Simple, pastoral book encourages Christians to believe Genesis

A review of The God of Creation: Truth and Gospel in Genesis 1, by Richard D. Phillips

reviewed by

Published: 31 October 2019 (GMT+10)

It is increasingly common for both pastors and theologians to tell us we should not take the creation narrative in Genesis as written. Thus, it is especially refreshing to read Richard Phillips’ excellent exposition of Genesis 1 in The God of Creation.

Phillips does a good job walking the uninitiated reader through the major arguments for taking the Bible at its word. Coming in at less than 200 pages, The God of Creation is an unintimidating read for someone unfamiliar with the arguments and terminology surrounding creation. This book is good for anyone, from a teenager encountering evolutionary arguments in a high school science class to a new Christian wondering what the big deal is regarding creation vs. evolution.

Theology of God the Creator

The book is organized around the events of Creation Week. Phillips begins by examining the statement “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1). He draws out how we can derive many of the attributes of God (His goodness, omnipotence, etc.) from the creation narrative itself. He also contrasts the Genesis narrative with the pagan creation narratives of the ancient world and refutes the notion that Genesis is derived from those stories.

Phillips rejects the Big Bang origin of the universe along with the billions of years that comes along with naturalistic views of the history of the universe. Both Christians and non-Christians have to agree that the universe has a beginning. Using the word ‘science’ as a shorthand for ‘evolutionary naturalism’, he writes, “But Christians differ from science in that our position is not absurd. Science declares that everything came from nothing—an objectively irrational claim. Christians say that everything came from Someone—a mystery, for sure, but not an irrational one.” (p. 15).

When one asserts that God created the universe, the most common follow-up is “Who created God?” Phillips answers this question by explaining God’s self-existence. God needs nothing and no one outside of Himself; indeed, the creation is continually dependent upon Him, not the other way around. Following from this is the fact that God does not change; He is always eternally the same.

Theology of Creation

After thoroughly covering what we can learn about God in the first part of Genesis 1, Phillips moves on to give a thorough treatment of the rest of the chapter. He defends creation ex nihilo versus creation from pre-existing matter and also refutes the gap theory, based on the Hebrew grammar of the first several verses of Genesis 1. He also covers the often-overlooked role of the Holy Spirit and the Son in creation, showing how the creation account is Trinitarian.

One of the most common attacks against the creation account is to interpret the days figuratively. Phillips asserts that when ‘science’ and the Bible seem to conflict, one should always land on the side of Scripture. This is because, though God does reveal Himself through nature, science always needs a human interpreter, and this interpretation is never infallible. Furthermore, science is constantly changing and even reversing previously confident proclamations. He points out that all non-literal interpretations of Scripture exist for the sole reason of harmonizing with ‘science’.

Refuting pagan parallels

It is common to hear claims like ‘Genesis is copied from pagan creation narratives’ and ‘Genesis teaches an ancient cosmology which had a solid dome sky’. Phillips refutes these while showing the contrasts between the Bible’s creation account and pagan stories. He also shows how the Bible’s language accurately describes the world as we know it.

Genesis vs. evolution

Phillips takes a brave stand against evolution, saying, “Christians should reject evolution because it is not proven and, more importantly, because the testimony of Scripture stands squarely against it.” (p. 109). He refutes common evolutionary ‘evidences’ such as human and chimp DNA similarity and also highlights the difference between ‘adaptation’, ‘speciation’, and evolution.

But the most devastating effect evolution had on Christianity is that it eliminates sin’s effect of bringing death into the creation. It also rules out the historical Adam as the ancestor of all other humans. As a result, the doctrine of salvation has to be reorganized. He explains, “The Christian doctrine of salvation is that the second Adam, Jesus Christ, has overcome the failure of the first Adam by his life of perfect righteousness and sin-atoning death. … But under evolution, this gospel addresses a sin problem that is mythical, not historically real. If creation and [the] fall are myths, then the Christian gospel cannot escape that same assessment.” (pp. 111–112).

