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Engaging the Doctrine of Creation

Cosmos, Creatures, and the Wise and Good Creator

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Distinguished scholar Matthew Levering examines the doctrine of creation and its contemporary theological implications, critically engaging with classical and modern views in dialogue with Orthodox and Reformed interlocutors, among others. Moving from the Trinity to Christology, Levering takes up a number of themes pertaining to the doctrine of creation and focuses on how creation impacts our understandings of both the immanent and the economic Trinity. He also engages newer trends such as ecological theology.


"Once again, the indefatigable Matthew Levering has produced a wonderfully lucid survey of a crucial theological topic--this time the doctrine of creation. The work of a scholar of generous temper and analytic rigor who is in touch with the dogmatic traditions of the whole Christian world, this book provides an ideal introduction to its topic."

David Bentley Hart, contributing editor of First Things

"In the latest volume of this wonderful Engaging the Doctrine series, Levering unrolls for us a robustly biblical doctrine of creation and shows how wonderfully the Christian tradition--especially in its Thomist dialect--has proclaimed, developed, and explored this doctrine. Throughout the book Levering beautifully locates creation against the background of the divine attributes and within the context of the divine economy that will lead the transformed creation finally home. A marvelous resource for all students of the Christian mysteries."

Lewis Ayres, head of department and professor of Catholic and historical theology, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University

"Matthew Levering's engaging book on the doctrine of creation goes well beyond discussions about 'in the beginning.' Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians alike will find here a thick description not only of the cosmos and the human creature but also of the creator--the good, wise, and transcendent source of everything that is. Levering mines a number of other doctrinal shafts as well in an inspired effort to retrieve the riches of the much-neglected biblical and theological perspectives (especially Aquinas's) on creation. He convincingly shows in the process that rumors of dogmatic theology's death at the hands of modern science and cosmology are much exaggerated. If that were not enough, he also displays how the doctrine of original sin functions to preserve the goodness of God's creation and how the atonement restores it. This is a fine guide for Christians who want to understand what it means to be in the world and of it (in a good sense)."

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"This book is breathtaking in its scope and astonishing in its erudition and creativity. The doctrine of creation suffered gradual attenuation in the theology of the twentieth century, and this book--engaged with modern science and philosophy but not limited to that engagement--is a welcome and refreshing accomplishment in retrieval and reinvigoration. It prove useful in undergraduate and graduate education alike as well as for any interested educated reader."

John C. Cavadini, professor of theology and McGrath-Cavadini Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame

"Engaging the Doctrine of Creation is the best of Catholic theology by the best of Catholic theologians. What we find is a macroscopic--indeed, cosmic--vision of our God's beautiful, explosive creative powers forming an expansive universe in which humans reflect God's glory, and a microscopic examination of details in the Bible, the Catholic tradition, and the wider discussions of important topics germane to understanding creation theology today."

Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary

"Engaging the Doctrine of Creation is an illuminating ecumenical symphony of a vast array of splendid theological and philosophical voices from the Christian past and present, which have been gathered and prompted by Matthew Levering with his unique gift as a theological conductor. Levering unfolds once more the sublime and unfathomable depth, height, and breadth of the Christian doctrines of creation, fall, and redemption. In light of widespread contemporary doubts about the creation of the universe, the intelligibility of original sin, and the possibility of redemption, this book is of immediate relevance for every serious student and teacher of Christian theology, whether Protestant, Orthodox, or Catholic."

Reinhard Hütter, School of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America

"With this third volume in his Engaging the Doctrine series, Matthew Levering offers the promise of a systematic theology with a breadth and scale not seen since before Vatican II. His treatment of the doctrine of creation provides not only a theologically acute engagement with scientific questions but also a perceptive treatment of the connections between creation, sin, and atonement. May there be more volumes to come!"

Bruce D. Marshall, Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

"Perhaps no doctrine has been subjected to more distortion and dismissal through the rise of modern science and a reductively naturalistic worldview than that of creation. In this book, Levering frames his brilliantly incisive engagement with naturalistic perspectives within a classically theological framework by grounding the intelligibility and beauty of creation in the glory of the creator disclosed consummately in Jesus Christ. With this illustrious addition to his Engaging the Doctrine series, Levering further confirms his position as one of the most captivating and profoundly wise expositors of Christian doctrine."

