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The Danger of Preaching on Genesis

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June 30, 2010 Tags: Pastoral Voices

Today's video features Joel Hunter. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of BioLogos. You can read more about what we believe here.

For more videos with Joel Hunter, visit our "Conversations" collection.

In this video Conversation, Joel Hunter acknowledges the risk that pastors take when preaching on Genesis—and in particular, when they approach it with an attitude of humility, allowing the possibility that the text was not meant to be understood in literal terms.

Hunter notes that a large number of congregants in our churches today are uncomfortable with the literal narrative of creation in six twenty-four hour days. In fact, many believers are open to the notion that God used alternative means of creation. Those with this viewpoint are not convinced of the all-or-nothing mentality that pervades contemporary evangelicalism, but rather, they see the possibility of evolutionary creation as a testament to God’s abilities.

Hunter emphasizes, however, that one must avoid being dismissive or derisive of those who do hold to a literalist view of Genesis because for some, reconsidering the traditional creation narrative introduces questions to which they are unsure of how to respond. Many with this viewpoint feel that if Genesis can’t be understood in straightforward terms, then we cannot know how to read the story of the Resurrection—as a historical account, or simply as a metaphor? Questions like this have the potential to cause them to wonder if they must now question the whole truth of Scripture.

Without “bullying” literalists into a new scriptural interpretation, we should still provide Christians with the space—and permission—to more completely consider the “fullness” and the “great mystery” of God.

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.

Joel Hunter is senior pastor at Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood, Fla. Hunter is also a board member of the World Evangelical Alliance and author of the book A New Kind of Conservative.

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kraml - #21271

July 10th 2010

“My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” It’s that simple.

unapologetic catholic - #21358

July 12th 2010

“Regarding the “apparent age” of the universe, how can we look at the sun and say its 5 billion (or however many billion) years old? Who says it “looks” old? What do we compare it to? What does a ‘young’ sun look like?

How can we look at a mountain range and say its “X” number of millions of years old? How can we know? What does an “old” mountain range look like? What does a young mountain range look like?”

These questions intened to be rhetorical actually have answers.  We do know what a young sun looks like—we can look at billions of them, and old suns too.  We do know what old mountains (e.g., Appalacians) look like compared to new mountains (Rockies).

And our observations can be backed up by multiple means of mesurements which must be consistnet with each other.  The claim that we don’t know what a young sun looks like is a claim of raw ignorance.

Jesus said to them, Is not this the reason for your error, that you have no knowledge of the holy Writings or of the power of God?

Ronnie - #21380

July 12th 2010

unapologetic catholic:

I was responding to comment by another poster who wrote why would our Creator (“trickster creator” was his words) create the universe to “look as if it were 13.7 billion years old”.  My point is that the so-called accepted scientific evidence is biased toward an old earth. There is much evidence that can point to a young earth, but since it doesn’t fit into the evolutionary bias of “accepted science” its not considered.

I know this is Biologos’ view but the problem (‘danger’, according this topic) is that they’re trying to compromise evolution and Genesis. Genesis states clearly a literal 6 day creation of all things, Adam and Eve, the Fall, a worldwide flood, and the Tower of Babel. If Genesis can be made out to be just a story with no historical accuracy or value, then what about the rest of the Bible? This is the “danger” of Biologos’ position.

unapologetic catholic - #21446

July 12th 2010

“There is much evidence that can point to a young earth”

Such as?

You attempted to illustrate such evidence througth rhetorical questions that you believed had no answer.  There are whole coherent scientific disciplines that answer your questions. 

There are no coherent scientific disciplines that can produce any evidence of a young earth.  Sorry.

Bill R. - #26799

August 24th 2010

I am convinced that God created the universe and that he inspired the writing of the Bible.  Therefore, I am convinced that facts of the universe and the Bible cannot contradict each other.  However, our interpretations of the physical world and our understanding or interpretations of the Bible can conflict.

The word translated “create” in Genesis 1 is bara’ and is interesting.  God is the only one who is the subject of bara’.  Usually in the Old Testament bara’ does not mean the creation of something out of nothing.

As an example:
Isaiah 54:16 (NLT)
16 “I have created the blacksmith
    who fans the coals beneath the forge
  and makes the weapons of destruction.
    And I have created the armies that destroy.
The word bara’ is translated the same way here and in Genesis one.  Yet no one would assume that the blacksmith was created from nothing.  We think we understand the mechanism God used to make the blacksmith.

I think that Hunter’s point is that we are all members of Christ’s body, and we should treat them that way.  We should treat each other with respect and love, as Paul indicates in Galations 3, especially 3:28.

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