Humans in the image of God

Genesis teaches that human beings are the special creation of God and are uniquely created in God’s image. Phillips equates this ‘image’ with the special and unique faculties that people have, compared to all other life forms. He also speaks about how the image of God in man was damaged in the Fall and restored in Christ and why it is significant that the Bible asserts that both men and women are created in God’s image.

Helpful pastoral and devotional exposition

Phillips’s book does not stop at the facts of creation, which are important, but goes on to explain how the facts connect to salvation in Christ. He makes a clear case that believing Genesis, as written, is important. This book defends a biblical view of creation while feeling much more devotional than apologetic. While he takes a denominational view of the Sabbath that some of our readers may not agree with, this does not detract from the overall helpfulness of this resource.

Helpful Resources

From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
US $12.00
How Did We Get Our Bible?
by Lita Cosner, Gary Bates
US $3.50

Readers’ comments

Patrick P.
Whilst I have no claim to be a qualified theologian, there is a straightforward manner that Scripture specifies it should be studied, i.e. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 1 Cor 13:1 (and several other such references which shows that the Bible conforms to its’ own requirements). I cannot see that it is possible to find that the Scriptures allow for anything other than six days in the account of creation contained in the Scriptures. Logically, if I have six of something specific, they must be all the same. Likewise if there is a seventh, then it must be the same as the other six. Anybody who claims to see a gap or other spurious claims of long ages in the creation accounts, is not being honest and does not know the principle of two or more witnesses. They should at least find two witnesses to support what they are saying and there is not even one. One aspect of this item that may be disputed is the mention of Jesus as “The Second Adam”. I cannot find any reference to Jesus being described as such. I think this comes from the wording of a hymn for poetic purposes whereas Jesus is described as the “Last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45)
Bill P.
I can understand why this world does not believe the account in Genesis as it is written. However I can not wrap my mind around the fact that so many who claim to believe The Gospel of Jesus Christ join this world (a world system motivated by the father of ALL lies) by also denying The Creation Account as it is written. Do these believers also deny the world wide flood of Noah's Day when what is seen ALL OVER the surface of this earth reveals what one would find as a result of this kind of an event ? Do these believers who see today ISRAEL a nation from the "days of old" that was destroyed by one of the most powerful empires ever, and scattered all over this world, once again, "against ALL ODDS" a nation ? This historical event in May of 1948 by itself should be proof enough that The God of Abraham DID make a covenant w/the Fathers of this nation, also bringing them out of Egypt safely through a sea that HE Himself parted. Do these same believers also have a hard time believing that The Living God of Israel became flesh in order to pay "the Price" for the sins of this world on our behalf, and was raised from the dead, fulfilling ALL Scripture ? How can anyone who claims to believe The Gospel, NOT believe that He created the heavens and the earth just as He said He did ? It is a grave error for anyone to deny The True and Living God, Creator of heaven and earth. and is one step away from denying ALL of the others works that He has done throughout the history of the nations. YET even today in this late hour He sheds His mercy on ALL of those who would repent and seek Him w/ALL of their heart. He has proven this by showing mercy to a powerful pagan king (Babylon), all the way down to a harlot who helped 2 spies, Just As It Was Written. TY for the work you do..
David G.
Evolution is not so much 'not proven' as not demonstrated. Proof is a mathematical or formal logic concept, not a science concept.
Owen R.
if the author doesn’t take a stand against all non Biblical so called views of creation and those who espouse them then his book is just another view to pick from.
Lita Cosner
Owen, let me assure you that this book takes a very strong stand on biblical creation.
Grant B.
Sounds like an interesting book. It’s also good to hear someone standing with Scripture over the world. It seems so many think they can bring more people to CHRIST if we make it more palatable to the masses. I am sure Mr. Philips would have received more publicity for his book if he did write how evolution and the Bible go together. Instead it looks like he wrote a book encouraging people to stand with Scripture. It is a reminder that it is not my job to get people to accept the good news. It is my job just to share it and be able to explain why I believe what I believe. It’s in GOD’s hands to change hearts and minds.

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