Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Plain Reading of the Text (last part)...

So hopefully we have come to understand that we have a responsibility to put forth some effort to understand the author's intentions of the text we are reading. In so doing we will have to take into account the literary genre, the cultural settings, the author, the intended audience, etc. By taking a quick look at the creation account in Genesis 1 we see that it's genre is a narrative (not necessarily an historical narrative), the author is accepted to be Moses, he was writing to the Israelites of his time, they had just left 400 years of domination by an Egyptian culture, and so on. Therefore, the conclusion we come to is that the creation account was intended to set a foundation for the Israelites on just who God is and how He relates to the created order. Is this important? I think it is. Being an Old-Earth Creationist I am well aware of the debate that exists among Christians regarding the age of the Universe and / or the time span of the creation account. Yet I still can't get away from the fact that we may be missing the BIG IDEA of the account - namely that God is the Creator. Is this important? YES! Few people realize how unique the Genesis account of creation truly is. Virtually all other explanations of how the universe, the earth, and life were created rely on a closed system; that is, they typically explain the events in terms of pre-existing ideas. For example, think of any variety of Native American accounts of creation. Krista Bontrager at Reasons to Believe gave a presentation titled, The Gods of Other Religions, at their Who is the Designer? conference last June. In it she touched on the aspect of other creation stories. For the Maidu Indians we have the Water-Diver Myth: "In the beginning, all was dark. There was water everywhere. Then a raft came from the north, floating on the water. There were just two in the raft. They were Turtle and Pehe-ipe." The account goes on to describe how dry land was formed by the bit of dirt underneath the fingernails of the turtle. Bontrager comments on the common aspects found in these types of creation myths: 1) they rely on what we already know about the natural realm to account for the origin of the natural realm, 2) they cannot account for a transcendent beginning of the universe. Yet the Genesis creation account stands alone in its description of where we came from. From the first verse we are told who did the creating and that He exists outside the created realm. Genesis 1:1 (all NET) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Those few words tell us: 1) that God created the heavens and the earth (or "the entire universe" as the Hebrew phrase in this context is understood) and, 2) that there was a beginning to the created order. A "therefore" from the first verse would be that God must exist outside the created order we exist in since He created it and it had a beginning. That is just a glimpse of the true importance of the creation account in Genesis for, as history has shown us, humans tend towards worshipping the natural realm. Indeed what are the words of Paul in Romans? Romans 1:18-25 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (emphasis added) This is not a point that should be lost on us 21st century believers. Whether one gravitates towards New Age spirituality or is a confirmed believer in Naturalism we see a worship of the creation rather than the Creator. Would a plain reading of the text in Genesis have given us this insight?

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