“…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” – Romans 1:25
I was driving recently, turned on the radio, and heard a song by Coldplay entitled, “Beautiful World”. There isn’t much to the song lyrically. The chorus is simply,
And we live in a beautiful world (yeah we do yeah we do)
We live in a beautiful world.
Not to theologize Coldplay, and depending upon the perspective from which you consider “the world,” it’s true, we do live in a beautiful world – at least from a creation standpoint. A drive along the Amalfi coast in Italy, a walk on the beaches of the Carribean, or an extended gaze across the Grand Canyon and it’s easy to see that we do live in a beautifully created world. Creation is stunning and evokes awe and wonder. We can feel refreshed and even inspired by creation. When we stand still in the darkness of a star-filled night and look up, we can come to the realization that we are very small in contrast to the vastness of the universe.
But as much as creation can evoke awe and wonder, it contains no divinely redemptive qualities. It offers no spirit to give us meaning and purpose. It is entirely non-salvific. It pursues no relationship and contains no authority. It possesses no convictions or knowledge. Creation, according to scripture, is God’s handiwork (Psalm 8:3, 19:1, 90:2). Scripture instructs us not to worship the sun, moon, and stars, but instead to worship the Creator who fashioned the universe (Deuteronomy 4:19). So, there is a distinction between the Creator and creation, and the two should not be confused.
This distinction is not new to Christian thought. Richard Pratt, John Frame, Cornelius Van Til, and Herman Bavinck are just a few of the many Christian thinkers who have appealed to this biblical distinction in their writings. The Creator-creature distinction is, to quote Richard Pratt, basically this, “On the one hand there is the One who created, and on the other hand, there is that which he created.” It’s really that simple. God is the Creator and everything else is his creation.
If the distinction that God is the Creator and everything else is the creation is confused, then it leads to pantheism (as well as deism and panentheism, but that’s for another time). Pantheism is the view that the world is God and God is the world. So, the world is divine, perhaps with a lower degree of divinity, but divine nonetheless. The problem is that isn’t a biblical teaching. Scripture doesn’t teach degrees of divinity. Instead, it teaches that God is divine and creation is non-divine.
So, as far as Christian thought and apologetics is concerned, creation should be enjoyed and protected, but never worshiped. Instead, all praise, honor and glory should be given to God for gracing us with this beautifully created world.