For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV
Several months back, I received a request to address “creation” and “evolution” from a Christian perspective. For weeks I have prayed and pondered because behind the seemingly simple request to write on creation vs. evolution; I heard faith crying out to faith for some help in understanding “who we are” as followers of Christ and “what our place” is in the Creation.
These are important questions because folks live what they believe. If our thoughts are confused or out of order, so are our lives.
Theories about human origins abound and some Christians are called to understand the nuances of each of these theories and apply the laser-sharp light of apologetics to “prove” that the Bible calls for a “New Earth” creation in six days, or an “Old Earth” creation by God in a divinely defined “day” that might pass through a millennia, or that Genesis is in itself just a myth closely related to other creation “stories” promulgated and passed down by ancient cultures to explain how the world and their place in it came to be.
You are welcome to read these arguments if you feel called to. I believe several competent scholars are responding to the spirit or Spirit that leads them. It is not for me to say that God will not resolve someone’s question about human beginnings through a scholarly, apologetic, deductive argument; these pathways can be defended as “faith seeking understanding.” So they may be.
I must say that “for me” a resolution of the “Creation vs. Evolution” question had less to do with scientific or theological analysis and more to do with moving from a position of demanding an answer to what Genesis really means; to simply accepting God’s given explanation of Genesis as all I really need to know.
Jesus himself said, “…I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (John 8:28, ESV). Since Jesus himself does not do or say anything on His own authority, but says and does only what the Heavenly Father gives Him to speak and do; so in like manner, my doing, speaking and understanding must sit “under” God’s own revelation in Scripture.
Some will divide belief in Jesus from accepting the Bible as God’s revealed and revealing word. Many will say that it is possible to accept Jesus as Lord and divide Scripture into essentially two parts: that which is “truth” and that which is nothing more than human, culture-bound, imperfect testimony. This assessment is not made capriciously, but is based on the most recent theological, anthropological, sociological and even archeological studies. Sounds good right?
Maybe. Theological, sociological, anthropological or any other human system of study set “under” the compass point of and working within the bounds set by God’s Word rightly reflects our position as human beings and most likely is to be received positively. But theological, sociological, anthropological or any other human system of study that sets itself above God’s Word dangerously asserts itself as the compass point of “truth” and relegates God’s revelation to a subordinate position.
In fact, those who set aside Genesis or otherwise revise and “improve” the Bible’s basic meaning to coincide with modern wisdom, are by definition, elevating human ways above God’s ways. They seem to be following in the footsteps of Eve, who so long ago concluded based on her own observations of the world that the Tree of Knowledge “was good for food, a delight to the eyes…and was desired to make one wise, she took of its food and ate…and also gave some to her husband…and he ate” (Genesis 3:6b, ESV).
I want to be careful to emphasize that the contributions of human fields of study can be very helpful and faithful. Advances in the life and physical sciences enrich our lives and often lead to an ever more complex appreciation and understanding of our world. Indeed, from the beginning man has been a thinking, creative being. Adam exemplified this so simply and elegantly in responding to God’s charge to observe the animals and name them! The problem is not human knowledge per say, but our tendency to set our own patterns and priorities of thinking and knowing above God’s own ways.
Perhaps the real challenge is not to “figure out” where to stand in the “Creation vs. Evolution” debate; but to “do” what we “believe.” If we say Christ is our Head and we, members of His body…then so we ought to think…and so we ought to live.
Perhaps as “followers of Christ” we do well to remember that His call to “follow me” doesn’t focus on explaining our origins, but setting our heart, mind, hands and feet toward loving one another as God has so loved us.
Just as Jesus himself did nothing on His own authority, but spoke just as the Father taught Him (John 8:28, ESV). So then must I accept the authority of the Word of God as a pattern for the direction and content of not only my thoughts about God and my belief in Him, but also as the guide or pattern for my thoughts about myself, my role and place in this world, and how everything came to be.
Simply put, if it’s good enough for Jesus to be constrained by the authority of His Father’s Word; so it seems fit for His followers to accept the same subordinate position.
For some, such an answer seems too simplistic, “child-like” or “old-fashioned.” I’d encourage these folks to explore the topic of creation from authors writing not just in the past 100 hundred years, but over the history of the Church.
God does promise that those who seek Him will find Him…in this case “seeking” may look very much like a journey from the writings of the Church Fathers to contemporary disciples of Christ on the subject of human origins. Certainly the Holy Spirit works through diverse ways and means as our guide and teacher…