Saint Augustine did not believe that God actually needed creation. God, in God’s eternality and completion, lacked for nothing. And so the Christian tradition often claims that the world does not satisfy some need or lack in God. This is why Rowan Williams argues that creation is actually rather useless, even as it is perfectly fitting and appropriate for God to create the world. And rather than treating this as some overly abstract conundrum, Augustine actually believes that this relationship between God and creation is crucial for maintaining a coherent theory of the universe.

But creation is not a bygone act. Thomas Aquinas insists that preservation—as in the ongoing giving of existence to the world—is the same thing as creation. This is because, as Herbert McCabe insists, creation is not just a process of God making the stuff of the world. Instead, God exists as the very cause of all existing things in an ongoing way. McCabe also believes that this rich doctrine of creation logically leads one to conclude that God can’t intervene in the affairs of the world, as God does not fall within the category of any created thing. God is intimately involved with every living thing’s preservation, holding us in existence each and every moment. God, he says, is therefore more intimate to each and every created thing than we can possibly perceive. This is precisely what Kathryn Tanner means when she reminds us that the world is absolutely dependent on God’s creative act.

How we view creation also has significant implications regarding our freedom, agency, and pursuits. McCabe, again, argues that all things are dependent on God for their agency in ways that don’t violate freedom. He unpacks this by saying that we are the independent cause of all our actions and not anything else, and yet, mysteriously, our actions are also caused by God, he insists, because God is not “anything else.” All of this means that our own artistic and playful endeavors are part and parcel of God’s creative act. God’s creation is precisely what makes our endeavors possible. And so it makes sense that the creative expression of poets, novelists, and musicians often call us both to our most human selves and back to the source from which that creative expression emerges: God.

Creation thus gets at both ultimate and particular questions—Why is there something rather than nothing at all? And what do our own creative pursuits have to do with our answer to that question? In the next issue of The Other Journal, we seek theologically infused contributions on this theme of creation. If God doesn’t need creation, how ought we to think of the world in relation to God? In what ways do human creative acts function analogously (or not) to God’s creative acts? What are the relationships between creation and preservation? What are the sociopolitical implications of a rich doctrine of creation? And what about our creative acts—from where does the human desire to create emerge? What is the function or meaning of creativity, or the desire for good creative activity? And what are the constructive functions of the stuff we create on our faith? How might the creative endeavors of artists and poets enable our faith broadly or our understanding of creation more particularly?

We seek essays, creative writing, art, interviews, and reviews that uniquely engage this complex conversation. As always, we are particularly interested in contributions that tackle these themes with verve and slant, contributions that open our ears to the peacefully contrarian Christ by way of their distinctive style, ideas, and progressive consideration of the other.

More information on our submission guidelines can be found on our Submissions page.

The Other Journal