Creation as a Presupposition of Christian Ethics

As many have pointed out, a Biblical doctrine of creation is vital to Biblical ethics. God is the Creator, and He sets the rules by which His creation must abide and laws by which man should live. Our first father, Adam, disobeyed God’s law and the human race fell along with him. Therefore, we cannot meet God’s righteous standards. We need the salvation offered in the Gospel to have communion with the One who made us. The saved Christian then desires to walk in God’s ways and makes the law of God his delight.

Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til emphasized the point that creation is a presupposition of Christian ethics. In a sense, creation lies as the foundation of Christian ethics.

…[as a] presupposition of Christian ethics we mentioned that Christian ethics deals with man as such, and not only with Christians. This presupposition is based upon the doctrine of creation which lies at the basis of Christianity. But all non-Christian thought denies this doctrine. Hence it can never have unity in its ethical interpretation. On what ground can anyone claim that a set of ethical teaching shall have compelling force for human beings if one does not believe the doctrine of creation? There is no other ground at all. There can be no more than a strange coincidental resemblance between the various ethical ideals of various peoples on any but the Christian basis. [1]

Unbelieving thought has put forth many solutions to the ethical problems men face. Just as Van Til describes, there is a vast cornucopia of ethical systems. None of these are compelling. They are just the opinions of men, not transcendent standards based in the character of God. As mere opinions they carry no weight. God’s standards apply to all men by the fact of creation.

The failures of unbelieving ethical systems over the last 6,000 years speak for themselves. The words of man are not living, active, and sharp.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb. 4:12).

These man-made ethics do not point sinners to the One who knew no sin…

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5:21).

And that is their greatest failure.

May the Lord be pleased to bring His people a high view of creation and a high view of His law.

So it always is: a low view of the law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of the law makes a man a seeker after grace. Pray God that the high view may again prevail. [2]


[1] Van Til, Cornelius, Christian Theistic Ethics, Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., p. 65.

[2] Machen, J. Gresham, What is Faith?, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, p 141-142.


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