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?
Next, a literal Creation account is essential for an orthodox understanding of Theology Proper – what we understand about God.
- Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
While the Bible reveals many things about God, it clearly reveals Him as the Creator, the direct causative agent that brought it all into existence.
- Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”—and all the accompanying assertions that God was directly involved at each point of that activity listed in this chapter.
- Genesis 2:4 – “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heaven.”
- Genesis 14:19 – “and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.’”
- Genesis 14:22 – “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath.”
- Psalms 139:-13-14- “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.
- Isaiah 40:26 – “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
- Isaiah 40:28 – “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”
- Isaiah 42:5 – “This is what God the LORD says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it.”
- Isaiah 45:12 – “It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.”
- Matthew 19:4 – “‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female.”’”
- 1Timothy 4:3–4 – “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”
- Revelation 4:11 – “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
- Revelation 10:6 – “And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, ‘There will be no more delay!’”
A straightforward reading of these verses indicates that the God of the Bible, the true “author” of all Scripture, actively created—He did not just create all matter with inherent properties to naturally develop on their own (deism-like); nor did He merely insert Himself at needed moments into the developing elements to ensure that it all continued toward the end He intended (theistic evolution). If God did not create it all, then someone is not telling us the whole truth: either the God who inspired the Bible or the authors who wrote the Bible.
These people talk as if Moses was substituting the word “God” for something he did not understand but knew that he should attribute all things to—God and His sovereignty. Sort of what people do when a cataclysmic event happens which we cannot explain—like an earthquake, tornado, or unexplainable event: “an act of God.” In this way of taking the wording “God created,” the word “God” is a euphemism for “natural evolutional processes” maybe created by God but He did not have direct involvement with—at least not much.
Constable (2019, 46) says in his commentary on Genesis 1 that . . .
“Theistic evolution” attempts to blend Scripture and scientific theories. It holds that God ordered and directed the evolutionary process. This view fails to explain specific statements in the text of Scripture adequately; it accommodates the text to scientific theory.
Anyone who believes that the words “God created” do not really mean what they say—that GOD created—are really believing on one level or another that to truly understand what the Bible means you have to lay the conclusions of science alongside the Bible in order to understand the true meaning of the text—exegete the Scriptures through the grid of scientific conclusion.
Were we to approach any other passage with the same method of interpretation, what would be the theological result? This methodology of interpretation yields doctrinal aberration.
The Bible says that God is the Creator of all that exists—that He spoke it into existence. The God of the Bible is the direct Creator of everything in the universe. And only a literal understanding of the Creation account yields orthodox Theology Proper. If God is not our creator, are we responsible to Him for how we live, for our choices? Are the new heavens and new earth be created by God or evolve into existence? When we pray, who or what do we hope will answer, will effect the supernatural change we seek? In fact, why pray if God did not really act at the beginning—why do we think He would act now?
Anthropology (Part 1)
Third, a literal Creation account is essential for an orthodox understanding of Anthropology – what we understand about People.
- Genesis 1:26 – “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
With the doctrine of Anthropology, we move onto one of the major battlefields today. And a person’s understanding of the information communicated in Genesis 1 affects their views of personhood, sexuality and gender, marriage, and the relationships between people.
To begin, God through Moses says that people are created unique from the rest of Creation—that people are special in God’s purposes. And the other authors of Scripture consistently echo mankind’s created uniqueness.
- Genesis 9:1–7 –“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man. As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”
- James 3:8–10 – “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”
I am speaking to the choir here: we take highly and literally this aspect of God’s Creation—that people are unique by creation and must be treated that way, from conception (“creation”) to natural death. We argue for the sanctity of life in the debates about abortion and euthanasia precisely because we hold to a literal understanding of Creation.
And yet we are influenced by a world which has cast off this understanding of humans and human life. Even in the church, environmentalism is creeping in, especially among the young. People are considered to be equal in worth to the animals, and among radical environmentalists, people are lower than animals.
Were the earth’s resources created to be stewarded by people or animals?
- Genesis 2:10–15 “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. . . . . Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
God created us to be to be the good stewards of the earth’s resources. And God created man to use the earth’s resources to build a culture that would glorify God—the Creator.
In the development of his argument that the entire world is guilty of sin before God, the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 describes the world’s rejection of the God of Creation and the created truths about the uniqueness of people.
- Romans 1:18–25 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Paul is arguing that the sinfulness of people is revealed when they reject the created uniqueness in their person—their imaging of God “bodily”—and they lower themselves to a mere “creature” level. As animal rights activist and PETA co-founder, Ingrid Newkirk, said, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy” (1989). If humans are equal to animals, then we have no special right to rule and subdue creation for God’s glory.
Clearly Paul, in Romans 1:23, is echoing the wording of Genesis 1:26. He says that people in their rejection of truth “exchange” (to replace one thing for another) the glory of the incorruptible God for an “image” in the “form” of that which does not reflect God, even lowering themselves to the level of animals. The two Greek words Paul used here for “image” and “form” are the same two words in the LXX to describe the creation of people in the “image” and “likeness” of God. And the two words Paul used for God (“incorruptible,” afqartos) and man (”corruptible,” fqeirw), contrast “immortality” (the character of God, eternal) and mortality (earth-bound, existence-limited) (NIDNTT, s.v. “Destroy, fqeirw”).
The evolutionary, naturalistic understanding of people—an unbiblical anthropology which has “exchanged” the Genesis understanding with an earth and time-bound understanding—leads to personal ruin and God’s judgement. When we get worn down or otherwise discouraged from standing for a Creation-based anthropology, we will not only see the world’s values take hold more and more in the world, we will also see people in the church flirting more and more with worldly decisions about abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, and a naturalistic environmentalism.
The Genesis account taken literally reveals the unique place and role of people in God’s creation. When we depart from that understanding, we depart from an orthodox Anthropology.
(This is a 4-Part series. See Parts 1, 3, & 4 here and here and here.)
Constable, Thomas L. 2019. Notes on Genesis 2019 Edition. Accessed January 31, 2019. https://planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/pdf/genesis.pdf.
Merkel, Friedmann. 1975. S.v. “Destroy, fqeirw.” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1. edited by Colin Brown, 467–470. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Newkirk, Ingrid. 1989. Quoted in Vogue, September 1, 1989. Accessed February 7, 2019. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ingrid_Newkirk.