Too often the doctrine of creation has been made to serve limited or pointless ends, like the well-worn arguments between science and faith over the question of human and cosmic origins. Given this history, some might be tempted to ignore the theology of creation, thinking it has nothing new or substantive to say. They would be wrong.
In this stimulating volume, Ian A. McFarland shows that at the heart of the doctrine of creation lies an essential truth about humanity: we are completely dependent on God. Apart from this realization, little else about us makes sense.
McFarland demonstrates that this radical dependence is a consequence of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, creation from nothing. Taking up the theological consequences of creation--theodicy and Providence--the author provides a detailed and innovative constructive theology of creation. Drawing on the biblical text, classical sources, and contemporary thought, From Nothing proves that a robust theology of creation is a necessary correlate to the Christian confession of redemption in Jesus Christ.
Ian A. McFarland is Associate Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor of Theology at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He is the author of several books, including In Adam's Fall: A Meditation on the Christian Doctrine of Original Sin and The Divine Image: Envisioning the Invisible God.
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