[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]
Creation: God Makes
A) About the author(s):
Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network
Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.
B) Chapter Summary:
I) What does the Bible say about creation?
“The first book of the Bible, Genesis, takes its name from its first words, “In the beginning,” as genesis means “beginning.” The book of Genesis in general, Genesis 1 to 3 in particular, records the beginning of creation and human history. Moses penned Genesis in roughly 1400 BC as the first of a five-part book called the Pentateuch, meaning “book in five parts.” The Genesis account of creation was most likely directly revealed to Moses by the same Holy Spirit who was present in Genesis 1:2, since Moses was not present for the creation event. Genesis is not an exhaustive treatment of early history but rather a theologically selective telling of history that focuses on God and mankind while omitting such things as the creation of angels or the fall of Satan and demons.”
“The first line of Genesis says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” … Brilliantly, the Bible opens with the one true, eternal God as both the author and subject of history and Scripture. Consequently, everything else in history and Scripture is dependent upon God and is only good when functioning according to his intentions for it from creation.”
“In Genesis 1:1, the word used for created is the Hebrew word bara, which means “creation from nothing.” The other Hebrew word used in a creative sense in Genesis is asah, translated “make” or “made,” which means “to fashion or shape,” or “to make something suitable,” such as making loincloths out of fig leaves or making the ark. Bara emphasizes the initiation of an object, whereas asah emphasizes the shaping of an object. Along with statements where God does initial creation (the heavens and the earth), the only other things bara’d are the living creatures and human beings. When people create we are doing asah, not bara.”
See Gen. 1:1; 2:3-4; 1:21; 1:27; 3:7; 5:1-2; 8:6.
“In the creation account we see that God created (bara) “the heavens and the earth.” This phrase could be more literally translated “the skies and the land,” since the heavens are not the place where God lives, but the place where stars move and birds fly. The Hebrew word eretz, usually translated “earth,” in Genesis 1 does not mean the planet but the land under the water, separated from water, where vegetation grows and animals roam. Elsewhere in Scripture it usually means the Promised Land. The phrase “skies and land” is a Hebraic way of saying “everything” from the skies above to the earth below, like saying from top to bottom or head to toe, including space-time, mass-energy, and the laws that govern them. In other places in Scripture, the phrase includes the sun and moon, which could in turn mean that the sun and moon were created as a part of this first creation.”
“… the same language for “without form (tohu) and void (bohu)” used in Genesis 1:2 is used elsewhere in Scripture in reference to uninhabited land.”
See Deuteronomy 32:10, Isaiah 45:18
“[In Jeremiah 4:23,] “without form and void” does not mean chaos, but it means empty of humans; “no light” does not mean there is no sun but that the land is without God’s blessing. Similarly, in Genesis 1:2 “without form and void” is the condition of the land before God made it good, filling it with light and life. The best understanding is not that God created primordial chaos and formed earth out of it, but that God created everything out of nothing and that the land existed for some unstated period of time in a desert-like, empty state.”
““In the beginning” means that there was an inauguration, but not when that moment was. Therefore, Genesis 1:1 leaves open both the possibilities of a young and an old earth.
The creation account goes to great lengths to make it clear that the God who created (bara) everything according to the first verse is the same God who prepared (asah) the land for humans to dwell with him in the remainder of Genesis 1 and 2.”
II) Where did creation come from?
“The Bible teaches that God made creation ex nihilo (Latin for “out of nothing”) in Hebrews 11:3, which says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” This doctrine is important because it negates the possibility of naturalistic evolution and an eternal universe.”
“… there is a set pattern to God’s words in Genesis 1. It is as follows:
1) Announcement: “And God said.”
2) Commandment: “Let there be.”
3) Separation: God separated the day and night, water and land, animals and plants.
4) Report: “And it was so.”
5) Evaluation: “And God saw that it was good.””
III) What does creation reveal about God?
“… examining creation reveals fourteen glorious truths about God as Creator.
1) God is the only God.”
See Isaiah 45:18
“2) God is Trinitarian.”
See Genesis 1:26
The Father created – see Ps. 19:1; Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 8:6
The Son created – see John 1:1–3, 10; Col. 1:16–17.
The Spirit created – see Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13
“3) God is eternally uncaused. This means that God eternally existed before creation, that God is not created, and that creation is not eternal.
4) God is living. Life in general and human life in particular does not spring forth from the “it” of unliving matter.
