Creation, Being, and Equality
An Ethical Excursion into Philosophical Theology
By: Gregory S. Neal
Creation is that act in which Divine Being – God – lets be all that is. The principle act of creation is an expression of Primordial Being’s ontological nature, which is typified by creative love. Primordial Bring brings into being all that is through its nature to express itself and its love. According to John Macquarrie, it is this expression – God’s letting be – that defines God’s ontological existence and is endemic to that existence. While this may have shades of truth – it is, indeed, part of God’s nature to create – God’s existence is not, in any way, dependent upon this nature.
God has created all that is, and therefore all things find their being in Divine Being; this foundation for existence is so fundamental that, without the support of Being, things simply could not come into being, nor could they continue to be. This holds true for not only the created order of nature apart from human beings, but is also so for each and every member of the Human species. Our ontological nature is one of absolute contingence upon Divine Being’s largess in creation. According to Macquarrie this contingency is not just part of our ontological nature, it is also part of God’s ontological nature: apart from creation, Macquarrie asserts that God would not be God.
The rootedness of all things, not to mention all human beings, in Divine Being is the fundamental meaning of creation. People find their being in Divine Being through the act of creation. In this act, identity is conveyed—identity and purpose, as is made clear in the creation account found in Genesis 2-3. Human beings are created in the “image” of Divine Being; humans are given, through this identity, certain faculties and responsibilities which they are instructed to exercise through co-creative acts: i.e., naming the animals, taking care of the garden, etc. Their lack of willingness to be responsible for their abilities and to maintain themselves in the proper relationship relative to Ultimate Being resulted in their expulsion from the garden—or, as Macquarrie puts it, a total reorganization of created being relative to “Creative Being.” This changed nature was then visited by God, “Expressive Being,” both the source of its being and of its rectification. The proper relationship between human beings and Divine Being is made possible again, if only the humans will trust in the plan for rectification.
The nature of human beings as, first, created beings from Divine Being, and, second, fallen beings out of touch with Divine Being, should set into perspective their relationship with both each other and with Divine Being. Thanks to the reconciliation, provided by God’s “Expressive Being” (Jesus), all humans have regained the ability to be in proper relation to not only Divine Being but to the rest of creation. Inside this relationship all beings are without relative difference; the only gap is between “Primordial Being” and human beings—a gap which has been bridged by “Expressive Being.” Outside of this relationship, the same situation prevails: all beings are without relative difference; the only gap is between “Primordial Being” and human beings—a gap infinitely wide. The equilibrium of human status, relative to other humans, is founded upon the act very of creation and upon our status within the creation as being creatures rather than the creator. In the proper relationship relative to Creative Being, all human beings are viewed as co-creators in Being's Creative nature. It is in this fundamental way that we share identity with Divine Being and, apart from all difference, with each other. We are, all of us, beings linked to Divine Being in co-creation and it is this co-creative nature that is exemplified by the “Image of God,” in which humans were created.
Because of this ontological nature, there is no room for discrimination between human beings. Such sociological practices as apartheid, racism, sexism, gender and sexual orientation discrimination, are without foundation within the created order; they are, instead, the warped result of a corrupted orientation between created and Creator. Not only are they foreign to the rectified relationship, human to Divine, they are also foreign to the fallen state of all nature seeing as how all human beings are equally fallen (i.e., “all have sinned). Therefore, no matter what their state, human beings have no qualitative differences, one to another: all human beings are created, all human beings are linked by identity and purpose, all human beings have fallen, and all human beings may be reconciled to, through, and by “Expressive Being” unto “Primordial Being,” whose image we are call to share in co-creation.
Macquarrie, John. Principles of Christian Theology. New York: SCM Press, (1987)
© 1989 Gregory S. Neal*
All Rights Reserved
*This paper was written in 1989 for a Course in Systematic Theology which Rev. Neal took while in the Masters Degree program at Duke University.
As a popular teacher, preacher, and retreat leader, Dr. Neal is known for his ability to translate complex theological concepts into common, everyday terms. HIs preaching and teaching ministry is in demand around the world, and much of his work can be found on this website. He is the author of several books, including Grace Upon Grace: Sacramental Theology and the Christian Life, which is in its second edition, and Seeking the Shepherd's Arms: Reflections from the Pastoral Side of Life, a work of devotional literature. Both of these books are currently available from Amazon.com.