Creation in biblical and classical theism

Biblical creation opens with God moving over the deep – the chaotic, evil, unformed, non-blessed – and responding to them with the light coming forth from his logos. The light is then divided from the deep/darkness, is called good, and nothing is said about the darkness. Though the light first comes forth from the logos the need to divide it from darkness implies some degree of mingling between the two that God must set aright. There is both the procession from God from the beginning and the definitive eschatological separation of good and evil.

Biblical creation is a further possible development of a philosophical account of creation. A philosophical account can show that for God to give rise to anything less than himself required that evil be possible, but it cannot account for how moral evil is more than a possibility or for why physical evils are such that the lower sometimes lives at the expense of the higher. Again, classical theism can say no more than that these are allowed, but allowance does not suffice to explain why anything is more than a mere possibility. What classical theism takes as a possibility biblical theism takes as more than a possibility, and then starts with the divine response to it.

For classical theism, God’s response to creation is identical to his act of creation – it’s just conservation in being. In biblical theism an additional element is needed since something is introduced in addition to what is found in the act of creation as classical theism understands it. Biblical creation will therefore always be reparative and dialectical. Classical theism allows for at least the logical possibility of a deist god since there is nothing left to be done with creation beyond the act of creation. For Biblical creation, literally everything happens after there is something beyond what is given in creation.

There is also an account of creation ex nihilo in scripture, given from the mouth of the Maccabean mother to her martyr son. But notice it occurs entirely within the context of God’s response to evil : as God has brought the world out of non-being so too he will raise his holy ones from the dead (cf. . 27 – 28) Biblical creation appropriates themes from classical theism to account for its dialectical, reparative and redemptive character.

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