Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?‘”Genesis 3:1, ESV
These words of the serpent, “Did God really say?” are the beginning of the Fall. It is the challenge that we struggle to this day and was a struggle reformers like Martin Luther fought against at the time of the Reformation. The Word of God is a challenge to the deceiver. The desire, however, is to mythologize the Scripture and paint it as a story to tell a greater truth, because, of course, a serpent can not talk. The supernatural must be removed in order to rationally understand Scripture, right? This is where the smallest seed of doubt begins to be sown and, unfortunately, it is sown most often by those called to be Preachers of the Word. The reality is to believe whether the events described are descriptive of an historical event as purveyed by the inspired writer or writers of the Old Testament or a myth carried on by the early Hebrew people written down at the time of the writing of Genesis is not something we base our salvation on as Christians, but it does begin to chip away at the reliability of the Word of God as the question posed by the serpent to Eve caused Eve to eat and share the forbidden fruit with her husband.
Why don’t we, as people of the Word, begin as we are called to do by testing everything to Word of God? This is a good question that, if really pondered, may lessen so many disputes, particularly in our day and age. We all know the danger to the Deceiver if we were to be faithful and trust in the Word of God, but we never seem to question. The main issues that tend to be thrown out there is the prevalence of many things that would be considered negative for faithful people to engage, i.e. genocide within Joshua and Judges, plural marriage, abuse of women, and slavery. The question one must ask is are these, when being interpreted against the whole of Scripture normative? The answer is simply, “No.” These each highlight areas of the Fall. God’s desire in Joshua and Judges was to create a “Promised Land” where the people of God would not be corrupted by other influences, other gods. The reality is that because of the peoples disobedience to God that they were never afforded the peaceful, rich homeland that God desired for them to have. The Garden, as created by God, was utopia where Adam and Eve could walk and be in relationship with God without fear. They could’ve even eaten from the Tree of Life that was right next to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but there eyes didn’t even look to that tree, but they were drawn to the one tree from which God had told them not to eat. The seed of sin was sown with these simple words, “Did God really say?” Trust was broken and from then on the fear was not of the Deceiver but of God and that is still true for us today.
Think about this reality when we hear the cries for those that wish to remove “religion” from the Public Square. Which religion are they desiring to remove? Across the United States, students can be asked to study the Koran as an historical book but if a teacher were to bring in the Bible and ask students to read from it as an historical book there would be a major outcry. A Muslim can easily wear a hijab to school, but a student may be stopped with a cross or a Christian T-shirt. If a Sikh or a Hindu were to wear traditional clothing to school it would be celebrated, but be careful about too much Christian wear. Now, I am not opposed to studying the Koran or the wearing of other religious wear in school I believe that, within reason, all should have the right to religious expression and it is good for students to have an understanding of various faiths, but the one that will bring the greatest amount of ire in schools is the one that invokes Jesus Christ.
As Christians, I think it is important for us to see about defining how we view the world and study Science with a Christian worldview. Science is merely the pursuit of knowledge and it is good and healthy to look at the world and try to understand the world that God has created. In fact, one can do that and still hold a biblical worldview. That does not require a secular, evolutionary understanding. When looking at the idea of evolution one can find issue. Since personally becoming a Creationist I have seen the timelines shift at least a half a dozen times in the last six years because of new findings that don’t fit earlier timelines. Not that I am spending all my time in research, but I do like to look at articles and read viewpoints of various scientists both Evolutionist and Creationist to compare. I have found the program “Ancient Aliens” to be an interesting watch as the theories that, though many would argue their ideas are out there, are presented line up with Creationist ideas but they move away from God and the timelines often are longer. It is fascinating, though, how broad the “star dust” theory and the “seed planting” theory have reached into the mainstream sciences to explain how Earth came to be populated.
Martin Luther, in his writings, struggled with those that were challenging the biblical creation account in the sixteenth century at the time of the Reformation. He stood up for the Word of God and wanted that to be our standard. As the arguments for reason, and following the Greek philosophers was becoming a movement of the early humanist movement Martin Luther saw the difficulties that this presented.
In opposition they quote Aristotle’s statement: “Reason pleads for the best”; this they try to support also by certain sacred statements and by the opinion of the philosophers that sound reason is the cause of all virtues.2 I do not deny that these statements are true when they are applied to matters that are subject to reason: to managing cattle, building a house, and sowing a field. But in higher matters they are not true. How can a reason which hates God be called sound? How can a will which resists God’s will and refuses to obey God be called good? Therefore when they say: “Reason pleads for the best,” you should say: “For the best in a mundane sense, that is, in things about which reason can judge.” There it directs and leads to what is honorable and useful in respect to the body or the flesh. As for the rest, since it is full of ignorance of God and detestation of the will of God, how can it be called good on this level? Moreover, it is a well-known fact that when the knowledge of God is preached and this subject is dealt with in order to restore reason, then those who are the ablest and, so to speak, are endowed with a better reason and will hate the Gospel all the more bitterly.Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 1: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 1, pp. 143–144). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Therefore in theology let us maintain that reason in men is most hostile to God, and that the respectable will is most opposed to the will of God. From this source arise the hatred of the Word and the persecution of godly ministers. For this reason, as I said, let us not minimize this evil which human nature has contracted as a result of the sin of our first parents; rather let us emphasize it. Then we shall both regret deeply this state of ours and have a profound longing for Christ, our Physician, who was sent by the Father to heal those evils which Satan brought upon us through sin, and to restore us to the eternal glory which we had lost.
