Christian theology begins with a creative process, which God himself executes and deems good. From there, filling and subduing his creation with the beneficial and the beautiful, particularly to bring glory to God, has been the calling of mankind.
Scripture teaches us that we play a vital function, from start to finish, as God’s creative stewards who are actively continuing his work. That call reaches back in time to the very first humans and extends to the end of history when the Lord will make “all things new.”
Humans bear the image of God, but we’re also deeply marred by sin’s curse. Thus, the work of our hands is simultaneously redemptive and destructive. That unique juxtaposition explains well the human condition but also forecasts that not everything we make will be good, as was the original creation.
Nonetheless, there is hope that, when we create in the image of God and for his glory, the work of our hands has redemptive power. While it can’t bring about heaven on earth, it can contribute eternally to the new heavens and new earth that Christ’s reign promises to bring about.
Scripture tells us that it all began in a garden and will end in a grand city. That importance is poetically etched in my mind as a shadowy outline of the wild foliage of an untamed garden, which slowly fades into the skyscrapers of a modern cityscape. By moving the world further toward the city lights, people’s lives improve beyond that of mere survival. They engage with beauty and truth, discover pieces of God’s world that weren’t accessible yesterday, are unified without barriers of geography and are brought together by commerce and cultivation.
The lights are being turned on across the globe, and that garden-turned-city starts to look a little bit more like home. The lush Garden of Eden, in part through human action and cultivation in God’s image, will become a magnificent city of light.
How Rand And I View Skyscrapers Differently
I first properly understood this truth during my freshman year of college. During that same time, I also read four of Ayn Rand’s books, We the Living, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and The Night of January. Like many libertarian Christians, I found much of Rand’s philosophy compelling and complementary to my faith, but I had to wrestle with how her ideas conflicted in serious ways with scripture.
I marvel at skyscrapers, and so does Ayn Rand. Her view from atop the triple-digit floor celebrates human potential and ambition with powerful heroines capable of ruling over business empires. She has crafted the characters to be mini-gods and depicts the consequences of punishing the productive.
Yet Rand’s objectivism is staunchly opposed to “mysticism,” by which she means religion or a belief in the supernatural. Rand’s universe leaves no space for anything that exists above and beyond it. It’s as if there is no headspace above her skyscraper with the capacity to build higher yet. There is nothing above a human being and his own values, allowing for no divine spark.
This leaves out an important piece of the puzzle, which is the source of man’s unique reason and creative faculties. It is not in spite of God that we create, but rather we build because his attributes dwell within us and motivate us to create bridges, skyscrapers, business empires, works of art, poetry, music, and every other worthy endeavor.
As a part of our humanity, we are called to create things as lovely and diverse as the resources we have at our disposal. In First Corinthians 10:31, Paul tells us to “do all to the glory of God,” even eating and drinking. If the way we eat our food can bring God glory, then surely the way we create in his image is an opportunity for worship.
Stopping at the creation misses the Creator who stands behind it and proclaims that it is good.
Rand’s celebration of human potential that first drew me into libertarianism soon became a threat to my burgeoning libertarian beliefs. Her opposition towards “mysticism” caused me to part ways with her. However, after years of wrestling, I still have a cautious respect for Rand.
My resulting belief system permits me to stand on the top floor of a skyscraper and admire endless miles of creation and achievements, which I can celebrate because of what they inspire: a glimmer of the Eternal City and of its King.
Editor’s note: Leah Hughey is the co-author of Called to Freedom: Why You Can Be Christian and Libertarian, from which this post was adapted. The audiobook version is now available! Download here and start listening today!