Tag Archives: Creation

Does God Need Man?

Of course He doesn’t!

Catholic Dogma is absolutely clear. God is infinitely perfect in himself, infinitely happy in himself, infinitely simple. God therefore needs nothing whatsoever. He is the source of all things else. He is the absolutely gratuitous source of all things else. Creation is an absolutely free act.

This means that creation need not have occurred, and God would be the same God he is “now.” The “now” is said from our perspective, for God is simply God. The “now” of God is just this: GOD. There is no “now” that measures him, unlike our own “now.” There is a “now” that measures us. God is his own measure, which means he remains unmeasured.

It is heresy to state that God created anything at all out of a need. Out of necessity. Out of any necessity whatsoever. Vatican I declares “IF ANYONE … HOLDS THAT GOD DID NOT CREATE BY HIS WILL FREE FROM ALL NECESSITY BUT AS NECESSARILY AS HE NECESSARILY LOVES HIMSELF, … LET HIM BE ANATHEMA” (DEI FILIUS, CANON 5 OF CHAP. 1).

Excluded here is any kind of necessity whatsoever. God does not need us in order to gain happiness. God does not need us just because he is God: That is, he is not a kind of naturally self-diffusing good that simply must create, just like the sun simply must radiate light.

If God created all things without any need or necessity whatsoever, then he needs not one of them. Now, man is a created thing.  Thus, God does not need man. He remains God, whether or not man continues to exist. This is the constant Tradition of the Church. This is the Formal Teaching of the Infallible Magisterium, to which all Catholics are forever bound. This is Truth.

Does this truth denigrate God’s love for us? Does it denigrate us? Absolutely not!

First, a lie denigrates us. A truth builds us up. If you tell me I am a great windsurfer, you denigrate me, because it is a lie. We know that the person who tells false things about our greatness flatters us. We know that who flatters us is not offering us true love; however noble his intentions, he is quite misled. I want to be lifted up by Truth. By God.

Second, only if I get God right can I get myself fully right. If I have a false conception of God, I will have a false conception of myself. But to say that God needs anything is to make God a creature, a fellow finite being struggling to make ends meet. If I do this, then how can I rely on this weak and pathetic god? Sure, I might confide in him and have a beer with him. But can I trust him with my all? Can I count on him being omnipotent? Able to overcome all things? No I can’t. Thus, if I think God needs me, I no longer can count on him. But I know my weakness. I know I need him. That is why I reject every claim that God needs me. Such claims are poison.

Third, to get it right that God does not need me makes his love all the more surprising and exhilarating. He does not need me, but he calls me into being. He does not need me, even now, but he sustains me. He woos me from my laziness and apathy. He redeems me from my sinfulness. He heals me from self-inflicted wounds. He kisses my sinful heart, to make it new. He touches my eyes, which have darkened themselves, to make them see. He strengthens my faltering limbs. He builds me up. He calls me home. Without any need. Steady love, totally for me. Why, O Lord, do you look on mortal man? A worm and no man? I thank you. Help me to receive your gifts well.

Conquer your enemies with your Truth, converting their minds and their hearts. And, lest they be found to poison the wells of your saving waters, remove the rebels from your holy house.

Biblical Exegesis and Heresy

A reader had a set of incisive questions and comments on this post, so worthwhile, I thought, I wanted to re-post. I’ll get back to this issue of exegesis soon, I hope.

It is the common thesis of biblical scholars that (#1) Moses did not teach creatio ex nihilo. They gather their conclusion chiefly from study of the Biblical Text, related texts of the time, the Hebrew mindset, knowledge of history and literary forms, etc.

We could investigate this thesis further, asking the following questions. (a) What did the Fathers teach about this text? (b) What does the Magisterium teach about this text? (c) How do other Biblical texts read this text? (d) What do the theologians across the ages say about this text? We could pursue these questions, but we will do so on another occasion. I wish to pursue another line of inquiry here.

To the above thesis quite often will be added the following: (#2) Moses taught creation from pre-existing matter.

Now, #1 and #2 are not identical, and their distinction is crucial. Unless we pursue questions (a) – (d), we cannot (it seems to me) immediately contend that #1 is false. It might be true. I tend to think it is true, but I have not pursued questions (a) – (d) yet. And no Catholic scholar should think his reading remotely conclusive unless he has asked all those questions first. Why? Just for example: Vatican I teaches that no one is permitted to hold anything contrary to what the unanimous consensus of the fathers holds concerning a text. Again, Vatican I and II both teach that the Magisterium is the only authoritative interpreter, and no one may hold anything contrary to the definitive reading of texts proposed by the Magisterium. In short, the biblical scholar must know his faith before concluding. Indeed, as Pius XII taught, such faith must inform his reading.

But #2 is heresy. Well, see the comments for more nuance. Why? Because it is solemn universal doctrine that everything proposed by the human author is proposed by the divine author. And it is solemn dogma that the divine author does not lie and is not deceived, all things being laid open to his eyes: God knows all and is all truthful. Ergo, whatever God states is true and inerrant. So, whatever Moses proposes is true and inerrant. But #2 states that Moses proposes creation from something. But this is heresy. Ergo, to propose Moses proposed this is implicit heresy.

Let this examination of this one little – but crucial – text stand for a host of applications. Every conclusion of any biblical scholar contrary to faith is false. This requires no strikethrough.