Man as a Co-Creator with God

By Fr. Lawrence Mondoka, OFMConv

God creates everything from nothing; instead, people create using the ingredients that God supplies to them. As creatures in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26), it is our privilege to be “co-creators”. Human beings are called to be responsible for other creatures in order to take part in the creativity of God. Niebuhr affirms, responsibility involves (1) response to an action upon us; (2) in accordance with our interpretation of what is going on; (3) with a willingness to be accountable for any reaction to our action; and finally (4) in solidarity with the continuing community of agents.[1] Human beings depend on the divine powers to bring forth something new in the world.

The co-creator model emphasizes on the responsibility, creativity and the initiative of human beings. They are called to take part in the works of God. The co-creator model is also the precondition for the divine command to be “fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1, 28). Procreating is certainly a central way in which we share in the image of God and in his creative power. Due to the procreating phenomenon, people are qualified to be the co-creators with God in wholeness.

Yes, man and woman are made to be “one flesh” by God. Of course, marriage is a freely chosen act too. God does it through the freely choices one makes. They are responsible for the choices they make in marriage and not the passive recipients of some sort of magic from God.[2] To participate in the creative power of God means to understand that God is love, and one takes part in his work when one loves God and other creatures. It means that when one loves nature, he also automatically loves God.

The command to be fruitful and multiply should not be understood narrowly because procreation is not an end in itself. Fruitfulness refers to “openness to life”. The propagation of human life is the basic condition for the deeper fruitfulness and creativity of our lives. When a man and a woman choose to marry and have sexual relations, they also choose the possibility of procreation that is bringing forth a new life.

The love of a couple is based on an impression accompanied by an emotional and having its object value. Sexual relations between a man and a woman in marriage have their full value as a union of persons only when they have the self-conscious and acceptance of the possibility of parenthood. The relationship between the husband and the wife is not limited to themselves, but necessarily extends to the new person, which their union procreates.[3] In other hands, the child is the fulfilment of the couple’s love.

They must be aware of that failing to defend and protect their new procreated human being leads to commit a crime of the utmost gravity. It reminds us that the life of unborn person is vulnerable and fragile. It is a gift to be welcomed and received with love, as each one of us know. How grateful we must be if the man and the woman who gave us precious life welcomed our coming. However, how sad it must be should one come to know that they did not, even if they did not kill one of us in the womb?[4]

Human being’s activity in all its forms is blessed with the possibility and responsibility of bearing fruits. Therefore, this model portrays us as created human beings that ultimately rely on the Divine for existence.[5] Only God created people ex-nihile meaning from nothingness. However, as human beings, we mirror the Divine in our capacity to create. Although, that ability in us to create is restricted to fashioning what is already in the created order. Nevertheless, human beings have the responsibility for bringing to completion what is incomplete.

God created human beings as co-creators, and this distinguishes them from other creatures. He gave them the capacity, drive and motive necessary for creative acts. Collaboration with God makes human being his coadjutor; only human beings are capable to participate in the divine act of creation. This helps and opens up the freedom to intervene into the genetic materials. Human beings are open to the prospect of discovering the divine purposes. They should intervene into the disordered world within nature and correct it. They execute their stewardship as real God’s representatives.

Being a co-creator with God does not literally create the world. It exclusively belongs to God alone to create, to bring into being out of the void and chaos. The work of human hands always image God’s creative act. God has made us responsible for the shape, which we give our lives and the world. Consequently, in human beings, in a way far different from fertility of the other creatures, the whole world is full of possibilities. The creation stories stress that we are part of a unified, interrelated whole and each one of us has a special place in it. Creation exists first for its own good sake, second to show forth God’s goodness, diversity and beneficence and for humanity’s appropriate use.[6] This implies that creation is a precious gift that God has given to human beings.

Human beings are entrusted to preserve creation. Stewardship places limits on human freedom to alter what God has created. It also claims some knowledge of the purposes of God by reference to a doctrine of creation. People have a unique responsibility for preserving creation and the future of the world. Being the co-creators opens up tremendous possibilities to human beings to transform the realities. For instance, in the atomic sphere, biological sphere, psychological, mentally disturbed etc.

Human beings are not merely the names of the other creatures; they are called not to be petty tyrants and manipulators, but stewards. They should learn to see themselves as gardeners, careful tenders of the earth. Human beings alone among the earthly creatures speak, plan, create, contemplate and judge. They are alone among the creatures can articulate a future goal and bring it into being by their own purposive conduct.[7] Human beings alone among the creatures can think about the whole world, marvel at its articulated order and awesome in beholding its grandeur and pondering the mystery of its source.

They, by virtue of their uniquely transcendent capacity to relate with all other creatures, are precisely the ones who have the enormous responsibility for choosing a future, which is really the future of the whole and not merely the advantage of a part. Human beings are related with the Creator in a way that is unique and peculiar. This is not because human beings are enlivened by the breath of God (Gen 7, 22). Rather, the dignity of persons is especially evident in their partnership with God in caring for the created world.[8] In fact, it is the exercise of freedom and the ability to shape the future that distinguishes human beings from all other beings that we know on earth. It is through free and responsible decisions that man become authentically himself.[9]

  The key word in the model of co-creators is the “world” or “creation”, not just me, certainly not just my soul, not even our collective souls. The Christian understanding of salvation must recover its inherent universality and inclusiveness. It is something, which involves not just human beings, but the whole of creation. The necessity that salvation comes from God and necessity that people take responsibility for the well-being of the world are directly proportional. Therefore, the measuring stick for maturity demands responsibility towards nature.

Human beings are not mere underlings with a task to perform. If they are superior to other creatures, it is because through them the creative, divine spirit is present and active in a unique way. They are from God and God creates the earth. Thus, the salvation, which God desires and promises the world as its sure future, is precisely what makes us acknowledge our responsibility for the world. To have a part in that work of creation, by being responsible is the highest work of humanity in the creativity of God.

[1] h. r. niebuhr, The Responsible Self: An Essay in Christian Moral Philosophy, New York, Harper and Row 1963, 47.

[2]C. E. curran, The Catholic Moral Tradition Today: A Synthesis, Washington D.C, Georgeton University Press 1999, 74.

[3] K. wojtyla, Love and Responsibility, H. T Willets (Trans.), San Francesco, Ignatius Press 1993, 227.

[4] E. W. may, Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life, Huntington, Our Sunday Visitor 22013, 183.

[5] r. m. gula, Reason Informed by Faith: Foundations of Catholic Morality, New York, Paulist Press  1984, 205.

[6] r. rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe, New York, Convergent 2021, 50.

[7] L. R. kass, Life, Liberty and the Defence of Dignity: The Challenge of Bioethics, San Francesco, Encounter Books 2002, 241.

[8] t. massaro, Living Justice. Catholic Moral Teaching in Action, Maryland, Rowman & Littlefied Publishers 2012, 44.

[9]j. macquarrie, An Existentialist Theology, Philadephia, McGrill University Press 1972, 4.

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