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The Baby’s Name

The Baby’s Name

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us… And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:5-6

Dr. Steven Boyd is the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Creation Studies (CICS) and Research Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages for Calvary University

When I first heard the magnificent strains of “Unto Us a Child is Born” from Handel’s Messiah, I didn’t know that its text was drawn from the sublime poetry of Isaiah in chapter 9, verses 5–6 (verses 4–5 in the Hebrew text). I have since learned that in those verses, Isaiah introduces the Child-Son, whose four-fold compound Name refers not only to His humanity but also to His deity.

The first Name, often translated as two, ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Counsellor’, is better understood as one phrase: “Wonder Purposer.” The first part of the Name refers to the quality of the supernatural from a verb which means ‘adviser’. But to Isaiah, it connotes the unthwartable plans and purposes of God which shall certainly come to pass.

“Mighty God” is best translated as, “God the Hero.” The word I translate “Hero” is used of one characterized as powerful, hence a ‘hero’ in the sense of a mighty warrior. Isaiah depicts God as a mighty warrior donning armor to save His people (Isaiah 59:15–17; 63:1). It is a name akin to “Jesus,” which in Hebrew means “the one who will give victory.”

The third name, “Father of Eternity,” can be understood in two ways: (1) the One who is eternally a Father and (2) the Progenitor of eternity. An approximate New Testament analog is “through whom He made the ages” (Hebrews 1:2).

Finally, He is called “Prince of Peace” (“Monarch of Well-being”) which speaks of the Child’s purpose in bringing reconciliation between God and man. The word usually translated “prince” is connected to the Akkadian word for king, and the word often translated “peace,” refers to a wholeness, an unbrokenness which He restores by taking our punishment upon Himself (Isa. 53:5–6)—the “peace offering” which celebrates the return to “at-one-ment” with God!

A Blessed Christmas to all in His Name!

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Waiting

Waiting

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”

Psalm 37:7

Karen Hange is the Program Director of Elementary Education and Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Calvary University

Waiting.

It is not something many of us like to do. We live in a world where we try to minimize our waiting time by calling ahead for reservations, ordering our groceries online, and quickly becoming impatient in the drive-through with the cars ahead of us. We fret at the red lights and look for the shortest line at the checkout. We tap our fingers incessantly when being put on hold and sometimes decide to hang up and call back later. Waiting is something we all try to avoid.

Waiting is sometimes the way God teaches His biggest lessons.

The Israelites were waiting for centuries for a coming Messiah. Simeon was waiting in the Temple to see the One promised by the Holy Spirit. Believers today are waiting for the second coming and return of our King.

But how do we wait?

We are told to wait patiently. Isaiah 40:31 says that strength is renewed for those who wait. Isaiah 26:8 says that as we wait for the Lord, his Name should be the desire of our souls.  Can you feel the expectancy…not in an impatient way, but in a way that eagerly anticipates the good things that God has in store?

It seems a bit like the picture of the children waiting for Christmas….gazing expectantly under the tree…waiting for the good things that they know are hidden beneath the brightly wrapped paper and bows. They are so eager. They can hardly contain their joy. They wait expectantly.

This Christmas, as we wrap our gifts so that the recipients can experience the joy of the anticipation of unwrapping, may we be reminded of the joy that God desires as we wait expectantly for His return. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

The names and titles for God found in the Bible are carefully brushed strokes on the canvas of God’s most awesome work: The revelation of Himself.

Shakespeare’s Juliet asked, “What’s in a name?” 

The irony of the question lies in the fact that her name was her biggest problem! The reason she could not be with her Romeo was precisely because her name was Capulet and his was Montague. Capulets didn’t love Montagues — they hated them. But Juliet protested:

“That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.”

Juliet didn’t think his name mattered at all — what mattered was the person. And perhaps in that case, she was right. And perhaps in many cases, the name or title of something makes no difference whatsoever.

Ask for the whatchmacallit or the doohickey or the thingamajig and you’ll probably get what you want. Call him Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Saint Nick — it doesn’t matter. Name your son Austin, Peter or Max — it probably makes no difference. 

