BASIC DOGMATIC TEACHING
An Orthodox Handbook
by Protopresbyter Fr. Anthony Alevizopoulos (1931 – 1996)
Dr. of Theology, Dr. of Philosophy
Chapter 5 – The opus of the Trinitarian God
1. An opus of uncreated divine energies
As mentioned, there are no temporal or other changes in the life of the Trinitarian God (James 1:17, Psalms 101:28). The innermost life of the divine Person/Hypostasis – the Divine Essence – knows no Past or Future; only an eternal Present.
For this reason, when we refer to the opus of God within Time, we are not implying that Creation is a direct opus of God’s essence. In short, Creation on the part of the Trinitarian God, within Time, is not the result of the Divine Essence. It is the fruit of God’s uncreated energies.
Characteristically, the Prophet Jeremiah mentions that “…it is the Lord, Who created the earth by His strength; Who set upright the world by His wisdom, and by His prudence stretched out the sky.” (Jeremiah 10:12, 28:15; Hebr.51:15).
2. The Trinitarian figure of Creation
According to the Orthodox Faith, the creation of the entire world was the work of the Father. However, the other two Persons also participate in this praxis of creation: the Son and the Holy Spirit.
“All that the Lord wanted He did, in the sky and on the earth, in the seas and in all the abysses” says the Psalmist (Psalms,134:6)
“…Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, for by Him was everything created: in the heavens and upon the earth, the visible and the invisible… All things were created through Him and for Him… and He is, even before all things, and all things consist in Him.” (Colos.1:15-17). Everything, therefore, “was created through Him” – that is, through the Son and Logos of God, and “without Him, nothing would be created of those things that were made” (John 1:3, cmp. 1 Cor. 8:6)
The Holy Bible furthermore says that during Creation, the Holy Spirit was borne “above the waters” (Genesis 1:2). That same Divine Spirit continues to “fulfil” the Trinitarian God’s entire Creation (Wisdom of Solomon 1:7) and is found “in everything” (Wisdom of Solomon 12:1).
“You have fashioned me and have placed me under Your hand” says the Psalmist very characteristically.
“Where could I go, away from Your Spirit? And from Your countenance where could I flee? Even if I ascend to the sky, You are there; and even if I descend to Hades, You are also there.” (Psalms 138:7-8, Jerem.23,24).
If we wished to use a form that reflects the Orthodox teaching of the Holy Trinity, then, along with the Fathers of our Churcn, we could say that the entire world was created “by the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit“; or, as the hymn of our Church says: “by the Father, through the Son, in collaboration with the Holy Spirit“.
The One -therefore- and Trinitarian God is the Creator of all things: of the spiritual world, the material world, the flora and the fauna, of mankind, of the universe.
3. Creation from nil
For the Trinitarian God to create the universe, He had no need of any “raw material”. He created everything from nil. This is clearly taught by the Holy Bible:
“I implore you” says the mother of the Maccabees to her youngest son, prior to his martyred death, “to look upon the heaven and the earth, and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not create them out of things that existed. And in the same way did the human race come into being.” (2 Macab.7:28, also Rom.4:17, Hebr. 11:3)
This basic faith of our Church is also proclaimed in the first Book of the Old Testament. Naturally, in there have been used various phrases and expressions from the life of the people of that era, who had to comprehend the immense truth that was hiding behind that narration. The reason for this, as we know, was and is the purpose of the Old Testament: to teach the truth to the people of this earth; to speak to them with words that they can understand. (Genes.1:1-31)
4. The Holy Angels
Prior to the material world, the Trinitarian God had created the Holy Angels. “When the stars were born, all My angels glorified Me with a loud voice“, as mentioned in the Book of Job (Job 38:7, cmp. Psalms 148:2-5)