Is Creation God?
One of the great moves by the churches in the 30 years has been a concern for the environment. That was after decades of not being bothered.
One diocese in the forefront is Oxford Diocese and they are releasing as series of four videos on Creation and our care on the environment in which the Bishop of Reading gives four short addresses on different aspects.
The first dealt with a general view of creation which needs to underpin all care of the environment. Much was standard Christian teaching but somehow she brought in the idea of God as incarnate in Creation;
“If God is incarnate in the whole of creation, can there be any separation between sacred and profane?”
We ought to welcome her concern for creation and environment, but may question her support of Extinction Rebellion and Christian Climate Action, but this raises more than a few eyebrows.
However there are severe questions about what she said.
How can one say that God is incarnate in creation?
From 2.30 she deals with Incarnation and says the Incarnation becomes vaster with the Big Bang 14 billion years ago.
and 2.50 God poured his godself into Creation
From 3.40 uses Colossians 1 and John ! to support this
and then in 4.30f that Evolution is God incarnate
The word “Incarnate” means is enfleshed and is used of God becoming human in Jesus, just think of the Prologue of John’s gospel read as the culmination of every Christmas Carol Service and usually the main reading at Christmas services;
And the Word became flesh and lived among us John 1 vs 14
i.e God – the Word – became “flesh” – a human.
Hence Christian theology has always spoken of the Incarnation to sum up this central belief which is expressed in the apsotles and Nicene Creeds and by theologians down the centuries – except those in the 1970s who went for “The Myth of God Incarnate”!
You could say that this video is not quite Nicene orthodoxy!
To say that God is incarnate in Creation is first a bad use of the word “incarnate” as that means “enfleshed”. I presume what she meant is that God is in the whole creation, but that would make God “enmattered”.
edit 13/10/20 I should have checked – it’s straight out of Richard Rohr Creation as the body of God.
To say that God is in the whole of creation is NOT the theistic understanding of God and Creation but Pantheism, where God is in all of creation. It is fair to say that the Biblical texts on creation and theologians during the last 2000 years have stressed that God is apart from his Creation.
Here we speak of god being immanent and transcendent. If He was just the latter he’d be a deistic god, who leaves the world alone – or as one atheistic wag once put it £God made the world and retired hurt.” But God is involved and present and that is immanence.
This is expressed neatly by some quasi-mathematical equations by William Tmple in Nature Man and God (p435)
World – God = Zero
God – World = God
Ideas from Process Theology of Panentheism are attempts to express this in another way, but not all theists are convinced.
Ultimately Christianity and Judaism and Islam as THEISTIC faiths see God is separate from Creation and not “incarnate” in any sense. Islam also questions whether God can be incarnate in Jesus, but that is another question.
Christian teaching must have a very high view of creation and the Bishop is trying to express that, but falters on the use of “incarnate”, which van only mean Pantheism and not Theism. Too often creation and its value has been ignored and sidelined, so that creation is only the stage where we “work out our salvation” or lack of it. Who cares what happens to it as it will only be burnt up at the end of time!!
As Christians we need to show awe and wonder with Creation, not worship as God being incarnate in Creation would require. We should worship the creator not the creation.
It is also absolutely vital to care and nurture God’s creation, but to spell that out would need another score or so blogs!!
But here is a brief and simple (simplistic) summary
I also think the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins has something to teach us too.
And a chapter in a book published by the Geological society on creation in reference to geology
Finally Colossians chap1 vs13-22
13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. 21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—
Oxford Diocese and the bishop have responded on the diocese website