5) God is independent. While the rest of creation is dependent upon God, God himself is uncaused, independent, and without need, lack, want, or dependence upon anyone or anything.
6) God is transcendent. God is separate from his creation. There is a clear demarcation between Creator and creation …
7) God is immanent. Not only is God transcendent over creation, but contrary to the deists’ claim, he is also actively at work in his creation, sustaining and providentially ruling over it.
8) God is personal. Because God is personal, he made mankind in a personal way and gives to us personality and personhood. God is a personal “he,” not an impersonal “it.” Apart from a personal God, there is no way to explain human personhood.
9) God is powerful. In creation, God’s power is seen in that he made everything from nothing by himself and that he rules over creation, even suspending natural laws as he wills to perform miracles.
10) God is beautiful … [and] creation reflects his beauty with ceaseless displays of breathtaking splendor that cause us to rightly feel in the presence of something sacred so as to create in us wonder and worship.
11) God is holy. God is without evil, and creation originally reflected his holy purity until it was marred and stained by human sin.
12) God is a prophet. It was through speaking that God brought creation into existence by his word.
13) God is gracious. We see the grace of God in creation as he blesses his creation, including the man and woman whom he makes in his image and likeness.
14) God is a sovereign king. As creator, God is king over all that is made, including Satan, demons, mankind, planets, stars, suns, moons, animals, and so on. All of creation comes from God, is ruled over by God, belongs to God, and will give an account before God.”
IV) What are the various Christian views of creation?
“View 1: Historic Creationism
The word used for “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 is re’shit in Hebrew, which marks a starting point for what comes afterwards. It does not connote any specific length of time, nor does it necessarily mean that the next thing stated follows immediately. What God created in the first verse existed for an undefined period of time (which could be anywhere from a moment to billions of years) before God began the work of preparing the uninhabitable land for the habitation of mankind. The preparation of the uncultivated land and the creation of Adam and Eve occurred in the six literal twenty four-hour days of Genesis 1, as echoed in Exodus 20:11. This view leaves open the possibility of an old earth, six literal days of creation, and a young humanity on the old earth.”
“View 2: Young-earth Creationism
In this view, God created the entire universe, including Adam and Eve, in six literal twenty-four-hour days.
… this view affirms that the entire universe is less than ten thousand years old.”
“View 3: The Gap Theory
In this view, Genesis 1:1 explains a first creation that happened perhaps billions of years ago. Then, a catastrophic event, likely the fall of Satan from heaven, left the earth in the destroyed condition of Genesis 1:2. God responded to this disaster by re-creating the earth again a few thousand years later in six literal days and repopulating the earth as recorded in Genesis 1:3-27. According to this view, the earth is old from the first creation and mankind is young because of the recent creation.”
“View 4: Literary Framework View
In this view, Genesis 1 and 2 are intended to be read as a figurative framework explaining creation in a topical, not sequential, order. The six days of creation listed in Genesis 1 are also to be interpreted metaphorically, not as literal twenty-four-hour days.”
Day 1: light and darkness separated
Day 2: sky and waters separated
Day 3: dry land and waters separated; plants and trees
Day 4: sun, moon, stars (lights in heaven)
Day 5: fish and birds
Day 6: animals and man.”
“View 5: Day-Age View
In this view, God created the universe, including Adam and Eve, in six sequential periods of time that are geologic ages, not literal twenty-fourhour days.”
“View 6: Theistic Evolution
In this view, God essentially began creation and then pulled back from working directly in creation to work instead through the natural process of evolution. The only exception was God involving himself directly again in the making of the human spirit. For the most part, this view accepts the hypothesis of evolution but seeks to insert God as the creator of matter and overseer of the evolutionary process.”
V) Are the six days of creation literal twenty-four-hour days?
“Those Christians who argue for a metaphorical view of the six days of creation rightly point out that the word used for day in Hebrew (yom), often refers to an extended period of time that is more than a literal twentyfour-hour day. Nonetheless, if we read the Scriptures, it seems apparent that the six days of creation in Genesis 1 are literal twenty-four-hour days for two reasons.
First, each day is numbered so that there is a succession of days. Further, each day is described as having a morning and evening, which is the common vernacular for a day.
Second, in Exodus 20:8–11, God says … he made creation in six days and on the seventh day he rested. Additionally, his work and rest are to be the precedent for us; his example explains why God’s people in the Old Testament had a seven-day week with a Sabbath day.”
See Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31.
VI) How old is the earth?
“Many solutions have been offered [in dealing with the widespread scientific consensus that the earth is 4.5 billion years old], including the following:
1) Though the earth appears old to most scientists, it is in fact young, and the scientists are simply mistaken. Admittedly, Christians who hold this view are considered unscientific and even unintelligent by the watching world, but they retort that it is better to believe Scripture than the ever-changing theories of scientists.
2) The earth appears old because it was made mature, like Adam was. If we had seen Adam and Eve just after they were created (remember, they were mature enough to be commanded to be fruitful and rule the earth), and asked them how old they were, we would have been astonished at their answer.
3) The flood in Genesis 6 to 9 covered the earth universally, which compressed the geological layers and rearranged the topography so greatly that the earth appears to be old, especially when we assume geologic processes take long periods of time.
4) The earth is in fact old, and the days mentioned in Genesis 1 and 2 are not literal twenty-four-hour days but rather extended periods of time.
5) The earth may be, or likely is, old. As our examination of Genesis 1:1 revealed, God created the earth during an indefinite period of time before the six days of Genesis. That could in fact have been billions of years ago, which would explain the seemingly old age of the earth. Then, in six literal days God prepared the earth for the creation of mankind and on the sixth day made the first man and woman.”
VII) How does creationism differ from naturalism?
“Naturalism views creation as merely the product of time, energy, and chance.”
Carl Sagan: “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”
“As Christians we are free to accept the seemingly self-evident fact of micro-evolution—that species can and do adapt to their environments. In fact, micro-evolution may be simply yet another evidence of the goodness and mercy of God upon his creation, since it helps a species adapt to its environment so as to help protect it from predators. However, Christians are not free to accept the yet unproven and highly suspect thesis of naturalistic and atheistic macro-evolution—that one species can evolve into another species entirely.”
“The reasons for the decline of confidence in macro-evolution are many, but the following are some of the most implausible leaps of faith that macro-evolution makes, all of which require at least as much faith as believing in an eternal creator God.”
“1) Macro-evolution purports that nothing made everything. Sometimes this claim goes by the term spontaneous generation. Essentially, no-thing causes every-thing to spring into existence, although this is not considered a miracle because there is no God.
“Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, says, “I can’t imagine how nature, in this case the universe, could have created itself. And the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to me that had to be outside of nature.””
“2) Macro-evolution purports that chaos made order. The basic telling of the history of the universe according to atheistic naturalism is that the orderliness of our universe is the result of cataclysmic disorder, chaos, and chance that together resulted in great orderliness …
On this point, the astronomer Fred Hoyle “claimed that the probability of life arising on earth (by purely natural means, without special divine aid) is less than the probability that a flight-worthy Boeing 747 should be assembled by a hurricane roaring through a junkyard.””
Source: Quoted in Alvin Plantinga, “The Dawkins Confusion,” Books & Culture 13 (March/April 2007): 21
“Additionally, Stephen Hawking has said, “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the big bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.” Furthermore, Hawking admitted, “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe would have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.””
Source: Quoted in Francis S. Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Free Press, 2006), 75
“3) Macro-evolution purports that impersonal matter made personal humanity. Naturalists have reasoned that in addition to the material world, immaterial things such as emotions and intelligence are simply the result of impersonal, unfeeling, and unintelligent matter. Yet, this entire proposal defies logic. How can matter that does not feel create people who weep? How can matter that does not think create not only the physical organ of the brain but the mental thoughts that accompany it? How can impersonal matter create a person with an identity and personality?”
“4) Macro-evolution purports that evolution happened over long periods of time without transitional forms in the fossil record. If evolution were true, there would be numerous transitional forms of human life in the fossil record that would, to some degree, reflect the evolutionary chart that many were subjected to growing up in school.”
“5) Macro-evolution purports to be unbiased science. Still, after one hundred years of attempts to replicate macro-evolution, all efforts have been in vain.”
“As Harvard professor Richard Lewontin said, “We are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations.” He continues to insist that this “materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.””
Source: Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, 150
C) Review of Chapter 3:
- Readability: 10/10
- Theological depth: 6/10
- Any other comments: This chapter is very informative and touches on the issue of creation. Part IV which covers the different theories of creation is particularly interesting and the authors did a good job summarising the various positions out there.