It has been almost 10 years…
I remember the summer after I turned 20 when I was first challenged with a new theological perspective: Calvinism.
Up to that point I had not heard much, if anything, about Calvinism, but I remember being simply blown away by the idea of God’s electing love, efficacious call, etc.
Since that summer I have not been simply blown away like that by another biblical/theological topic…until now.
This new (well, perhaps new for me) concept has given me reasons for pause.
My reasons for pause are twofold:
The first reason is somewhat similar to my recent attempt to precisely outline my theology of hell based on the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s most recent book, Love Wins – you can read my review here. My hope is that throughout this process I might be able to precisely outline what I believe and, perhaps more importantly, why I affirm said belief. In other words, whether a critique has been issued from a differing perspective or I am attempting to provide some insight to those within the same perspective, my desire is to be able to provide a clear, intelligent, and biblical argument for my affirmation(s).
The second reason is fairly dissimilar to my recent attempt to precisely outline my theology of hell. Throughout that recent process, I felt comfortable with where I thought I would end up, namely that upon completion of my studies I would remain “where I began” but with a bit more acumen. However, this time, I feel much less comfortable with where I think I will end up. My concern is that I will not end up “where I began.” I am also concerned about the implications of such an affirmation (i.e. How will this affect my theology? What will people think about me? Will I be ostracized from the conservative evangelical “family” because of my viewpoint?).
The above two reasons should clearly demonstrate why this issue is so important for me to think through.
Now, to the issue…
Painting broadly, the issue revolves around a few questions:
Is the Genesis account actually about human origins?
Could it possibly be about something else?
Something more meaningful?
These are questions that need answers.
I recently posted a similar question as my Facebook status and received several challenges. I think what might be best, at least for me, is to address two of those challenges and demonstrate why, at least for me, they hold little weight within this discussion.
One challenge was posited as such: “[H]ow does one truly know which stories actually happened and which are just narratives? One could use this then to say that the story of Christ is just a narrative.”
I think we can nullify this challenge for three reasons:
- We need to be sensitive to genre-specific criticism, wherein we are charged with elucidating the text in its appropriate grammatico-historical context
- “To think that the Israelites, alone among all other ancient peoples, were interested in (or capable of) giving some definitive, quasi-scientific, account of human origins is an absurd logic.” (Pete Enns)
- The secular accounts of Jesus’ existence (Celsus, Lucian of Samosata, Josephus, Babylonian Talmud, etc.)
A similar comment was made and ended with a declaration that we need to submit to the authority of the Bible. Let it be known: I affirm the authority of the Bible! And yet, I do not think it is that easy. Affirming the authority of the Bible is empty without a proper understanding of the text (i.e. what did the text mean then, before what does the text mean today). More often than not, Christians seek to affirm various texts as authoritative without having first completed their exegetical due diligence. Therefore, it is not enough to simply declare that we must affirm and submit to the authority of the Bible, as this affirmation and submission to authority can be harmful (if not damning) based on our understanding of the texts we declare are authoritative.
A few questions I will be pondering throughout this process:
What was the purpose behind the Genesis account? Was it a declaration of human origins? Was it a declaration of something else? Was it both?
In light of Enns’ statement above, what if God in his wisdom, majesty, and sovereignty determined to reveal (at least in small part) the origin of the universe (and humanity) through his “special” book to his “special” people?
How does theistic evolution, or Adam as metaphor, figure into a Pauline understanding of Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15?
As I continue my deliberatoin, my goal is to read several books (I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution, The Evolution of Adam, and Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?) and follow several blogs (Pete Enns, Karl Giberson, and The BioLogos Forum).
I encourage you to engage the issue(s)!
Lastly, please note that in no way am I claiming that I have this issue figured out...
In no way am I claiming any type of scientific or biblical/theological expertise on the matter...
My attempt is to wade through the mire that this issue presents (just as any Christian ought to!). And I do so with great trepidation...
Also, please know that I am open to, and, perhaps, expecting, your comments on this issue (regardless if they are affirmative or critical). Both types of comments should help me and those reading this blog as we collectively think through this issue.
May we have wisdom as we investigate.