Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gordon Clark's "Predestination" - Part 1


God created all things (cf. Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:13-16; Hebrews 3:4): heaven, the physical universe, and all things contained therein. This includes calamity (cf. Isaiah 45:7). In Hebrew, “calamity” denotes or is synonymous with “wickedness” approximately 50 times in the Old Testament, such as in Genesis 6:5. Essentially, the calamity of which Isaiah writes is “moral” (sin) as well as “natural” (hurricanes et. al.). This fits the juxtaposition between peace and calamity, as God creates moral well-being as well as natural (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27).

That God created all things logically means that He originally created – made or produced – by fiat, and we see that this is indeed the case (cf. Genesis 1-2; Psalm 33). While He created men by the dust of the ground, He created the dust of the ground by His spoken word. Any instruments He uses to create ultimately have their origin in God’s spoken word. God creates out of nothing in modern times too; see, for instance, that God creates new hearts in His people (cf. Job 14:4; Ezekiel 36:25-27). This is simply to say that throughout Scripture, when God is designated as the creator, the evidence points toward the concept of “fiat creation.”

This unique capacity may imply omnipotence (cf. Isaiah 40:26; Romans 9:19-23; Revelation 4:11). What is certain from these passages is that God created all things for a reason – His pleasure – and that it was His pleasure that by all things He receive glory, honor, and power (cf. Hebrews 2:10). By creating and maintaining all things for His pleasure, then, He is worthy of receiving glory, honor, and power (cf. Romans 11:36). Furthermore, that God is described as almighty or omnipotent many times bears relevance to predestination, for while it is possible God did not predestine everything He might have, it should be agreed that – due to His limitless sovereignty over creation – God possesses the capacity of predestining any possibility.

That God is the omnipotent Alpha and the Omega may suggest something about God’s purpose in creation: He and His glory is the ends of His own purposes (cf. Proverbs 16:4). Moreover, that which is explicitly said to give glory to God – say, salvation (cf. Isaiah 46:13) – is often times predicated on contingencies. The reality of salvation is predicated on the idea that men need saving. That God has purposed salvation for His glory implies that those He is saving are also purposed for His glory, that that which sustains men can also be said to be purposed by God for His glory – insofar as the sustenance is necessary toward the reality of that which is explicitly said to give God glory: salvation – &c.

Also, the connectedness between the church and creation is such that to understand the purpose of the church is to understand the purpose of creation, that purpose being the manifestation of God’s glory through the manifestation of His wisdom (cf. Ephesians 3:8-10, 20-21). All things have been created so that, through the salvation of the church, the heavenly powers might understand that wisdom of God which is deserving of praise and glory – a point which, as an aside, demonstrates the validity of supralapsarianism. Because the ultimate purpose of creation is the manifestation of God’s glory by the manifestation of God’s wisdom, and because this end is said to be achieved by the more immediate purpose of creation – i.e. creation functions as the means by which Christ could redeem the church so that God’s wisdom would be manifested – the teleological order necessitates that God purposed the redemption of the church logically prior to creation. More clearly, one could ask why God created all things [such as they are], and the answer would be “so that the church could be redeemed.” Why did God desire the church to be redeemed? So that His glory would become manifest through His wisdom. Or, recognizing that a purpose relates to an intention, one could equivalently state that God’s intention in creating all things was so that He could redeem his church, and that His intention in redeeming the church was so that His glory would be made manifest through His wisdom. This is precisely what supralapsarianism entails. The glory of God, a reference to His excellence, is what God means to display through whatever means necessary: whether by displaying His knowledge of mysteries and capacity to create (cf. Ephesians 3:8-10, 20-21), His power (cf. Romans 9:11-17; Exodus 33:15-20), His compassion, love, and wrath (cf. Romans 9:19-23), &c. 


Joshua Butcher said...

I much prefer fiat to ex nihilo or out of nothing. If God creates according to a purpose, then it is not from nothing that something comes, but, strictly speaking, everything comes to be by virtue of God's thinking it so.

The problems of matter, substance, or even material being have not received adequate definition to be considered as something we know, so it is mere question-begging to assert something like "the material cannot be derived from immaterial" or other such materialist objections to Christianity.

Ryan said...

After thumbing through Augustine's De Magistro and reading about his thoughts on the concept of "nothing," I'm inclined to agree with you.