Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anglicanism on the Doctrine of Creation

Alice C. Linsley

The following is from the 1938 publication of Doctrine in the Church of England, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. This is the report of the Commission on Christian Doctrine appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1922.  It is the closest thing to an Anglican statement of doctrine in modern times, but note the title: Doctrine in the Church of England, not Doctrine of the Church of England. The report reveals the considerable ambiguity of Anglicanism on central points of Christian doctrine. One such point treats Creation. What follows is the text of that portion, found on pages 44 and 45.

Part I: The Doctrines of God and of Redemption

Section III.  Creation

Christianity is committed to the doctrine that the world depends upon God as His creation.  Historically, this has been affirmed by the Fathers in the doctrine of creation "out of nothing" (εξ ουκ οντων), in opposition to the idea of creation out of an independent ύλη or matter.

On the relation of Creation to the time-process three main views have been put forward:
1) Many Christian teachers have held that the world had a beginning in time.
2) Augustine took over from Plato's Timaeus the suggestion that the world was created cum tempore - i.e., that time and the world are due to a single creative act.
3) Origen's view that Creation is an eternal process was generally rejected in the Ancient Church, but this view in a different form is now held by many Christian thinkers.

Christianity is not specifically committed to any of these views.

The universe depends upon the creative will of God. Any such view as that the finite universe proceeds by emanation from the Divine nature, as opposed to the view that it originates in the creative activity of the Divine will, is non-Christian.

It is to be recognized that the Christian doctrine of Creation as thus generally stated leaves abundant room for a variety of theories as to the evolution of the world. There is in any case a sense in which, on the Christian view, the creative activity of God must be regarded as continuous. No objection to a theory of evolution can be drawn from the two Creation narratives in Gen. i and ii., since it is generally agreed among educated Christians that these are mythological in origin, and that their value for us is symbolic rather than historical.  It is to be noted that a non-literal interpretation of these chapters is to be found in some ancient Fathers.

The Christian view excludes Pantheism. That God should be all in all is in the Christian view the ultimate goal of the creative process, but this is not to be confused with any docrtine which represents finite individuality as illusory or tends to blur moral distinctions, or which, while leaving these indeed in their own sphere, declares that this sphere is part of Appearance only, and that both finite individuality and moral distinctions are lost in the Absolute.


My response to this vacuous statement is here:  N.T. Wright Should Admit His Own Church's Failing

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