I began a LIVE Facebook video series yesterday taking about 15 minutes each weekday to go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The series is titled “3-Pi (pronounced “Trippy) and is geared toward reforming/ renewing the mind with the Word of God in contrast to our leaning on our own understanding. You can now watch the first video on Youtube at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZp_T-U3lYM
I want to first and foremost thank those of you who “Liked” the video, those who watched and commented, and especially those who wrote to me asking questions and even offering some “critical review”. I awoke this morning thinking through these details and that alone is God-glorifying, isn’t it?
What I want to do is offer a short explanation of how I have arrived at my current understanding of Genesis chapter 1 as an Ancient Near Eastern temple text. I believe this will immediately clarifying some of the issues posed toward my video.
I come to the Christian faith by understand understanding of the Gospel, the atoning work of Jesus Christ (which at that time was limited to His death, burial and resurrection), as literal historical events which bring amazing Spiritual realities. At least that is my honest human way of explaining. I studied the Bible honestly seeking to know all I could about what God has revealed, since it is these words we believe to be inspired (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17), in contrast to what man can come up with (Proverbs 3:5-6; Matthew 15:9).
I went through various classes in my courses at seminary to bolster the Creationism, I have attended various Creationism vs. Evolution debates, and have interviewed guests and blogged about the topic of Genesis and Creation myself. I have read various books. I have studied the articles, writings, and DVD’s of men like Ken Ham (whom I have met), Dr. Del Tackett, among many others. I never really held solid to any of the teachings of Old Earth, New, Earth, Gap Theory,.. as well as all the other concordant and nonconcordant interpretations of Genesis. What sure did and does remain clear is that “Orthodox Christianity” is surely divided and should not be all that dogmatic in those regards. Surely enough, if you look into Church History, and the Church Fathers, you will find this confusion there as well . Better yet, look back to the Rabbi’s and the various understandings of Genesis that had, accepted, and understood.
In my quest to share my knowledge with others this has often led me back to the mass chaos within Christian Orthodoxy on Creation, and I always seek to study honestly through to only come out with more questions than answers.
Oddly enough, that’s more than the study most Christians, not to mention pastors have done.
\In the past couple years, I have been blessed with studying among a group of Christians who as a hermeneutic (style of interpretation) seek out what it called “audience relevance” to understanding the details of the Bible. Not to mention, highlighting the necessity of understanding the storyline and narrative of the Bible, rather than doctrines and verses that seemingly support our favorite teaching.
It is there that my understanding of Genesis has arisen.
In my being honest with my studies and wanting to learn more from the audience relevance perspective I have read through books such as Beyond Creation Science by Tim Martin (an Elder at Covenant Community Church in Whitehall, Montana) and Jeff Vaughn (a scientist and Bible student), which proposed a view called “covenant creation”. I have since studied the book, even taught a class going through the details. I have looked into the various perspectives, especially last year as I taught through a sermon series from Genesis to Revelation called “Returning to our First Love”. You can listen to all of my sermons at the following link, www.buzzsprout.com/11630
Why do I mention all of that? The view I have detailed in my video above is hardly “novel” or new. Instead it is simply now being given more recognition because of more recent findings in regards to the Ancient Near East (it has only been since the 1950’s that Christian scholarship began to take ANE concepts and literature all that series, especially in regards to “interpretation”).
In looking back, and myself seeking out commentaries and scholarly articles (usually through Academia.edu, or other search engines), and other “learned men”(Professors of the Old Testament like John Walton and Walter Bruggerman readily come to mind), that I have come to my understanding of Genesis as a “covenant-based” Temple text declaring the authority and Sovereignty of the One and True Elohiym.
The term “bara” when properly applied means “to fill”, and it is awefully hard to fill something that is not in existence already. When coupled with “tohu vabohu” it becomes evident that this is speaking about something that had already been created however went to waste .Also, when studying with an “audience relevance perspective”, we come to realize that ANE “creation texts” focused on the sovereignty and solution to the ills of their creations, and when we consider Genesis as a polemic (argument against) the confusion of the ANE polytheism, cultism, etc…we truly see the inspiration of the text. We hardly do justice to Scripture when we try to bend it to our our wills and whims to answer the questions of the 21st century.
Here a “short” list of some resources I have collected and compiled over time regarding Genesis:
Contextual Details within Genesis http://www.dstoner.net/Genesis_Context/Context.html
I firmly believe Genesis to be inspired by God, and to be the truth in contrast to the myths of that time, as well as able to give us a foundation against the myths of our day. I do not believe Genesis to be a “myth”, instead I believe it was a polemic against the myths of the ancient near east. I also do not believe Genesis to be a text teaching us about the creation of the physical planet, I simply do not believe that would have been a concern of that primary audience, and every time I have seen any view that demands it be speaking “scientifically” forced upon Scripture, it fails when studied out.
We need not force any interpretation upon Genesis, nor any part of Scripture to seek to bolster claims. I simply believe God is clear enough, and has made things clear enough, so we have no need other than honest study to find clarity on God’s Word.
A great study we have begun more recently at the Blue Point Bible Church is a series called “Origins” by the BioLogos group on Saturdays at 9AM (open to anyone). I do not necessarily stand in agreement with the organization on all things, nor do any of the people within the group necessarily agree with all the views of one another, however there is something God-glorifying about honest critique, especially among the brethren (see, 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
I pray I have further offered clarity, and look forward to further producing short videos, very basic and practical to stimulate further studies like these.
In Service to Him,
Pastor Michael Miano