PDA

View Full Version : Genesis 1-3



coldfire136
Dec 11th 2007, 11:45 PM
I have been reading the thread having to do with whether stories in the Bible are real stories or simply good stories that have meaning for our lives, but my thoughts were too focused for that thread. The argument presented here is one that talks about the historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis, something I am very passionate about.

The Agnostic View of Genesis 1-3
I want to lay out what I believe clearly, so that people do not think I am attempting to bait them into an argument. I am not sure whether the first three chapters of Genesis actually happened. I believe that there is truth in the first three chapters of Genesis--really profound truth--with implications for our lives today, but I believe that people MISS the point when arguing over its historicity. It really doesn't matter if the events actually happened, and I don't think this is the way the original authors thought about the story.

Genesis and Exodus: Creation out of Order
The creation stories within Genesis are about the order of the universe, and God's divine hand in the ordering of the tohu vabohu (chaos) of the world. We see the destruction of order during the ten plagues when God shows his power over the anti-God known as Pharaoh. God destroys Pharoah's creation to show he is infinitely more powerful that others in the world. The Jews believe in a God who is interested in the world and structured the original universe to be a good universe in constant communion with him.

Truth in the Genesis Text
I am also not sure we need to believe that the incident with the serpent ever really occurred in history as well. Why do I make such an audacious claim? Because we see the effects of human choices everyday, when man chooses himself over God. In our own lives, we see how we are tricked into thinking other things are better than God. The story only affirms the truth that is already occurring in our lives. The truth of our everyday lives only make the truth in Genesis more true. And there is power in the story because it reminds of what life might be like if we allowed ourselves to be in communion with God, and did not ever even think of choosing a path other than the Torah of Yahweh.

Conclusion
I believe that Christians would do well to take a view that says, "We don't know whether or not the stories in Genesis 1-3 actually happened, and frankly, we don't care if they actually happened. They are true for us because we see that story in our own lives. We are living examples of the story, and are, as a result, in the need of God's grace."

9Marksfan
Dec 12th 2007, 12:49 AM
I have been reading the thread having to do with whether stories in the Bible are real stories or simply good stories that have meaning for our lives, but my thoughts were too focused for that thread. The argument presented here is one that talks about the historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis, something I am very passionate about.

The Agnostic View of Genesis 1-3
I want to lay out what I believe clearly, so that people do not think I am attempting to bait them into an argument. I am not sure whether the first three chapters of Genesis actually happened. I believe that there is truth in the first three chapters of Genesis--really profound truth--with implications for our lives today, but I believe that people MISS the point when arguing over its historicity. It really doesn't matter if the events actually happened, and I don't think this is the way the original authors thought about the story.

Genesis and Exodus: Creation out of Order
The creation stories within Genesis are about the order of the universe, and God's divine hand in the ordering of the tohu vabohu (chaos) of the world. We see the destruction of order during the ten plagues when God shows his power over the anti-God known as Pharaoh. God destroys Pharoah's creation to show he is infinitely more powerful that others in the world. The Jews believe in a God who is interested in the world and structured the original universe to be a good universe in constant communion with him.

Truth in the Genesis Text
I am also not sure we need to believe that the incident with the serpent ever really occurred in history as well. Why do I make such an audacious claim? Because we see the effects of human choices everyday, when man chooses himself over God. In our own lives, we see how we are tricked into thinking other things are better than God. The story only affirms the truth that is already occurring in our lives. The truth of our everyday lives only make the truth in Genesis more true. And there is power in the story because it reminds of what life might be like if we allowed ourselves to be in communion with God, and did not ever even think of choosing a path other than the Torah of Yahweh.

Conclusion
I believe that Christians would do well to take a view that says, "We don't know whether or not the stories in Genesis 1-3 actually happened, and frankly, we don't care if they actually happened. They are true for us because we see that story in our own lives. We are living examples of the story, and are, as a result, in the need of God's grace."


While the principles you state may well be true, they can only be a secondary meaning from the clearly historical narrative of the entire book of Genesis.

Without a literal fall and a literal Adam, the entire doctrine of redemption and meaning of a sin-bearinbg saviour collapses entirely.

Why are you uncomfortable with accepting Gen 1-3 as literal truth?

Why are you advocating unbelief on a Bible Forum? What would be your purpose?

Scruffy Kid
Dec 12th 2007, 01:26 AM
Dear coldfire136,
Welcome to Bibleforums! :hug:
It's great to have you here!! :pp :pp :pp


Passionate about Genesis

I, also, am passionate about the book of Genesis. It forms much of the important foundation of Christian (and Jewish) faith! I love this book, and think it teaches us many things as we study it. I'm delighted to find others who are interested in the book of Genesis!!

In my view, much of what Genesis teaches, theologically, is not affected by a wide range of assumptions about whether Gen. 1-11 is intended as a philosophical (or poetic) account of Creation, God's making of humankind, our Fall, and the development of human society, or as an exact history (or historical-geological-biological account of what happened. What I think is very important for Christians to do is to study the Genesis texts carefully; and IMO this is often hindered by unnecessary and unfruitful debates about whether the texts are to be understood in the manner that some describe as "literal".

In fact, a month or so ago I started a thread on this very subject. We had a variety of people posting on that thread, including people who (from their posts in other threads) believe in a scientific cosmology, and those who (from their posts in other threads) believe in a 6-24hour-day creation, and those who -- like me -- aren't real interested in discussing the age of rocks in any thread. My thread took as its starting point that we would not discuss the question of whether or not the text was intended "literally", but instead would try to understand what it is teaching us. Unfortunately, after a while, that petered out. But I'd love to start it up again. Maybe you could come join in!


Care in stating what is, and what is not,
adiaphora (matters indifferent)

However, I wouldn't put things just as you put them in your post here, myself. You say "I am not sure whether the first three chapters of Genesis actually happened. I believe that there is truth in the first three chapters of Genesis--really profound truth--with implications for our lives today, but I believe that people MISS the point when arguing over its historicity. It really doesn't matter if the events actually happened." I certainly agree that people arguing over what you call the historicity of Genesis typically miss the point.

But I couldn't say "I am not sure whether the first three chapters of Genesis actually happened." I'm absolutely confident that God created the heavens of the earth, from nothing, by his word, ex nihilo (that is, not out of any pre-existing substance, but simply bringing into being that which -- prior to his calling it into being -- was not, that is, did not exist). This is what the Genesis 1 account clearly teaches, IMO. I think that believing this is crucial, and has shaped the entire of Jewish and Christian civilization in creative, life-giving ways.

What seems to me to be adiaphora -- an indifferent matter without much importance for the Christian faith -- is the details of just how God did this. Is the Genesis 1 account of creation -- which I believe actually happened -- endeavoring to give us something like a mechanic's blueprint, or like a description of what would have been captured on a videorecorder, if someone had stood by and filmed the creation, or is the Genesis 1 account more like a poetic narrative which gives the significance of what God did in creation, and orders its narrative to bring that significance to our attention, without trying to reproduce the exact sequence and mechanism by which God brought all things into being.

Similarly, you doubt whether we need believe "that the incident with the serpent ever really occurred in history." Again, that's not how I'd put it. I think that humankind was indeed created in the image of God, unblemished, and that through our disobedience -- and specifically through our disbelief, rebellion, and attempt to put ourselves in God's place -- we radically wrecked human nature. This, I think, the Genesis account clearly teaches, and it's very important to what God reveals to us, and to what we need to know.

Moreover, I think that that account indicates that we had help in falling from grace: that an evil being of great subtlety, power, and malice -- generally referred to as Satan -- tempted our first parents, and lured them into their terrible mistake. These things have, I believe, been believed by Christians in all ages; and (like Vincent of Lerin) I accept as normative for the Christian faith what has been believed "always, everywhere, and by everyone." But to confidently assert that such things happened -- "that the incident with the serpent happened" is, IMO, an entirely different matter than supposing that the garden, the tree, the serpent, the apple, the aprons of leaves, or the ground that was cursed must refer to physical objects. Whether or not one believes that these are intended by the Genesis 3 text as physical objects is, in my view, adiaphora: it makes no difference to the message that God is revealing to us in these chapters. Those who suppose that these are pictorial-narrative representations of definite and well-defined spiritual realities, and those who take it as a "literal" narrative come to the very same theological and practical conclusions, IMO.

Thus, I am very sympathetic to your desire to read Genesis 1-11 without getting wrapped up in debates or even speculations over whether these texts are to be read as precise modern-style history, videotapes of the past so to speak. But I am also concerned that our reading of Genesis 1-11 not proceed in a way that abstracts from the essential teachings of the text, or makes them merely subjective accounts of our perennial human struggles. And I am sympathetic with those who are wary of loosening up our reading of Genesis.


Theological hazards of Modern Times

In thinking about the dialogue situation that is involved in trying to think through the teaching of Genesis, I think one also has to consider various hazards that deeply and rightly concern many who hold conservative views about the Genesis text.

There is a world out there of liberalizing, muddleheaded, faith-revising folks -- not a few of them clergy and church leaders or biblical scholars and theologians -- who aim to change the basic meaning of the biblical narrative.
To this project I bear utter and implacable hostility: those who do this are tearing apart the basic documents of faith, and wilfully distorting the message of the Bible, IMO. (May God save this wicked tribe from the consequences of their wrongful deeds, and bring them back to faith!) This project is often conducted, consciously or unconsciously, in the guise of taking a different reading of basic documents of faith, such as the narratives of the incarnation, the resurrection, or the creation and fall.

Thus is a church I attended overseas there was a chap, actually a literary scholar, who wanted to argue that the "fall" was a "fall upward" to a higher state of consciousness, and to attainment of knowledge, where before humanity was in ignorance. What utter nonsense! In addition to changing the vital and central message about humanity and God, and our need for Christ's redemption, this is an utter misreading of what the text could possibly be saying. So how could a trained literary scholar come up with such a silly interpretation? IMO, it's because there are all kinds of philosophies that want to get away from the uncomfortable parts of the Christian faith, and once central teaching authority has decayed, it's easy to mix the Christian faith with all kinds of pagan, non-christian, or semi-Christian nonsense.

Because we live in an age when Christian belief is under attack from all sides, and from within the Church or Christian circles as well as from without, people who hold to a biblical faith are understandably wary of allowing deviation from the faith as they received it and understand it. A just intuition leads them to guard the faith, and that in turn makes them cautious about allowing re-interpretation of basic theologically central texts such as those of the early chapters of Genesis.


In closing

Thanks for starting this thread.

I'd love to have both you, and those who may disagree with you, put aside differences and help me learn to read Genesis more carefully and in ways that will inform our hearts and lead us closer to God and to our Lord jesus Christ!!

To that end, I give a couple of quotes from posts in my Genesis thread, hoping that both you and others will come over and help me try to learn from the Genesis text as we discuss it together (without debating whether or not it is "literal")

In friendship,
Scruffy Kid




Learning together, by God's grace, from Genesis

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth!

This is so wonderful: a foundational truth, that changes our whole way of looking at life. The New Testament writers refer explicitly to this truth, both by itself and in reference to Christ. But more than that, this great truth forms the unique presupposition of the entire understanding of God in Judaism and Christianity. ...


The Book of Genesis

The book of Genesis is foundation for our faith! It contains the beginning of the story of salvation (salvation-history, heil-gesichte) from the calling of Israel to be his people, through the (Gen. 12) call of Abraham, father of faith. And this call is a response to the understanding of God's creative goodness (Gen 1 & 2), and of humanity's terrible fall from the grace in which God originally made us (Gen. 3 & 4).

I love the book of Genesis. The whole thing. But perhaps more than anything else the first four chapters. I think about it and study it all the time. It repays the closest study; it tells us of our origins, God's purpose, our brokenness, God's redemptive love, and sets an important foundation for all our faith!! Study of these verses is not just academic study: as we come closer to God's words here, they educate the heart, they help me to follow God more closely, they open my heart to His grace. And that is what I want from Bible study: to know God, and to have Him change me, transform me.

God's words are not for scholars, not for a few, but for each of us. Each of us can read and reread these basic, simple stories; pause over each word, ponder what God says to us, share together, and build one another up.

Jesus thanks the Father that these things are not for the wise and learned, but are "revealed to babes." (Mt. 11:25, Lk 10:21). Moses tells us to read and reread these words, to discuss them with neighbors on the front porch, and with the family over dinner, and with people of the city in the city gates. (e.g. Deut. 11:18-21) These are words for us to constantly discuss and think about!!


About this thread:
Let God be Glorified in His Word!!

This thread is a spin-off from a thread in controversial forums. There, as so often, people get into heated debates about the age of the earth, evolution, and all that. THIS THREAD IS NOT FOR THAT PURPOSE. There are a zillion threads in which that happens. Instead, this thread is for the purpose of digging into the Genesis text, reading it closely, loving God's word, and letting it sink into our lives.

Let me repeat. THIS THREAD IS FOR READING GENESIS CLOSELY AND LOVINGLY, LEARNING FROM IT TOGETHER, AND LETTING THE TEXT ILLUMINATE OUR HEARTS AND MINDS. Some on this thread will believe that the genesis text is fully compatible with the theories of the big bang, and of evolution. Some actually embrace those theories. Some will think that Genesis 1 teaches a 6 day 24hr creation. We're not going to discuss or argue about all that. Rather, we want to look at the text and see what it teaches us about God's purposes and ways. Perhaps as we share a common love of God's Holy Word, we will come to love one another, as well as God, and His Holy Word, more closely, despite some of the theological or interpretive differences which we may, still, continue to hold strongly.

Please join in this common project of growing in faith and love of God through dwelling lovingly upon his Word.

By His grace, and by the Holy Spirit dwelling among us as sisters and brothers, we may draw closer to Him, that He may draw close to us, strengthen us, and heal us!

This thread is here because I am interested in discussing Genesis -- especially Genesis 1-12 -- which I think has vital teaching foundational to our understanding as Christians.

The thread is not for the purpose of debating the age of the earth, or the theory of evolution. Please don't do that. Instead, it is so that all of us -- regardless of what we believe on those topics -- can carefully read the Genesis text and try to learn things that it is teaching us. ...
Please share your observations!!

Scruffy Kid
Dec 12th 2007, 01:38 AM
Hi 9Marksfan!
Welcome to Bibleforums! :hug:
It's great to have you here!! :pp :pp :pp

I'd like to suggest that you have misunderstood coldfire's intention in his post. IMO coldfire is not "advocating unbelief" -- rather, coldfire is interested in having Christian friends with whom to discuss the immensely important texts in Genesis, but wants to be honest about the standpoint from which he or she reads those texts. Perhaps it would be best not to jump to conclusions about other people's motivations

To be honest, I wish I could find as much interest in Genesis from those who think it is important to read Genesis "literally": in my experience those who say they are adamant about reading Genesis literally really don't want to read it at all. They want to assert that it is literal, and then forget about it.
No doubt there may be those of that persuasion who actually are interested in what the Bible says in Genesis 1-3; I just haven't found many who want to discuss those chapters.

I think it is possible to discuss the meaning of the text and learn a lot -- a lot of what God is teaching us there -- without getting into a discussion of whether the text is intended "literally" or not, although I do think that several of the expressions coldfire used in his or her post were somewhat unfortunate and distracting -- as I noted in my post above.

I think it's important try to learn from one another, and love one another, as we try to undertstand more accurately what God is saying to us in the Bible!
I hope we can continue to discuss in that spirit.

In friendship, :)
Scruffy Kid

Brother Mark
Dec 12th 2007, 01:39 AM
Without getting too involved... I believe Genesis is correct literally. But if that is all we glean from it, we have missed a more important truth than the creation story.

Scruffy Kid
Dec 12th 2007, 01:46 AM
... if that is all we glean from it, we have missed a more important truth than the creation story.True indeed!

Thus I urge all who love the Genesis text, or feel God is speaking important things to us through it, to join in looking closely and carefully at what the text says, rather than (or, if need be, as well as) debating whether or not it is "literal".

Blessings,
Scruff

9Marksfan
Dec 12th 2007, 02:16 AM
Without getting too involved... I believe Genesis is correct literally. But if that is all we glean from it, we have missed a more important truth than the creation story.

Well said, BM! :pp:pp:pp

9Marksfan
Dec 12th 2007, 02:21 AM
Hi 9Marksfan!
Welcome to Bibleforums! :hug:
It's great to have you here!! :pp :pp :pp

I'd like to suggest that you have misunderstood coldfire's intention in his post. IMO coldfire is not "advocating unbelief" -- rather, coldfire is interested in having Christian friends with whom to discuss the immensely important texts in Genesis, but wants to be honest about the standpoint from which he or she reads those texts. Perhaps it would be best not to jump to conclusions about other people's motivations

To be honest, I wish I could find as much interest in Genesis from those who think it is important to read Genesis "literally": in my experience those who say they are adamant about reading Genesis literally really don't want to read it at all. They want to assert that it is literal, and then forget about it.
No doubt there may be those of that persuasion who actually are interested in what the Bible says in Genesis 1-3; I just haven't found many who want to discuss those chapters.

I think it is possible to discuss the meaning of the text and learn a lot -- a lot of what God is teaching us there -- without getting into a discussion of whether the text is intended "literally" or not, although I do think that several of the expressions coldfire used in his or her post were somewhat unfortunate and distracting -- as I noted in my post above.

I think it's important try to learn from one another, and love one another, as we try to undertstand more accurately what God is saying to us in the Bible!
I hope we can continue to discuss in that spirit.

In friendship, :)
Scruffy Kid

OK, fair points, SK - we do need to speak the truth in love but unless we accept that Gen 1-3 ARE literal, we lose MOST of what it is teaching!

Just to let you and coldfire know - I believed as a saved Christian for nearly 14 years that the creation account wasn't literal - then I heard a man called Carl Wieland (now head of Creation Ministries International) explain how the creation account could in fact be true - it was like getting saved all over again! My Christian life was revolutionised and I could not believe I had been missing out on so much understanding and truth in my Christian life!

If we're to have confidence in the truth of the bible, we need to have confidence from the very first verse! Otherwise we'll take an evolutionary worldview, which has no basis in the Word of God!

coldfire136
Dec 12th 2007, 02:21 AM
While the principles you state may well be true, they can only be a secondary meaning from the clearly historical narrative of the entire book of Genesis.

I would argue the other way around. The historicity of the text is secondary to the meaning of the text.



Why are you uncomfortable with accepting Gen 1-3 as literal truth?

I think you may have misunderstood me. I am uncomfortable with making any leaps in logic about any texts in the bible. I am comfortable with the idea that it may have happened, but I am also comfortable with the idea that it was a story designed to portray a larger truth about ancient near eastern society (and also, in turn, our society).

Western Christianity has built is premise from those such as Augustine who, in turn, relied much on Aristotle's logic. Read some of the Eastern Orthodox literature and you will find they take a much more mystical understanding of the Bible.


Why are you advocating unbelief on a Bible Forum? What would be your purpose?

I do not wish to get into an argument here other than to say I am not arguing for unbelief. I belief the texts themselves are true, but that if science could somehow prove without a doubt that the world was created in a way other than what the Bible says I would not lose my faith because the text is about MORE than the way the world was created. The text is speaking of the nature of the world.

Kahtar
Dec 12th 2007, 03:40 AM
I view Genesis, and the entire Word, as 'like a diamond'. That is, it has a visable facet, but if we examine it from a slightly different direction, we see another equally true facet. As a diamond has many facets, but remains one rock, so the Word has various facets, ie 'literal, textual meaning', 'allegorical meaning', 'spiritual meaning', etc., none of which are 'wrong', you see, because it is all the same word, the same Rock.
Kinda like the four living creatures that Ezekiel saw, each having four faces, eagle, lion, ox, and man, but remaining a single creature.
So is one facet of greater import than another? I think not. I think they are all equally important, each for it's own time.

watchinginawe
Dec 12th 2007, 03:58 AM
To be honest, I wish I could find as much interest in Genesis from those who think it is important to read Genesis "literally": in my experience those who say they are adamant about reading Genesis literally really don't want to read it at all. They want to assert that it is literal, and then forget about it. I don't see how approaching the subject with this view really helps things. Good thing we literalists aren't generally thin skinned. :lol:

watchinginawe
Dec 12th 2007, 04:20 AM
I would argue the other way around. The historicity of the text is secondary to the meaning of the text. That goes without saying coldfire. You started by suggesting:
It really doesn't matter if the events actually happened, and I don't think this is the way the original authors thought about the story. I think it matters if the events actually happened, if they actually happened. It is worthy to at the least consider the possibility.
I think you may have misunderstood me. I am uncomfortable with making any leaps in logic about any texts in the bible. I am comfortable with the idea that it may have happened, but I am also comfortable with the idea that it was a story designed to portray a larger truth about ancient near eastern society (and also, in turn, our society). I can understand how you can view it this way. However, in your opening post you talk about the Exodus in a historical context, as if it actually happened. There wasn't even a pause to offer, "if it really happened". Indeed, your whole thread suggests to only look at the first 3 chapters of Genesis in this light. Why stop there? (For example, Scruff suggests it should be Genesis 1 - 11)
Conclusion
I believe that Christians would do well to take a view that says, "We don't know whether or not the stories in Genesis 1-3 actually happened, and frankly, we don't care if they actually happened. They are true for us because we see that story in our own lives. We are living examples of the story, and are, as a result, in the need of God's grace." This is what caused me to post. I just can't agree that Christians that take the Genesis account literally should just abandon their beliefs and do well to say "we just don't know and frankly we just don't care". I'm all for "big tent" Christianity, but there isn't much difference in your statment than that of a strict creationist demanding that literal interpretation is the only Christian view.
I do not wish to get into an argument here other than to say I am not arguing for unbelief. I belief the texts themselves are true, but that if science could somehow prove without a doubt that the world was created in a way other than what the Bible says I would not lose my faith because the text is about MORE than the way the world was created. The text is speaking of the nature of the world. I agree, no use in arguing. Faith in Jesus Christ is my foundation. That foundation can not be shook. Science can't take away my faith. Notwithstanding, that doesn't prevent me from looking at Genesis in a literal context.

God Bless!

Scruffy Kid
Dec 12th 2007, 04:31 AM
To be honest, I wish I could find as much interest in Genesis from those who think it is important to read Genesis "literally": in my experience those who say they are adamant about reading Genesis literally really don't want to read it at all. They want to assert that it is literal, and then forget about it.I don't see how approaching the subject with this view really helps things. Good thing we literalists aren't generally thin skinned. :lol:WIA,
Maybe you misunderstood me. I wasn't criticizing the views of those who take the text "literally" -- I was complaining about the fact that pleas, requests, challenges, reminders, and every other device I can think of doesn't get people who constantly make a fuss about the literal meaning to join me when I have a thread trying to look at the Genesis text. Really. I've tried for years to get folks here -- mostly folks who keep saying how much the literal meaning matters to them -- to actually read the Genesis text with me, and I can never get anyone who will bother to look at the text for more than one or two posts.

... So if you want to change my mind ... come and comment on the Genesis thread!!


I think it matters if the events actually happened, if they actually happened.BTW, don't confuse my point of view with that expressed by coldfire. While I don't think it matters whether the book of Jonah describes actual events or not, that is not my view about Genesis 1-3. I think those events happened; but I don't think the way they are described in Genesis 1-3 concentrates on the mechanics: I think it gives a theoretical account, a philosophical analysis if you like, of those events, and that therefore the events described are not incompatible with standard scientific accounts. That view on my part arises as much from the nature of the texts in Genesis as it does from extra-textual considerations (e.g. what appear to be the scientific conclusions).

Also, you should understand that my principle concerns in regard to helping people to see that one can believe Genesis and the standard scientific accounts is pastoral. I deal with dozens of young people for whom disbelieving the scientific accounts is not a possible thing for them to do: they simply cannot believe that these accounts are wrong. Those who manage to see that this need not conflict with Christian faith generally remain Christian or, if originally non-Christian, often become Christian. Those who think there's an inescapable incompatibility lose their faith, or don't convert. This is true of kids at Ivy leagues, at Christian colleges, and lots of other places in my (fairly extensive) experience.

