Is Genesis 1 describing material creation or functional creation? Pastor Richard Dahlstrom of Bethany Community Church beautifully articulates the insights he has received through John Walton’s book The Lost World of Genesis One and probes deep into the Biblical text with us . In his sermon “Gloriously Functional,” he highlights key Hebrew words that are often misunderstood by post-Enlightenment thinkers in order to generate a proper framework through which to grasp the original meaning of the text. He then examines each day of creation, explaining the function of the various created elements such as light, water, plants, animals, and people, according to the account. This enriching exercise brings the question of “Why has God made this very good, functional creation to begin with?” Dahlstrom affirms along with Walton that Genesis 1 is indeed about God making a temple to dwell in with His people, who he has ordained as priests, stewards over all creation. This is most clearly seen in the striking parallels between the creation narrative and the building of the earthly temple of God in the ancient Hebrew culture.
In addition to this clip from Dahlstrom’s sermon , there is a brief commentary by John Walton himself, which speaks about the functionality rather than materiality of Genesis 1. He states that the creation story is not one of material origins. If this is so, he explains there is no need to defend a Biblical account against an evolutionary account; the two are compatible with each other. What the creation story does offer, however, is a theology on the physical existence of what God has made; it reveals the divine purpose of God for his masterpiece, the universe.