This is a masterful account of God as creator, the world as creation, and how the 'as' in each case shapes how to live both in God and in the world. This is 'doctrine of creation,' not from the perspective of a defensive crouch before scientific skepticism on one side or 'rational design' on the other, but from the perspective of the fundamental importance of the idea of creation for faithful living and thinking. God creates from nothing; Ian McFarland constructs theology of creation out of a rich mix of conversations with Scripture, the history of Christian thought, debates about science and theology, and an ecumenical chorus of theological voices. McFarland's superb theological craftsmanship always keeps the book clear, engaging, and wonderfully illuminating.
-David H. Kelsey,
Yale Divinity School
Ian McFarland has produced one of the most substantial contributions in recent times to the theology of creation. Rooted in Scripture and church tradition, yet always alert to contemporary challenges, his study offers an important defense of the classical ex nihilo doctrine. By describing its vital function for Christian thought and action, he shows how it is not a quasi-scientific hypothesis but an essential part of an account of the ways in which all creatures are sustained and loved by God.
University of Edinburgh
McFarland's monograph is arguably the most serious retrieval of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo in recent systematic theology. He successfully dispels the accusation that the doctrine necessarily implies an arbitrary God, and convincingly argues, through christological refocusing, that this key affirmation of Christian faith proclaims how the Creator is 'not only inexhaustibly rich in God's self, but also endlessly profligate in sharing this divine plenitude with creatures.' Through careful rereading of biblical texts and lively conversation with patristic and other sources from the Christian tradition, we are treated to a fresh and incisive analysis of divine transcendence, freedom, providence, and love for the contingent, created 'other.' McFarland furthermore tackles a wide array of philosophical and theological challenges facing the doctrine of creation in modern and postmodern thought, and will thus stimulate many conversations of its own in areas as diverse as ecological theology, sacramentology, and theological aesthetics, to name a few.
-Paul M. Blowers