Co-improvisers of the creation

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I like this quote from Ann Pederson's book God, Creation, and All That Jazz:

Too often Christian tradition has explained the themes of God's creation in static, ponderous categories. Not only did God create the world out of nothing; nothing new has happened since. It is as if God's incarnation in creation and in the person of Jesus the Christ makes no new difference to us. We treat the contents of the faith like the stone tables handed to Moses on Mount Sinai--as unbreakable rules set in concrete. "In the beginning..." becomes the warrant for justifying the status quo, for preserving the "way it's always been." Centuries can pass before the atrocities of on generation are changed by another. We no longer justify the slavery of people for our personal use, but in some traditions women are still not ordained because we have an investment in preserving tradition when change threatens the powers that rule. Simply preserving the past for its own sake can lead to domination. Tradition sanctions the unchanging, eternal truth that defend us from the ambiguity and flux of the world.

But we know that the world does not work that way. Sciences tell us that the world is changing rapidly, that we have developed from a complex, evolutionary history. Many of us will move several times to new locations, will hold different jobs, and will be in a variety of different relationships. Our personal experience tells us that our world demands new skills, new ways of thinking, though we doggedly try to live in the same old ways as if they were divinely ordered. Likewise, we need new rituals and stories to shape our self-understanding. The point of the doctrine of creation, however, is that God continually acts in and through us in new and amazing ways. God's relationship to the world is alive and changing. We are created in God's image, as co-improvisers of the creation. (pp. 5-6)

5 comments:

JayBird's Joint said...

"But we know that the world does not work that way. Sciences tell us that the world is changing rapidly, that we have developed from a complex, evolutionary history."

Malachi 3:6, "For I am the Lord, I change not.."

Mystical Seeker said...

Well, then, that settles it.

Heather said...

**point of the doctrine of creation, however, is that God continually acts in and through us in new and amazing ways. God's relationship to the world is alive and changing. **

And I think this is evident throughout the entire Bible, especially if the BIble is viewed as man's response to the encounter with the divine. As we start from Genesis to the NT, we can see that the understanding of God evolves.

On the other hand, we can also see evidence in the Bible of people trying to "lock" God into one certain aspect.

As paradoxical as this sounds, I do think God both changes and stays the same. Changes, in the sense that God is not 'static,' as the article you mentioned. We can see this in our lives, or in nature. If you stay the same, you eventually die. Change produces growth.

On the other hand, I think God stays the same in terms of love, or justice, or goodness. The trick is that there are so many facets to each of those words, that they can often seem to be a change. But the core idea behind each remains the same.

Jan said...

"Simply preserving the past for its own sake can lead to domination. Tradition sanctions the unchanging, eternal truth that defend us from the ambiguity and flux of the world."

Too true--human beings always do this. Families do this.

Wake up!

I totally believe: "The point of the doctrine of creation, however, is that God continually acts in and through us in new and amazing ways. God's relationship to the world is alive and changing. We are created in God's image, as co-improvisers of the creation."

Mystical Seeker said...

Heather,

As paradoxical as this sounds, I do think God both changes and stays the same.

Charltes Hartshorne talks about God having a transcendent nature that is static--God's goodnesss, for example--and a consequent nature that changes. The consequent nature is what responds to humanity. A God who was not affected by what we did--who was indifferent and unchanged by the world--would not be a very interesting God, and it is not consistent with the Western traditions of a God who responds to and reacts to what we do. That is why it makes sense to me that God has both static and changing natures.

Jan,
Wake up!

That's very good advice! If only more of us would just wake up. Instead, we are stuck in our traditions, maybe because waking up and facing ambiguity is scary.