Summary: God continues his creativity through us.

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If one were to ask an unbiased observer to name that institution in our society which clearly espouses creativity, we can be sure that he would not name our twentieth-century church. This is an indictment of how we Christians feel about the mandate God has given us for being creative...We do not embrace creativity as a way of life...We do not see it as having much to do with Biblical living.... Calvin M. Johansson.

The church should not only seek to be relevant to local culture, but also an agent of transformation. This often requires creativite risk-taking.

Bara Creativity

Creativity has become a buzzword in our society. Everything from a child’s scribble to Einstein’s theory of relativity is considered creative. Not so in the Scriptures! In the Bible “create” is reserved for extraordinarily exalted activity. The Hebrew and Greek words for it, respectively, bara and kitzo, are very similar in meaning and are employed sparingly to denote only the pinnacles of God’s achievements - creating the heavens and the earth, man, righteousness/justice, the nation Israel, the Church, reconciling Israel and the Church, creating the New Jerusalem, and to regeneration and worship.

In the Bible, creative activity must contain something of the miraculous and the mysterious (Exod 34:10). If the phenomenon can be explained away by natural means, it is no longer bara activity.

Inquire from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything been done like this great thing [God’s creative act], or has anything been heard like it? (Deut. 4:32 NASB)

Moreover, in both the Old and New Testaments bara creativity is power theology. It urges a rethinking of everything, a transformation of one’s worldview to acknowledge God:

That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it. (Isa. 41:20 NASB)

Meanings Change

The meaning of words, however, can change over time, and the word create has undergone extraordinary change over the centuries. In the Bible, man is refered to as a maker or fashioner, but never as a creator. A comprehensive examination of the word “create” in the Scriptures reveals that in all 86 cases it refers to activity performed exclusively by God, never humans.

Against this backdrop, Christians insist man’s calling is not to create, but to work with the materials of creation responsibly and obediently for the delight of mankind and benefit of all creation. They see in Genesis chapter one a “cultural mandate,” a broad directive for focusing human energy:

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. (Gen. 1:28, emphasis added)

Christians take this passage as a command, a charge, to subdue not only all living creatures, but to discover and use all the potentials in all materials. This enlarged scope appears justified from these words addressed to man elsewhere: “you put everything under his feet “ (Ps. 8:6); “God left nothing that is not subject to him” (Heb. 2:8). In uttering this mandate, God dignified mankind’s work, and “crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps. 8: 5).

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