One of the most common questions that I receive is how one is meant to understand and interpret Genesis, more specifically the creation account in Genesis 1. Before we start, I want to make it clear that if you are expecting me to give you a definitive answer about what exactly you should believe in, you would be disappointed. As the title suggests, this article, and the video that I made, aims to discuss all the facets of the Genesis discussion so that you can understand it and make your own opinion.
What will I cover:
In this article, I will cover a few areas of the discussion:
- How important is it?
- What are the different interpretations?
- Is there a right answer?
If you want to check out more about the contextual/ historical understanding and my take behind the story, feel free to check out the video on my YouTube channel where I discuss these topics as well.
How important is it:
I would like to start off with the simplest answer—it is not important.
Of course, the answer is more precise than this, but I think that this is a good place to start. The Church, over the past hundred years, has been so polarised as a result of the Genesis debate. Prominent figures like William Lane Craig, Ken Ham and others have gone ham over this issue, insinuating that those who disagree with them, may be not taking the Bible seriously or “taking man’s word over God’s word.” As a result, the Church has been divided and many people have had their faith shaken as a result of this divide.
Furthermore, there are many people who, as a result of being taught YEC, have left the faith as they were unable to find a coherent view between current cosmology and a 6000 year old earth.
I look at both of these problems and instantly feel horrible.
In the Bible, it is crystal clear that the core of salvation is our belief in Christ and how we develop our relationship with God. Nevertheless, it keeps on shocking me how such a big fuss can be made over one chapter out of the entire Bible of a few hundred, if not thousand chapters.
Now this is not to say we must completely ignore the Genesis story. Rather, it is to state that we should not use the Genesis story as a way to insult or “one-up” another Christian, rather use it as a talking point to further your relationship with God.
After all, there is, regardless how you approach Genesis, a lot of different things you can learn from it. Behind the story exists a deep and profound meta-structure which provides ultimate truths.
What are the different interpretations about Genesis?
The two main camps are the concordists and the non-concordists:
Concordists believe that we should read science to directly conform to the Biblical narrative. While there are a few types of concordists, some are YEC, some believe that the days should be interpreted as ages, either way, they view the texts as having literal truth and follow the six category progression.
Non-concordists on the other hand believe that the Genesis story is not a representation of literal fact. Rather they may take a more allegorical view of the story. As a result, they are less worried about what science discovers as they never approached it from a scientific lens anyways.
Is there a right answer?
Well, of course, there is one. But the unfortunate thing is that we would probably never know. It is one of those frustrating philosophical parts of theology where we might just have to try our best and wait till we reach heaven and ask God about what it actually is.
Of course, the YEC would maintain that the right answer is that the universe is 6000 years old and the non-concordist might just retort saying that it isn’t important and we should try to uncover the truth behind it. But at the end of the day, this should be seen as a building block in Christianity and not a stumbling block.
Disagreements are fun, and it is part of God’s plan that we discuss these ideas with each other and choose the best way forward.
I hope you found this short guide informative and helpful. If you want to learn more about the discussion and want to know more historical context and arguments for and against different ways of interpreting the Bible, make sure to go check out my YouTube video.
I know this is a very controversial topic, but at the same time, this is something which should be used as a tool to help us all in our walk with Christ. The last thing we should do is insult or insinuate that those who disagree are unfaithful or are not trying hard enough.