Therefore You Shall Know Them By Their… Soteriology

Who is a Christian? Am I?

Let us take a scientific approach. How would you test the hypothesis that I am a Christian? Do I have to say the right things. “I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins.” Do I have to do the right things; like go to church and save a bus-load of drowning children?

Could I do and say all these things and not be a Christian?

There are many people who believe that they need to do a number of things to continue living in God’s good graces. Society pushes a good works salvation and even those of us who have the intellectual knowledge that God’s ‘grace’ is sufficient, will sometimes question our self-worth when we aren’t out there like others DO-ing Christian things like missions, outreach, social work, etc….

Christ has reconciled us to the Almighty. Even if we cheat on our next test or neglect evangelistic opportunities in the workplace, we still stand reconciled. Even for the saved, the depth of God’s Grace can still be unfathomable.

When I came to college someone asked me if I believed a Christian could wind up in Hell. “Sure,” I said, “I don’t plan to, but I guess if someone really didn’t want to go to heaven, God wouldn’t force them.”

If you believe that your Resurrection can be undone, then you have a weak view of God. But, as stated before, we all, at times, live or feel as if there are limits to God’s power.

There are many people in the same position I was in, coming in to college; with a belief in a Gracious God but a doctrine taken from society. And such people exist in any Christian denomination. Some will grow to believe in a biblical doctrine from their church, some will grow to believe a doctrine of works+grace salvation, but each will still be building upon a belief in God’s unmerited Grace.

So, as we make friends and acquaintances that fall into the latter category, who clutter and belittle God’s Grace with Man’s ambition, how should we respond?

Perhaps we should tell them they never believed in God to begin with? Probably not.

Perhaps we should tell them that the God they believe is a false, weaker God than the true God? And, as the pot talking to the kettle, have we never doubted the infinitude of God’s power in our actions?

How can it be conveyed that believing in a God who does not require the sacrifices of goats, calves, or four years in Asia, is believing in a more powerful God?

Matthew 7:20 says that we shall be known by our fruits.

Arguing the method of salvation (Soteriology) can often be lost in translation or interpretation when using the Bible. “Yeah, I see what you’re saying, but what I think it says is…”.

Living your life as one made free from the law, however, is the greatest testament to the power of God’s Grace. “Wow, how close you are to God, and you haven’t even been forgiven of your sins by a priest!”

So, in the stead of combing through our list of friends separating those who understand God’s Grace (at least as far as our limited minds do) and those who don’t, we should complement a sound explanation of God’s Grace with a life that lives fully in it.

And this is true even more so for those of us who do have an “accurate” understanding of Grace. When we see someone living their life to a further extreme, we recognize that we have been holding on to rituals or psychological blocks that have prevented us from experiencing God’s Grace deeper.

This is a truth not just for Evangelical/Catholic or any other denominational split you want to conjure up. This is a truth made evident between any two professing Christians.

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Five Point Evolutionism

Disclaimer: this post is meant to be descriptive not persuasive.

Many Christians have heard of the five points of Calvinism. Some people use the points to rate themselves, saying such thing as “I’m a three-point Calvinist.”

For many Christians the Calvinism debate is a hot-topic. Also a hot-topic among Evangelicals is evolution. And so here I have crafted the “Five Points” of evolution.

A note to readers, these points have been crafted for use among Christians. I will provide the Argument, Alternatives, and then a brief Commentary on each point given the current debate among Evangelicals.

1. Mutating Genes
Argument: During DNA replication, errors (mutations) arise, such that an individual may express genes that neither the mother nor father possessed.
Alternatives: Genetic diversity within a species is limited by already existing alleles.
Commentary: This point is an assent that “micro evolution” occurs. This term is not to be confused with “genetic drift,” which is the preference for pre-existing traits within a population given certain ecological strains.

2. Old Earth
Argument: Life began on earth billions of years ago.
Alternatives: The earth as well as its life were created thousands of years ago.
Commentary: Points 2 and 3 seem like they should go hand-in-hand, but there exists many shades of belief concerning these points. It is argued that a literal reading of Genesis 1 and subsequent genealogies yield an earth that is 6,018 years old. Some argue that Genesis 1 is mythology; this is not an argument that it is false, only that it is explaining something about God other than the pace of creation.

With any interpretation, we should not read into the text what we want or expect, given our current historical context. Rather we should seek to understand the passage’s meaning and purpose among the original audience.

