Quick Thoughts – Creation, sin and redemption.

Thinking-ManSeveral years ago I attempted to get credentialed with my church conference, and I have a rather large questionnaire that probed every aspect of my biblical acumen and theological understanding.  I spent the better part of 4 months working on the questionnaire and I failed the credentialing process like a champ; getting lured into a kangaroo court where I was condemned and driven from my church in the process.  Still, may as well not let that work go to waste when I can recycle it on my blog, eh?

Here’s my answer to the question/point “Discuss briefly your view regarding the work of God in creation and in redemption….”

Regarding the work of God in creation, Genesis records a straightforward, historical account written as a Hebrew historical narrative; people who claim the literary genre of Genesis is poetry are factually incorrect (And Rob Bell, in the movie “Everything is Spiritual“, is simply lying or deceived about the literary genre of Genesis 1 & 2).  This is not to make an arrogant claim about Genesis, but to simply state the Hebrew has objective and defined literary forms that can be clearly recognized by their verbal and grammatical construction.  Genesis records that the ultimate mechanism of creation was divine speech (Gen. 1:6; 9; 11; 14; 20; 24; 26) with the exception of the original human pair; they were directly physically fashioned by God (Gen 1:26-27; 2:21-22).  This means that the entire work of creation was an exclusive and supernatural direct work of God without any secondary mechanism (i.e. natural selection).  Creation was a Trinitarian affair, involving God the father (Gen. 1:1; Is. 66:1-2), God the Spirit (Gen. 1:2), and God the Son (John 1:3; Heb 1:2).  God did not create out of any lack within himself because he lacks nothing (Acts 17:25), rather God created for his glory, the radiating forth of his own delight in himself (Ps. 8:1-9; Is. 43:7).

Regarding the work of God in redemption, for the radiating forth of his glory, God also divinely chose some people before the creation of the world to receive divine adoption, forgiveness of sins, the revelation of his will, the resurrection unto life, and the seal of the Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of the coming inheritance from God (Eph. 1:3-14).  God, because of the vastness of his love and mercy (Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:4), and for the purpose of the display of his grace and kindness to all believers (Eph. 2:7), saves sinners in their sinful state (Rom. 5:8) who are characterized by spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:1-2) and enslavement to wicked desires (Eph. 2:3)  while they are spiritually dead (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:5-6).  Salvation is a divine work of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8) and is not any work of man (Eph. 2:9).  This in no way suggests that Christians forsake the divine commission (Matt. 28:19-20) but rather that spiritual regeneration and saving faith are exclusive works of God (John 6:37-40, 44; Rom. 8:29-30; 9:11-21; Eph. 2:4-10; Titus 3:5-7), and men cannot change their hearts or renew their own minds. The changing of the heart and renewing of the mind is a work of the spirit of God affected through the proclamation of the word (Ps. 19:7-9; John 16:7-15; 17:20-26; Rom. 1:16; 10:1-14).

So does anyone disagree that Genesis is a historical narrative and not poetry? Anyone disagree that Genesis clearly represents Adam and Eve as the original human pair who descended from nobody and were the parents of the entire human race?  Nobody EVER disagrees with those comments!  HA!

As I’m working on my next 7 Anvils post, I might recycle some of this stuff just for the sake of posting something that might get some conversation going or be of encouragement to anyone.  I know I’m not a pro-blogger who tosses out high quality content all day every day, but I’ve got a full time job, 1 toddler and 1 about to be born, and a church with which I’m fairly involved.  Maybe I’ll start a kickstarter and see if I can raise $50,000 to take a year off, write a book or two and blog my head off.

Sure thing.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “You get what you pay for” Unger

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23 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts – Creation, sin and redemption.

  1. Am I understanding you right, that the comments on Genesis were part of the criticism against you? And, do you still consider yourself a Calvinist and was this a focus of their criticism against you?

    Doug

    • Doug,

      The comments on Genesis actually weren’t part of the criticism, or at least were on the very fringe of the criticism. There were other issues that were far more pressing to the person(s) that took issue(s) with me.

      As for the Calvinism thing, that was also not a huge part of the criticism. The people person(s) that took issue(s) with me didn’t have a clear enough understanding of the issues surrounding “Calvinism” to really take objection to my presentation. I’ve found that to be the case in my old church conference. There’s lots of chatter, but precious little informed opinions; most of which would be equally condemned as heterodox (if not outright heresy) by both the Canons of the Synod of Dort and the Five articles of Remonstrance.

  2. I’ve actually run into more resistance to the election issue than the literal creation account. With creation, people are prone to side stepping the discussion by saying, “Well, you have your view and I have mine. Either way, it’s really not that big a deal”. Election, on the other hand, at least in MB circles, brings out all manner of reactions. Like Dan Phillips of the Pyro blog,I consider myself a 4.95 point Calvinist, a view that has only developed in the last couple of years.

      • Here’s Dan’s own take on why he says 4.95 points:

        “Rounding up. I commonly say that I am a 4.95-4.97 point Calvinist. When I say that, I mean that I think that anyone who believes in the Bible either affirms T, U, I and P, or he’s fudging on core Biblical doctrine for some other reason. Those doctrines are not merely reasonable conclusions of what Scripture teaches — they simply are what Scripture teaches, straight-up and in so many words.

