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Worldviews in Conflict: Christian Cosmology and the Recent Doctrine of Spiritual Mapping (Part 1)

 

Returning to the original question: what does the creation narrative teach us concerning God’s relationship to the world? Against Dualism, we conclude that since God is the undisputed author of the universe, he has absolute and sovereign control over every substance, living or dead, animate or inanimate. We cannot overstress the truth that God acts to preserve creation, and—in some fashion—continues to create. Against Eastern Pantheism, we point out that the Christian doctrine of creation draws a clear distinction between the Creator and the world He created. Against Deism, which teaches that God is remote and indifferent to his creation, Christians affirm that God remains active in the world and in the affairs of mankind. Jesus implied that God is involved in some of the finest details of life.26

Concerning the second major question, what does Genesis teach about the relationship between the spiritual realm and the physical world? Several factors become evident. First, everything that was produced in the original act of creation was good. The passage reads, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning—the sixth day” (1:31). The writer’s comment about evening and morning reveals a sense of regularity and perfection in the order of creation; i.e., God did a good job in creating a good universe.

Second, Genesis reveals that the goodness of creation was declared by God, and was not simply the result of human judgment. Mankind can appreciate God’s creation, even adore a majestic mountain peak and rolling sea, but he cannot make the world good by simply rendering a value judgment. The world was good solely because God valued it and appraised it accordingly.

Note that God’s assessment extends to every living creature, all of creation, both visible and invisible. In its original state, the whole universe was good. Evil was permitted to develop in subsequent times, but it was not endemic of the original state or condition of the created world. Whether or not we view Satan and demons to be fallen angels or some other spiritual beings, it is irrelevant to the fact that originally—no evil was present in the beginning. Grudem concurs that everything God created was good, which “…means that even the angelic world that God had created did not have evil angels or demons in it at that time.”27

If everything God created was good, it follows that the physical world—as well as the spiritual realm—was good. Against the background of Greek Gnosticism, Manichaen Dualism and the philosophy of Hinduism and Buddhism, the Bible teaches the essential goodness of physical creation. The Apostle Paul was well aware of the corrupting effects of sin, but remained firm in his belief that the physical world was good: “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…” (I Tim. 4:1; cf., Col. 2:16-23).28

Our physical bodies also belong to the category of the goodness of God’s creation, despite our present frailties and the fact that we face mortality until the Day comes.29 The New Testament not only reaffirms that the human body is essentially good as God created it, Paul elevates the Christian’s body by referring to it as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Cor. 6:19). In fact, the ultimate hope for salvation lies in the expectation of a physical resurrection of the dead.30 Human destiny, it seems, is always tied to a kind of physical-material existence, even though Paul teaches that the physical body undergoes a radical transformation at the coming resurrection.

 

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Category: Fall 2001, Living the Faith, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Larry L. Taylor, M.A., D.Min., is Affiliate Faculty at Regis University in the Denver area and formerly professor of humanities at Portland Bible College. Larry Taylor founded a church in Colorado and has 17 years of pastoral experience.

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