For the Beauty…

Where are we? Steven Bouma-Prediger gives a six-part response to this question by considering Genesis chapter 1. Here are two of his conclusions (For the Beauty of the Earth, chapter 4):

Fourth, creation is good. As intended by God, creation is good. Indeed, it is very good (tob me’od), a judgment that connotes beauty and peace. The universe originates not out of struggle or battle or conflict, as portrayed in so many ancient creation stories, but through a seemingly effortless and struggle-free divine speaking and making. In contrast to other narratives, the biblical narrative testifies to an ontology of peace. Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh put this point especially well:

Rather than begin with conflict amongst the gods, the Scriptures begin with the effortless, joyous calling forth of creation by a sovereign Creator who enters into a relationship of intimacy with his creatures. Therefore creatureliness qua creatureliness is good…. This means that a biblial worldview will grant no ontological standing or priority to evil or violence. Indeed, violence is seen, in this worldview, as an illegitimate alien intruder into God’s good creation. In contrast to an ontology of violence, then, the Scriptures begin with an ontology of peace.[1]

We have, to use Wendell Berry’s phrase, a gift of good land.[2] Where are we? In a world where peace is primordial. (pp. 88-89)

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Sixth, the climax of creation is the Sabbath. Contrary to many readings of the story, the culmination comes not in the creation of humanity…on the sixth day; the climax is, rather, the seventh day. This very day is blessed and hallowed by God….

The Sabbath reminds us, among other things, that the world is in God’s loving hands and, therefore, will not fall to pieces if we cease from our work. As Walter Brueggemann contends: “The celebration of a day of rest was, then, the announcement of trust in this God who is confident enough to rest. It was then and is now an assertion that life does not depend upon our feverish activity of self-securing, but that there can be a pause in which life is given to us simply as a gift.”[3] Where, then, are we? On an earth not of our own making, blessed by God. (p. 89)

[1] Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995), 153.

[2] The Gift of Good Land (San Francisco: North Point, 1981).

[3] Genesis (Atlanta: John Knox, 1982), 35.

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