Pseudo-Clementine on the inborn affection to God the Creator

Perugino, Pietro - God the Creator and Angels ...
Perugino, Pietro – God the Creator and Angels – 1507-08 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“But, inasmuch as inborn affection towards God the Creator seemed to suffice for salvation to those who loved Him, the enemy studies to pervert this affection in men, and to render them hostile and ungrateful to their Creator. For I call heaven and earth to witness, that if God permitted the enemy to rage as much as he desires. all men should have perished long ere now; but for His mercy’s sake God doth not suffer him. But if men would turn their affection towards God, all would doubtless be saved, even if for some faults they might seem to be corrected for righteousness. But now the most of men have been made enemies of God, whose hearts the wicked one has entered, and has turned aside towards himself the affection which God the Creator had implanted in them, that they might have it towards Him. But of the rest, who seemed for a time to be watchful, the enemy, appearing in a phantasy of glory and splendour, and promising them certain great and mighty things, has caused their mind and heart to wander away from God; yet it is for some just reason that he is permitted to accomplish these things.”1

  1.  Pseudo-Clement of Rome, “Recognitions of Clement,” in Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, the Clementina, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First Ages (ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe; trans. M. B. Riddle; vol. 8; The Ante-Nicene Fathers; Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1886), 8101.

Pannenberg on the embrace of Creatures by God the Creator

If God is Creator, what does this mean for His Creatures?

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...
Detail – Glory of the New Born Christ in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna) Adam and Eva are represented bellow Jesus-Christ Ceiling painting made by Daniel Gran (1694-1757). Post-processing: perspective and fade correction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Talk about the means and ends of the divine action, then, simply expresses the relations between finite events and beings as God himself wills them, though naturally from the standpoint of their reference to a future that transcends their finitude. We will have to support and expound this more fully later Here we may simply state that the temporal order in which creaturely things and events stand as such enables us to describe their relation to the divine action in terms of a plan (Isa. 5:19, etc.) — a plan that God himself follows in the process of history. If the destiny of all creaturely occurrence and existence is oriented to fellowship with God himself, then this idea takes the conceptual form of a plan of salvation. At this point the relation of the outward divine action to a goal acquires the form of trinitarian mediation inasmuch as the fellowship of creatures with their Creator is to be thought of as participation in the fellowship of the Son with the Father through the Spirit. The saving decree or plan (Eph. 2:9ff.) that lies behind the course that the history of creation follows and into which all events are integrated can thus be proclaimed as already manifest in Jesus Christ, in his obedience to being sent by the Father. In this context we may also say that though God is independent in himself, yet with the act of creation and in the course of the history of his creatures he makes himself dependent on creaturely conditions for the manifestation of his Son in the relation of Jesus to the Father. It is not as though God were referred to different means for the accomplishing of his ends. The point is that this is the actual way in which a multiplicity of creatures will be brought into the eternal blessedness of the fellowship of the Son with the Father. For God’s action no creature is merely a means. By the ordering of its existence to the kairos of the manifestation of the Son, each creature has a part in the saving purpose of the Father.1

Pannenberg goes on to say that God’s nature not only embraces the Creation of the World, but because of this, the themes of reconciliation, redemption, and consummation.

To read more on Pannenberg and Creation, see this post by George Plasterer.

  1. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology.

St. Athanasius on Grace because God is Creator

St. Athanasius’s tome, On the Incarnation, was required reading in my seminary. I have to wonder if we wouldn’t better require it as a catechismal reading, and to require it every so often from older Christians as well. In this, we find remnants of

Icon of St. Athanasius of Alexandria
Icon of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wisdom Christology and a solid notion of theosis.

My personal theology of God as Creator — and everything that comes from that, i.e., grace and judgement — is formed from this short book and this section in particular. Herein is no substitutional atonement, but still harkens back to the recapitulation (the re-creation) of St. Irenaeus — but there is more.

God is Creator. That’s why He secures us. God is Creator. That’s why He loves us.

Moreover, an emperor, although only a man, does not permit regions settled by himself to come under the sway and service of others, nor to desert to them; but he reminds them by letters, and frequently also sends to them through friends, and even, if there is need, he himself comes, making them further ashamed by his presence, merely that they may not serve others, and his work be useless. And shall not God much more spare His own creatures, that they be not made to wander away from Him and serve things that are not?—all the more that such wandering is the cause of their ruin and destruction; and because it was not right for those creatures to perish who once had been partakers of the Image of God.

What, then, must God do? or what else was it right to do, but to renew again the grace by which they had been made after His Image, so that through it men might be able once more to know Him? But how could this have been done except by the coming of the very Image Himself of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ?

For it could not be through men, seeing that they are only made after the Image: nor through angels, for not even they are (God’s) images. Therefore the Word of God came in His own Person, in order that, as He was the Image of the Father, He might be able to re-create the man made after the Image. But this re-creation could not otherwise have taken place unless death and corruption had been entirely abolished. Whence He naturally took a mortal body, in order that in it death might be finally abolished, and that men might be again renewed after the Image. To satisfy this need was the part of no other than the Image of the Father.1

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

  1.  Athanasius of Alexandria, Athanasius: On the Incarnation of the Word of God (trans. T. Herbert Bindley; Second Edition Revised.; London: The Religious Tract Society, 1903), 65–66.

T.F. Torrance on God the Father as Creator

God the Father, Cima da Conegliano, Circa 1510-17.
God the Father, Cima da Conegliano, Circa 1510-17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Torrance notes that God the Father is referred to as “Father” in two different ways. The first, the transcendent one, is based upon God as Creator. This is my favorite attribute of God, and the one which theology first takes shape.

…(W)e think of God the Father as the eternal Creator and Lord of all being and existence, he to whom our Lord referred as ‘the heavenly Father’ and to whom he taught us to pray. He is the Father who cares for all his creatures in such a personal and detailed way that, as he taught in the sermon on the Mount, not a sparrow falls to the ground without him, the very hairs of our head are all numbered, and his divine provision for people’s needs is extended equally to the just and the unjust. This fatherly conception of God was given definitive expression in the opening clause of the Nicene Creed, ‘We believe in God the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.’ The Almighty is Father, and the Father is Almighty. There the omnipotence of the Creator, his power over all existents and realities whether visible or invisible, is not defined in some abstract metaphysical way, but is defined quite concretely with reference to God precisely as Fatherit is as such that he is the one eternal self-grounded personal Being who is the Source and Lord of all that was, is and ever will be.1

It is this aspect of God, that of Creator, that should guide us as we define the other attributes of the Holy Trinity in our Creed.

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

  1.  Thomas F. Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1996), 138.