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 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.
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.)
- 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.