Thoughts on Newness and Creativity

In ‘The Meaning Of Jesus’ (see previous posts) Wright argues from 1Cor 15 that because Paul urges his readers to "be steadfast, unmoved, abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that in the Lord your work is not in vain" the ‘new creation’ that we are awaiting at the resurrection will in some ways have some continuity with this.

His argument is that if the whole world were to be trashed and simply remade, what would the point of our working against injustice be – we might as well just let the whole thing go to pot and wait around for the new one.

One observation from this: genuine newness is possible.

Created in the image of a Creator, we are continuing in the ‘family business’ when we are creative. There are some streams of thought that argue that all we are doing in being creative is uncovering what God has already pre-created. I’m not so happy with this: it appears to demote us from true creatives to kids uncovering Easter eggs in a sand pit. And reflecting on the above: what’s the point in being ‘creative’ if everything is going to be trashed and reworked anyway?

I repeat: my take on what Wright is saying Paul is saying is that genuine newness is possible. When we are being truly creative (and an interesting discussion might be to ask exactly what that is – artists, is all output creative? Or only when you are in touch with your muse?) we are actually making something that did not exist before, and thus actually changing the fabric of the universe for ever, for eternity. I find that inspiring; a thought that will hopefully refine my work and aim it higher.


4 responses to “Thoughts on Newness and Creativity”

  1. – Is all output creative?
    Maybe, although self-mutilation is the lowest form of art.
    – Is ‘art’ merely being creative?
    Well, lots of definitions are given to Art (see a bunch at: – look for Intimate Bilboard…) I believe that the point of ‘art’ or ‘creativity’ is ultimately to affect people. I guess that’s why I became an Art Teacher (how effectively I affect is another debate!) Here’s a quote I find helpful to put my own tendency to self-obsess with ‘art’ into context…
    “art is the extension of the power of rites and ceremonies to unite (people), through a shared celebration, to all incidents and scenes of life… art also renders (people) aware of their union with one another in origin and destiny.”
    John Dewey.
    That’s the ‘newness’ I’m looking for!!!
    (PS: I know the quote is a bit gushy!)

  2. This question has always fascinated me. My two oldest kids used to ask questions, trying to figure out this creating thing: “So if God created everything, when did he make cars and houses?” I would answer, “No, God didn’t create any cars or houses. People make cars and houses, but they use the things God has created to make them.” We can “dream up” something new, like a house, but then we use the Creator’s raw materials to realize our dream.
    Perhaps instead of saying we “uncover” things already there, maybe we make genuinely new things, but we use the raw materials God has given to do so. Maybe we are like God in that we create genuine newness, things and ideas with real value, things that didn’t exist before, but we are unlike God in that he creates from nothing, and we create from something. We take the already-created, and we form/fashion/shape/recombine it into something genuinely new.
    But then I think God does this kind of creating, too. And I think this gets at the heart of Wright’s statement. Redemption is not obliterating the old and making something different. Redemption means taking the raw materials of the “already-there”, using the old, rotting, broken, twisted raw materials to create something completely new. It is a new thing, but it has continuity with the old. It has not been discarded, it has been redeemed.

  3. I think you’d find Darrell Cosdens’ book A Theology of Work : Work and the New Creation interesting given your comments. One of the issues Cosden grapples with is how does work now “carry over” to the new creation. Check it out (ISBN 1-84227-332-9).

  4. “Maybe we are like God in that we create genuine newness, things and ideas with real value, things that didn’t exist before, but we are unlike God in that he creates from nothing, and we create from something.”
    I think that’s right. The raw materials are there, and we put some fresh configuration on them. As I try to put across in the book, this is what makes cities such (potentially) beautiful places: they are rammed with our creativity in a way that raw nature isn’t.
    And thanks for the book hint Brodie – I’ll definitely look that up.