Q32: What then can we say about God’s purposes and work in creation?
We Believe that creation should be revered as something entirely new within all reality. It is entirely new, free, and non-obligatory within the economy of God. It is not a denial, betrayal, or surrender of God; but is to be understood as a brilliant revelation of his deity.
Q33: Is an understanding of God as we have defined Him in conflict with the ideas of modernity?
In the final and ultimate understanding of these concepts there can be and will be no final conflict. Certain interpretations of creation as formed by materialists, and creationists will be shown as wrong, certain ideas from both will be proved right, and in this final understanding we will find no contradictions.
Q34: How then shall we live with this understanding of creation?
In light of this we are called to be dogmatic about God’s creatio ex nihilo; God’s creation of every kind of animal, and all that was created by His spoken Word; and God’s special creation of humanity in his image while being humble about our ideas on other important issues of creation.
Q33: What is the place of humanity in God’s created order?
We Believe that as God is unique in all existence, Man and Woman are to be understood as unique in all creation. Each new person is created with an immortal soul, a physical body, and an animate spirit.
Q34: How are male and female unique?
First, male and female are to be understood as the only created beings in the world. That is they are creatures dependent upon their creator; yet they are also beings granted certain freedoms of will that are unique in all God’s creation. Second, male and female are the only creations which are said to be made in the image and likeness of God. That is humanity in some way, shape, or form presents a higher and fuller revelation of God than any other creation. Third, only humanity has been given dominion to exercise command and control over creation. Fourth, only humans are described as “very good.” Last, only humans are said to have received the divine spark of life commiserate with the fact that God breathed his own life into them.
In humanity God sought to create a genuine counterpart to His person whom would be able to participate in His economic life. We believe that this means that all men and women are created to reflect the very image of God in the World. In this way we can talk about the nature (Natural Image), actions (Political Image), and character (Moral Image) of humankind.
Q36: How then can we understand the original Natural Image of God in humanity?
Man and woman at their most basic level are designed to enter into a conscious relationship with God. For this purpose they have been given all the capacities necessary to enter into this life. Principally they have been given an ability to understand God rightly (reason), judge these understandings rightly (volition), and the ability to choose rightly between all various goods (will). All these capacities provided humanity with the power and ability for individual development and perfection. These abilities are to be understood as essential attributes, that is once given they cannot be taken away (only corrupted by wrong use).
Q37: How then can we understand the original Political Image of God in humanity?
Man and women were created with an inborn faculty for leadership and management. These attributes are also to be understood as essential, that is once given that cannot be taken away (only corrupted by wrong use).
Q37: How then can we understand the original Moral Image of God in humanity?
This is the sole area to be understood as accidens, that is an attribute that is conditional in that it functions only when in proper relation to God. One might refer to this image as humanity’s sensitas divinitas, that is the sense by which humanity was able to remain in perfect relationship with his or her creator.
Q38: Are these capacities and senses solely designed for relationship with God?
No. A true understanding of the imageo dei leads us to an understanding that humanity in its truest forms would be involved in four primary relationships: with God, with other humans, with nature, and with themselves. These proper relationships may be defined as: to God by knowing, loving, obeying, and enjoying Him eternally; to each other by compassionate love and service; to the world by loving protection; and to ones’ self by loving acceptance.
Q39: What is the relationship of the sensitas divintas to that of obedience to the will of God?
In this sense obedience should be defined not as ‘following the rules,’ but as the openness to welcome in the life of God, to receive love, mercy, goodness, et al, and then exercise and communicate those ideals into the life as lived in the world.
Q40: How then could one understand the idea of disobedience to the will of God?
In this sense disobedience should be defined not as ‘breaking the rules,’ but as turning away from relationship with God. One might say that it consists in “getting out of earshot” with the creator, or in choosing to listen to, and incorporate the thoughts, character, and beliefs of someone other than God.
Q41: If this how God created the world and it was good; why don’t we experience this life?
