Do I have to believe in a historical Genesis to be saved?
Published: 7 November 2013 (GMT+10)
Do we have to believe Genesis is reliable history to be saved?
The Bible lays out some basic truths we have to believe to be saved:
- There is one true God.
- He sent Jesus to die for our sins.
- He raised Jesus from the dead.
- Jesus is fully God and fully man.
That there is one true god is integral to the whole Bible. It was Israel’s main confession: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). God’s first command to them was “you shall have no other gods before me” (Exo. 20:3). But while belief in the one true God is necessary, it’s not sufficient.
Jesus Christ sets Christian faith apart from any other ‘one god’ religion. God sent his Son (John 3:16) to die for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3). God’s Son is Jesus Christ, and he is truly a man (1 Tim. 2:5). But God also raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 10:9). The gospel is how God fully reveals himself (Heb. 1:1–4) and saves us (Rom. 4:25). These are necessary, but still not sufficient.
The last factor is that Jesus is “Lord” (Rom. 10:9). In Rom. 10:8–13 Paul says that calling Jesus “Lord” is the same as calling him by the name for Israel’s God—YHWH. In Romans 10:13, Paul, talking about Jesus, quotes Joel 2:32. In the original Hebrew, “Lord” in Joel 2:32 is “YHWH”. So Paul calls Jesus “YHWH”—Israel’s God! Therefore, Paul says that confessing “Jesus is YHWH” is necessary for salvation.
Turning from our sin and personally trusting in this God, this Christ, and this death and resurrection is how we are saved. But I didn’t once need to reference believing that Genesis is history. Simply put, believing Genesis is history, by the Bible’s standards, isn’t necessary to be a genuine Christian.
But there is a very important “but”. The history of Genesis is integral to the gospel. If there was no literal Adam and Eve in a literal garden with a literal tree and a literal deceiver, and there wasn’t a literal Fall—then Jesus is literally irrelevant. So, someone who believes the above but doesn’t believe that Genesis records literal history is a Christian, but they are an inconsistent Christian.
We all have an amazing capacity to live with inconsistency. We may think we’re right in what we believe, but we’re not always right. So, we should treat all who confess those essential truths as family. However, inconsistency on something so integral to the gospel can lead (and has led) many away from the faith. So we also need to lovingly correct them because they are walking a dangerous path.