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|Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky|
Orthodox dogmatic theology
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God Manifest in the World
3. God and the Creation
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1). Moses' divinely inspired
account of the creation of the world, set forth on the first page of the Bible, stands in exalted
grandeur, quite independent of the ancient mythological tales of the origin of the world, as well
as from the various hypotheses, constantly replacing each other, concerning the beginning and
development of the world order. It is extremely brief, but in this brevity is embraced the whole
history of the creation of the world. It is presented with the help of the most elementary language,
with a vocabulary consisting of only several hundred words and entirely devoid of the abstract
ideas so necessary for the expression of religious truths. But in spite of its elementary nature,
it has an eternal significance.
The direct purpose of the God-seer Moses was — by means of an account of the creation —
to instill in his people, and through them in the whole of mankind, the fundamental truths of
God, of the world, and of man.
A. Of God. The chief truth expressed in Genesis is of God as the One Spiritual Essence
independent of the world. The first words of the book of Genesis, “In the beginning God
created,” tell us that God is the sole extra-temporal, eternal, self-existing Being, the Source of all
being, and the Spirit above this world. Since He existed also before the creation of the world,
His Being is outside of space, not bound even to heaven, since heaven was created together with
the earth. God is One. God is Personal, Intellectual Essence.
After presenting in order the stages of the creation of the world, the writer of Genesis concludes
his account with the words, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it
was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
B. Of the world. From the magnificent schema given by Moses of the origin of the world,
there follow a series of direct conclusions about the world, namely:
(1) How the world arose:
(a) The world does not exist eternally, but has appeared in time.
(b) It did not form itself, but is dependent on the will of God.
(c) It appeared not in a single instant, but was created in sequence from the most simple
to the more complex.
(d) It was created not out of necessity, but by the free desire of God.
(e) It was created by the Word of God, with the participation of the Life-giving Spirit.
(2) What the nature of the world is:
(a) The world in its essence is distinct from God. It is not
(1) part of His Essence,
(2) nor an emanation of Him,(3) nor His body.
(b) It was created not out of any eternally existing material but was brought into being out of
(c) Everything that is on the earth was created from the elements of the earth, was
“brought forth” by the water and the earth at the command of God, except for the soul
of man, which bears in itself the image and likeness of God.
(3) What the consequences of the creation are:
(a) God remains in His nature distinct from the world, and the world from God.
(b) God did not suffer any loss and did not acquire any gain for Himself from the creation
of the world.
(c) In the world there is nothing uncreated, apart from God Himself.
(d) Everything was created very good — which means that evil did not appear together
with the creation of the world.
C. Of man. Man is the highest creation of God on earth. Recognizing this, man would belittle
himself if he did not think, and be exalted in thought, about His Creator, glorifying Him, giving
thanks to Him, and striving to be worthy of His mercy.
But these things — glory, thanksgiving, prayer — are possible only on the foundations that
are given in Moses' account of the creation of the world. Without the acknowledgment of a Personal
God, we could not turn to Him: we would be like orphans, knowing neither father nor
If we were to acknowledge that the world is co-eternal with God, in some way independent
of God, in some way equal to God, or else born from God by emanation, then this would be the
same as saying that the world itself is like God in dignity, and that man, as the most developed
manifestation of nature in the world, might be able to consider himself as a divinity who has no
accountability before a Higher Principle. Such a concept would lead to the same negative and
grievous moral consequences, to the moral fall of men, as does simple atheism.
But the world had a beginning. The world was created in time. There is a Higher, Eternal,
Most-wise, Almighty, and Good power over us, towards Whom the spirit of a believing man joyfully
strives and to Whom he clings, crying out with love, “How magnified are Thy works, O
Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them all, the earth is filled with Thy creation. . . . Let the
glory of the Lord be unto the ages” (Ps. 103:26, 33).