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Creation: The Archetypal Action of God

1.4: Conclusion - Characteristics of the Creative Action of God

The action of God the Creator is intelligible to man on the basis of a complex analogy between human and divine action; indeed this analogy shows forth a subtle and unifying understanding of the action of God as Creator.  There is a true beginning, time of development and an intended end; indeed, while the action of God is over time, each action of God is immediately effective and cumulatively revelatory of the plan of God.  Each type of creature is given a relationship to an "environment" of origin.  Each "creature", whether plant, star, animal or man, is a graced good as to its origin and kind; indeed, the graced good that each creature is, is subsumed in a hierarchy of being which makes that graced good 'pregnant' of progressing the participation of Adam and Eve in the image and likeness of God.  Thus gender is a fundamental characteristic of all creatures and of creation as a whole.  Both accounts of the creation of man give evidence for a biblical understanding of the complexity of man as male and female, made in the image of God, animated and "mothered" by the Breath or Power of God and formed from the earth.  Thus one is led to the inseparable connection between the identity of man and the identity of God.  The gender of man, male and female, follows on from the complex mystery of God as Elohim, Ruach Elohim and Yahweh Elohim; indeed, as we have seen, there are inescapable parallels between the origin of Adam and the generation of the Eternal Son and the origin of Eve and the procession of the Holy Spirit.  Thus the complementarity of gendered persons is a fundamental datum of Genesis 1-2; indeed, on this reading, making 'man in our image' and 'likeness' (Gn 1: 26) prepares for man being created 'male and female' (Gn 1: 27).

Furthermore, just as we saw that each type of created life which proceeds from the living God, proceeds in the light of grace and is graced, so human life exceeds all the varieties of graced life, as human life proceeds more directly from a kind of participation in the Breath of divine life.  As graced life, particularly graced human life, proceeds by way of participation in the mystery of the "good" of divine life, it follows that just as each kind of "living fact" is graced to the extent it approaches the divine life, so the "fact of human life" expresses a degree of inviolability which can only be called normative.  In the variety of life which God has created He has given a normative range.  But in the case of human life, precisely because it participates so intimately in His own life, He has given a kind of life which is as inextricably moral as is His own: a kind of life which requires that we act, through reason and love, in such a way that we act in accord with the nature God has given us, just as the goodness of God is both reflected and preserved in the goodness of divine actions.  God reveals that even time itself is intrinsically ordered to the moral life of man: to his work and rest.

Thus we see that the "plan" and "purpose" of Genesis 1-2 is not only to give a philosophical answer to the deepest questions of human identity and life, but that God has given a metaphysics of being which is particularly ordered to moral philosophy: to the task of acting as God's steward of creation (Gn 1: 28).  For God has given the kinds of created goods, good as to origin and kind, precisely to inform man's participation in the divine plan as the one who continues the work of creation.  In other words, God has given the identity and variety of what is "good" in order for man to know how to act as God acts and to continue the good work which the Creator has begun.  Thus Scripture reveals that creation is as intrinsically ordered to the moral good of man as it is derived from the goodness of the Creator; indeed, it is as alien to Scripture to divide the moral good from the ontological good, as it would be to try to separate the good of creation from the goodness of the Creator.  For one kind of good is as ordered to another as it is different from it.  Consequently, even the fall, which has not been discussed, retains the relationship between the state of creation and God's moral purpose for it.  In other words, the purpose of the changed state of creation, a change effected by both God and man, is a change which fundamentally preserves the relationship of the good of creation to the good of man.  For now the "imperfections" of creation are to turn man to God where once the "perfection" of creation was intended to perpetuate the accord between man and God.

Creation through "dialogue", as indeed divine approbation of what is created following that dialogue, gives more than a passing impression of the possibility of creation as the work of the Blessed Trinity; indeed, although the following point has not been explored, the mystery of God's plurality is actually a necessary pre-condition for the development of a messianic expectation: an expectation of a saving son of the woman (cf. Gn 3: 15) Who transpires to be 'the only Son from the Father' (Jn 1: 14).  In other words, coming to know the Christian mystery of the Blessed Trinity reveals more clearly the mystery of man, male and female, made in the image and likeness of God71; and just as this Christian mystery is fundamental to man's identity as gendered persons, so it is fundamental to all that constitutes the truth of his integral personhood.  His gendered personhood, sexual biology, psychology and faculties are as wonderfully (cf Ps 139: 14) permeated by the fundamental "spirituality" of his life, as the dynamic unity-in-diversity of his gendered personhood is expressive of the life which makes man a living being (Gn 2: 7).  For this is the "sign" of life that is created by the "living God": a sign as indicative of the mystery of man as it is of the mystery of God.  Just as breath signified that man had become a 'living being', so it signifies the "living God" from Whom he received the gift of life (ibid); and just as the mystery of God entails a transcendent exemplarity of gendered personhood, so man's spirituality is as wonderfully male as it is female.

Finally, if there is a conclusion to this exegetical commentary on Genesis 1: 1-5 which particularly pertains to the task of this investigation it is this: There is an outward sign to the action of God.  Just as creation stands as "witness" to the act of the Creator which brought it into existence, so does the finality of each created good signify God's act of "completing" what He has begun.  Even the continued existence of what He has created is a "silent" witness to His act of sustaining creation; and if man needs help to recognize the action of God, then 'the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets' (Am 3: 7).  This is because it is fundamental to the purpose of God's act of creation, for that act of creation to reveal Who He is and what it is that He has created.  Thus His act of creation is a revelation, a communication; and it is, therefore, fundamentally intelligible.  Creation is open to human investigation precisely in order to be what it is: the "place" of our encounter with God.

In other words, if God is at work at the beginning of each person, then the beginning of each person will bear witness to it.  One aspect of this witness is the existence of the person as gendered; and another aspect of this witness is the recognition that a person is a kind of creature with a particular origin.  Just as life is fundamental to what lives and what kind of life to what it is that lives, so the existence of the person is a fact so integral to everything which it entails that there can no more be the creation of a person who is not "someone" than there can be the creation of a person who is not male or female.  Thus the person cannot come to exist at a point subsequent to the beginning of a human life.  For the person as a kind of creature is precisely what the act of God establishes from the beginning of that creature's existence.  The gendered person follows on the divine act at the root of his existence in the same way that the divine Person follows on the "act" of being God.  What follows on the creation of the person is, therefore, the ordered development entailed in the gift of the person.

71 Cf. Gaudium et Spes, articles 22 and 24.    Back

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