1.25.2006

God is the Creator of All Human Life



Does anyone believe that it is we sinful mortals who create and/or give life to children? It is God alone who bestows life! All we can do is prevent life and kill. Contrary to our inflated egos, we cannnot create (bara' -
ברא ) anything nor give life to anything. God simply uses us as his tools.

Genesis 30 Read This Chapter

30:2And Jacob's anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

1 Samuel 2 Read This Chapter

2:5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, And the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, And she who has many children has become feeble.

Acts 17 Read This Chapter

17:25Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

17:28for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.

Consider Luther's Words:

"This passage [Genesis 9:1], moreover, leads us to believe that children are a gift of God and come solely through the blessing of God, just as Ps. 127:3 shows. The heathen, who have not been instructed by the Word of God, believe that the propagation of the human race happens partly by nature, partly by accident, especially since those who are regarded as most suited for procreation often fail to have children. Therefore the heathen do not thank God for this gift, nor do they receive their children as the gift of God."

[Luther's Works Vol. 2, p. 132]

17 comments:

Pr. David Rufner said...

Hello all.

I'm officially back in the saddle...

Caspar, et al.

Now is the time (high time some might say) to ask what the Lord has to say about this all.

Of course, that is the first faithful question to ask. Yet, I do not believe that what has come prior to this point has been unfruitful. It has sufficiently roused interest and muddied the waters to the point that we repent of ourselves and our schemes and ask the Lord of Life, the Author of all, what Good Word He speaks. He will not fail. He will not disappoint.

To this end we all willingly, gladly, and excitedly look to the Lord's Word.

Eric Phillips said...

The relationship between God's role and our role in procreation is exactly the same as that between God's role and our role in baking a souffle, taking a test, or riding a bike. There are real human factors that we are responsible for, and real cause-and-effect, but if God so moves, we will not succeed no matter how likely success seems, and if God so moves we will not fail no matter how unlikely success seems. And of course, God is the one who gives us all our talents, and who created the world in such a way that souffles, good test scores, bicycles, and babies are all possible in the first place.

So yes, we do create life, and yes, God makes beautiful souffles.

Caspar said...

The relationship between God's role and our role in procreation is exactly the same as that between God's role and our role in baking a souffle, taking a test, or riding a bike.

WOW! I just wanted to hightlight this contention. I could not have summarized the postmodern Christian understanding of procreation this well if I tried. I find it simply staggering to think that any Christians can think this way, though I (sadly) realize they do.

Astounding!

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

Not so astounding. Pretty obvious, I should think. Divine Providence embraces all of life, not just the part of life that leads to more life.

Devona said...

Though Eric over generalized, I get what he is saying. It was something like: God opens and closes the womb, so even if we are trying not to get pregnant, if God wants us to, we will. And even if we are trying to get pregnant, if God doesn't want us to, we won't.

And even if we're abstaining (well, this only happened once, but it proves the point) God can still cause a woman to become with Child if it is His will.

But I don't think that the creation of babies is anything like making souffles.

Devona said...

Oh, and for the record, this is most certainly true. No matter what we do, even if we follow all the rules for NFP or any other form of birth control perfectly, there will be unexpected babies.

Our dear friends were trying to postpone their childbearing until the husband finished up seminary. He's just finishing his first year in May. But his wife is due with their son Deacon in 17 days.

When they called their NFP instructor to ask what they did wrong to get pregnant unexpectantly their instructor said, "Nothing. I can't explain it."

Just thought I'd share that little story for everyone's enjoyment. :)

Caspar said...

God opens and closes the womb, so even if we are trying not to get pregnant, if God wants us to, we will. And even if we are trying to get pregnant, if God doesn't want us to, we won't.

This is rather fatalistic. Do we Lutherans believe that our sinful actions have no effect on conception? Do you really believe that there will be as many children born whether we cooperate or oppose God's will?

I believe the right attitude toward procreation is letting not my will, but God's will be done. Certainly our sinful nature prevents God's will from being done. Should we not say with Mary: "let it be done unto me according to thy will?" Does God make mistakes when he sends newborn children into homes plagued by poverty and homelessness? Could it have been his will that these children never would have been born? Didn't he know that there would be no room at the inn?

The postmodern understanding is that if we wish to create a human being that God is willing to participate, just like in the baking of a souffle. This incorrectly places man as the primary agent of creation. I hold that if God wishes to create a human being that we may be willing to participate or may not, and that our participation does not change God's will, but does change the result.

If we abstain entirely from intercourse or have a permanent sterilization procedure performed (i.e. castration or complete hysterectomy) because we do not wish to participate in procreation, then the child which God intended to create from our marriage will not be conceived.

Does anyone believe that there are as many children born today as there would be if man were not so selfish?

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

I did not say, of course, that having a child was like making a souffle. I said that the interaction between divine providence and human free will was the same.

I have said nothing "astounding." I'm just pointing out that procreation is not some extra-mystical part of life where God is somehow MORE involved than He is with everything else. If it's wrong to contracept because God creates life, then it's wrong to carry an umbrella, because God also creates rain.

Caspar said...

Again, Mr. Phillips, you are wrong. Comparing God's participation in procreation to God's participation in making a souffle is simply ludicrous.

Souffles do not have souls. Men can make "things," but never has man created life. Man is not capable of creating a soul.

Contrary to your ridiculous suggestion, God IS more involved in procreation than He is with everything else. We can make souffles, but only God can create a life.

