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Are there other valid interpretations of Genesis?

Published: 30 January 2016 (GMT+10)

Susie B. from the UK wrote in response to the article Why we do what we do:

istockPhoto Genesis
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
, CMI-US, responds

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.

Helpful Resources

Refuting Compromise, updated & expanded
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati
From
US $15.00
The Genesis Account
by Jonathan Sarfati
From
US $35.00
Six-Day Creation
by Robert Gurney
US $8.00
Soft cover
From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
From
US $12.00
15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History
by Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan D Sarfati
From
US $3.50

Readers’ comments

Richard G.
The Apostle Peter makes it clear that we must always be prepared to give a defence of the reason for the hope that lies within us, and it must be done with meekness and fear (1 Pet 3: 15).

Yet, the Apostle Paul, says “that we have not been given The spirit of fear, but of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7) Therefore, by diligent study we must learn how to rightly divide the Words of Truth (2 Tim 2: 15) so that we may, by the renewing of our minds, prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom 12:1, 2). For there is no other Foundation that can be laid than that of Jesus Christ - and whatever work we build on that Foundation, will all be tested by Fire – if our work remains then we will receive our reward, but if it is burned up we will suffer loss, although not the loss of our salvation. (1Cor 3:9-15)

So, what we believe about the Creation narrative of Scriptures is very important, because it shapes all other aspects of our Faith. and ultimately what we Hope for in the future. (Heb 11: 1-6).

The LORD declares that “The gods who have not made the earth, nor stretched out the heavens shall perish from under these heavens!” (Jer 10: 11-13).

Therefore, the Apostle warns that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but Mighty in God to the pulling down of Strongholds, and every high thing that exalts itself against the Knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ, being ready to punish all disobedience until you obedience is fulfilled. (2Cor 10: 4-5)

For Yahweh God, The Creator of the Heavens and of the Earth will not give his Glory to another – For there is no other God besides Him (Isa 42: 8 and Isa 44: 6-8)
roy R.
i must give Ken credit he stickes to a 6-24 hour days for creation, but there are many who disagree with him, now there is only one truth, what is it. well lets ask God i mean he wrote the book, he says " six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is to be a sabbathto the LORD your God,...for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them,but he rested on the seventh day" {Exodus 20:9=11 } The Holy Spirit clearly says 6 days not thousands or millions, so if one is inclined to say any thing other then a 6 day creation they must call God a liar, wouldn't want to be in there shoes, but why is it so important ? well God is not a liar and he doesn't make mistakes, oh ya he is all powerful also, so if i have belived the man/woman who lied knowing or unknowingly perhaps it be in my best intrest to believe what God says, look Jesus believed what Moses wrote, shouldn't we, ya think ? so just because someone says something don't believe it till you know for sure. all men/women are liars God ain"t
Geoffrey B.
The fact that Jesus himself said nothing about 6000 year creation in 6 days shows that it is simply not important. To argue he did is simply to distort scripture to read what you you would like it to say, not what it does say.
And incidentally JC was the greatest evangelist there ever was.
Lita Cosner
Geoffrey,

1. We don't have the entirety of what Jesus said. John said (using a little bit of hyperbole) that all the books in the world couldn't contain the entirety of Jesus' words and deeds. So how can you say for certain Jesus said nothing about creation?

2. Jesus took Genesis literally every time He cited it. He said His second coming would be like the suddenness of the Flood, which wiped out everything--Jesus believed in a global Flood. Jesus believed in a historical Adam and Eve and used them as His precedent for marriage.

3. Jesus is God, so all of Scripture is His Word.

For more, see Jesus on the age of the earth.

Jesus believed all of Scripture was binding--why don't you?
Maureen J.
Every time I read the words "Creation is not a salvation issue" I have to ask "Whose salvation?". Maybe not mine, as I am a believer in all the Living Word. But what about someone who does not yet know The Lord? Could they be discouraged by a take it or leave it attitude toward part to the Word of God?
Brent D.
I think a lot of people these days are confused about the Genesis account of creation because of all the evolutionary doctrine being promoted by all television stations and media in general. The ABC and SBS Australia for example used to be a good place to learn about the truth of the planet and what lived on it, but now all they do is report on and produce atheistic and evolutionary documentaries. There is no source, for young people in particular, to receive the truth, except from the Bible itself and the very few websites, like yours, which promote Creation. What this means is that those who know the truth have to be brave and get out there and promote Creation any way possible. We should be looking for any opportunity and the slightest of openings to get a word or two in and pray that they spark the flame in people's minds. Every person on earth has the potential to be converted to the truth and the true origins of our species and this Universe.
Sam F.
"And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were preaching the truth" - Acts 17:11 NLT
The Bereans, who were commended by Paul, did not take a preachers message at face value, rather they "searched the Scriptures". Did they take them at face value or with intelligence? What translation were they reading then? The point is they researched. I teach my students to question everything - God's Truth does stand up to critical scrutiny so one need not fear that the Gospel will lack integrity.
It is the interpretation, or lack thereof, that causes issues. When do we, in our modern English translations, take the Bible at its most literal face value; and how do we recognise that imagery and symbolism are being used (at times) as literary devices? I recommend to readers John Lennox's thought- provoking book "Seven Days that Divide the World". This book is written to be read by both Christian and non-Christian readers. It in no way negates the Gospel message, rather it served to strengthen my core beliefs in an incredible, loving, passionate and unimaginably complex Creator God.
But I adjure you, always think for yourself, and after careful study and research form your own defensible stand on the Genesis account. I do also commend "Evolution's Achilles Heels" as being one of the better works from Creation Ministries and ask that you read it as well as Lennox's book.
God bless you all.
Lita Cosner
Sorry, but the NLT there is not a good translation. They weren't open-minded, they were noble. The Greek word is eugenes, which is literally "of a good/better type". I don't know where the translators got the idea of 'open-minded' there.