        The point on which I measure .95-.97 is, of course, L. Now you’ll observe correctly that 4.95 “rounds up” very nicely to 5, and so I’ll sign on as a 5-point Calvinist without blushing. But the reason for the .03-.05 variation is simply that, unlike the other four points, there is no single verse that straight-up lays the doctrine down in so many words, and there are a couple of challenging verses.

        However, the reason why the variation is only .03-.05 is because I think that the cumulative Biblical case for “L” is overwhelming, the “challenging” verses are at least equally challenging for other positions, and every alternative explanation I’ve ever heard very soon comes to very serious Biblical grief.”

        • Thanks for the response. I suspected that Limited Atonement was the culprit. Personally, I consider all five of the points of TULIP to be significantly flawed, so I don’t blame the ordination committee for being concerned.

  3. Doug : I’m relatively new to reformed theology, having been raised largely in an anabaptist culture. I’d be interested to hear your comments on the five points.

    • I don’t have a ton of time tonight, but my basic critique of Reformed theology is that it ignores the narrative of scripture and turns various anecdotes into theological algorithms. Total depravity makes a mathematical model out of criticism of a particularly degenerate generation in an apostate nation. It generalizes something that is true of a specific generation at a specific point in time. The reason Romans says that all have sinned is not to say that all people are always essentially sinful, it’s that the story of the nation of Israel proves that Jews have sinned just like the Gentiles so that they can’t claim to have succeeded in being intrinsically better than Gentiles (keep in mind that Jews considered Gentiles to literally be as valuable as beasts of the field or insects). Ripping the point the authors are making away from the narrative makes it a sterile, flat system. A similar point can be made the other elements of TULIP. They are all fundamentally flawed.

    • Ed,

      I think he’s trying to say that “Reformed Theology” misrepresents scripture since it takes illustrations of specific people as universal truths and Romans 3:23 is saying that Jews have sinned like Gentiles, but not that everyone is inherently sinful.

      Hiding $0.05 of exegesis behind $100.00 of verbiage doesn’t increase the value of the exegesis.

  4. Pingback: Quick Post – Creation of Man, the Fall and the Consequences of the Fall | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

  5. Hi MennoKnight
    I spotted your comment in the MBH comments re: the fact that you are not a young earth creationist so when I visited your blog and saw this topic my curiosity was piqued.
    The primary pillar of the young earth creationists is the historical narrative vs poetry argument. It seems to me that you risk weakening your definition of historical narrative if a day is no longer a day. Not that I disagree with you 🙂 I’m just curious about how you come to hold both positions.

    • James! Welcome! I have no memory of any comment in the MBH that I have made regarding YEC. Could you please forward the appropriate link to me? I don’t want to respond to something that I’m unclear about.

      • That is NOT me. I wish I owned a telescope! I love astronomy!

        Someone is either posting things in my name or simply has a great sense of humor. Still, it’s not really my name. When I post online, I post with my wordpress/google profile everywhere I can, which shows my picture of Clouseau and the name “mennoknight” or “Mennoknight”, not “MennoKnight” (always small “k”). That’s how you can recognize the real Mennoknight (18 years and counting!).

        Thanks for the heads up James. I definitely appreciate it.

        As for the YEC question, I’d simply say that yup, I’m a YEC. That’s close enough to where I actually am for the people who don’t really know me but want a generic label to know where I stand on the spectrum of creation vs. evolution.

  6. Well that clears up 2 mysteries- one that puzzled me and one in which I was just plain mistaken. Wouldn’t have known without asking.
    I have interacted enough with you to expect consistency and you haven’t let me down 🙂
    Blessings

  7. I certainly understand that you’re busy enough as it is so I don’t expect any sort of detailed response. Maybe you could just point me in the general direction of someone who has written on the subject. After studying John for several months, I could not help but see that it is God Who draws people to Himself, rather than us choosing to follow Him, but I get hung up on verses like 2Peter 3:9, or John 3:15,16, where “whosoever” doesn’t seem to fit the election scenario, as well as with the illustration of, “Yes, it’s a free gift, but a gift does you no good unless you choose to accept it “.

    • Certainly Ed. If you’re going to read 1 book, you should probably read:

      1. The Potters Freedom by James R. White.

      Also, I’d check out the blog at the Alpha & Omega website and search for the verses you listed.

      Also, it may interest you to know that “whosoever” doesn’t appear in the Greek of John 3:16. In Greek, it’s literally “the believing one”. Changes how the verse reads…

  8. Thanks. I have dropped in on Alpha and Omega from time to time so I am somewhat familiar with Dr White. I will check for the book. Incidentally, I am positive I have heard John 3:16 preached more than once where the speaker emphasized, “And ‘whosoever’ means WHOSOEVER”.

    • Yup. That’s one of the ways you can spot a preacher who doesn’t actually know the original languages and hasn’t actually studied the passage in any substantial depth. It’s funny how different the verse reads when it’s translated properly:

      “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV)

      “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NET)

      I would suggest that “everyone who believes in him” in the NET could be rightly rendered “all the ones believing in him”, though that would make for a stilted translation that is more difficult to read.

  9. Pingback: Quick Thoughts – Creation of Man, the Fall and the Consequences of the Fall | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

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