Really, I'm not arguing, and never do, against a YEC position. I'm only arguing not to keep people away from faith in Christ by making this seem to people who can't believe it a non-negotiable part of the gospel, which (IMO) it clearly is not.

Love in Christ, to all
Scruff

watchinginawe
Dec 12th 2007, 04:53 AM
Maybe you misunderstood me. I wasn't criticizing the views of those who take the text "literally" -- I was complaining about the fact that pleas, requests, challenges, reminders, and every other device I can think of doesn't get people who constantly make a fuss about the literal meaning to join me when I have a thread trying to look at the Genesis text. Really. I've tried for years to get folks here -- mostly folks who keep saying how much the literal meaning matters to them -- to actually read the Genesis text with me, and I can never get anyone who will bother to look at the text for more than one or two posts.Scruff, perhaps it is because that you seem (as of late) to come across as hostile to the literalist's view of Genesis. That is all I was pointing out. From your Original Post in the thread:
What I think is very important for Christians to do is to study the Genesis texts carefully; and IMO this is often hindered by unnecessary and unfruitful debates about whether the texts are to be understood in the manner that some describe as "literal". A literalist isn't going to find much common ground when their view is disqualified as unnecessary and unfruitful or otherwise contentious. I understand that you refer to the debate as such, but that debate is brought forth from the tension between two viewpoints. If someone is passionate about Genesis as a literalist, they are going to lose interest in a discussion that finds that view as unneccesary. :2cents:

God Bless!

Scruffy Kid
Dec 12th 2007, 06:28 AM
Maybe so, but I just don't see it.

I don't think I'm hostile toward literalists or non-literalists.

I try to avoid siding with either side of that debate.

I'll believe there's someone on the board interested in Genesis when it becomes possible to have a sustained discussion about the text. It hasn't happened, though I've tried for years. That was what my remark was about; not literalists or non-literalists.

coldfire136
Dec 12th 2007, 07:58 AM
It is worthy to at the least consider the possibility.

The possibility is really only an "argument." Think about it. You can't prove that either creation happened literally the way Genesis describes it or prove that macroevolution happened from the big bang. We can't go back and see for ourselves, so what are we going to consider? Such considerations are beyond the text.


Why stop there?

I never said we should stop there. I believe the events in Egypt probably did happen, but more important than the events themselves is the idea behind the events. I know that the slippery slope then tends towards the historical Jesus, and whether or not Jesus existed (probably a though for another day), but I am going to stick to my guns.

One famous Bible scholar suggested, "The Road to Emmaus did not happen, the Road to Emmaus is happening everyday." And this is the view I take. The thing that makes the Emmaus story true is that it happens to us everyday. The Bible becomes the word when we allow it to affect our everyday lives.

I would like to repeat, as Scruffy already has, that our views are not the same (although similar). I am not concerned with whether what happened in the text actually happened, I am concerned with what the text means for our lives. It is a beautiful text that describes our relationship to God. I also want to state that I do not speak for the majority of people on this board. I admit that I am on the fringes of the Christian worldview (although I do not think they would cast me out of the fold for it).

jeffweeder
Dec 12th 2007, 08:40 AM
I am not concerned with whether what happened in the text actually happened, I am concerned with what the text means for our lives.


The bible deals with real peoples actions , and consequences of human decision.

We know what it should mean for our lives, if we believe that they really happened to real people.

Take Joseph---did he really rule Egypt, was he really sold into slavery- Did moses carry his bones back to the promised land-did the red sea part, did God descend on a mountain in arabia.
The story of the bible is held together by the people that God chose, so where do we draw the line in regards to taking something of their history as not literal.?


edit-: well the evidence for these things above being literal, is very favorable.
Dont they still celebrate their history as a literal thing, like passover...
The geneology from Adam suggests that we should take it literally.

Duane Morse
Dec 12th 2007, 10:37 AM
To my mind, it is laid out in an historical fashion - so that is how I will interpret it.

There would be no need, after all, to detail the years - if the years were not an historical account from the time of the beginning.

I know you only include Genesis 1-3 in this thread, but it seems plain to me that chapter 4 follows chapter 3 in a chronological order.

And if that is the case, then it follows that chapter 5 proceeds chapter 4.

There is even the link of Seth and Enos between 4 and 5 that supports this.
Ge 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
Ge 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

Ge 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
Ge 5:2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
Ge 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
Ge 5:4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:
Ge 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
Ge 5:6 And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos:


There does seem to be a 'break' between Genesis 2:4 and 2:5 - which some see as two separate accounts of the creation (in overall, or just that of Man).

Personally, I see it as the one being an overall account of the entire Creation (Alpha thru Omega) vs. a more detailed account of a particular 'day' of the Creation as the other (a mere chapter in the Book).

Be that as it may, from Genesis 2:5 to the end of Revelation is, as far as I can determine, a continuous and linear progression in time.


If it were just a bunch of stories being told, well then, they may as well be Hansel and Gretel.

For then, there is no true Truth, but what we make in fairy tales.

watchinginawe
Dec 12th 2007, 01:14 PM
The possibility is really only an "argument." Think about it. You can't prove that either creation happened literally the way Genesis describes it or prove that macroevolution happened from the big bang. We can't go back and see for ourselves, so what are we going to consider? Such considerations are beyond the text. The possibility that Genesis conveys a literal creation is not just an "arguement"; studying the Bible with a lens of divine inspiration, completeness, non-contradiction, context, etc. are all useful paradigms. We can't go back when the account was written but we include it in the Holy Bible. What process do you use to consider Genesis worthy of study in the first place that doesn't bring forth an "arguement"?
I never said we should stop there. I believe the events in Egypt probably did happen, but more important than the events themselves is the idea behind the events.The ideas are conveyed by the events. The events give the ideas authenticity. Thus we even have observances ordained to pass on the testimony of the events from generation to generation. God commands Moses to preserve the testimony of the events in a very real and elaborate manner so that future generations would not forget or credit exageration. The ideas can't always stand regardless if the events portrayed are only cunningly devised fables.
I know that the slippery slope then tends towards the historical Jesus, and whether or not Jesus existed (probably a though for another day), but I am going to stick to my guns.

One famous Bible scholar suggested, "The Road to Emmaus did not happen, the Road to Emmaus is happening everyday." And this is the view I take. The thing that makes the Emmaus story true is that it happens to us everyday. The Bible becomes the word when we allow it to affect our everyday lives. The above takes the paradigm that the Bible need not contain any historical events to be important. Indeed, the statement that the account of the road to Emmaus "did not happen" conveys the thought that a proper view of all scripture is that "it never happened"; it purposefully forces a doubtful view of historicity as necessary to understand the Bible.

The slippery slope is not necessarily just the existence of the historical Jesus but of God Himself. Did not man compile the Bible? Is not then this wisdom man's compilation throughout the ages? What testimony can be offered that the Bible actually conveys that there is a God instead of an ethic of man?
also want to state that I do not speak for the majority of people on this board. I admit that I am on the fringes of the Christian worldview (although I do not think they would cast me out of the fold for it).
Cast you out? No, not yet, but we are sharpening our sticks and lighting our torches. :lol: Just kidding.

I think looking at Genesis even very liberally ultimately demands the account be taken literally in some sense. The "ideas" conveyed would otherwise be meaningless. For example, God as the Good Creator (or first cause, etc.) would follow directly from the text. It is not a hidden idea. If we can't read the text and decide that God is the literal creator of the universe (without "arguement"), then we could just boil the Bible down to "individual truths" and there would only be significance individually and not collectively.

God Bless!

tgallison
Dec 12th 2007, 02:34 PM
If you are a Christian there are several principals you must adhere to.

1. That God cannot lie. If He does there is no profit in being a Christian.

2. That God is not the author of confusion. The Bible fits together like a puzzle. You need to put all the pieces together in order to understand it.

Because of sin, man doesn't see clearly, but those that seek him shall find truth and wisdom.

This is faith, knowing He will not lie. That God can be trusted.

Jesus spoke mostly in parables, but parables that could be understood by those who were not blinded.

If Jesus is the tree of life and there is a tree of life in the garden, then it is easily understood as a parable.

For those that do not believe in the literal translation of Genesis 1-3 you have company. The fathers of the critical text, todays modern translations, Westcott and Hort, did not believe either.

In Jesus Christ, terrell

coldfire136
Dec 12th 2007, 11:11 PM
What process do you use to consider Genesis worthy of study in the first place that doesn't bring forth an "arguement"?

I never said I have no argument or no agenda. I explained in the beginning that I care more about what the text is saying. I have an interpretation of the passages, but my interpretation has little to do with whether the events actually happened.


The ideas are conveyed by the events.

Yes. The stories give the ideas their power. One cannot have ideas without stories. They are the central part of all people's lives. Our contexts are defined by the stories and our interpretation of those stories.


The events give the ideas authenticity.

You are speaking of events, and I am speaking of stories. The biblical narrative was written so that a Jew would take up a certain worldview. The story is not written to Caananites or the Babylonians, but to Jews. The stories give our lives authenticity because they are a part of our own story.


God commands Moses to preserve the testimony of the events in a very real and elaborate manner so that future generations would not forget or credit exageration.

I am not an expert on the whole of the Torah, and I only know a minimal amount about the text of even Genesis 1-3. I would agree that God commanded for Moses to pass these stories down from generation to generation (I doubt highly that Moses wrote them down. Even if Moses did write the story of Adam and Eve, it would have to have been passed down through oral tradition for hundreds of years before this.) The stories were passed from generation to generation so that Jews would know who they were, and where they stood with God. At the center of every Israelites life was the God that they heard so many stories about.

For instance, I love the way the Bible describes the Nephilim as "heroes of old, men of renown" (Genesis 6:4). The oral story form was a way of preserving the identity of the Jewish people.

I am not sure what you mean by "credit exaggeration."


What testimony can be offered that the Bible actually conveys that there is a God instead of an ethic of man?

This is a very insightful question. I worry that this is exactly what has happened in Western culture. Because western culture demands "proof" of God, we think that we somehow need to validate that these events "actually" happened so that we can prove to our smart scientist friends that God exists. It is difficult for me to believe that this is how the authors wanted us to read or hear the text.

The authors need repeated a number of things in the story because repetition was a good way to help remember things. The thing that we read over and over again is that God made things "good." This idea is more important than any other themes of the historicity of the passage. The idea, if we believe the Bible is divinely inspired, is that God made the world good.

We must constantly pray that God reveals to us more deeply each day what his word has to say.

watchinginawe
Dec 12th 2007, 11:40 PM
The idea, if we believe the Bible is divinely inspired, is that God made the world good. This should make my point about "arguement" better. You said about narrative accounts given in the Bible actually depicting real events:
The possibility is really only an "argument." Think about it. You can't prove that either creation happened literally the way Genesis describes it or prove that macroevolution happened from the big bang. We can't go back and see for ourselves, so what are we going to consider? Such considerations are beyond the text. My point is that looking at the Bible as a divinely inspired book can be considered similarly to historicity. Divine inspiration is just a possibility and therefore really only an "arguement". How else can you prove that it is divinely inspired? So is the Bible a great book among books?

No, instead we accept that the Bible is divinely inspired. Call it dogma if you will. After accepting this we find that the meaning we get from the Bible supports our view of divine inspiration. We get understanding from the Bible because of this presupposition. Likewise, we can extend the same kind of treatment to what the Bible says without "arguement", or without having to "prove" that it actually happened. We simply view narratives as if they actually happened (a presupposition) much in the same way that we view the Bible as the word of God.

Now I am not disqualifying looking at the texts with different presuppositions (outside of divine inspiration), but rather that the one of narrative and historicity is a valid presupposition to study the text. This seems counter to the viewpoint that you propose, that Christians "don't know and frankly shouldn't care" if certain events actually happened or not as accounted in the Bible.

God Bless!

coldfire136
Dec 13th 2007, 03:29 AM
My point is that looking at the Bible as a divinely inspired book can be considered similarly to historicity.

Perhaps you should define what you mean by divine inspiration. I realize that I should probably define what I mean by it as well. Here we go:

Let us examine here only Genesis 1:1-3. We learn from the text itself, that God ordered the world into heaven and earth (1:1). The world, however, was not yet ordered. Water in Hebrew culture was considered chaotic (Jewish imagery of water is generally not good). What does keep the world in order is the "spirit of God" that broods over the water.

Divine inspiration is the idea that the text is happening in the everyday lives of the community of God. In other words, in our everyday lives there is often darkness, just like the darkness before creation, and the only thing that keeps our world ordered is the spirit of God. But how wonderful is it when light spoken into existence by God comes into our life and the life of the church community (1:3)? The experience of light coming into our lives is something that happens each day.

Divine inspiration comes into existence only when we allow the text to enter into our own context as we understand the context in which it was written. The two worlds collide. Jesus, for instance, did not give the command of communion as ink on a page, but as a command for us to find commonality among all the saints over all the ages. Communion is a time when we come together to understand what makes us commonly Christian. It is not only an event that happened (whether it happened exactly the way it is recorded is not important), the fact is that it happens as a part of tradition that makes Christianity the unique religion that it is.

Tradition is what makes things true. Traditions of the ancient near east were passed down orally through the ages, and for the Hebrews it was written down in the Torah and the prophets and the writings. Whether the events happened exactly the way they are recorded is not important. The reality that is important is that tradition, the thing that holds our society together, views the stories as the best way to live in our present context.

Am I arguing that Jesus might not have died, and thus our faith is nullified? No. I am suggesting that tradition has encapsulated Jesus, and has infused meaning into the death of Jesus Christ. We can all admit that from a surface level reading of the gospels, the disciples did not understand the significance of the death of Jesus (they were a bit dull-witted). What made the scriptures inspired is their use of the Holy Spirit as it came upon them in pentecost (according to Lucan tradition) and when Jesus breathed on them (according to Johannine tradition). The spirit allowed them to unlock the keys of human life, and it is this spirit that gave the disciples true life.

I know this may sound far-fetched, but read the gospels again. Each of the evangelists has a perception of Jesus that influenced their lives, and they are writing with an agenda--their view of how the kingdom of God should come in power. Their agendas are validated (or what we might call "divinely inspired") because they prayed to the spirit and the community of God decided that it was good to do as the spirit commanded.

Please note that I am not speaking of an individualistic or single ecstatic experience, but of a community coming together and praying for the spirit to descend on their own Pentecost and then living according to the measure of the spirit given to them. What I am arguing is that Christians should read the bible as a profound book that is alive, but impossible to totally understand. One can paint a picture of a bird in flight, but one cannot describe or paint a bird as it actually flies. How much more complicated is Jesus Christ than a bird? How much more marvelous will the paintings of Jesus be? But we must be guided by the same spirit that guided the hands of the apostles when writing the gospels, and write our own stories as a part of the tradition of the people of God.


How else can you prove that it is divinely inspired?

I read somewhere else on this forum that "logic is a a characteristic of God." Here you ask to prove divine inspiration. You are showing your western bias as you write. The Bible cannot be proved, just like I cannot prove that God exists. I can experience God, but to describe that experience is nearly impossible.

For instance, there are three instances in the Johannine writing where God is described. The first, "God is spirit." The second, "God is light." The third, "God is love." None of these things really describe God because none of the statements can be reversed. I would surely be considered a heretic if I said, "Light is God" or "Love is God," thus these statements cannot really be descriptions of God himself, only descriptions of our perception of God. When people experience God they are often blinded by a great light. When they are comforted by God, they often experience comfort. But these are all the effects and perceptions of God. These do not prove that God exists. These experiences only prove that we can see light, that we can experience comfort, but fall short of proving God. The west must rid itself of such pointless exercises.

Rather, my argument is that students of God's word must take up the yoke of Jesus Christ and experience him for themselves. Only in discipleship can the divine inspiration be realized, because only in living with Jesus Christ can we truly experience Jesus.


So is the Bible a great book among books?

This is another great question. I would argue no, although I would argue that God can be found in other sacred texts from other religions.

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT promoting universalism. I am not a univeralist!

A book not labeled "Christian" should not stop us from finding truth in it. Let me challenge you a bit on a sidebar. What do you do with Gandhi? Is he going to heaven or hell?

watchinginawe
Dec 13th 2007, 04:02 AM
Divine inspiration is the idea that the text is happening in the everyday lives of the community of God. In other words, in our everyday lives there is often darkness, just like the darkness before creation, and the only thing that keeps our world ordered is the spirit of God. But how wonderful is it when light spoken into existence by God comes into our life and the life of the church community (1:3)? The experience of light coming into our lives is something that happens each day.

Divine inspiration comes into existence only when we allow the text to enter into our own context as we understand the context in which it was written. The two worlds collide.Coldfire, it seems you are stating that divine inspiration is dynamic. The same Bible might be divinely inspired or not, depending on the reader. With this definition, it would seem that any literary work, or song, or painting could lay claim to divine inspiration on par with the Holy Bible. My definition of divine inspiration would be more on the lines of: II Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Or again: II Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The scriptures are not malleable to our private interpretation but rather we should present ourselves as malleable and let the scriptures change us.
I read somewhere else on this forum that "logic is a a characteristic of God." Here you ask to prove divine inspiration. You are showing your western bias as you write. The Bible cannot be proved, just like I cannot prove that God exists. I can experience God, but to describe that experience is nearly impossible. I did not suggest the Bible should be proven divine. I have tried to make the point a couple of times now, so I think I will just let it lay where it is.

I enjoyed the conversation.

God Bless!

coldfire136
Dec 13th 2007, 04:32 AM
Thanks for your rebuttal, but I really do not think you understand me. I do not know what you mean by divine inspiration being dynamic. If this is what I wrote then this is what I wrote, but if you trying to categorize what I am saying into a systematic theology then I am more wary of agreeing to your statement. I do not particularly like being put into a box.

I am not sure why you quoted 2 Peter, but it is a beautiful passage that actually takes it root in Genesis 1. The apostle argues that "we have the prophets more certain" than ever before (1:19). In other words, the prophets, after we reflect on what they are saying and what Jesus has done, take on a whole new meaning. In light of their current context, the prophets have become deeper than ever before. He goes on to talk of a new morning light that is dawning, which is beautiful poetic language of a reminder of Genesis 1. The community of Peter is remembering the goodness of God, and the renewed nature of their relationship with him as they allow the spirit into their hearts. The scriptures of Genesis are being understood anew by Peter's communities.

We will also be wise to remember that "the scriptures" spoken about in 2 Timothy is the Torah, not the New Testament Bible (it had not yet been canonized).



The scriptures are not malleable to our private interpretation but rather we should present ourselves as malleable and let the scriptures change us.

Nothing I said in this post would disagree with this. I am not sure why you think I would disagree with this.

watchinginawe
Dec 13th 2007, 12:41 PM
Thanks for your rebuttal, but I really do not think you understand me. I do not know what you mean by divine inspiration being dynamic. If this is what I wrote then this is what I wrote, but if you trying to categorize what I am saying into a systematic theology then I am more wary of agreeing to your statement. I do not particularly like being put into a box. My intention is not to put you in a box. You have suggested that because we can not prove the historicity of certain passages of the Bible then the Christian would do well to maintain that we just don't know if any of it happened and to take the attitude that we just don't care either, that the ideas prevail regardless. Furthermore, you stated also that contemplating whether passages actually happened or not sets up an "arguement" since we can't prove our position.

I am pointing out that since we likewise can't prove the divine inspiration of the Bible, and extending your same principle to that point, then we arrive at the thought that the Christian would do well well to maintain that we just don't know if the Bible is divinely inspired and to take the attitude that we just don't care either. Furthermore, contemplating whether the Bible is divinely inspired or not sets up an "arguement" since we can't prove our position.

What I am attempting to do is to "try out" your first principle to see if it fits for Bible study. For me, after testing the principle against divine inspiration, I think it is worth the "arguement" to contemplate the reality of some events portrayed in the Bible. In other words, I choose to climb the slope instead of slipping back to a completely defensible position by logic or to the world. I hope that makes sense.

As for my comment about divine inspiration and how what you proposed seemed to make it dynamic, what I meant by that is it seemed you suggested that the Bible "becomes" divinely inspired only at certain times when the text means something to the reader. As I offered above, perhaps you are suggesting that it doesn't matter whether one asserts whether the Bible is divinely inspired or not, the word springs into action without that assumption. I think what you are saying is perhaps: Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

And again: Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


However, in my opinion, the student of the Bible should leave open all avenues of study. These would include authenticity of events portrayed in the Bible. Obviously not all, but certainly the contemplation of the particular account.

Additionally, I believe the student of the Bible should be wholly convinced that what is studied is the word of God. That way, when we come across a passage that is difficult, or seems to contradict another, or just doesn't move us, that we can know it isn't our choice whether to leave it in the Bible or not. Our reaction to any particular verse or passage or book does not make the text divinely inspired. The Bible is either divinely inspired or it isn't. The Bible is a package deal and should be approached in that manner.

Perhaps I should just plead guilty to the "western bias" that you want to heap on me. Regardless, there does seem a gulf between our approaches to scripture that leave us each scratching our heads trying to understand what in the world the other is saying. :lol: So with that, I plead guilty as charged.

God Bless!

coldfire136
Dec 14th 2007, 12:56 AM
You have suggested that because we can not prove the historicity of certain passages of the Bible then the Christian would do well to maintain that we just don't know if any of it happened and to take the attitude that we just don't care either, that the ideas prevail regardless.

Sort of. We definitely do look at the world very differently, and that is why I began this thread. I want to understand others who look at the world differently than me. One of things that bothers me the most is that there is evidence to show that certain things in the bible were probably exaggerated. I am not speaking here of Genesis, but of numbers in Israel's army or the numbers in the Caananite armies. The idea that a Jewish man was second in command in Egypt also seems somewhat far-fetched (although I know there is some evidence that there were Semitic peoples living in Egypt at the time).

We should try to understand the context of the passages we are reading, but many fundamentalists are guilty of ignoring the evidence that works against their ideas and accepting evidence that may prove their theories about the bible correct. Church's are good at recommending Josh McDowell's book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, but I am not sure they would be so quick to let some read Marcus Borg or Dominic Crossan because such ideas are "dangerous." The problem is churches are desperate to create disciples in the image of their church. Among protestants there is a stigma against Catholics, and even among protestants there is a stigma between the different denominations because each one is wary of losing their "correct" way of reading the Bible.

I don't want to make this more controversial then it has to be, but I feel compelled to talk about some of these things. Why aren't we in Baghdad, Myanmar, and Iran? Why do "Christian" presidents speak about them as the "axis of evil" instead of heaping coals on their heads by doing good to them? If Christians read Jonah, as I mentioned in another thread, why aren't they convicted that they should be going to the places of our enemies and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ?

When we read the words of Paul, not just his words of comfort, but his words of affliction:

"Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world."
-1 Corinthians 4:8-13

The comparisons between Corinth and American are telling in and of themselves. One commentator lets us know that:


“…while the city was a flourishing commercial center it was, as one scholar has described it, ‘spiritually and intellectually empty” (H. Robinson 1965:21). Ancient writers, too, regarded Roman Corinth as the epitome of crass materialism—and, along with that, of moral decadence. Thus, in his tale, Metamorphoses, Apuleius (second century CE) switches the penultimate scene of Lucius’ story from Thessolonica to Corinth, apparently regarding the latter as a more appropriate setting than the former for the tale of sexual debauchery he recounts.”

America has become so rich, and it seems that all Americans want to do is "become kings." If we really want to take the gospel to people of the world, we will stop bickering over whether Genesis really happened, and we will go out as "men condemned to die." We will go out in the spirit of Jonah and the power of Paul, and a great cloud of witnesses will surround us. We will go to the unpopular places, and we will stop trying to defend ourselves against the world. Paul also suggests to the Corinthian church that they should judge those within, but what concern of the believers were those outside the church? What difference does it make what they say about the world and how it was created?

We have our story, that God created the world, and they have their story, that we, as Mike Huckabee puts it, "have descended from primates." There is no need to argue with them about it, or to argue even among ourselves about it. I know that I may be sounding contradictory, but I mean what I am saying. The creation story tells us much about the ancient near east when we compare it to the other creation myths (such as the Epic of Gilgamesh), but the story was created from a tradition in order to explain why the world was the way it was in its present context.

