The Anti-Manichaean Polemic and Beyond
Chapter 6: Creatio ex nihilo in Augustine's Anti-Manichaean Polemic: A Brief Recapitulation 217
Chapter 6 Creatio ex nihilo in Augustine's Anti-Manichaean Polemic: A Brief Recapitulation In its most general terms, Augustine's interpretation of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo presupposes two key teachings: first, the omnipo- tence of God as the ultimate Cause of everything which exists, but not in the fullest sense as does God; secondly, the complete dependence of everything upon God for its very being. 1 In contrast to human artists or craftsmen, God relies upon nothing in creating. Accord- ingly, it can be said that God creates from nothing whatsoever. 2 Since God is wholly omnipotent, He neither creates under constraint or com- pulsion from any external source; nor in response to the dictates of his own nature (as does the Godhead depicted in Neoplatonic sys- tems). Rather, God creates simply because He loves what He freely wills to create. 3 For Augustine, this fact provides the final word in discussions regarding God's motive as Creator: any attempt to deter- mine what prompted Divine love to create would lead to an infinite regress of preceding motives which would seriously call into question God's absolute self-sufficiency. The doctrine of creatio ex nihilo was operative in Augustine's refu- tation of the fundamental tenets of Manichaeism. On a metaphysical and epistemological level, it was operative in his critique of the mate- rialism inherent in the Manichaeans' cosmogony and exegesis of Scrip- ture. The very affirmation of God's creation of all things from nothing indicates that not all reality is material and that...
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