A Creed for the 3rd Millennium Believes in a Creator
Everybody has a creed. Everybody believes something about what the Bible says. Whether they believe it's fairy tales, myths, nonsense, pious opinions, or God's revealed truth that's their creed. What's your creed? Will it stand the rigors of 3rd millennium science, medicine, politics, and morals? Let me offer you a creed from the 1st millennium. Actually the things it confesses to believe go back to the very beginning of time and the Creed itself goes back to 120 A.D. (Teaching Luther's Catechism, 121). This Creed reflects what the apostles taught in the 1st millennium A.D. and the Church still believes at the beginning of the 3rd millennium. Then and now this Creed believes in a Creator.
We confess this truth one to another every Divine Service. I say, "Our help is in the name of the Lord," and you respond, "Who made heaven and earth." And every service we confess to each other to believe in "God the Father Maker of heaven and earth." We tell each other that our Lord and God is Maker not Evolver. We're not the product of chance or mere biological processes. Our bodies, souls, eyes, ears, all our members, our reason and all our senses are created by Almighty God.
Why should we be timid about confessing the Faith that the holy Christian Church has always confessed: that God the Father Almighty is the Maker of heaven and earth? Why should those of us in Christ stumble at this miracle? Were the mountains younger looking in Ignatius' time so it didn't seem so silly to believe they were not always there? Were the stars less numerous in the time of Irenaeus so it seemed reasonable to confess as Scripture does that God called them all by name? Was the Word of God really more powerful in the days of Luther so that it didn't seem childish to believe as Hebrews 11 says "that the universe was formed at God's command?"
If you insist on going on your senses, on empirical proof, on scientific data, look around you. Show me one place where things are building up rather than breaking down; show me one system, one thing, one being that is not decaying, running down. Show me one new species in the process of being created, not an old species adapting to a new environment but a totally new one coming into existence.
Darwin said we didn't live long enough to see that. He said that the fossil record would show it; when it didn't in his day, he said that when we were able to dig deeper and excavate more it would. It hasn't. We find horses are still horses; birds are still birds, and humans are still humans. Almost never are flesh, feathers, skin or hair found, so all those neat drawings are what someone thinks the fossil looked like. The accentuated low brow that makes a man look part ape, the flaps of skin on the pterodactyl, the transitional scales to feathers, no one has ever really seen these.
Ah but I could talk till I'm blue in the face and those who confess I believe in evolution, natural selection, etc. wouldn't care, but you who claim to be in Christ ought to. Why do you stumble at creation and not at incarnation? You think it less foolish to believe God took on flesh in the womb of a virgin than God knit you together in your mother's womb? You think it makes more sense to believe a virgin conceived than it does to believe God created all things out of nothing?
You are fooling yourself; if you are tripped up now by creation it is only a matter of time before you will be tripped up by the incarnation, than it will be the resurrection of the flesh, and ultimately redemption will snag you. If you don't believe that God has made me and all creatures, how will you ever believe that God has remade me by the Person and Work of Jesus? If you can't believe what Psalm 33 says that "by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made," how will you believe that the Word of the Lord can make water eternal life-giving, human words forgiving, and Bread Jesus' Body and Wine His Blood?
Why should we stumble at the miracle of creation? Do you think some new scientific discovery in the 2nd or 3rd millennium has proved it false? When will you learn that while science can tell you something it can't tell you everything? When will you see that there is no scientific test that can prove a spiritual truth? No microscope is going to see eternal life in Baptism's water; no breathalyzer will find forgiveness in Absolution's words; no Communion element will ever test positive for body or blood.
If you only believe what science can tell you, you will end up rootless and rudderless. When we don't confess to believe in a Creator, we don't know where we came from. Either not knowing or denying the createdness of all things is at the root of the blackness in modern man's despair. If we give up creation as a space-time reality, as something that really happened, it's not that we no longer exist or that creation no longer exists. No, it's just here. It has come from nowhere and it is going nowhere (Genesis in Time and Space, 30).
You know the empty, sick feeling you can get when looking down from a great height? How about the feeling of your stomach being in your throat when the plane suddenly drops in flight? Look at eternity which no time can comprehend and that empty, sick feeling is there. Look at the universe which no human conception of space can get its head around and it's like the plane dropping. God's revealed truth of His creating in Genesis 1 and 2 gives you a place to be in eternal timelessness and a place to stand in infinite space (Ibid.).
The doctrine of creation is the cantus firmus, the "fixed song" of human reality. In music the cantus firmus is the melody that forms the basis of a polyphonic composition of music. In other words, while lots of different notes come and go the cantus firmus remains constant. Faced with the many changes of this fallen world, we Christians confess to remain special creations of God the Father Almighty. We stand firm on the fact He created us and this whole world. It's all His creation. Though we don't understand all that goes on in creation let alone the act of creating itself we know it and us are in the hands of a Father not a nameless, faceless, heartless force.
Some modern men will confess to believe in a Creator. The intelligent design they find in creation won't let them think this just happened by chance. But we believe so very much more than that. We believe the Creator is our Father. Imagine being an orphan and ushered into a very large, well furnished house. It would be great to live there as opposed to the street or orphanage, but it would be living in a stranger's house. How very different that house becomes when you learn that it is your Father's house.
Only those who have Jesus as their Brother can know God as their Father. Only those with Jesus as their Brother can regard Creation as belonging to their Father. God the Father sent His only beloved Son into the world to be the Brother of us all. Oops let me back up. Let me back up to the time before the Father sent His Son. In the beginning God the Father created the heavens and the earth. In that beginning was the Son, the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And John 1 goes on to say, "Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made."
So rather than a nameless, faceless God creating who is a consuming fire, dwelling in light unapproachable, whom to see is to die, we see Jesus creating. You've seen science fiction shows where aliens build a habitat for a human but it's totally unsuitable because they built it as they understand life. Well creation was built with Jesus who knows what it means to be flesh and blood, who knows what it is to see, smell, touch, taste, and hear.
But we trashed it from the get-go. We fell away from our Father; ran and hid from Him; ashamed He would see us in our nakedness forgetting He created us. But God came looking for us even though the mess was extreme. We had bit the hand that not only feeds us but that created us, and what does God do? He sends His only beloved Son into our flesh and blood. He sends His only beloved Son into a fallen creation to rescue it, to reclaim it. His creation doesn't belong to chance, luck, or fate. His creation doesn't belong to energy, mass, time, or space. It belongs to Him, and as we still claim a dirty, smelly pet as our own, so the Father claimed us.
But at what cost? You know how you budget how much you're going to spend on Christmas gifts? There is always a price beyond which you will not go. The Father had no budget to reclaim His creation. The Creator, God the Son, became a Creature, and lived the perfect life required to enter heaven, and where perfect Adam and Eve couldn't do it in a perfect world, Jesus did it in a fallen one. You can't discount the cost of His obedience. You can't think it was easy or fun. Have you ever obeyed to the point it made you cry? Jesus did in Gethsemane.
Now the perfect Son should've been welcomed home with open arms. All creation should've greeted and served Him, but you know what happened? The sun refused to give Him light; the ground shook, and all creation thundered "Amen! Yes, yes, it must be so!" when the Father abandoned the Son on the cross because He took the place of sinners there. It was meet, right, and salutary that the Father should give up the Son. He was covered in your sin, your shame, your stench, and as the Son was being kicked out of the His Father's house the doors were swinging wide for sinners.
Yes, all this is for you. Jesus having carried all your sins away from you, God the Father, Creator of all things, puts His creation before you. That sun rises in the morning just for you; that moon waxes and wanes just for you. That flower, that tree, that rock, that sea, all just for you. Millions of boys and girls will get soldiers or dolls, action figures or Babies this Christmas, and they will create little worlds for them. Watch them play. Very seldom do you see even the fallen children of men create a world in which their favorite creatures are hurt or harmed. May we not think God in Christ is less capable or loving than sinful kids. May we not be as insensible to what our Creator did in the first moment of time and is still doing in this 3rd millennium as plastic headed dolls. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Advent Midweek 1 (20121128); First Article