Saturday, March 24, 2007

Creation From Nothing or By Organization

Like other Christian Churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the Bible 100%. We do not pick and choose parts that we believe and don't believe. We also say we believe the Bible “as far as it is translated correctly.” This qualifier just recognizes that there are so many versions of the Bible and that meaning and understanding can very greatly depending on how a word is translated from the original language into modern language.

There is no such thing as an un-biased translation. Obviously, if Bible translation wasn’t an issue there wouldn’t be so many translations, and there wouldn’t be so many Christian denominations and non-denominations where one church, for instances, baptizes by sprinkling, another by immersion, and another not at all. Also, any Sunday school that refers to the original Hebrew and Greek recognizes the value in trying to understand the original intent of the prophet who first recorded the scripture.

Another example of a difference in translation, which has profound effects on doctrine, religious practice, and belief, is of the word “Created”. Mainstream Christianity believes that God is the only eternal being in the universe and that everything else was created “ ex nihilo” or from nothing. The understanding or misunderstanding of the correct translation of this word has profound doctrinal implications. Much of the understanding of the mainstream Christian church is based on the Early Catholic Ecumenical Councils like Nicaea in the 4th Century and others at Ephesus, Constantinople, and Trent. When a believer in other faith quotes their belief they will often add words and phrases that are found in these Creeds and not in the Bible like “Trinity” and “coequal uncreated.” Latter-day Saints feel like our beliefs and understanding reflects that of first-century Christians and not 4th-century Christians. However, this difference in Biblical interpretation should not be considered grounds to exclude us from being considered Christian.

So, what does the LDS church believe about the word “creation?” When the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” the Hebrew word for create is “ktidzo” which carries an architectural connotation...as in 'to build' or 'establish' a city. (Griffith, 72 FAIRWiki link.) Therefore, this word suggests that creation of the heavens and the earth was done out of pre-existing materials and not from nothing (creatio ex nihilo). Therefore, another word which could be used to translate “ktidzo” would be “In the beginning God organized the heavens and the earth” from materials that already existed.

Col. 1: 17 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
2 Cor. 4: 18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Mainstream Christianity cites Col 1:17 to support the creedal belief that God created everything in the universe from nothing. Only God is eternal and has existed forever and has no beginning or end. This mistaken understanding pre-supposes that the opposite of eternal is created. If something is eternal then it cannot be created, and if something is created than it cannot be eternal. However, if this were so, then then man could never become eternal and inherit eternal life; Because, according to the Bible, men are created beings. But the Bible also clearly promises eternal life.

2 Cor. 4: 18 clarifies the true understanding of the relationship between the words eternal and created. It says that things which are seen (physical things) are created and the things which are not seen (spiritual things) are eternal. On the surface, this seems to be a compete contradiction to Col 1:17 were it says that God created “all things… visible an invisible.” However, the point is, that just because something is created doesn’t mean it cannot be considered eternal also. The Bible teaches that all spirits were co-existent with God and are also without beginning or end.

Although our spirits or intelligence was co-existent with God, we were not at all equal with God. The process of coming to earth and recieving a body is a test necessary to becoming more like our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can gain eternal life and therefore become not only co-existent with God, but also co-eternal with God. The Bible describes the process that Jesus Christ demonstrated when it says he "grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." The Bible is describing the process that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, progressed through to gain eternal life and return to Heaven at the right hand of Our Heavenly Father.

Isa. 43: 10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
Isa. 44: 6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isa. 44: 8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
Isa. 45: 5-6, 14, 21-22 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else . . . Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God. . . Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. . . Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Isa. 46: 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

Mainstream Christianity sites these scriptures to support their belief that man cannot become like God and inherit Eternal Life. However, these scriptures in Isaiah are not saying man cannot become eternal. Rather, God is referring to himself as being the only God formed who can save us from our sins and make us co-eternal with God. When God says there is no God “beside me” or “before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me,” Isaiah means, Jesus Christ is the only way to Eternal Life. Isa. 46:9 also says there is no other “like him” however, this seems to run contradictory to 1 Jn. 3: 2.

1 Jn. 3: 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

Therefore, Isaiah is not saying that man can never become co-eternal like God, or become join-heirs of God (Rom. 8: 17). Isaiah is saying that all men can gain eternal life; but for us, there has only ever been and will ever only be one God who can save us; and that is Jesus Christ. This process of progressive diefication is signified in God's title as the Most High God; a God of gods, King or kings and Lord of lords.

