Practical Theology 3: Origins
This is part of our series on the practical application of the theological truths contained in our doctrinal statement. View previous series entries: Intro; The Holy Scriptures; Reliability of the Biblical Text; The Godhead; Is the Trinity Even Biblical?
We believe that God created the heavens and earth in six consecutive twenty four hour days approximately 6000 years ago. (Gn. 1:1 – 31)
We believe that God created by means of His unique, powerful Word by speaking everything into existence. (Gn. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26; Ps. 33:6,9)
We believe that God created and sustains all the processes operative in the universe. (Colossians 1:16,17)
We believe creation is a unique expression of God’s glory and that God alone is to be ascribed the Creator. (Is. 42:5-9; Rm. 1:20,25)
There is so much to say in the arena of origins. It is difficult for me to resist the temptation to talk about science, theistic evolution, theological impacts and more, but I will do my best to cut to the chase. Because God is creator, and because of the nature and purpose of His creation, there are several practical applications to be drawn:
Because God is the creator, He has authority over His creation and is sovereign over all things. Since He has this authority, He has the right to command us to observe the things He has decreed and we have the obligation to obey these commands and are accountable to Him. Therefore, all sin, all rebellion is actually cosmic treason against the King of the universe. Heavy stuff. This has theological implications (sin, salvation, etc) and practical implications: How will I live in light of the fact that I am obligated to obey the King of Kings?
Cleary, the nature of who God is as creator has massive implications, but so does the nature of what His creation is and what it was made to be.
Our statement above says that creation is a unique expression of God’s glory. This has great implications all on its own because we are called to live for God’s glory in everything we do (1 Cor 10:31) and to glorify God in our bodies (1 Cor 6:20). Since we were made for His glory (Is 43:7) and are called to glorify Him, this will inform how we live. Not only will it inform how we behave in relation to ourselves, but it will also have an impact on our relation to the rest of creation.
There are many aspects of this that apply to our relationships with other people, but I am going to save that for my upcoming article on the Total Depravity of Man. For now, my focus will be on how we relate to the rest of creation and how we glorify God in how we treat His creation.
When God created the world, he called it “good” numerous times. This world and universe around it are good. When God created humanity, He made us to have dominion, or rulership, over the earth (Gen 1:26-28). God also designed the exercise of this dominion to involve work (Sorry, work is not part of the curse of sin, but is itself good). God placed Adam in the garden and commanded him to tend the garden and name the animals, and Eve was made to compliment Adam in the work. Humanity was designed to flourish in the garden as it was tended, and all this, the work, the tending, and the exercise of dominion, all brings glory to God. I believe that this has implications in how we interact with creation in at least three ways:
- Since work and exercising dominion brings glory to God, we should have positive work ethics. We should work hard to fulfill our responsibilities in the workplace and work to promote human flourishing in society. This glorifies God. Sometimes we may feel that our work is meaningless, but this isn’t true. The work you do, even the most seemingly menial tasks, plays an important role in society and thus brings glory to God when done well.
- Since work and exercising dominion brings glory to God, we have the freedom to use His creation to make these activities more effective and efficient for human flourishing. This means we can domesticate animals to aid our work (horses, service dogs, etc) and enjoyment (pets of all varieties); it means we can use the natural resources of the earth to aid our lives (trees, wind, solar, oil, natural gas, etc.).
- Since exercising dominion brings glory to God, we should exercise this dominion in ways that are consistent with His character. This means that we have the responsibility to use these resources wisely and responsibly. As God’s representatives on earth, we must not be wasteful or exploitative. We should treat animals fairly and responsibly. Natural resources should not be abused; strip-mining and unnecessary/excessive pollution harm human flourishing in the long run.
Viewing this through the biblical lens and striving to live for God’s glory in ourselves and in creation allows us to have balance in these areas; yes, we can use the natural resources that have been given by God, but we must also use them responsibly. This helps us as we consider the many choices we must make in relation to the rest of creation in our daily lives, including, but not limited to, our purchases, lifestyle, legislation, treatment of animals, and work ethic.
This is far from a comprehensive treatment of the practical implications of our belief in the biblical account of creation; this article is merely the tip of the iceberg. I pray we can all be faithful to live mindfully of these truths and that God will show us more ways to be live out our theology in practical ways every day.
Be blessed; be a blessing