- kre-a'-ter (ktistes, 1 Pet 4:19
): The distinctive characteristic of Deity, as the Creator, is that He is the Cause of the existent universe--Cause of its being, not merely of its evolution or present arrangements.
1. God as Creator:
The doctrine of His being the Creator implies, that is to say, that He is the real and the exclusive Agent in the production of the world. For, as Herder remarked, the thought of the Creator is the most fruitful of all our ideas. As Creator, He is the Unconditioned, and the All-conditioning, Being. The universe is thus dependent upon Him, as its causative antecedent. He calls it, as Aquinas said, "according to its whole substance," into being, without any presupposed basis. His power, as Creator, is different in kind from finite power. But the creative process is not a case of sheer almightiness, creating something out of nothing, but an expression of God, as the Absolute Reason, under the forms of time and space, causality and finite personality. In all His work, as Creator, there is no incitement from without, but it rather remains an eternal activity of self-manifestation on the part of a God who is Love.
2. Purpose in Creation:
God's free creative action is destined to realize archetypal ends and ideals, which are peculiar to Himself. For thought cannot be content with the causal category under which He called the world into being, but must run on to the teleological category, wherein He is assumed to have created with a purpose, which His directive agency will see at last fulfilled. As Creator, He is distinct from the universe, which is the product of the free action of His will. This theistic postulation of His freedom, as Creator, rules out all theories of necessary emanation. His creative action was in no way necessarily eternal--not even necessary to His own blessedness or perfection, which must be held as already complete in Himself. To speak, as Professor James does, of "the stagnant felicity of the Absolute's own perfection" is to misconceive the infinite plenitude of His existence, and to place Him in a position of abject and unworthy dependence upon an eternal activity of world-making.
3. Relation to Time:
God's action, as Creator, does not lower our conception of His changelessness, for it is a gratuitous assumption to suppose either that the will to create was a sudden or accidental thing, or that He could not will a change, without, in any proper sense, changing His will. Again, grave difficulties cluster around the conception of His creative thought or purpose as externalized in time, the chief source of the trouble being, as is often imperfectly realized, that, in attempting to view things as they were when time began, we are really trying to get out of, and beyond, experience, to the thinking of which time is an indispensable condition. God's work as Creator must have taken place in time, since the world must be held as no necessary element in the Absolute Life.
4. Christ in Creation:
The self-determined action of the Divine Will, then, is to be taken as the ultimate principle of the cosmos. Not to any causal or meta-physical necessity, but to Divine or Absolute Personality, must the created world be referred. "Of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things" (Rom 11:36). This creative action of God is mediated by Christ--by whom "were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him" (Col 1:16).