The Westminster Shorter Catechism.

III. The Shorter Catechism-Q & A 9-10 Creation.

Q and A #9.

Q. 9 What is the work of creation?

A. 9 The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

First in order is the declaration that God created from nothing. God did not create from anything which existed apart from His creative activity. There was nothing outside of God that He was subject to when He created all things. He created man from the dust and woman from man, but He also created the dust before He created man, and that from nothing else. Secondly, the catechism affirms the testimony of scripture that creation was a work of the Holy Trinity. “In the beginning God” (v. 1), finds some differentiation when we read that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (v. 2). Just as God could have performed all this work in an instant, we could also read that this was done without the mention of the Spirit. Furthermore we also read, “then God said” (v. 3), when one assumes that creation could have also happened without the word being spoken. However, by this very revelation we understand that it was in fact through His Word that the whole of creation came into existence, a point which John in his gospel account echoes (1:1-3 Cf. Ps. 33:6, 9).

Thirdly, all things were created in the space or span of six days. These were not days of indefinite duration, for they were marked out by day and night (Gen. 1). There is no indication that this day and night are anything different than our own day and night in time. Furthermore, in creating day and night He created time and history. History no more stands over and above God as any other part of His created order. Finally, He looked upon all He had made and declared it to be very good. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen. 1:31 Cf. 1:1). One might ask two things here, in these beginning words. Why would God take six days, and why create from nothing that which was without form and covered in darkness? Whatever else may be said this much seems evident-God had more than the end in view. God could have went straight to the finished form without delay. However, like an artist with a blank canvas or sculpturer with a lump of clay, God seems to have enjoyed the process as much as the finished product.

Q and A #10.

Q. 10 How did God create man?

A. 10 God created man,-male and female,-after His own image,-in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness,-with dominion over the creatures.

There is a lot of truth packed into this short answer. First of all, the catechism affirms that God created both male and female (Gen. 1:27). This was necessary for several reasons. Firstly, like the rest of creation, man was to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). Secondly, Adam needed a helper comparable to him to fulfill the dominion mandate which was also a reason for the first point. Thirdly, it was not good for man to be alone (2:18). The companionship that humans share is reflective of the fellowship of the Trinity and part of our image bearing. The second main point which the catechism affirms is that humanity, male and female, are made in God’s image. As noted, this is the image bearing of the only God who is one in substance but three in persons, for we read that God said, “let Us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:26). The dominion mandate is directly related to and reflective of our uniqueness as the creature who has been created in God’s image. Our understanding of all that is meant by this image, can be seen in the mandate given.

The catechism, to this end, seeks to delineate three things which connect this image to the mandate given. Firstly, there is knowledge. This is absolutely crucial. The catechism, like the scriptures themselves, begin with epistemology-the study of knowledge (Q & A 1-3). Both our ability to know and what we know are equally dependent on our Creator. Our epistemological activity is part of our image bearing. Furthermore, the catechism rightly places this as the first in order of priority. It is part and parcel of the work of redemption to renew this most fundamental aspect of our image. The new man is “renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col. 3:10). Secondly, the catechism affirms that man is also a moral agent. Ethics cannot be separated from epistemology, for we were created in “righteousness, and holiness.” This also is what is involved in redemption of the image of God in us, for the new man was “created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

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