3. Unicellular Origins
Argument: All life is descendent from unicellular organisms.
Alternatives: Today’s species or plant and animal “kinds” were created as-is. Alternatively, this may be uniquely true of humankind.
Commentary: This point focuses not so much on a literal reading of Genesis 1 but on Genesis 2 and 3, where theological topics such as death, original sin, and atonement appear. It also depends much on the Apostle Paul’s uses of these chapters.

Paul states that death entered the world through Adam’s sin. This would have to squared with billions of years of plant and animal death before Adam. Paul also identifies Adam as the first man. This could no longer be taken in the genealogical sense but in a sense more akin to the Second Adam.

Further, it is would be an unsavory truth for many to admit that man is descendent from apes. Questions concerning the occasion of ensoulment and the uniqueness of man would also proliferate.

4. Natural Selection
Argument: Genes are selected for by natural means.
Alternatives: God guided or influenced the evolution of life on Earth.
Commentary: While many evolutionists believe in natural selection, explaining the particulars of evolution are sometimes an enigma. Because of the long time-frame involved in evolution, it is difficult to fully summarize how certain organs or species came into being.

For the Christian, this fourth point is a concession that the evolution of man was random or accidental. Perhaps at the beginning of time, God positioned all of the universe’s quarks such that the desired evolution would take place. But this point states that God was hands-off during the evolutionary process.

5. Directionless Universe
Argument: Life itself is accidental.
Alternatives: God planned for life in his creation. Even stronger, He planned for life with moral, rational, and spiritual capacities.
Commentary: Confirmation of this fifth point effectively makes one an atheist, or a weak deist.

Concluding Remarks
Are you a three-point Evolutionist? A five-pointer? One? None? I myself am rather agnostic on the issue. When it comes to the evidences for evolution (not just evidence that “fits” evolution, but evidence that “indicates” evolution) I have not found (or looked for) much. On the flip side, I think up to point three there is potential for theological accommodation without invalidating the authority of Scripture.

Of the five points, only the first one is directly observable. And, even then, even scouring the internet does not reveal much observation. Most descriptions of micro evolution are really genetic drift. Does bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics? No; the resistance is already there, the antibiotic stress forces only the resistant bacteria to reproduce. Indeed, if anything, information is lost.

However, while an inability to “observe” evolution negates it as a methodologically testable science, evolutionary theory is well-accepted by many scientists as an explanation for current bio-diversity and the fossil record. What other theories are out there? While creationism, flood geology, and intelligent design theories are not as thoroughly researched, scientifically, perhaps I could do a five-point outline of them as well.

Abstinence-Only Education?

Here is a post from a friend on Facebook and my response, there were also 25 previous responses and numerous comments that will not be reproduced below.

Friend:

Random thought time. I support comprehensive sex education purely on the empirical ground that it produces better results. But I’ve often heard fellow supporters of comprehensive sex ed deride abstinence as “unrealistic.” How does that square with the principle that consent is essential and rape is inexcusable? Because let’s face it, not everybody is going to find a consenting partner. Abstinence had better be realistic, or else you’re condoning rape culture. Agree or disagree?

Myself:

Lots of fair-minded people here. Is there such a thing as “abstinence-first” education?

Yes, if we were to actually tell kids that sexual desire is an irresistible force, then we would be putting those who do not have a consenting partner into an untenable spot where “I need this.” and “She wants this.” are more justifiable in their minds.

I don’t think “rape culture” would be addressed by encouraging masturbation as an alternative. There is a desire for power over another human that drives rape (and murder and most other acts of violence); this is something that we address as early as kindergarten with “Please and Thank You.”

What needs to be combatted in high schools and colleges is the glorification of sexual conquest. Whether their partner is consenting or not, many men feel pressured by their peers (their general society) to exhibit their manhood. Our society as a whole does a poor job of conferring adulthood to our kids. High school graduation is very impersonal, 18th birthdays are not often celebrated much different than 17th, etc….

As it comes to abstinence-only education, one of its flaws is that one day these kids will become adults with only a marginal sexual education. Although they may stay abstinent until marriage, they then have little idea about what they are doing. Abstinence-only education “should” be complemented by more comprehensive education at home or through other institutions; but that is hardly happening. Most kids educate themselves through experience (often secondhand) or through pornography. Our education in schools should therefore be crafted as a better alternative than those.

