How does Creation worship?
Had a quick thought while reading some of Greg Boyd’s book Satan and the Problem of Evil earlier today. He is building a persuasive case that Christians need to take the existence of Satan and the demons far more seriously if contemporary Christianity is going to have a biblically and philosophically robust response to “the problem of evil.” That is: If the Christian God exists, why is there evil in the world?
The thing that struck me is this: God, humans, and angelic beings all have free will and agency under normal circumstances. But does the rest of Creation–plants, rocks, oceans, tectonic plates, cells that become cancerous–also respond in some way to the call to worship God? And if they do (as implied many times by Scripture), is there something moral involved when things go wrong, something other than the presence of evil spirits?
Boyd seems to paint non-animal Creation as neutral and inert, but I’m not convinced. For example (and please understand I’m fighting for language), if a rock-slide kills a busload of sixty children, how much responsibility do those rocks have before God? Are they inert and neutral, or do they have some responsiveness appropriate to the type of created thing they are? Or take cells that devolve into cancer. Those cells, as creatures of God (according to many Church Fathers), had a vocation to perform a certain function in an animal or human. But they went in the opposite direction–they seem to rebel against what they are called to do and be in the world.
I ask this question because I wonder if the answer would change the way we pray. If all that exists are “creatures” of various kinds, and if all creatures are called to celebrate God, then when I, as an ambassador of Christ, interact with a cancer patient, can I command that cancer to be healed, or to repent? If human beings, in Christ, have authority over all created things on this globe, “do I have to put up with weeds in my garden” (Chris Gore)? Can the People of God change the weather with a prayer?
I suspect the answer to these questions is yes, because Jesus seemed to be able to do these kinds of things. I’m just curious about why the biblical language often implies that a storm or a sickness is able to respond to a command: “Jesus rebuked…” Is it because there is a demon there, or could it also be that a word spoken under proper authority can realign creatures that humans usually consider inert, because there is a kind of ‘understanding’ on the part of that creature?
I feel like I’m in Kindergarten with some of this stuff. But I have a strong suspicion that God gives Spirit-renewed humanity a great deal more responsibility and spiritual latitude than would be comfortable for many of us. I would like to have some fun trying to experiment with some of this stuff? With whom can I?