Creationist Mentality

By: Jim Virkler; ©2013

Mentality: “The characteristic attitude of mind or way of thinking of a person…” This internet definition focuses on human attitudes, processes of thought, and beliefs across a broad range. When we attach the term creationist, we construct an interesting term–“creationist mentality.” We must guard against defining the topic of creationism too narrowly. Our recent posts have highlighted the term frequently. We respond that the topic of creationism as it addresses life and species origins, a topic of specialty for many scientists, is a topic of never-ending interest for many of our non-scientist readers. We desire to broaden the definition of creationism.

To reinforce our last point, we repeat one of our favorite definitions of creationism offered by Mark Noll, evangelical historian: “…creationism by rights should define a divine mind at work in, with, or under the phenomenon of the natural world.” Defined as such, we acknowledge that the natural world provides the umbrella for our daily activities of work, family life, social interactions, and recreation. In short, the natural world provides the setting for all our activities. We do not confine our study of the natural world, therefore, to a specific interest in the study of “nature,” wonderful as that is. Our moment to moment existence integrates the wonder of our physical surroundings.

Are we aware of the “divine mind at work” in the presence of living and non-living things around us and our body’s sensory links with everything and every person in our surroundings? How does the term “creationist mentality” connect with our daily existence? Origins topics such as the time line of historic creation events and the length of Genesis creation days, fascinating as they are, lose their immediacy when we spotlight the present. Our awareness of creation in the present provides our lives with satisfying richness and fullness.
Historic origins studies and timelines of events over eons of time retreat to secondary importance as we concentrate on motivating forces of life in the present.

Old Testament prophet Isaiah was God’s spokesman speaking primarily to men of his own time, delivering a “forthtelling of God’s messages” of repentance for Israel’s present, as well as more familiar well-known “foretelling of God’s actions” in the future. Isaiah was not interested in the historical timelines of creation events in the distant eons of time. A majority of his book addresses events of his own time as he conveyed the messages of God to Israel of the 8th century BC. Isaiah’s “creationist mentality” must have been powerfully motivating as he delivered God’s message to the people of his day. The prophet cites supernatural creation in many parts of his book, not as lessons in historical geology, but as motivators for reverent holiness in God’s people.

Consider the force of Isaiah 45:18 (NIV): “For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: I am the Lord and there is no other.” The Apostle Paul, in an unusual scriptural account of an exchange with the pagan men of Athens (Acts 17:24 NIV) also applies “creationist mentality” as a motivator for repentance and righteous living: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” Paul’s powerful sermon continued, “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17:27)

Isaiah and Paul referred to past creation events without making their message solely a lesson in origins geology. They used “creationist mentality” as inspirational triggers for joyful and upright living in the present. We encourage readers to work toward influencing public perception of the heavily loaded term creationism, not only within our church fellowship circles, but also outside our personal church community. We have described Holy Scripture as a creationist text based on our knowledge of past and continuing realities of divine creation events. Perhaps our description of “creationist mentality” makes the terms creationism and creationist more appealing.

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