Are there other valid interpretations of Genesis?
Susie B. from the UK wrote in response to the article Why we do what we do:
I have been receiving your e-mails for a long while now and I am so encouraged by them - you have shown me the importance of the authority of Scripture right from Genesis to Revelation and how to truly read the Bible. However, I come across loving, Bible believing Christians who are concerned by Creation Ministries and Ken Ham etc's approach as being marketed as THE ONLY way to view Genesis and the creation story….even if they do recognise that evolution as taught in schools is not correct or Biblical - I believe that Creation Ministries have got their interpretation of the Bible correct but we must not push truly Bible believing Christians away by the Truth we believe we, by faith, have discovered - can you ensure that your articles leave room for some prayerful, Biblical disagreement……so that the Church family can TRULY grown together and become sanctified as the Lord leads each individual to greater humility before Him and greater understanding in His Truth….? Your work is SO precious and SO needed but be careful to draw us ALL under the authority of Scripture and not the authority of 'Creation Ministries', 'Ken Ham' etc Bless you for your growing faithfulness in Him who is the author and perfecter of our faith….Hebrews 12:2 and 1415
I’m glad CMI’s materials have helped you to understand how important the creation issue is. We hear this sort of testimony from a lot of people. Many Christians are strengthened in their faith knowing they can trust the Bible’s teaching about creation, and we’ve even had testimonies of people coming to faith once this problem was resolved for them.
You suggest that we should leave room for disagreement “so that the Church family can TRULY grow together and become sanctified as the Lord leads each individual to greater humility before Him and greater understanding in His Truth”. However, this suggests that young-earth creationists are the ones being divisive or introducing a problem keeping people from growing together, etc. But young-earth creationism was the universal view of the early church and through history up until long-age views of geology started causing some theologians to reinterpret the relevant parts of the Bible. So who is being divisive, the people who are insisting on the historical, plain meaning of the text, or the people who are suggesting a new interpretation? See Old-earth or young-earth belief: which belief is the recent aberration?
We believe the Bible’s teaching about creation is unambiguous to the point where one must import a view from outside Scripture to come to a different view. One will never reach the conclusion that the earth is billions of years old from the text of Scripture itself, or that animals and man evolved over millions of years. It just isn’t there.
You mentioned prayerful, biblical disagreement. But the Bible doesn’t provide anything that would give someone a basis for disagreeing with young-earth creationism. And should we really expect our prayer life to contradict the plain teaching of Scripture? To give an extreme example, if I wanted to “pray about” worshipping a different god, should I expect God to contradict what He has already said in the pages of Scripture? Rather, prayerful consideration should reinforce what the Bible already teaches us.
That said, we have written many times that creation is not a salvation issue—you can be a saved follower of Jesus and hold a different view of creation. But we do believe it’s a Gospel issue. We’ve seen over and over how people become more excited about sharing their faith once they realize they can be confident about all of God’s word. I’m not saying that people with other views on creation don’t share their faith, but biblical creationists do have more consistent answers.
For that reason, we don’t spend a lot of time emphasizing how one can be a Christian and have other views on creation. That’s not ideal, precisely because Scripture is so clear. And if we start enthusiastically telling people they don’t have to agree with what we view as the correct biblical interpretation, that would start to undermine our entire message. It might even encourage people to engage in further compromise, say, with the similarly supernatural claims about Jesus. We want to encourage people to follow Jesus in everything He taught, and that includes creation in six days, only thousands, not billions, of years ago.
I hope this clarifies things.