Luther holds nothing back in his words and his disdain for the attack on the Word of God. We like to act as though we have greater wisdom than God and want to place our knowledge above the Word and that is where we find the greatest struggle and instead of remaining in the struggle we opt out and explain away God’s work as being something less. To be subjected to something is contrary to our nature, but any good leader understands that no one is without a greater authority. Ideas do not come from nothing, but are influenced by something or someone. My wife, in her research, looked upon a university site and saw that common Radiocarbon dating is only highly accurate up to 4000 years. In my research for this blog I looked it up and have found that among Christian sites, but in the magazine Scientific American they are saying that it is accurate only up to about 50,000 years now, encyclopedia.com puts it up to 7000 years being very accurate and somewhat accurate up to 50,000 years, and Oxford University Press gives it a 70,000 year dating. One number that comes up commonly is the the half-life of 5,568 years. The reality is that these numbers are all really an assumption based on the limited observations that we can truly have on this and it is still a relatively new science, but no one has been able to truly observe any of this because I know of no one who has lived a life long enough to truly clarify and, to the best of my knowledge, no person put a date on an object 50,000 years ago to be observed today. I do, however, find the dating of 5,568 years to be significant in a biblical perspective.
If we are to trust the Word of God, let us begin by looking at what is observable and that begins with the accounts given to us in Scripture. This begins by looking at those wonderful lists of names from Adam to Noah as presented to us in Genesis. Have you ever wondered why we find the names and ages of people? Early Christians looked at those dates and began to add the generations together and most commonly, we find the number that dates from Adam to Jesus is about 4000 years. We have dates and historic events presented to us in Scripture that help us to confirm some of the dating. Archaeologists have found many places described in the Bible that were once considered myth and Biblical Archaeologists are using the Bible to find sites that many people said did not exist simply by using the descriptions given in the Bible. Archaeologists has also found things that point to people of the Old Testament like David that challenges the assumptions of some to say that Israel and the power that the nation once held was never as described in the Bible. Unfortunately, the secular archaeologists don’t give as much credit to those that use the Bible to help in these findings, but at the same time they will use other religious and mythological documents to assist in their findings without question. Even the flood account is challenged as being influenced by other cultures as opposed to the biblical account being the genesis of the flood accounts which would make sense if one were to believe the Tower of Babel to be an historical account and not just a fanciful myth of the early Hebraic people. Did God really say? One needn’t turn off rational thought to begin the journey of trusting the biblical accounts, in fact, it is quite the opposite, in my opinion, because it is beginning by placing a trust in God and letting Him reveal to you the reliability of the accounts.
Yes, in this way one would begin to rely on and trust the in the miraculous and supernatural, i.e. a speaking serpent, a pillar of cloud in the day and fire in the night, the shrouding of a mountain, the shooting of fire from offering lanterns, healing of sick, bringing the dead back to life, the ability given to a donkey to speak, angel armies, etc. When reading in Scripture we have many supernatural accounts of how God is at work within His chosen people and how He includes others. There are aspects of Scripture that will trouble us and cause us to question, but these are opportunities for greater prayer as we ask God to help us understand. This is cause for pause. I find it troubling how many I know struggle in faith and often because of the false belief that one can not believe Science and the Bible but that ties to the false understanding that God does not want us to explore His creation. One would only need to read the Word to find that not to be the case, in fact, the modern “flat earth” argument is not a biblical construct nor a construct that most ancient people knew (globes have been around as early as the 3rd Century B.C. which can easily be verified with a quick internet search, that’s what I did!). For more information on this I will point you to a great article on this issue, https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/earth/falling-flat-earth/, My hope and prayer is that we will not continue to fall away from the Truth presented to us within Scripture and the reliability of the Word that does not require a “literal” interpretation, but a move back to what Martin Luther would say and read the Word “plainly” or as it was written, i.e. history as history, poetry as poetry, prophecy as prophecy, dream as dream, and parable as parable. If I were to say to you, “On Sunday, we had church.” You wouldn’t interpret that as a statement highly open to interpretation because it is obvious that the day that I had church was Sunday which is quite different than me saying, “One of these days, I am going to fix up the basement for the kids.” This is well open to interpretation. Let’s look at the Word how it is written and ask the same questions, not based on assumptions we want to impose, but simply on how the Word is presented. We might find greater answers and a greater level of faith in God’s Holy Word.