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Confession of Faith - Article 5: Creation and Divine Providence
We believe that God has created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them,1 and that God preserves and renews what has been made. All creation ultimately has its source outside itself and belongs to the Creator. The world has been created good because God is good and provides all that is needed for life.2
We believe that the universe has been called into being as an expression of God's love and sovereign freedom alone. Creation witnesses to the eternal power and divine nature of God, who gives meaning and purpose to life and who alone is worthy of worship and praise.3
We acknowledge that God sustains creation in both continuity and change. We believe that God upholds order in creation and limits the forces of sin and evil for the sake of preserving and renewing humanity and the world.4 God also works to save human beings and the world from death and destruction and to overcome the forces of sin and evil.
We therefore are called to respect the natural order of creation and to entrust ourselves to God's care and keeping, whether in adversity or plenty. Neither the work of human hands, nor the forces of the natural world around us, nor the power of the nations among which we live are worthy of the trust and honor due the Creator on whom they depend.5
In confessing God as Creator, we refer to the one and triune God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, according to the Scriptures. Creation should be understood as the work of the triune God, not as the work of the Father or Son or the Holy Spirit alone (Hebrews 1:2-3; Colossians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; John 1:3, 14-18).
Some ways of speaking about God may undermine the full confession of the triune God as Creator. For example, speaking of God only as "Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer" rather than as "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" may promote the mistaken understanding that the "Father" alone is "Creator," the "Son" alone is "Redeemer," and the "Holy Spirit" alone is "Sustainer."
We speak of creation as an "expression" of God because of biblical references to creation by the divine word (Genesis 1; Psalms 148:5; John 1:1f.; Romans 4:17). In many creation stories of other religions in Bible times, the world comes into being as an extension of the god or gods. In these accounts, the world shares in divinity, or is itself divine. In contrast, the biblical account of creation by the word of God clearly distinguishes between God the Creator and what has been created. The biblical refusal to confuse the created with the Creator, or to ascribe divinity to the world, fits with the Bible's rejection of idolatry in all its forms (Isaiah 45:12-21; Acts 17:22-29).
When we confess that God is the Creator of the universe, we reject the idea that the world came into being without God. Nor do we accept the view that God made the world out of something which had existed before the time of creation or the view that matter is co-eternal with God. Scripture is clear that God was before anything else existed. Thus, both the Old Testament word for create and the witness of Scripture as a whole imply what theology has called "creation out of nothing."
As Creator, God is ultimately owner of the earth. God has given the earth to human beings to care for as God's stewards. See "The Creation and Calling of Human Beings" (Article 6) and "Christian Stewardship" (Article 21).
God continues to sustain and care for the world rather than leaving it to itself. Although sin and evil have damaged God's original creation, God continues to use the natural order, family, culture, and social and political systems to sustain life and to limit the forces of evil (Genesis 4:15; Psalms 34; Isaiah 19:12-25; Matthew 6:25-30; John 5:17; Colossians 1:15-17). Even though natural disasters cause havoc in the world, God continues to preserve creation and humanity from total destruction (Genesis 8:21-22). Therefore we need not be overcome by the fear of natural forces and other human beings which may cause suffering, persecution, or even death.
We are called to entrust ourselves to God's care, rather than finding our security in technology, in the elements of the natural world, or in the nations in which we live. We accept and use the resources of nature, society, and technology, so far as they sustain and enhance the quality of human life and the world around us in harmony with God's purposes, and so far as they do not undermine trust in God's providential care.
God not only preserves the world, but also acts to save the chosen people from evil and to bless all peoples and the rest of creation. God used elements of nature to free the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, to provide them with food, to accompany the revealing of the Law at Sinai, and to provide them with a dwelling place (Exodus 6-16; 19; Psalms 124; 136).
Because God works in ever new and surprising ways, creation is open to change. God also works to bring newness into creation for the sake of the covenant people and for all nations (Isaiah 42:5-9; 44:21-28). See "Salvation" (Article 8) and "The Reign of God" (Article 24) on the renewal of creation in Jesus Christ and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, in the church and the world.
- Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 45:11f.; John 1:3.
- Genesis 1:31; 1 Timothy 4:4.
- Psalms 19:1-6; Romans 1:19-23.
- Genesis 9:8-17; Psalms 104; Ephesians 3:9-11.
- Psalms 33; Matthew 6:25-33; Matthew 10:26-31.