Dr. Benjamin Quinn interviews Craig Bartholomew about his and Bruce Ashford’s forthcoming The Doctrine of Creation: A Constructive Kuyperian Approach (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020).
BQ: There is a strong emphasis on the relationship between creation and eschatology in your volume. How do you understand continuity versus discontinuity between the here-and-now and the new creation?
CB: Indeed. There is a dynamic to creation that moves it forward. And creation, is, as one author points out, the very stuff of redemption. Despite our rebellion, God remains committed to his good purposes for his creation. Salvation is certainly individual – but it is also cosmic. The major theme of Jesus’s teaching and preaching is the kingdom of God, which is all about God acting decisively to bring all of creation under his reign and to lead it to the destiny he always had in mind for it. Lacking a robust doctrine of creation, the view took hold in the early twentieth century that the kingdom is about God’s reign, and not his realm. This is a false dichotomy. The creation is his realm, and the goal of history is that day of the new heavens and the new earth, a renewed creation without sin and evil. In my view there will be continuity and discontinuity between now and then, and it is not always easy to be precise about the differences. However, the great need of our day is to recover belief in the continuity – it is this creation with all its God-given dimensions that will be renewed so that our service of God in all areas of life is of eternal significance.
BQ: What key distinctives do you hope your volume will offer to the broader conversation on the doctrine of creation?
CB: Of course, we hope it will contribute in many ways. We hope it will lead to a recovery of a rich, biblical view of creation and confidence in it where these are lacking. As Calvin said of his Institutes, we hope that this work will enable ordinary Christians and scholars to read their Bibles better. Of course, we recognize the many limits of our work, and we hope that new generations of scholars will do far better work of this sort. And, of course, we hope that this will be the first volume in a Dogmatics Series, one which will show how the doctrine of creation permeates the other loci. And we hope, ironically, that by not starting with science, we have laid a foundation for rigorous engagement with science.
The doctrine of creation is one of faith and worship. This work will have been worthwhile if it helps readers to rediscover the richness of the doctrine of creation, and if at times they feel compelled to stop and worship. Such worship, they will then discover, leads to serving Christ and attending to him in all areas of life. Gerard Manly Hopkins understood the doctrine of creation when he said that Christ plays in ten thousand places. We need to be attentive to his play, and to join him in it. In the process we will discover, with Irenaeus, that the glory of God is the human person – us – fully alive.
Benjamin Quinn is academic director of the BibleMesh Institute. This interview was first published by the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics at Tyndale House.