In other words, the story of creation was told so that the Jewish society of the ancient near east could understand why there is evil in the world today. The importance is not that the story happened, but that the people who heard the story and hear the story see it happening now.


I am pointing out that since we likewise can't prove the divine inspiration of the Bible, and extending your same principle to that point, then we arrive at the thought that the Christian would do well well to maintain that we just don't know if the Bible is divinely inspired and to take the attitude that we just don't care either.

Yes. This is exactly what I said. Thank you for summarizing it. Just as we can't prove that the creation happened as Genesis said it happened, neither can we "prove" the Bible is divinely inspired. However, I never suggested that I did not care about the stories. I care very deeply about the stories because they are part of the tradition of the church and the tradition of the Jewish community. As such, I also care very deeply that the Bible is inspired, but I am not going to create elaborate proofs to try and "prove" the Bible is inspired. Such is bound to fail, just as trying to prove God exists is bound to fail.


For me, after testing the principle against divine inspiration, I think it is worth the "arguement" to contemplate the reality of some events portrayed in the Bible. In other words, I choose to climb the slope instead of slipping back to a completely defensible position by logic or to the world. I hope that makes sense.

Unfortunately, I do not understand what you are saying. I am attempting to break it down. You (1) Test the principle against divine inspiration. What is "the principle?" Are you referring to my idea that it is irrelevant whether the events actually happened? (2) You feel that my principle does not line up with divine inspiration. Your third sentence is hard for me to decipher. Sorry. Could you explain it one more time.


Additionally, I believe the student of the Bible should be wholly convinced that what is studied is the word of God. That way, when we come across a passage that is difficult, or seems to contradict another, or just doesn't move us, that we can know it isn't our choice whether to leave it in the Bible or not. Our reaction to any particular verse or passage or book does not make the text divinely inspired. The Bible is either divinely inspired or it isn't. The Bible is a package deal and should be approached in that manner.

is this an addendum or are you suggesting I would disagree with your words? I also believe the student should believe the text in the Bible is the word of God. I also believe that scripture is difficult, sometimes contradictory and sometimes doesn't seem like it applies to our lives. I also agree that we can't pick and choose what is in the bible or not in the Bible. I also believe that our "reaction" is not what makes the words divinely inspired, but that it is our reaction that makes the word powerful. I also agree that the Bible is a package deal. If you think I disagree, please explain why.

watchinginawe
Dec 14th 2007, 03:11 AM
I also believe the student should believe the text in the Bible is the word of God. I also believe that scripture is difficult, sometimes contradictory and sometimes doesn't seem like it applies to our lives. I also agree that we can't pick and choose what is in the bible or not in the Bible. I also believe that our "reaction" is not what makes the words divinely inspired, but that it is our reaction that makes the word powerful. I also agree that the Bible is a package deal.I think we have found a great deal of consensus here then. I still disagree with your conclusion in the original post and it doesn't look like we are going to close the gap between our mutual postiions. But I am encouraged that we find mutual agreement that the Bible is the word of God.

God Bless!

Rullion Green
Dec 15th 2007, 07:58 PM
Conclusion
I believe that Christians would do well to take a view that says, "We don't know whether or not the stories in Genesis 1-3 actually happened, and frankly, we don't care if they actually happened. They are true for us because we see that story in our own lives. We are living examples of the story, and are, as a result, in the need of God's grace."


True we dont know scientificly if it happened for sure but there is evidence that points to it. If we dont care about this matter then the whole book of the bible can be disregarded, if God did not create the world and universe then whats the point in getting to know him as the other option is we came from primodial soup no need for sin or the Lord to die for those sins. It is absolutly vital to understand Genesis for a strong faith in the Bible as Jesus himself quotes from it and it was his words that created the universe, can you call him a liar and still believe.

RoadWarrior
Dec 15th 2007, 10:07 PM
...

I'll believe there's someone on the board interested in Genesis when it becomes possible to have a sustained discussion about the text. ...

In attempting to read these two threads, I find that I very quickly became overwhelmed by an abundance of words - what someone on another thread called "walls of text". I also see that whatever the original intent, it all quickly collapses under the weight of two sides trying to win an argument. But perhaps that is just me.

I like what we learned in Mark about the deaf-mute. When Jesus healed him, he became able to speak "plainly". It might prove more successful to discuss the text by being plain and simple in expression.

What is it that you hope to gain? Is it possble to pose a simple question to draw it out?

Good writing is succinct writing.

coldfire136
Dec 16th 2007, 12:08 AM
True we dont know scientificly if it happened for sure but there is evidence that points to it.

What evidence? Quote only from primary scholarly sources. I don't want to hear second-hand from McDowell or Strobel as they are not scientists.


If we dont care about this matter then the whole book of the bible can be disregarded, if God did not create the world and universe then whats the point in getting to know him as the other option is we came from primodial soup no need for sin or the Lord to die for those sins.

If, as I have stated in the past, we believe the ideas, then we believe the idea, as Scruffy kid noted (and which I agree), that God created the world ex nihilo. This is all I care about. God created the world from nothing. The rest of the story of the ancient near eastern understanding of cosmology, and I think it is a good cosmology. That is why I am a Christian (because I believe in a Christian cosmology).


What is it that you hope to gain? Is it possble to pose a simple question to draw it out?

There are times when I can be long-winded. Sorry about this. Simply, that the first three chapters of Genesis explain more about how the Jews viewed the world than how the world was created, and to try and build scientific theories on it misses the point of the text.

RoadWarrior
Dec 16th 2007, 12:14 AM
There are times when I can be long-winded. Sorry about this. Simply, that the first three chapters of Genesis explain more about how the Jews viewed the world than how the world was created, and to try and build scientific theories on it misses the point of the text.

OK!

Let's discuss the points of the text. What do you see?

coldfire136
Dec 16th 2007, 12:22 AM
Well. To be honest, I have already done a lot of this. See what I have already written on this thread:


Genesis and Exodus: Creation out of Order
The creation stories within Genesis are about the order of the universe, and God's divine hand in the ordering of the tohu vabohu (chaos) of the world. We see the destruction of order during the ten plagues when God shows his power over the anti-God known as Pharaoh. God destroys Pharoah's creation to show he is infinitely more powerful that others in the world. The Jews believe in a God who is interested in the world and structured the original universe to be a good universe in constant communion with him.


The biblical narrative was written so that a Jew would take up a certain worldview. The story is not written to Caananites or the Babylonians, but to Jews. The stories give our lives authenticity because they are a part of our own story.


I am not an expert on the whole of the Torah, and I only know a minimal amount about the text of even Genesis 1-3. I would agree that God commanded for Moses to pass these stories down from generation to generation (I doubt highly that Moses wrote them down. Even if Moses did write the story of Adam and Eve, it would have to have been passed down through oral tradition for hundreds of years before this.) The stories were passed from generation to generation so that Jews would know who they were, and where they stood with God. At the center of every Israelites life was the God that they heard so many stories about.


Let us examine here only Genesis 1:1-3. We learn from the text itself, that God ordered the world into heaven and earth (1:1). The world, however, was not yet ordered. Water in Hebrew culture was considered chaotic (Jewish imagery of water is generally not good). What does keep the world in order is the "spirit of God" that broods over the water.

Divine inspiration is the idea that the text is happening in the everyday lives of the community of God. In other words, in our everyday lives there is often darkness, just like the darkness before creation, and the only thing that keeps our world ordered is the spirit of God. But how wonderful is it when light spoken into existence by God comes into our life and the life of the church community (1:3)? The experience of light coming into our lives is something that happens each day.

Divine inspiration comes into existence only when we allow the text to enter into our own context as we understand the context in which it was written. The two worlds collide. Jesus, for instance, did not give the command of communion as ink on a page, but as a command for us to find commonality among all the saints over all the ages. Communion is a time when we come together to understand what makes us commonly Christian. It is not only an event that happened (whether it happened exactly the way it is recorded is not important), the fact is that it happens as a part of tradition that makes Christianity the unique religion that it is.

Tradition is what makes things true. Traditions of the ancient near east were passed down orally through the ages, and for the Hebrews it was written down in the Torah and the prophets and the writings. Whether the events happened exactly the way they are recorded is not important. The reality that is important is that tradition, the thing that holds our society together, views the stories as the best way to live in our present context.

RoadWarrior
Dec 16th 2007, 12:38 AM
Well. To be honest, I have already done a lot of this. See what I have already written on this thread:


Hmmm. That's a lot to read! And it looks like it comes from your opinion. I thought perhaps we would talk about the text itself, what is it saying to us?

RoadWarrior
Dec 16th 2007, 12:54 AM
What if we start with an outline since this is a rather large bite?

Gen 1:1 - Gen 2:3 - The first "week" - being an account of the creation of the heavens and the earth, and having finished his work, God rested.

Gen 2:4 - Gen 2:25 - An expanded version of the account of the creation of the earth, including details about the creation of man and woman, the planting of the garden of Eden, the naming of the animals, and the first commandment.

Gen 3:1 - 3-7 - The appearance of the cunning serpent, the first recorded twisting of God's word, the deception of Eve, and the compliance of Adam. The forbidden fruit and it's consequences.

Gen 3:8 - Gen 3:13 - Adam and Eve having to face God when they know that they were disobedient.

Gen 3:14 - Gen 3: 22. God's consequences for the disobedience to His direct command.

There is a LOT in here!

coldfire136
Dec 16th 2007, 02:11 AM
Yes. This certainly would be a good thing. Let us begin. Where you see numbers there are footnotes linking you to the specific places I have done my research.

Let us start with the first pericope of scripture (Genesis 1:1-2).

Notice first that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (1:1). In other words, according to the Jewish tradition, it was the Jewish God Yahweh, and not other gods, who created the world.

The state of the earth, however, is quite important and scholars do not agree in this regard. The author of Genesis suggests the world is "formless and empty" from the Hebrew tohu vabohu. The English version expresses two ideas; the Hebrew only express one idea. The meaning of tohu vabohu is not agreed upon by scholars. C. John Collins quotes David Tsumara as his evidence that "this is not an expression for 'chaos' but rather refers to the world as 'an unproductive and uninhabited place.' "[1] He cites Isaiah as an example in his anti-creation psalm (Isaiah 34). Isaiah here suggests that "the stars will be dissolved" (Isaiah 34:3). In other words, because of disobedience, the people will be done away with and creation will be undone. So the words tohu vabohu for Collins means nothing or lack of creation.

The esteemed Gerhard Von Rad, however, disagrees arguing that tohuvabohu "means the formless; the primeval waters over which darkness was superimposed characterizes the chaos materially as a watery primeval element."[2] I take Von Rad's interpretation over Collins because the NIV translates Collins evidence from Isaiah as "chaos" (Isaiah 34:11).

The term that brings about some confusion is the meaning of "the deep" (translated from the Hebrew tehom). Collins attempts to refute that tehom is connected with Akkadian and Babylonian creation myths, while Von Rad seems to think it has "linguistic affinity with Tiamat...[but] a more direct connection, amounting to 'borrowing,' cannot be assumed." As I reread the story of the Tiamet in the Enuma Elish, I began to agree with Von Rad, that there is some association between Tiamat and the spirit on the waters, but if there is borrowing there is a distinct difference between the Jewish and Christian worldview.

In the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian god Marduk defeats Tiamet (The goddess of chaos over the waters), but in the Genesis account there is no godlike spirit over the water. In the Babylonian myth, Tiamet is defeated by an "evil wind" that Marduk "lets loose in her face."[3] Notice the use of "wind" in the Babylonian myth, in Hebrew "spirit" literally translates wind. There is a use of wind in both stories, but the author of Genesis is much more interested in making sure we understand that there is no God but Yahweh, and the Spirit is actually "of God" (1:2).

The next question is why does the spirit "hover over the waters" (1:2)? Collins notes that the "hover" is in the piel form here and might be understand as similar to when a mother bird "flutters" over her nest (Deuteronomy 32:11).[4] Von Rad here again disagrees with Collins, who suggests the ruach elohim should be rendered "storm of God" because no creation has yet taken place. In other words, Von Rad takes the perspective of an ancient Israelite who probably at the time of writing would have viewed the spirit as the Holy Spirit we view it as. I, however, take the view that the Spirit here is the Holy Spirit (we must admit, however, that the spirit really has no part in the text after 1:2), but I do agree that he does capture the sense of the passage suggesting that this spirit hovering was not a nice gentle hover, but a powerful storm which God had not yet ordered.

What, however, does this mean for us? Von Rad makes a good point here that "Man has always suspected that behind all creation lies the abyss of formlessness; that the chaos, therefore, signifies simply the threat to everything created."[5] Without God, there is a formlessness to our own lives--a storm. In God, we find the ordering of our lives.

We must search for this order as we go throughout our lives. We must recognize that, without him, the world is formless and void. The chaos we see in our lives is the parts of our lives that God has not yet ordered. We must allow him to know all parts of us, and him alone. Not some other god.
__________________________________________________ _______________________________________

[1]C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary (Philipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2006), 44-45; see also David Tsumura, The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2: A Linguistic Investigation (Sheffild; Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), 41-43
[2]Gerhard Von Rad, Genesis (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1972), 49
[3]James B. Pritchard ed., The Near East: Volume 1 An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1958), 34
[4]Collins, Genesis, 45 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
[5]Von Rad, Genesis, 51

RoadWarrior
Dec 16th 2007, 02:33 AM
... the author of Genesis is much more interested in making sure we understand that there is no God but Yahweh, and the Spirit is actually "of God" (1:2).
Coldfire, I must yield to your superior knowledge and research. The writers you reference are strangers to me. But I agree with this statement above. I consider God to be the author of Genesis, and yes, He wants us to know that He is God and there is no other.


The next question is why does the spirit "hover over the waters" (1:2)? Collins notes that the "hover" is in the piel form here and might be understand as similar to when a mother bird "flutters" over her nest (Deuteronomy 32:11).
I'll take this version as the one that sounds most reasonable as the answer to the question. It reminds me of Jesus, who cried out,
Mt 23:37-38
37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! NKJV


What, however, does this mean for us? Von Rad makes a good point here that "Man has always suspected that behind all creation lies the abyss of formlessness; that the chaos, therefore, signifies simply the threat to everything created."[5] Without God, there is a formlessness to our own lives--a storm. In God, we find the ordering of our lives.

I think that fear of formlessness comes from ignorance. As scientists have probed ever deeper into the known universe, there is astonishment among them of the order that is there. Someone elsewhere today mentioned that God is a God of order. Even what we consider chaos has meaning and significance in God's economy. Nevertheless, the verbiage gives us understanding that there was something like a sense of waiting, like clay in the potter's hands, waiting to be shaped into something beautiful. I feel these words, they are precious and beautiful. I see a picture of God, "rolling up His sleeves" and getting ready to do something special. Perhaps already He has created the universe, there are jillions of stars and bits and pieces of whatever else He has made out there, and now He is poised over this bit of clay. All the rest of the universe is unimportant to the story. Just this bit.



We must search for this order as we go throughout our lives. We must recognize that, without him, the world is formless and void. The chaos we see in our lives is the parts of our lives that God has not yet ordered. We must allow him to know all parts of us, and him alone. Not some other god.

I have absolutely no argument with this. Without Him we are aimless and without direction. Whatever we hold back from Him continues to be aimless and undirected.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 16th 2007, 03:04 AM
I, however, take the view that the Spirit here is the Holy Spirit (we must admit, however, that the spirit really has no part in the text after 1:2)
I thought this was pretty common knowledge...but ya, I agree with that.


What, however, does this mean for us? Von Rad makes a good point here that "Man has always suspected that behind all creation lies the abyss of formlessness; that the chaos, therefore, signifies simply the threat to everything created."[5] Without God, there is a formlessness to our own lives--a storm. In God, we find the ordering of our lives.

Coldfire....while I can appreciate your earnestness, I'm not sure what the purpose is of drawing parallels between the creation account and spiritual relativity.
I've never heard of this Von Rad guy, but I'm not sure I quite agree with his assessment here that "chaos signifies a threat to everything created"
What does he mean by signify? Does he mean that it's the result of something deeper? If this is the case, I guess I can agree, as chaos is the result of sin....In other words, chaos signifies sin, which is the threat to everything created. Now, one can assume that because of sin, chaos ensued, but I don't think it's rational to say that chaos is the threat, rather, I think that sin is the threat, and chaos is the result.
Anyhow, according to chaos theory, even in randomness, a certain order exists. What this indicates to me is that true chaos can never exist, because there will always be an underlying order, and only God will know that order. Formlessness is not chaos; rather, formlessness suggests desolation...the absence of form.
Chaos is randomness, while formlessness is desolation. Chaos always has some kind of form.
There was darkness, and there was formlessness, or lack of order...where does it say that there was chaos?! If order can exist within chaos, then how could chaos be formlessness?
I'm just not understanding where this guy is coming from, that's all.



We must search for this order as we go throughout our lives. We must recognize that, without him, the world is formless and void. The chaos we see in our lives is the parts of our lives that God has not yet ordered. We must allow him to know all parts of us, and him alone. Not some other god.

Hey, there coldfire....You seem like you are seeking, and that's great, but if I may add a few comments to shed some clarity here:

(1) As we go through our lives, we must search for the Lord, who will reveal to us this order. If we search for this order apart from Him, nothing but chaos will ensue.

(2) I like what you're saying here, but remember...God will know all parts of us, whether we allow Him to or not. It is when we give Him authority over those parts that He will bring order.
What we must also remember, though, is that what we see as order may not necessarily be order according to God, and what we see as chaos may be perfect order to Him. If we are going through trials and tribulations, we may see them as chaos, but God knows them as order. Only an omniscient God knows what TRUE order is.
According to chaos theory, all randomness has a certain order. What we may see as randomness God may be constructing as perfect order.
We just have to trust Him.
__________________________________________________ _______________________________________

coldfire136
Dec 16th 2007, 04:15 AM
I would like to thank RoadWarrior and cloudburst for their assessments of my interpretations. I am worried, however, that I have spoken over your heads, and this is not a good thing. RoadWarrior suggested that he "must yield" because of my "superior knowledge and research." It is true that I have spent about four years of my life studying things related to the Bible here in college, and also the development of world civilizations and world religions, but this does not give me the corner on truth.

As such, let me give the readers here some background on the two authors I used in my analysis and why I used them. C. John Collins I know very little about. My roommate bought his book from a bookstore in Pasadena, and his book is written for a conservative audience. Von Rad, a German scholar, is considered by many the best Old Testament scholar in the world. His works were written about 50 years ago. The commentary I quoted from is his commentary on Genesis. I have also looked at his works on the prophets and his weighty two-volume book on the theology of the Old Testament. I wanted to show that there is not uniform agreement by Old Testament scholars as to what the Old Testament text. After reading both authors, Von Rad puts more emphasis on the nuances of the text, while Collins opts for a narrower view.

Von Rad is very hard to read because he is not the best writer, and then his works were translated into English. One of my favorite professors, Dr. Hartley, here at Azusa Pacific has written a more readable, but still scholarly, work on Genesis and I would recommend it to any reader of the Old Testament. His work on other books like Job are really among the top in the scholarly world (Job is not an easy book to interpret). He is also, from my personal testimony (and thousands of the other students he has taught over 27 years at Azusa) a godly man of integrity.

I do not want to make it seem like I am above the other people on this board. If you read the scholars they tell you how Genesis is translated from the Hebrew and they let you know possible alternate translations. The readings of the Enema Elish are also available from almost any library by Pritchard. Reading other literature from the Ancient Near East helps because you can read the primary sources from other people groups who lived around the time of Jews. There really is no substitute for understanding the culture.

I am also not attempting to make the reading of God's word unavailable to the masses. I believe that God's work can speak to the layman and scholar alike--for this is the power of scripture. The power of scripture can speak to all men--even unlearned Galileans. We do not, however, live in the same context as the Galileans or the Jews, and must have certain customs and ideas explained to us from someone who knows. There is no replacement for this.


I think that fear of formlessness comes from ignorance. As scientists have probed ever deeper into the known universe, there is astonishment among them of the order that is there. Someone elsewhere today mentioned that God is a God of order...there are jillions of stars and bits and pieces of whatever else He has made out there, and now He is poised over this bit of clay.

Yes. What you have said here is beautiful.



All the rest of the universe is unimportant to the story. Just this bit.

God made the whole universe good. I think you might be getting ahead of yourself on this point here, but it is only a nuance, not a main point.


I thought this was pretty common knowledge...but ya, I agree with that.

Among Christians perhaps, but among Jews? No! Among scholars? No!



I've never heard of this Von Rad guy, but I'm not sure I quite agree with his assessment here that "chaos signifies a threat to everything created"

Let me quote it in full for you:

"Man has always suspected that behind all creation lies the abyss of formlessness; that the chaos, therefore, signifies simply the threat to everything created. This suspicion has been a constant temptation fro his faith. Faith in creation must stand the test . Verse 2 teaches one to understand the marvel of creation, therefore, from the viewpoint of negation; thus it speaks first of the formless and abysmal out of which God's will lifted creation and above which it holds unceasingly. For the cosmos stands permanently in need of this supporting Creator's will. We see here that the theological thought of ch. 1 moves not so much between the poles of nothingness and creation as between the poles of chaos and cosmos. It would be false to say, however, that the idea of ex nihilo was not present here at all (v. 1 stands with good reason before v. 2!), but the actual concern of this entire report of creation is to give prominence, form, and order to the creation out of chaos (cf. the fundamental idea of 'seperating.'" (p. 51)

I understand that Von Rad is somewhat thick, but he is really worth reading. His insight into scripture is next to none, and he is respected highly in biblical scholarship.


Coldfire....while I can appreciate your earnestness, I'm not sure what the purpose is of drawing parallels between the creation account and spiritual relativity.

Where have I spoken here of spiritual relativity?


You seem like you are seeking

If you mean seeking Christ with all my heart. yes. I am.

As for the rest of your comments, I am not sure how to respond because I'm not sure I understand what you are saying.

RoadWarrior
Dec 16th 2007, 04:51 AM
I would like to thank RoadWarrior and cloudburst for their assessments of my interpretations. I am worried, however, that I have spoken over your heads, and this is not a good thing. ...

I think perhaps it is difficult for you to take all the knowledge you have so recently acquired and translate it down for conversation with someone who has not even begun to read and study those authors, those concepts of world civilizations and world religions. Yet, this is what you must learn to do.

My pastor often starts a sermon by telling us something of the range of thought among different scholars, and generally says something like "they are all over the place" which basically means that scholars have a hard time agreeing on anything. (It is like the Jewish joke, if you get two Rabbis together you will have 3 opinions.) But having told us that, the pastor goes on to make it real and bring it to a level that we can understand the teaching and find out why it is important to us - find out how we can apply it to our lives. He always begins in prayer, asking God to let His word change us. It often does.

All that said, you were not so far above our heads that we didn't even read what you wrote, and we did respond. That is a good thing, right?

We may not always agree on things, but the goal here is not that we should be alike, but that we should have a valuable discussion. And maybe God will be kind enough to let His Word change us in the process. And, maybe we will be kind to one another.

coldfire136
Dec 16th 2007, 05:10 AM
Yes I do have a problem taking my thoughts from a lofty level to a personal level. Thanks for this, I will use this when I teach as well.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 16th 2007, 06:06 AM
Ola, coldfire!


I would like to thank RoadWarrior and cloudburst for their assessments of my interpretations. I am worried, however, that I have spoken over your heads, and this is not a good thing.

You're right...it would not have been a good thing if you had spoken over our heads, but I really don't think you did....as a matter of fact, I thought I may have spoken over your head, as heat rises, and many people say I am full of hot air!!! :lol:
Seriously, though, I don't think you spoke over our heads. I just think we were perhaps on 2 different wavelengths, and our theological transponder was not able to pick up the 2 signals simultaneously ;)


RoadWarrior suggested that he "must yield" because of my "superior knowledge and research." It is true that I have spent about four years of my life studying things related to the Bible here in college, and also the development of world civilizations and world religions, but this does not give me the corner on truth.

