Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Biblical Creation Accounts

"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” That is the first line of the Nicene Creed, a key part of every Mass in the Catholic Church and a statement to which I fully subscribe, with, admittedly, a pretty sketchy understanding of how that making or creating happened. The first line of The Apostles' Creed, used more often in Presbyterian and Lutheran worship is similar but simpler. "I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and earth..."

In the first three chapters of Genesis we have two very simple but apparently divergent explanations of the creation process followed by an explanation of our sinful nature. Christians often suffer from ridicule for clinging to one or the other or parts of these narratives as literal historical truth, but I believe that is unnecessary and counterproductive. A careful reading, it seems to me, leads to an understanding that these God-inspired stories are theological but neither scientific nor historical.  

I've never, in my adult life, seen any real conflict between the theological truths taught in the Genesis stories and the things we have learned from scientific investigation of our origins, but my understanding was improved a bit during a 2003 Old Testament Theology course at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. Below is a chart I created at the time, slightly revised and reformatted to better fit the blog. If you are interested in the subject, read the stories and see if you think my outlines and summaries of the stories and listings of theological truths contained therein are accurate. I welcome any feedback. I am glad to present Genesis 1-3 as truth, but make no claims about my feeble attempts at understanding. You will need to click on the chart for an easier reading.

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