To Speak of God’s Continuous Creation is not Enough
I’m reading Oswald Bayer, a German theologian, who seems very much oriented in Luther. The late Robert Goeser opened my eyes to understanding that the creation should not be considered God’s action relegated to the past, but God’s continuous activity in the present. I imagined the supernova and how God was even now creating new stars and how I was not finished yet, but God was making a new person and new self out of me and all other children of God. Oswald Bayer has helped me understand why Robert Goeser emphasized the creation so, because he presents it as an article of faith. The point is to once again become opened to the awe and wonder of God’s fulfilling divine promises to us through creation, filling us with good gifts through nature. When our eyes, ears, hearts, and hands are opened by Christ once again, when he says to us, “Ephethah!” “Be opened!” then the dead world of nature opens up into the wonderful creation filled with the miracles that God is constantly doing.
Luther said that we are not worthy that even one bird should sing to us nor that we hear the grunts of a sow! We have closed up upon ourselves and deadened the whole of nature so that it no longer fills us with awe and wonder. It has long ago lost all its enchantment, when we “grew up.” Luther said that God did not merely fill the universe, but was also inside a little dung beetle. We can see that the hard shell of a seed breaks, because it gets soft at just the right time, and a marvelous plant shoots out of the ground, a consummate miracle before our eyes, but we take the miracle completely for granted, we pay no attention, unless livelihood, money, having possessions, and self interest is involved.
God speech is addressed to creatures through creatures (G.H. Hamann). Luther notes that Pythagoras could hear the music of the spheres, because the nature of creation was finely tuned harmony. But we cannot hear God speaking to us, because in our deaf ears and blind eyes and self absorbed and hardened hearts, nature is mute. “Creatures are so beautiful,” Luther says, “but we take them for granted” and we are [over satiated with them], because they represent things as usual.”
The instrumental rationality and the scientific drive to harness, control, and manipulate nature for our advantages has locked nature out of creation, and Christ says, “Be opened!” Then our ears hear God speaking to us through creatures of divine creation, we begin to see the wonder of God’s works, and our hearts are filled with awe once more, because God has given it all to us freely and it is overwhelmingly good.
I remember the sadness with which Max Weber spoke about how the enchantment of the world was gone and how Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach” says it in so many words as well. Weber complained about “dead religious beliefs” and being locked inside the “iron cage” of rationality. Well, Luther argues from one little miracle, like the healing of a bird, to the miracle of the whole world as creation. Christ saying “Be opened!” makes Weber’s iron cage burst open and we become addressed by the promises of God so that we are no longer Weber’s “specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; [and as] this nullity [we] imagine that [we] have attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”
A dead world and nature that we have divided, soiled, and “conquered” returns to become God’s creations filling us with wonder and awe. So there is wonder in the miracle that God can create new stars with supernova, that the gold in the hills of our earth came from these stars, and the new selves, the new persons, were who we were created to be, but with open ears, eyes, hearts, and hands for God’s promises spoken to us, addressed to us in the wonder-full creation.
 Oswald Bayer, Martin Luthers Theologie, (Tuebingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 2003), pages 95-109.
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, p. 181-182.