Welker has written the book as a major review of creation as a theological theme. Two beliefs drive Welker’s understanding of the issue. He is thoughtful to the up-and-coming crossing point with science in his re-examination of what creation is, with reference to new knowledge and with a concern for environmental issues. Secondly, he is aware that theological thinking has become a series of cliches that now needs to be held up to careful study.
However most importantly, Welker finds new ways of thinking about creation. Welker structures the writing in a way which enables it to be forthcoming to the reader. Due to the fact that theology can be such a difficult issue for some, being written in a coherent and precise way is exactly what was needed of his writing. Welker’s concerns with the issue are made fairly evident. Through his writing he shows a love for the subjects he discusses, which is highlighted through his deep and thoughtful thinking.
With this careful attention to detail, it backs up the fact that Welker found it very important that he paid attention to detail all the way through the book. In the article, Welker believes the ways in which “bourgeois theism” has understood creation as a one-sided act of an uplifting God in a single act of lonely sovereignty. Welker suggests that in Genesis 1-2, the “normative” texts on the subject, such transcendence is not what is offered.
Rather, creation is “the construction of associations of interdependent relations,” a formation and protection of interactions among creatures. From this, two other fresh theses emerge. First, the individual is engaged “in the activity of separating, ruling, producing, developing and reproducing itself,” that is, in the very actions and functions usually assigned to God. The person is an active agent in the processes of creation.
Second, God who presides over the process of creation not only acts, but also reacts to the initiatives taken by the individual. These sorts of statements of course sound strange in the midst; but it is exactly Welker’s point that such classical thought has operated with assumptions and categories that are at some remove from the affirmations of the text. From this principle, Welker considers in turn a series of issues including natural revelation, angels, image of God and human dominion, and sin and fall.
Welker’s small book, is reflective of his larger research program, a claim that theological work now is called and pushed beyond conventional categories with which the church has grown comfortable. The move beyond will much more likely permit theology to make thoughtful contributions that will be taken seriously in other disciplines that now may be the engaged dialogue partners of theology. This is likely to be his main reason for writing the book – his passion for the issues that it involves. References Welker, Michael. Creation and Reality. Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1999.
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