But not so with God. 

If Juliet was speaking of God and said, “What’s in a name? Call Him whatever you like,” she would be dead wrong. It’s true that this “Rose” — the true and living God — would “retain that dear perfection which He owes without (the Biblical) titles.” But, the names and titles of God found in the Bible were not given to us in a random and pointless way. They are not incidental. 

The names and titles for God found in the Bible are carefully brushed strokes on the canvas of God’s most awesome work: The revelation of Himself.

Each time we come across a name or title of God in the Bible, we learn another great truth about the God who created us. 

“YHWH” tells us He is eternal and personal. 

“Father” tells us He is the perfection of love and discipline.

“Shepherd” tells us He is our protector and provider and guide.

On and on it goes. The more we encounter these one-word revelations, the more we know Him, the more we appreciate Him, the more we — along with the psalm writers — see that “His name alone is exalted” (Psalm 148:13) and we want to “sing praises to His name for it is lovely” (Psalm 135:3). 

When we come to the stories of the birth of Jesus, we find them rich with names and titles for the newborn King. He is…

“The Messiah…son of David, son of Abraham…Jesus Christ…Immanuel…King of the Jews…a Ruler who will shepherd…son of Mary” in Matthew 1-2. 

“Jesus…great…Son of the Most High…the Holy Child…the Son of God…A Savior…Christ the Lord…her (Mary’s) firstborn son…a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” in Luke 1-2.

“The Word…light…life…the Only Begotten God (God the One and Only, NIV), who is in the bosom of the Father” in John 1.

“Jesus” is just one example of how each of these names is like a blast from God’s trumpet of revelation. The “angel of the Lord” told Joseph to give this name to the Boy because “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). “Jesus” is a Hebrew name that means “Jehovah is salvation.”

Notice the word “son” popping up several times: “Son of David…Abraham…the Most High God.” He is called Mary’s “firstborn son”. All the “Son” references add up to tell us that He alone was qualified to fulfill two of the greatest covenants God ever made with humans — the Davidic and Abrahamic covenants (see the very first verse of the New Testament). As Mary’s Son, He not only took on human flesh that He might bleed human blood for the sins of the world, but He also became Heir to the promises God made to David and Abraham. 

“Son of the Most High…God” tells us His life did not begin in Bethlehem — He has always existed in an eternal relationship with the Father. This explains what kind of King can have a kingdom that will last forever: the Eternal King, God’s only, unique Son.

Or what about “Word”. What is a “word” for? Communication! What did this “Word” do, according to John? He wasn’t just another self-proclaimed guru speculating about things he didn’t understand. His perspective is like no other: “No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (John 1:18, NLT).

With all this in mind, read the Birth Narratives as part of your Christmas celebration. And when you do, let God’s Self-revelation — through His names and titles — renew your mind as you celebrate Christmas. Stop and enjoy every name. Underline every title. Each one is a delicate brush stroke deserving of close examination. But when seen together, they are a jaw-dropping revelation that should result in nothing less than what the Magi did when they saw the Child in His mother’s arms: “They fell to the ground and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:11).”

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Shaun LePage is the Ministry Studies Department Chair and Assistant Professor in Ministry Studies and Bible and Theology. He also serves as Associate Vice President of the CU Marketing and Communications Department. 

 

Norm Baker Named 2019 Alumnus of the Year

Norm Baker Named 2019 Alumnus of the Year

“It was all for God’s glory!”

Norm Baker, adjunct faculty member in the Bible and Theology Department, was given the Calvary University (CU) Alumnus of the Year Award at the 2019 Commencement ceremony on May 11.

“It was all for God’s glory,” said Baker as he accepted the honor.

“You are what we all want to be,” said Dr. Christopher Cone, President of CU. “You have been trustworthy in the classroom, you have taught the word faithfully, and that’s all any of us are after. So, thank you for your example. Thank you for serving the Lord.”

Unfortunately for the students of CU, Baker has decided to retire. However, he will continue to serve the CU community with a pen.

