The Celtic Revival: Celtic Christian Worldview (4)
For the eternal and omnipotent Creator of things, abiding always as Three and as One without any diminution of His power – He alone, beyond time, preceded all He made. Then, so that He might reveal through created things all the vast goodness and power and benevolence which beforehand He had possessed within Himself, He divided the unformed matter which He had made from nothing at the first into all the manifold species of visible and invisible things – that is, things sensible and insensible, intellectual and lacking intellect.
- Augustine Hibernicus, On the Miracles of the Holy Scripture (7th century)
All Your works shall praise You, O LORD,
And Your saints shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,
To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
- Psalm 145.10-13
The cosmos is here for a reason. It has a purpose. Things don’t exist for no reason. Those who hold to an evolutionary and naturalistic view of life and the cosmos insist that no ultimate meaning or purpose informs it all; the cosmos just is. Period.
But the denial of any reason or purpose to the cosmos is merely a convenient way of avoiding the question of God. Celtic Christians not only did not avoid the question of God, they reveled in it. They reveled in Him.
The thinkers of the Celtic Revival (ca 430-800 AD) believed the teaching of Scripture that the eternal God made the cosmos and everything in it. And He did this with purpose: to extend the infinite goodness and benevolence He enjoyed in Himself to creatures of His own design and handiwork.
Creation has a purpose, and the purpose is to know God in all His goodness, glory, wonder, lovingkindness, and power.
The writer known as Augustine Hibernicus – “the Irish Augustine,” because the vast scope of his work recalls that of Augustine of Hippo – echoes the teaching of Colum Cille and the anonymous author of the Liber de Ordine Creaturarum. Creation is the product of God’s will and power, for His purpose and glory, and to bring His goodness to “sensible” and “intellectual” beings such as we, as well as to everything else.
God declared His purpose in creating the cosmos throughout Genesis 1, where He paused in His labors to pronounce His work “good” and ultimately “very good.” Creation was good and is good still – though it groans under the burden of sin – because God intends it should be so.
And because it is good, creation witnesses to God, praising Him for His goodness and inciting those who know Him to bless and glorify Him for His power, His mighty acts, His glorious majesty, and His everlasting rule (cf. Ps. 148).
In view of God’s purpose for His creation, we who believe in God have a threefold responsibility.
First, we must discern the goodness of God in creation (Prov. 25.2) God bears continuous witness to His love for us and His power to care for and delight us. We must not take creation for granted. Instead, let us listen, look, and learn from even the humblest creatures what they would say to us about our Father’s love.
Second, we must become creation’s voice to the world, encouraging others to see and enjoy the goodness we are learning to experience (cf. Ps. 148). The goodness of God in creation can provide abundant conversation-starters. By voicing creation’s praise to our fellow believers, we can encourage and edify one another; and by pointing out God’s goodness in creation to those who do not know Him, we might help them to become more aware of Him as well.
Third, believers have a duty to liberate creation from the burden of sin (Rom. 8.18-22). Creation groans to fulfill its purpose in sharing and declaring God’s goodness. Paul says it awaits our coming to its aid, to tend, keep, value, appreciate, and improve its God-given goodness.
The creation – and everything made from it – is here for the purpose of declaring the goodness, greatness, majesty, power, and love of God. But it depends on us, who know the Lord, to discern, enjoy, and make use of creation’s goodness, and to be creation’s voice in giving God the praise and thanks He deserves.
1. How conscious are you, throughout a typical day, of the goodness of God in creation?
2. How can the goodness of God in creation help to improve your prayer life?
Psalm 145.10-14 (Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
Your works shall thank You; all Your saints shall bless and praise You, Lord.
Your reign we bless without restraint; Your power fills our words.
Our children we shall educate in all Your splendor, Lord.
Your Kingdom evermore shall be; You reign forever, Lord!
Your works You do so faithfully, according to Your Word.
The falling You uphold and the oppressed You rescue, Lord!
Open my eyes and ears to see Your goodness all around me, Lord, and I will…
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.