Genesis: the least relevant book in the Bible?
The Bible says that all Scripture is profitable for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). So even for the so-called ‘least relevant’ parts of the Bible, there are things we can learn from them for our growth in Christ. But is Genesis one of those ‘least relevant’ parts of the Bible? G.C. writes:
I am a Christian who has studied the Bible fairly extensively. My question is: Do you think it is more important to bring people to an understanding of the teachings of Jesus; or to turn modern educated people away by arguing about science based on the least relevant book of the Bible. I believe the words of Jesus as given to us by the New Testament are spiritual messages that have applied to humanity through the ages. To distract people from his message by having a pointless argument that engenders scepticism and derision of Christian beliefs is not what Jesus meant when he commanded us to “make disciples”.
CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:
We would simply reject the validity of your question—Genesis is far from the least relevant book in the Bible. Please see the hard data on how Genesis was used in both the Old Testament and New Testament (in the New Testament, only Psalms, Isaiah, Exodus, and Deuteronomy are quoted or alluded to as much or more than Genesis is), which clearly shows just how relevant Genesis is to understanding the gospel. Jesus also considered it foundational (Jesus on the age of the earth). Genesis is one of the most relevant books of the Bible.
Besides, the gospel is more than just the words of Jesus; more prominent in the gospel message are Jesus’ identity as God incarnate and His actions to die “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28) and be raised from the dead. Nevertheless, not even this is far removed from the origins debate. If we ask “why did Jesus have to die for the forgiveness of sins?”, the obvious answer is that we’re all sinners. But why are we all sinners? Genesis 3 supplies the simple reason—the Fall, and it’s unsurprising that Paul takes up the theme in Romans 5 and Corinthians 15. But if the Fall didn’t happen as recorded in Genesis 3 (in the historical context supplied by Genesis 1–11), then death preceded the Fall, and thus sin is not the root cause of death. But if sin is not the root cause of death, why would Jesus have to die for the forgiveness of sins? Apart from the Fall, Jesus’ death is meaningless. See The good news without the bad news is no news at all!, as well as Genesis & the Gospel Connection DVD
Kerry H. from the US writes (in red), with responses from CMI’s Shaun Doyle interspersed:
YOU SAY: “The increasing confusion caused in the church by long-age compromises (which, by putting suffering, death and bloodshed before Adam, undermine these truths) is a major reason why so many today cannot give reasoned answers to basic Gospel-related questions”
You are seriously going to overlook the overwhelming evidence existing, even in the Bible, of an “Old Earth” because you do not understand death and mortality BEFORE Adam?
And what “overwhelming evidence, even in the Bible” would that be? The very reason this is seen as a problem by long-age Christians is that there is no clear interpretation of Scripture that harmonizes with deep time (ultimately because there is none)—which is why there are so many conflicting attempted harmonizations of Scripture with deep time. And how did the church and the synagogue miss that biblical evidence for (at least) 1800 years? Before the rise of deep time geology, the church and the synagogue were practically unanimous that the Bible teaches that the world is only a few thousand years old. See our Genesis Q and A page for more details.
What was the purpose of the OTHER Tree in the Garden? The Tree of Life. If Adam & Eve had not eaten of that Tree periodically… their bodies would have died, even while sinless.
Even if Adam and Eve could have died before the Fall by starving themselves, why would they? Even if they could have, it doesn’t mean they would have. God not only sovereignly plans the ends, but also the means. See Did Adam and Eve have to eat before the Fall? (including the comments) for more information.
What of “accidents”… yes even animals have deadly accidents, falling off of cliffs or falling into holes or deaths by quicksand, and drowning.
Are we really to believe that an omnipotent deity couldn’t create a world in which fatal accidents didn’t happen before the Fall? God is all-powerful; if He was able to keep the Israelites’ shoes from wearing out in the wilderness, then He was able to keep accidents from killing animals before the Fall. For more on this, please see Pre-Fall animal death? (including the comments).
How could Adam UNDERSTAND the meaning of DEATH , IF HE HAD NEVER SEEN IT?
Why would Adam need to see death to understand what it is? I don't need to see God to have a basic grasp of what He is, so Adam wouldn’t need to see death to understand what it is. God could easily create Adam with a ‘built-in’ understanding of death.
Adam could not have made the Moral Judgment without the knowledge of Death and Adam could not be held accountable for something HE DID NOT UNDERSTAND.
Then why did God give Adam the command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and tell him that the consequence for doing so was death (Genesis 2:16–17)? That God gave the command clearly implies that He thought Adam could understand both the command and the consequence for disobeying it. And if God thinks Adam could understand it, then Adam could understand it, since God knows everything.