“He has his next assignment,” said Dr. Cone, “which is to write for Calvary University Press and we’re very excited about that.”

CU Press is a new venture being developed this year. Dr. Mike Dodds will be stepping away from his familiar roles as Dean of the College and Department Chair for Ministry Studies, to become the first director of CU Press. He will continue to teach as a Professor of Ministry Studies. Baker has been asked to be a regular contributor to CU Press.

Baker was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1950. Soon after, his family moved across the country to upstate New York. As a young boy he enjoyed riding on trains with his father and grandfather who worked for the New York Central Railroad. His uncle owned a Christian book store, and Baker enjoyed browsing while having a popsicle. He speculates that this is where he first developed a love for books.

After his family moved to Aurora, Colorado, a few year later, Baker attended Aurora Central High School. His sister started going to the youth group at Aurora Bible Church. When she told him some cute girls were there, he decided to go with her. It was there that Baker heard the gospel message preached and received Christ as his personal Savior. Shortly after that, his parents rededicated their lives to Christ, and the Bakers started attending church as a family.

While in high school, Baker often heard evangelists and missionaries speak of the need to reach the lost for Christ. He dedicated his life to serve wherever God called him. His teachers encouraged him to go into an acting career because he loved drama. However, Baker sensed God leading him in a different direction, and after graduating from high school in 1967, he went to Frontier School of the Bible to prepare for overseas ministry.

During his time at Frontier, Baker heard about the work in Africa from missionaries with Gospel Missionary Union (now Avant Ministries). In 1971, he was accepted as a missionary with GMU to go to Mali, West Africa. During the missionary candidate training he met his future wife, Mary Alice, and they were married on September 18, 1971.

After raising support, they left for Switzerland to study French in April 1972 and then headed to Mali in July 1973. The next couple of years were spent learning the Bambara language and the culture. Baker particularly enjoyed hearing the Malian proverbs and stories that had been passed down verbally for many generations. He quickly developed a love and deep respect for the Bambara people.

Norm and Mary Alice served with Gospel Missionary Union for fifteen years. They raised their family of three sons and one daughter while living in the bush. Baker helped with church planting and discipleship training. He translated discipleship materials and assisted with a new revision of the Bambara Bible. During their last few years in Mali, Baker taught at the Mana Bible Institute, training Malian pastors and church leaders.

In 1986, Baker received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Calvary Bible College (CBC). He then served as the Missionary in Residence there from 1986 to 1987. He became the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church where he served from 1987 to 1991. During that time Baker received his Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Theological Seminary. The Baker family then moved to Dallas, Texas, where Norm attended Dallas Theological Seminary and graduated with a Master of Theology degree in 1998. He also became the pastor of Stanley Bible Church in Overland Park, Kansas, in 1998, where he served for ten years.

In addition to pastoring, Baker taught Bible & Theology classes at Calvary from 2001 to 2005. He returned as an adjunct professor in January 2012, a total of twelve and a half years of service at Calvary. He has also enjoyed supporting CU’s theatre department as well as attending athletic events.

On the CU campus, Baker is fondly referred to as “Stormin’ Norman.” His love for studying and teaching the Word of God has been his life-long passion. He has had a sincere love for his students, as evidenced in his one-on-one interactions with them as he continues to disciple and prepare others for ministry. And, his students have returned that love. At Baker’s retirement party, student after student shared how much he has influenced their lives.

“Each one of these students,” Baker said, “helped me be a better teacher by their attitude in the classroom. That’s all I can say.”

The Alumnus of the Year award is given annually to a CU graduate who has shown faithfulness in ministry and has maintained a strong connection with the school in the years since graduation.

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Special thanks to Sara Klassen for compiling the biographical data for this article.

The Alumni of the Year Award was presented to Norm Baker at the 2019 Commencement ceremony on May 11. The award is given annually to a CU graduate who has shown faithfulness in ministry and has maintained a strong connection with the school in the years since graduation.

Norm Baker (top right) played a part in the 2018 Calvary University theatre production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Baker has enjoyed supporting the CU theatre department and attending athletic events in addition to his service in Calvary classrooms. 

