Reading the Creation account in Genesis 1 this morning, my mind was wandering into the realms of arguments against a “literal” reading of this much assailed text. Conventional wisdom from the fields of the sciences hold that the Creation story can’t be read as real history since it doesn’t appear to allow for what we “know” to be true of the physical world in which we live. And from the literary world, most commentators hold that the opening chapters of Genesis are some form of allegory or typical religious myth— a multi-sourced text copied in part from an older epic and pieced together to promote a variety of author’s theological biases. I realize as I’m reading and thinking that the nay sayers to the simple yet absolutely profound text can rob me of my Father’s desire to bless me, and you, by painting us into a defensive corner in which we find ourselves attempting to save God from His critics.
When Satan wanted to bring about the fall of the loving, trusting, benevolent relationship those made in God’s image had with Him, he did so by sowing doubt in the minds of our first parents as to God’s word and God’s will. As is the case today, Satan rarely uses frontal assaults when a mere whisper of doubt, a small seed of unbelief is adequate to sever a simple trust in the words of a God who cannot lie.
Did God actually say?
When we read that phrase we need to inflect the emphatic nature of the query and the heightened tone of incredulity. We could expand on the phrase along these lines:
You don’t really mean He said that!?
God couldn’t possibly have meant that!
You don’t really believe that— do you!?
The question was meant to be it’s own answer— “Eve, dear Eve, you most certainly have misunderstood what God said because, obviously, to anyone who has a brain, it’s patently clear, He could not have meant that!” Or, “Eve, you simply can’t trust God to give you what you really deserve; He’s holding out His best from you to keep it all to Himself!”
Satan’s ruse included portraying God as a small minded, mean spirited person who was actually withholding something highly desirable from the gullible man and his wife. And so the fall of mankind gathered steam and Eve and then Adam plunged headlong into the abyss of separation from their benefactor, or in Robert Frost’s words, “so Eden sank to grief”.
The Fall of mankind from the pinnacle of perfection; our separation from face-to-face fellowship with our Maker; the gnawing sense of inadequacy we all live with; every murder, rape, war, and act of terrorism; every birth defect and every death on this planet are the full blown fruit of that simple phrase, laden with malice— “Did God actually say?”
As I was reading the story of the creation and as I contemplated the beauty of the cosmos that sprang from God’s fingers and God’s mouth, I realized I was being drawn away from a simple trust in a God who can’t lie, and from a time of fellowship with Him. Instead of resting in the veracity of my Father’s description of the world He created, doubt was slowly growing in my mind as one defense after another sprang to my mind in my attempt to silence the whisper of my enemy— “Did God actually say?”
Thankfully the growing sense of disquiet and the sense of distance from my Father, the goal of the enemy, were themselves what brought me to my senses.
My Father means me to read His word with the implicit trust of a child, not because I’m stupid or incapable of reason or analysis, but because He would never lie to me and He has spoken so as to bless me and draw me more fully into a loving, trusting relationship with Him. My Father shares His secrets with me and tells me of His great work in making the world I now delight in through His word. It’s through His word that I learn His heart and His ways and come, slowly over time and through lovely as well as difficult circumstances, to see more fully His absolute perfections.
I hope in saying this you don’t think me a backward, gullible rube, unable or unwilling to address real questions in science and literature, a simpleton ready to swallow up the most ludicrous of stories. I believe it’s as important to know Who to believe as What to believe if we’re to be really sound in our thinking and able to discern between gold and fool’s gold.
I believe the scriptures stand up to the greatest possible scrutiny. I further believe the Creation accounts in Genesis are absolutely true and historical in their descriptions. And while I believe I can give adequate answers to most of the derisive questions and statements regarding my Father’s account of the creation of this world, I don’t believe I can answer every one, I simply don’t have enough information. But that doesn’t bother me. This is my Father’s world and I trust Him to tell me the truth. And I feel for the gullible in this world who will be led on by the father of lies and the dean of deceptions, and be put off from a relationship with the God of all wonders, through a doubt cast in their minds through a deceptively simple and hate laden thought and phrase— “Did God actually say?”
I’m all for research into the workings of the universe and how they relate to the Creation account. And I love literary investigation into the texts of the Bible too. But the fruits of these inquiries aren’t enough to convince a person of the integrity of God’s word if they’re already inclined to buy into the whispered doubts of a really good liar.
I’m reading in Genesis again, and enjoying the fellowship of my Father as He describes His wisdom and power in creating His world because I’ve realized I don’t need to defend my Father against the father of lies.