Sometimes the goal of sexual education is for people to remain physically healthy. Proponents of abstinence-only education (should) have the goal of societal healthiness. But there is no reason to attempt to shoot the moon for societal healthiness without educating folks about physical healthiness as well. “Abstinence-first” is an apt name for this approach within the current climate, but I’m sure a better name could be found.

Any thoughts on how we can better confer adulthood upon the youth in our churches?

I think youth should be given a comprehensive sexual education, but am unsure what role the state should play in this. What are your thoughts?

Predestination and… Relationships

The last few months I have read a few blogs discussing the idea of “Soul Mates” or “The One.” And, in a Christian context, the questions spin off into whether two people are “predestined” to be together, or whether a certain relationship is part of “God’s plan.”

It is often a fun topic to discuss about with others, but sometimes we may find ourselves in positions where we ask these questions about our own circumstances.

“Is it God’s plan for me to marry this girl?”

“If I start dating that guy, will I be throwing away God’s plan for my life?”

“How do I know if my boyfriend is the one?”

Though many of my friends are at that point of life where they are crossing to the “other side” of singleness / marriage, I still have many good friends and two younger syblings who have yet to do so. I do not want these people whom I love to make decisions based on “guessing” God’s will or, as is usually the case with guessing, trotting out their selfish desires under the banner of “God’s will.”

THE SECRET FORMULA

Because I like math (and, to a lesser extent, algebra), this is often the scenario we present before ourselves (you can replace “path” with “guy/girl” to make it about dating):

“If I tried, I could probably take path X, path Y, or path Z. Which path does God ‘plan’ for me to take? If I choose path X, and He wants path Y, am I out of step with God? Or if I choose path X, is that the one He wanted for me anyway? And, if, down the line it appears that path X is a mess and perhaps Z would have been the best choice, does that mean that I was disobedient in choosing X or that this brokenness I have experienced with X is somehow all a part of His plan?”

So now, after all that, do you feel more or less prepared to make a decision about the “paths” in front of you? How do you make that decision?

THE ANSWER

Ultimately, you should always choose to love. Do I persue this girl? Do I break-up with this girl? Both questions could be answered with either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Either answer could be the loving thing to do.

And we are not always eqipped to answer these questions without the bias of emotion or hormones. So, prayer and the counsel of friends who love you are to be sought when navigating these waters.

We aren’t choosing “paths” as in a series of steps that we will inevitably take. We are making a series of individual decisions each, hopefully, predicated upon love.

Is it by free-will that we make these choices or is it by God’s providence? Well, if you are choosing (by whatever you perceive to be your own free-will) to love as God loves, then it will be both.

Who is your future spouse? You are single. Is your boyfriend your Soul Mate? He is your boyfriend. Is your wife The One? She is your wife (and a smokin’ hot one, by the way).

As a newly married man, I will remind everyone that it is Always loving to honor the committment you have made to your spouse. And, on the flip side, while you have invested yourself to quite a degree while dating, you have not committed your entire life to that person until your marriage day.

ADDENDUM ON BROKENNESS

If our choice to love leads us into lives that have much hurt and despair in them, we may think of what would have happened had we made different decisions. Yes, our lives would be different. Though there is no guarantee of less suffering, there is a guarantee that you will have loved less. Jesus himself guaranteed that those who loved as he loved would face suffering because of this.

But let us be careful, in many cases where there is abuse, brokenness, and infidelity, there were indicators beforehand. Some of us, swamped with “emotions and hormones,” may have ignored these indicators. And here I advocate again for seeking the counsel of God and of loving friends.

And if you are being walked over or perhaps being physically abused, then it is loving toward the other person to disallow them that abuse. I am not a counsellor, but I believe no counsellor would tell you to maintain the status quo in such a situation. For those married, separation is not synonymous with the desolution of marriage, even if life for a time afterward closesly resembles such.

God Created The Heavens And The Earth

Here is a rendition of the opening story of creation in the Book of Genesis. The story is told in the frame of a week. There are eight acts preformed by God, each beginning with “And God said.” For each of these acts there is a five-part literary formula followed. There is the act of creation, a statement affirming actual creation, specification on what that actual creation was, praise that the creation is good, and then a note marking that a day had passed.

Marking each day may not be part of this five-part formula. Twice, two acts occur on the same day; additionally, the statement of a day passing makes no reference to the creation that occurred on that day. But before we conclude that the marking of the day was added later to the text, we must recognize the parallel form between the first set of three days and the second. So, even if the marking of the day is not part of the literary formula; the text is constructed originally to fit the six days of creation. Perhaps these markers are designed to be sub-headings (or sub-“footers” being that they follow each day).

The first act, the Creation of Light, serves as a template for this formula. Whereas in further acts the phrases “And God saw that it was good” and “And it was so” are used, in the first act there is no pronoun. “Light” is used in place of “it.” This may serve as an introduction to the literary formula for readers of this passage or it may be of little significance. This first act also transposes two aspects of the formula, the Praise and the Specification. My guess is that this is a grammatical consequence of including the noun “light.”

Here is the text from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3, where this passage ends. My sub-headings are in bold while the rest of the text is taken without alteration from the ISV translation of the Bible. I chose the ISV mostly because of its readability and simply because it is of contemporaneous interest to me. The five parts of the formula are (C)reation, (A)ffirmation, (S)pecification, (P)raise, and the (D)ay marking.

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Prologue: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. When the earth was unformed and desolate, with the surface of the ocean depths shrouded in darkness, and while the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters,

CREATION OF LIGHT (Day One)

C: God said, “Let there be light!”
A: So there was light.
P: God saw that the light was good.
S: He separated the light from the darkness, calling the light “day,” and the darkness “night.”
D: The twilight and dawn were day one.

CREATION OF SKY (Day Two)

C: Then God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters, separating water from water!” So God made the expanse, separating the water beneath the expanse from the water above it.
A: And so it was.
S: God called the expanse “sky.”
P:
D: The twilight and the dawn were the second day.

CREATION OF EARTH (Day Three)

C: Then God said, “Let the water beneath the sky come together into one area, and let dry ground appear!”
A: And so it was.
S: God called the dry ground “land,” and he called the water that had come together “oceans.”
P: And God saw how good it was.
D:

CREATION OF PLANTS (Day Three, continued)

C: Then God said, “Let vegetation sprout all over the earth, including seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, each kind containing its own seed!”
A: And so it was:
S: Vegetation sprouted all over the earth, including seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, each kind containing its own seed.
P: And God saw that it was good.
D: The twilight and the dawn were the third day.

CREATION OF PLANETS (Day Four)

C: Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to distinguish day from night, to act as signs for seasons, days, and years, to serve as lights in the expanse of the sky, and to shine on the earth!”
A: And so it was.
S: God fashioned two great lights {—} the larger light to illumine the day and the smaller light to illumine the night {—} as well as the stars. God placed them in the expanse of the sky to shine on the earth, to illumine both day and night, and to distinguish light from darkness.
P: And God saw how good it was.
D: The twilight and the dawn were the fourth day.

CREATION OF BIRDS AND FISH (Day Five)

C: Then God said, “Let the oceans swarm with myriads of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth throughout the sky!”
A: So God created
S: every kind of magnificent sea creature, every kind of living sea crawler with which the waters swarmed, and every kind of flying bird.
P: And God saw how good it was.
Blessing & Order: God blessed them by saying, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the oceans. Let the birds multiply throughout the earth!”
D: The twilight and the dawn were the fifth day.

CREATION OF ANIMALS (Day Six)

C: Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth each kind of living creature, each kind of livestock and crawling thing, and each kind of wild animal!”
A: And so it was.
S: God made each kind of wild animal, along with every kind of livestock and crawling thing.
P: And God saw how good it was.
D:

CREATION OF MAN (Day Six, continued)

C: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, to be like us. Let them be masters over the fish in the ocean, the birds that fly, the livestock, everything that crawls on the earth, and over the earth itself!”
Blessing & Order: So God created mankind in his own image; in his own image God created him; he created them male and female. God blessed these humans by saying to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and be master over it! Rule over the fish in the ocean, the birds that fly, and every living thing that crawls on the earth!” God also told them, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows throughout the earth, along with every tree that grows seed-bearing fruit. They shall produce your food. I have given all green plants as food for every wild animal of the earth, every bird that flies, and to every living thing that crawls on the earth.”
A: And so it was.
S:
P: Now God saw all that he had made, and, indeed, it was very good!
D: The twilight and the dawn were the sixth day.

Epilogue: With this the heavens and the earth were completed, including all of their vast array. By the seventh day God had completed the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he stopped working on everything that he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God stopped working on what he had been creating.

