Father Almighty, our Creator (Nicene Creed #4)

This post is part 4 in a series that explores the Nicene Creed. To read other parts, click on the corresponding number: 123, 5, 6, 7, 8, 910, 111213.

We come now to the section of the Creed that speaks of God the Father:

One God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

Here the Creed asserts that the one God, in the person of the Father Almighty, is Creator (Maker) of all that is.

As we noted in part two of this series, the Creed emphasizes that God is one in being (Gk=ousia). Yet now the Creed begins to speak of the three persons of the one God, beginning with the Father, who as Almighty, is associated with his act of creating. This does not mean that the Father is Creator to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit. Rather (as noted by Tom Torrance in The Trinitarian Faith), the Creed is granting "primacy to the concept of the Fatherhood of God, for knowledge of God as Creator is taken from knowledge of God as Father, and not the other way round" (p76). And, of course, we receive this knowledge of the Father through the Son, by the Spirit.

The point being made is that the Father Almighty is the Source (or Fount) of all being - both the being of God (which is ultimate being), and the being of the creation, which is granted its being by God, who creates all that is out of nothing. Thus the creation is from the Father (as creative Source), through the Son (as creative Word), in the Holy Spirit (as creative Agent).

In associating the Fatherhood of God with the act of creating, the Creed is not asserting that God became Father by creating. The Father has always been Father (and thus it follows that the Son has always been Son of the Father). However, there was a time when the Father was not Creator. As Torrance notes, "God always had the power to create [he is the Father, Almighty], and did actually create because he was and is the Father of the Son. God is, and always is, Father, but to create something out of nothing utterly different from himself is an act of his will and freely follows from what he eternally and intrinsically is" (p87a).

Following Athanasius, Torrance draws a parallel between this original act of creation and God's subsequent act of incarnation. In both, God acts to create something entirely new (p88). There was a time when there was no creation, but God, as Father, became Creator and created the cosmos out of nothing. Similarly, there was a time when the eternal Son of God was not human, but became human through the incarnation, which is a stunning act of re-creation.

The reason for both creation and re-creation (incarnation) is that God does not will to exist for himself alone. God, who is complete in himself (three-in-one; one-in-three), lacks nothing and thus has no need for a creation. Rather, because God in his own triune nature is love, he wills to create in order to love his creation:
He does not will to exist for himself alone, but has freely and spontaneously brought a world into existence out of non-existence... Although he is utterly transcendent he does not hold himself aloof from his creation, but is freely present and at work within it, intervening personally and providentially in the events of the world and in the affairs of his human creatures... God created all things out of nothing and wishes them to exist as objects of his loving-kindness which he has now manifested to the world in Jesus Christ" (pp90-91).
Thus, according to Torrance, "the whole raison d'etre of the universe lies in the fact that God will not be alone, that he will not be without us" (p94). We were created for communion with the triune God of love, and in Christ we were re-created to make that communion possible, despite our sin. And so the Creed leads us to worship God the Father, who in his Almighty love both creates and re-creates, providing for all humanity (the object of his love) a means to share forever in his divine, triune communion.