« Prev Lecture IV. Note D.—P. 130. “Eternal Creation.” Next »

LECTURE IV NOTE D.—P. 130.

“ETERNAL CREATION.”

Origen’s views are stated in his De Principiis, Book i. 2, iii. 5, etc. In the former passage he argues that God would not be omnipotent 425if He had not eternally creatures on which to exercise His power. In the latter he deals with the objection: “If the world had its beginning in time, what was God doing before the world began? For it is at once impious and absurd to say that the nature of God is inactive and immovable, or to suppose that goodness at one time did not do good, and omnipotence at one time did not exercise its power”; and gives for answer: “Not then for the first time did God begin to work when He made this visible world; but as, after its destruction, there will he another world, so also we believe that others existed before the present came into being. . . . By these testimonies it is established both that there were ages before our own, and that there will be others after it.”—Ante-Nicene Library, trans. pp. 28, 255. Origen’s view of eternal creation is thus that of an eternal succession of worlds.

That profound medieval speculative thinker, John Scotus Erigena, held the doctrine of an eternal creation. See the sketch of his system in Ueberweg’s Hist. of Phil. i. 358–365.

Rothe’s views are contained in his Theolegische Ethik, i. sees. 40–52 (a special discussion of the point in sec. 52, pp. 193–204, 2nd ed.), and his Dogmatik, pp. 138–160. His theory turns on the notion that in positing his I, God must also, by a necessity of thought, posit his not-I, which is identified by him with pure matter, and is the product of an eternal act. This is the act of creation proper, and is beginningless; and from it is to he distinguished the world, which is the product of finite development, and has its existence in space and time—has therefore a beginning in time. “What has been created in time,” he says, “that has naturally a beginning; but as undoubtedly has that which was created when there was not time no beginning. For a beginning can only be spoken of where there is time. The world is consequently in no way without beginning (as little in a spatial as in a temporal reference), and nothing belonging to the world is.”—Theol. Ethik, pp. 198, 199.

Rothe’s pure matter is almost identified by him with space and time.

The idea of a beginning of God’s creative activity, Schlelermacher thinks, places Him, as a temporal being in the domain of change.—Der christ. Glaube, 3. pp. 200, 201.

The views of Lipsius may be seen in his Dogmatik, pp. 292, 293. “It is only a sensuous representation,” he says,” to lead back creation upon a single act now lying in the past, or to speak of a ‘first beginning’ of creation; rather is the total world-development, so soon as it is viewed religiously, to be placed under the notion of creation, consequently to be regarded as without beginning or end.”—P. 293. Darner solves the problem by the supposition of a temporal world standing midway between two eternal ones. “Just, therefore,” he says, “as we have no right to say that this law of succession, and this progress from imperfect to perfect, must continue for ever,— so also we have no right to say that this world, tangible to sense and subject to temporality, cannot have been preceded by a world of 426pure spirits (although spirits not yet subject to laws of historical progress), which are withdrawn in the first instance from all relation of succession, and exist in the simultaneity of all their constituent elements, and in this character surround the throne of God,—a kingdom of which it cannot be said that a time was when it was not, not merely because no time was ere it was, but also because for it there was no time, no succession or becoming. This world can only be brought under the standpoint of time by reference to the succeeding world. From this point of view it appears a preceding one, already belonging to the past. Thus, midway between the eternal world of the end, in which temporal existence merges, and the world of the beginning standing in the light of eternity, may lie, like an island in a broad ocean, the present world bound to temporal existence.”—System of Doctrine, ii. p. 33 (Eng. trans.).

Lotze teaches “that the ‘will to create’ is an absolutely eternal predicate of God, and ought not to be used to designate a deed of His, so much as the absolute dependence of the world upon His will, in contradistinction to its involuntary ‘emanation’ from His nature.”—Outlines of the Phil. of Religion, p. 74 (Eng. trans.).

The authors of The Unseen Universe hold that the resent visible universe, which had a beginning and will have an end, is developed out of an unseen and eternal one. “We are led,” they say, “not only to regard the invisible universe as having existed before the present one, but the, same principle drives us to acknowledge its existence in some form as a universe from all eternity.” Unseen Universe, p. 215; cf. pp. 94, 95.

The theory of an eternal creation is contested, on the other hand, by Van Oosterzee (Dogmatics, pp. 303, 304, Eng. trans.), Gretillat (Theologie Systematique, iii. 392–397), Muller (Christ. Doct. of Sin, i. pp. 224–227, Eng. trans.), etc.

The difficulties which attach to such theories as Rothe’s and Dorner’s, which only shift the problem from the absolute beginning to the beginning of the temporal developing world, are pointed out by Muller in his criticism of the former: “ Do not the difficulties supposed to be involved in a beginning of the world return now as really insoluble, because, while denying its beginning, we have to allow the fact of its eternal creation, and to believe that God, having left it as it was for a limitless period, barely existing as materia bruta, at length began at some definite time to think of it and ordain it, i.e. to begin to develop it towards the goal of its becoming spirit. And if the beginning of the world involves a transition from non-creation to creation inconsistent with God’s unchangeableness, have we not here also a transition on God’s part from inactivity to action equally inadmissible, because in this case God’s Revelation of Himself in outward activity becomes a necessity of His nature?”—Christ. Doct. of Sin, p. 226 (Eng. trans.).

427
« Prev Lecture IV. Note D.—P. 130. “Eternal Creation.” Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |