How does God work through time?
What do you have faith to believe in?
There’s something called causality, which simply states the relation between a first event and a subsequent event, which is caused by the first one. This is what we call cause and effect and was first proposed by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. A simple example of this in use is as follows; the blizzard hit the city (cause) and the schools were closed for the day (effect).
Well, I’m about to stand this on its head. Don’t shoot me, because I’m just the messenger, but, thinking hebraically, there are situations when the effect comes before the cause. Before we go there we consider He who is the Great Cause of all. That’s an easy one to answer and it’s the foundation of everything. God is the Great Cause and everything else is the effect of that cause.
So here we are at Creation, that great moment when space and time were called into existence. Then, let there be light! So, what happened here? There are three possibilities for the Christian (non-Christians, of course, think that the whole thing is nonsense):
1. The whole account is poetry or allegory and is not to be taken as fact.
2. The Earth was already fully developed by the end of the first “day” (which could actually have been thousands or millions of years) of Creation and covered by a thick cloud layer. At this point the clouds slightly part and the light from the sun shines through. The clouds are fully gone by the fourth “day”, when the sun, moon and stars can be fully seen from earth.
3. The light was from God, not from the sun.
Let’s consider these options. The first option is the safe approach that is totally devoid of danger, allowing us to see God as Creator without worrying about the details. This approach owes its origin to the dualism of Plato, as developed by the Church Father, Origen. He stated that Holy Scripture can be understood on three levels, corresponding to the body, soul and spirit. The body referred to the plain reading of the text which was considered unacceptable, the preferred understanding being a spiritualising of the text (the soul and spirit options), where you can read into the text whatever reading you are happy with. This was usually through allegory, where the Scripture conceals hidden meanings, as revealed only to ‘the enlightened’ (such as Origen!)
The second option is the sort of approach favoured by Christians who wish to re-interpret the Genesis Creation account through the lens of Science. On the one hand they have the Bible open at the first three Chapters of Genesis and in the other they juggle their Science textbooks. They are torn and it’s not completely their fault. This is because, ever since the Church had loosened its hold on the national psyche, there has been a chipping away at eternal biblical truths, replacing them with unverifiable scientific theories, particularly on the subject of origins. Consequently the majority of Christians in the UK now unquestioningly accept scientific commentaries and interpretations of those first three chapters of Holy Scripture.
In fact, for the Christian establishment in the UK, belief that God created everything in just six days is considered false teaching by no less an authority than the leading evangelical author and former Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright. In his book Surprised by Scripture (pages 31, 32) he gives this view. This is a serious accusation because in earlier generations “false teachers” usually met painful and untimely deaths.
Modern academic Christians see a belief in six day Creation as anti-intellectual and feel that such Christians are letting the side down and hampering their evangelistic efforts. They are both right and wrong here. Yes, these creationist beliefs are anti-intellectual and that’s no bad thing! As for evangelism, we need to decide what gospel we are promoting to the World. Is it a gospel informed by a clear understanding of the Word of God, or is it a compromised Gospel that is less likely to offend sensible rational people?
Surely Christians are called primarily to be people of faith rather than people of intellect? The cult of the intellectual is alive and kicking and it is time we ordinary Christians thought long and hard on this. I don’t want to be instructed on matters of faith by academics, scholars and intellectuals because they have already pinned their flag to the mast, they have already decided that intellectual acceptance is what they crave, rather than biblical integrity. But when such people arrogantly declare that those who choose to accept God at His word are false teachers, then we really are treading on shifting sands and Christians are going to have to decide whether they follow the Bible or the eggheads of Academia.
Then there is the third option … we shall discuss that next week.
This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, avaible for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp