One month ago I had the opportunity to hike into the Grand Canyon with my beautiful wife. It was awesome (I actually meant to use that word according to its actual definition)! It simply inspires awe as you behold something so expansive, stretching into the distance in all directions as far as the eye can see.
Five years ago I had the opportunity to go out into the deep blue ocean – to the point where there is no visible land in any direction. We anchored, our little boat rocking atop rolling waves, directly above a coral reef, and we spent our day scuba diving. As soon I slipped into the water, I discovered how strange and varied this world we inhabit really is.
Five months ago, my first child was born. I have seen a lot of truly incredible things in this world; I have visited numerous countries, climbed mountains, walked through deserts, and explored underground caverns. But nothing in Creation could compare to the beauty and jaw-dropping amazement that the birth of another human inspires.
This is all creation. And it all declares the majesty of God.
The Bible tells us in Genesis, the book of beginnings, that God created the heavens and the earth. Sadly, in today’s world, this simple truth inspires a never ending litany of questions. Long before the massive, earth-shaking influence of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was felt there were a lot of Christians who debated exactly how and when God created everything we see. After Darwin’s shockwaves moved throughout the world, these debates became wars, the questions themselves became battle lines, and many believers became enemies.
There are numerous interpretations of how and when God created the world and everything in it, but those interpretations will not be our focus here. If you would like to get a basic, working knowledge of the different views, click here. What we are going to be discussing here is not how various people interpret the creation account. We are going to discuss what a Christian should believe about the creation account.
The Creation Account and the Basics of Belief
God created. The most basic truth which every Christian should believe about creation is that God is the one who did it. If God is not the agent who created everything out of nothing, then the language of the Bible is, at best, misleading or, at worst, misled. The universe is not eternal, and there is no Big Bang without someone (God) causing the clamor. God created everything ex nihilo. The Word is very clear on this.
God created all things good. The Bible makes clear that before the Fall, all things were made good. God did not create a defective Garden. He created a perfect garden with the injunction that man spread the goodness of the garden to all of the earth.
Adam and Eve were real people. The biblical language in the creation account makes clear that a special emphasis was placed upon God’s creation of Adam – God spoke everything into creation out of nothing until, the Bible tells us, God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground. The switch in language shows a change in emphasis. Then we see that Eve was formed from Adam. Again, special care was taken here, that was not taken as God spoke things into existence. The Genesis account makes clear that Adam and Eve were created differently than all other animals. Also, the New Testament makes clear that Adam was a real person. Luke’s genealogy links Jesus to Adam and Paul speaks about Adam’s death leading to death for all other humans. In order to stay faithful to the Bible, one must agree that Adam and Eve were in fact real people, specially made by God, and distinct from the rest of creation.
The Fall is real. The importance of the Fall to the rest of the Bible is impossible to overstate. The whole of the Bible is written upon the basis that we are fallen and in need of revelation leading to redemption. Paul assumes the Fall, perpetrated by Adam and Eve was a real event, with real consequences. The Fall helps us to make sense of evil in the world. It also paves the path for redemption, because it is impossible to believe in Christ without first understanding our need for Him.
No matter what you believe about the length, the frequency, or the actuality of the days of creation you have to believe these things. Battling it out over whether there were simply six consecutive days of action or if there was a creation followed by thousands of years of destruction leading up to six days of intermittent action serves only to delineate interpretational methodologies between believers, but the first four issues listed above have the power to delineate believers from non-believers.
To believe in Christ, we must first believe in the awesome, good God who created all things, including us. Then we must recognize that we are not good, because we have been tainted by the sins of a real person who fell from God’s grace in the garden long ago. Not only are we tainted by His sin, but we are prone to continue his rebellion in our lives on a daily basis. It is these truths, communicated in the creation narrative that cannot be left out. If an interpretation of Genesis 1-3 makes any one of these truths an impossibility, then know you are not looking at an interpretation, you are looking at a false gospel.
God created all things; he created the Grand Canyon, the deep blue ocean, and my son. All are the work of a good God, all are part of a once good/now fallen world, and all are waiting eagerly for the day of redemption.
[…] I attempt to provide what I believe to be a theological minimum for orthodox belief within the creation debate – what must you believe to be standing on the ground of […]