Creation as Communication from the Trinitarian God
In order to understand God’s purposes and designs for fitness and health, we must begin with the creation account, to glean all that we can from God’s purposes before sin entered the world. Just as when training for the medical field, it is important to understand the proper functioning before understanding the pathology, or what has gone wrong in the malady, in order that we might begin to pursue a path, if to the ultimate goal. In the case of the Scriptures, we will find that the goal isn’t to get back to the raw creation at the beginning of the Bible, but a theological exposition of the creation account will set us on a trajectory toward mankind’s ultimate goal and will help us sort out God’s design and how we fit into this trajectory.
The Bible begins with a presumption that God is self-existent. He is the God who has existed forever. “in the beginning, God” is the commencement of physical reality. Church historians have described God not as creating out of some void in His existence, as though He needed anything, but as an overflow of His joy, to communicate His goodness, showing His greatness (glory).
His self-satisfaction and eternal joy is rooted in the doctrine of the Trinity, that great mystery of the Bible, not made up by Christians, but present from the very beginning. “Let us make man in our image” (Gen 1:26). This is not a lonely God that needed to have some pets to bring Him fulfillment, but the mysterious Trinitarian God who has existed perfectly as one God in three persons throughout all of eternity past. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have enjoyed perfect love, knowledge and joy in each other forever past, and creation is an outflow of the Trinitarian relationship, a proclamation, speaking words for those who are able to read creation.
Jonathan Edwards argues that God’s own glory is His end for which He created the world, a fitting and right reason for Him to create (See Jonathan Edwards, The End for which God Created the World). For a finite being such as a man or a woman to do everything for his or her own glory would be arrogant, at best. However, the infinitely glorious God is loving and joyous to create and to invite us into His glory.
Joe Rigney summarizes it this way:
And the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit so love the fullness of their shared life that they think it fitting and right that such glorious knowledge and love and joy overflow. So they make a world to contain it. They create vessels to hold the fullness of their divine joy (Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth, 45.).
This is the God of the creation account in Genesis 1. One need not look far to see the recurrent emphasis of God declaring each portion of His creation as “good … good … good!” The picture is of the infinitely glorious God overflowing with joy at the communication of His own self through His creation. He is the supreme artist, who is seen as using words to miraculously create His work of art, who sets up order, who has engineered His plans and ordained scientific laws as the means by which His living work of art would declare His greatness.
As C.S. Lewis so aptly puts it, “Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’” (They Stand Together: The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1914–1963), 428).
Rigney also helpfully summarizes the need to see this joyous, communicating Trinity as central to the Christian life, a starting point, if you will. It must also be a starting point for our discussion of a robust theology of fitness and health, because, if all of creation is generally an overflow of His joy communicating to us, then, we will see, more specifically below that this is expressed in the creation of mankind in His image.
Next post will be The Goodness and Goal of Creation.
Feel free to check out our attempts to imperfectly live out a Christ-centered theology of fitness and health with our recent attempt to be social and share our family workout session in this video 😉 https://www.facebook.com/1543516222608394/videos/240295297349497/