Editorial: The Doctrine Of Creation Matters -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 11:1 (Spring 2007)
Article: Editorial: The Doctrine Of Creation Matters
Author: Stephen J. Wellum


Editorial: The Doctrine Of Creation Matters

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.

It is hard to overestimate the importance of the doctrine of creation. In Scripture, God first identifies himself as the sovereign Creator and, thus, the Lord of his universe. Many Christians are naturally interested in the doctrine of salvation, but without the God of creation and providence, there is no Christianity as the Bible describes it. Not only does the storyline of Scripture begin with creation, it also establishes a number of key theological points, not least, who God is and the entire God-world relationship; the proper interpretation and place of human beings in God’s world; as well as the goodness of God’s original creation (which sets us up for what eventually goes wrong with us in Genesis 3). In this important way, the Bible’s doctrine of creation both establishes the beginning of history as well as an entire linear/eschatological presentation of history that unfolds the plan of God in terms of the biblical categories of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. That is why the theological underpinnings for soteriology (as well as every other doctrine of Christian theology) are first grounded in the fact that the God who is there, the sovereign-personal Triune Lord who has existed from all eternity, at a moment, created this universe, and, as such, everything and everyone is utterly dependent upon him and responsible to him. Without the Bible’s presentation of God as Creator and all that affirmation entails, the rationale and foundation for biblical Christianity is non-existent.

Furthermore, to affirm that God is the Creator, Christian theology stresses at least three truths. First, we are underscoring the fact that God created the universe ex nihilo. Scripture begins by affirming that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). Before God began to create the universe, nothing existed except the Triune God himself. However at a moment, the eternal God spoke and brought this space-time universe into existence ex nihilo, that is, without the use of any previously existing materials. It is because of this fact that Scripture and Christian theology affirms that matter is not eternal, but only a created reality. Second, we are affirmin...

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