We believe and teach
– that God in six days created everything out of nothing, the visible as well as the invisible, by his almighty creative word, as it is reported in Gen. 1 and 2;
– that the angels, the foremost part of the invisible creation, are the good and holy ministering spirits of God, who praise God, carry out his commands and particularly are sent to help the Christians;
– that man, the foremost part of the visible creation, was created in the image of God to rule over creation, live in harmony with God and reflect his goodness, wisdom, truth, righteousness and holiness;
– that God has created man with a body and soul that belong together;
– that God neither has created evil angels (the devil and the demons) nor evil people, but these have themselves fallen away from God and become evil;
– that God preserves and controls the world and cares for all creatures, giving many good things to both bad and good people.
During the course of time the biblical account of creation has seldom, or never, been in accord with the prevailing attempts of natural science or philosophy to explain the origin of the universe, the earth and the meaning of life. Modern science and philosophy are trying, by means of research and reasonable conclusions, and without taking the existence of God into account, to explain life from the confined perspective of man. The Bible on the other hand talks about the origin of the world from God’s perspective.
The Creator Himself tells us in His Word not only that He has created the world and man, but in a broad outline also how He did it. Human science can never prove that it is impossible that creation took place in the way Scripture tells us. Almighty God has in a short period created a world that according to the science of today seems to have developed over billions of years. It is in the nature of science concerning the creation of the world that it can only produce various theories that cannot be checked and verified, e.g., through repeated experiments. No man was present and saw how creation took place. God said to Job “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). The only reliable account of creation is therefore what the Creator Himself reveals in the Holy Writ.
The modern theory of evolution with its philosophy of life is both unlikely and incompatible with the Bible and leads to denial of the Christian faith in creation as well as salvation. Adam in paradise was not a lowly developed borderline man, one from the ape pack who had obtained human consciousness. In his newly created state he was far superior to man of today.
The body and the physical are in the Bible not something low and inferior, but belonging to - both before and after the fall - God's good creation. Man is unlike the animals being also created with a rational and immortal soul, a personal a unique self, which in the Bible is often referred to as his “spirit” or “heart”. Man has a conscience and is accountable before God Himself. His unique position and responsibility in the creation is clear not least from the fact that he must give account for his life on the Last Day.
The likeness of God in which man was created has its main place in the soul. The image is not an emanation of God's divine essence or a part of it and does not in any pantheistic manner annul the difference between the Creator and the created. It is a spiritual and moral likeness. In Jesus Christ we clearly and plainly see how a man is as God's image.
The good angels were created sometime during the six days of creation. They are personal and spiritual beings and were created in a large number. God is in the Bible “the Lord of hosts” who controls armies of stars and angels. The angels in themselves do not have any physical body, but they can occasionally assume different visible forms to be seen by men. They praise God and are his servants entrusted with great power in the world, especially for the benefit of the Church. Since they are created beings, they should not be invoked or worshipped. The evil angels, the devil and his demons, are the enemies and destroyers of the good creation. They hate God and are especially fighting God's Word and God's Church on earth. God did of course not create these evil spiritual powers. He could never be the origin of evil. That they yet exist must therefore arise from some kind of revolt and falling away from God, which the Bible also indicates. Any closer answer to how this could happen or why God permitted it is not given. Therefore we should not speculate about such questions, but keep ourselves to what is revealed: that God is stronger than evil, and that He wants and can save us from all evil through Jesus Christ, who has come for the reason “that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
After the completion of creation God did not withdraw leaving the world and man to their fate (a concept usually called deism). On the contrary, He is occupied with preserving and upholding the world. Without this, which we call divine providence, no one could think, work with his hands, live or move. God gives all people, irrespective of belief, sunshine, rain and fruitful seasons and He lets them enjoy the richness of creation.
To divine providence belongs also that God governs the universe and the world in both big and small things. Nothing happens by mere accident. The ways of God are however inscrutable, and we cannot from our confined points of view always understand the meaning of what is happening. Yet, as Christians we shall always put all our trust in God knowing that he is righteous and good. He, as no one else, has the complete view of everything in the world, and He does not make any mistakes.
The doctrine of providence is misused if it leads to laziness, fatalism (a resigned “We cannot affect anything anyhow”) and an irresponsible life. God calls us to use in a sensible way the gifts and means He gives and to take our responsibility for our life on earth. It is the duty of all men to thank and praise God for the wonderful creation, for life and all good things He is giving us through His divine providence.
