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Is the Created World Good?

October 27, 2009

In lieu of an actual post (soon, I promise!), here is a short essay I wrote for literature class. Enjoy… and let me know what you think!

Summa: Is the Created World Good?

According to the Marcionites, a Gnostic sect formed by Marcion of Sinope around the year 144, the creator God of the Old Testament was a being inferior to God the Father first introduced by Christ. This God, called Yaltabaoth, was a wrathful, depraved entity, and His creation, subsequently, is imperfect, filled with sin and suffering. Though Scripture is clear that there is one perfect God, both the Father in Heaven and Creator of all, the question aroused by the Marcionites’ claim is a valid one. Is the created world “good?” If it is, how can evil exist in a good world? Is creation evil? If so, why?

“God saw everything He had made, and behold, it was very good.” This passage from the first chapter of Genesis seems to offer an unequivocal answer to the question posed above: the created world is “very good.” The discussion, however, is far from over. The assertion that sin and suffering do exist in the world is unavoidable. Evil has plagued humanity almost since the beginning of time. The Bible itself addresses the question of its source in its opening chapters, where we read that man was tempted to disobedience with the promise of great knowledge: “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:22) In Romans 5:12, Paul makes a claim that both confirms our suspicions throws our once black-and-white answer into a world of doubt: “…sin came into the world through one man (Adam) and death through sin.” Can the world still be considered “good” even after the advent of sin? Or has a once-good creation been ruined entirely?ist1_230478-bitten-apple

Nature is under a curse (Genesis 1:17), “subject to futility” (Romans 5:20). These assertions are undeniable. The underlying question is not, “is the created world good?” but rather “can evil exist in a good world?” Or stated differently, “is creation itself evil or is it merely bound by evil?” Can a good creation exist in the presence of sin?

My answer is yes. God looks upon His work even today and calls it “very good.” Paul writes in Romans 8:20 that “His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” In other words, God’s creation has never ceased to reflect God’s good character. The image has been distorted some due to the sin that binds creation, but remains nonetheless. Nothing can be corrupted and remain truly good, for just as a half-truth is a complete lie, “evil is simply good spoiled.” – C.S. Lewis

The inherent goodness of God’s creation is perhaps best expressed by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:4: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” And though creation has long been held in bondage, a day will come when the chains of sin will be destroyed, and all the universe will partake in the glorification of the saints.

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:19-21)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2009 12:37 pm

    Great thoughts, guy…..this is an issue that is so prevalent for modern Christianity. Platonism, recently republished in medieval monasticism and anabaptism during the post-reformation, all the way up to Kant, has infiltrated so many areas of the christian church, particularly in eschatology, having to do with the concluding verse you posted. The reformers would give you a swift ‘amen.’ As Lewis said elsewhere, “God loves matter, He created it.” Later.

  2. Jan Stern permalink
    October 30, 2009 8:50 am

    Thanks for your thoughts – good writing and enjoyable to think through such wonderful verses too!

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