Monday, 24 April 2006

Continuous creation: critiquing Pannenberg

There were some very interesting and insightful comments here about Pannenberg’s view of “continuous creation.” I myself am also critical of the concept of continuous creation, even though I think Pannenberg offers a very challenging and nuanced way of understanding the concept.

I think Pannenberg has good reasons for wanting to revive the idea of a continuous creation. On the one hand, he wants to relate “creation” to the world’s temporal existence as a unified whole, which also means viewing the world eschatologically (since the whole is known only from the end). And on the other hand, Pannenberg wants to relate “creation” scientifically to the expansion of the universe and to the evolutionary process of the emergence of new forms of life. Further, his view of continuous creation rests on an awareness that “creation” in the Old Testament is not always depicted as an absolute beginning (as in the Genesis stories), but also as the creative act of God in Israel’s history (as in Deutero-Isaiah). And this is an important point, since it seems to me that the latter is really closer to the heart of Israel’s faith, and closer to the heart of Old Testament theology.

So although I think the notion of continuous creation should be criticised, I also think that Pannenberg’s account offers some important emphases and correctives that we should try to come to terms with in any contemporary doctrine of creation.

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