I know of Azusa Pacific, and it is a very good school. I went to Vanguard University a few years back, so I know it well. Both schools have excellent theology programs...unfortunately, I did not finish my theology degree, and opted instead to join the military and study electronic engineering, so my knowlege isn't quite up to par as yours.
I like to think that I have adequate knowledge to understand the Bible well, though, and the Holy Spirit guides me in those areas where I may lack knowledge.
While I may not have as eloquent an expository mind as some, I still like to think I can at least keep up. Also realize, coldfire, that just because we don't agree on something doesn't mean either one of us is over another's head.
I'm the first to admit when I'm wrong....Heck, I'm wrong a lot!!!


As such, let me give the readers here some background on the two authors I used in my analysis and why I used them. C. John Collins I know very little about. My roommate bought his book from a bookstore in Pasadena, and his book is written for a conservative audience. Von Rad, a German scholar, is considered by many the best Old Testament scholar in the world. His works were written about 50 years ago. The commentary I quoted from is his commentary on Genesis. I have also looked at his works on the prophets and his weighty two-volume book on the theology of the Old Testament. I wanted to show that there is not uniform agreement by Old Testament scholars as to what the Old Testament text. After reading both authors, Von Rad puts more emphasis on the nuances of the text, while Collins opts for a narrower view.

Gotcha...Thank you for that clarification :)


Von Rad is very hard to read because he is not the best writer, and then his works were translated into English.
I guess not, because I didn't quite agree with his analysis....but just because I don't agree doesn't necessarily mean that he is wrong. Perhaps his works were poorly interpreted, or perhaps I am looking at his analysis from too technical a standpoint....or,perhaps, I am completely in the dark on this one. Either option sounds feasible to me....BUT, I'm not going to lie and say I agree with him just because I don't want to look foolish.
I think a scholar's job should be to clarify the text at hand, and IMO, he has not done so....at least not for me.


He is also, from my personal testimony (and thousands of the other students he has taught over 27 years at Azusa) a godly man of integrity.

...and this is the kind of quality that makes a man's word reliable, even if he's not some mastermind of intelligensia, or the Stephen Hawking of theology.


I do not want to make it seem like I am above the other people on this board.
LOL.....don't be silly. That never even crossed my mind. I took your comments as honest and informed inquiries, and I thought I had addressed them as such. I'm sorry if I made you feel this way.:(


There really is no substitute for understanding the culture.

Agreed


I am also not attempting to make the reading of God's word unavailable to the masses.
Well, I assume that the works you are referring to are in your college library, so I assume that anyone would have access to them. I didn't think you were trying to make any work unattainable....LOL!!!
I have a sneaking suspicion that you think that we're all ganging up on you, which honestly, this is NOT our intention here.
No one's blaming you for ANYTHING, coldfire....It's okay!! :)


I believe that God's work can speak to the layman and scholar alike--for this is the power of scripture. The power of scripture can speak to all men--even unlearned Galileans. We do not, however, live in the same context as the Galileans or the Jews, and must have certain customs and ideas explained to us from someone who knows. There is no replacement for this.

I'll second that!!! I don't think that Jesus would have suffered and died on the cross so that only an elite group of scholars could understand His mission and purpose.
Christianity is not an oligarchy, and I'm sure you would agree.
You are also correct when you say that one must be knowledgable of certain customs and ideas. In many instances, this is vital to understanding Scripture, but I really don't think it applies in the Genesis account which you are discussing.
If I am wrong, please enlighten me, but I tend to think that cultural rifts wouldn't really make any interpretive difference.




God made the whole universe good. I think you might be getting ahead of yourself on this point here, but it is only a nuance, not a main point.

True...true




Among Christians perhaps, but among Jews? No! Among scholars? No!

So, then, what IS the scholarly approach?! If it wasn't the HOLY Spirit moving across the face of the waters, then which spirit of God WAS it?! I'm not sure I'm following you here, coldfire



Let me quote it in full for you:

"Man has always suspected that behind all creation lies the abyss of formlessness; that the chaos, therefore, signifies simply the threat to everything created. This suspicion has been a constant temptation fro his faith. Faith in creation must stand the test . Verse 2 teaches one to understand the marvel of creation, therefore, from the viewpoint of negation; thus it speaks first of the formless and abysmal out of which God's will lifted creation and above which it holds unceasingly. For the cosmos stands permanently in need of this supporting Creator's will. We see here that the theological thought of ch. 1 moves not so much between the poles of nothingness and creation as between the poles of chaos and cosmos. It would be false to say, however, that the idea of ex nihilo was not present here at all (v. 1 stands with good reason before v. 2!), but the actual concern of this entire report of creation is to give prominence, form, and order to the creation out of chaos (cf. the fundamental idea of 'seperating.'" (p. 51)

I understand that Von Rad is somewhat thick, but he is really worth reading. His insight into scripture is next to none, and he is respected highly in biblical scholarship.

But see, coldfire, that's just it. I completely believe you when you say that he is highly respected, but I'm just not agreeing with his analysis here...It's not that I can't comprehend it, it's that I just don't agree.
What Mr Von Rad is saying is that chaos is the same as formlessness, which it is NOT, ESPECIALLY in light of Genesis 1:2. Let me explain:

In Genesis 1:2, it states that the Earth was not only without form, but also void. Thusly, it is using these 2 terms synonymously, and in conjunction with one another. The Earth was not only without form, but it was also void.
Lets look at the definition of these 2 words:
void - empty, desolate, shapeless
formless - without form, shapeless, having no material existence

So, then, with the use of these 2 words together, we get a picture of the Earth as being completely desolate, empty, without shape. More than likely, it was covered with water, which is why the Spirit moved upon the waters in verse 3.

The problem I'm seeing with Mr Von Rad's explanation is that he is confusing the term "formlessness," which means without form and shapeless, with "chaos," which means rather a state of utter confusion. The term "chaos" does not imply desolation....It more implies a state of active randomness or disorder, with the capacity to be put into order.

As I said earlier, chaos theory implies that there is a certain order in any state of randomness. It is impossible to have a complete state of randomness because patterns will always exist.

BUT, the text doesn't say that the Earth was in chaos...it says that the Earth was desolate, and without form. There was NOTHING going on there...in chaos, there is always activity.

THAT is what I was getting at with my earlier post. I was getting confused, because the author seems to be equating chaos with formlessness, which it is not. He says that Genesis 1 moves between the poles of cosmos and chaos, which I can see as far as the separating of the light and darkness....obviously, both existed together in a random state, and God brought them into order....and other cosmological acts, but as far as God's activity on the Earth, which was "without form and void," I definitely see a movement from emptiness to order.



Where have I spoken here of spiritual relativity?

When you equated the Creation account with God's activity in our personal spiritual lives, as you did in the 2 quotes I gave in the post to which you were responding.



As for the rest of your comments, I am not sure how to respond because I'm not sure I understand what you are saying.

I'm sorry if I was unclear. All I was saying was that in our own personal lives, what may seem like chaos to us may be God's perfect order for our lives. When trials come, and things seem to be so chaotic, it might just be that things are working according to the perfect order of God. This is where faith comes in.

That's all I was saying...nothing that profound. Then again, my comments do come off rather convoluted sometimes. :rolleyes:

coldfire136
Dec 16th 2007, 06:23 AM
Hi cloudburst,
You are very helpful in having intelligent conversations. Many people on the boards, believe it or not, are much more argumentative than you are. I was just at the Christmas Concert at Vanguard University last weekend, and it was quite good (although long and without intermission). The friends that I have there are good people, and thus I assume the school is good as well. The chair of the biblical studies department at APU, Dr. Yarchin, is an alum of the school as well and unrivaled at the scholarship of our school.

Here is the basic (and quite crude) argument:

"And the earth was formless and void" -Genesis 1:2

"The desert owl and screech owl will possess it;the great owl and the raven will nest there. God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation." -Isaiah 34:11

The Hebrew for "measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation" is "qav tohuv eben bohu." In this case, the destruction of Edom (an anti-creation judgment Psalm) undoes its original Eden creation and re-descends into chaos. There is a connotation of chaos of the Hebrew.

RoadWarrior
Dec 17th 2007, 11:39 PM
Yes I do have a problem taking my thoughts from a lofty level to a personal level. Thanks for this, I will use this when I teach as well.

Hi Coldfire,

I've been wondering how the teaching went this weekend.

Also wondering if you are still interested in talking about Genesis?

coldfire136
Dec 18th 2007, 12:37 AM
The teaching went very well. I am still interested in talking about Genesis. Hopefully I will be able to put up another post soon.

RoadWarrior
Dec 18th 2007, 12:50 AM
The teaching went very well. I am still interested in talking about Genesis. Hopefully I will be able to put up another post soon.

OK, I look forward to it.

coldfire136
Dec 18th 2007, 02:28 AM
In the last post we dealt at length with first two verses of Genesis. I would like to look at the next three verses of Genesis below (1:3-5).

Strangely, God creates the light before he creates the sun (1:3). This suggests a number of things about creation. If God had already created the heavens and the earth (1:1), From where did this light come from? We must assume that Yahweh himself was the light for the earth. Von Rad wants us to understand that "in contrast to a few other freer poetic declarations (Job 38:19-20), here the creatureliness even of light is emphasized. It is not somehow an overflow of the essence of deity, but rather an object, enve though preferential, of God's creation."[1]

For the modern reader, as we have noted, trying to understand the passage "literally" is quite difficult. If the earth was created before the sun, the earth would have been floating aimlessly around the universe. It would have had nothing to rotate around. This is another reason I wonder why certain people try so hard to hold to the "it happened literally in seven days" idea.

Notice also that creation is by God's word. It is only when the Lord speaks that there is light. For the Jew, this must have been beautiful language. As God speaks, his light will enter into our lives and order it. Do we have a problem? Let us call upon the Lord of all light. Let us look to the God who speaks light into the darkness.

He also notes that the light was "good." The goodness of creation is the main point of Genesis 1, and will be repeated on each day. God meant for the world to be good. Dr. John Hartley, a graduate professor at APU, finds four "implications" that go along with the word "good": "(1) What came into being function precisely as God had purposed. (2) That which had just ben created contributed to the well-being of the created order. (3) The new creation had aesthetic qualities--that is, it was pleasing and beautiful. (4) It had moral force, advancing righteousness on earth (Job 38:12-13)."[2]

Notice, however, that he does not call the darkness good. This is not necessarily mean that night is evil, but it does hold a certain amount of fear (especially in the ancient world before the invention of electric lights). Hartley argues that God is attempting to show his power over the darkness, while Von Rad argues that every night the world descends again into chaos. But both note that God allows the darkness to exist. This is an interesting concept. God allows the darkness in this present world to exist.

If you will allow me to digress for a moment, this strikes a chord with Jewish wisdom writing, especially Job. Genesis and Job are connected in some very profound ways. I will only mention here that God allows the partial torture and destruction of Job in order to bring glory to himself. The idea behind hope in our lives is that day will come again after the long nights of our lives. Hope is a very important part of my life, and each day the sun comes up I consider myself anew ascending out of the chaos of the night to serve my creator for another day. If I have to go through trials, as I have from time to time, I look ahead to the hope that I know. Because, as Paul notes, hope will not disappoint us.

I hope one can see how the stories only make sense in light of our lives, and in light of the lives of the Jews.

__________________________________________________ ______________________________
[1]Gerhard Von Rad, Genesis (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1972), 51
[2]John E. Hartley, "Genesis," New International Biblical Commentary, Robert L. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston eds., (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2000), 44

RoadWarrior
Dec 18th 2007, 03:15 AM
Thanks, Coldfire. You have some interesting points, and a lot to chew on.

Do you have the Stone Chumash, by any chance? Irving I. Stone gives a wonderful summarization of the differing perspectives of Jewish scholars. One concept details that darkness is not merely the absence of light, but is a specific creation. Is 45:7 He who forms the light and creates darkness.

Isn't it interesting how we think of light as coming from the sun. It is part of the narrowness of our viewpoint. Rather, we might consider the sun as being like a candle that is dark until God's light is applied to it.


Von Rad wants us to understand that "in contrast to a few other freer poetic declarations (Job 38:19-20), here the creatureliness even of light is emphasized. It is not somehow an overflow of the essence of deity, but rather an object, enve though preferential, of God's creation."[1]

It sounds like Von Rad might have some of the Jewish understanding here, in seeing darkness as a created object. But you are right in that traditionally, Christians have thought of the light of the first day being from God Himself, as opposed to being a creation of God. Again, we have been limited in our understanding. And unfortunately, man allows his own limitations to become hardened, and immovable. Fortunately, God promises to take out our hardened hearts and give us hearts of flesh instead.

BTW, the word for God here (according to Stone) denotes God in His attribute of Justice, as Ruler, Lawgiver, and Judge of the world. This name is used exclusively in the narrative of creation, indicating that justice is the ideal state of the world. In 2:4, God adds mercy, "for the sake of Abraham," because man is not virtuous enough to survive such harsh scrutiny as justice demands.


Notice also that creation is by God's word. It is only when the Lord speaks that there is light. For the Jew, this must have been beautiful language. As God speaks, his light will enter into our lives and order it. Do we have a problem? Let us call upon the Lord of all light. Let us look to the God who speaks light into the darkness.


I like this, Coldfire. The power of the Voice, the Speaking of God, is beyond our comprehension. What a beautiful thought, that we can call on Him to speak light into our spiritual darkness.




He also notes that the light was "good." ...

Von Rad argues that every night the world descends again into chaos. ....God allows the darkness in this present world to exist.


"According to the Midrash, the original light was of an intense spiritual quality and God saw that the wicked were unworthy of enjoying it. Therefore, He separated it from the rest of the universe and set it aside for the use of the righteous in the World to Come. (Rashi)"

Von Rad likes his chaos, doesn't he? I wonder if somehow his thinking was affected by the chaos that remained in his country after such devastating war, which had just passed through in his lifetime.

I just checked Wikipedia on Von Rad and found this - "With two World Wars, the German-speaking began to turn anti-Old Testament. Disturbed by it, he turned to the study of the Old Testament and gradually started to bring back its message." So I think yes, he was dealing with the chaotic situation that reigns in a country destroyed by war.



The idea behind hope in our lives is that day will come again after the long nights of our lives. Hope is a very important part of my life, and each day the sun comes up I consider myself anew ascending out of the chaos of the night to serve my creator for another day. If I have to go through trials, as I have from time to time, I look ahead to the hope that I know. Because, as Paul notes, hope will not disappoint us.


I hope one can see how the stories only make sense in light of our lives, and in light of the lives of the Jews.

Thank you Coldfire. You are driving me back to the Chumash, and I am glad. Thank you for all your work and your thoughts on this fascinating and difficult Book.

coldfire136
Dec 18th 2007, 07:11 PM
Your research on Von Rad is quite good. He was very effected by the great wars, in fact, this is what drove him back to the scriptures. It was the inadequacy of the philosphers he had been studying that led him to the scriptures. He had been a philosophy major before this I believe. The German school of theology has always been very thick. I too have trouble understanding Von Rad at times.

I think it is hard for anyone to get beyond their own context. This is a tangent, but if you go back and look at the Vietnam war, one of the main things they could not get passed was their context. Johnson has just seen the fall of China to communists, seen a stalemate in Korea, and was worried about Soviet development of the bomb. All of his advisers, save George Ball and a few others, saw Vietnam through the lens of containment.

I think that some Christians are dangerously close to viewing Genesis through only one lens of literalism. I worry that this will not provide much better results than the former quagmire I have just mentioned.

I am not looking at my Hebrew Bible right now, but I believe the word for God all throughout the first creation story is elohim (a plural noun that has actually puzzled scholars for centuries). The reason that many scholars think that the two accounts are from different sources is that the other account uses the tetragrammaton (YHWH) for the name of God. I have neve read Stone, but I will check him out when I go back to school. I am at home now for the break.

RoadWarrior
Dec 18th 2007, 08:52 PM
...
I am not looking at my Hebrew Bible right now, but I believe the word for God all throughout the first creation story is elohim (a plural noun that has actually puzzled scholars for centuries). The reason that many scholars think that the two accounts are from different sources is that the other account uses the tetragrammaton (YHWH) for the name of God. I have neve read Stone, but I will check him out when I go back to school. I am at home now for the break.


I think what they meant when they said exclusively, was that only the name Elohym was used in the creation story, not Hashem (YHWH), which is used starting in Chapter 2 verse 4. Elohym is definitely used through much of the OT, so that is not what they meant by that. I just quoted it verbatim, and later went back and looked it up myself because I also found it confusing.

The point is, if I can make it clear for myself as well as for you, is that the first chapter denotes God as Justice. In the second chapter, they see God as adding mercy.

Do you think part of our problem in understanding these things is because the church has disdained Jewish thought along with disdaining the Jewish people? I think we've lost some very important stuff along the way.

I'd really like to dialog about Stone with you. I've had this book for a few years but never really had anyone to discuss it with.

Hope you enjoy your family time during the break.

coldfire136
Dec 18th 2007, 11:32 PM
When I was studying Johannine literature this semester under Dr. Hartley this semester, he told us a story about a famous Jewish scholars named Abraham Heschel. Heschel wrote a weighty work on the prophets, which I had to read for my Hebrew Prophets class. My Hebrew Prophets professor, Dr. Baloian, said that there were things in the text only Heschel could bring out. The other book we read for that class was Von Rad's book on the prophets. While Von Rad gives a good outline of the western theological view of the prophets, Dr. Baloian argued that Heschel can understand the text better because of his Jewish upbringing. So yes, I would agree with your points that Christian scholars do not give enough weight to Jewish scholars (the one's for whom the Old Testament was originally written). And it is a sad thing.

coldfire136
Dec 18th 2007, 11:37 PM
The Name of the book if "Stone Chumash?" I can't find it my library index.

RoadWarrior
Dec 18th 2007, 11:44 PM
The Name of the book if "Stone Chumash?" I can't find it my library index.

The Chumash: The Stone Edition

I got mine from Amazon.com

coldfire136
Dec 19th 2007, 12:52 AM
I read the excerpt on Amazon, and it looks great! I will for sure look into getting it from a library or something.

Athanasius
Dec 19th 2007, 01:04 AM
Alright, I've read through the thread twice.
So, before I respond to the first post. . . Should I? Or is there another more pertinent question involved with the thread (yes, I know I read it, but I'm still asking) now.

coldfire136
Dec 19th 2007, 01:08 AM
Alright, I've read through the thread twice.
So, before I respond to the first post. . . Should I? Or is there another more pertinent question involved with the thread (yes, I know I read it, but I'm still asking) now.

Go ahead and say what you want to say.

Athanasius
Dec 19th 2007, 02:48 AM
The Agnostic View of Genesis 1-3
I want to lay out what I believe clearly, so that people do not think I am attempting to bait them into an argument. I am not sure whether the first three chapters of Genesis actually happened. I believe that there is truth in the first three chapters of Genesis--really profound truth--with implications for our lives today, but I believe that people MISS the point when arguing over its historicity. It really doesn't matter if the events actually happened, and I don't think this is the way the original authors thought about the story.
I think that if we view the creation account, Genesis 1-3, as anything other than literal, we undermine very important Christians doctrines, the least of which are the concepts of the Fall, Original Sin and the need for a Redeemer. Those three concepts are foundational to Christianity, without them we wouldn't need the sacrifice of Christ, without that. . . Well, I believe we all understand the causality of events.

In reading much of the bible, I think we would all agree that things can have double meanings. The creation account in six days, which is also affirmed in Exodus 20:11

Ex 20:11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Is also foundational in how Hebrew society was structured.

Ex 16:26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”
Ex 31:15 For six days, work k is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, l holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death
Ex 34:21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; k even during the plowing season and harvest l you must rest.

For six days men are to work, on the seventh they are to rest. There is obvious allegorical significance, but I do not believe that negates a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3.

For instance, I do believe it is important how the events in Genesis occurred. Genesis 1-3, I believe, shows that we are co-creators with God, created in His image by His hand, and brought to life through an intimate act.

Ge 1:27-29 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. ”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
Ge 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Ge 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
Ge 2:19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called t each living creature, that was its name.

If the creation of the universe occurred according to the evolutionary theory; through 'random' but structured events over a 13.4 billion year period, then we are dominate in creation because through a willed act God guided our evolution, but we aren't given the 'breathe of life' (Gen 2:7). It could be argued that this 'breathe' only brought on awareness of existence, but it's superfluous in the larger picture.

On this same point, the curses of 'sin' are present before the advent of sin, such as death.

Ge 2:17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, o for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Ge 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
Ge 3:3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
Ge 3:4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.

1Co 15:21 For since death came through a man, h the resurrection of the dead i comes also through a man.
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

The question then becomes, 'why did God lie?'
Why would God curse us with things already present in the world? Present, I might add, before the rise of man. Man whom, apparently caused the entrance of sin (1Co 15:21).

Debates over the meaning of yom (the Hebrew word for 'day') are important, but nothing we should get hung up on. Debates over the supposedly contradictory (but really complimentary) accounts of Genesis 1-2 are also important, but nothing to get hung up on.

In the words of Christopher Hitchens,
"Those who have yielded, not without a struggle, to the overwhelming evidence of evolution are now trying to award themselves a medal for their own acceptance of defeat. The very magnificence and variety of the process, now they wish to say, argues for a directing and originating mind. In this way they choose to make a fumbling fool of their pretended god, and make him out to be tinkerer, an approximater, and a blunderer, who took eons of time to fashion a few serviceable figures and heaped up a junkyard of scrap and failure meanwhile. Have they no more respect for the deity than that?"
So I don't know if you're already been asked this, but,
What are the profound truths present in Genesis 1-3?



Genesis and Exodus: Creation out of Order
The creation stories within Genesis are about the order of the universe, and God's divine hand in the ordering of the tohu vabohu (chaos) of the world. We see the destruction of order during the ten plagues when God shows his power over the anti-God known as Pharaoh. God destroys Pharoah's creation to show he is infinitely more powerful that others in the world. The Jews believe in a God who is interested in the world and structured the original universe to be a good universe in constant communion with him.
It was mentioned earlier this thread, so I'll bring it up here--the comparison in Ancient Near East (ANE) creation stories. Because I believe all people had common ancestry, I believe early civilizations would have creation accounts similar topically, differing theologically.

The first is the Enuma Elish, which declares the creation order to be: stars, sun and moon (the Genesis account is sun, moon and stars) also believes that the stars are not created, but their own, independent realities.

A second major differing between the Genesis account and the Enuma Elish account is the lack of divine struggle with celestial monsters or opponents. This is important later on because Christians (and Jews, I believe) have taken the stance that God created the universe ex nihilo (the Hebrew bara, which is only used when referring to God). In the Enuma Elish account, creation comes from Tiamet's corpse, or, pre-existent material.

The third major difference is the amount of gods between the two accounts. In the Genesis account we have one God. In the Enuma Elish we have many gods (Marduk, Apsu, Tiamet, Kingu).

The fourth difference is divine struggle--there is none in the Genesis account, however, there is plenty in the Enuma Elish, and in the Atrahasis Epic, which I'll now delve into.

The Atrahasis Epic deals with three gods (Anu, Enlil and Enki). Enlil is in charge of the other gods whose primary job is to dig the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The other gods rebel, Enki suggests the creation of mankind to perform all the work. We-ila (a god) is killed and from his blood and flesh, along with clay, humankind is created with the help of the birth goddess Nintu(r)/Mami. Seven males and seven females are created.

The fifth, and biggest difference between all three accounts is sin in Genesis--not present in the other two. Co-creation and divine ownership in the Genesis account--not present in the other two.

So whereas there is a topical similarity between ANE creation accounts, there is a severe difference between that of Genesis and that of the Atrahasis and Enuma Elish accounts. Least of which is the special place man has in the Genesis account, that he doesn't have in the Enuma Elish and Atrahasis accounts.