What the Holy Scriptures say
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1)
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. (Exod. 20:11)
For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. (Ps. 33:9)
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Heb. 11:3)
God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen. 1:26-27)
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen. 2:7)
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts. (Eccles. 3:11)
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. (Ps. 139:14-16)
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:23-24)
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Col. 1:16)
Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. (Ps. 103:20)
Are they (the angels) not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Heb. 1:14)
He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4)
Upholding all things by the word of His power. (Heb. 1:3)
For in Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)
The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Ps. 145:15-16)
He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:45)
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. (Matt. 6:25)
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God … casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Pet. 5:6-7)
What the Lutheran Confessions say
… that this article refers to the Creation: that we emphasize the words: Creator of heaven and earth. But what is the force of this, or what do you mean by these words: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker, etc.? Answer: This is what I mean and believe, that I am a creature of God; that is, that He has given and constantly preserves to me my body, soul, and life, members great and small, all my senses, reason, and understanding, and so on, food and drink, clothing and support, wife and children, domestics, house and home, etc. Besides, He causes all creatures to serve for the uses and necessities of life sun, moon, and stars in the firmament, day and night, air, fire, water, earth, and whatever it bears and produces, birds and fishes beasts, grain, and all kinds of produce, and whatever else there is of bodily and temporal goods, good government, peace, security. Thus we learn from this article that none of us has of himself, nor can preserve, his life nor anything that is here enumerated or can be enumerated, however small and unimportant a thing it might be, for all is comprehended in the word Creator.
Moreover, we also confess that God the Father has not only given us all that we have and see before our eyes, but daily preserves and defends us against all evil and misfortune, averts all sorts of danger and calamity; and that He does all this out of pure love and goodness, without our merit, as a benevolent Father, who cares for us that no evil befall us. (LC, Trigl. p. 681)
Therefore original righteousness was to embrace not only an even temperament of the bodily qualities [perfect health and, in all respects, pure blood, unimpaired powers of the body, as they contend],but also these gifts, namely, a quite certain knowledge of God, fear of God, confidence in God, or certainly the rectitude and power to yield these affections [but the greatest feature in that noble first creature was a bright light in the heart to know God and His work, etc.]. And Scripture testifies to this, when it says, Gen. 1:27, that man was fashioned in the image and likeness of God. What else is this than that there were embodied in man such wisdom and righteousness as apprehended God, and in which God was reflected, i.e., to man there were given the gifts of the knowledge of God, the fear of God, confidence in God, and the like? For thus Irenaeus and Ambrose interpret the likeness to God, the latter of whom not only says many things to this effect, but especially declares: That soul is not, therefore, in the image of God, in which God is not at all times. And Paul shows in the Epistles to the Ephesians, 5:9, and Colossians, 3:10, that the image of God is the knowledge of God, righteousness, and truth. (Ap II, Trigl. p. 109 f.)
These passages [Deut. 32:6, Isa. 45:11, 54:5, 64:8, Acts 17:25, 26, Rev. 4:11 etc.] clearly testify that God even since the Fall is the Creator of man, and creates his body and soul. Therefore corrupt man cannot, without any distinction, be sin itself, otherwise God would be a creator of sin; as also our Small Catechism confesses in the explanation of the First Article, where it is written: I believe that God has made me and all creatures, that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them. (FC SD I, Trigl. p. 871)
all kinds of false doctrines that contrary to the Scripture teach, for example,
– that the Bible has to be adapted to the prevailing scientific hypothesis on the origin of the world;
– that the account of creation and Biblical primal history does not report real history, being only a mythical, symbolic or poetic description (liberal theology);
– that life on earth is the result of a haphazard evolution process over millions of years and that man has been developed from the animals (atheistic evolution);
– that God has created the world by controlling the evolution process from the lower to the higher in which the man becomes supreme (theistic evolution);
– that the image of God means that man deep down is God or has a part of the divine essence (pantheism);
– that the body and material of creation itself is evil, and that contempt for these things is necessary for spiritual liberation and development (Gnosticism, asceticism);
– that the meaning of life is devotion to earthly pleasures and enjoyments (Epicureanism and idolatry);
– that you should not consult doctors and make use of medicine, but wait for the immediate healing of God without such means (the sin of testing God).
Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and of Thy wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Thy creation, desires to praise Thee, man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that Thou “resistest the proud”, – yet man, this part of Thy creation, desires to praise Thee. Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee. Amen.
Augustine of Hippo