- Religion and Philosophy
Omnipotent Power Married to Patient Process
My friend's question
A few days ago this question appeared over in the forum. "I would like to know, please, if any Christian members of this community accept evolutionary theory as true; or if anyone knows any Christians, who believe that evolution is true?" So far there have been 170 contributions to the discussion. Some are reasonable attempts to answer the question. Many are party-line answers from both creationists and evolutionists liberally sprinkled with innuendo, sarcasm and disgust.
I am a Christian who regards the Bible as the Word of God, inerrant and reliable in all that it affirms. Read that carefully. It is truthful in all that God intended to say; not in the endless interpretations being published. I do not claim to have a direct line into the mind of God so that I can tell you what God intends to communicate in Scripture. However, when calm and sympathetic discussion takes place among those who seek to know God's mind, it is not so hard to reach agreement on the important issues. I am persuaded that the Scriptures are their own best interpreter.
What do Christians believe about origins?
Broadly speaking, there are three positions out there held by Christians. There are Christians who do not accept the Scriptures as God's Word and so have no problem accepting evolutionary theory. A case might be made questioning whether or not such people are rightly called Christians, but that's for another hub.
A second class of people are those who hold to the authority of God's Word and hold that the only valid conclusion regarding origins is that God created the universe fairly recently and in six twenty-four hour days. Within this group there are those who make this creation view a test of orthodoxy (if you don't hold it you must not be a Christian). But others do not. I worship in a congregation whose leadership holds to a young earth/144 hour creation but accepts and respects me as a brother, though I do not agree with them on creation.
A third class of Christians holds to the authority of God's Word, but does not believe that the Scriptures assert that God created the universe a few thousand years ago in 144 hours. I'm among them. Let me be clear. It is not that we reject the Genesis accounts of creation. One cannot take the Bible seriously and then simply jettison what may be objectionable. Reasonable biblical scholars differ on what God intended to communicate in those Genesis accounts. My own denomination has concluded that at least four different interpretations of Genesis chapters one and two are acceptable. Implied here is that none may be elevated to a mark of orthodoxy.
Six day account of creation
light and darkness
sun, moon and stars
water and sky
sea and air creatures
seas, continents, vegitation
beasts of the earth and mankind
What I believe
I'm reasonably certain of two things: God created the universe and God created mankind to be distinct from the rest of his creation. I doubt that there is any sincere Christian that would disagree with these two conclusions. These are the things that God intends us to understand and act on.
I believe that Genesis 1 provides a literary framework which helps the reader remember the important features of the process. God never intended the word day there to be taken as a twenty four hour period. On the first three "days" God created three distinct environments; on the second three "days" He populated those environments. See the chart to the right.
In Genesis 2 the focus is on the distinct creation of humankind in God's own image. Human beings indeed share many physical similarities with lesser creatures, however, in some respects we are more like our Creator than like other animals. We have a capacity to be self-conscious, to be creative, to love, to make moral judgements and to ponder eternity. These are marks of God's image in us.
Hugh Ross books
Is God still honored?
Absolutely! In our western way of thinking we associate power with instant outcomes. So the more powerful, the faster. But God's power is shown in his subtle direction of a process by which he utilizes a variety of second causes. "Second causes" are means by which an end is reached. Examples? Jesus could have spoken a word and instantly restored sight to a blind man. Instead he spit on some dust, made a mud pack and plastered his eyes with it. He then commanded the man to wash in the pool of Siloam. Look how long He took to reveal his plan of salvation through Christ? He often takes time to answer our prayers. More often than not we find that God marries his omnipotent power to his patient implementation of an often mysterious processes. Why did the Savior spend all that time in a tomb? Christians live in thankful wonder of such an awesome God. He's alive!