Khaled Anatolios, professor of theology, University of Notre Dame

The Author

  1. Matthew Levering

    Matthew Levering

    Matthew Levering (PhD, Boston College) is the James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois. He previously taught at the University of Dayton. Levering is the author of...

    Continue reading about Matthew Levering


"A veritable tour de force of theological investigation, composed of seven distinct (yet related) chapters which examine the most pressing questions and objections surrounding the doctrine of creation. . . . Engaging the Doctrine of Creation is not only a must-read for those interested in the topic of creation, but proves to be a masterful work of systematic and speculative theology as well. It should find a place on every scholar's shelf."

Joshua Madden,

Reading Religion

"Levering successfully argues that the Christian doctrine of creation can agree with modern scientific thinking. . . . . Readers may appreciate Levering's questions to and reasoning for the Christian doctrine of creation in the book and his capacity to engage with different works from classical to modern science and Genesis 1-3. Levering tackles some honest questions that readers of Genesis 1-3 might have and provides answers to the questions in this book. . . . His clear and logical structuring make it easy for readers to see how Genesis 1-3 can accord with the modern scientific mind and be utilized to perceive God's good and unique creation, creatures revealing God's goodness and wisdom, human's ecological responsibility, Adam and Eve's original sin, and Jesus Christ's satisfactory atonement. . . . Engaging the Doctrine of Creation is a useful and valuable source to motivate scholars and research students who would like to examine the interactions of Genesis 1-3 with modern thinking or vice versa. In particular, his efforts to engage with modern thinking may assist scholars and research students in perceiving the benefits of reading Genesis 1-3 alongside various modern works."

Timothy Hyun,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"[This book] combines deep theological reflection--drawing particularly from the wells of the church fathers and Thomas Aquinas--thoughtful theological exegesis of Scripture, and wise engagement with diverse contemporary interlocutors, both within and without the church. . . . Levering gives us a truly theological theology. He is deeply attentive to Scripture and the Christian tradition, conversant with an array of contemporary voices, aware of the systematic connections between different doctrines, and alive to their ethical implications. He is also delightfully doxological, engaging the doctrine of creation in ways that lead to awed delight and joyful praise of the wise and good Creator."

Matthew Mason,

Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology

"Engaging the Doctrine of Creation will make a wonderful textbook for undergraduate students as it presents a coherent argument throughout, introduces the major issues and literature in the field, and is eminently readable. At the same time, each chapter can work on its own as a well-argued account of the given issue at hand that contemporary scholars must engage even where one disagrees with Levering's conclusions. Finally, the work provides an interesting example of retrieval theology both in its articulation of Aquinas and his theological predecessors and in its successful application of the thought of these figures to new questions."

John Kern,

Restoration Quarterly

"This book offers many challenging insights worthy of consideration. . . . Graduate students could benefit from having it listed among books recommended for courses on or related to creation."

Anne Clifford,


"As an evangelical Christian, I found this text beneficial and challenging. It was refreshing to read Levering's cogent, nuanced, and respectful defense of historic Catholic teaching. . . . Readers will find his work . . . enlightening, in that they will be exposed to overlooked areas of theology, and empowered to defend doctrines historically proclaimed by the faithful. Professors in upper level graduate theology courses should consider this book as a supplemental text."

Stephen Vantassel,

Evangelical Review

"Engaging the Doctrine of Creation is a wonderful example of what it looks like to put the tradition to work in relation to contemporary questions. Levering's dialogical approach to the task of retrieval furnishes a robustly creative and kaleidoscopic exposition of the doctrine of creation."

David J. Luy,

Sapientia: A Periodical of the Henry Center

"[A] magisterial volume . . . Levering writes as a Catholic theologian and yet engages thoughtfully with Protestant, Orthodox, and secular writers. I would consider this a sterling example of excellent theological writing. Levering is not content to engage the writers of the last ten or fifty years, but roots his work in biblical teaching, the work of the church fathers, as well as major teachers of the church like Thomas Aquinas. One may not concur with all of his contentions, but to read Levering is to read someone, who like Aquinas, gives first the reasons of other positions, then his own carefully thought-through conclusions leaving it to the reader to conclude which are the better arguments. For those desirous of rooting their faith in rigorous thought and not simply devotional passion, Levering's work is worth the careful attention it requires."

Robert C. Trube,

Bob on Books blog