Beyond the Debate

According to Aquinas, an individual’s view of Creation influences their view of God. Therefore it makes logical sense to start theological reflection with, “In the beginning God created…” Debate between Creationists and Evolutionists have primarily succeeded in polarizing individuals between faith and science. But is it possible to develop a theology of Creation by stepping back from emotionalism and false dichotomies?

My process of developing a theology of Creation has been analogous to the continuous process of Creation itself. Just as the Spirit moved over the dark waters to bring order from chaos, I have developed a theology of Creation through four movements:

  • Move beyond seeing Creation as separate from our present reality and future redemption
  • Move toward an understanding of God through the lens of Creation
  • Move away from a science-theology debate
  • Move closer to understand God’s purposes for Creation

Move Beyond
My first step is to move beyond seeing Creation as a distinct, separate and static event of the past. Creation has been and continues to be a continual process, rather than a one-time event. There is great unity and continuity in God’s creative acts. They are not segmented into distinct activities. In fact, the ultimate goals of Creation are not yet complete, and will only find completion within the redemptive power of God. The world today groans under the strain of decay, imperfection, death and suffering.

When Creation theology is expanded to a more holistic perspective, God’s power to resurrect and redeem becomes better understood. Salvation is impossible without first experiencing Creation; God’s creative power determines His resurrection power. The Spirit who first breathed life and energy into the dust and dirt of the world, is the same power that creates life anew, brings life to dead bones and calls forth from the grave. Creation is a great continuum of decreasing chaos, depravity and death, and increasing hope and perfection. Only in the New Creation will God’s ultimate purposes and goals be fully realized and perfected.

Move Toward
My next step of developing a theology of Creation is to move toward an understanding of God through the lens of Creation. Just as the Creator, not the Creation, is intended as the object of our worship, so too shall we look to Creation for instruction and insight about God. All of Creation points to its Designer and Sustainer. Creation instructs and informs our knowledge of God, which in turn aids us in better understanding Creation itself. In the same manner, Ancient Israel recognized Yahweh as Lord of all and were thus driven to acknowledge Him as Creator.

Our transcendent God does not need Creation to complete or fulfill Himself. But rather, by Creation God makes Himself known and shares His glory. Just as the triune God interacts in perfect love and communality, so too does He desire for us. While nature and animals naturally reflect God’s nature, humans have been given free will to obey and worship their Creator. It is amazing to consider that God so values community that He willingly limits and binds Himself to it, and to us.

Historically many errant conclusions about the nature of God and His Creation have been suggested. Deists suggest God initially created the world, but has since been uninvolved in its continuing operation. However, as sovereign Lord, He alone establishes how Creation operates. God’s sovereignty in the created world can be seen in the initial breath of life, undergirding of His love and grace, to a universal salvific will. In fact, I find it fascinating to consider it was His creative delight rather than fatigue that resulted in rest on the seventh day of Creation.

Move Away
As I have moved beyond a static, one-time view of Creation and toward a deeper understanding of God through the lens of Creation, the interplay of science and faith must also be addressed. Because each viewpoint has the potential of informing and instructing the other, my theology of Creation moves away from a science-theology debate and seeks common ground. Both perspectives admit the material world emanated from someone or something. Both point to an orderly, designed world that operates according to natural laws. However, science tends to concerns itself more with the physical world, whereas faith considers the meaning and purpose of that world.

By focusing on the “how” of Creation, some basic conclusions can be drawn. God is clearly involved in all of Creation. He designs and creatively perfects conditions for human existence. “The world itself bears witness to a Creator who is interested in human beings and to a power capable of producing them” [Pinnock 69]. Human intelligence, universal morality and longing for a higher being are indicative of a Designer, not random chance. Even Ex nihilo Creation, Big Bang theory, theistic evolution and/or Darwinism may all be included within a theology of Creation if one steps away from a strict 6-day, 24-hour Creation story. By viewing God as sovereign, able to bring about His purposes and plans in any manner He so chooses, a wide variety of answers to the “how” questions of theology is made possible.

Move Closer
Finally, I consider the “why” of Creation by moving closer to understand God’s purposes. I love the picture of God the Creator as an artist or musician expressing himself. Out of His love and grace, as an overflow of His generosity, God creates. And in so doing He invites his Creation to engage and interact with Him in community. All of Creation displays God’s might and power, and “is not empty of meaning but is actually full of mystery” [Pinnock 62]. As Creation depends on God for its very life and strength, the Spirit’s presence is present throughout. Ultimately “what was created through the Son finds its destiny in its being returned to the Father by the Spirit” [Pinnock 59].

We join in the dance of the Trinity as we formulate our theological perspectives. As we read and interact with God’s two revelations – His Holy Word and His Creation – we come to know and understand God. And from there, we begin to develop our theological reflections. Tozer once stated, “The Sacred page is not meant to be the end, but only the means toward the end, which is knowing God Himself” [Moyer Lecture, 5/20/11]. So too is Creation. My developing of a theory of Creation has involved moving beyond, toward, away and closer. And as I have done so, I better understand not only Creation, but also redemption, God’s purposes for us, and God Himself.


Richardson, A. Dictionary of Christian Theology (SCM Press, 1981).
Grenz, S. Created for Community, 2nd edition (Baker, 1998).
Pinnock, C. Flame of Love (IVP, 1999).