Truth in the Genesis Text
I am also not sure we need to believe that the incident with the serpent ever really occurred in history as well. Why do I make such an audacious claim? Because we see the effects of human choices everyday, when man chooses himself over God. In our own lives, we see how we are tricked into thinking other things are better than God. The story only affirms the truth that is already occurring in our lives. The truth of our everyday lives only make the truth in Genesis more true. And there is power in the story because it reminds of what life might be like if we allowed ourselves to be in communion with God, and did not ever even think of choosing a path other than the Torah of Yahweh.

The tower of Babel is also a good example of what happens when men get their own 'ideas'.

As I said previously, things can have double meanings. The serpent, for instance (while appearing in the form of a snake, which Eve isn't frightening by a talking animal?) is Satan, as attested in Revelation:

Ge 3:1 Now the serpent e was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?"
Ge 3:4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.

Rev 12:9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. m He was hurled to the earth, n and his angels with him.
Rev 12:15 Then from his mouth the serpent c spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.
Rev 20:2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

I believe it's important that Satan be the snake, and the account literal, for two reason. The first coincides with how Satan is described in 1 Peter:

1Pe 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1Pe 5:9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

We learn of his character (which should be assumed from the Genesis account and the revelation comparison). We are also given warning to resist him. The Genesis account I believe, is completely within the character description of Satan in later books and verses of the Bible.

The question is; if Adam and Eve were never tempted by Satan, how long would they have lasted in the Garden (Remember, the command to multiply was given before the Fall)? The next, to play devils advocate, is to ask whether the Fall was necessary for the free belief in God?



Conclusion
I believe that Christians would do well to take a view that says, "We don't know whether or not the stories in Genesis 1-3 actually happened, and frankly, we don't care if they actually happened. They are true for us because we see that story in our own lives. We are living examples of the story, and are, as a result, in the need of God's grace."


Relativity is not consistent with the law of non-contradiction. It is a wise thought to admit that we don't know everything, but that doesn't make a certain account (as in Genesis 1-3) any less important, or literal.

Genesis, outside Christ's life and sacrifice, is probably the most important book in the bible. Remove or redefine the first three chapters, undermine the entire faith.

coldfire136
Dec 19th 2007, 03:58 AM
I think that if we view the creation account, Genesis 1-3, as anything other than literal, we undermine very important Christians doctrines, the least of which are the concepts of the Fall, Original Sin and the need for a Redeemer. Those three concepts are foundational to Christianity, without them we wouldn't need the sacrifice of Christ, without that. . . Well, I believe we all understand the causality of events.

RoadWarrior recently recommended a book to me called, The Chumash: The Stone Edition. It is, from what I understand, the Torah with Jewish commentary on it. One of the first things they say in the book is this:



Originally from The Chumash
We begin the study of the Torah with the realization that the Torah is not a history book, but the charter of man's mission in the universe.

You have brought up the important point that the fall, original sin, and the need for a redeemer are "concepts." They are ideas, and we give validity to them because Christians believe that man was exiled from Eden (the idea of "exile" is Eden is not something I considered until I read The Chumash excerpt on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0899060145/ref=sib_dp_srch_pop?v=search-inside&keywords=genesis&go.x=0&go.y=0&go=Go%21#)). But how did the Jews know they were not in Eden anymore?

They knew they were not in Eden because there were wars in the world. They knew they were not in Eden because there seemed to be something wrong in the world. They know they are not in Eden because they are ashamed to be naked in front of the opposite sex. They know they are in Eden because they know everything around them is not as the should be.

Eden is hope. Hope that we can move beyond ourselves. C.S. Lewis wrote:

Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love--a scholar's parrot may talk Greek--
But self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

It is in the self-realization of how awful the world is--how awful we can sometimes be--that the words of Genesis make sense.

I want to quote Donald Miller here, for he makes a good point:

"I know someone who has cheated twice on his wife. He told me this over coffee because I was telling him how I thought, perhaps, man was broken; how for man, doing good and moral things was like swimming upstream. He wondered if God had mysteriously told me about his infidelity. He squirmed a bit and then spoke to me as if I were a priest. He confessed everything. I told him I was sorry, that it sounded terrible. And it did sound terrible. His body was convulsed in guilt and self-hatred. He said he would lie down next to his wife at night feeling walls of concrete between their hearts. He had secrets. She tries to love him, but he knows he doesn't deserve it. He cannot accept her affection because she is loving a man who doesn't exist. He plays a role. He says he is an actor in his own home.

Designed for good, my friend was sputtering and throwing smoke. The soul was not designed for this, I thought. We were supposed to be good, all of us. We were supposed to be good...I wondered how beautiful it might be to think of others as more important than myself. I wondered at how peaceful it might be not to be pestered by that childish voice that wants for pleasure and attention. I wondered what it would be like not to live in a house of mirrors, everywhere I go being reminded of myself."[1]

Miller saw an event in scripture, and without realizing it (he doesn't mention how he is referencing Genesis in his book), is speaking to the story we all know: the story of how it once was and how it should always be, but is not.

Eden is that hope in our hearts that things can be better. Jesus is Eden embodied in a human being--the hope for all nations. But Eden is not just a place (a literal garden in a literal place), but a place that we find in our hearts everyday. The reason that scientists do not come to Christianity is because all Christians do is argue with them, and tell them they are wrong when, according to science, their view makes a lot more sense.

What if instead of arguing with scientists over evolution, we talked with them about how we see modern day falls and modern day garden's? Why don't we invite them to enjoy the story of Christianity, not by trying to argue with them over the scientific basis of creationism (an unfruitful debate)? This is my main problem with creationism as science.

Now, as to your comments on similarities with other creation stories from the ancient near east, most of your comments were already embodied in my responses to the first three verses of Genesis and my commentary on them. Re-read them and you can post more focused questions from my commentary. You obviously have some knowledge of these traditions, and I would love to dialogue with you about them.

Your comments on the serpent are also interesting. Revelation is obviously doing a midrash on the Genesis story, and attempting to show how the crushing of the serpent will take place through Christ. I think, however, that the crushing of the serpent in Revelation and the creation-story Satan should be read within the entirely different contexts of the societies they were written in. Visit my "old testament and Satan" thread to discuss this more fully. Thanks.

Other people have also mentioned my relativism, but I am not sure how I am be a relativist in this regard. Please explain more fully. Thanks.



__________________________________________________ _______________________________________
[1]Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 22

Athanasius
Dec 19th 2007, 07:14 PM
RoadWarrior recently recommended a book to me called, The Chumash: The Stone Edition. It is, from what I understand, the Torah with Jewish commentary on it. One of the first things they say in the book is this:

Yes, I had read in this thread (and it was mentioned in another) about this book. I'll leave you two to discuss this book, I won't be able to get myself a copy for a little while.

Though, I eventually will get a copy.



You have brought up the important point that the fall, original sin, and the need for a redeemer are "concepts." They are ideas, and we give validity to them because Christians believe that man was exiled from Eden (the idea of "exile" is Eden is not something I considered until I read The Chumash excerpt on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0899060145/ref=sib_dp_srch_pop?v=search-inside&keywords=genesis&go.x=0&go.y=0&go=Go%21#)). But how did the Jews know they were not in Eden anymore?

They knew they were not in Eden because there were wars in the world. They knew they were not in Eden because there seemed to be something wrong in the world. They know they are not in Eden because they are ashamed to be naked in front of the opposite sex. They know they are in Eden because they know everything around them is not as the should be.

Perhaps I could have worded that better. Yes, I described them as concepts but I also believe them real. Original sin entranced at the historical moment of the Fall, whereby a Redeemer is necessary.

Judaism and Christianity do share the 'Old Testament', and the Jews are very learned scholars when it comes to the 'Old Testament'. We also have to keep in mind, however, that there are doctrinal differences between Judaism and Christianity. Original sin and what sin is are the two of the biggest differences. From those differences the need for a Redeemer is also questioned.

As far as I understand Judaism, they don't believe in Original sin, but I'll get to that in a minute. Sin in Judaism is also something different. In Judaism we aren't created with an inclination to sin, but develop that inclination in youth or childhood (as my translation has it).

Ge 8:21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

Those in Judaism also believe this inclination to be controllable

Ge 4:7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. ”

Ps 37:27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.

We are all essentially 'good' but lose our innocence (so to speak) and desire to do evil. We can eventually learn to tame this inclination in evil, possibly living as sinless a life as possible?

Sin in Judaism is breaking Divine law (or commandments); not a state of being.

Atonement for this sin does not necessitate a Redeemer. This is why their belief in a Messiah concerns a mortal man leading Israel to military victory over the world. I'll get back to this after Judaism's rejection of Original sin.

Judaism rejects the doctrine of Original Sin on moral grounds. They do not believe an all loving God could allow his creation become corrupt and then punish each and every generation for the sins of their fathers, which they believe to contradiction Eze 18:20:

Eze 18:20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

Because of the rejection of Original sin and a 'basically good' view of the human condition, there is no need for a 'spiritual' Messiah (political only). Because of a different definition of sin, the possibility for us to overcome our evil inclinations, and atonement through prayer for sin-unintentional or not-Judaism can view Genesis in a very different light (still light God made ;)) and not violate other major doctrines of their faith. Christianity on the other hand, would be.

I would suggest that the Jews, well. . .Adam and Eve weren't Jewish, but. I would suggest the Jews knew they weren't in Eden because of the legacy of Adam and Eve--they got 'told'-kicked out.



Eden is hope. Hope that we can move beyond ourselves. C.S. Lewis wrote:

Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love--a scholar's parrot may talk Greek--
But self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

It is in the self-realization of how awful the world is--how awful we can sometimes be--that the words of Genesis make sense.

I want to quote Donald Miller here, for he makes a good point:

"I know someone who has cheated twice on his wife. He told me this over coffee because I was telling him how I thought, perhaps, man was broken; how for man, doing good and moral things was like swimming upstream. He wondered if God had mysteriously told me about his infidelity. He squirmed a bit and then spoke to me as if I were a priest. He confessed everything. I told him I was sorry, that it sounded terrible. And it did sound terrible. His body was convulsed in guilt and self-hatred. He said he would lie down next to his wife at night feeling walls of concrete between their hearts. He had secrets. She tries to love him, but he knows he doesn't deserve it. He cannot accept her affection because she is loving a man who doesn't exist. He plays a role. He says he is an actor in his own home.

Designed for good, my friend was sputtering and throwing smoke. The soul was not designed for this, I thought. We were supposed to be good, all of us. We were supposed to be good...I wondered how beautiful it might be to think of others as more important than myself. I wondered at how peaceful it might be not to be pestered by that childish voice that wants for pleasure and attention. I wondered what it would be like not to live in a house of mirrors, everywhere I go being reminded of myself."[1]

Miller saw an event in scripture, and without realizing it (he doesn't mention how he is referencing Genesis in his book), is speaking to the story we all know: the story of how it once was and how it should always be, but is not.

Eden is that hope in our hearts that things can be better. Jesus is Eden embodied in a human being--the hope for all nations. But Eden is not just a place (a literal garden in a literal place), but a place that we find in our hearts everyday. The reason that scientists do not come to Christianity is because all Christians do is argue with them, and tell them they are wrong when, according to science, their view makes a lot more sense.

What if instead of arguing with scientists over evolution, we talked with them about how we see modern day falls and modern day garden's? Why don't we invite them to enjoy the story of Christianity, not by trying to argue with them over the scientific basis of creationism (an unfruitful debate)? This is my main problem with creationism as science.

In going along with the double meaning I mentioned in my previous response, I find that perfectly plausible with Eden. I find eden, however, more than just a state of a heart. I find it a reminder of what we were created for, the capacity of our being and the consequence of thinking we know better. That to see the same sin in Eden going on day after day is a reminder that as people, we do need a redeemer, we are Fallen beings and living with a corrupted creation.

I believe Eden is perfectly capable of being a metaphor, so long as that metaphor doesn't drown out Eden as a literal, historical event.

The thing with evolution is that it's a theory which tries to prove that God doesn't exist. It's an attempt to escape the reality of God.

It was the English author G.K Chesterton who, when asked what was wrong with the world today, answered:

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

I believe witnessing to evolutionary scientists is a good thing. But I don't believe it an unfruitful debate. Atheism may not be a belief for scientific reasons, but they will argue science to defend it. I agree with you in that Christians and evolutionists get into heated debates much more often than they should, that science and Christianity are complimentary.

On the same point, there is a lot about the evolutionary theory that doesn't fit within the framework of Christianity (the rise of man, being the biggest). It's a huge hurdle that does need discussing, perhaps just not so forcefully.


Now, as to your comments on similarities with other creation stories from the ancient near east, most of your comments were already embodied in my responses to the first three verses of Genesis and my commentary on them. Re-read them and you can post more focused questions from my commentary. You obviously have some knowledge of these traditions, and I would love to dialogue with you about them.

Your comments on the serpent are also interesting. Revelation is obviously doing a midrash on the Genesis story, and attempting to show how the crushing of the serpent will take place through Christ. I think, however, that the crushing of the serpent in Revelation and the creation-story Satan should be read within the entirely different contexts of the societies they were written in. Visit my "old testament and Satan" thread to discuss this more fully. Thanks.

I'll be sure to take a look at those threads .


Other people have also mentioned my relativism, but I am not sure how I am be a relativist in this regard. Please explain more fully. Thanks.

I can't remember what it was now that had me made the relativism remark. I think it may have been the line, 'They are true for us. . . ' I think really what I was more getting at is the Christianity can't contradict the law of non-contradiction. That the Genesis creation account can't be both true (because it is our story) and false (for those who don't believe it) in the sense that it is only true for us because it is our story, and false for others because it never actually happened.

Hopefully that made quasi-sense

RoadWarrior
Dec 19th 2007, 07:47 PM
...I can't remember what it was now that had me made the relativism remark. I think it may have been the line, 'They are true for us. . . ' I think really what I was more getting at is the Christianity can't contradict the law of non-contradiction. That the Genesis creation account can't be both true (because it is our story) and false (for those who don't believe it) in the sense that it is only true for us because it is our story, and false for others because it never actually happened.
...


Hi Xel and Cold,

It is very interesting to read your exchange. I hope that Scruffy is enjoying it also.

I'd like to see us pursue what I think was the original intent that Coldfire had in opening this thread. Perhaps I can help by posing it this way.

A believes that the creation story in Genesis 1 is literal, actually happened exactly as it is written and in that chronological order.

B believes that it could have been literal and chronological or it could have been something else.

Both A and B believe that there is deeper truth that is spoken than what is on the surface.

The question is this. Can we get past that point of whether it is literal, and discuss the deeper meaning, without either one necessarily abandoning their original position on that issue?

I believe that such a conversation is not only possible but can be very meaningful.

If we keep in mind that what we are reading is Jewish literature, (meaning it was written down by and preserved by, the Jews) then we can see the importance of looking carefully at what the Jews thought it meant. The Stone Chumash does a good job of concisely showing us the different sides of Jewish thought, but is by no means the only source of that understanding.

I'd also like to comment that what Jews today are believing about the scriptures can be as varied as what Christians today are believing. So it is of little value to try and sort through today's opinions and positions.

What is the text saying to us? If we take the view that it was handed to the writers by the Original Author, what is it that He wants us to learn? In what way can we incorporate its teachings into our lives and be changed for the better by having studied it?

Thank you both for your thoughts.

coldfire136
Dec 19th 2007, 08:39 PM
Originally Posted by Xel'Naga
Perhaps I could have worded that better. Yes, I described them as concepts but I also believe them real. Original sin entranced at the historical moment of the Fall, whereby a Redeemer is necessary.

I am going to take RoadWarrior's point here to remind us that we both agree that a "redeemer is necessary." But let me explain clearly how we know a redeemer is necessary. I will use my own personal story as an example. Please understand that what I am about to share is very personal. From a very young age, I struggled with sexual sins. I struggled with lusting in my heart. I understand Paul's words that I "do what I do not want to do." In my past relationships I struggled with setting boundaries even though I wanted to obey God in everything. In my life, I saw the need for a savior to save me from my sins. I had seen, when presented with a choice, I will sometimes choose the path that God does not want me to choose.

Someone who was raised quite differently than me, whose parents did not have such a close affinity with the Spirit and Jesus Christ, might teach their children something quite different about themselves. They might teach them that they are ultimately good, and that they can achieve all their dreams. Later on in life, this person is bound to fail at something, and they will have to make a choice based on what they know. If it is an American, they will probably have heard about Jesus and sin and such things. For such a person in might be possible, in light of their failures, to come into the community of faith and allow for Jesus to take over their lives.

But what about the person in Indonesia who has never heard the truth about the garden of Eden? Try introducing the truths about sin and death and a redeemer to them, and they will not understand. They are living in a different truth world than you. They didn't have the story growing up, and so it will be quite different for them. Eden is only true for those people who hear it because they begin to understand and order their lives around it. I know this gets into the larger debate about what happens to people who never hear of Jesus, but I think it is an important question to consider.

A missionary came and told us a story once about how the a certain group of people reacted to the gospel story. He had explained to them all about the Old Testament, and had just finished telling them the gospel story. When they were finished, the people came up and said they really liked Judas. In their culture, Judas' actions were considered heroic. The missionary was confused as to what to do. He continued telling them the story, and then the tribe came up to him again and said they understood.

The tribe said that Jesus was like a "peace child" in their culture. A peace child is sent when two tribes are at war and a child is sent as the terms of peace as a gift. After this, the tribes must stop warring.

But do you know what they said after this?

"Sir," They asked the missionary.

"Yes," The Missionary replied.

"You should have told us from the beginning that Christ was the peace-child. We would have never blasphemed against him by praising Judas. No one who gets in the way of a peace-child deserves any praise."

The Holy Spirit is the only one who can rework the minds of the people to reorder them around Jesus' truth. In the same way, Eden is only true for those who believe it. Whether it happened literally or not has little bearing on the modern context. I am not suggesting whether it did or did not happen, but I am suggesting that the way we view the story is quite important.



Originally Posted by Xel'naga
As far as I understand Judaism, they don't believe in Original sin

I am no scholar of Judaism, but this may very well be the case. If it is true, I would agree with it. Sin is something we learn in childhood. This is why different societies have different views of what sin is. While there may be some universal laws about some ethical situations, the majority of them are founded because of the landscape, the culture, the society and the language of the people. My pastor from home was a missionary to the Philippines, and had great difficulty because the people there had no word for sin equivalent to a western context. Consider how to teach in such a community as this. The rigidity of western doctrines becomes quite complex.



Originally Posted by Xel'naga
Those in Judaism also believe this inclination to be controllable

Don't most Christians view it this way as well? Christ came to teach us the right way to be human.



Originally Posted by Xel'naga
Judaism rejects the doctrine of Original Sin on moral grounds. They do not believe an all loving God could allow his creation become corrupt and then punish each and every generation for the sins of their fathers, which they believe to contradiction Eze 18:20:

This is part of the Old Testament to which you ascribe. Am I incorrect? Or do you think we should throw out Ezekiel because it doesn't meet you understanding of Jesus? I am not trying to be pushy, but I am suggesting that a lot of Christians don't take the Old Testament seriously enough. Paul's writings all are based on the law and the prophets, and his interpretation of how Jesus deals with them. Virtually all of the gospel writers wrote from a Hebrew mindset. Understanding the Old is a must for any Christian.

I hope that my thoughts above answered your questions on relativity, but as far as evolution is concerned, I don't think there is much room for Christians to argue over an evolution vs. creationism model of creation. We believe that God started it, and they believe that God didn't start it. The difference is God. If they don't believe in God, the first thing that a Christian should do is not argue evolution, but talk to them about God.

I hope that my thoughts make sense as well.

RoadWarrior
Dec 19th 2007, 09:24 PM
Thanks Coldfire for sharing your personal story as well as the Missionary story. Your point is well taken that everyone sins (and needs a redeemer) whether or not they are aware of the story of Eden. But people can have very different ways of looking at life and at what is good and evil, right and wrong. Words can have very different meanings.

I recently posted a thread about a news article about an organization that works at translating the Bible into contemporary language for as many languages as they can possibly achieve. The article discussed this issue, of what has to be done to make Christ and the Bible accessible to people who do not have our Judeo-Christian history. So the Bible translations that they make are "meaning-based".

If we are to go into all the world and make disciples, we must have a message that can reach the hearts of people very different from us.

coldfire136
Dec 21st 2007, 03:21 AM
"And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day."
-Genesis 1:6-8

This particular day is quite confusing the modern reader because it is enshrined in ancient near-eastern cosmology. To understand this part of the story, one must understand that "the ancients believed that above the solid dome of the heavens was a reservoir housing the rain, hail, and snow. The sun, moon, and starts moved a cross the surface of this dome, and between the surface and the earth was the sky."[1] John Hartley makes two observations about the language used on the second day. He notes that rather than the word "create," the word made (Hebrew: 'asah) is used. Create (beresheet) is used for the special creative power that happens on day five and six. He also notes that this day is without an "evaluative statement" (i.e. "it is good"), which suggests there will be a later culmination of goodness. This day is preparation for a "higher goal."[2]

In relation to this day, we can also note how incorrect and unscientific the second day stands in relation to creation. Trying to argue for a "scientific" view of creation from the text of the second day is not only unfruitful, but will be deliberately false. The ancients viewed rain, hail and snow all as divine acts coming from the heavens. They did not understand the ecosystem scientifically as modern humanity does. They understood the ecosystem, rather, as something intensely spiritual intertwined in the physical. For rain, rather than analyzing the evaporation process, understanding cloud patterns, and such things, they had to pray that Yahweh would bring rain.

Their story is attempting to explain where rain comes from and how it was created. In other words, only from the hand of the almighty can rain come forth. Perhaps science, in all actuality, has not helped us in this regard to understand that the spiritual and the physical are intertwined. Perhaps trying so hard to make a story about ancient near-eastern cosmology a "scientific treatise" is a bad way to read it.

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ______________
[1]John E. Hartley, "Genesis," New International Biblical Commentary, Robert L. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston eds., (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2000), 45
[2]Hartley, "Genesis," 45

Athanasius
Dec 21st 2007, 04:56 AM
This is part of the Old Testament to which you ascribe. Am I incorrect? Or do you think we should throw out Ezekiel because it doesn't meet you understanding of Jesus? I am not trying to be pushy, but I am suggesting that a lot of Christians don't take the Old Testament seriously enough. Paul's writings all are based on the law and the prophets, and his interpretation of how Jesus deals with them. Virtually all of the gospel writers wrote from a Hebrew mindset. Understanding the Old is a must for any Christian.

I hope that my thoughts above answered your questions on relativity, but as far as evolution is concerned, I don't think there is much room for Christians to argue over an evolution vs. creationism model of creation. We believe that God started it, and they believe that God didn't start it. The difference is God. If they don't believe in God, the first thing that a Christian should do is not argue evolution, but talk to them about God.

I hope that my thoughts make sense as well.


Well said about the missionary account.
Personally, I don't hold to the same belief as the Jews regarded Original sin--I don't reject it, nor would I utilize that moral argument.

coldfire136
Dec 21st 2007, 06:03 AM
What do you mean by moral argument?

Athanasius
Dec 21st 2007, 06:04 AM
What do you mean by moral argument?

Well, along the lines of 'How could an all loving God allow for evil in the world?". Or in direct reference to Original sin, "How could an all loving God punish generation after generation because of the sin of the generations before it?".

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 21st 2007, 07:27 AM
Hey, you guys;

I just stumbled upon this thread, and if it's okay with you guys, would like to get back to the topic of the OP.

I am having real difficulty with the argument that Genesis is an allegory of some "greater truth," rather than an historical account of pre-historical events. There are several reasons for this:

First of all, DM's argument holds a lot of water. The book of Genesis is considered an historical book. Every other account in the book of Genesis is taken as literal, so it seems odd that the author would shift his style of writing from figurative to literal so quickly. To write the first 3 chapters as a figurative explanation of some "greater truth," to an historical account of man's history, just doesn't seem logical to me.

So, then, if this WAS the author's intention, at what point did Genesis go from a figurative explanation to a literal historical account? Was it when God created man? When the serpent spoke to Eve?
There has to be some significant point at which the author decided to make such a transition...so, then, which point would this be, and WHY?!

