Creation Ex Nihilo as Mixed Metaphor


  • For a more thorough, technical explication of my first point, along with some of the methodological background in support of the second, see Kathryn Tanner, God and Creation in Christian Theology (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989) chapters one and two.


This article makes the following three programmatic points. First, an understanding of divine transcendence, prominent in Christian theology's apophatic strain, developed in tandem, both historically and logically, with ideas about creation that eventuated in a creation ex nihilo viewpoint. Such an account of divine transcendence, second, fosters an account of creation (and a general understanding of the God/world relationship) that typically mixes both natural and personalistic images and categories. The loss of such an account of transcendence since the early modern period, I suggest thirdly and in conclusion, is therefore responsible in great part for the dualistic, mutually exclusive alternation between a deistic, interventionist God and pan(en)theism so common in modern Christian thought.