Six Theses on Creation: A Theology for Heralding the Coming Kingdom of God

This week I am participating in a wonderful conference on preaching the paradigmatic texts of Scripture. The focus of this particular conference is creation.  Walter Brueggemann is the featured speaker and his presentation last night on Psalm 104 was excellent. Other speakers include Ken Durham, John York, David Fleer and Rhonda Lowry. Everyone has done a wonderful job.

I made a presentation entitled “A Confessional Theology of Creation for Heralding the Coming Kingdom of God.”  For those who are interested, click Lipscomb Creation Lecture for a copy.

The six theses are:

1.    God creates the heavens and the earth as a dwelling place in which God comes to rest.

2.   God creates a telic dynamic reality that is good but not perfect.

3.   God creates humanity as a partner in the dynamic processes of created reality.

4.   God creates a material reality designed to mediate a divine-human communion experienced within and through creation.

5.    God creates amidst a continuing chaos under which the creation itself, along with God’s human partners, groans and yearns for liberation, which is the telos of creation.

6.   God creates, even now though not yet fully, a new heaven and new earth through the ministry of Jesus and the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit.



41 Responses to “Six Theses on Creation: A Theology for Heralding the Coming Kingdom of God”

  1.   Jeff McVey Says:

    Process theology ???

    • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      Jeff,

      No, actually…far from it. I don’t see an interdependency between God and creation, though I do see process within creation itself. I think the text of the lecture might clarify.

      •   Jeff McVey Says:

        Ok, I think I see your distinction…

        So the “creation” is evolving, and God is “resting” (abiding, living) in the creation, helping it to evolve, but God Himself is not (and cannot) evolve ???

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          That is one way of saying it. God’s ontology is not in process, but the creation is.

          •   Jeff McVey Says:

            But is God completely distinct from His creation ??? Isn’t His creation part of Himself ???

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          No, historic Christian theology has held that God is ontologically other than creation. This is called the aseity of God. Creation is authentically other and ontologically dependent upon God, yet also relationally connected to God by grace

          •   Jeff McVey Says:

            So, since God is “aweigh” from His creation, the improvement or degradation of His creation doesn’t affect God in the slightest ???

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          Yeah, “aweigh” was my IPad correction before I corrected it after I posted. :-) It now reads “aseity.”

          I did not say it did not affect God. I said God is ontologically other–God’s being and existence is not dependent upon creation. That God is grieved, moved, rejoices, responds, etc. is narratival language. I think that is the difference between ontology and relationality.

          •   Jeff McVey Says:

            So what we do really doesn’t affect God ???

            You can obviously see where I’m going with this… God IS tied into His creation in a very real way…

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          I never said he was not “tied” to the creation. It depends on what one means by that. God is relationally connected and engaged with the creation but God’s ontological being is not dependent upon it. There is a deep relational tie.

          •   Jeff McVey Says:

            I’m not quite sure you understood my last question…

            Is God affected by His creation ??? If He is, then He is tied to it in more than just a “relational” way…

            Anyway, nice talking to you, John Mark. I have heard of your successes since we last spoke, and I am proud of what you have accomplished.

            Jeff

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          Nice for you to visit, my friend. Blessings

          “Relational” is a significant affect. Just don’t see God ontologically conditioned by the other.

  2. Avatar of Craig Beard  Craig Beard Says:

    John Mark – Will the presentations be available as audio downloads? Thanks.

  3.   Rich constant Says:

    Thanks john mark
    the titles sound great!
    I very much hope they do the subjects justice,
    and are not to restrained by the allotted time!

  4.   guestfortruth Says:

    JMH,

    Which kindom of God are you talking about? Coming mmmmm. The New age gods Kingdom? or the Spiritual Kingdom of God that has been on earth for at least 2 millenials? (Mark 9:1). the spiritual kingdom of our lord Jesus the Christ?

    • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      I think it is rather obvious from reading the piece. The coming kingdom of God is the reign of God where the earth is filled with shalom, justice and righteousness…when heaven and earth will become one, and the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

      •   guestfortruth Says:

        JMH,
        So, Now today, nobody is doing the will of God? It looks that the Theosophy of Walter Brueggemann ((in a good Brueggemannian sense) has made an echo in your heart following the doctrine of Cyrus Ingerson Scofield. God said in his sacred scriptures “ For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace (Shalom) and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. “(1 Thessalonians 5:2-4) Today, the militant church is the spiritual Kingdom of God (Mat. 28:18-20, Mat. 21:42-441, Cor. 1 Cor. 15:23-25) and in a near future will be the New Jerusalem “glorious kingdom of God (church) in heaven”. (2 Pedro 3:12-14; Revelation 21:1-3)
        “Sacra Scriptura sui ipsius interpres”

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          Did I say that no one is doing the will of God today? I simply pray what Jesus taught us to pray for certainly the will of God is not done all over the earth as it is in heaven at this moment. So, we pray for the fullness of the kingdom.

          I have no problem with acknowledging that the church is a manifestation of the kingdom but the kingdom is not fully manifested in the world at present. The fullness of the kingdom of God is yet to appear.

          Theosophy is a serious misunderstanding of Brueggemann and he certainly has very little–if anything–to do with C. I. Scofield.

        •   guestfortruth Says:

          JMH,
          So, have you and some in Limpscomb faculty have embraced premilliennialism?. Really, so you were repeating the Lord’s prayer (our father) . So the last word in the previous answer was you praying to the Heavenly Father? Did you say “the will of God will be done on earth as in heaven? What about Mat. 28:18-20? What do you mean with the kingdom is not fully manifested in the world at present? Are you talking about the Ecumenical Movement promoted by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who is the father of the New Age Movement?
          So, do you trust that little of theosophy? And not the paradigmatic (Pattern) sacred Scripture?
          “Sola canonica Scriptura est regula fide”
          This video by Dave Hunt, who is an expert of this new mystical religious groups invading the American community [I edited out the link, JMH]

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          Why would you think so? No, no one that I know has embraced premillennialism, and I have not. You read too much into my words or assume that they mean something you think they should mean.

          No, Chardin is not even on my theological radar when I’m talking about my understanding of the biblical drama Scripture unfolds.

          Since the earth is full of violence, injustice and terror, I don’t think the whole earth is doing the will of God. But one day when there is no more curse, no more mourning, and no more night–when the earth is renewed and becomes the home of the righteous–the whole earth will reflect the glory of God in peace and righteousness.

          You think I am advocating something I am not. In my heritage, David Lipscomb and James A. Harding both affirmed what I am talking about. At the same time, it is Scripture that regulates my theology.

        •   guestfortruth Says:

          JMH,
          I read your book A gathered people written by you,Melton and Valentine and my impression was that you were embracing Ecumenisms, things that is in the Agenda of the RCC after the 2 council Vatican in 1964 until now, some ministers from the protestant tradition has come back to the RCC as Scott Hanan, jimmy akin etc. they were attracted by the mystical experiences. Did you know that in the United Nations there is an apartment called Unity in Diversity? Is a Religious office of unity in diversity directed by Lellan steward who makes possible the visit of the Dalai lama in 1980 visiting USA for the first time?.
          Do you know what God said about these actual times? The Scripture declare in Rev. 22:10-12;18-21
          We coC need to be aware about the influence of those mystical movements that comes from Philosophies and mysterious cults. As Theosophy etc. God wants us to be Sober minded about this things going on and learn how to deal with those mental controls cults. 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Thes 5:7-9.
          Keith, I love you in the Lord and I don’t want you to be deceive by yourself. The word of the Lord said in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
          This advice comes a man inspired by God called Paul not just for me but also for every Christian that are making an effort to keep the faith given to the saints Judes 3. Phil. 1:27. God wants the true Christians be grounded in the rock the head that is Christ. Colossians 1:23. This is what the apostle Paul said to you and to me and all Christian on this earth, if we don’t hear their advice we will be end as those that depart from the truth that makes them free Jn. 8:32 and God is our counselor through the message of the Spirit the Lord knows all what is going on in his (Body) church of Christ and all the World, 1 Tim. 1:19.
          The New Age Movement is something real going on in American churches today. Those videos show how the Vatican is accepting all world religion as the body of Christ and also Billy Graham and Some of the evangelical groups. And about the video of the Charismatic Movement being invaded by Mystic ecstasies experiencing things that they believe is the Holy Spirit, but is not.