“It was all for God’s glory,” said Norm Baker as he accepted the Alumni of the Year Award at the 2019 Commencement ceremony on May 11. 

The Theological Significance of a Literal Creation Account, Part 4

The Theological Significance of a Literal Creation Account, Part 4

How important is a literal creation account for one’s theology? If the creation account were not literally true, it was either just Moses’ conjecture or it was a myth he repeated. If what we read in Genesis 1–11 were not literally true, what difference would it make for us a Bible-believing Christians?

 

Other Doctrines 

Other doctrines under assault today, either through denial or distortion, are mentioned in the Creation account. For example, a literal Creation account is essential for an orthodox understanding of Angelology/Demonology – what we understand about Satan and his influence on people today.

  • Genesis 3:1a – “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said . . . ?”

Is there a literal enemy of our souls? The creation account says there is. He was a deceiver then and the other Scriptural authors and orthodox Christianity acknowledge the Creation account that “Satan is [still] alive and well on planet earth”—to use the title of a book by Hal Lindsey (Lindsey 1972).

  • John 8:44a – [Speaking to the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus says,] “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. . . .”
  • 2 Corinthians 11:3a – “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness . . . .”
  • Revelation 12:9a – “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world . . . .”

While there are many today who claim to be Christians but their actions demonstrate that they most likely are not, there are many who will fall to Satan’s deceptions today—true believers being deceived by Satan or people thinking they are practicing true Christianity but are merely following “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). For example, an Australia-based group, Christalignment, was in the news this year because of its marketing of “Destiny Cards”—tarot-like cards for “Christians.” On a website advertising their events they say . . . .

  • The Christalignment team, based in Melbourne, Australia are trained spiritual consultants, gifted in various modalities. We practice [sic] a form of supernatural healing that flows from the universal presence of the Christ spirit. We draw from the same divine energy of Christ, as ancient followers did and operate only out of the Third Heaven realm to gain insight and revelation (Christalignment 2019).

We must also acknowledge that a literal Creation account is essential for an orthodox understanding of three doctrines essential to our understanding of the Gospel: Hamartiology, Christology, and Soteriology – what we understand about Sin, the Savior, and Salvation—the Gospel message.

  • Genesis 3:4 – “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”
  • Genesis 3:7 – “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
  • Genesis 3:15 – To the Serpent God said, “‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.’”
  • Genesis 3:21 – “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”

With these three doctrines we have definitely moved beyond the 6-Days account of Creation, but we must briefly affirm that our conclusions concerning these areas of truth are grounded in a literal understanding of the Genesis record.

What Christianity has taught in these areas has been built upon the Genesis account. First, sin is real and a real person, Adam, committed the first sin which has forever poisoned all people from him on.

  • Romans 5:12–15 – “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

Not only does Genesis teach us about sin and its consequences, it also points us to the solution: a “seed” of the woman who will defeat Satan and the effect brought about by Satan’s deception of the humans. Throughout Scripture the emphasis upon the necessity for and the prophecy about another, literal “man” who will provide the solution to the human condition is affirmed with Creation account wording.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 – “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:45 – “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

In the last verse Paul is quoting from Gen 2:7. Man, people, have a problem which only another man, a perfect man—Jesus—can solve! Time hinders us from looking at the many other passages which quote and allude to the Creation account when speaking of these issues. And the discussion of these passages are predicated upon a literal understanding of Genesis.

There is so much more we could talk about but do not have the time. For example, we must include the Creation account when we seek to understand Pneumatology: what we understand about the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2 – the “Spirit God moving over the surface of the deep”).

We must study the Creation account when we want to think more fully about Soteriology/Sanctification specifically: what it means to “rest in the Lord” with a “Sabbath Rest” principle.

  • Exodus 20:8–11 – “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God . . . . For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
  • Hebrews 4:1, 5 – “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. . . . For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’”). 

And that leads us to a final area of doctrine to which the Creation account speaks: Eschatology—what we believe about what is to happen in the future.

