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.

10 Comments:

Thom said...

Allow me to offer this from the late Herbert McCabe, OP: "We come across God, so to speak, or rather we search and do not come across him, when the universe raises for us a radical question concerning its existence at all. And creation is hte name we give to God's answering this question." from "Creation" in _God Matters_ (Springfield, IL: Templegate, 1987), 7.

Terry said...

Thanks for your comments, Ben. It's an interesting issue overall and the discussion is helping me think through the issues more - which is the whole point of discussion, I guess!

Ben Myers said...

Well, Terry, thanks for bringing up this whole interesting topic. Incidentally, I'd love to read a copy of your paper as well....

Terry said...

You should have an email. . .

Apolonio said...

What's the difference between Panneberg's continuous creation and the thomistic account of divine causality?

Gaunilo said...

Ben and Terry -

Sorry to have dropped out of the discussion (the exigencies of still being in coursework). Although I do hold to a creatio continua, I hold it with some degree of looseness; my concern overall is our ability to be able to articulate creation as act of God and as immanent process. My worry is that too strong an emphasis on creatio ex nihilo risks making creation entirely self-enclosed after the event of inception, and positing a rift in the divine economy (viz. between creation and redemption). This was the force of my comments toward Terry - though in rereading, he was emphasizing something slightly different.

Terry said...

What do you mean by 'immanent process', Gaunilo?

Gaunilo said...

Something like what you seemed to be gesturing towards in terms of "creaturely connectivity" - an action of the creature, that is, or probably rather domain of discourse that concerns it, that properly is its own and has causal reference to itself and that which is accessible to it.

Terry said...

Sounds like you and I are tackling the same issue, then!

Gaunilo said...

I think we actually are. So maybe continual creation isn't finally the issue.

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