Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
In the wider Christian world you will find varied views on Creation ranging from an historic six day creation to theistic evolution and everything in between. Certainly God as creator, creation ex nilo (out of nothing), the existence of Adam and Eve, a Fall, etc, are all primary views. “I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth” the Apostles Creed says. However, is the how as important? How did God create the world? This—in my view, strictly speaking—is a secondary matter; yet nevertheless so indispensable to the Gospel that it borders on being a primary matter and hence worthy of our attention.
The absence of an historic six-day creation has at least 5 implications for the Gospel:
1. Is it reliable?
Many treat Gen 1–11 as if it were pre-history, somehow in a different category to the rest of Genesis and in this way able to reckon Genesis with science. (Even though literarily those chapters are written in the same Hebrew narrative style; it’s all meant to be viewed as history).
When Jesus spoke about creation in relation to His teaching on divorce He (the Creator) cited it as if the narrative were true, “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female…” (Mt 19:4). If we want people to believe the rest of the Bible, including the Gospel, we must remain committed to the trustworthiness of its foundation.
2. The basis of the Gospel’s backbone (a biblical worldview).
Every story stands or falls upon the story that came before it. Genesis answers questions of origins and lays the foundation for biblical doctrines. If you remove the story’s foundation you jeopardize the story itself.
For example the 9 Cs have often been used to simplify the overarching story of the Bible:
However if Gen 1–11 (even 12) are not real events in some meaningful way then this is all you are left with:
The Gospel story then stands on shaking ground.
3. The impact on other fundamental beliefs.
The Creation account, as we’re seeing more and more in our culture, matters for other fundamental Christian beliefs, most notably gender and sexuality. Both Jesus and Paul root their theology of gender and sexuality in Genesis. Churches most impacted by cultural views on these subjects also tend to have the most fluidity when it comes to their views of Genesis.
4. The origin of death.
This is crucial. The Bible clearly says in multiple places that death came as a result of sin (e.g. Ro 6:23a). That can only be true if the narrative in Genesis is true. The moment you allow for an old earth you admit death before the Fall. The whole Gospel revolves around Jesus being the solution to death that resulted from the Fall that didn’t exist beforehand.
5. The first and second Adam.
There are other theories as to how Adam was really the first man, however, how is Paul to be taken at His word that Adam was the father of all peoples (Acts 17:26) if in fact he wasn’t. Add to this Christ as the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45, c.f. v. 21–22) who through faith becomes our federal head so we no longer suffer from the effects of the first Adam.
So questions of Creation are not simply a peripheral issue to be avoided because in our culture it happens to be controversial; with gentleness and respect we must insist upon its great Gospel significance.
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