This post is a chapter from Dr. Timothy Tennent’s book, 30 Questions: A Short Catechism on the Christian Faith available for purchase from our store. This resource makes for a great teaching tool in local churches, especially for catechesis purposes. We’re featuring a chapter each week in hopes of encouraging you to pick up the book and share it with others as well.
The Scripture reveals that God created the heavens and the earth in all its vast array. He created all things visible and invisible. There is nothing in the entire universe, including space and time, which does not have its origin in God’s being and creative acts. God is the first cause of everything. Christians have long distinguished between immediate and mediate creation. Immediate creation means that God creates directly “out of nothing.” He spoke and matter was created. He spoke and order was brought out of chaos, and so forth. God also creates in mediate ways, meaning that he superintends the ongoing creative overflow of the world. This means that God not only started everything by creating time, space, and matter, it also means that he continues to superintend his creation even as we participate with him in creation through childbearing and other kinds of creative acts, including everything from painting a portrait to designing a rocket to creating an electronic circuit for cell phones and personal computers.
While all Christians believe, in principle, in both immediate and mediate creation by God, there are genuine differences about where the line is drawn. Some Christians have a very broad view of mediate creation which would include an extended evolutionary process in the emergence of the current created order. Other Christians reject most evolutionary theories and believe that the entire created order, in all its detailed intricacies, is the result of the immediate act of God’s spoken word. Certainly no truly Christian view, however, can deny that God is the first cause of the universe, that he created man and woman in his own image, and that he is sovereign over all of creation, including a direct supervision of the whole creation. God created the world out of nothing by calling it into existence.
Although Deism affirms that God created all that is, it digresses from Christianity by maintaining that God then left the world to “run on its own,” and that he does not superintend or involve himself any further in its operation or supervision. Jesus, however, said that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowing. The Old Testament declares that God charts the course of the thunderbolt. All of Scripture bears witness that God is our Good Shepherd, who cares for and watches over us as an attentive shepherd takes care of his flock. These statements are meant to convey that God is intimately involved in his creation and is not an absentee owner disinterested in his creation.
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