Which creation is the greater witness?

by Herold Weiss

Cover1Which is more important, the creation of Adam and Eve or the creation of the Risen Christ, the Last Adam? The story of the creation of Adam and Eve, the second of the stories in Genesis, is in part the story of the loss of life when access to the tree of life is blocked. As such, the story is theological, not about biology. Disobedient Adam and Eve did not lose biological life when they sinned. They lost access to the source of their life. That source transcends the biological realm, and without access to that source human life found itself floundering. The story of Adam and Eve, which much to one’s wondering is never alluded to in the rest of the Old Testament (with one exception, Job 31: 33), is the story of how  life East of Eden became a struggle, and death at the hands of others entered the created world.
The story of the Last Adam, on the other hand, is the story of how biological death is not really the last thing to be said about human life because of what God has done for the benefit of humanity. All the disciples of Jesus who saw his crucifixion went home thinking that what they had hoped for had been brutally negated by the power of the State that judged Jesus to be a seditious man. They were ready to go back to Galilee and try to pick up the life they had left behind when they had decided to follow Jesus. Their enthusiasm for Jesus and what he promised had been crushed by his crucifixion. That is the biological side of this story.
According to the apostle Paul, however, what God did on Sunday was not just the resuscitation of a dead body. It was a new creation. The revelation of the Risen Christ gave the crucifixion a totally new meaning. It saw God in the picture and understood that his crucifixion put an end to the overwhelming power of sin in the lives of all humans. The Risen Christ is the Last Adam. The descendants of the first Adam come to life in bodies like that of their progenitor, bodies of flesh. Those who are united with Christ by baptism into the death that he died for all, come to life in the realm of the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. Eventually, they will also receive spirit bodies and enjoy the life God had intended for humans to start with.
The Risen Christ is the Adam of the new creation. This creation took place two thousand years ago and it is more real than the creation of Adam in as much as it is the creation of imperishable life, totally different from any biological life or death. Christians who are eager to affirm that God is the creator, to which creation should they give ultimate significance? Which creation should be the one that merits consistent efforts to affirm on the part of Christians?
Neither the creation of Adam in the garden nor the creation of the Last Adam in the Spirit is subject to historical or scientific testing. All biblical authors affirm that God was directly involved as Creator. In both creations the Spirit was the active agent, but in the Bible, descriptions of the universe created by God, if given at all, do not provide a consistent picture, even as they affirm that God is the Creator. That God is the Creator is affirmed by faith. Of the two creations affirmed by the Bible, the creation of life in the Spirit is what Christianity is all about. That is the creation in which Christians live now and will live in eternity. Should not the reality of the creation of life in the realm of the Spirit, rather than the creation of life out of dust of the ground, be what Christians are constantly witnessing to before the world?


 

15 Responses

  • Why must we choose one or the other? Both are critical to understanding the Gospel. The same “science” that claims God could not have created the universe in six days also would say that a man dead for three days could not rise again. Both are important truths to keep and both impact our witness to the world, therefore we really ought not try to pit one against the other.

    • I did not intend to pit one against the other but to point out that we are emphasizing one and forgetting the one that to me seem even more important.