          “Sacra Scriptura sui ipsius interpres”
          The Bible interpred the bible.
          sincerely in Christ,
          Guestforthruth. [I edited out the Scripture quotations and web link; people can look up the texts if they are interested. JMH]

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          It is appropriate to be aware of religious movements and the growth of philosophies that subvert the Christian Faith.

          However, you misread my work if you think my allegiance is to mysticism or New Age. We do discuss the Holy Spirit and talk about worship in the Spirit, which is quite biblical. When you so misread my own work, it is difficult to trust your reading of others.

          Nevertheless, I hear the warning, and I am not interested in any New Age version of Christianity but rather the biblical faith–a biblical faith that is open to the work of the Triune God in our midst.

        •   guestfortruth Says:

          JMH,
          Your whole book try about reconnecting Discipleship and sacraments? Where in the inspired, inerrant, all sufficient word of God; Do you find the word Sacrament? Are you talking about the 2 sacraments of the Reformers or the 7 sacraments of the RCC? in what sense are you sing the word sacrament? Did the apostles use the word sacraments in the sacred writings? Show the passages that use certain word in the Greek text. Talking about the Holy Spirit. Let me ask you this question: According to your theological studies is the Holy Spirit a person or a dynamic energy? How many times in the new testament did you find the word transforming (Metaschēmatisei )? I found this one 2 Cor. 11:13-14 and Philippians 3:20-21. those are the two passages in the whole scripture that use the word transforming. Does the Holy Spirit mediate our worship? We need to call things by scriptural names. (1 Peter. 4:11). [I edited out the quotations of the texts and the web link, JMH)

          “Sacra Scriptura sui ipsius interpres”

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          I don’t think this discussion is making any progress as the questions you ask are answered in the book which leaves me to wonder how carefully you read the book. You may respond to this if you like, but we will call that the last word in this round. Feel free to comment on other posts as you desire.

          Transformation is a term that can translate several Greek verbs (such as Romans 12:1-2), and it is an idea that is pervasive in Scripture though under different language at times (e.g., sanctification).

          The language of “sacrament” is a helpful term as I defined it in the book and identified what I was talking about.

          We do worship in the Spirit, according to Scripture, and that is what I mean by “mediate” (as the book clearly explains) or the Spirit is the one by whom we worship. Clearly, the book identifies the Spirt as one of the persons of the Godhead, not an energy. And, if you think the Spirit is a “person,” then I presume you know that the word “person” is not used of the Spirit any more than “sacrament” is used of baptism. Sometimes it is helpful to use language that communicates (even if the specific term is not in the Bible–and we all do this) as long as the language is faithful to the theology or meaning of the biblical text.

          You ask questions that are answered in the book itself. So, it leaves me to wonder why you are asking.

          Blessings.

        •   guestfortruth Says:

          JMH,
          Which are those several Greek verbs? It is an idea that is pervasive in scripture?. pervasive as you said, It is found 3 times in the Greek scriptures. And probably has been use more in the Montanus Movement which was labeled by Eusebius of Caesarea, departed from Historical Church tradition. (Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History Book 5. Chapter 16. paragraph 7, p.171.)

          sincerely In Christ,
          Guest for truth.

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          I’ll respond one last time.

          I did not say the word was pervasive, but the idea. One term is metamorphoo which appears in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (as well as regarding Jesus’ transfiguration in Mark 9:2 and Matthew 17:2). Metaschematizo occurs in Philippians 3:21 regarding our transformation in resurrection. Transformation is the process by which we are conformed to the image of Christ through the power and sanctifying work of the Spirit.

          Conformation to the image of Christ, growth into the image of Christ and sanctification (a progressive growth in holiness as the term is sometimes used) are part of the pervasive idea.

          Transformation is a fundamental idea in Greek Patristic literature. To identify it as heresy and associate it with Montanus is historically inaccurate.

        •   guestfortruth Says:

          JMH,
          Where did you get the pervasive idea? From John Calvin? There is a rule that Greek scholars follow to translate from Greek to other languages. Do you know what is that rule?. In your book you mention that is the historical position of the Church and Eusebious in his writings contradict your affirmation. Assembly as a transforming sacramental encounter that calls us to participate in the mission of God is an original idea from the ascetic life of the monasteries from the second and third century of patristic Christendom not from the first century church. In the scripture the word transfiguration (metemorphōthē) is not transformation (Metaschēmatisei) both share the prefix or origin root. the transformation that happen in obedience to the word of God, not by a subjective manifestation “Transfiguration?” of jerking movements as the mystical eastern religions. My question when I read for the first time your book looks like do you believe in Mental transcendentalism that is a Hindu practice. I have seen the fruit of that book (A Gathered People) in the movement called “Stream”. I hope is not the stream of this world. Another question : Have you embraced neo-calvinism? God bless you and “Not all service is worship”.

        • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

          I think we have both said enough for others to discern. You radically misunderstand my book which tells me that you are driven by an agenda that sees things as you think they are rather than as they really are. You have not read much of my work if you think I am Neo-Calvinist or embracing Hindu mysticism. Nevertheless, blessings on your faith journey.

  5.   Chris Benjamin Says:

    John Mark – Thank you again for the posting of these theses. I especially thank you for the presentation that goes along with them. This is a helpful companion for studies in Genesis and other creation texts.

    You have a gift for capturing and articulating the concepts that function as skeletal structure to the living, breathing organism of the text.

  6.   parsontodd Says:

    I really don’t understand why the nature of the Kingdom is so hard to grasp from the text. Like Jesus Himself- it was: as God’s original workings in creation in what we call the Old Testament. It is: as the called out who strive to live and make disciples in Jesus name. It will be: as that Kingdom fully submitted to Christ and offered up to the Father when every enemy has been subdued. No one can read the textual qualifications for the fullness of the Kingdom, look around at our present state (and that of most of the world since Pentecost) and believe that this is all there is. We are still heading towards a glorious consummation – whether that will look like the premillenialists expect (on earth) or as the amillenialists expect (in heaven) there is room for debate and is not a salvation issue in any event. What matters is we work out our salvation now to prepare for that fullness and praying for that fullness – as Jesus’ model prayer instructs us to do – is an important part of that.

  7.   Gardner Hall Says:

    I appreciate very much your kind spirit in dealing with those who challenge you.

  8.   rich Says:

    john mark
    remember that word “curse” that u used and i had such a problem with :-)…
    well guess what “chaos ” in GODS actions and bringing forth his rest really gripes me.
    when GOD builds a circle it is perfect. thus Gods asisity
    when you throw in choice “the creature” there becomes the “posibilty”of fractials in the circle.
    and so….
    the dinamic of evil and entrophy and chaos along with those “CURSES”..and of corse death
    AND THEN restoration of all things.
    ya know restore what once was :-)
    blessings bro got to go to work

  9.   Rich constant Says:

    John mark I have a question This question is in regards to the previous questions.
    I remember when I was young about 2526 and thought that I would study revelation.
    And this comes by the teaching of homer haley.
    That as long as there is an internal day.
    There will be an eternal night.
    I think that concerns revelation 2010
    I hope you get my drift on that.
    I knew I know there are some new thinking on What god will do with a disobedient an unfaithful, although this is what my premises rub all around from the last 2 statements that I wrote.
    How about a little help here bro.
    But then again sometimes a little more than a lot.
    Love you big guy.

  10.   Lonnie Gentry Says:

    Thanks for sharing this post and especially the full text of your lecture. It helped clear up several points in my thinking. Good stuff.

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