Study Day on Creation Theology

Last Monday the research unit of systematic theology, at the faculty of theology, K.U.Leuven, organized a (flemish) so called LOGOS study day on creation. Main speakers were the protestant theologian Dorothea Erbele-Küster – who spoke about the metaphor of “giving birth” as used in the Bible to characterize the God-Creator -, Herwi Rikhof – who provided an overview of the core elements of the concept of creation by referring to paintings and to the thought of Thomas Aquinas -, and myself – who attempted to unfold some of the main dimensions of the concept of creation in today’s context of globalization and the crisis of the environment. My own main emphases concern the trinitarian and incarnational dimensions of the idea of creation, as well as its eschatological perspective in the vision of the Kingdom and its ecclesiological articulation. Whereas it is very important, in a Christian perspective, to emphasize the transcendence of the Creator, I also want to point to the relational characteristics of creation. The word “creation”, indeed, refers to a web of relations: of the Creator with creation as a whole and in its individual creatures, of creatures as part of the whole of creation and between one another, and of human beings with God, with other creatures and with the whole of creation. Creation, in line with the incarnation, means moving into the world out of love so as to encounter God in it and help the world to encounter God. I am very much helped in this by the mystical diary of Egied van Broeckhoven, a Jesuit priest worker, who died at young age of an accident on the workplace. He describes his incarnational experiences and how he enters into God’s economic trinitarian life precisely in the encounter with other human beings. My key concept for all of this is “fundamental alliance” (lotsverbondenheid): creation refers to our interconnectedness in a mutual alliance that precedes our (ethical) decisions to enter into alliance. The fundamental alliance with the whole of creation is God’s gift to creation.

This was the morning programme. In the afternoon there were several workshops on various philosophical, scientific and theological perspectives on creation. I myself concentrated on two workshops concerned with the environmental challenges. Tine Ternest, from the network justice and peace in Flanders, spoke about movements towards an Eco-Church – how can parishes calculate and improve their ecological footprint -, while Peter Tom Jones, an engineer at K.U.Leuven, and his wife Vicky De Meyere used the concept of “verbondenheid” – interconnectedness and alliance – as an ethical answer to today’s environmental crisis. Also with these contribution I was struck how much today’s challenge for creation theology is ecclesiological: how do we, in view of the vision of the Kingdom of God, which acts as a sacramental attractor, build sustainable and life giving communities that include all?

Photographs of the study day can be found on this webpage.

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