It may certainly be stated that the Church, in its development of the doctrine of creation, has consistently maintained the literal interpretation of the account of creation as set forth in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis. The Church has consistently maintained that the creation of the world is nothing else than a work of the almighty God Who of nothing created the heavens and the earth and the sea and all things that are therein. First, we call attention to this truth as set forth in several confessions.
The Romish Church refers to this doctrine in its Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council, A.D. 1870, in Chapter I, which treats “Of God, the Creator of all Things, ” as follows: “The holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Catholic Church believes and confesses that there is one true and living God, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intelligence, in will, and in all perfection, who, as being one, sole, absolutely simple and immutable spiritual substance, is to be declared distinct from the world, of supreme beatitude in and from himself, and ineffably exalted above all things which exist, or are conceivable, except himself.
“This one only true God, of his own goodness and almighty power, not for the increase or acquirement of his own happiness, but to manifest his perfection by the blessings which he bestows on creatures, and with absolute freedom of counsel, created out of nothing, from the very first beginning of time, both the spiritual and the corporeal creature, to wit, the angelical and the mundane, and afterwards the human creature, as partaking, in a sense, of both, consisting of spirit and of body.
“God protects and governs by his providence all things which he hath made, reaching from end to end mightily, and ordering all things sweetly. For all things are bare and open to his eyes, even those which are yet to be by the free action of creatures.”
That in which we are interested and to which we wish to call attention in connection with this quotation from the Romish Vatican Council is its reference to the truth that God is the Creator of all things. It is peculiar of Rome that that church, even today, maintains cardinal truths of the Word of God, such as the Incarnation, the death and resurrection of our Lord, and His coming upon the clouds of heaven. In this quotation Rome maintains the Scriptural truth that the Lord, by His almighty power, created out of nothing both the spiritual and the corporeal creature.
As far as the Reformed Confessions are concerned, the Heidelberg Catechism refers to the doctrine of creation in Lord’s Day IX, where, in answer to the question: “What believest thou when thou sayest, ‘I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?” we read: ‘”That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body: and further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage; for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.” And in Lord’s Day 34, where the ten commandments are quoted, we read at the conclusion of the fourth commandment: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” So, in the Heidelberg Catechism the truth is maintained that the creation of the heavens and the earth is a work of God Almighty. In Lord’s Day IX we read that the Lord made heaven and earth, with all that is in them, out of nothing, and in the fourth commandment we read that the Lord made all things in six days and the meaning is, of course, that these six days are as our twenty four hour days.
Our Confession of Faith calls attention to this truth in Art. 12, and we quote it in part: “We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by his Son, hath created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator . . . . . He also created the angels good, to be his messengers and to serve his elect.” In this article the truth is again maintained that the creation of all things is the work of the living God. Here again we read that the Father created the heavens, the earth, and all creatures out of nothing. We also read that the Lord gave unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices, and that He also created the angels, some of whom are fallen into everlasting perdition. Hence, every creature owes its existence directly to the creative power of the living God.
The Canons refer to this truth of creation in Heads III and IV, Art. 1: “Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of His Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright; all his affections pure, and the whole man was holy . . . .” This, of course, is the very opposite from the evolutionistic concept of the origin of man. According to the Canons man came directly from the hand of his Maker, the living God of heaven and earth.
In addition to the Reformed confessions, other Protestant confessions have also declared themselves on the doctrine of creation. The Second Helvetic Confession, 1566, refers to this doctrine in Chapter VII, which calls attention to the creation of all things, of angels, the devil, and man: “This good and almighty God created all things, both visible and invisible, by his eternal Word, and preserves the same also by his eternal Spirit: as David witnesses, saying, ‘By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth’ (Ps. 33:6). And, as the Scripture says, ‘All things that the Lord created were very good’ (Gen. 1:31), and made for the use and profit of man.
“Now we say, that all those things do proceed from one beginning: and therefore we detest the Manichees and. the marcionites, who did wickedly imagine two substances and natures, the one of good, the other of evil; and also two beginnings and two gods, one contrary to the other—a good and an evil.
“Among all the creatures, the angels and men are most excellent. Touching angels, the Holy Scripture says, ‘Who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming fire’ (Ps. 104:4); also, ‘Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?’ (Heb. 1:14) . . . .
“Now, touching man, the Spirit says that in the beginning he was ‘created according to the image and likeness of God’ (Gen. 1:27); that God placed him in paradise, and made all things subject unto him; which David doth most nobly set forth in the 8th psalm. Moreover, God gave unto him a wife, and blessed them. “We say, also, that man doth consist of two, and those divers substances in one person; of a soul immortal (as that which being separated from his body doth neither sleep nor die), and a body mortal, which, notwithstanding, at the last judgment shall be raised again from the dead, that from henceforth the whole man may continue forever in life or in death.
“We condemn all those who mock at, or by subtle disputations call into doubt, the immortality of the soul, or say that the soul sleeps, or that it is a part of God. To be short, we condemn all opinions of all men whatsoever who think otherwise of the creation of angels, devils, and men than is delivered unto us by the Scriptures in the Apostolic Church of Christ.”
In connection with this article we would make the following observations. First, when this article declares that they accept only that presentation as is set forth in the Scriptures and in the Apostolic Church of Christ, it is clear from other parts of this confession that the infallibility of the Word of God is maintained. Secondly, we do not subscribe to what this article says of the immortality of the soul. We do not believe that man was created immortal. We believe that immortality is the fruit of God’s grace, that man is not created immortal but that he is recreated immortal, that immortality, according to the Word of God, is true only of the child of God as he is recreated in Christ Jesus. Thirdly, for the rest, the article plainly declares that the Lord created all things by the breath of His mouth and by His word. All things proceed from only one beginning, and this beginning is the almighty word of the Lord.
The Gallican or French Confession, 1559, has the following in Article VII: “We believe that God, in three co-working persons, by his power, wisdom, and incomprehensible goodness, created all things, not only the heavens and the earth, and all that in them is, but also invisible spirits, some of whom have fallen away and gone into perdition, while others have continued in obedience.” And Article VIII begins as follows: “We believe that He not only created all things, but that He governs and directs them . . . . .” Hence, in these articles the same presentation of the creation of all things is held before us.
The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647, declares itself on this doctrine as follows, in Chapter IV: “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create or make of nothing the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgression, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.”
In this statement the Westminster Confession declares, not only that God created all things, but that He, of nothing, created the world and all the things therein in the space of six days. And we understand, of course, that this cannot possibly mean that these six days were periods, as is commonly set forth today. We also read in this declaration that man, as created by the Lord, was under the possibility of transgression, and that his will was subject to change. And it is evident that this declaration of the truth has no sympathy whatever with the view that the coming into existence of the heavens and the earth must be attributed to anything else but the almighty and creative power of the word of the Lord.