  • Dear Herold,
    Thank you for pointing out the new birth in Jesus Christ, and that is what we need to witness about. Wholeheartedly, I agree! Your message is good. But I differ with you on the importance of believing God’s Word in a literal sense. The devil cunningly approached Eve with a question, “Has God indeed SAID …?” It is also a temptation for Christians to doubt God’s word today, especially the creation account. You spoke of Jesus as the Last Adam, but you don’t believe there was a literal first Adam like Paul did, when he quoted Genesis, “The first man Adam became a living being … the first man was of the earth, made of dust” (I Cor. 15: 45, 47). And you said Adam was not mentioned in the rest of the Old Testament, except in Job, but Adam is mentioned in Deut. 32:8 and I Chron. 1:1. Paul said to Timothy, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (I Tim. 2:13). Jude said, “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied …” (Jude 14). Jude was the brother of Jesus! He was surely speaking literally! Don’t forget that Adam is mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy (Luke 3:38).
    I think it is important to affirm as true all the words of the Bible. Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for …” (II Tim. 3:16). Billy Graham settled his own doubts before answering God’s call to preach by determining to believe ALL the Bible by faith. And look how God has used him in millions of people being saved!
    As for Adam and Eve not losing “biological life” when they disobeyed God and sinned, no, they didn’t die immediately. It took 130 years for their perfect bodies to succumb to “biological death.” The death of their spirits was immediate, but God’s promise of a Messiah and their belief in His promise would reconnect their spirits with God (Gen. 3:15).
    The Gospel of John starts out with an affirmation that Jesus was with God “in the beginning” and made “all things.” God said, “Let US make man in OUR image” (Gen. 1:26).
    It is interesting to note that the Australian Aborigines have legends that sound like Bible stories – a global flood, three sons in a boat, landing on a mountain, God putting a rainbow in the sky, a woman made while a man slept, a forbidden tree with sweet honey in it, God warning man not to touch it, woman tempted by shiny drops and tasted it, an evil spirit-god released and death in the world ever since! (Ken Ham, “Evolution – Side Track to Racism – Part 1.”) More evidence of the truth of Genesis 1-9.
    China is the oldest culture on earth and their picture language has changed very little through thousands of years. Some of the characters corroborate the Genesis record of the creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel, yes, literally!
    > dust+breath of mouth+alive+to talk+walking= TO CREATE (picture of Adam)
    > live+dust+man= first (first man)
    >two trees+woman= desire, covet (Garden of Eden with two trees and Eve)
    The Chinese character for the Garden of Eden is also used to make the words: devil, fruit, nakedness, happiness, and tempter! (C.H. Kang and Ethel R. Nelson, “The Discovery of Genesis,” St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1979, p. 9.)
    Finally, I must say that there is a danger in spiritualizing parts of the Bible that are meant to be taken literally. When something is an obvious allegory or figure of speech, then that is worthy of spiritualizing. However, this allegorical method of interpreting Scripture by the early “church fathers,” particularly Origen, led to a deadly virus in the church called “replacement theology.” They believed that since the Jews rejected Jesus (forgetting Jesus, the Apostles, early church, and Scripture were all Jewish), the church replaced them in all God’s promises and covenants. After the Jewish roots of the church were cut off, the Gentile leadership became very anti-Semitic. This reached a climax in Martin Luther’s vile writings, “Against the Jews and Their Lies,” and Hitler used it as official Nazi policy, justifying the Holocaust. The correct Hebraic mindset for interpreting Scripture was taken over by a Greek mindset – all the blessings went to the Church, and the Jews were left with the curses. This proves that false interpretation of Scripture can be deadly!
    Anyway, forgive me for writing too much!!!! I rejoice with you in the gospel message – Jesus died for my sins, has forgiven me, and I have eternal life! But He is still Creator, and I think it is of great importance to receive all Scripture as literal truth. Jesus came to fulfill the Law (includes Genesis) and the Prophets, and not one jot or tittle will pass from it until He does (Matt. 5:17-18). He said that!
    Respectfully,
    Nancy

    • Oops! I got Adam’s age wrong. He was 130 when Seth was born, but he lived to be 930 years old! (Gen. 5:5) Fresh from the hand of God, it took a long, long time for the sin “infection” to kill him! Contrary to evolving upwards, man since Adam has been degenerating.
      Nancy Petrey

    • Nancy, since you are committed to a literal understanding of Genesis 1, I’m wondering how you approach the “firmament”or “dome” of 1:6. It was expressly built to hold back the waters “from above,” that is, above the firmament. In the Noah story, God is said to have opened the windows of the firmament to let the waters, previously held back, deluge the earth. Do you see this as the way our planet is constructed today?

      • Steve, as you know I don’t have scientific knowledge, but I already mentioned where I had learned what little I know. The way our planet is today would not be the same as in the beginning, of course. I will quote from Henry Morris’ book, “The Genesis Record.” The “waters above the firmament” constituted the “vast vaporous canopy which maintained the earth as a beautiful greenhouse,” making an ideal climate. The “waters below the firmament” (stretched-out space or heavens) or “the great deep” would have been seas and rivers which emerged from below the earth’s crust. The flood of Genesis 7 came from the two “deeps” coming together again, as when first created – precipitation from above and bursting its bounds from below. Remember that there had been no rain on the earth until the 40 days and nights of rain during the flood. The “fountains of the great deep” were broken up first, causing volcanic dust to be blown skyward and gigantic sprays of water. The upper canopy of water would have been penetrated and triggered a torrential global downpour of rain!
        Peter warns about the coming Day of the Lord and that the believers should not be swayed by scoffers who “willfully forget that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (II Pet. 3:3-6). He goes on to say that God’s next worldwide judgment will be with fire and “perdition of ungodly men” (vs. 7) but that God doesn’t want anyone to perish and is waiting for men to repent.
        Steve, I hope I answered your question. Morris’ book has been helpful to me in understanding Genesis.
        Blessings,
        Nancy

        • Nancy, this doesn’t answer what became of the firmament, a solid canopy stretched over the entirety of the planet. You note that, “The upper canopy of water would have been penetrated and triggered a torrential global downpour of rain!” The Bible says that widows in the firmament opened to release the water, not that that canopy collapsed. If the firmament was literally a solid dome, it should still be here.
          Morris’ book is little more than speculation, hardly good science. My Christian biology teacher said it only convinces those who want to be convinced. If you want an especially good review of Genesis from an Evangelical perspective, I recommend John Walton’s, “The Lost World of Genesis One.” [IVP] One insight I particularly like is that if Genesis were written today, it would use the cosmology of the 21st century and WOULD MAKE THE SAME POINTS as in Genesis, thus making the particular cosmologies irrelevant. In his view (and mine) the issue is not the detail, but the meaning.
          So, what became of the solid canopy or “firmament”?

