Tuesday, May 03, 2011

What Other Way Is There?

I take a literal/historical view of the Bible, and language and grammar are very important in the centrally interpretive motif of God's glory and holiness for me. I have brothers and sisters in Christ who completely disagree with me on that. I'm used to my atheist and agnostic friends expressing incredulity with me when I tell them that I believe the Genesis account in a literal way. I'm usually a little surprised when a Christian asks something like, "You mean you believe that Adam and Eve were real, historical individuals?" They usually follow that with, "Don't you know that Genesis is allegorical?" I don't know if this is because they haven't read Genesis, but have only believed what they have been taught about it from the pulpit by someone else. I don't know if that's because they have only skimmed Genesis and have never bothered to harmonize the passages there with the rest of the Scriptures.

Obviously there are plenty of church denominations which teach that much of Genesis is allegorical. The only reason that they can really come up with for doing so is that they don't trust what parts of what the Bible says there to be true. They are willing to trust it as truth illustrated by allegory, but not that those events or persons truly happened or existed. They find the notion of God creating the earth in six literal twenty-four hour days, and a man out of the dust of the earth on the sixth day, just "too far-fetched" and "silly".Though I love my friends who think that way, it always kind of gives me pause. I ask them things like, "Do you believe that God created the universe?" and they will answer unequivocally in the affirmative. I usually say, "Okay," and I move on from there with them if they're willing to talk about it, but internally I'm shaking my head. I'm doing that because I find there's a strange inconsistency in the way a person can believe that God had and has the power to create the UNIVERSE...........and yet the ability to do it as described in the initial chapters of Genesis somehow escapes Him. They hold it to be true that the God of the universe could dwell on earth as a man, suffer and die for our sins, and raise Himself from the dead....but that Garden of Eden business....tsk tsk tsk.

I'm not making fun here. I am relating accurately the attitude of some of my friends and acquaintances in the Lord. Where I work, we had an Episcopal priest who was a customer for decades. He was a lovely man. He also didn't believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. That little miracle provides the basis by which Jesus was able to be born without a sin nature, avoiding also the curse that would have prevented Him from sitting upon His future throne. All of these things are more than just a little important. They also flood over us with the importance of understanding the continuity of the wisdom and foreknowledge of Almighty God.
Jesus confirmed the Genesis record. In Mark 10:6 Jesus said, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." The Lord is referencing Genesis 1:27 there, and in doing so He affirmed the historicity of Adam and Eve as the first two human beings on the planet. He affirmed also that they were created "in the beginning", not billions or millions of years later. Someone might be asking, "Aren't those a general reference to the time---later on---when man was created?" My answer would be no. The words of Jesus Himself confirm this in Matthew 23:35-36 when He was rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. He said: "34 Therefore, behold, I send prophets and wise men and scribes to you. And you will kill and crucify some of them. And some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city; 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Berachiah, whom you killed between the temple and the altar." Jesus was speaking literally of the blood of Abel, slain by his brother Cain, just as he referred to Zechariah as a historical person.
Jesus confirmed the existence of Noah, and the existence of the ark and by logical extension---the Noahic Flood. (Matthew 24:37) "But as the days of Noah were, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark." If one is a Christian, the Lord Jesus must be taken for His word on this, because He said ; "......but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." That's pretty plain, and He knew what He was talking about.

The New Testament teaches us about how sin entered into the world, and we are taught that it entered through one man, Adam. "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." (Romans 5:14) The original sin of the first man Adam and the Law which was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Death reigned from a figurative, allegorical character to Moses, a real historical man? That doesn't make any sense does it? Want another one to think about? Try 1 Timothy 2:13 "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." Paul was converted from being a sin-filled man to being a born-again, Spirit-filled Scripture illuminated man after he had a rather radical encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. God inspired him and used him as an instrument to pen much of the New Testament. Paul identified Adam as the first human being to be formed by God, just as it was written in the Book of Genesis.

If one wishes to see the harmony of the Scriptures and how they confirm the historicity of the persons and the events of the Genesis record, there is more. Much more. One only has to invest the time, and trust that the Lord could do---just as He said.

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