We believe that any defense of the goodness of God against the reality of evil in the world must be argued on two levels. In this sense we can talk of evil (sin), and evils (sins) as existing not as matter or being, but as a real and present reality existing on a global and local plane. There is the overarching evil that infuses the universe causing disease, and destruction; as well as, infecting and corrupting all of society down to its intrinsic structures. There are also the evils (sins) of world in the sense of the individual failings, and trangressions that each of us commits on a hourly, daily, and weekly basis.
Q42: How then can we talk of evil (sin)?
Just as God created the natural world with humanity as His unique creation, He also created a spiritual world populated with spiritual beings. At some time between God’s creation and announcement of the world as good (and humanity as very good), there was a revolt in this realm in which roughly one-third of these inhabitants fell from their positions of power and authority. In this new economy we know of a leader called among other names Satan, the adversary, or tempter. Below him exists a legion of spiritual beings known as demons. It is this adversary that would appear within the Garden of Eden to serve as tempter to Adam and Eve. It may be said then that evil, lies, afflictions, and the like have there genesis in this reality and in this Kingdom of Satan.
Q43: What is the relationship of the kingdom of Satan?
In what we may call the opaque mystery of the faith, we must state that while this dark kingdom exercises tremendous power over the lives of humanity and the world, it is never to understood apart from God’s permissive will, that is God can and does exercise tremendous control in negating many of the horrors.
Q44: How then can we talk about evils (sins)?
At a point in time Satan appeared before Adam and Eve and tempted them and led them into a fall from grace which brought sin, sickness, suffering, and God’s judgment in death.
Q45: How did the temptation of Adam and Eve bring about this tragedy?
By listening to the lies of the tempter, and then acting upon those lies, Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God, and chose to seek fulfillment of their needs, passions, and desires in another way. This breach of relationship brought an immediate loss of the presence of God in their lives. This loss of connection then led to the introduction of mortality into the body and spirit. This loss of the presence of God, and the ensuing mortality in body and spirit weakened and corrupted all the God-given abilities and faculties such that now man and woman could not understand, judge, and act rightly. Nor could they govern their lives and world correctly. In this sense, humanity lost its ability to co-operate with God in their lives and world. Now rather than mirroring the goodness of God, they mirrored the evilness of the adversary. In this evilness, humanity heaped guilt, and shame upon themselves. Liberty now is turned in upon itself; volition is used for pursuing selfish desires; and reason is used to justify and rationalize this behavior.
Q46: Is this corruption and depravity to be understood as solely individualistic?
No. This corruption, guilt, and shame is now passed on from generation to generation such that no one is innocent; nor is there goodness in anyone. All are guilty, and all are utterly depraved. Just as the good and perfect relationship with God was corrupted, now all of humanity’s relationships are corrupted and depraved. Humanity now lives in conflict with one another; discord reigns in relation with the world; and the self is conflicted flip-flopping between thoughts of base worthlessness, and grand hubris.
Q47: What has been the result(s) of this Fall from grace?
Whereas humanity was originally created with the capacity to love that which is good; and use for good that which was created for him or her, unregenerate humans now live in profound discord and disorder. They use what they should love; and love what they should use. Ends have become means. Means have become ends. In so doing each new human soul (lovingly created by God) created with a body and spirit sin and miss the right order that God has established, thus breaking anew that relationship which has been broken since the Fall. They are thus born into sin, subject to God’s judgment, and captive to Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Humanity captive to sin is to be understood as both victim, and victimizer.
Q48: What then is the ultimate result of sin?
The man or woman that continues in his or her sin will ultimately be thrown into the fire of everlasting eternity. Because the human soul is immortal, it will live eternally because it was created deathless; it will continue deathless even after separation from God, which is the greatest death of all and the most terrible.
Q49: How then can we describe this great tragedy?
Humanity made in the image of God to be in relationship with him, and live in community with him has freely chosen to part from Him; attempting to live solely for ones’ self, and only too late discovers the horrors of this existence.