The opening line of the Apostles’ Creed tells us that God is the “Maker of Heaven and Earth,” of a creation that Scripture describes as being “very good” (Gen. 1:31) even in its fallen state and condition: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude” (1 Tim. 4:4). The Bible makes a distinction between God and the world. God did not make the world and us because, as some Sunday School teachers tell their impressionable students, because He was lonely. If the world disappeared in a vapor, God would not be affected. God does not need us or the world. He created it and us for His own glory, and He expects us to use it according to His requirements, neither abusing it or neglecting it.
God is not the world as in pantheism, nor is He indifferent to or distant from the world as with deism. Neither is the world an emanation from His being as in New Age humanism. “The creed confesses a living God; no detached spectator on the world and its fate, God is the leading actor. All powerful, he retains and exercises the initiative. This is the most basic theme in the Christian world view.”
Sin has affected the world. Even so, God has not forsaken it, just like He has not forsaken us because of our sin. His redeeming work in and over this world has a transforming effect on all aspects of our fallen domain. God was pleased to dwell in Christ “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through His blood; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Col. 1:20). We learn through Scripture that “whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). “The Christian’s responsibility on earth is to transform the world that ‘thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matt. 6:10).”
Because God is the One who brought “heaven and earth” into existence and “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3), this alone should be enough to convince all Christians who recite the opening line to the Apostles’ Creed that this world should count for something. While evil may exist in this world because of sin, the world in and of itself is not evil. “Whatsoever is evil, is not so by the Creator’s action, but by the creature’s defection.” Therefore, we should be skeptical of any theology that defames any part of God’s good creation. “There is no nature originally sinful, no substance in itself evil, no being, therefore, which may not come from the same fountain of goodness.”
. Arthur F. Holmes, Contours of a World View (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983), 57. . Robert E. Webber, Common Roots: A Call to Evangelical Maturity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1978), 205. . John Pearson, An Exposition of the Creed, 2 vols. 3rd ed. (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1847), 1:79. . John Eyre Yonge, An Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1887), 27.