Many have fallen into the false narrative that the Book of Genesis, and more specifically the “Genesis creation account” of Genesis chapters 1-3, pertain to all mankind. In more recent years, the Covenant Creation view (CC) has been developed and offered up as a consistent hermeneutic that challenges the assumptions and presuppositions that are often brought to discussions regarding creation and the Bible. However, as with any view that is offered up, this has not come without detractors.
I have studied and taught Covenant Creation, all the while listening intently to the detractors for the past couple of years. I have also written and preached about Covenant Creation, having had the privilege of leading others to a more consistent approach to these details. You can find much of my work and resources at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/intro-to-covenant-creation/
It is important to make mention of the fact that differing views regarding Biblical creation and the Book of Genesis have existed and persisted since the very beginning of the Christian Church. Even the Jewish sages have offered differing opinions and thoughts regarding what is being detailed in the Book of Genesis. This makes it difficult (at least it should) for any one perspective to demand that it is right without regard for the other views being offered. Careful consideration, further study, and a desire for consistency in the details should be what we are all seeking. I’d venture to say that is my goal in all that I study and present. However the fight for consistent thoughts on Biblical creation continues, as Dr. Hugh Ross, a Christian apologist noted, “So pervasive have been the influence of (certain) groups that the views on creation are thought to represent the doctrine of the entire community of Bible-believing Christians”.
The Hebrew name for the Book of Genesis is “Bereshit” meaning “In (the) beginning”. The next logical question is, “The beginning of what?” Due to the English translation rendering Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, and of course all the imagery used in Genesis chapter 1, many have simply asserted this is dealing with the beginning of the planet Earth and/or the beginning of humanity (following with the next couple chapters and Adam being the first created man). The consistent Bible student must ask, (which is the provocation CC likes to provide), “How would the original audience (or those whom possessed these writings) have understood “the beginning”? That alone is the very foundation of the Covenant Creation view.
The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Torah. These were oracles given to Israel regarding the One True God (regardless to how we have come to view authorship and compilation of the Book of Genesis and the Torah). Consider for example the following texts and expressed thoughts;
Psalm 78:5 – “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children”
Psalm 103:7 – “He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel”.
Psalm 147:19-20 – “He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord.”
Romans 3:1-2 – “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
Romans 9:4 – “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;”
Ephesians 2:12 – “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”.
The above verses make it clear that in ancient times God dealt with and made Himself known to a single and particular people, Israel. Rather than pursuing consistency regarding the Biblical redemptive narrative (Genesis to Revelation), far too many readers and sadly Bible teachers attempt to make “the beginning” about all mankind. Mr. Charles Meek in his written critique of CC asserts, “The Mosaic covenant gave laws specifically for the Jewish nation, while the Edenic (Garden of Eden) “covenant” was a story about all men”. When seeking to be consistent with “audience relevance” and the redemptive narrative made known through the rest of Scripture this universalizing of the story is shown to be rather faulty. Another student of Scripture in an attempt to maintain this faulty framework involving all mankind in the details of Genesis chapters 1-3 noted, “Though the covenant was made with Adam and Eve specifically, they were representative of the entire human race, so the covenant is essentially being made with all mankind.” Of course, Charles Meek’s critique will continue to get attention and be used to bolster the confusion of such a view, however it just doesn’t work with the developed and understood Biblical redemptive narrative. You can read it for yourself at the following link, https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=D3BD424B0B25B83F!16250&ithint=file%2cdocx&app=Word&authkey=!ANjeYTrCC-P92To
I wrote on my social media earlier today, “After studying and becoming familiar with how the Ancient Near Eastern people used and developed “temple texts” to worship their gods, I will never look at Genesis chapter 1 the same again”. When we approach Genesis chapter 1 seeking “audience relevance” we should very well end up studying Ancient Near Eastern texts (most of which were discovered rather recently in the 1950’s). Sadly many rebel against this necessary study. However, if and when we do get to it, the comparison and correlation of Genesis chapter 1 to other “temple texts” is eye-opening to say the least. ANE temple texts use physical language and cosmology to denote what their particular god is sovereign over. In our examination of Genesis chapter 1 it becomes clear that in the Hebraic perspective, the One True God is sovereign over all created things, and He seeks to bring order to His creation (cf. Genesis 1:2). Also, worthy of notation is the fact that the original Hebrew words used in Genesis 1:1 to speak of heaven and earth (shammayim and eretz) mean sky and land, not to be confused with universe and the planet Earth. Furthermore, when we follow through with a consistent study, this mention of “heaven and earth” is the FIRST mention, and therefore is what Revelation 21:1 is detailing “passing away”. (That is an important mention to the Preterists who understand Revelation chapter 21 having been fulfilled in the first century. Surely no one believes that was the physical planet, right?!?!?).