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

Caspar,

Souffles don't have souls, and men don't have that delightful light puffiness.

You can call my comment ridiculous, but you'll never be able to demonstrate that it actually is. That's just code for, "I don't like it."

What's really ridiculous here is that you are heavily committing to a creationist view of the soul's origin in this post, while in past debates (when it suits your purposes) you assume a traducian one. Make up your mind. Does the soul result naturally (through the ordinance of God) from the union of sperm and egg, or does God supernaturally intervene at such unions (and by strange coincidence, at EVERY such union) and create a new soul ex nihilo?

Caspar said...

Eric,

The primary definition of ridiculous is: "adj 1: inspiring scornful pity." My response to your argument has consistently been scornful pity, a sentiment inspired by your pitiful reasoning and faulty logic. It is an opinion, and opinions are self-supporting statements, requiring no proof.

That said, the fact that God alone is responsible for the creation of life does not preclude traducianism. God alone is the Creator of life. We are simply the means God uses to create life. Even Adam was not created ex nihilo. He was made from the dust of the ground and God breathed into him the breath of life from Himself. Does that make the dust the creator of Adam, or even a participant?

As for the creation of a soul being at the exact moment of the material union of a sperm and an egg (not before and not after) have you considered identical twins? When does the second soul come into existence? Were there two souls at the union of the egg and sperm, or did the second soul postdate the first, or did both derive from some original "soul material" when the cells divided into two distinct but identical twins?

As for the exact moment of the material union of egg and sperm, when the soul is supposedly imparted (according to standard anti-abortion arguments) when does this happen? Is it when the sperm first penetrates the cell membrane. Is it when the cell membrane reacts by blocking out all other sperm? Is it when the sperm's genetic material enters the nucleus of the egg cell? Is it when the father's genetic material joins with the mother's?

Perhaps there is a much greater mystery going on here than science will ever be able to explain. Perhaps the fledgling soul accompanies the sperm. Perhaps since we have NO proof how the creation of a new soul happens we shouldn't be tinkering around with any of this process, including what happens prior to fertilization. We shouldn't be compartmentalizing procreation. It is a continuous process which was begun by God at the beginning of time, and which He continues to perform now. We shouldn't be messing with His plans for procreation! This issue is much different than all other processes, because it involves the creation of immortal souls.

THAT is my contention.

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

Caspar says,

"The primary definition of ridiculous is: 'adj 1: inspiring scornful pity.' My response to your argument has consistently been scornful pity...."

Well, that sounds like a personal problem. It does shed some light on your peculiar use of the word "ridiculous," though.

"That said, the fact that God alone is responsible for the creation of life does not preclude traducianism. God alone is the Creator of life."

I agree that God's role as sole Creator does not contradict in any way the possibility of traducianism. The problem is, He is not just the Creator of LIFE, but (to crib some Douglas Adams) of "life, the universe, and everything." His sovereignty over procreation is no greater than His sovereignty over anything else. There is no warrant for separating procreation from the rest of life and insisting that God does THIS all by Himself, but when it comes to souffles, He lets us co-create with Him. You need a consistent doctrine of Providence here. If God uses the means of sperm and egg to create a new human soul, then necessarily He is also using the means of "the will of a husband." And when He uses the means of cookery to create a new souffle, one of those means is the will of the chef.

Therefore, when you call God the "sole Creator," you must mean His is the _determinative_ will in the matter, because clearly it's not the _only_ will involved. With that understanding of "sole Creator," there is no reason why you should be so contemptuous of my souffle example.

If you really think God is "sole Creator" of a baby in a more radical way than He is "sole Creator" of a souffle, it _is_ going to bar traducianism to you. The only kind of creatorship more radical than creation by means is creation without means, ex nihilo.

Caspar asks,
"Does that make the dust the creator of Adam, or even a participant?"

No, because a "creator," as the "-or" ending tells us, is a person. Dust is not personal. It has no will. It's just passive material.

Your last three paragraphs suggest that you are actually agnostic on the creationist-traducianist question (as I am), which I find surprising based on your strong endorsement of certain arguments used by Charles Provan. If you aren't willing to take sides on that issue, I don't see any way you can argue that God's role in procreation is qualitatively different from His role in any other good human event.

Eric Phillips said...

Whoah, I think you and I just had a substantive exchange, Caspar.

Caspar said...

Eric,

Please answer these two questions:

1. Do you believe that we can create life? (that's a simple yes or no question, by the way)

2. What is life made of?

Thanks,

Caspar

Caspar said...

"This passage [Genesis 9:1], moreover, leads us to believe that children are a gift of God and come solely through the blessing of God, just as Ps. 127:3 shows. The heathen, who have not been instructed by the Word of God, believe that the propagation of the human race happens partly by nature, partly by accident, especially since those who are regarded as most suited for procreation often fail to have children. Therefore the heathen do not thank God for this gift, nor do they receive their children as the gift of God."

[Luther's Works Vol. 2, p. 132]

Eric Phillips said...

1. Yes, by using the natural means God has provided us, and with His permission, we can create life.

2. Life is not a composite.

Caspar said...

1. Simply stupefying! If I had not heard this from so many supposed Christians I would not believe it possible for "Christians" to hold such an opinion. And you write it immediately after I quote Luther saying that children come solely through the blessing of God. Incredible! I hope your mind changes if and when you are blessed with a child someday.

2. How do you know that life is not a composite? If you can create it, you must know what it is created from.