We believe that the world, that the whole of the created order was created by the will of God. This creation, and the act of its creation, is often times as mysterious to us as its creator. Yet, all that is exists is permeated by the presence of its creator, the whole of creation existing within Him, for there is nowhere where God is not. Yet, it also exists outside of God, as not a separation of locality, but of nature.

Creation is the work of the Trinity. Everything was created by the will of God the Father, the source of all things. He spoke all things into being through the word, the Logos, God the Son. “ All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”1 The Holy Spirit perfected that which was created, the Spirit of God “hovered over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,' and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.”2 So, the uncreated light brought forth a light into the world, this light which illuminated all of creation was good, and revealed to all that all of that which was created and will be created was also good.

The act of creation by God of all things was in and of itself an act of Love. As God needs nothing outside of Himself, and is the only being entirely self sufficient of Himself, His act of creation was a gift of Himself, for God is Love. Before this act of will, the bringing into existence all that exists, nothing previously existed outside of God. God was and is the beginning (and end) of all things. Christianity is the sole religion who holds to the idea of an absolute creation, that all things were created ex nihilo,3 that all things came into being from non being, that all things were created from nothingness.4 This understanding is part of the dogmatic fabric of the Orthodox Christian faith.

“Behold the heavens and the earth, and seeing all that is there, you will understand that god has created it from nothing.”5

God is eternal, a triunity of persons existing without beginning and without end. He existed before all worlds (aeons), and therefore before all time. This is what we affirm in the words of the Nicene Creed, but also affirm in the prologue of the Gospel of John, where “In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God.”6 As one has to exist before the creation of a thing, the Godhead existed before the creation of Time, for there was and is not a time in which the three persons of the trinity did not co-exist, for all three are co-eternal one to another. They are without beginning. As such, all of creation came into existence both materially and temporally, and all of creation has its beginning in and through Him. This is in part where the mystery of creation comes into play, as no one knows the span taken place before the first moment of time occurred. As Saint Basil the Great says, the first moment of time is not yet time, “as the beginning of a road is not yet the road, nor the beginning of a house, a house, thus the beginning of time is not yet time, nor even a minimal part of time”7 All of creation finds its beginning within the eternality of its creator.

“God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”8 This included the pinnacle of His creation, man, who was created in the image and likeness of his Creator. God breathed life into man, a being created of both body and spirit. In that man was taken and molded from the dust of the earth, man shares a quality of the earth, the created order; yet, as a being created in the image and likeness of his creator, given life by the spirit of God, he is a being also of divine particle, bearing in his breast also the desire for a future life.9 Man’s material attachment to the created order, man becomes the “hypostasis of the whole cosmos which participates in his nature,” for indeed “creation anxiously awaits the revelation of the sons of God,”10 for as creation was cursed at the fall of man, it shall also be redeemed and restored when he is restored in relationship to his creator. We are therefore appointed as good stewards for the world in which we live, and responsible for the whole of creation.

Orthodox Anthropology - An Orthodox understanding of humanity.

Humanity was created in the image and likeness of its creator, as has been already stated. We were created as sons and daughters of the living God, given free will to choose, and therefore not created as slaves. We were created with souls and bodies, placing us above the angels who exist only in spirit. We are therefore the only creature in all of creation with the directive to be like God. For it is only in being like God, that we can be in communion with God, walk with God, and talk face to face with God, just as Adam and Eve had done in the Garden of Eden. Yet, given a single directive, one commandment, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and sin entered the world. Humanity became separated from their divine place and state within all of creation, no longer able to commune directly with God the Father. We retained the image in which we were created, but our likeness was marred by sin.

Mankind was created with a particular vocation, individual and separate from the rest of creation: to become one with He who created them, gradually increasing in their ability to share in His divine nature through their own participation. "They needed to mature, to grow to awareness by willing detachment and faith, a loving trust in a personal God."11 We were to grow into the fullness of our humanity as we created to be, created to do, a humanity that is recognized and fulfilled in communion with God, and with each other. Man was created to live in communion, a fact which is made evident when God uttered the words at creation, “It is not good that the man should be alone,”12 and so created woman as a helper to man. As God is never alone, existing as three persons in one essence and living in a perfect harmony of Love with one another, so should man also strive to exist in perfect harmony of love and cooperation with God, and with his fellow man. As such, this is why man lives in communion within and through the Church, for it is together as persons in communion that we approach God, just as we were created to be.

The forebears of humanity, Adam and Eve, were created with the freedom to obey or disobey according to their free will, "For God made man free and sovereign."13 Yet, Man is free to choose his path, but is beholden to the consequences of those actions, which leads to either life or death, preservation or destruction of everything wholly within himself. For indeed God warned man that if he should stray from the boundaries set before him, he would surely die; yet, not to the extent that God has raised his hand against His children, but that the consequence is the just result of our actions. Likewise, a child is burned because he touches the hot stove, not because his parents burned him by his choice to do so. We choose life, or we choose death. Also, as Love can only be freely given, freely chosen, and freely accepted, we reject any notion or theology that contradicts or constrains the free will of man, for such a theology has no basis in love.

As man is a part of creation, and all that God created was seen by the creator as good, man as a part of that creation was also likewise created good. Also, bearing the image and likeness of his creator, man bears an intrinsic quality of goodness not realized in the rest of creation. So, this negates any gnostic notions of the created order as being evil, and similarly eliminates evil itself as a creation of God. There is no thing that God created that is evil, but evil is a byproduct of sin, and our sin is a symptom of a deeper spiritual illness born of the fall. Mankind is inherently good, much like a window is inherently clean, but in time gets dirty and alters the light that is allowed to shine through it. Such is mankind with the uncreated light of its creator, as living conduits of His divine light, dimmed by the stains of his iniquity, received through the error of man choosing created things over the creator of all things. Man’s status of relationship to his creator is born of his own free will to change, but it is only by the grace of God that man can come to God, and by that grace freely given, and by cooperation with His divine will, become what He is by nature.

[1] - John 1:3

[2] - Genesis 1:2-4

[3] - Ex Nihilo means “out of nothing.” Yet, in the context of creation, this “nothing” cannot be objectified, as such an objectification could only come into existence at creation.

[4] - Vladimir Lossky. Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. (Crestwood, New York: SVS Press, 1978), 51

[5] - Maccabees 7:28

[6] - John 1:1

[7] - Vladimir Lossky. Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. (Crestwood, New York: SVS Press, 1978), 61

[8] - Genesis 1:3

[9] - Vladimir Lossky. Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. (Crestwood, New York: SVS Press, 1978), 70

[10] - Romans 8:19

[11] - Olivier Clément. The roots of Christian mysticism. (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1993.), 84

[12] - Genesis 2:18

[13] - J. Romanides. The Ancestral Sin. (Ridgewood, NJ: Zephyr Publishing. 2002), 32.