Friday, 6 January 2012


Where does a writer’s urge to create come from? While many answers are possible, I can’t help but wonder whether one factor is that we have been created in God’s image—and God is the ultimate creator.1

Most of us in this group seem to be fiction writers, and we assume that fiction requires more creativity than non-fiction. Having tried my hand at both, I’d say this is true. However, writing non-fiction still requires creativity: as a minimum, it involves communicating information in a new way (if it didn’t, it would be plagiarism). Decisions must still be made about structure, grammar, etc. Ergo, all writing is creative: it involves bringing into being something that didn’t exist previously.

Obviously there’s more ways for people to create than through writing. However, with a bit of dodgy exposition, we can make a tongue-in-cheek case that writers are closest to God in this regard because of their chosen medium. Everything God created was created through the Word (John 1:1–3); everything we create is created through the word. Of course, the Biblical concept of logos (‘word’) is not to be taken too literally, so this parallel is little more than a play on words (so to speak).

While considering the parallel between God’s creativity and ours, we might bravely ponder whether God’s creation is fiction or non-fiction. For centuries, philosophers have been arguing about whether everything is actually real; ie, true and therefore non-fiction. I feel that the creation is real in the sense that (in my opinion) it exists—yet I also feel that it is artificial in the sense that God’s realm, to which we aspire in eternal life, will allow us to see things as they really are (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12).

In addition to having the desire and ability to create, God derives satisfaction from the results of his creative efforts; eg, ‘And God saw that it was good.’ (Genesis 1:10). This, too, is reflected in the writers’ experience. I’m reminded of a quote from Gloria Steinem: ‘I do not like to write—I like to have written.’. On a bad day, I know what she means! (Presumably God didn’t have any bad days and enjoyed the process as much as the product.)

Obviously, Christians are not the only ones who desire to write, or to create in general. However, I don’t think this observation invalidates my hypothesis, since all people are created in God’s image. Hopefully, as Christians, we are more in tune with that image and more desirous of aspiring to it.

So, next time you put finger to keyboard to create, perhaps you could derive some satisfaction from the thought that you’re reflecting God’s image.


1. I’m not meaning to imply anything about the processes that God may, or may not, have used to effect his acts of creation. I’m only assuming that, as Christians, we believe God to be the ultimate cause.

Peter McLennan


  1. Hi Peter,
    Thanks for your thought provoking post. I was interested to hear you mention Philosophers' thinking because my husband loves Philosophy and in fact doing a degree on it just for the fun of it! Our home is filled with many books on Philosophy! :)

    I fully agree that we love to create because we are made by THE CREATOR in His image. I think you are dead right there! I am not so sure however about what you say that life is artificial in the sense that it is still not the perfect Eternal life we are all looking forward to. I would say that Eternal life exists in the here and now. I remember reading in NT Wright's writings about there being a thin curtain between God in heaven and the world as it is now. And that the two intersect. I loved the idea!

    True, life in the new heavens and the new earth will be very different to what it is today. On the other hand - there would be similarities too. And I believe Eternal life started for us when we became believers. So it is all happening now!

    Just sharing a few thoughts about it and feel free to disagree!:)

    Thanks very much for opening up some thinking about our creativity and how we reflect God in what we do. That is so encouraging! :)

  2. Philosophical indeed... Thanks for that, Peter.

    Anusha, what you wrote about eternal life is interesting. A pastor friend in the States has preached a whole series of sermons on the topic of heaven and what it will be like (following his son's sudden death in a car accident). In case you are interested, here is the link: Must warn you though - the sermons over there last for an hour, not the quick 20 - 30 minute versions we tend to get here :)

  3. Thanks for the link Margaret. Will have a look. I have been very inspired on NT Wright's teaching about Eternal life - 'Surprised by Joy' was a real eye opener. He's a NT scholar and have learnt heaps from his sermons and books. Thanks again. :)

  4. Peter, have you read Madeline L'Engle's 'Walking on Water'? I found her book really eye opening and helpful to think through the issues you raised regarding being made in the image of a crating God!

  5. Thank you for the feedback! :)

    Anusha, I think the issue behind the extent to which eternal life has already started for us is closely related to, if not synonymous with, that of pre/post/amillennialism. I hadn't fully thought through where I was going in that regard; thanks for extrapolating it!

    Margaret, perhaps those sermons address this; I shall listen while running.

    Penny, I haven't read that book. Since I can't stop creating, I should! Ironically, reading just makes me want to write (ie, create).

  6. Hi Peter, first of all, I love the picture. It makes me smile to imagine God in that situation so many of us find ourselves in. I like to imagine Him writing my life story as I'd write my fiction books, however, I'd imagine Him with a great beam on His face.
    I love to think of writers reflecting God's creative nature and agree that non-fiction and fiction both fit the bill.

  7. Peter, fascinating post! I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments and agree our creativity comes from being created in God's image. It would be nice if we could fully reflect His image by creating a perfect first draft :)

  8. I got a laugh out of that, Narelle! Alas, the kingdom has yet to be fully realised (at least in my drafts).

  9. It's encouraging to see that I'm not the only one who contemplates these things. Very interesting, Peter.