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Sunday, September 6, 2009

The important thing is...

I put this post up on a Neil’s blog 'code red' of a few days ago.

...if they reject the only text that teaches God's creating, then they are hard pressed to maintain that he did.

A friend of mine (a minister) was bemoaning the fact the other day that he could talk to people about atonement, Christ etc. and they just 'glazed over', didn't seem to 'get' it. Well, I think it may be that if people are hearing about Christ with a world view that puts God within the creation (the 'evolved universe'), then of course, they'd have trouble understanding an act that only makes sense if the creator does it, and does it in the stream of salvation history grounded in the universe's creation history. The two are intertwined and inseparable...unless you are a Greek in philosophy while trying to be a Christian in theology!

It is intriguing that our SAD friends can separate God doing something from his account of the actions that show the doing.

That is, I’ve often heard the phrase ‘the important thing is that God is creator’ as John quoted, from the same person who denies that there is any objective content in the Genesis 1 account that aligns with real world events.

They’ve missed the point of the account, I think!

It’s like looking at your bank statement and thinking that the important thing is that you have a bank account, and not the amount of money it contains!

The details do matter!

The creation account in Genesis 1 is God’s demonstration of his being creator and of what his creation is. It shows how God has made the setting for his relationship with us: both generative and covenantal, and links those relationships with the concrete reality of our daily lives, delimited by the real creation that we are in and is from God’s hands.

If we deny that God’s demonstration of his creating is true, then we have no knowledge of God’s being creator apart from words that have a tenuous if any link with the subject of the purported creative activity. The direct link between God’s being creator and his creation is broken, and we have to say that the creation has its source, not in God’s word as he has demonstrated to us, but in some other source. The only other sources offered in our time are that the creation itself has brought itself forth: that’s the detail of the contemporary cosmogony (and biotic evolution), which must inform the general understanding of the origin of the cosmos and life.

God informs this knowledge by a completely alternative source: himself through his word. There are no secondary intervening mechanics or principles that apply to bring forth the world as we know it. This is the point of such references as John 1:3, Col 1:16 and Hebrews 11:3. The creation is intimately and directly linked to God, it is not removed from God by some secondary operation whose effect is to mask God’s role in creation and make the creation appear to stand alone without need of a creator. And this is precisely what modern paganism has: writers from Huxley at Darwin’s time to Dawkins in our own attest to the conception that if the Genesis account is counterfactual, then the cosmos stands on its own feet and there is no need for a creator.

All this leaves us with is a Genesis account that is a folorn mistake and doesn’t represent God’s action as creator, but is just like the pagan tales of creation, where story is substituted for fact, and the real world is something different from the account, but is unknown to the authors, who must invent from their imagination, rather than report what actually occurred.

Not only does this program deny that God has demonstrated that he is creator, but it says that reality: the setting for our encounter with God both in filial love and covenant is not what God has said, and that the marks of purpose in creation are the result not of purpose (because material contains no purpose), but of accident; this reality is not pregnant with intention, will and love, underpinned by purposeful intelligence (and that is God’s demonstration in Genesis 1, etc.), but is a sequence of cosmic accidents that do not and cannot point to God, that even God himself is unclear about and cannot marshal to his covenant with his creatures.

If this is the case, then the game is up!

Thus, it is through the details that we can make sense of the generality that God created. His work actually means something as we have the detail that is tangibly descriptive of the creation and in terms that make sense to our experience of it. Without this, we’d be just like the pagans and only have fairy stories that are disconnected from the concrete world we inhabit and in which sin and salvation operate. To set this aside and maintain the claim that we still acknowledge God as creator is the height of irrationality because we’ve just dismissed the only underpinning information we have of his being creator.

In its details the creation account prevents us entertaining any mistakes about the creation; common mistakes that are entertained by theistic evolutionists and those who interpose long ages somewhere either in the Genesis account, or in the pre-abrahamic history.

These mistakes are such as thinking that the universe (the creation) contains within itself any means of bringing matter from nothing, or organisation from non-organisation; thinking that kinds of living beings can derive from each other, and do not come from the will of God, rendering God irrelevant to the witness to teleology contained within the creation. Matter contains no teleology!