Another thing I'm REALLY having trouble with is this....There are figurative explanations of some greater truth evident in the Bible, but these are called PARABLES, and Jesus did not try to conceal the truth within these stories. Not only did Jesus explain that they WERE figurative stories...explanations of a greater truth...but He also explained their meaning. As such, I REALLY don't see God having Moses pen a book in a literal style, only to send us on some goose chase, trying to figure out the "hidden meaning." Throughout Scripture, aside from a few linguistic issues, God is pretty straight-up with us. Why would he have someone write something only to confuse the masses?
Think about it...This is not the first time I have heard this non-literal explanation of Genesis. This argument has been circulating for years, and still, we are no closer to knowing the "hidden meaning" than we were since I first heard it.
So, then, I ask you...WHY?! Why would God have Moses write something only to conceal it's meaning? Doesn't Scripture say that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth? So, then, if this is the case, why haven't we figured out this "hidden meaning" as of yet? I know that various people hold their various opinions, but even so, the fact that there is so much division over this just leads me to believe that this "hidden truth" is merely man's attempt to try and over-complicate something that he cannot prove.

The truth is, the account of Genesis IS historical, but it requires faith on our part. The Bible says that man's wisdom is not God's wisdom:

1 Cor. 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty

It may seem foolish to believe that Genesis is historical, but that is only because God does not always work in ways that seem logical to us.

I just think that there are some instances where we just have to interpret the Scriptures through faith, and the Creation Account is one of those instances. I also think that true wisdom is admitting that you don't understand everything, but that you will take God's word for it.

coldfire136
Dec 21st 2007, 10:11 AM
First of all, DM's argument holds a lot of water. The book of Genesis is considered an historical book. Every other account in the book of Genesis is taken as literal, so it seems odd that the author would shift his style of writing from figurative to literal so quickly. To write the first 3 chapters as a figurative explanation of some "greater truth," to an historical account of man's history, just doesn't seem logical to me.

I believe that we have dealt with the "slippery slope" argument in the past (i.e., if the first three chapters might not have happened, how do we know any of it happened, on down the line until Jesus Christ himself is brought into question). You should go back and re-read what has already been said. This thread is attempting to deal only with the first three chapters of Genesis, not the whole book.

All I will say here is that the first ten chapters deal with the "primeval narrative," while from 11:27 to the end of the book deal with ancestral narratives. From 1:1-11:27 there are five genealogies, and from 11:27 to the end of the book there are also five genealogies. The book is written in the toledoth formula in the Hebrew.[1] If you want to start another thread on Genesis as a whole, and whether or not the whole book should be taken literally, start another thread. That is too large a subject for me to deal with to anyone's satisfaction.


Another thing I'm REALLY having trouble with is this....There are figurative explanations of some greater truth evident in the Bible, but these are called PARABLES, and Jesus did not try to conceal the truth within these stories.

Yes. Parables are a very interesting rhetorical device, but have little or nothing to do with Genesis.


I REALLY don't see God having Moses pen a book in a literal style

Ah. You are looking through a lens of simplicity at a very complicated book. Please explain what you mean by literal style. If you mean literal as a "truthful" style, how do you define truth? There are almost no scholars who believe that Moses wrote all five books of the Torah. I believe I have mentioned there is the idea that Moses began the oral tradition, but there are many things to suggest that Moses probably never wrote it down himself. It is in the tradition of Moses that these stories were written down, from a variety of perspectives, and put down into one book. Do I believe these stories are historically accurate? This I cannot say. Do I believe they are divinely inspired? Yes.

I have already gone at great lengths to talk about divine inspiration, and if you wish to comment on my understanding of divine inspiration, please quote from the earlier sections where I have already covered this.


Throughout Scripture, aside from a few linguistic issues, God is pretty straight-up with us.

Straight-up with us about what?


we are no closer to knowing the "hidden meaning" than we were since I first heard it.

You will have to fill me in on this argument. As you might note, I have been talking about the meaning of the text for many of my recent posts here. I don't claim to have "hidden knowledge" that comes out somwhere below the text that is only available to a few. In fact, this heresy known as gnosticism was condemned in the early church. I am not espousing a gnostic understanding of Genesis 1-3, but an understanding that the Jews themselves might have taken. There are many things you can only understand once you have gotten past the idea that the creation story was written to counter evolution. The story was written to counter polytheism, to explain the Jewish cosmology in light of their monotheism, and to explain why certain things are the way they are. It is NOT a scientific view of the creation of the world. Such science did not come into existence capable of understanding how the world was created until about 300 years ago.

1 Cor. 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty

I am glad that you quoted this passage because I have been meaning to show people the rest of what Paul says here. He admits that he does not come with "eloquence" or "superior wisdom (2:1), but also admits that he does have "a message of wisdom among the mature" (2:6). This wisdom that they speak of is found in Christ, and his spirit "searches all things" and helps us to understand the things of the Spirit (2:10-16). He actually take on what Paul calls the "mind of Christ." But why is Paul upset? He is upset because the Corinthians still have become mature (2 Corinthians 3). He is angry because they are still quarreling, and fighting over who is right and who is wrong.

Now I feel like we have already had this debate earlier in the thread, and I would love to keep dialouging with you about these issues. I will attempt to be humble about my beliefs, but this is something that I have come to after studying God's word seriously for more than 10 years. I am only beginning to get below the surface of where Christ wants me to be, but i believe I have the mind of Christ. Just remember, the simplest answer is not always the right answer.

A simple faith is good. I think there are some things that are simple, but I know for fact that there are many things about the Bible that, once you dive into, are quite complicated. This is not to say they are "secret." This was never my intention. Rather, we must realize that certain truths from his word are difficult and only come from much prayer and thought and discussion with other Christians. I would love to keep talking about these issues.
__________________________________________________ _____________
[1]John E. Hartley, "Genesis," New International Biblical Commentary, Robert L. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston eds., (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2000), 2-3

ikester7579
Dec 21st 2007, 02:04 PM
I have been reading the thread having to do with whether stories in the Bible are real stories or simply good stories that have meaning for our lives, but my thoughts were too focused for that thread. The argument presented here is one that talks about the historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis, something I am very passionate about.

The Agnostic View of Genesis 1-3
I want to lay out what I believe clearly, so that people do not think I am attempting to bait them into an argument. I am not sure whether the first three chapters of Genesis actually happened. I believe that there is truth in the first three chapters of Genesis--really profound truth--with implications for our lives today, but I believe that people MISS the point when arguing over its historicity. It really doesn't matter if the events actually happened, and I don't think this is the way the original authors thought about the story.

Genesis and Exodus: Creation out of Order
The creation stories within Genesis are about the order of the universe, and God's divine hand in the ordering of the tohu vabohu (chaos) of the world. We see the destruction of order during the ten plagues when God shows his power over the anti-God known as Pharaoh. God destroys Pharoah's creation to show he is infinitely more powerful that others in the world. The Jews believe in a God who is interested in the world and structured the original universe to be a good universe in constant communion with him.

Truth in the Genesis Text
I am also not sure we need to believe that the incident with the serpent ever really occurred in history as well. Why do I make such an audacious claim? Because we see the effects of human choices everyday, when man chooses himself over God. In our own lives, we see how we are tricked into thinking other things are better than God. The story only affirms the truth that is already occurring in our lives. The truth of our everyday lives only make the truth in Genesis more true. And there is power in the story because it reminds of what life might be like if we allowed ourselves to be in communion with God, and did not ever even think of choosing a path other than the Torah of Yahweh.

Conclusion
I believe that Christians would do well to take a view that says, "We don't know whether or not the stories in Genesis 1-3 actually happened, and frankly, we don't care if they actually happened. They are true for us because we see that story in our own lives. We are living examples of the story, and are, as a result, in the need of God's grace."


If the stories in the bible could all be explained naturally, then God's power would not have been needed. And God could be explained away, and the bible would have just been another history book.

Think about it.

If the creation went just like the naturalist say it happened. Then they would say: Why do you need a God when this all can be explained naturally, and your bible agrees with that?

God did the creation, and other events, in a way to show that only God could have done it. God cannot be explained naturally, so neither can His actions be explained. In this way, when you believe but cannot explain it. You are showing faith. Which is one thing that most naturalists cannot understand. Naturalists always have to see to consider it. Everything else to them is considered blind faith.

But even if they see, they still can refuse to accept it. Besides, it's a well known cop out for non-believers to use that tactic to brush off a believer.

Example on the creation part: Why did God create light before he created an object that produced light? Because God being the Alpha and Omega, He knew that man, after choosing sin, would worship other gods. One would be the sun. So God using His on glory to shine upon the world and sustain life until a natural object to do this was created. Was showing that His light should be the only light. And is the light that gives life.

If God would have created the sun and then said: Let there be light. To what end was God needed to do this? There would have been no faith required to believe this because the naturalistic view would have agreed. Which would mean a spiritual change would not have been required because faith is not required.

Remove faith and you also remove the reason God did anything.

So in other words, if all of the bible agreed with the naturalistic views of how it all happened. Why is a God needed? And why would a God even be implied?

In my opinion: Compromising our faith for a more explainable view. Is denying the power of God to do anything beyond a naturalistic view (taking millions and billions of years). In turn God is brought down to the level of man to where man can explain Him. An explainable God, by mere men, is not God. Just as an explainable event preformed by God, would not be a God event.

Ponder this in your mind for a minute, and you will better understand what I'm speaking of.

God creates earth with water. Now he creates some amino acids and puts them in a primordial soup. And He waits for lightening to strike it. And then says: I have created life. Then He has to wait several millions of years for it to evolve. Now in the actual life event, what part did God play that would be considered a God event? Nothing. Life was started by the lightening strike. So lightening becomes the creator of life, not God.

God having to wait millions of years for it to evolve, denies God being the Alpha and Omega (power over time).

So in our search for truth about God. Where do we draw the line on how much we will give in to what someone else wants to be true and easy to understand. By faith we are saved. Lose that faith through comprmise, and where are we in the eyes of God when no more faith is required nor desired?

lk 7:50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

lk 18:42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.

eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Can we be saved if we have lost our faith through compromise?

coldfire136
Dec 21st 2007, 09:20 PM
ikester7579,
Thanks for joining in the conversation. I have, already, responded to most of your remarks throughout this thread. For the most part, I would challenge to look through the thread and see what we have already discussed.

This is not a promotion of evolution thread, but a thread dealing with the idea that the creation story should be read in the context of the ancient near east cosmology, not as a scientific treatise on creation.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 22nd 2007, 02:02 AM
Thus is a church I attended overseas there was a chap, actually a literary scholar, who wanted to argue that the "fall" was a "fall upward" to a higher state of consciousness, and to attainment of knowledge, where before humanity was in ignorance. What utter nonsense! In addition to changing the vital and central message about humanity and God, and our need for Christ's redemption, this is an utter misreading of what the text could possibly be saying.

Hi, Scruffy;

In response to coldfire's reply to my post, I decided to read this thread more thoroughly, and in doing so, came across this comment. I wanted to respond to it because I can see where a person might misinterpret this gentleman's comments as unsound...but if you really think about it, it may make more sense than you may actually think.

When mankind disobeyed God, he was made aware of something that he had not previously been aware of...the nature of evil.
Whereas before the fall, man knew OF good, he was unaware that there was an antithesis of it, that being evil. Adam and Eve knew of death, obviously, because God explained to them that they would die if they ate of the forbidden tree, but I'm not quite sure if they were COMPLETELY aware of the severity of it's repercussions...they knew what it was, but were not completely aware of it's nature, or type. I don't think they had any clue that they would spiritually die, as well.
In a sense, mankind WAS in ignorance....he knew of good, but not evil, and thus, he did not completely understand the nature of either one. Eden was a bubble, and good was all he knew.
When mankind fell, he gained that awareness. He DID become more LIKE GOD in that He knew of good and evil, BUT THAT'S IT. He never became AS God, as Satan promised...BUT, mankind DID gain a higher awareness.

Then again, a higher state of consciousness does not necessarily mean a better one. God's original creation was his ideal one....loving fellowship with man untainted by sin....BUT, unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

I would disagree with the assessment that this would negate our need for God's redemption. On the contrary, I think that this is EXACTLY why we DO need Christ's redemption. Because mankind attained this higher awareness, he also unwittingly flung himself into the realm of spiritual warfare....a battle which he would ultimately lose if it weren't for Christ's redemption.

If Adam and Eve had never sinned, there would be no need for Christ's sacrifice, which means that the Holy Spirit would never have been given to us, to dwell inside of us. Through the Holy Spirit, we have a higher consciousness...a higher awareness of things spiritual, unlike Adam had.

In no way am I saying that man's state is better now than it was before the Fall...as I said before, a higher consciousness does not necessarily mean a better one. Before mankind fell, Satan had a higher consciousness than man, but he was evil to the core, and still is.

I don't think it's Scripturally unsound to say that post-Adamic man is less ignorant, and more spiritually aware, than Adam was. BECAUSE we now have this awareness, the Holy Spirit's work in our lives is VITAL...without it, we would be eternally accursed....victims of our own sin.

Athanasius
Dec 22nd 2007, 02:10 AM
Well cloudburst, that's a view I wrestle with whenever the Fall is brought up.
I dare not assert what you just did because of the response I know it will raise.

But rest assured, I know where you're coming from and may even agree

jeffweeder
Dec 22nd 2007, 02:51 AM
I absolutely agree with Cloudbursts last couple of posts.
Man gained a knowledge when he fell, but he surely died to the immediate presense and fellowship of God.
So i would say that he was more Spiritually aware and in tune while he walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day.
It was this added knowledge that the tree produced, to find himself only hearing Gods sound, and being aware that he was stripped naked and hiding among the other trees that they were allowed to eat.

Adam was aware of the gulf that now existed between Man and God.
Thanks to Jesus we no longer run and hide and we are no longer naked, but we run to him being clothed in the garments of salvation ,that he made for us. (again)
We have God completely, where as in the garden we had his breathe in us.
So we are better off, yes.----------only in Christ Jesus.

coldfire136
Dec 22nd 2007, 02:56 AM
If Adam and Eve had never sinned, there would be no need for Christ's sacrifice, which means that the Holy Spirit would never have been given to us, to dwell inside of us. Through the Holy Spirit, we have a higher consciousness...a higher awareness of things spiritual, unlike Adam had.

The key word there is "if." The problem with the "if" is that the whole Bible is written without it. I would be careful what conclusions we make in reference to this "if." I am not sure it is even possible to fathom a world where Adam and Eve had never sinned.

jeffweeder
Dec 22nd 2007, 03:04 AM
I am not sure it is even possible to fathom a world where Adam and Eve had never sinned.

It would have been much better than this fallen state i found myself in. I would have been happy to dwell in that garden forever.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 22nd 2007, 03:14 AM
Hmmm. That's a lot to read! And it looks like it comes from your opinion. I thought perhaps we would talk about the text itself, what is it saying to us?


You know, that's what I would like to know. I've read through this entire thread thus far, and still have no greater understanding of this "deep spiritual meaning" that this text supposedly demonstrates.

From what I have gathered thus far, it is basically the fact that God created the universe out of nothing, and that He created it good. Other than that, I'm at a loss. If this is the case, then I would like to know just what the significance of it's structure is....Why were the days divided as they were? What is the significance of the progression of creation, i.e. why certain things were created on certain days? Was the light literally separated from the darkness, and if not, what significance does this claim hold? It appears to me that if one is going to discount the historical accuracy of this book, then that person would have a LOT of explaining to do regarding just WHAT the hidden intent was.
I can see where one might say that, since 7 was the number of completion, that this is why it was divided into 7 days, thus implying that God's creation was not only good, but complete...there was nothing missing.
One could even suppose that the 7th day (God's Sabbath), wherein God rested, is a representation of Christ's work upon the cross, wherein He exclaimed "It is finished" (or complete), and became our Sabbath rest.

What I'm saying is that, while it's true that there are many Spiritual lessons that we can gain from the Creation account, this still doesn't discount the fact that it was written AS AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT.

I, personally, hold to the belief that God works THROUGH historical events to communicate truths about Himself to us. This does NOT invalidate the historicity of the events, IMO.

I also can't understand why a person wouldn't care if the events recorded in the Bible are inaccurate. If the Bible IS divinely inspired, then what this is suggesting is that God is inspiring inaccuracy, which IMO just doesn't make sense.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 22nd 2007, 04:07 AM
What if instead of arguing with scientists over evolution, we talked with them about how we see modern day falls and modern day garden's? Why don't we invite them to enjoy the story of Christianity, not by trying to argue with them over the scientific basis of creationism (an unfruitful debate)? This is my main problem with creationism as science.

The problem with this, coldfire, is that the entire theory of evolution was founded upon the absence of a God. This is the entire reason that the theory of evolution exists....as an alternative to the Creation account, which attempts to discount the fact that there IS a God.

Charles Darwin was very hostile towards Christianity. He vehemently objected to the fact that people were misappropriating his statement: "living powers had been breathed into a few forms, or even one," to refer to the existence of a Creator.
He even complained to his friend, botanist J.D. Hooker, that he regretted having made that statement, because of it's undertones of Biblical creation. He stated that what he actually MEANT was "appeared by some wholly unknown process."

From it's beginnings, evolution has been very anti-theistic, as are many evolutionists today. To think that they could "enjoy the story of Christianity" is pretty unrealistic, IMO....and the fact that we are trying to discount the historical accuracy of the creation account just solidifies what is proof in their mind that God doesn't exist. If the Bible is just a collection of idealistic fables with no historical validity whatsoever, then how can we hold it in higher esteem than any other pagan philosophy...and how can we expect anyone else to?!

If this is the case, then the Bible is nothing more than what you have just claimed it to be....a "story."

coldfire136
Dec 22nd 2007, 08:47 AM
Let us speak now of the third day. Two creative acts happen on this day. First, the waters are brought to one place so that land and the oceans may be separated. We must remember, however, that the story was originally written in Hebrew thousands of years ago, and the way we interpret water now and the way they interpreted water than was quite different. As we will later find out in the chapter, the waters are home to many great sea creatures (1:21), that may connotate monsters such as the Leviathan in Job. For God to say he has power over these things is to again show the distinctness of the creation story amidst other creation stories of the time (see comments on Tiamat in the previous parts of the thread for more on this). Distinctly, we see that God has power even over the chaos of the waters. As opposed to day two, however, God calls the oceans and the land that he has created good. This feeds further our conjecture in the last post that the expanse created in day two was only a preliminary measure for day three.

The other third day creation was vegetation. In this, similar to the oceans and the land, we find that God has power even over the agriculture and the crops in the ancient near east. Instead of praying to a particular god of rain, a common practice in the ancient near east, they would have to pray to Yahweh--the one who created the agricultural system.

All of these things show, once again, the utter goodness of the creation and the power of Yahweh over it.

coldfire136
Dec 22nd 2007, 09:11 AM
I've read through this entire thread thus far, and still have no greater understanding of this "deep spiritual meaning" that this text supposedly demonstrates.I have been talking about the creation story in this thread. Thus far, I am on the third day. I have been discussing the context of the story in light of Israel, and the wider practices of the ancient near east. I have said this before. I am not looking for deep theological meaning that sits below the text, nor am I looking for esoteric or "secret" knowledge. I am not a gnostic. I am a Christian.


God created the universe out of nothing, and that He created it good. Other than that, I'm at a loss. You have understood two of the three main points quite well that I have been attempting to get across in this thread. The third is that God holds sovereign power over the universe. Other than this I am discussing the nuances of the ancient near east, and how the story should be interpreted in view of their semantics of their language and cosmology. I would love to hear what else you see in the passage.


What I'm saying is that, while it's true that there are many Spiritual lessons that we can gain from the Creation account, this still doesn't discount the fact that it was written AS AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT.Perhaps where we differ is our view on history. If you mean history as, "The absolute way things happen," then, in my opinion, you are talking about "reality." In this sense, reality is everything that happened exactly as it happened with no variance. History is not so black and white. I think that westerners have a problem viewing history outside of themselves because they tend to view history as linear. We are the culmination and the outcome of our parents and our parents parents. Much of the world does not view history this way.

For instance, to us the crusades are old news. We might ask, why are Muslims so offended that Bush used the word "crusade" when speaking of the war on terror to find Osama Bin Laden? They are offended because, to them, the crusades did not happen a thousand years ago. To them, history is circular, and what happened to their ancestors, in a mystical sense, happened to them. They still hold America, whom they mistakenly view as a "Christian" nation, responsible for the crimes against their fathers.

Jews viewed the world dynamically. They believed as they entered into the passover festival, they were quite literally celebrating it with Moses, Jacob, Abraham and the patriarchs of their faith. The Hebrews of the ancient near east would have viewed themselves as part of the corporate body of all Jews at all times. This idea may seem strange, but their are remnants of it in the sacrament of the eucharist.

As we take the Eucharist, if we take an older Christian understanding of it, we are taking it with the great "cloud of witnesses" that have taken it all throughout the centuries. Alongside us, in a very mystical way, is those past giants of the faith such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Peter, the sons of Thunder, Martin Luther King Jr., and they are all taking it with us. The idea of communion is coming to the table of brotherhood, and we slam straight into the saints of all these many centuries.

This is history.

And what I am trying to get across is that each day we wake up, God is still saying, "It is good." He is still suggesting to us, in the inner most parts of our being, that it is good. Every morning, despite the chaos of the waters that I talked about in regards to the third day, God is still soverign over creation. It is only when we realize that it did not just happen, but is happening, that Genesis becomes real. I know this sounds strange and bizarre, but consider it before you totally discount it.

The problem with this, coldfire, is that the entire theory of evolution was founded upon the absence of a God. When I talk about politics with friends and they bring up the "war on terror" I remind them that we demonized the communists in the 1950's as one united front, and we gave them more credit that they had going for them. We made communism seem like a kind of "monolith" that it really wasn't. There were those such as Tito of Yugoslavia who avoided both the US and USSR during the Cold War. There were countries like India who were able to take aid from both sides while supporting neither. In the same way, I remind them, we give Al Qaeda and other organizations more credit than they are worth by suggesting it is some kind of united terrorist threat against the United States. Hamas and Hezbollah don't necessarily get along, and I can assure you that there are a number of political, social, regional and cultural issues that make such issues much more complicated than just "black and white truth" Talk of this nature is never helpful and never truthful.

In the same way, there are a number of different types of evolutionists with varying degrees of thoughts on how the world came into being, how the world is presently moving, and how we should view cosmology and God. There are Christian evolutionists, agnostic evolutionists, and atheist evolutionists. But even the term "evolutionist" is too united a term to place on evolution because there are different schools of evolutionary thought throughout the different fields of biology, chemistry and physics. Science is a complex world with a competing number of social, political, regional and cultural influences throughout the known world. If Christianity is a dynamic religion, the scientific world is truly dynamic as well.

My first suggestion to you, stop referring to them so "universally" as if they all believe the same thing. They sometimes do the same thing to Christians, and I do not appreciate this either.

ImmenseDisciple
Dec 22nd 2007, 11:27 AM
You know, that's what I would like to know. I've read through this entire thread thus far, and still have no greater understanding of this "deep spiritual meaning" that this text supposedly demonstrates.
Perhaps you have no greater understanding because you already understood it :D
I think the point being made was everything that the fall of Adam means for humankind as a whole applying to each of us on a personal basis. Rather than thinking that we are all born sinners because of Adam's mistake- rather we are all born innocent, and each of us goes through the fall. Each of us learns what it is to sin, and does so- every one of us makes the same mistake Adam did.


It appears to me that if one is going to discount the historical accuracy of this book, then that person would have a LOT of explaining to
do regarding just WHAT the hidden intent was.
Primarily to satisfy those who wanted an explanation, I'd say. It would seem a massive omission to leave out creation, but I severely doubt we could understand how God brought it about. If, for example, God used the "big bang" to start the universe (I am by no means accepting this, I think that being the 'best idea' we have yet is no grounds to accept anything as true) would he really have explained it in straight terms in the bible? Now that would have been a change in style. Rather, he'd put a description in terms that could be understood by the people of the day. He built the world- it makes sense to them that he would do it a step at a time, and keep stepping back and looking at it going, "Yeah, it's coming along nicely!" just as all the tradesmen of the time would do.
As to any further messages in subtext or allegory, I don't see why we should be automatically be able to extrapolate them. But I'm of the opinion that the bible is a personal and living book- that the messages one gets from it are just for you, for the very moment they come to you, and were woven in specifically with this in mind. I don't think that stories are exclusively designed to give all the faithful insight.


