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Believing a ‘literal Genesis’ is ‘flesh-minded’?

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A correspondent, Kathryn C., commented on  article, Free to believe as follows:

Your insistence on a “literal Genesis” betrays you. Such a finite, flesh-minded tenet shows a closed door against life in the Spirit. Didn't you hear the angel say, from within the narrow confines of your tomb of fixed time, “Why are you seeking the living among the dead? He is not here, he is risen”? cf. Galatians 4:8–11

Philip responds:

Your charge, that CMI’s ‘literal’ (better termed a historical-grammatical) reading of the early chapters of Genesis is ‘flesh-minded’, would be serious if true. The Bible teaches that “living in (according to) the flesh” is synonymous with submission to the bondage of the law, that is “the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:5–6); it is to be “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14) and to “serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). As you may know, Romans 7–8 and Galatians 5:16–25 contain extensive teaching on what it means to be ‘in the flesh’ and ‘in the spirit’.

The Genesis account of Creation/Fall/Flood etc. is nothing to do with “the law” which the Apostle Paul talks about in these two epistles and you would be hard pushed to find any theologian or qualified Bible exegete who would argue otherwise. God’s Word does not (cannot) contradict itself. Unquestionably, the Lord Jesus Christ (along with the apostles and New Testament writers) affirmed Genesis as history; see here and here (and Jesus was no ‘red-letter Christian’!). To say that they were “flesh-minded” would clearly be blasphemous.

Thus, your charge actually raises a sobering question. The Apostle Paul elaborates in detail on the contrast between living “according to the flesh” and “according to the Spirit” in Romans 8:1–16. For instance, “to set the mind on the flesh is death … For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God. … Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:6–8). While the context of Paul's discussion (as already indicated) has nothing to do with the historicity (or otherwise) of Genesis, there is an implied exhortation to “please God” and to ensure that our attitude is not one which is “hostile to God”. Paul declares, “those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For … to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5–6). One would think that “the things of the Spirit” justifiably includes the things Jesus believed and taught—He in whom dwelt the Spirit of God in full measure (Colossians 2:9; compare Luke 4:1).

It is CMI’s view that one’s attitude to (and assessment of) Genesis 1–11 should conform to that of Christ and the other biblical writers; anything else qualifies as unbelief. And that certainly is serious.

Note that we are not saying that one must believe in a historical Genesis to be saved (see also Can Christians believe evolution?) But when it is shown that Jesus definitely believed Genesis, would it not be good to follow Him (unlike some theistic evolutionists)?

Published: 19 September 2015

Helpful Resources

The Genesis Account
by Jonathan Sarfati
US $39.00
Hard cover
Busting Myths
by J Sarfati & G Bates, edited
US $10.00
Soft cover