Friday, September 21, 2012

Creation and the Christian Story

Other than the Star Wars saga, which, in terms of publication, began in the middle of the story, stories that deal with entire world views tend to begin at the beginning. The Christian faith is a comprehensive world view. While it resonates primarily with believers, it discusses issues which are of interest to everyone, at least on some level. Unless you truly are of the sort that lives for today, forgets about yesterday, and hopes for tomorrow, every now and then, you ponder your roots.

Of course, Lutherans believe that the book of Genesis contains the record of creation. The first documents, the Creeds, declare that God is the “maker of Heaven and Earth.” Article I of the Augsburg Confession, “Concerning God,” likewise describes God as the “creator and preserver of all visible and invisible things.” The Confession specifically rejects the idea that there are two eternal beings, one good and the other evil, who were together responsible for creation. It also rejects random chance and macro-evolution as the mechanism of creation.

The Smalcald Articles are another confessional document. This document was written by Luther, himself, and was intended to represent Lutheran doctrine at a council called by Pope Paul III. Article I, speaking of the nature of God, echoes the Nicene Creed in declaring the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be the “one God, Who created heaven and earth, etc.”

The Catechisms were designed to be teaching documents. The Small Catechism was designed for use by local pastors and preachers, but also for use by the heads of households. The Large Catechism was actually a collection of sermons, re-edited by Luther, on the same topics. Thus, in its teaching on the First Article of the Nicene Creed, it explains the first line, confessing that “God has created me together with all that exists.” In addition, Lutherans believe that God is not an “absentee landlord” who shows no interest in His creation. Instead, God preserves everything that pertains to His creation, supplying all of our creature needs, and protecting us from evil.

In summary, the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 do not provide the explanation for the sorrow, suffering, and death that is now understood to be the normal part of existence. We are not naïve, for we are in this world, where we experience each of those things many times, either personally, or vicariously. We confess, however, that God is not the author of these things. We also believe that the Bible explains why bad things happen, and why death and decay are part of life. In the next chapter, you will see what that explanation is.