          • Steve, the modern speculations of “cosmology” are meaningless. The true meaning of the awesome creation of the earth and all in it has been recorded by holy men of God as God by His Spirit moved upon them.
            You must have read Morris’ book, since you evaluated it as “little more than speculation, hardly good science.” In case you yourself are only speculating about the contents of the book, I urge you to look at the credentials of Morris and reviews of his book to see that he is well qualified to write on Genesis. http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Record-Scientific-Devotional-Commentary/dp/0890510261/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1443020990&sr=8-2&keywords=the+genesis+record+henry+morris
            My husband used this book as a textbook in Old Testament at Memphis Theological Seminary.
            You seem to think the firmament was a SOLID dome like the dome on a Coliseum! The word “firmament” in Hebrew is “expanse.” The meaning is “spread-out-thinness,” probably “space.” It was a canopy of water vapor, not solid. “God called the firmament Heaven” (Gen. 1:8). Morris devotes pages to this subject, too long for me to quote here. He says it is the “atmosphere.” He acknowledges that “the English word has been interpreted by many to refer to a solid dome across the sky; consequently, this idea has been used by liberal critics as evidence of the ‘pre-scientific’ outlook of Genesis.” He says the original Hebrew word and any passages in which it occurs suggest no such thing! Remember Morris’ expertise in hydrology and geology and his years of teaching hydraulic engineering. He also taught adult and college Bible classes regularly for over 30 years.
            The vapor canopy is why earth was such a paradise before the Flood. No one would say that we have a paradise now. God had prepared the “waters above the earth” for the judgment of the Flood. We can look forward to this vapor canopy being restored in the millennial earth and in the new earth God will create.
            I hope you will look at the site I suggested.
            Thanks,
            Nancy

  • Nancy, I promise to check out your recommendation. (BTW, I read Morris years ago.) Now here’s one for you from a conservative Evangelical scholar: https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/01-genesis/text/articles-books/seely-firmament-wtj.htm. Here’s his bottom line: “The historical evidence, however, which we will set forth in concrete detail, shows that the raqiac was originally conceived of as being solid and not a merely atmospheric expanse.” You can read why at that site.
    We will likely never agree on this. One thing I should insist on, however, is that our disagreement is not over whether one believes the Bible or not, but how to interpret what the Bible means. Too often (and I don’t mean you here) people who don’t agree with another’s position are written off as heretics. “You say toMAYto, I say toMAHto, lets….”

    • Steve, I began to read the article about the firmament and realized I did not want to spend my time and concentration on figuring out “the point.” It seems like splitting hairs. Let me restate that I firmly believe that God had the exact words recorded in Scripture that He chose to express the reality of what happened. Remember that the first man, created with the very hands of God, was quite an excellent specimen of humanity, with brain power far superior to the intellectual capabilities of man today. Your article referred to “scientifically naive” people, but being scientifically knowledgeable does not make one wise and does not make one a person of faith, which is the ideal person! Besides that, the writer seems to say that the “dome of the sky” was an ignorant concept, and yet you say that is what it is/was. I probably don’t follow you here. 🙂 HOWEVER, God says, “Has God not made foolish the wisdom of this world? … God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the wise …” (I Cor. 1: 20, 27).
      I simply accept by faith the account of how God created the world and all in it as recorded in Genesis 1-2. I think our time is better spent by marveling at all the amazing things God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has made, finding out all we can about His wonderful works, and worshiping and exalting His mighty power, wisdom, beauty, and love in the Creation. Henry Morris wrote a beautifully illustrated book about creation taken from the book of Job, “The Wonder of it All,” which includes lines of verse from various poets. So there are at least these two devotional books that this godly man wrote to help us appreciate our Creator and His creation more.
      Steve, I agree that we interpret the Bible differently, so let’s call a truce. We Christians must unite, because we have a common enemy who is out to divide us, cause ill will, and destroy us and our witness. I think you are a very nice man, courteous, and very smart. Thank you again for the excellent way you are doing the blog.
      Sincerely,
      Nancy

  • Concerning the Genesis account, we can speculate that the Creator inspired the scribe to write or tell the story in a manner so that, if it were interpreted and believed literally, the reader or hearer would receive the truth in a form he could understand and in a form that would not cause him to stumble. It seems reasonable to say that all communications from the Creator to His creatures are tailored for the creatures’ understanding. We are only equipped to receive an abridged version of the absolute TRUTH, but that is more than enough for us to learn of God’s love for us and for the implantation of the faith that saves us.

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