Darrow Miller and Friends

God the Builder: An Architect’s Captivating Discovery, part 2

Dome of the Florence Cathedral by Brunelleschi (1438) who transformed the role and status of the architect. Photo by Bruce Stokes on Flickr

In part 1 we wrote about architect Christopher Alexander who said that his half century as an architect and student of creation has persuaded him not only of God’s existence but of some vital link between God and architecture.

This is such a powerful reflection of the Cultural Commission given to mankind in the Garden of Eden. Our narrative begins in a garden and ends in a garden-city. It is a reflection of the Circle of Knowledge.

circle of knowledge indicates God as architect

About this Circle of Knowledge, we have written:

The circle is bound by creation, discovery, imitation, and glory. The framework begins with God, the Primary Creator. His creation is the primary Creation – reality.

Man, made imago Dei, has the ability to discover the Creator and the created order. He discovers through the three books: Scripture – revelation of Truth from God’s word, reason, and nature. From these human beings learn about God – the Primary Creator and the primary Creation.

Then man imitates what he has discovered. He manifests what he has learned about God and creation through his own imagination and creative activity. In this work, man functions as a co-creator with God, building from the foundations and principles He has established. Man’s (secondary) creation? Culture. David Scott summarizes: “Through scholarship, humankind discovers God’s design and forms this knowledge into an imitation of God’s design in the disciplines of the arts and sciences.”

As the secondary creator, man reveals the Primary Creator and His Creation. As man creates culture, God is glorified and the earth is filled with the knowledge of God. This circle of creation, discovery, imitation, and glory is the circle of knowledge.

Go here to read our full article.

While using slightly different language, Alexander points us to the relationship between God and architecture.

Taking architecture seriously leads us to the ­proper treatment of tiny details, to an understanding of the unfolding whole, and to an understanding—mystical in part—of the entity that underpins that wholeness. The path of architecture thus leads inexorably towards a renewed understanding of God.

For more of Alexander’s article go here.

Let us end this brief reflection by returning to Hebrews 11:8-10.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

The Vision of the Lord Directing Abraham to Count the Stars (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from 1860 Bible in Pictures)

Here we find the answer to the question, Where was Abraham going when he followed the voice of God to wander in the wilderness? (Genesis 12:1-4) Actually it is the question all of us answer in some way. What is the purpose of my life? Where am I going? What is the telos, the ultimate purpose, for all of life?

The call of faith is a call to follow the Voice, the call of the monotheistic God of the desert, Creator of the universe. God called Abraham to a place he did not know, a place he would eventually receive as an inheritance. He was to be a stranger in a foreign country that would eventually be the land of promise. He would be living as a wanderer in tents – the temporary dwellings of nomads.

But what was this wanderer-following-the-Voice seeking?

He was looking for a city, the City of God (Rev. 21), the Garden-City (Rev. 22: 1-6).

He was pulling up his tent, moving on, looking for a city with foundations, the end of his sojourn. He was longing to exchange his tent for a permanent dwelling place.

Is this not what we are all longing for, a permanent place of belonging, the place we have been made for – the Sehnsucht[1] … or rather the city that has been made for us?

The Creator of the universe is the Architect – Theo-Tech of the City of God, “theo,” the Greek word for God combined with “tech” from the Greek word for “craftsman.” God is the Craftsman, the Architect of the world.

God is the Builder of the City, the demiurge. In the entire New Testament, δημιουργὸς (dēmiourgos) this word is found only here in Hebrews 11. It means “artisan, builder, maker; one who labors for the public.”

Is it not fascinating that the Creator of the universe and the Architect and Builder of the New Jerusalem is laboring for the public good? He creates in this natural world and in the eternal city a space for human habitation, for human thriving.

And we are to do the same.

  • Darrow Miller

[1] “That insatiable longing and urgent desire that can be satisfied by nothing earthly. Sehnsucht is one consequence of our having been made in the image of God, and we can’t escape it.” The Sense of the Call by Marva Dawn

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).