There are more profound mistakes that the Genesis account prevents.

That more generally, anything in creation can have as its source anything but God and that explanations of origins can validly set God aside, dismiss him, and leave us without proper spiritual cause. This mistake reduces God from the involved, loving, personally committed one who creates for relationship, to the deist caricature, of a machine starter who walks away once the devise is puttering along in the distance. This is not the God of the Bible.

Further, this mistake breaks the continuity of objective relations across time (and the temporal congruence is that which brings our 'life stream' and the stream of salvation history, rooted in the creation, into a domain of interaction), and has to hope that there is something more to our world than is revealed by God. This pops up in the form of philosophical idealism, where a reality behind God is imagined and to which God conforms. The sponsor of this direction in thinking is paganism which starts from the basis of the universe being, at some level, a ‘given’. God is not the one who speaks into existence all that is (and lists the ‘how’ as evidence of all that is in Genesis 1, the heavenly world aside, of course), but the one who is himself dependent on something that pre-exists him.

The objective continuity of relations across time shows us that Christ, who is creator and redeemer and re-creator, has as his domain of work the very real world that we live in; and not some airy world of ideas that we do not in fact inhabit. It makes Christ’s work tangible and in the same ‘world frame’ as the one that circumscribes our way of being. His salvation and re-creation are therefore real; not visions or fictional, they are congruent with the lives that we lead in time and space and before God, not off in some otherly defined realm of being.

The details we have in Genesis one etch for us the limits of the material world, set its relationship with the immaterial or spiritual world of persons (God), and deny the independence of anything in the material creation. It is this last point that is particularly important, and one that is set aside by those who deny the account, noting that
-material needs external action to form life etc, it has no teleology, it relies on intentioned action to head to goals;
-nothing in creation is a given; it is all created;
-there is no room for other forces or factors which would have the effect of making the creation rest on something outside of God; this is the very thing that denial of the account permits; it undermines the dependence of the creation on its creator and looks in the creation for something that must be there to give effect what the creation is.

The argument between the Genesis account in all its detail and those who deny the facticity and significance of the detail is the argument between a framing of the world in Christian-theist terms and its counter framing in paganistic-deist terms. One extols Christ, the other denies him.

To maintain their view, that is, to run with their mistakes, theistic evolutionists and ‘long agers’ have to set aside the account in Genesis; with the result that the contradictions they would fall foul of are made to vanish: it’s a sure fire recipe; if you want to avoid being contradicted by the word of God, just redefine it so that it ceases to intersect with the real world. There’s no restraint on mistakes then and people can believe what they like, and end up doing so!


neil moore said...

Well said Eric. It is as has been said before Theistic Evolutionists and Long Agers set up a slippery slope for those who follow them in the Church.

There is no Scriptural argument for their faulty position and they therefore cannot defend it against a well read Biblical Creationist. The only defence is to say "We don't want controversy in the Church" and on this premise they suppress the truth.


Duane said...

...or as one of the Ministers at my church said, "we can't be seen to be taking a position on that". It's a suppression of important information at the very least, to say nothing of the commentary on Genesis in the church library which (shhhh) takes a position?

Although that mood may be changing among some, as some of the courageous YEC's ay my church have been successfully opening up conversation on the topic. One of the Ministers even accepted a copy of the all important chapter in 'Thousands...Not Billions' on a statistical analysis of Gen 1&2 the other day, after requesting some information concerning the genre of Gen 1.

Something to pray for anyway.

neil moore said...

Duane, yes. And the commentary, what position does it take ...?


Critias said...

Thus: the only way we know God is creator is that he's demonstrated it. The only demo is in Gen 1; the basis of faith in Heb 11:3 is that that demo is accurate to facts! Done. Deny that the demo represents what happened and all you have is a house of cards, or you've got to rely on what the other side insists: that the universe demonstrates that it has no creator!

Critias said...

Reading a lot of commentaries on Gen. 1 reminds me of when God told his prophet that while it looked like the whole people had turned from him, there were still a number who had not worshipped Baal.

Would that our commentators had similar strength to make the prophetic stand for God's loving creating and against the dust of death. As it stands the gospel can't be really a hope giver, because commentators agree with the world that dust defines us!