Sunday, July 23, 2017

Creatio ex Nihilo and The Cosmic Christ (Jurgen Moltmann)

Ever since reading God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo by David Bentley Hart, the theological idea of creation ex nihilo has become an important one for me.  Subsequent readings, along with a few other essays (Theodicy, Hell, and David B Hart by Brian Moore being a notable one) have cemented it as foundational and formative.  The eschatological themes of heaven, hell and the destiny of creation, the connection between protology (beginnings) and eschatology (ends), the moral themes of theodicy and suffering, and the ultimate question of 'Who is God?' are all intimately germane to the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.

For me, this doctrine (as implication of the Gospel) provides reason for hope and the occasion for faith.

I came across the same themes recently in the work of Jurgen Moltmann.  Moltmann, however, doesn't explicitly use the language of creation "ex nihilo".  Not here anyways.  For Moltmann, this line of thought falls within his theological expositions on "The Cosmic Christ".

The connection is amazing.  When we are talking about the meaning of Creation ex nihilo, we are talking about the cosmic Christ, the Alpha and the Omega.

Both of the citations below are taken from Chapter 6 (section 3) of Jesus Christ for Today's World by Moltmann.  The chapter is entitled 'The Cosmic Christ'.  Have a look:

If all things are created by one God, then a transcendent unity precedes their diversity and their historicity. It is not a matter of many worlds belonging to many gods or powers. This is the one creation of the one God. If all things are created by the one God through his Wisdom/Logos, and if they are held together in that, then an immanent unity in which they all exist together underlies their diversity in space and time. Their unity is not the outcome of some subsequent process, emerging from their relationships and the warp and weft into which they are bound. Everything has its genesis in a fundamental underlying unity, which is called God's Wisdom, Spirit or Word. The fellowship of all created beings goes ahead of their differentiations and the specific forms given to them, and this is consequently the foundation underlying their diversity. If God withdraws this foundation, everything disintegrates and becomes a nothingness. If God lends it fresh force, the various forms are renewed (Ps. 104.29f.).
--(Kindle Locations 996-998).

The Hebrew word roach is often translated Spirit, as it is here; but a better translation is 'wind' or 'breath'. The Hebrew word 'rahaph' is generally rendered 'hover' or 'brood'. But according to Deut. 32.11 and Jer. 23.9 it really means vibrating, quivering, moving and exciting. If this is correct, then we shouldn't just think of the image of a fluttering or brooding dove. We should think of the fundamental resonances of music out of which sounds and rhythms emerge. So in thinking about 'creation through the Word', we shouldn't think primarily in metaphors of command and obedience. A better image is the song of creation. The word names, differentiates and appraises. But the breath is the same in all the words, and binds the words together. So the Creator differentiates his creatures through his creative Word and joins them through his Spirit, who is the sustainer of all his words. In the quickening breath and through the form-giving word, the Creator sings out his creatures in the sounds and rhythms in which he has his joy and his good pleasure.
--(Kindle Locations 1004-1010).

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