Moving into Genesis chapters 2-3 we get to the details of God making a covenant with Adam. At the beginning of his critique Charles Meek rhetorically writes “Did God even make a covenant with Adam? Genesis does not say so, at least explicitly. In fact, it is the opposite of a covenant. A covenant is defined as a “coming together,” a “bond,” or a “working relationship.” What happened at the Fall in the Garden was a separation (of mankind from God)”. Mr. Meek seems rather confused. How can you have a separation if you never had a coming together? Meek later in his critique assumes “covenant”, as he says, “The “covenant” with Adam was about mankind’s Fall and our eventual redemption in Christ. The Mosaic covenant gave laws specifically for the Jewish nation, while the so-called Edenic (Garden of Eden) “covenant” was a story about all men. The Mosaic covenant ended in the first century, but the Edenic “covenant,” while resolved at the cross, has no end, as the gospel message has no end.” And… without basis Meek questions the Hosea 6:7 reference where it specifically connects Israel’s violation of covenant with Adam’s.
Furthermore, Mr. Meek provides quite a few quotes from other detractors of CC (a rather disingenuous approach to gaining clarity on the details, which he himself said have some merit). For example he cites the rather confused Dorothy Treen and claims her charge cuts to the core of CC. Dorothy Treen says, “Covenant Creationists claim that the “Old Covenant” starts with Adam and he is the ‘father’ of Israel. Unfortunately for them, the Israelites held that Abraham was their father and he is listed as such several times in the New Testament”. Well, I have never heard a CC’er refer to Adam as the father of Israel, nor would any CC’er deny that Israel would have cited Abraham as their father. Sadly this exposes the lack of understanding the narrative on the CC detractor’s part. Israel surely found their identity in Adam (cf. Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22), however as the Biblical narrative develops and God affords His people opportunity to walk in obedience, it only makes sense they would cleave to and place emphasis on identity in Abraham (freedom and faith) rather than identity in Adam (death and slavery). Again it is mere assumption and presupposition to put all men in Adam; however I’m not even quite sure what Meek was trying to prove by using Treen’s quote.
When reading the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and comparing that with the developed narrative of Israel in the land of Canaan, it seems impossible to miss the correlation. In chapters 12-15 of Beyond Creation Science, authors Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn offer so many contextual details regarding the covenant creation of Genesis. Consider the qualifying statement made by those authors; “To get to the bottom of the Genesis debate one must examine and evaluate the bedrock source for any particular view of Genesis creation…It is very important to grapple with the nature of Biblical language in order to see properly what the Bible means by what it says…Many Christians do not consider the wide variety of the styles of language we find in the Bible”. Sadly many argue for an arbitrary literalism while maintaining a theological and literary ignorance. I love what theologian Milton Terry noted in this regard, “Any satisfactory interpretation of Genesis must be preceded by a determination of the class of literature to which it belongs”.
Bringing this to a conclusion I will point out that Mr. Meek’s critique of Covenant Creation depends upon his desire to force a perspective that simply is out of sync with the Biblical narrative and the literary structure/ language used in the Genesis creation account. In this response I have offered up a consistent approach to how the original audience would have understood the early chapters of Genesis, as well as a simple format for covenant beginning with Adam. What I did not do is belabor the problematic literalistic approach which is fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies. Prayerfully you will get a copy of Beyond Creation Science and/or spend time going through the various resources that have been provided to help you gain a true and reasonable understanding of what Genesis chapters 1-3 bring forth.
Pastor, The Blue Point Bible Church