The correct understanding of "creation" also fixes another problem; and that is the creation of Satan. God created all things including Satan. But if God created Satan “ex nihilo” then he is 100% responsible for everything Satan chooses to do. In other words, if God had created Satan from nothing, then God created evil thing and does evil. But, if God organized Satan from co-existent intelligence, and that intelligence carried with it an innate characteristic of “will," then God is not responsible for the exercise of that will. God allows the excercize of will according to eternal law even when it negatively affects others. Therefore, Satan and his pre-mortal followers were free to exercized their will in rejecting God's plan. We, on the other hand through the atonement of Christ, can exercize our agency by humbling ourselves and giving our will to God. In exchange, God will make us co-eternal with him through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Mainstream Christianity has hidden the most profound teaching of the Bible; who we really are. The Christian Creeds of the 4th Century and later falsely teach that God is something incomprehensible and altogether unrelated to us. According to this reasoning, mankind becomes mearly akin to fish in a fancy fish tank. Conversely, the Bible teaches the true nature of man; and that is that we are the literal spiritual offspring of God. Jesus Christ, our eldest spirit brother, showed us the way how to come to Earth and return to our Heavenly Father's right hand, heir of God and eternal life. And through Jesus Christ we really can; as the Bible commands; become holy, become perfect, and progress to become like Our Heavenly Father (John 17: 3).

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nothingness is relative non-existence. Absolute non-existence is postulated by the logic of the theory. Theologians pick up from here and say that absolute non-existence is the closest science can get to what they would call the Fullness of Existence, which is God.

Then, the explanation why there is something rather than nothing is that relative non-existence (nothing) is attracted to the Fullness of Existence. This process creates something, and so the Fullness of Existence in theological terms is the Creator.

Also God is conceived as the Being whose essence is to exist. That’s why He is absolute. All other beings are contingent participations in Absolute Being. By the way, only theology permits us to address God as He, a personal being who creates out of love. In philosophy Absolute Being is still an It.

You should know that the technical Medieval Latin term for creation is creatio ex nihilo (“creation out of nothing”). Nothing meant no pre-existent matter. This is an advance over the Genesis account where God’s creation is portrayed as creating order (cosmos) out of pre-existent chaos (the tohu-wabohu in Hebrew).

Also, creation is not to be conceived as a single act. Creation is exercised by maintaining or preserving in existence whatever is. Theology next postulates divine providence, which guides and directs the evolutionary process without interfering with natural laws. The attractor of chaos theory and information theory is indicative of this underlying order, which emerges over time.

Msgr. Walter Niebrzydowski

BRoz said...

Yes, I agree that creation is "creating order (cosmos) out of pre-existent chaos (the tohu-wabohu in Hebrew)."

non-existence = fullness of existence?

relative non-existence + fullness of existence = creation?

In my reading of the Bible, this is not the God the Bible portrays. The God of the Bible is one with a glorified and perfected body, parts, and passions. Remember that man is created in the likeness and image of God just as Seth was created in the likeness and image of Adam.

Jim said...

Where did you trace the roots of the word "created?" You said: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” the Hebrew word for create is “ktidzo” which carries an architectural connotation...as in 'to build' or 'establish' a city."

First of all - "ktidzo" is Greek, not Hebrew.

The Hebrew word used in Genesis is "bara" which emphasizes the initiation of an object, not manipulating it. Entirely new productions are associated with bara (Exodus 21:30, Numbers 16:30, Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 4:5, 41:20, 48:6-7, 65:17-18, and Jeremiah 31:22)

Context is vital! Greek words have multiple connotations at times and it is important to see how they are used by an author of scripture throughout their writings. That is how most determine the way in which it is being used in a particular instance.

As for the word "ktidzo," the word used in Colossians 1:17 is "ktisis" which means: a founding, i.e. of a city. colonization of a habitable place.

As for when this word is used specifically to mean create out of existing materials is in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 "For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake." -which fits because woman is fashioned out of mans rib in the Genesis account.

If the spirit is co-eternal with God, how can you reason with 1 Corinthians 15:45-47? It says:
"So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL " The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.

The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven."

Brother - humble yourself before your Creator. He is the Creator of all and all things are subject to Him.

Ephesians 1:22-23
And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.