More on ex nihilo

More on ex nihilo

In the Clementine Recognitions, Clement, recalling what Peter has taught him, says, "After these things when you were explaining the creation of the world, you said something about God's plan or decree, which he presented as his own will in the presence of all the first angels, and which laid down an eternal law for everyone; and you said that it provided two kingdoms, that is, the present and the future, and fixed the time for each, setting up a future day of judgment, which he himself determined, in which all things and spirits would be judged and sent to their proper place." Clement, paraphrasing Peter, then goes on to describe the creation of the earth, and concludes: "Then after he had commanded these living things to come forth from the earth and the waters, he made paradise, which he called a place of delights. And finally after all these things he made man, in whose behalf all had been prepared by him, and whose real nature (interna species) is more ancient [than they], and for his sake all were made and turned over to his supervision and for use as his habitation." Our Patrologia editor notes in a footnote to this passage that Justin is here referring to the belief of the early Fathers that the spirit of man is older than his body. This doctrine was very old in the church. According to the Apostolic Constitutions, one of the greatest errors common to the heretics is that "they do not believe that the spirit is immortal by nature," a position in which the churchmen of a later day were to concur wholeheartedly with the heretics.

Clement of Alexandria is dipping back into early Christian doctrine when he writes: "The Logos is not to be despised as something new, for even in Jeremiah the Lord says, 'Say not "I am too young," for before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee, and before thou camest forth from thy mother I sanctified thee.' It is possible that in speaking these things the prophet is referring to us, as being known to God as faithful before the foundation of the world. Only now we have become babes for the purpose of fulfilling the plan of God. According to this we are new-born as far as the calling and salvation are concerned."[1]


  1. Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd edition, (Vol. 3 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), Chapter 26, references silently removed—consult original for citations.