I, personally, hold to the belief that God works THROUGH historical events to communicate truths about Himself to us. This does NOT invalidate the historicity of the events, IMO.
I couldn't agree more. I'm totally with the OP in that God could have created the world as described, doing so in a way we would understand specifically in order that He would later be able to explain it to us. I'm also of the opinion that God does not necessarily tell us the whole truth of every matter, in cases where the whole truth would be beyond our reasoning, beyond our capability, and therefore serve to cloud our understanding.


I also can't understand why a person wouldn't care if the events recorded in the Bible are inaccurate. If the Bible IS divinely inspired, then what this is suggesting is that God is inspiring inaccuracy, which IMO just doesn't make sense.
I don't care whether the creation story told is accurate, and have accepted that I won't know in this lifetime for the reasons I've gone over. I think God would tell us what we needed to hear to make sense of the matter, that the accuracy of our knowledge of creation is of no consequence whatsoever.

Athanasius
Dec 22nd 2007, 08:43 PM
In the same way, there are a number of different types of evolutionists with varying degrees of thoughts on how the world came into being, how the world is presently moving, and how we should view cosmology and God. There are Christian evolutionists, agnostic evolutionists, and atheist evolutionists. But even the term "evolutionist" is too united a term to place on evolution because there are different schools of evolutionary thought throughout the different fields of biology, chemistry and physics. Science is a complex world with a competing number of social, political, regional and cultural influences throughout the known world. If Christianity is a dynamic religion, the scientific world is truly dynamic as well.

My first suggestion to you, stop referring to them so "universally" as if they all believe the same thing. They sometimes do the same thing to Christians, and I do not appreciate this either.


I'm going to have to agree with you.

Science as a field of pursuit was possible only because of the absolutes Christianity presented in its world view, as such, a lot of the earlier scientists were either Christians or believed in some sort of higher power which kept things within absolutes.

However. . . Some where along the line there was a split in thought and religion (more so Christianity) became the enemy of science--rather foolishly and unfortunately.

I believe the theory of evolution is utterly brilliant and ingenious. There are parts of it which seem fairly obvious (adaptation, survival of the fittest etc.) and I agree with. There are also things I don't agree with (genetic mutation, punctuated equilibrium etc.--the universes formation is an entirely different theory).

We shouldn't be generalizing the entire set of scientists, but I also think it's an important theory to discuss because it does try to do away with God. In terms of theistic evolution, well, I enjoy what Christopher Hitchens said on the subject. I posted it earlier, but I think I'll bring it up again.

"Those who have yielded, not without a struggle, to the overwhelming evidence of evolution are now trying to award themselves a medal for their own acceptance of defeat. The very magnificence and variety of the process, now they wish to say, argues for a directing and originating mind. In this way they choose to make a fumbling fool of their pretended god, and make him out to be tinkerer, an approximater, and a blunderer, who took eons of time to fashion a few serviceable figures and heaped up a junkyard of scrap and failure meanwhile. Have they no more respect for the deity than that?"
-Christopher Hitchens, god is not Great

coldfire136
Dec 22nd 2007, 10:42 PM
Xel'Naga

Yes. There are many parts of evolution that are brilliant and correct. Thank you for agreeing. We just can't discuss science as one unified movement because it is not.

I'm not a fan of Hitchen's nor D'Souza. Neither impressed me. They were both arguing an extreme.

Athanasius
Dec 22nd 2007, 10:49 PM
Yes. There are many parts of evolution that are brilliant and correct. Thank you for agreeing. We just can't discuss science as one unified movement because it is not.

I'm not a fan of Hitchen's nor D'Souza. Neither impressed me. They were both arguing an extreme.


I'm more a Ravi Zacharias/C.S. Lewis type.

Hitchen's I agree, is dogmatically atheistic (Sam Harris even more so).
D'Souza comes off as advancing universalism in his defense of Christianity.

I think the public Christianity/Islam vs Atheism debate needs a more 'between the middle' approach. Both sides are arguing, dogmatically, and it isn't going over well as each side believes they are winning.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 23rd 2007, 12:31 AM
Let us speak now of the third day. Two creative acts happen on this day. First, the waters are brought to one place so that land and the oceans may be separated. We must remember, however, that the story was originally written in Hebrew thousands of years ago, and the way we interpret water now and the way they interpreted water than was quite different. As we will later find out in the chapter, the waters are home to many great sea creatures (1:21), that may connotate monsters such as the Leviathan in Job. For God to say he has power over these things is to again show the distinctness of the creation story amidst other creation stories of the time (see comments on Tiamat in the previous parts of the thread for more on this). Distinctly, we see that God has power even over the chaos of the waters. As opposed to day two, however, God calls the oceans and the land that he has created good. This feeds further our conjecture in the last post that the expanse created in day two was only a preliminary measure for day three.

The other third day creation was vegetation. In this, similar to the oceans and the land, we find that God has power even over the agriculture and the crops in the ancient near east. Instead of praying to a particular god of rain, a common practice in the ancient near east, they would have to pray to Yahweh--the one who created the agricultural system.

All of these things show, once again, the utter goodness of the creation and the power of Yahweh over it.




Hey, there. CF...I like the way you are breaking these days up, and explaining them individually as you are doing, and although I disagree with your assessment of creation not being literal, I can't say I disagree with the spiritual points you are extrapulating.

I'm still at odds with you on much, but I will wait until you are done going through all 7 days to address the issues, as I would like to allow you time to state your case, as well as treat the subject as whole.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 23rd 2007, 01:37 AM
I have been talking about the creation story in this thread. Thus far, I am on the third day.

I realize this, and I am sorry for jumping the gun. As I said previously, I would like to allow you time to state your case before going into any discussion with you. The points you have made thus far are valid...with this I cannot disagree....but I guess my main question is whether or not what you have stated is the REAL intention behind the book.
Anyhow, please proceed, and as I said, I'm sorry for jumping the gun there.


I have been discussing the context of the story in light of Israel, and the wider practices of the ancient near east. I have said this before. I am not looking for deep theological meaning that sits below the text, nor am I looking for esoteric or "secret" knowledge. I am not a gnostic. I am a Christian.

Of course you're a Christian, coldfire, as am I. Your reverence for the Lord is not what is at question here....It is apparent that you have a genuine and sincere heart, and I can appreciate that.


You have understood two of the three main points quite well that I have been attempting to get across in this thread. The third is that God holds sovereign power over the universe.

All of these are valid points, and I DO think that they can be gleaned throughout the Genesis account...no doubt about that. But as I said, is this the REAL meaning behind Genesis?
You seem very informed, and I am just wondering where you got your information. From what I am getting, some of it was academia, and some of it was formulated by you.
Coldfire....truthfully, I can appreciate your enthusiasm, and I do agree that it is beneficial to be farmiliar with different scholarly viewpoints, but quite honestly, I would be far more interested to hear what the Holy Spirit has said to YOU. How He has used YOUR internal filter to interpret His word.
In other words, it's nice to hear what other scholars think, but what does COLDFIRE think? How do YOU interpret these passages through the lens which the Holy Spirit has given YOU?!
How does the gospel travel through that vast network of neurons and synapses in YOUR mind. If you can leave the scholars out of it for a bit, what is YOUR perception?!


Other than this I am discussing the nuances of the ancient near east, and how the story should be interpreted in view of their semantics of their language and cosmology. I would love to hear what else you see in the passage.

As I said, I really want to allow you to state your full case before responding. What I said previously is an interpretation that I heard elsewhere, and it made sense to me....BUT, it never made me discount the historicity of the passage.


Perhaps where we differ is our view on history. If you mean history as, "The absolute way things happen," then, in my opinion, you are talking about "reality." In this sense, reality is everything that happened exactly as it happened with no variance. History is not so black and white. I think that westerners have a problem viewing history outside of themselves because they tend to view history as linear. We are the culmination and the outcome of our parents and our parents parents. Much of the world does not view history this way.

I agree with much of what you're saying here, but if I may interject...there is history, which IS reality, then there is a written account of history, which may or may not be reality. Whether it is or is not reality depends solely on the author, and whether he has treated it objectively, or with bias. If we were to read an account of the Holocaust written by Nazis, I can guarantee that it would be a MUCH different "reality" than one written by Jews, or Japanese, or Americans. The thing is, most of us were not around during the Holocaust, so we must take what we can get from the most reliable sources, and judge it for ourselves.
Most history is written from a biased viewpoint, INCLUDING Scripture...the difference between the creation accounts, and other historical accounts, though, is that Scripture was divinely inspired. I do believe that God had an agenda when He created the universe, but I also believe that He did so according to a pattern, and I believe that the pattern is laid out in Genesis.
Another thing to remember is that in any historical account, the major events that transpired are laid out...the writing may be biased, but the events which are described ARE real...perhaps some are left out, and others are emphasized on different scales, but the truth is, THE EVENTS that are described HAPPENED.
To say that Genesis 1-3 may not have actually happened is to say that this account is not historical, but as DM pointed out earlier, this is exactly how it is written...as an account of historical events. This is the style, and as such, this seems to be the intention.
While there are a few discrepancies in the Genesis account...for instance, the fact that Gen. 1:16 does not include the sun as one of the stars....for the most part, I think it describes actual events which took place.
Although I'm sure that there were some limitations on it, based on man's limited understanding, for the most part, I believe that it is accurate.
Another thing to remember is that reality is multi-dimensional, as is God. There are many different realities, but unfortuntely, as humans, our comprehension of such reality is limited. I do believe that there was a spiritual reality behind God's creation...a manifestation of the deeper reality of God...but just because there is a deeper reality does not necessarily mean that the surface reality is any less real. In other words, just because there may have been a spiritual pattern behind this ordering of events does not necessarily mean the events did not take place.

CF, I understand your intentions in trying to look at these events from a cultural viewpoint, and it is a COMPLETELY valid one....but in doing so, it appears that we're trying to dumb down the culture to which this book was written.
Just as we have questions regarding HOW the universe was made, in what fashion, and the order of events, I'm sure that they did as well, which is why I believe this book was written as a way to explain these events. What makes us think that they would have less interest in an account of creation than we do?!
Couldn't it be possible that God engineered this book in order to answer those questions? If not, why?
Why would God choose NOT to give us an actual account? Did He think that we wouldn't be able to understand? What's your opinion?



Jews viewed the world dynamically. They believed as they entered into the passover festival, they were quite literally celebrating it with Moses, Jacob, Abraham and the patriarchs of their faith. The Hebrews of the ancient near east would have viewed themselves as part of the corporate body of all Jews at all times. This idea may seem strange, but their are remnants of it in the sacrament of the eucharist.

Not strange at all....That's how some people view communion.




When I talk about politics with friends and they bring up the "war on terror" I remind them that we demonized the communists in the 1950's as one united front, and we gave them more credit that they had going for them. We made communism seem like a kind of "monolith" that it really wasn't. There were those such as Tito of Yugoslavia who avoided both the US and USSR during the Cold War. There were countries like India who were able to take aid from both sides while supporting neither. In the same way, I remind them, we give Al Qaeda and other organizations more credit than they are worth by suggesting it is some kind of united terrorist threat against the United States. Hamas and Hezbollah don't necessarily get along, and I can assure you that there are a number of political, social, regional and cultural issues that make such issues much more complicated than just "black and white truth" Talk of this nature is never helpful and never truthful.

Well, you've just opened a whole other can of worms with this paragraph. All I can say is......the US has had many enemies throughout the years, but I want to stay on the topic at hand.


In the same way, there are a number of different types of evolutionists with varying degrees of thoughts on how the world came into being, how the world is presently moving, and how we should view cosmology and God. There are Christian evolutionists, agnostic evolutionists, and atheist evolutionists. But even the term "evolutionist" is too united a term to place on evolution because there are different schools of evolutionary thought throughout the different fields of biology, chemistry and physics.

You are correct.....and NONE of them believe that the creation described in Genesis is historical. For those of us who do, evolution is just not an option.


Science is a complex world with a competing number of social, political, regional and cultural influences throughout the known world. If Christianity is a dynamic religion, the scientific world is truly dynamic as well.
What do you mean by "dynamic?"



My first suggestion to you, stop referring to them so "universally" as if they all believe the same thing. They sometimes do this to Christians, and I do not appreciate this, either

Well, okay, but I would not be addressing the truth.
Firstly, while it is true that evolutionists do NOT believe the same thing ON EVERY LEVEL, they DO hold one IMPORTANT belief in common...that the Creation account is false. Once you have discounted the authenticity of Creationism, you discount a major tenet of the faith.
Secondly, Christians DO believe the same thing....that Christ is the way to salvation. So, when an evolutionist says that Christians believe the same thing, wouldn't he be accurate?

Athanasius
Dec 23rd 2007, 02:06 AM
Well, okay, but I would not be addressing the truth.
Firstly, while it is true that evolutionists do NOT believe the same thing ON EVERY LEVEL, they DO hold one IMPORTANT belief in common...that the Creation account is false. Once you have discounted the authenticity of Creationism, you discount a major tenet of the faith.
Secondly, Christians DO believe the same thing....that Christ is the way to salvation. So, when an evolutionist says that Christians believe the same thing, wouldn't he be accurate?

I must disagree with you in the best way possible.
Discredit Genesis. . . Remove the first three chapters; and I think you undermine the entire Christian faith.

Of course, I'm Mr. Literal ;)

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 23rd 2007, 02:09 AM
Greetings, disciple

Your post is immense, but I will try to respond :D



Perhaps you have no greater understanding because you already understood it :D

Well, I THOUGHT I did, until reading this thread (lol...j/k). Of course, it doesn't surprise me that I may have been misled...I've been mistaken before. For months, I thought that the city of Ai spoken in Joshua was where the robots lived. :lol: Just kidding

Ya...I read that in the L Ron Hubbard Bible commentary :eek:


I think the point being made was everything that the fall of Adam means for humankind as a whole applying to each of us on a personal basis. Rather than thinking that we are all born sinners because of Adam's mistake- rather we are all born innocent, and each of us goes through the fall. Each of us learns what it is to sin, and does so- every one of us makes the same mistake Adam did.

Well, we ARE born innocent, but we are also born sinners, if that makes sense. When a child is born, that child is innocent until he/she reaches the age of accountability. Every person is born with the capacity to sin...It's just that the capacity is not realized until the age of accountability.



Primarily to satisfy those who wanted an explanation, I'd say. It would seem a massive omission to leave out creation, but I severely doubt we could understand how God brought it about. If, for example, God used the "big bang" to start the universe (I am by no means accepting this, I think that being the 'best idea' we have yet is no grounds to accept anything as true) would he really have explained it in straight terms in the bible?

I agree...He most certainly would not have. Then again, with our recent discovery that the expansion of the universe is accellerating rather than decellerating, the Big Bang as a theory is MUCH more questionable.


Now that would have been a change in style. Rather, he'd put a description in terms that could be understood by the people of the day.
YES....for instance, the fact that the sun is described as the greater light to rule the day, rather than one of the stars also. Because they had no idea that the sun was a star, they called it accordingly.
THIS was not a major discrepancy, though....just a result of a lack of understanding.


He built the world- it makes sense to them that he would do it a step at a time, and keep stepping back and looking at it going, "Yeah, it's coming along nicely!" just as all the tradesmen of the time would do.
As to any further messages in subtext or allegory, I don't see why we should be automatically be able to extrapolate them. But I'm of the opinion that the bible is a personal and living book- that the messages one gets from it are just for you, for the very moment they come to you, and were woven in specifically with this in mind. I don't think that stories are exclusively designed to give all the faithful insight.

Agreed....It is personal, AND universal. That's the beauty of it.


I couldn't agree more. I'm totally with the OP in that God could have created the world as described, doing so in a way we would understand specifically in order that He would later be able to explain it to us. I'm also of the opinion that God does not necessarily tell us the whole truth of every matter, in cases where the whole truth would be beyond our reasoning, beyond our capability, and therefore serve to cloud our understanding.

YES...ABSOLUTELY. I guess what it all boils down to is...What IS the truth found in the Creation account?
Is it a spiritual truth, explained through some imagined series of events, fabricated in order to adress the how and why of creation...or is it historical truth, laid out to explain just how this world came into order?

I believe it is the latter.



I don't care whether the creation story told is accurate, and have accepted that I won't know in this lifetime for the reasons I've gone over. I think God would tell us what we needed to hear to make sense of the matter, that the accuracy of our knowledge of creation is of no consequence whatsoever.

My opinion is this....the Creation story is a very basic account of Creation events, and that a lot more was involved than God revealed. There was a lot more TO the Creation, that we cannot understand, but God only gave us what we needed to know.
I don't think He was fabricating anything when He inspired it.

Athanasius
Dec 23rd 2007, 02:10 AM
I don't think Adam and Eve could have lived in the garden for eternity (or alternatively, one of their descendents) without someone giving into 'temptation'--Satan's influence or not.

If Satan hadn't succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve, I think 'someone' would have eventually done the same. What then, do you do, with a perfect human race and a fallen human race? Would all people have been exiled for the sin of one person, or would there be a division?

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 23rd 2007, 02:12 AM
I must disagree with you in the best way possible.
Discredit Genesis. . . Remove the first three chapters; and I think you undermine the entire Christian faith.

Of course, I'm Mr. Literal ;)



Hi, Mr. Literal...Good to meet ya....but just to let ya know, I completely agree with your above statement, and am trying to figure out just what I said to make you think I thought otherwise.

Athanasius
Dec 23rd 2007, 02:16 AM
Hi, Mr. Literal...Good to meet ya....but just to let ya know, I completely agree with your above statement, and am trying to figure out just what I said to make you think I thought otherwise.

It was the 'discount a major tenet of the faith'
Made it sound like it discounted creation but left 'the rest'

Probably poor comprehension skills ;)

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 23rd 2007, 02:17 AM
I don't think Adam and Eve could have lived in the garden for eternity (or alternatively, one of their descendents) without someone giving into 'temptation'--Satan's influence or not.

If Satan hadn't succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve, I think 'someone' would have eventually done the same. What then, do you do, with a perfect human race and a fallen human race? Would all people have been exiled for the sin of one person, or would th ere be a division?

Well, regarding your second question, I haven't a CLUE, but I can see how I might agree with your first assessment.
The thing is, even though Adam and Eve were sinless, they ALWAYS had that capacity to sin, because they were created with the ability to choose.
Until they sinned, they were innocent....BUT, the capacity to sin was still there. They were just unaware of the full ramifications.

I do agree that they probably would have eventually sinned, but that's within the pretext of Satan being present in the Garden. If he had never been allowed in, well, I just don't know.

Athanasius
Dec 23rd 2007, 02:18 AM
Well, regarding your second question, I haven't a CLUE, but I can see how I might agree with your first assessment.
The thing is, even though Adam and Eve were sinless, they ALWAYS had that capacity to sin, because they were created with the ability to choose.
Until they sinned, they were innocent....BUT, the capacity to sin was still there. They were just unaware of the full ramifications.

I do agree that they probably would have eventually sinned, but that's within the pretext of Satan being present in the Garden. If he had never been allowed in, well, I just don't know.

I agree, it would for the most part be fruitless assertion.
The major problem being a judging of the character and condition of Adam and Eve by our own (fallen) standard. I don't think we can assume to know what their state actually was in perfection.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 23rd 2007, 02:20 AM
It was the 'discount a major tenet of the faith'
Made it sound like it discounted creation but left 'the rest'

Probably poor comprehension skills ;)


Oh, no, not at all. Sorry if I was unclear.

I think you were right when you said that if you discount creation, you discount the authenticity of the Bible, and that is BECAUSE creation is such a cornerstone of the faith.

Take that away, and you take away the entire doctrine of our origins.

coldfire136
Dec 23rd 2007, 06:23 AM
Originally Posted by Cloudburst
All of these are valid points, and I DO think that they can be gleaned throughout the Genesis account...no doubt about that. But as I said, is this the REAL meaning behind Genesis?

Tough question. I think the three points that I have made about God's sovereignty over creation, the goodness of creation, and that he created it ex nihilo are all important. Whether or not these are three points are the MOST important, I do not know. I hope that God will forgive any inaccuracies I put out, and that he will allow me to understand him more fully as I grow older.


In other words, it's nice to hear what other scholars think, but what does COLDFIRE think? How do YOU interpret these passages through the lens which the Holy Spirit has given YOU?!

To be honest, most of the thoughts on here are my own. Only the places where I explicitly cite scholars am I pulling from other sources. When I say "my own," however, I must put up a red flag. I have been influenced by a number of pastors, theologians, average joes, teachers (secular and Christian), friends, and family members. Each of these people have brought a nuance to my life that I am eternally grateful for.

The question about the Holy Spirit is a complex one. In this thread I am trying to get across three nuances (to the best of my ability). The first is to understand how the Holy Spirit has spoken to me personally about the text. The second is how the Holy Spirit has spoken to a larger church movement about the text at hand. This includes pastors and scholars. The third, what is the best way for me to understand how the Hebrews who penned and told these stories in the ancient near east want us to view them. In other words, how can we discern the movements of the Spirit in the text as they Hebrews would have seen the spirit move so many thousands of years ago.


I agree with much of what you're saying here, but if I may interject...there is history, which IS reality, then there is a written account of history, which may or may not be reality.

No. I do not think you understand my terms. I realized that I did not clearly define history in the last post. History is man's account of the past. Reality is the way things "happened." Reality is too lofty an idea for me because it is impossible to understand the "reality" of any one situation. We will look at two examples to understand the idea of history--one simple and one more complex.

Simple Example of History
Two brothers are fighting. When Mom comes into the room, she asks, "What happened."

"He stole my toy!" says boy 1.

"No! He stole it from me FIRST!" says boy 2.

Now the mother must decide who is right and who is wrong. There are two different understandings of the history of this event. But if you look at this simple example, you can also consider more complex examples in modern history such as the debate over Israel (this, however, is not the place to do debate that particular issue).

Complex Debate
I will use an example from real life. John Piper has recently written a book on justification in response to books written by N.T. Wright. Wright has written a number of books that espouse a "new perspective" on Paul. I will not go into the debate at large. If you want to see the debate, you can view it here (http://trevinwax.com/2007/12/20/the-future-of-justification-series/). Wright claims that his understanding of Paul is correct, but Piper tends to think that his view of Paul is equally correct. Both men have deep ideological reasons to believe that they are correct. Piper notes in his introduction that Wright's view on Paul is one that he has held since he wrote about this perspective for his dissertation. Wright has not yet written a reaction to Piper's book, but it is obvious that both men cannot be "right" about Paul.

And this is no small issue.

We are dealing here with one of the central issues of Christianity. Both men are men of God, but they both cannot be right, can they?

I use this more complex example to show that scripture is fuzzy on certain issues, and when looked at in a fashion that takes the text seriously, there are variant interpretations from Christian mainstream that have been taking place since the early years of gnosticism, docetism, and others. Augustine's views were largely taken over those such as Pelagaeus, and over the years the Catholic church took stances that have provided us with the canon we have today, the belief system that Luther rebelled against, and have provided various interpretations that were either accepted or rejected. Luther did not stray as far as one might think from the Catholic church (this, again, is a topic for another day).

When we consider history in light of this, we realize that "reality" becomes quite a fuzzy thing as well. I would argue that a "written account" can NEVER give us a full view of reality as you claimed in your above quote. Can we honestly say that we understand, for instance, Augustine? We might be able to understand his writings, we might be able to understand his biography, and we might even be able to understand the context in which he lived and why he did some of the things he did. But can we know Augustine? My contention is we cannot know him and understand his writings without the spirit guiding us.

