Creation and the Glory of God

This will be the last of my Lake Powell reflections. It correlates directly with what the topic of discussion of the Day of Learning at Northwestern was centered on today: creation care.

It was a common occurrence over the course of our kayak trip to hear something to the effect of, “I don’t know how somebody can see nature in this form and not believe in some creator God.” This is nothing new or profound and to be honest, not really the direction I will be taking this either. But I do think that many Christians would agree that through nature, God is experienced. Or is it God? To me, if we say we are experiencing God when we are in nature, when we are in the mountains, or when we are kayaking the canyons of Lake Powell, we are elevating the creation of God to God himself. We are on the verge on pantheism . . . that God dwells in everything. And I think this is something we should be careful of. And maybe, what we experience when we are in nature, is NOT God, but rather the glory of God or more specifically, the creation of God being what it was created to be. The creation that pervades Lake Powell (at least the small part that I was in) is untouched by commercialism, and for the week we were there, untouched by tourists. Creation stands as creation. Karl Barth, in his theology, discusses the poles of divinization and secularization. I think his discussion on culture using these as guideposts can also inform our discussion on nature. The nature that my friends and I were experiencing day after day was special because it stood as the creation of God being the creation of God. It had not been touched by developers who would try to divinize it into being some sort of heavenly realm here on earth, nor had people not cared for the land by littering everywhere. People had treated it as the creation of God, not making something more out of it than God created it to be and not making something less out of it than God created it to be. God’s creation was being God’s creation. Thus, maybe we were mistaken when we said we were experiencing God in nature. Maybe we were experiencing creation, and by experiencing creation as creation, we began to see what it was like to participate in the kingdom of God, no matter how imperfect our idea of the heaven of God may be. I think it would be a mistake to equate the beauty of Lake Powell with God. But I would not have a problem with stating that the beauty of Lake Powell captivates us and transfuses us with the grace of God to participate in the life of God.

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