Some Essential Tenets of the Reformed faith, as Expressed in the Confessions

The Gift of Creation

A tenet of Reformed theology, and one that is often overlooked, is that creation is “all good” because the sovereign God who made it out of nothing is supremely good. There are many important implications of this for our lives of faith. First, the fact that we human beings are made as part of God’s good creation means that we, too, were made wholly “good.” A saying on a child’s t-shirt makes this point nicely (albeit with poor grammar!): “God made me, and God don’t make no junk!”

Second, the fact that we were made good by God means sin is a big problem. It violates God’s creative intention, which is why Calvin calls it an “aberration.”[1] When we sin, we are turning not only away from God, but away from those whom God created us to be.

Third, creation is a gift that is to be enjoyed and cherished. The Second Helvetic puts it this way: “everything that God had made was very good, and was made for the profit and use of [humanity]” (BOC, The Second Helvetic Confession, 5.032).

Serene Jones argues, along these lines, that when we contemplate the beauty of the doctrine of creation, it begins to form us as people, “shaping our imaginations and desires.”[2]

Fourth, Calvin helps us remember that this does not mean we, as human creatures, are authorized by God to hoard, damage, or use up God’s gift. He understands the freedom of the Christian to entail “using God’s gifts for God’s purposes,”[3] not for just anything that strikes our fancy. A Brief Statement of Faith suggests that this “planet” has been “entrusted to our care” (BOC, 11.3, line 38). Enjoying it requires caring for it.

[1] Calvin, Institutes II.1.10.

[2] Serene Jones, “Glorious Creation, Beautiful Law,” in Pauw and Jones, 24.

[3] Institutes III.19.1.