Why are we interested in creation?

James Orr postulates a heart question.

The interest of religion in the doctrine of creation is that this doctrine is our guarantee for the dependence of all things on God–the ground of our assurance that everything in nature and Providence is at His disposal.  “My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.”  Suppose there was anything in the universe that was not created by God–that existed independently of Him–how could we be sure that the element might not thwart, defeat, destroy the fulfillment of God’s purposes?”

For the trusting Christian, it just can’t happen.


  1. “Suppose there was anything in the universe that was not created by God-–how could we be sure that the element might not thwart [God]?”

    This idea doesn’t sell me. As long as we’re considering “alternate Gods,” how about a God who creates something beyond his control? Or sets something in motion that he cannot restrain? No, you must reject those possibilities whether God created the universe or not.

  2. I think it’s a good point; if GOD didn’t make it, maybe it’s “too much’ for HIM or HER (may as well offend Gaia while I’m at it ) maybe it represents something that HE doesn’t understand, or does, but will not be controlled

    as to Brians point: if GOD is able to make something ex nihilo (I know that’s not the LDS position) it seems very unlikely to me that HE wouldn’t be able to control it, or lose control of it later. but that’s just me

  3. Obviously, a God who is all those “omnis” (especially, in this case, omnipotent) is not going to create something that is going to get out of control.

    Further, the orthodox Christian doctrine of creation posits that God did not simply create the universe in the past and set it on its merry way; we are not deists. God continually keeps creation going. If God were to withdraw, all of creation would simply cease to exist.

  4. Excellent point mon frere, our GOD does not MERELY create, but “in HIM we live and move and have our being”

    Neither is HE old or tired…..wonder what THAT is like ??

  5. germit and FrGregACCA: Your positions are fine, but they assume the answer (God always has power over all things) without addressing the question (Did God create all things?). You have a pre-determined belief about God, so you don’t have any use for Orr’s argument? Your answer is the same whether God created all things or not. QED.

  6. BrianJ; I think the question runs more like this

    If GOD did not create everything, wouldn’t GOD cease to be GOD??

    so I think this is way of getting at “did GOD create all things ?” through a ‘side door”: the question is answered AFTER it is established that anything that exists that is uncreated would unseat GOD…..

    Wow…..where’s my French Roast and bischotti ???


  7. Greg, the Orthodox position, does maintain the traditional translation of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created . . . ” – an absolute beginning for matter, right?

    I can’t remember what The Orthodox Study Bible (2008) revealed.

  8. germit, you haven’t even begun to “[establish] that anything that exists that is uncreated [by God] would unseat GOD.” You just say that it is so. Again, I have no problem with you believing that, but I continue to assert that it is a position you reach without any need for Orr’s argument.

    “If GOD did not create everything, wouldn’t GOD cease to be GOD??”

    You can rephrase it however you like, it’s the same question I’ve been getting at the whole time. Or, more precisely, it’s the question I keep insisting that you (and Todd et al) aren’t getting at.

    In other words, your argument boils down to:
    – God exists
    – God is defined as One who created all things
    – Therefore, nothing can exist that was not created by God
    – If contrary, then God does not exist.

    You sidestep the question with your definition of God.

  9. This is one of those chasms, Brian.

    I think this definition flows from the Bible but not Joseph Smith.

    It is a fundamental of the Christian faith.

  10. Todd, I purposely used the term “orthodox” (small “o”) above, but yes, absolutely. The large “O” Orthodox doctrine is creation ex nihilo, out of nothing, and this is reaffirmed in the article on Creation in the Orthodox Study Bible, which is found across from Genesis 1 in the text.

    It sounds like you have a copy of the Orthodox Study Bible. If so, I am glad.

  11. Todd, I’ll mostly ignore the swipe and just ask: if you agree that that definition flows from the Bible, why bother with Orr’s quote? It’s totally unnecessary, unless you are trying to convince yourself that that definition of God is correct.

    Let me reiterate: I recognize that this is “one of those chasms.” I’m not arguing against anyone’s definition of God here. I’ve said repeatedly that your views are not what I’m taking issue with. What I’m asking about is, given your views, why do you even bother with Orr’s argument?

    Mormons and Fundamentalists have their differences theologically, but I would like to think that we share a dislike of unnecessary arguments. Please help me understand what purpose Orr’s argument serves for you.

  12. Orr’s question suits me because it is a question that I have for the typical LDS friend.

    Is there eternal matter outside of God that can thwart God? How much power does God have?

  13. BrianJ; in the strictest sense, I think you are right: Orr’s quote and point are not necessary for our position , and definition of GOD. In that sense, we were (at least GERMIT was) jumping onto a moving train….something my mom TRIED to warn me about.

    But as Todd pointed out, the question still has its uses, esp. when talking with someone who does NOT share our definition with us……such as the LDS.

    Hope that helps.

  14. Todd, I don’t currently have a complete copy of the NAB, only an RC lectionary. We’re talking study notes, right? Which suggest that Genesis 1:1 does not teach creation ex nihilo? Probably because biblical scholarship in Roman circles, while not without value, has to some degree been influenced by certain strains of liberal Protestant scholarship. Be that as it may, the Roman Church too continues to teach creation from nothing, and I continue to find both editions of the Jerome Biblical Commentary to be useful.

    If we are discussing the translation of Genesis 1:1, well, the NAB is pretty paraphrastic, only slightly less so than the Living Bible. One of the EO priests, Fr. Peter Gillquist, who was involved in the production of the Orthodox Study Bible, refers to the NAB as “chatty”. I pretty much agree.

  15. Orr’s question suits me because it is a question that I have for the typical LDS friend.

    Ahh, now I see. The question is, as I suggested, unimportant to you immediately, but I see its value to you as a question to ask others. Fair enough.

    Is there eternal matter outside of God that can thwart God?

    I believe there is matter outside of God; i.e., substance that he did not create. But he says that he has power over it—or at least, that he will accomplish his will no matter the opposition. And I trust him.

    How much power/glory does God have?

    Does it matter? When someone treats me to lunch, I don’t ask how much money they have in their wallet.

  16. Oh, regarding ex nihilo—I concluded a couple years ago that that is the single deepest chasm to separate us. You’re right to have it heavily on your mind.

  17. Greg: regarding paraphrases,The Living Bible stinks on this opening verse but try looking at Genesis 1:1 in The Message.

  18. FrGreg: if the NAB is chatty, then I’m straining for the right descriptor for “the Message”……I’m finishing “the Purpose Driven Life” and Mr.Warren uses the Message heavily…I think his purpose was to drive me bonkers…….it’s working.

    I’ve just this past week heard several LDS make the same claim that Brian did about ex nihilo……in a 1000 yrs, I never would have guessed that it would have ranked that high in what separates us….and guessed wrong, apparently

  19. Germit: “Loquacious?”

    Regarding the differences, what is most basic, at least logically, is the collapsing of that ole ontological gulf: “spirit is matter”. It reverberates throughout the whole LDS thought-structure.

    Ironically, this is at least as Greek as it is Hebrew: while the latter may not have been explicit about ex nihilo, the former were very explicit about the eternity of matter.

  20. FrGreg: Dead on mon pere…..add to that the whole “GOD must have a physical body…..” and it makes it very hard to keep a staight face when our LDS buds rant on about how “hellenized” our religion was/is…..I found hard candy helps…..

  21. BrianJ: This is ironic because, as Blake writes, the LDS belief system allegedly “rescues” “the heart of God’s revelation to the Hebrews from the Greek mind.”

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