  • Revelation 22:1–3 – “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him.”

The “new heaven and new earth” in eternity will be an Eden-like existence. But should this all be understood to be figurative or literal? Will the “tree of life” be literal? Will the “healing of the nations” be literal? Will our eternal bodies and Jesus all be literal? How we understand the Genesis account—literal or figurative—influences our conclusions about Eschatology.

Conclusion

So what’s the problem, theologically speaking, if the creation account were not literally true? Orthodox theological beliefs are predicated on a literal creation account.

I believe that Christians must ask and have a good answer for why they so readily believe and hold to a literal Creation account in some areas of their theology yet hesitate or totally disregard a literal account in other areas? And if the rejection of a literal Creation account has led us to some significant problems in other doctrines, when and how long will it take for a move away from a literal understanding affect all areas of theology? We are constantly being pressured by the enemies of our souls with the deception he used in the beginning: “Indeed, has God said . . . ?” (Genesis 3:1).

A literal Genesis needs to be preached—and all the theology it contains.

The younger generations especially are not believing in a literal Genesis, and this has great implications for the Church! May we preach and teach the Creation account as God communicated it to us—as a literal account of truth.

(This is a 4-Part series. See Parts 1, 2, & 3 here and here and here.)

Reference List

  • Christalignment. 2019. “Christalignment Readings.” Spiritual Events & Directory. Accessed February 7, 2019. https://spiritualeventsdirectory.com/listing/christalignment/.
  • Lindsey, Hal and Carole C. Carlson. 1972. Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

 

The Theological Significance of a Literal Creation Account, Part 4

The Theological Significance of a Literal Creation Account, Part 3

How important is a literal creation account for one’s theology? If the creation account were not literally true, it was either just Moses’ conjecture or it was a myth he repeated. If what we read in Genesis 1–11 were not literally true, what difference would it make for us a Bible-believing Christians?

 

Anthropology (Part 2)

 Next, God through Moses says that by creation men and women are designed to relate in unique ways. By creation our different sexual identities entail inherent destinies: men as males were created to relate (act) in the world and in relationships in ways unique from how God designed women to relate (act) in the world.

Of man, God said,

  • Genesis 2:15 – “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
  • Genesis 2:18–19 – “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.”
  •  Genesis 2:23 – “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’”
  •  Genesis 3:20 – “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.”

 Man was created to initiate, oversee, order, and lead the accomplishment of God’s will in the world. Even after the Fall, Adam continued to bear the responsibility and authority in human relationships: “naming” rights indicate inherent authority over that which is named. And God created the woman to support and compete the man—she was not designed to be a “clone” of the man: doing all the same things man was designed to do. Rather, as the “suitable” “helper” woman was created to complement the man by doing different things that complemented the man and completed the image of God in people.

We are aware that many even in the Evangelical Church dismiss the Old Testament and the created ordering of human relationships described in Genesis 1–2 as a reflection of how people lived in a decidedly different world than ours. But even then one must wonder where the relational differences seen throughout history and all over the world came from—men and women in all cultures and all times have consistently related as described in Genesis 1—2.

As we look at other biblical authors writing in different times, we observe that they continued to affirm the Created intent for male—female relationships as described in Genesis 1–2.

  •  1 Corinthians 11:3, 7–9 – “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. . . . For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”

 While the specific meaning of these verses is debated, it is obvious that Paul is basing his argument on a literal Creation account. And if those verses are not difficult enough, Paul clearly argues in 1 Timothy 2 for the unique relationships between men and women in the Church Age because of what he reads in the Creation account in Genesis.

  • 1 Timothy 2:12–14 – “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

 The discussion in the church today about these verses in 1 Timothy seeks to understand Paul’s meaning by looking at the context of the church at Ephesus, at the culture of the Greco-Roman world, at the experiences of giftedness and “calling” that women claim to have for teaching and leadership, even at Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”) as if those considerations should guide the understanding of what Paul was saying in 1 Timothy 2—how God wants men and women to relate together. But in employing this methodology for discovering Paul’s meaning here, they are using the same methodology as the Theistic Evolutionists do with scientific worldview and the Genesis account: reading and understanding what is says in the Bible through the “gird” of the current conclusions of science—the conclusions in contemporary culture. But Paul argues his position concerning proper male—female relationships in the Church from the understanding of a literal Creation account—to know how man and women should be relating in the Body of Christ, look to Genesis 1 and 2.