My view of history FORCES us to have a big God because I have NO IDEA what inspired Augustine to write the way he did (for his philosophies would be tied up with Christianity even to this day; this is why I am making so much mention of him here). My view of history FORCES us to realize that God sits outside of time, and can take us back and forth across time boundaries by the spirit just as he did for the prophet Ezekiel. My view of God forces him to be the one that allows us, if ever so humbly as if we thought we were the ones understanding it, to forestall all of our intellectual games at the throne of the Almighty.

In other words, how am I supposed to understand Genesis?

"I have no faith," say I as I throw myself at the feet of Jesus, the only and all powerful one who can enlighten me to understand his Holy Scriptures, "Help me in my unbelief!"


but as DM pointed out earlier, this is exactly how it is written...as an account of historical events.

I was originally going to counter this way a message, popularized by Rob Bell (I'm not sure where he got this information), that Genesis is written in poetry, but I realized that it is written in narrative form. I am going to look more into where Bell gets this idea. To respond, we must go up to your earlier point:


Most history is written from a biased viewpoint, INCLUDING Scripture

Yes! I am glad you realize this. God had an agenda, but one must understand that this agenda had to do with the context the Israelites were in at the time Genesis was written. Before going into this, we must admit that scholars are not sure when the stories were written down. I hold with the tradition that Moses compiled all these stories to be put into an early version of the Torah, but when I say "compiled" this does not necessarily mean written down. What I mean is, Moses gathered the elders of the all the tribes to discuss and write down the history of God. The combination of the God's people Israel coming together and the revelation of God to Moses directly from Sinai, I believe an early version, whether written or oral we cannot know, of the Torah was created. Now I agree with Sidney Gredianus in his analysis of the historical situation in which Genesis was written:

"Moses wrote Genesis 1 for Israel after the Exodus from Egypt and just before Israel entered the land of Canaan. On the other hand some modern scholars suggest that Genesis 1 was addressed to Israel when she was in exile in Babylon...it is sufficient to see how fearful Israel was of the power of foreign gods, whether Egyptian, Canaanite, or Babylonian...By sending ten powerful plagues on Egypt and Pharaoh, the Lord showed that He is more powerful than Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt. In fact the ninth plague shut out Egypt's most powerful god, the Sun. And the tenth plague killed even the firstborn of Pharaoh, the ruling god of Egypt..."

"...[similarly] the Babylonians had defeated Judah's God, Yahweh. They had burned his temple, destroyed His city Jerusalem, and enslaved His people in Babylon...according to the Babylonians their head God, Marduk, was the creator of heaven and earth...The author may have several goals in mind for Israel. His most obvious goal was to teach Israel that her God is the Sovereign King who in the beginning created His good kingdom on earth. Subsidiary goals might be to correct Israel's worldview and to oppose the influence of pagan mythologies. At a deeper level the author proclaims this message of God's sovereignty in order to convince the Israelites that they need not fear the evil forces ahead of them and around them, but that they can trust God to lead them safely into the Promised Land."[1]

Yes! What an agenda indeed! I believe that God has such an agenda for his people. It is something that is hard for Americans to understand because we are, in many senses, Babylon--the richest, most prosperous, and powerful nation in the world. I am not saying this to deface American Christians, for their certainly were good Babylonians back in the day, but it is hard for us to understand the plight of the Jewish people. We really do not need protection from anything. So the story becomes one that degenerates to an argument about evolution or creation. The author of the story did not mean for the story to be viewed through such a modern lens.

I know that I have not responded to all your questions. Do a thread search of "dynamic" because I believe I already addressed that earlier in this thread or another thread like it.

__________________________________________________ _____________________________
[1]Sidney Greidanus, "Preaching Christ From the Creation Narrative," Bibliotecha Sacra 161 (April-June 2004), 132-134

If you would like to read the article in full, please PM me. Thanks.

Athanasius
Dec 23rd 2007, 07:31 AM
I was originally going to counter this way a message, popularized by Rob Bell (I'm not sure where he got this information), that Genesis is written in poetry, but I realized that it is written in narrative form. I am going to look more into where Bell gets this idea. To respond, we must go up to your earlier point:

This (http://youtube.com/watch?v=ap68EG2K6Bc) might help shed light on Bell's view of Genesis as poetic.
It's a clip of a message about the trinity in Genesis, but I believe it gives a good example how he believes Genesis poetic.

coldfire136
Dec 23rd 2007, 07:50 AM
I actually watched that just yesterday, I have heard enough of his sermons to know that HE thinks it's poetic, but in the Hebrew it doesn't seem that way. But I may be wrong. I was more curious what scholarly sources, the ones who understand Hebrew, to back him.

ImmenseDisciple
Dec 23rd 2007, 09:49 AM
Greetings, disciple

Your post is immense, but I will try to respond :D
Thanks for the response, much appreciated :)


My opinion is this....the Creation story is a very basic account of Creation events, and that a lot more was involved than God revealed. There was a lot more TO the Creation, that we cannot understand, but God only gave us what we needed to know.
I don't think He was fabricating anything when He inspired it.
And a nice little encapsulation of your thoughts. Interesting stuff :)

coldfire136
Dec 23rd 2007, 07:59 PM
Hi all,
I have put a lot of time into this thread, and as such am archiving my thoughts on mm blog where people can read a less cumbersome version of my thoughts here. Check it out. I only have one article up so far:

www.coldfire.wordpress.com

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 24th 2007, 07:52 AM
No. I do not think you understand my terms. I realized that I did not clearly define history in the last post. History is man's account of the past. Reality is the way things "happened." Reality is too lofty an idea for me because it is impossible to understand the "reality" of any one situation. We will look at two examples to understand the idea of history--one simple and one more complex.

Simple Example of History
Two brothers are fighting. When Mom comes into the room, she asks, "What happened."

"He stole my toy!" says boy 1.

"No! He stole it from me FIRST!" says boy 2.

Now the mother must decide who is right and who is wrong. There are two different understandings of the history of this event. But if you look at this simple example, you can also consider more complex examples in modern history such as the debate over Israel (this, however, is not the place to do debate that particular issue).

Hey, there, coldfire;

I'm also thinking that my definition of history is different than yours, so let's use your definition (which is also the dictionary definition) and refer to history as a written account of events, and to reality as what actually took place.

In the above scenario, you rightly observe that there are 2 different accounts of one common event. Because the mother was not there, she must take into account who is the most reliable source, and make her judgement from there. She must make a judgement call of what REALLY happened (i.e. reality, or the accurate description of the events), based solely on the oral accounts of 2 different sources...i.e. the boys. None of this discounts the fact that there was a real, accurate order by which these events took place.
In so doing, she will no doubt take into account several different factors, including whose testimony seems the most plausible, and the trustworthiness of both boys....i.e. she is judging history based upon the trustworthiness of the witnesses.
In regards to the creation account, what it all boils down to is this...There is only one person who was witness to the creation, and that person is God. Likewise, He is the only One with the knowledge of what actually took place during creation, i.e. historical reality.
Since He is the only One with this knowledge, we must rely on His account of the events.....and if we believe the Bible to be divinely inspired, then there is no doubt that it IS His account.
As such, we must look at His character in judging whether or not these events are real (accurate), or metaphorical (inaccurate). Is God truthful? The answer is yes.
Since God is truthful, we must then ask ourselves...what is His method of communicating in this text? Is He speaking historically, or symbolically? In the case of Genesis, as I believe it to be an historical book, I can only reason that, in this case, He spoke to us historically.
The fact of the matter is, we are judging the validity of Genesis based on what we believe to be God's agenda. While you believe it to be metaphorical, I believe it to be historical, and I base my conclusion on the fact that it is laid out as an eyewitness account of God's creation, inspired by the only eyewitness to the creation...God Himself.


Complex Debate

I will use an example from real life. John Piper has recently written a book on justification in response to books written by N.T. Wright. Wright has written a number of books that espouse a "new perspective" on Paul. I will not go into the debate at large. If you want to see the debate, you can view it here (http://trevinwax.com/2007/12/20/the-future-of-justification-series/). Wright claims that his understanding of Paul is correct, but Piper tends to think that his view of Paul is equally correct. Both men have deep ideological reasons to believe that they are correct. Piper notes in his introduction that Wright's view on Paul is one that he has held since he wrote about this perspective for his dissertation. Wright has not yet written a reaction to Piper's book, but it is obvious that both men cannot be "right" about Paul.

And this is no small issue.

We are dealing here with one of the central issues of Christianity. Both men are men of God, but they both cannot be right, can they?

No...probably not



When we consider history in light of this, we realize that "reality" becomes quite a fuzzy thing as well. I would argue that a "written account" can NEVER give us a full view of reality as you claimed in your above quote. Can we honestly say that we understand, for instance, Augustine? We might be able to understand his writings, we might be able to understand his biography, and we might even be able to understand the context in which he lived and why he did some of the things he did. But can we know Augustine? My contention is we cannot know him and understand his writings without the spirit guiding us.

Well, of course it's not possible to KNOW anybody completely....but that is also because we don't have that person's mind. On the contrary, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, have the mind of Christ, who guides us into all truth.
I think I know where you're going with this, and the bottom line is this...We know God through what the Holy Spirit reveals to us, and by what is written in the Bible.
The Bible states that God is truth; therefore, we know that what He reveals to us in the Scriptures are truth.
Not only that, but unlike Augustine, we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth...we do not have the indwelling of Augustine's spirit to guide us in the reading of his texts.



My view of history FORCES us to have a big God because I have NO IDEA what inspired Augustine to write the way he did (for his philosophies would be tied up with Christianity even to this day; this is why I am making so much mention of him here). My view of history FORCES us to realize that God sits outside of time, and can take us back and forth across time boundaries by the spirit just as he did for the prophet Ezekiel. My view of God forces him to be the one that allows us, if ever so humbly as if we thought we were the ones understanding it, to forestall all of our intellectual games at the throne of the Almighty.

In other words, how am I supposed to understand Genesis?

"I have no faith," say I as I throw myself at the feet of Jesus, the only and all powerful one who can enlighten me to understand his Holy Scriptures, "Help me in my unbelief!"

I absolutely agree with your statement that only God can bring us true enlightenment, but you must also remember that God commands us to have faith.
While praying for faith is a good thing to do, our skepticism in no way negates us from our obligation to have faith in God...and whether or not God decides to enlighten us is not a pre-requisite for our faith.
Faith is something which we must make a conscious effort to have, even in the face of doubt....and this in itself forces us to dispell any "intellectual games" we may be playing.
I really think that once we lose faith in the basic tenets of Scripture, such as the creation account, our faith can easily slip in other areas.





Yes! I am glad you realize this. God had an agenda, but one must understand that this agenda had to do with the context the Israelites were in at the time Genesis was written. Before going into this, we must admit that scholars are not sure when the stories were written down. I hold with the tradition that Moses compiled all these stories to be put into an early version of the Torah, but when I say "compiled" this does not necessarily mean written down. What I mean is, Moses gathered the elders of the all the tribes to discuss and write down the history of God.
YES...I agree with all of this.
So, then, it appears to me that Genesis was divinely inspired by God, to be written as an historical account of God, not only to address the issue of polytheism, but also as an HISTORICAL ACCOUNT, not so much of God, as God is infinite and this would be impossible, but of His works regarding creation and the history of man.
As Genesis was written as an historical account, and as God is a completely trustworthy witness to creation, it goes without saying that the events described in Genesis 1-3 are both historical AND trustworthy.


The combination of the God's people Israel coming together and the revelation of God to Moses directly from Sinai, I believe an early version, whether written or oral we cannot know, of the Torah was created. Now I agree with Sidney Gredianus in his analysis of the historical situation in which Genesis was written:


"Moses wrote Genesis 1 for Israel after the Exodus from Egypt and just before Israel entered the land of Canaan. On the other hand some modern scholars suggest that Genesis 1 was addressed to Israel when she was in exile in Babylon...it is sufficient to see how fearful Israel was of the power of foreign gods, whether Egyptian, Canaanite, or Babylonian...By sending ten powerful plagues on Egypt and Pharaoh, the Lord showed that He is more powerful than Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt. In fact the ninth plague shut out Egypt's most powerful god, the Sun. And the tenth plague killed even the firstborn of Pharaoh, the ruling god of Egypt..."

Well, yes, but it's the same concept. God revealing Himself through history, which is accurately portrayed in Scripture. Just because there was a spiritual agenda behind the ten plagues does not mean that these plagues did not take place as they are described in Genesis.
Just as the account in Exodus is historical, so is the account in Genesis.


Yes! What an agenda indeed! I believe that God has such an agenda for his people. It is something that is hard for Americans to understand because we are, in many senses, Babylon--the richest, most prosperous, and powerful nation in the world. I am not saying this to deface American Christians, for their certainly were good Babylonians back in the day, but it is hard for us to understand the plight of the Jewish people.

.....and yet, we are the strongest supporter of the nation Israel. Go figure!!!



We really do not need protection from anything.
.....except, perhaps, ourselves. Have you noticed the level of corruption in our culture lately?


So the story becomes one that degenerates to an argument about evolution or creation. The author of the story did not mean for the story to be viewed through such a modern lens.

YES....and I do believe that this is because, when Genesis was written, humankind was YEARS away from the theory of evolution, and the author had NO IDEA that mankind would even ATTEMPT to refute the existence of a Creator.
At this point in time, atheism was considered pure folly.
Monostheist, or polytheist....people still acknowledged the existence of a God.

coldfire136
Dec 27th 2007, 01:31 AM
Cloudburst!

You have written a highly powerful idea of history that I have written about over the past semester. I agree with everything you said about the trustworthiness of God! I will give you a link to the stuff that I wrote once I put it online.

I will respond to the rest of your post later.

coldfire136
Dec 28th 2007, 06:16 AM
I absolutely agree with your statement that only God can bring us true enlightenment, but you must also remember that God commands us to have faith.

Yes. Since I was talking about Augustine earlier, I will use his word that to understand we must have faith. We cannot understand without faith.

coldfire136
Dec 29th 2007, 02:01 AM
Day Four

We are now on day four of creation. On this day God created the sun, the moon, and the stars. The first thing that strikes me is that God created vegetation before he created the sun. While the ancient Jews may not have understood the ecosystem in as much detail as the modern biologist, they must have certainly understood that plants needed the sun to grow (i.e. without the sun the plants could not grow). But notice here that God created vegetation before he created the sun. How did such vegetation grow?

It is clear from the text that the sun not only represents daylight, but also represents a marker for the seasons (Genesis 1:14). But the vegetation was created and sustained by God before the sun ever had a chance to support it. In other words, God is destroying the idea that the Hebrews should pray to the sun or pray to the moon or have faith in any sort of astrology. God would be provider and sustainer of their crops, and he had complete control over them.

I must come back to my original point here noting that this has nothing to with a "scientific account" of creation. If the Hebrews had studied science, realized that photosynthesis and respiration require the sun, and realized that the sun was needed for the plants to grow, the Hebrews would have had God create the crops after the sun because this is what makes sense scientifically. The creation story is shown, again and again, to have theological rather than scientific importance, and must be seen within the agricultural and sociological world of the ancient near east.

RoadWarrior
Dec 30th 2007, 02:14 AM
Day Four

We are now on day four of creation. On this day God created the sun, the moon, and the stars. The first thing that strikes me is that God created vegetation before he created the sun. While the ancient Jews may not have understood the ecosystem in as much detail as the modern biologist, they must have certainly understood that plants needed the sun to grow (i.e. without the sun the plants could not grow). But notice here that God created vegetation before he created the sun. How did such vegetation grow?

It is clear from the text that the sun not only represents daylight, but also represents a marker for the seasons (Genesis 1:14). But the vegetation was created and sustained by God before the sun ever had a chance to support it. In other words, God is destroying the idea that the Hebrews should pray to the sun or pray to the moon or have faith in any sort of astrology. God would be provider and sustainer of their crops, and he had complete control over them.

I must come back to my original point here noting that this has nothing to with a "scientific account" of creation. If the Hebrews had studied science, realized that photosynthesis and respiration require the sun, and realized that the sun was needed for the plants to grow, the Hebrews would have had God create the crops after the sun because this is what makes sense scientifically. The creation story is shown, again and again, to have theological rather than scientific importance, and must be seen within the agricultural and sociological world of the ancient near east.


Hi Coldfire,

You are right that God did not want the people to worship the sun and the moon. But remember that He had created light in the very beginning, before He did anything else. So the plants had that light to grow by, before the sun was created. It is a deeper mystery to realize that there is light apart from the sun. The plants need light to grow, but the light does not have to come from the sun. Plants can grow inside houses, by artificial light - electric light.

I like your final point - the creation story is more important theologically than it is scientifically. So what can we glean from knowing that God grew plants by a light other than the sun?

coldfire136
Dec 31st 2007, 01:07 AM
Good to have you back RoadWarrior,
I think the main point in regards to your comment is to remember that many other nations at the time the book was written were praying the sun God (in Egypt the worshipped "Ra"...often designated by the light beams of the sun). In Israelite tradition, such worship was considered by some sects of Israel to be heresy (not all Israelites, in my opinion, were members of the Yahweh tradition). The Israelites who worship the true God, according to this creation story, worship the people who created both the sun and the moon and the seasons.

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 31st 2007, 06:48 PM
Cloudburst!

You have written a highly powerful idea of history that I have written about over the past semester. I agree with everything you said about the trustworthiness of God! I will give you a link to the stuff that I wrote once I put it online.

I will respond to the rest of your post later.



Hey, coldfire;

That's a tremendous compliment...Thanks so much!!

It seems that we are in agreement on this matter (the trustworthiness of God), so I will leave it at that.

Proceed with the posting :)

Equipped_4_Love
Dec 31st 2007, 06:49 PM
Yes. Since I was talking about Augustine earlier, I will use his word that to understand we must have faith. We cannot understand without faith.



Amen to THAT!!!!!!!

RoadWarrior
Jan 2nd 2008, 04:48 AM
Good to have you back RoadWarrior,
I think the main point in regards to your comment is to remember that many other nations at the time the book was written were praying the sun God (in Egypt the worshipped "Ra"...often designated by the light beams of the sun). In Israelite tradition, such worship was considered by some sects of Israel to be heresy (not all Israelites, in my opinion, were members of the Yahweh tradition). The Israelites who worship the true God, according to this creation story, worship the people who created both the sun and the moon and the seasons.


It may take me a day or so to get back in the rhythm. I just spent two days at Death Valley, and am so in awe of God! He was not working on a small scale when He created that bit of geography, neither small in scope nor brief in time.

Yes, He is the GOD who created both the sun and the moon and the seasons. (I think that's what you meant to say, right? Not the "people".)

But I am also thinking of Jesus, who said, "I am the LIGHT...". I think theologically there is something deeper and more mysterious intended in the growing of plants before there was the creation of the sun. But something in me enjoys the fact that there are mysteries about God beyond my understanding!

He is so big, and I am so small.

RoadWarrior
Jan 4th 2008, 05:24 PM
... I think the three points that I have made about
God's sovereignty over creation,
the goodness of creation, and that
he created it ex nihilo are all important. ...

In this thread I am trying to get across three nuances
...how the Holy Spirit has spoken to me personally about the text.
...how the Holy Spirit has spoken to a larger church movement about the text at hand. This includes pastors and scholars.
...what is the best way for me to understand how the Hebrews who penned and told these stories in the ancient near east want us to view them.
In other words, how can we discern the movements of the Spirit in the text as the Hebrews would have seen the spirit move so many thousands of years ago.


...My view of history FORCES us to have a big God
...My view of history FORCES us to realize that God sits outside of time,
... My view of God forces him to be the one that allows us, if ever so humbly as if we thought we were the ones understanding it, to forestall all of our intellectual games at the throne of the Almighty.

In other words, how am I supposed to understand Genesis?

"I have no faith," say I as I throw myself at the feet of Jesus, the only and all powerful one who can enlighten me to understand his Holy Scriptures, "Help me in my unbelief!"...


Hey Coldfire, you out there? I'm back at my home PC now. I've edited your post (above) to make some things stand out. Even with all that I deleted, it still feels like a big bite to wrap our minds around. I like this question



how am I supposed to understand Genesis?

and I think we can go forward in our discussion with this, whenever you are ready.

Hope you had a great Christmas and that your New Year is off to a good start.

p.s. In light of the fact that The Novelist has joined the board, we might want to explore this item in particular:

...how the Holy Spirit has spoken to a larger church movement about the text at hand. This includes pastors and scholars.

groovemongrel
Jan 4th 2008, 07:13 PM
I don't waste time trying to figure out what is truth and fiction in the bible. I just take it all as truth and be done with it.

Fighting Instinct
Jan 4th 2008, 07:42 PM
I don't waste time trying to figure out what is truth and fiction in the bible. I just take it all as truth and be done with it.
You shouldn't just take stuff because. God gave us a brain to figure things out for ourselves, with his help of course. I hate it when someone answers a biblical question with just "Because God said so" or "That's just the way it is" becasue there is always a reason behind it.

coldfire136
Jan 7th 2008, 09:55 PM
Day Five

It is not until the fifth day that we begin to see creatures that move upon the earth. There are different "types" of creatures that God creates on the fifth day.

The waters "bring forth swarms of living creatures" (1:20). The first type of creature are these "swarms" (Heb. sheres) similar to the swarms of frogs in the plagues (also Heb. sheres Ex. 8:3). It is also used of insects, rodents, and other types of crawling animals (Lev. 11). It is usually used to refer to smaller animals.

The second type of animal is the birds that fly over the "dome" of the sky (1:20). Notice the language used here: Birds flying over the dome of the sky. If you have ever been able to stand in the wilderness and been able to watch a whole bunch of birds flying by, you will know how powerful this message is about birds. God is the creator of great communities of animals.

He also created the "great sea monster." I am going to spend another entire post on this interesting and mysterious creature. He is a good example of one of the great and powerful images of folklore in the ancient near east.

The only other thing I want to note for now is that he also called the animals to be fruitful and multiply throughout the world.

RoadWarrior
Jan 7th 2008, 10:04 PM
Day Five

...
The second type of animal is the birds that fly over the "dome" of the sky (1:20). Notice the language used here: Birds flying over the dome of the sky. If you have ever been able to stand in the wilderness and been able to watch a whole bunch of birds flying by, you will know how powerful this message is about birds. God is the creator of great communities of animals.
...

Glad to see you, Coldfire!

Almost every day I hear small flocks of geese flying over my house as they go back and forth between ponds. I always pause and smile. They make me happy.

My hubby and I like to visit a nearby wildlife refuge in the winter when the snow geese have come down from the north. The best thing is to be there at dawn, when they stir themselves from sleeping on the waters, and take wing in great flocks, calling to each other, forming v-shapes in the sky as they go out to feed in the grain fields. You are right. It is a great community of animals, and God made it that way.

They fly extremely high when they are migrating. Jet planes sometimes have collisions with them.

coldfire136
Jan 10th 2008, 03:37 PM
Day Six:
Today is the creation of "cattle" and other animals and the creation of man. I will start another thread on the topic of "man created in the image of God." I am ending this thread here because I am going to spend a significant amount of time on the sixth and seventh days in separate threads. Thank for all of you who contributed to this thread. Your thoughts and prayers were greatly appreciated.

Nihil Obstat
Jan 10th 2008, 06:33 PM
For the modern reader, as we have noted, trying to understand the passage "literally" is quite difficult. If the earth was created before the sun, the earth would have been floating aimlessly around the universe. It would have had nothing to rotate around. This is another reason I wonder why certain people try so hard to hold to the "it happened literally in seven days" idea.

I haven't read every post in this thread, but have skimmed it pretty thoroughly. Pardon me if I'm misunderstanding you coldfire, but from what I've read, it seems that you believe that God did create everything by His word / breath, making Him all powerful, but that somehow He couldn't keep order in the in-between stages that science insists must be, such as a sun for the earth to orbit. Have I misunderstood your posts? Forgive me if I have... I do love that I've found another who has an understanding and interest in combat myths! I've read some of your poetry - I wrote a poem (http://bibleforums.org/showthread.php?t=111620) that you may appreciate if you'd like to check it out... Blessings upon you! - Lk.11