A fundamental tenant of Christian faith is that the universe, humanity and history are dynamic. Rather than simply existing as the static expression of some primordial causation, the universe, humanity and history are all moving in a direction. Christians believe that God is working within the cosmos, shaping and contouring it toward a goal, toward a final consummation. Leaving aside the debates about the interpretations of the potential chronology of the events recorded in the book of Revelations, Christians are united, at least, in the firm belief that cosmological history is going somewhere and that this movement is being actualized in the dynamism of the reality which we all experience.

It is precisely this conviction which rejects certain forms of deism. At the height of modernism, cosmological history was reduced to a series of predictable, unavoidable consequences which were merely the logical expression of causal forces. In this schema, God became reduced to a principle causation, to Aristotles' "Unmoved Mover." Being "unmoved," however, God was also the extreme disconnected deity, merely watching as the universe followed the impetus of the divine causality. This conception of God's creative relationship to the universe, however, is explicitly rejected by the Scriptures which clearly reveal God's intimate and intentional involvement, not only in regards to the mechanisms of creation, but even more importantly to the realization and progress of history. As noted above, Christian faith believes not only that history is "going somewhere," but moreover that God is precisely involved in where it is going and what it is becoming.

In reflecting upon this idea, I see dangers with "literalistic" interpretations of Genesis. While such interpretations may be intended to be faithful to the texts, I believe they also introduce dangerous theological implications which must be avoided. For example, the literalistic interpretation advocates that the universe was created in 6 literal days (24 hour periods) and that on the 7th day, God rested from the work. Scientific evidence aside, I see severe problems with this view. By locating God's creative activity to a specific time period (the first 6 days of space/time), this form of interpretation seems capable of leading to the deist's conclusions. After all, if God's creative activity is limited to this specific time period (for God "rested" after creating, thus seeming to bring the account of creative activity to a close), is not the movement of time/space that follows merely the causal outcome of this creative activity? Is God not merely the "Mover" that has set things in motion?

Moreover, how does this perspective make God's continued involvement in creation intelligible? I see that this view does not allow for the dynamic relationship which the Scriptures portray to exist between God and history. Rather, God is simply the authoritarian force actualizing the will present in creation. In this sense, however, eschatology really becomes an irrelevant topic. If the creative activity of God has ceased in the first moments of the universe, there is no real "movement" anywhere. Rather, history is simply the unthinking, casual product of the act of God at the beginning of all things. In this way, then, the consummation of history is really only a phenomenological oddity, rather than the dynamic actualization of the divine will within history that the Scriptures present.

Because of these issues, I believe any theology of origins and eschatology must allow for the dynamic and continuing creative involvement of God in the history of the universe. This is necessary, for the very nature of eschatology impinges upon creation theology. As noted above, eschatology is the belief of the people of God that history is moving towards a goal and that God is dynamically involved in actualizing this goal. However, and precisely because of this impetus, creation theology must be reflective of one's eschatology. After all, if one believes that God is dynamically involved in bringing history to consummation, one must also provide an intelligible way of speaking about how God has created and continues to create the universe in such a way as to be consonant with these eschatological designs. As I have already pointed out, some forms of creation theology present a picture of God as Creator which locate God's creative activity exclusively within the first moments of creation. If this is true, however, in what way can one concomitantly assert that God is also dynamically bringing history to consummation? Truly enough, one could speak of God simply "realizing" the causal end of that which God has created. However, as I already noted, this tends to turn eschatology into merely a phenomenological concept, rather than as a reality in which God is actively participating. Because of this, I believe another way must be pursued.
I will explore this "way" in my next post.