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And God said... : Education and the Importance of Creation Order Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C., Canada.

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Presentation on theme: "And God said... : Education and the Importance of Creation Order Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C., Canada."— Presentation transcript:

1 And God said... : Education and the Importance of Creation Order Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C., Canada

2 Starting with the Gospel Restorative: Good news! God is restoring creation Restorative: Good news! God is restoring creation Comprehensive: Good news! God is restoring all of human life in the context of all of the creation Comprehensive: Good news! God is restoring all of human life in the context of all of the creation Story: Climax of long story of restoration Story: Climax of long story of restoration Mission: Given to church to make known Mission: Given to church to make known

3 Introductory remarks: Lives not shaped by a doctrine of creation as much as it should be Lives not shaped by a doctrine of creation as much as it should be Understanding of creation essential for education Understanding of creation essential for education Genesis 1 shows us Gods original intention for world Genesis 1 shows us Gods original intention for world Genesis 1 must be understood in original context Genesis 1 must be understood in original context

4 Historical and Cultural Context Moses writing just after exodus from Egypt Moses writing just after exodus from Egypt Polemic against the myths, religion, gods of paganism Polemic against the myths, religion, gods of paganism Genesis one contains doctrine so rich in meaning that it cannot be easily over-interpreted theologically. (Von Rad)

5 Moses concerns were exclusively religious. His intent was to proclaim knowledge of the true God as he manifested himself in his creative works, to proclaim a right understanding of humankind, the world, and history that knowledge of the true God entails--and to proclaim the truth concerning these matters in the face of the false religious notions dominant throughout the world of his day. -John Stek

6 Literary Structure of Genesis 1

7 Very Good Cosmos Stage Two: Gen Darkness banished by creation of light (day 1) Darkness banished by creation of light (day 1) Formlessness removed by creation of sky, dry land and seas (days 2-3) Formlessness removed by creation of sky, dry land and seas (days 2-3) Emptiness remedied by creation of creatures to dwell in four areas (days 4-6) Emptiness remedied by creation of creatures to dwell in four areas (days 4-6) Accomplished by commands of God Accomplished by commands of God Powerful word Powerful word Good word Good word Wise word Wise word

8 Gods Creating Word

9 Creating words of God By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. (Ps. 33.6) For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (Ps. 33.9) By faith we understand that the universe was formed at Gods command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Heb. 11.3)

10 Word of God Originating word: Word that creates wise and good order of creation Originating word: Word that creates wise and good order of creation Continuing word: Same word continues to bring order (2 Peter 3.7; Ps. 147, 148) Continuing word: Same word continues to bring order (2 Peter 3.7; Ps. 147, 148)

11 Gods Upholding Word God has called the universe into being out of nothing, and hence at every moment it hangs suspended, as it were, over the abyss of non- existence. If God were to withdraw his upholding Word, then all being... would instantly tumble back into nothing and cease to exist. The continuation of the universe from one moment to the next is therefore as great a miracle and as fully the work of God as is its coming into being at the beginning. - Bruce Milne - Bruce Milne

12 Two Storeys of Thomas Aquinas ( ) Spiritual realm GRACE Supernatural SoulChurchChristian life FaithRevelationTheology __________________________________________ Material realm NATURE Natural Body SocietyCultural life Empirical reasonNatural lawScience

13 From dualism to secularism... in connection with the history of his influence the fact cannot be overlooked that the Christian mediaeval synthesis presented by Thomas is one of extreme tension, and in the dynamic of historical development had effects which were to prove self-destructive: there was to be an unprecedented and all- embracing movement of secularization and emancipation at the lower level. (Küng)... in connection with the history of his influence the fact cannot be overlooked that the Christian mediaeval synthesis presented by Thomas is one of extreme tension, and in the dynamic of historical development had effects which were to prove self-destructive: there was to be an unprecedented and all- embracing movement of secularization and emancipation at the lower level. (Küng)

14 Secularism in succeeding centuries While scholastic theologians granted a limited degree of autonomy to the realm of our natural life (and natural reason), the Renaissance humanists so greatly expanded the autonomy of nature that there was no longer any need for the realm of grace. If God and Christianity were already basically irrelevant to most of life, why not make their irrelevance complete? (Walsh and Middleton)

15 Two Storeys of Thomas Aquinas Spiritual realm GRACE Supernatural SoulChurchChristian life FaithRevelationTheology __________________________________________ Material realm NATURE Natural Body SocietyCultural life Empirical reasonNatural lawScience

16 Historical results Creation separated from presence of God Creation separated from presence of God Natural laws built into creation Natural laws built into creation Can be discerned by autonomous reason Can be discerned by autonomous reason Controlled to harness laws for social uses Controlled to harness laws for social uses Technology and rational organisation of society Technology and rational organisation of society

17 Creation according to Scripture

18 Secular world devoid of Gods presence

19 Deistic world devoid of Gods presence

20 Christian education resisting secularism that teaches about Gods world as if his presence did not matter.

21 Gods presence permeates the world In Him we live and move and have our being. (Paul, Acts 17.28) God has so implicated Himself with [the creation], and taken it into His very bosom, by His presence in it, His providence over it, His impressions upon it, and His influences through it, that we cannot truly or fully contemplate it without in some aspects contemplating Him. (Cardinal Newman)

22 Gods immanence in creation There is not an atom of the universe in which you cannot see some brilliant sparks at least of his glory. God is immanent in all creation. The pure of heart see God everywhere. Everything is full of God. I confess that the expression, Nature is God may be used in a pious sense by a pious mind! (Herman Bavinck, quoting John Calvin) (Herman Bavinck, quoting John Calvin)

