CHapter 4.1, Part Three
i. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.
In considering the What of Creation, the Confession states that God was pleased "to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible." It is false to say that Creation came from nothing, since the Bible teaches that the Creation came from God. Rather, God made the universe out of nothing, ex nihilo. The Bible says that God created simply by means of his speech, saying, "Let there be" (Gen. 1:3, 6, 14). Jesus wielded this same power of the Creator when he stood before the stormy seas and raging winds, crying out, "Peace! Be still!" (Mk. 4:39). Peter tells us that God's same mighty Word goes forth in the recreating act of salvation: "you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Pet. 1:23; see also 2 Cor. 4:6).
When we read that God created "the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible," the Confession rules out any doctrine of macroevolution. Some Christians affirm that God got creation started, but then ordained that the process of evolution would actually bring the various species into being. To the contrary, however, the Bible teaches that God directly created all the various kinds of creatures. "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds - livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds'" (Gen. 1:24). Some Christians will urge that God's approach in doing this may still have been evolutionary. This approach is intended to remove the conflict between Bible-believing Christians and the secular dogma of evolution.
There are a great many problems with this mistaken compromise, however, some of which will come up in the Confession's teaching regarding Adam. But notice that there is an irreconcilable conflict between evolution - a random process taking place incrementally over many aeons - and the biblical teaching of Creation - which presents not random mutations but sovereign fiat according to the will of God. Included in the variety in God's creation are the invisible spirits known as angels. The Confession concludes that the entire creation was "all very good." The evolutionary worldview explains sin and other defects as part of a process that is continually perfecting itself. For the secularist, the world was created with major defects which evolution is slowly ironing out. The Bible, however, teaches that all evil and error resulted from an historical Fall. The world itself was made completely good, reflecting the heart and design of its glorious Creator.
Lastly, we consider the When of Creation. The Confession makes two statements. First, God created the world "in the beginning." This not only follows the language of Genesis 1:1, the Bible's first words, but it also shows that unlike God himself, the world has a beginning. Second, the Confession states that God created "in the span of six days." There has been a great deal of controversy in recent years as to whether the Confession intends to limit its teaching to the view that God created all things in six literal twenty-four hour days. Most Reformed denominations do not require this view, but allow a range of alternatives. There can be little doubt, however, that virtually all of the Westminster divines believed in a literal six day creation. They urged this view because they believed in the truthfulness of the Bible not only in its redemptive message, but also in its teaching on the history of Creation. The Westminster Confession knows nothing of contemporary views that deny the historical value of Genesis one for the chronology of God's creation work. Indeed, here as elsewhere the Confession uses language that closely follows the Bible, showing their belief that the Bible speaks sufficiently for God's people when it comes to understanding the creation of the world.
reformation21 is the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting reformation21 and the mission of the Alliance. Please donate here.
- Same-Sex Attraction and the Church
- God's Ambassadors: The Westminster Assembly as Candidates and Credentials Committee
- The Real John Knox
- Praying for Heretics: Irenaeus of Lyons' First Prayer for the Gnostics
- God's Ambassadors: The Westminster Assembly and the Reform of the English Pulpit, 1643-1653