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The Beginning I - Creatio ex nihilo

In the space, amid God's familiar work of creation, there is something more to discover about the nature of God and God's love for us.

Carefully crafted, the beginning of a book can be a thing of beauty.

It can be inexplicably brief:

“Call me Ishmael.” (Moby Dick)

It can be unsettling:

“You better not never tell nobody but God.” (The Color Purple)

It can even be taken for granted:

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2 NRSV).

Sometimes, the beginning of a beloved book can become so familiar to us that we skim right over it without due regard. We presume that it can't possibly offer us any new insight into a story that we've read dozens of times. This is where I find myself— trying to atone for my negligence of a beginning— the most important beginning. To rectify my inattention, a slow and deliberate reading is in order.

"In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void."

Full stop.

There it is— the "formless void"— a little hint at something more, something a bit unexpected. I don't think that I've ever considered it as anything more than a supporting actor. Now, I wonder if, in this space, amid God's familiar work of creation, there is indeed something more to discover.

Creatio ex nihilo

Creatio ex nihilo is the doctrine that asserts that God created the universe out of nothing— ex nihilo. Some would propose that the idea of creation out of nothing is disputable because it is not explicitly found in the Genesis account; rather, it is a later notion found in the letter to the Hebrews written approximately 1,470 years later. "By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible" (Hebrews 11:3 NRSV).

The phrase, "the earth was a formless void," implies that either God created the void or it existed pre-creation. Then the question becomes, did God create something imperfect, or did something exist that God did not create?

I would suggest that it is the former, and there is a perfect reason that God created ex nihilo, beginning with an imperfect, formless void.


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