S2E6: Creation and the Image of God
Beginnings /:6:/ Creation Redux.
Genesis is a central text for the ongoing cultural debate over the origins of the universe and humanity. Proponents of biblical creationism use Genesis 1 to inform their understanding of the origin of the cosmos, the age of the earth, and the origin of humanity. The debate is typically framed as a simple dichotomy of creation versus evolution, but there is much more variety within both camps.1 In this gathering we'll take a look at some of the alternative views so you can make up your own mind!
Scripture Covered: Genesis 1-2
Themes: Creation, old earth vs. young earth, plurality of God, the Image of God, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and... what ever happened to those dinosaurs?!
Daily Reading Plan for this Series - totally optional... Just Show Up!
Having established a foundation for objectively exploring the topic of God in our prior series, "Basics;" and having now concluded a five week survey of the Gospel of John which gives us a thumbnail sketch of the entire biblical narrative, we shift the remaining focus of our series "Beginnings" (over the next and final three weeks) to concentrate on the creation story of Genesis. From this point forward we will be studying the books of the Bible individually, sequentially, and mostly chronologically.
The Book of Genesis is the first book in the Bible. The Hebrew name for Genesis comes from the first word of the Bible: Bereshith (בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית), which simply means "beginning" (duh! that makes sense, right?!).
Genesis opens with God creating the universe in six days and resting on the seventh. Creation occurs by divine decree: God speaks, and calls all things into being (remember the opening of John's Gospel: John 1:1!). Each day of creation is described following the same basic pattern: God speaks, His creation appears, God approves of His creation, God names His creation, and the day ends with the refrain, “there was evening and there was morning, the next day.”2
Genesis offers a wonderfully simple and poetic account of the origin of the universe. Despite its simplicity, Genesis is not contradictory to a scientific view of the cosmos. We'll discuss this in more detail, along with other topics during our gathering this week.
In the meantime, our ministry partners at The Bible Project have created a short video describing one of the topics we'll cover this week, which also happens to be one of the most profound truths of all time: that we are created in the "Image of God" and that each of us is a beautiful reflection of God's nature, created with a purpose to live abundantly and to do wonderful things. Enjoy!
How you read and interpret Genesis is a an indication of how you'll read and interpret the rest of the Bible... and guess what?! ... it's perfectly okay that we all interpret the Bible a little differently! In fact, the way we interpret the Bible is an indication of the truth of the Bible itself, which in the early chapters of Genesis tells us that we are all uniquely and wonderfully created in the "image of God".
The seven days of creation found in Genesis 1 have created some of the most polarizing disagreements among Christian interpreters. The question is whether God created the world in a sequence of 24-hour days. The literal interpretation would suggest so, but the fact that the first three days passes before the sun and stars are created open up the possibility that a "day" was not meant literally. From this possibility comes a wide range of theories about the age of the earth and of the origin of humanity.
If we're not careful, we can get caught up in the contrasting arguments of cosmic beginnings and miss the most important point about the Genesis story: It's more concerned with introducing us to the character of the Creator than documenting the mechanics of Creation:
29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever... (Deut. 29:29)
The mechanics of Creation are complicated, to be sure. But just because Genesis isn't comprehensive in explaining the mechanics, doesn't mean the story is inaccurate. Rather, it serves to draw our attention to God the Creator. As we focus on God we see some fairly remarkable things right from the beginning, including the enigmatic concept that while God acts singularly in the activities of creation (the Hebrew verb ברא / "barah" is singular), the Hebrew word for God (אלִֹהים / "Elohim") is plural!
In this gathering we explore the plurality of God and several other profound concepts ... all in just the first two chapters of the Bible!
1 Douglas Mangum, Miles Custis, and Wendy Widder, Genesis 1–11, Lexham Research Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), Ge 1:1–2:3.