23 Charged with the grandeur of God The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil. Crushed... (Gerard Manley Hopkins) (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

24 Gods presence and knowledge He is One who is sovereign over, operative amidst, independent of, the appointments which He has made; One in whose hands are all things, who has a purpose in every event, and a standard for every deed, and thus has relations of His own towards the subject-matter of each particular science which the book of knowledge unfolds; who has with an adorable, never-ceasing energy implicated Himself in all the history of creation, the constitution of nature, the course of the world, the origin of society, the fortunes of the nations, the action of the human mind... - Cardinal Newman - Cardinal Newman

25 Life coram Deo Before the face of God or in the presence of God Before the face of God or in the presence of God Latin phrase, 50x in Vulgate Latin phrase, 50x in Vulgate Oriental court where servants live in Kings presence, alert, ready to respond to his bidding Oriental court where servants live in Kings presence, alert, ready to respond to his bidding

26 Christian education resisting naturalism that teaches about non-human creation as if Gods word and activity does not matter.

27 Gods activity in upholding in the non-human creation Psalm , Psalm , 15-18

28 Gods Ruling Word The Bible shows us a personalistic world, not impersonal law. What we call scientific law is an approximate human description of just how faithfully and consistently God acts in ruling the world by speaking. There is not mathematical, physical, or theoretical cosmic machinery behind what we see and know, holding everything in place. Rather God rules and rules consistently - Vern Poythress - Vern Poythress

29 Three uses of word law Word God speaks to give creation order Word God speaks to give creation order Lawful regularity we experience in creation Lawful regularity we experience in creation Attempt at scientific, analytical formulation of these regularities Attempt at scientific, analytical formulation of these regularities E. D. Fackerell E. D. Fackerell

30 Christian education resisting relativism that sees human life as free from Gods ordering word.... teaching for wisdom that finds true freedom by discerning Gods order for human life.

31 What is wisdom?... the practical knowledge of the laws of life and of the world based on experience. - Von Rad - Von Rad

32 Divine and human wisdom Wisdom [is] wrought into the constitution of the universe so that human wisdom is ethical conformity to Gods creation (Fleming). Wisdom [is] wrought into the constitution of the universe so that human wisdom is ethical conformity to Gods creation (Fleming). Kosmos: the world held a divine order and therefore wisdom was fitting oneself into this divine order. (Gladigow). Kosmos: the world held a divine order and therefore wisdom was fitting oneself into this divine order. (Gladigow). Gods wisdom (order); human wisdom (conformity to that order) Gods wisdom (order); human wisdom (conformity to that order)

33 Gods Word as Law... the Ten Commandments are a brief summary of the Christian ethic and an unsurpassed rule for our life. There are also many other laws to which we are bound. God also laid down laws for our thinking, for our appreciation of the beautiful, for our social life, for heaven and earth, for sun and moon and stars, for day and night, for summer and winter, for seed time and harvest. - Herman Bavinck - Herman Bavinck

34 Scope of Gods Ordinances... All created life necessarily bears in itself a law for its existence, instituted by God himself.... Consequently there are ordinances of God for our bodies, for the blood that courses through our arteries and veins, and for our lungs as the organs of respiration. And even so are there ordinances of God in logic, to regulate our thoughts; ordinances of God for our imagination, in the domain of aesthetics; and so also, strict ordinances of God whole of human life in the domain of morals.... All created life necessarily bears in itself a law for its existence, instituted by God himself.... Consequently there are ordinances of God for our bodies, for the blood that courses through our arteries and veins, and for our lungs as the organs of respiration. And even so are there ordinances of God in logic, to regulate our thoughts; ordinances of God for our imagination, in the domain of aesthetics; and so also, strict ordinances of God whole of human life in the domain of morals. –Abraham Kuyper –Abraham Kuyper

35 Diversity and lawfulness

36 Diversity and law The merit of the much-disputed Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea of the philosophers Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven (Free University) is that, from the perspective of the idea of creation, it puts such a strong emphasis on the variety and plurality of the various levels of existence, and points out the confusion that results from the failure to discern the laws which hold for those different levels. – Hendrikus Berkhof – Hendrikus Berkhof

37 Word of God and education The University must be bound to the word of God, in every way in which God makes known to us his word: in nature, in history, in our own heart, and in his Scriptural revelation. Do not forget that the University does not only have a Theological faculty, but also investigates nature, history, the juridicial sphere and so much more. It is therefore not enough to say that it is bound to Scripture. Wherever and however God speaks, the University must always give ear and follow. Materially, therefore, there is no difference of opinion; the University must be bound to God and to God alone, whenever and wherever God makes manifest his Wisdom, his Will, and his Ordinance, or renders them knowable through investigation and research. - Abraham Kuyper - Abraham Kuyper

38 Life as religion Everything has been created was, in its creation, furnished by God with an unchangeable law of its existence. And because God has fully ordained such laws and ordinances for all of life, therefore the Calvinist demands that all life be consecrated to His service, in strict obedience. -Abraham Kuyper -Abraham Kuyper

39 Historical unfolding and cultural embodiment Now the peculiarity of all revelation is, that while it posits principles and lays down foundations, it charges men with the application of these principles and the building upon these foundations. Creation was the first revelation... thought and speech life and history, science and art, have all had their commencement in principles which are laid down by Gods creative power. - Herman Bavinck - Herman Bavinck


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