TOHU WA-BOHU and TEHOM

So here’s a debate I didn’t know much about its’ existence. Many thanks to Scott for giving me the heads up that this was an obvious tenet of the Mormon church, and frequently debated as a reason they’re heretical in some eyes.

I checked throughout the Free Methodist book of Discipline, and it seems we’re safely able to discuss this without having to land on one side or the other.

The issue? There are some Christians who believe that God did not create everything that exists “ex nihilo” (out of nothing). They say there are two Hebrew words (title of this post – “formless void” & “womblike deep”) that existed along with God “in the beginning” before all the creation activity went on.

The truth is, none of us was there. So we gotta depend on humanity’s understanding of cosmic pre-life forces, etc, etc. But in any case, I do appreciate the movement of emphasis from whether or not God created “being” (stuff, tangible-ness, metaphysical realm, etc.), to God creating “LIFE” in the midst of no life.

“Without the mythological tohu wa-bohu and the tehom, the horizon of the narratives is dramatically and disproportionately shifted away from that of beauty, goodness, and life and over to that of power and of being. They are turned into explanations of why the world is THERE, instead of proclamations that what IS there is beautiful and GOOD. The stories are not about being – being is there, given, mute, and barren – but about bringing being to life.” – Caputo

Although I would say this still Christian viewpoint differs from Mormonism in a couple ways. One, Mormonism believes that all of these things existed even in some sort of “living” state in Heaven BEFORE they were brought into physical being. Two, Mormonism stretches the creation to somehow include God creating several different worlds in which Christ played a role in.

I’m not signing up as a “Caputo-ite” anytime soon. But I do like a lot of what he says, and think there’s a lot of benefit to appreciating God as less of an omnipotent ace up our sleeve for the end times (or even now); and more of an infinitely unconditional “YES/GOOD” proclaiming, Hope indwelling, impossible new life calling/transforming, and humble lover of where “is” has become “lives”.

And ya’ gotta love the word “Tehomophobia”.
Not sure if he invented it. But it works.
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2 responses to this post.

  1. Maybe I'm biased by my 30 years of ex nihilo background, but I have a hard time reading 'womblike deep' and particlarly 'formless void'as anything but metaphors for nothingness.

    I'm no scholar, but a formless void sound like infinite un-matter, an stretch of nothingness with no shape, ie. no limit: infinite nothingness.

    The irony being, of course, that I don't necessarily believe in a literal creation, I still come down pretty cleanly on the side of ex nihilo.

    I supposed it'd be interesting to read Caputo's argument about it, though…

    Reply

  2. definitely. something of a “scandalous cover up”, which sounds very similar to the Mormon argument.

    Reply

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