Last weekend we started a 20 week study in the book of Genesis at CVC. As anticipated, several people quickly inquired about which creation theory I personally subscribe to. Before answering that question, I think we need to deal with two matters up front. The first issue is looking at a brief overview of six of the leading interpretations of the creation account fromGenesis 1 and 2. Secondly, we need to be reminded how to deal with other Christians who may hold to a different theological view than your own.These are six of the leading interpretations of Genesis. This is simply a brief overview, not a complete definition or comprehensive explanation. I have also included a few resource links for further information at the bottom of this blog.
24 Hour Interpretation
For centuries, faithful and credible men and woman of the Christian faith have found themselves with opposing views on the creation account. The level of study and knowledge that many of them possessed is beyond what the average person today has invested or gleaned. So we need to keep that in mind that if past and present Christian theologians and spiritual leaders have found ways to agree on the centrality of God and Christ in the act of creation as well as a dedication to the truth of Scripture in relaying the creation account to us despite their various views on creation nuances, then we should, too. After all, just as Charles Hodge, a Christian theologian from the 1800’s said, “Theologians are not infallible in their interpretation Scripture.”
The Lord reminds us how good and pleasant it is when we dwell together in unity (Ps. 133:1), and that we are to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). So as you contemplate which of the creation accounts best fits the evidence seen in Scripture, I encourage you to still embrace your Christian brothers with love and respect that may hold to a varying view. We can be sure that what God has revealed to us in His Word and what He has shown us in His world through observation and science will not conflict.
With all that being said, I personally find myself subscribing to the 24 Hour Interpretation theory with Historic Creationism coming in at a close second. Although there are godly pastors and theologians that subscribe to the other four theories mentioned above, I personally get an uncomfortable sense of compromise with each one. I do not believe that you have to subscribe to the 24 hour theory to be saved or that we should take a dogmatic and rigid approach to any one theory since God did not disclose all the details of the creation account and He is the only one who truly knows the “what”, “when” and “how” of creation (Job 38-42:6).
For me to be dogmatic, rigid, and divisive about Genesis 1 being six literal 24 hour days, I would find myself with a contentious spirit and an uncharitable heart toward many respected pastors, Bible scholars and theologians who do not hold to the 24 hour interpretation – leaders such as John Piper, Lee Strobel, Norman Geisler, Chuck Colson, Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Smith, Hank Hennegraff, Jack Hayford, C.S. Lewis, J.P. Moreland, J.I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, Mark Driscoll and Millard Erickson, just to name a few.
I do not believe that when we are in God’s presence that He is going to ask us (with eject button in hand) if we are young earth or old earth creationists. Why, then, would I desire to spend hours in debate with other Christians over creation views when there are thousands of people around us daily do not even know that God made them, knows them, loves them and offers them new life in Christ?
For generations, people have been arguing over the creation account and treating the Creator like a sub-theme. Although Genesis indeed captures the beginning, our origin, it really is about the One who began it all, the “Originator.” Genesis is really about God. He’s the central figure. All the creation theories are really the sub themes, perhaps even the footnotes. We need to major on the major and minor on the minors. It’s not really about God creating the earth in 6 literal 24 hour days or 6 longer periods of time; it’s about God creating. It’s not really about whether there was a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2; it’s about the Creator. It’s not really about what process God may or may not have used as He created. Getting lost in all those theories and arguments can diminish our sense of awe and worship.
But we do need to draw one hard and fast line. Any theory or view excluding God as an all-powerful Creator who was personal and involved in His creation needs to be rejected. We need to be informed of the various creation theories. We may even choose one of those theories to subscribe to after our research. But we can’t be dogmatic about it. And we can’t mistreat others with differing views.
Regarding creation, God once asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). Job basically responded, “I’ll be quiet now.” We weren’t there at creation. God didn’t disclose all the details. There’s a lot that we don’t know. Let’s focus on what we do know, and what God has revealed.
Godly Bible-believing and Jesus-loving people can graciously discuss what Genesis 1 and 2 mean without viewing one another as ill-informed, Bible-doubting, compromising Christians who hold to naturalistic, evolutionary viewpoints. Christian brothers and sisters who hold the other views listed above are welcome as members and attenders of our CVC. Our only request is that the Christians in our church would not become divisive over this matter or seek to make their particular view the litmus test for Christian orthodoxy. As Paul says, we now see only in part and one day in Jesus’ presence we will know in full and be in complete agreement on this and all other matters.
There are countless volumes of articles, books, sermons, blogs and videos on this subject. Instead of putting forth a long list, I thought I would just provide a few recommended resources for additional study or food for thought. Enjoy!