I have read and reviewed Lennox's book, and it's only useful to see how people compromise the biblical view.

The point of Acts 17:11 is that the Bereans eagerly received the word, but they searched the Scriptures to see if what they were saying was true. Scripture was the authority, and Paul and Silas were backed up by Scripture. Theistic evolutionists like Lennox are not.
Edie S.
Several years ago, my son, who was brought up in the Church and as an adult became an atheist, asked me if I believed in the first chapters of Genesis. I said I did and he then asked several important questions. I had no anwsers. I told him I had enough proof the bible was true that my faith was not affected by every question I could not answer, that God was capable of doing it and went into how you could see a Creator's hand in all of the universe, plus quoted 2nd law of thermodynamics, etc. There were too many to go into, but the light question was the hardest. I studied for several years looking at Physics for anwser. It wasn't until I got a Kindle Notebook and was able to find book Starlight and Time, which in round about way lead me to Ken Ham and to CMI, I found all the answers to questions I needed for my son. I had lost a golden opportunity that has not come back. Once you dig deep into CMIs resources, all of the Creation questions are answered. The younger generation indoctrinated by evolution and Humanism will not accept Christianity unless you can give a better answer, the bible is true and I don't have to know everything to believe. My faith has never been a blind faith, the bible made sense as one story leading to the death and resurrection of Christ and I could see a Creator and was only strengthened with how science backed Creation over evolution, he knew that is why I believed, it wasn't enough for my son. They have been indoctrinated that bible is full of contradictions, etc. Holding fast and teaching Creation as CMI is only way to reach next generation. We must, as bible commands, "be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in...." . Keep up God's work, thank you.
Jane V.
Belief in 6-day-creation may not be a required tenet for a convert to Christianity, but it should be for all evangelists. How can you tell an unbeliever that man fell into sin, that the result is death and that Jesus came to save us from that death and then turn around and say it is OK to believe that God 'created' using the endless cycle of sex, birth, mutation and death?
When my husband tries to speak to people at work about Christianity often the response is just the word 'evolution' and a shake of the head. The two ideas are polar opposites and people know they cannot work together as a saving ideaology.
Christian leaders need to know that while the general population may be brain washed in evolution ideaology they are not so stupid that they cannot see that it is ludicrous to expect them to believe that a God who created by death would expect people to believe they need to be saved from that very same death!
Ken B.
It's a bit like saying "I believe that 2+2=4 but I'm open to the ideas of those who say that 2+2=5"
Julie M.
You said it, Lita!
Gian Carlo B.
I really am perplexed at the whole 'agree to disagree' in Christian circles regarding Theology 101 issues, that includes creation. They need to read Paul and Peter and find out that such an approach is not necessarily pushed as theologically safe. Indeed, you cannot 'agree to disagree' on the Trinitarian model, or the Resurrection, or the Fall, and worst, on the exclusivity of Christ (as per your extreme example). People need to know the steel solid truth communicated in the Bible whether it hurts or not. The Prophets taught it, John the Baptist taught it, even Jesus; so I think she should reconsider and tell it to her friends.
Dan M.
I've always been interested in the sciences and I read allot of evolutionary based scientific literature. I increasingly became disillusioned with the just so explanations of the evolutionary community trying to explain the observations as well as explaining away the missing observations that should have been there like the Cambrian explosion and transitional forms. God was tugging on my heart and when a friend invited me to church, (even though Christians made me nervous) I agreed and was surprised by the intuitive truth of Gods word. I gave my life to Christ by faith on Aug 19th 1992 and I immediately fell into a crisis of belief. If evolution were true, how could I trust the bible? This began a search for evidence, (observations and explanations) that either proved or disproved the bible. I was now ready to listen to the other side of the story, (creationists). I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the observations, (at least from my point of view) could be logically explained by a strait forward reading of the creation narration in Genesis. Creation science has come far since 1992 and catastrophism rather than uniformitarianism is a much more satisfying explanation for what we see in the rock strata and the Mt. Saint Helens eruption reinforces catastrophism. Creationists can explain the ice age while uniformitarian explanations are lacking and did I mention all the new genetic information that's becoming available, (shut the door)! I thank God that CMI as well as others didn't compromise with uniformitarian views. This may have left me more confused that I was previously. We should not compromise one little bit because the evolutionist will not. besides if God is not the God of confusion, then he must have meant what he said! Keep up the great work CMI!
Graeme M.
Hi CMI, Spot on comments, as any compromise of the creation story would open the door to whatever interpretation one could choose to 'read in' to the scriptures, as already has been exercised, hence the confusion we have today, and we know its author, and he is the father of lies!(John 8:44) Regards, Graeme.
Glenn K.
I am in agreement with you. We can disagree in love. Stay the course! Be respectful and loving but hold the line.
Don N.
While I can understand the writer's desire to maintain Christian harmony most churches treat the subject as a no go area thereby in effect supporting the prevailing evolution is fact position. The anti evolution stance is seen as too hard to discuss openly so refrain from discussing it at all. This means that the opposite occurs to what the writer is saying. Usually if anti evolution church members are fortunate they are allowed once every year or two or generally longer to present their case. Again as a result the prevailing "scientific" wisdom prevails thereby reinforcing the belief that we should not rock the boat. I don't know of any mainline churches where I live in Australia producing anti evolution material which could be used as text books. I feel indebted to people like CMI for holding the line in seeking to free us from the chance based no design evolution philosophy.

Paul S.
You can be saved and have a lot of error (God is gracious). However why would anyone want that? The question is how much error is too much. Keep up the good work of spreading truth.

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