Incomplete Picture: Material Beings

What happens when we have an incomplete, incorrect, or inadequate understanding of the doctrine of Creation?

The first fairly obvious deviation from the doctrine of creation is to simply remove God and spiritual reality entirely from the picture.

The logical result of this supposition is that people are only material (non-spiritual) beings. This is a deviation that Anderton explores in Screwtape’s Master Plan. The narrator, Screwtape, a demon, announces his plan in this way “One of our favorite tactics is to convince hybrids [humans] that they should live for themselves and grasp for all the material pleasures that the world can offer because they will soon die.”[1] Since, in reality, we are both spiritual and physical beings attempting this tactic leads to ever increasing dissatisfaction. Screwtape continues, “The ideal outcome is full-fledged materialism in which frustrated hybrids [humans] grasp for ever larger amounts of possessions only to experience ever diminishing satisfaction.”[2] (emphasis added)

We are bombarded with this worldview on a daily basis just by living in a mass-consumer capitalist system. I do not mean to say that capitalism is inherently evil but, as an all encompassing moral system, it promotes a competing vision of who we are as people. As Smith and Denton point out, “Capitalism is not merely a system for the efficient production and distribution of goods and services; it also promotes a particular moral order, an institutionalized normative worldview.” This worldview “constitutes the human self in a very particular way: as an individual, autonomous, rational, self-seeking, cost-benefiting consumer.”[3] It is this last bit, that we are essentially self-seeking, cost-benefiting consumers fits very well with the enemy’s lie that we are only physical beings who can only find satisfaction in physical pleasures and comforts. Luckily, we have an system waiting to fulfill these desires… at the right price.

A complete view of creation gives us the perspective we need. When we can recognize that the physical reality is only part of the story we can appropriate those material needs and desires. We can see that God has created the material world for our good, but that it is futile to attempt to find ultimate satisfaction in the created thing instead of in the Creator. Once we learn to worship our Creator, and not the created thing, and we learn to view ourselves not simply as material things, we can then learn to “seek first the Kingdom of God” and rejoice when he takes care of our material needs.

[1] Anderton, Charles H., Screwtape’s Master Plan. 12.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.


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