In 1 Timothy 2 Paul is arguing that the Genesis account taken literally reveals the proper ways for men and women to relate to each other in the Body of Christ. And when we depart from that understanding, we depart from an orthodox Anthropology.

Another significant area of anthropology we must observe from the Creation account in Genesis is that of marriage. While we could talk about the issue of same-sex marriage—and we must and can—I want to raise another topic which is not spoken of much anymore—because this is an issue the Church has long since moved away from the teaching of a literal Creation account. I am thinking of the nature of marriage: it is to be life-long; divorce was never a part of the Creation intent.

We read in Genesis 1 & 2 of a perfect relationship between men and women, and specifically, men and women in the child-producing relationship of marriage (meaning, “be fruitful and multiply”). By Creation, God intends husbands and wives to live a totally transparent relationship.

  • Genesis 2:24–25 – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

While we debate Moses’ “decree of divorce” in Deuteronomy 24, it is obvious that Jesus saw in the Genesis 2 account God’s created intension of the life-long permanence to the marriage relationship. Matthew records that Jesus’ response to the question of the religious leaders concerning divorce went right to the Creation account; Mark’s account

  • Matthew 19:3–6 – “Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’ And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”
  • Mark 10:2–9 – “Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’ But Jesus said to them, Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”

In other words, Jesus is saying, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it for me. No need to even have a discussion of what Moses’ decree and the Jewish ‘exception’ means! It is all irrelevant to the question, for God ‘said’ in Creation that marriage should be life-long with no divorce.” I fear that the majority of Christians no longer hold to a literal understanding of the Genesis account on this point. Instead we lay our cultural context alongside the Bible and come out with less than what God said literally about the nature of marriage in the Creation account.

Before we leave Anthropology, we must think about “the elephant in the room” today—gender issues in light of the Creation account. A non-literal interpretation of what the text means when it says, “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27) has led many “Christians” to flirt with acceptance of homosexuality, transgenderism, and any self-identification other than male or female. One example of this theological drift now moving into the Evangelical Church is the now annual “Revoice” conference held in St. Louis at a PCA Church with faculty from Covenant Seminary as some of the presenters. The purpose statement on the website for this year’s conference reads (Revoice 2019):

Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other gender and sexual minority Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.

  • Genesis 1:27 says that God created mankind as male and female—as only two different personhoods. To be created means to be inherently designed for a unique purpose. From cellular biology we learn that males and females are different not just by reproductive systems but all the way down to the cellular level—every cell in the body operates as a male or a female, and there are only two options for one’s sex and they cannot be changed by surgery.

In Genesis 2 and then affirmed throughout the rest of Scripture, God explains the unique roles / purposes that males and females were designed to accomplish as they image God in His Creation. It is “moronic” thinking to imagine that you could “exchange” your sex (cf. Romans 1:22–24).

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man . . . . Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

As Grudem has rightly observed in his book Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? (2006), once you start changing the biblical roles of manhood and womanhood you are on the path to a gender-confused society—first feminism and emasculation, then homosexuality and transgenderism, then any perceived permutation of gender imaginable.

This is exactly what is happening in our world at an alarming speed. If pastors fail to teach the Creation truth that males and females are different—designed for different roles in Creation—then even the conservative church will, in time join the broader culture in this practical outworking of the rejection of a literal Creation account. When we fail to take the Creation account literally, our understanding of Anthropology becomes heterodox.

(This is a 4-Part series. See Parts 1, 2, & 4 here and here and here.)

Reference List

 Grudem, Wayne A. 2006. Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

 Revoice. 2019. “Revoice 2019.” Accessed February 7. 2019. https://revoice.us/.