IF MAKING SENSE of the creation narrative in light of other portions of Scripture, ancient Near-Eastern contexts, and the relationship between science and faith isn't enough, Walton further argues, in his next proposition, that the theology produced in this construct is formidable—less shallow—than the resulting theology in competing views (not sure exactly which view he has in mind here, but my guess is young-earth creationism). It does nothing to weaken the picture of God (particularly his sovereignty and glory) laid out in Scripture.
Proposition 17: Resulting Theology in This View of Genesis 1 Is Stronger, Not Weaker
- In contrast to pushing God to the periphery in the pursuit of understanding the natural mechanisms of the cosmos, when science is seen (presuppositionally) to give definition to what God is doing and how he is doing it, we regain a healthier view of his role in everything.
- The one, triune God is the creator—past, present, and future. Creation is not merely an historical act that took place in the past but an ongoing act that occurs when every baby is born, every plant grows, every cell divides, and every nebula forms.
- We live in a world of functions, which is the result not merely of physical structures but of God's creative purposes. This strongly counters materialistic naturalism, unlike other creation views that give priority to material creation over against functional creation. "The Bible considers much more important to say that God has made everything work rather than being content to say God made the physical stuff" (p. 144). The purpose of creation, the most important part, incidentally, is located and observed in the functional, not the material.
- When the "natural world" is rightly conceived as God's "cosmic temple," things change. We gain perspective and an appreciation for "sacred space." If there were ever an ecological impetus, it's found here. The world is not ours to exploit; we are its stewards. Its resources are, properly speaking, sacred—not natural.
- Adopting the view that Genesis 1 has to do with functional creation rather than material creation tweaks our understanding of the sabbath and the rest it commands (of course this line of thought interests me, since I've edited a book on this subject).
"Sabbath isn't the sort of thing that should have to be regulated by rules. It is the way that we acknowledge that God is on the throne [upon which he sat on the seventh day of assigning functions to his creation], that this is his world, that our time is his gift to us. . . . If the sabbath has its total focus in the recognition of God, it owuld detract considerably if he had to tell us what to do. Be creative! Do whatever will reflect your love, appreciation, respect and awe of the God of all the cosmos. (This is the thrust of Isa 58:13–14.)" (p. 147)
- God's creative work has established order in the cosmos just as he has established order in society and in all other areas. Wisdom is aligning/conforming oneself with that order.
- While the world is God's place, he has tailored to humanity's needs (not his, for he has none). Contra most ANE cosmologies, we are not slaves to God, and against modern materialism, we are not mere physical forms having no purpose other than to survive. We have a privileged role in the functioning of his cosmic temple.
- Creation being "good" (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) makes the best sense in this construct. It is not a moral good so much as a functional good. We ought not therefore look for moral goodness in the cosmos, as if it consistently reflects God's attributes (cf. Job 38). The created world has never been "fair." Gravity is not just; it rains upon the righteous and unrighteous, even when no one's around (cf. Job 38:25–27).