The Creator Creature Distinction

There seems to be a strangely persistent notion that the insistence on an actual distinction between the thought of God and man is a mistake of some sort. That emphasizing that “My thoughts are higher than your thoughts[1]” is somehow a bad thing, when it comes to not only the scope of those thoughts, but the nature of those thoughts. If God is, indeed, infinite, timeless, immutable and omniscient, along with all of the rest of who and what He is, it seems to be readily apparent that there is something, well… distinct… about the very nature of God’s thinking. For instance – if God is, indeed, timeless, then we have to drop the entire notion of God’s thought as occurring in time. If God is, indeed, immutable, then the notion of God’s thoughts moving in sequential order or changing in successive increments seems also to be out. Which should, given the above, bring the following to mind – if God knows all things, knows all things eternally, changelessly, and infinitely – doesn’t He know everything there is to know, and know it all immediately[2]? Granting this is the case – does it not follow that there is a necessary distinction between the nature (as well as the scope) of God’s knowledge and our own?

Essentially, what I’m trying to say is that there seems to be a significant problem with taking “My thoughts are higher than your thoughts” to be merely talking about “scope.” After all, what else does that verse say? It says “My ways are higher than your ways.” I don’t think much of anyone is going to argue that God, insofar as His ways are concerned, is comparative to humanity in all but scope! God’s ways are His actions and purposes, I’d argue – and not only are they quantitatively different, to put it in different terms, but qualitatively different. God, as Creator, is quite literally, incomparable – and utterly unique. His attributes are not shared, and cannot be shared, by any creature or creation whatsoever. Some of the attributes we list for God are “communicable”, this is true – but then we must define what is meant by “communicable”, immediately. By communicable, what we mean is that as creatures, we have attributes that are like God’s insofar as a creature can be. We can love, and even love like God – but that doesn’t mean we love exactly like God does, even if we do. We love like God insofar as creatures can do so.

On the Point of Contact podcast, a good while back, we talked for a bit about the implications for this doctrine on 1) The Laws of Logic and 2) Possibility. We discussed Bahnsen’s quote, which expressly says that the Laws of Logic are not created in the first – and we expanded some on that discussion when speaking of possibility. What I haven’t done since is do any expansion on this, at least on the blog. This is perhaps unfortunate, because it has far-reaching implications for our apologetic.

First, when we think about what we mean when we say “the laws of logic” – the ones we use – we only have two alternatives. One: they are identical to God, the Logos, in the sense of Logic – and we are not only thinking God’s thoughts after Him, but thinking identically to Him, because God’s attributes are identical with Himself. Two: They are analogous to the innate logic of God, and reflect that nature within our created nature, by God’s grace.

Second, compare this to something like morality. Would we dare to say that when we are acting morally, in accordance with the moral law of God, that we are acting identically with God? Or, similar to point two, would we say that we are living analogously to God’s innate righteousness in a creaturely way, by God’s grace?

Third, think about what is a creature, and what is the Creator. God exists of Himself from eternity. Nothing else does. God, obviously, created all things – and anything not Himself is His creation. So, we have to bite the bullet here. We have to pick one of the two options above – or create another category altogether. Either the laws of logic are identical with God – are God – or are created things – not-God. However, someone may try to claim that concepts, or ideas, are not created “things.” The problem with this, I think, is that you have concepts divorced from the Sovereignty of God – which is intrinsically tied to His creation of them. If these concepts are not creations- then what tie, what connection, do they have to God, and His creation if 1) They are not Him and 2) Are not created by Him? This amounts to God using the “cards He was dealt” in some sense. There is some authority which is, in some sense, now controlling God, or at least His actions!

As I explained in the podcast, I believe that there is actually a distinction which has to be made concerning “necessity” and “contingency” in terms of 1) The Creator/Creature distinction and 2) Possibility. Ontologically – God is as He is, a se – of Himself – and is self-contained. Economically, creation is at it is because God has ordained it that way. Ontologically, God is necessary, and as such, is “the self-contained God”. God is contingent on nothing – and cannot be contingent on anything whatsoever. Economically, God ordains what is necessary in creation. All things are as they are because He has ordained them that way. Most of the time, this is the necessity we are really talking about. What “has to happen”. Ultimately, whatever happens, happens precisely because God has said it should. These things are contingent upon God’s ordination of all things whatsoever that come to pass. Immediately, everything happens because God created things in an orderly fashion – and we call this order in which creation is set up “laws.” As I’ve also said elsewhere (and stolen shamelessly from Dr. White), I consider these laws to be “artifacts of creation”, as he puts it. In Dr. White’s case, he is describing canon, which is the “rule”, or “law” of Scripture. In this case, we are talking about laws in general, and the laws of logic in particular. They are the necessary by-products of having a creation brought about by God, who acts in accordance with His nature. The order to this creation – the artifacts of creating, and creating them in this fashion – are “laws” which reflect the nature of the God who ordained all these things. They are the order in which all of His creation fit together, and are analogous to the way that God Himself is orderly.

As creatures in the image of God, we are rational beings. As such, we are “analogous” to Him – we are “like” Him – and we are similar to Him – but we are not Him. We are expressions of God’s glory – and as such, we are much like Him, in a creaturely fashion. On the other hand, we are not him, must not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, and must not think that we are somehow identical to Him.

Lord willing, I’ll expand this initial entry with further posts as time and schedule permit.

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  1. [1]Isa 55:9
  2. [2]All at once, without any intervening medium, and directly

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The Centrality of the Creator/creature distinction

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