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First notes on the minor aberrations in the formula:

In the second act, the Creation of Sky, the Praise is missing. This may be the result of Moses or a later scribe removing one of the Praises so that there would exist 7 in total, a holy number. It may have accidentally been removed by a scribe or there may be further significance in its absence following the separations of the waters.

In the sixth act, the Creation of Birds and Fish, the Affirmation is missing. In its place the Hebrew verb “create” is used. This verb is different than the verb “make” which implies physical fashioning; “create” means to cause to be or bring into being, so it is a fair substitution for the actual verb “to be.” This change in the formula may have been akin to that posited above, to have 7 Affirmations instead of one for each of the eight acts. Why is it missing here? It is hard to say.

In the final act, the Specification is missing, but it exists in some manner in the elongated Praise. The Praise here is not simply “And God saw that it was good.” There is the added clause “all that he had created, and indeed…”. This functions as Specification, because it is pointing to something about God’s creation.

The Specification part of the formula is in some ways a catchall for the phrases appearing between the Affirmation and the Praise. But, it also points to the naming of creation, the process of creation (making, placing, according to their kinds, separating, fashioning, etc…), and emphasizes God’s hand in creation (except for the sprouting of vegetation, which does not allude to God). In the second act, the Creation of Sky, there is a bit of Specification placed before the Affirmation.

Blessing & Order:

This was not mentioned before, but not all of the text fits into the single literary formula. These “Blessing & Order” sections describe the relationships between these different parts of creation. In reading these there is an obvious order established: God > Man > Animals > Plants. The natural resources of the Earth would be subsumed into the “Plants” category. Plants were seen as part of the Earth’s natural resources, their creation placed in the first set of three days.

Nestled within the Blessing & Order is a section relating God to man: “So God created mankind in his own image; in his own image God created him; he created them male and female.” This is a little bit of poetry (note the reflexive symmetry, a common Hebrew poetic device) and likely was a common saying of Moses or earlier.

Government

While I won’t flesh out the ideas here, leaving this post as mostly a literary one, the theme in this passage is clearly one of God establishing order to a world in chaos. The description of this act is here stated with almost ritualistic formulaism. But it is meant to teach that God created order to the point of completeness and that we have been designated to bear the image of that Order Creator.

How that pertains to government we will see in the next few chapters. It is interesting to remember that Moses was a lawyer in many ways. In practice, Moses arbitrated between many disagreements amongst the Israelites while they were in the wilderness.  To free himself up, he established judges over the Israelites, so that he would only have to instruct those judges and they could arbitrate more effectively.  These first books of the Bible are largely the working documents that Moses gave these judges to use and they likely stayed in use, constantly being copied and maintained, for most of Israel’s history. And so, it is to be expected that the book of Genesis opens with an appeal to God’s order and the command for man to rule in the image of God.

The Ten

This is an interesting arrangement of the ten commandments. I have highlighted the ten “Thou shalt not”s. The text here is from the ISV, mostly because I have been using it recently and enjoy its readability. I altered the word order in the first commandment because the ISV changed that “Thou shalt not have any other…” into “You shall have no other…”.

The basic structure here is that the ten commandments have been divided, as normally, between those strictly regarding religion and those regarding society. Before each set, the LORD makes reference to “land.” First, He reminds the Israelites that it is He who has brought them out of slavery. It is this demonstration of power and protection that underlies each of the first five commandments, as we see the LORD closing this “tablet” with an “interlude” tying the fifth commandment back into His initial pronouncement. There is also background reasoning present in the text, italicized, that further couches the first “tablet” in God’s might.

The second “tablet” deals not with the old land of slavery, Egypt, but rather the new land of promise, “the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Here the commands are not framed in “don’t forget what I have done for you” language but rather in “how now shall we live” language. The basic command is that you honor your father and mother, those who rear you in the ways of society, and that these five commands shall form the frame for good morals in that society. So, honor your fore-bearers by living rightly in the land they have been given.

Most people focus on the dichotomy between commands relating to God and commands relating to People, but the switch in tone from the land of Egypt to the land of promise deserves equal mention.

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First Tablet: I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt from the house of slavery.

  • I. You shall not have other gods besides me.
  • II. You shall not make for yourselves a carved image resembling any form in the heavens above, on earth below, or in the waters under the earth.
  • III. You shall not bow down to them in worship or serve them; because I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the iniquity of their parents, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing gracious love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  • IV. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will not leave the one who misuses his name unpunished.
  • V. Keep the Sabbath day holy, just as the LORD your God commanded. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath for the LORD your God. You shall not do any work: neither you, your children, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys, all your livestock, as well as the foreigners who live among you, so that your male and female servants may rest as you do.

