Three Creation Concepts – God, Nothing, Material

In preparation for the review of John Walton’s Book, The Lost World of Genesis One, I found myself having to study creation ex nihilo. (This actually started with James McGrath’s book in connection to the deity of Christ) While I have known what this concept entails, I was amiss in understanding what stood along side this concept as alternatives. So, in an effort to better prepare myself for the coming book review, I thought that I might share a bit of these concepts for discussion:

Creation ex nihilo

Creation out of nothing, meaning that in the beginning, there was God and God alone – no matter, no material. He created everything by Himself. This point of view maintains a very strict line of demarcation between the Creator and the Created, often implying a mediator (think Justin’s use of the Logos) to handle and shape matter as a creative effort.

Creation ex deo

Creation out of God, meaning that everything in existence owes itself to God’s existence. God took of Himself to create things. This allows that matter is/was good, perhaps before the Fall. It also, in my opinion, allows for matter to return to being good.

Creation ex materia

Creation from pre-existent matter.

While creation ex materia is foreign, and I think unbiblical, I am having a difficult time in seeing why creation ex deo was not developed as the standard in early Christianity, especially in light of the Eastern Orthodox precept of panentheism. In my opinion, they developed creation ex nihilo in response to the developing doctrine of the Trinity – but I could be wrong.

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23 Replies to “Three Creation Concepts – God, Nothing, Material”

  1. I have actually been reading through The Destiny of Man by Nicolas Berdyaev, a Russian Orthodox thinker and he has some interesting thoughts on Creation ex Nihilo.  He comments on Genesis 1 that God (Being) created out of Nothingness, and that it has implications for theodicy such as God existing outside of evil. Very interesting stuff

  2. From what I read in the article on panentheism you linked, the orthodox didn’t see the universe as an extension of God, so they weren’t strictly panentheists.  But they did believe that God sustained the cosmos, as I’m sure every Christian does.

  3. How do we  see Genesis 1:1,2?  Water is a form of matter.Can we believe that God did not create the water-or that the water Pre-existed God’s creation of the Heavens and the Earth?
    Neither Creation ex nihilo or Creation ex materia: seem right to me…
    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.*2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. NLT

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