International Society for Science & Religion - Library Project

God in Creation

by Jurgen Moltmann

Introductory Essay by V. V. Raman

Creation is a key mystery. Both science and theology grapple with it in their different ways. Every religion has its narrative on creation. There are deeper meanings in those narratives.

Among the services that theologians render to culture are their insightful interpretations of the messages from the texts of the tradition. Jürgen Moltmann, an eminent Protestant theologian of the twentieth century, does so for the Christian tradition in this book.

Moltman begins his theological reflections on creation in the context of ecology. The term is used to remind us of our ecology-conscious age and also to emphasize that God is in the house (oikos) that He has created. God is in every home and heart. This evokes an awareness of global interconnectedness. “To be alive means existing in relationship with other people” [3].

Moltman calls for a collaboration between science and theology to meet ecological challenges. God’s creation is not just nature, but a “knowable, controllable, and usable nature” [21]. A scientific understanding of nature must also be part of theology. Moltmann emphasizes that we should strive not just to understand God through nature but to understand nature through God. This alters the goal of revealed theology. For now one inquires into where God is revealed, and begins to understand faith from a different perspective. This approach will also serve as “an anticipation of knowledge of God in glory” [58]. The world is promise and anticipation, and also messianic knowledge.

The book explores the question of what it could mean for God to create a world that is different from Him, and also one which bears correspondence to him. In a chapter on the time of creation we are reminded that “through memory, sight, and expectation, the soul has the ability to unite the times in itself, to keep them present and to make them contemporaneous” [115]. And space “corresponds to God’s world-presence, which initiates this space, limits it and interpenetrates it” [157]. Then the book takes up the question of why creation is dual (Heaven and Earth). The word ‘heaven’ is discussed in various etymological and biblical contexts, and related debates in history are examined. Here the ideas of Feuerbach and Karl Marx are also considered.

In an insightful chapter on the evolution of creation, we are reminded that evolution is very different from creation, and that “creation is not yet finished, and has not yet reached its end” [197]. There are discussions on human beings regarded as God’s image in creation from three perspectives: as imago Dei, as imago Christi, and as Gloria Dei est homo; as well as on the idea that “embodiment is the end of all God’s works” (the title of his tenth chapter). This is followed by a chapter on the Sabbath as the feast of creation. The book concludes with an appendix discussing various symbols, such as the Great World Mother, Mother Earth, and the World as Dance. Here the author goes beyond Christian worldviews.

Rich in historical references and insights, this book on the central notion of creation from the Christian theological perspective should deepen the understanding and broaden the vision of those committed to Protestant theology.