Interlude: Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, but the LORD your God brought you out from there with great power and a show of force. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Second Tablet: Honor your father and your mother, just as the LORD your God commanded you, so that your life will be long and things will go well for you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

  • VI. You shall not murder.
  • VII. You shall not commit adultery.
  • VIII. You shall not steal.
  • IX. You shall not testify falsely against your neighbor.
  • X. You shall not desire your neighbor’s wife, or covet your neighbor’s house, fields, his male and female servants, his ox, his donkey, or anything that concerns your neighbor.

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Except for the addition of Roman numerals and sub-titles (“first tablet,” “interlude,” etc…) this is the biblical text. I’ve bolded the command proper and italicized background reasoning, because I think it makes the content *pop*.

You may also notice that the numbering of the commandments is a bit off compared to what we generally perceive them to be. The ancient texts were not numbered and there are various schools of thought on how they should be numbered; this being a unique model.

This is for fun, so I hope you had a little fun looking it over.

Oh yeah, this is the text from Deuteronomy. The Exodus version of the ten commandments has a little less reasoning in the command concerning the Sabbath and in what I have labeled as the introduction to the “Second Tablet.”

The Exodus version also contains an entirely different interlude.

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Exodus Interlude: For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

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The commandments themselves were also physically written on the tablets before Moses wrote about this event in either Exodus or Deuteronomy. This is another justification for contrasting what was bolded with the italicized. It reflects my personal prejudice (guess) about what may actually have been written in stone and what may have been spoken by the LORD or by Moses concerning this engraving or when Moses actually sat down to write what happened. As you may have guessed, I keyed in on “Thou shalt not” as the pattern that the actual engravings may have followed.

Is Genesis Historical

Yes. No. Maybe? The purpose of this post is not to answer the question definitively (weak sauce, I know) but to add one thought to the likely many considerations you have. As individuals we may hold to a single view vehemently without allowing our opinion to be challenged, even by our own inquisitive minds.

If Moses was the first author of the Bible, how do we get the stories found in Genesis?

If you believe that scripture is inspired then obviously these stories in Genesis are sanctioned by God and are deemed to be truthful if they are to appear in his Word, but what does that mean about their composition? There are two polar views which we should acknowledge; and by course the reality may lie somewhere in between.

The first view is that God sat Moses down and said “We need to talk… about Genesis,” and then proceded to reveal to Moses the story of Genesis, which Moses dilligently transcribed.

The second view is that the Israelites already possessed versions of the stories now found in Genesis, stories which had been told to them by their parents and which they had been telling to their children. God then told Moses that an official version should be recorded, one that dispensed with Babylonian and Egyptian religious views in favor of a theologically correct version.

The first view had been my default growing up. Then, when reading about other ancient stories that had similarities, like the Epic of Gilgamesh, questions popped into my head: who copied who, could God have plagerized other myths? The answer is that the truth about what “really” happened was passed down from generation to generation and that by the time it got to the Babylonians, Egyptians, and to other societies, it had morphed into very different stories told with very different religious presuppositions.

So now our two polar views become nuanced differences. Did God re-adapt the story that the Israelites had been told into one that correctly placed him at the top, or did God cut through the millennia of story-telling and reveal to Moses the original, primordial version of events?

Our two polar views, which have now become nuanced difference, zero out as being identical when we consider this last piece of information. What would be culturally relevant?

I have a funny image in my head of Jesus being born with already graying, dark-blond hair and a sweater-vest, taking a moment before being baptized by John to remind those around him that baptism was merely a symbol, and preaching on irresistable grace and dispensational theology to the crowds who followed him.

Jesus did not teach twenty-first century American theology to first century Jews. In the same way, if God were to have used a process like evolution to bring about life on earth, he would have quickly lost the ear of ancient Israelites had he spoken of it in modern terms. Survival of the fittist alleles? Natural selection of religious proclivities? What?

The truth was revealed to Moses in a manner that would be culturally acceptable to the Israelites while not compromising the truth about who God is and what he has done.

We don’t have to hedge against 21st century science and terminology to protect our belief in an inspired word. Does this answer the question as to whether or not evolution actually occurred? Sorry.