Historicity of the Creation Story

I’ve read other threads regarding this topic, such as was Adam the first human, where did Cain’s wife come from, the proliferation of the human race, and so on. And I generally agree with what’s been said here. But my pastor at the local church takes on a different approach, and I just wanted to see your opinions.

He is of the reformed camp and takes seeing Christ in all the scriptures very seriously, which I agree with. However, he applies it to the creation story and interprets it as a direct analogy of the redemption story, which goes something like this.

He stresses that this shouldn’t be taken as a literal or even a chronological account of the creation that many Christians take it as. Rather, he claims that the whole of creation was finished in Genesis 1:1. Days in the creation story are then there to show God’s covenant (perfect covenant in the perfect number of seven days) and to provide a direct analogy of how Christ entered the world to his death, resurrection, and the subsequent events in the early church.

In verse 2, there is darkness and chaos. This describes the fallen condition, he says. On separation of the waters on the second day, he attributes the upper waters to truth, or Christ, and the water below to non-truth, or sin. When the waters combine, that is in Noah’s story, he says it’s an analogy of Christ’s death, as in His baptism. Just as how baptism symbolizes our death, the waters combining can then be interpreted in the same manner, how Christ comes down to become the sin on the cross. And the appearance of the land on the third day is then analogous to deliverance from sin on the cross, in the same way that Noah’s ark after the flood stopped on the revealed land or as the Israelites’ passing through the Red Sea is analogous to their deliverance from Egypt. And only after this redemptive process begins the creation of animals and plants and so on. This is the multiplying and flourishing as commanded to Adam, which becomes possible only after we are free of sin (in any meaningful way that is). And this is how the early church events, or how the Christian life can bear any meaning as well.

Now I know this is a very different approach but it does alleviate some issues as well as raising more problems and questions. For example, this explains what some young-earth creationists such as myself raise on the creation of the sun, moon, and the stars after the vegetation and the animals. How did photosynthesis work? Of course, there are some attempts made to answer this such as alternate light source, etc. But does it really address the core issue?

It seemed a bit far fetched at first, but my pastor has a deep understanding of the Hebrew text, so he is not being arbitrary in any way. And Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and the whole Bible does point to Christ. Then how can the first verses of the Bible not point to Christ? Having said that, he does raise other contentious issues I don’t agree with such as Pre-Adamites, but that’s beside the point really.

I am raising this question because he bases his points on the interpretation of the Hebrew text of which I don’t have any knowledge. I would appreciate any input. Thank you and God bless.

I am sure there are those who are much more learned in these matters than I am. I would like to provide some information which I hope will contribute to clarity on the situation.

There is a fourfold method of Bible interpretation called the Quadriga. It goes as follows:

  • Literal interpretation: explanation of the meaning of events for historical purposes from a neutral perspective by trying to understand the text in the culture and time it was written, and location and language it was composed in. That is, since the 19th century, usually ascertained using the higher critical methods like source criticism and form criticism. In many modern seminaries and universities, the literal meaning is usually focused on to a nearly complete abandonment of the spiritual methods, as is very obvious when comparing commentary from a Douay Rheims or Confraternity or Knox Bible with a New Jerusalem, New RSV or NABRE.[2]
  • Anagogic interpretation: dealing with the future events of Christian history (eschatology) as well as heaven, purgatory, hell, the last judgement, the General Resurrection and second Advent of Christ, etc. (prophecies).[3]
  • Typological (or allegorical) interpretation: connecting the events of the Old Testament with the New Testament, particularly drawing allegorical connections between the events of Christ’s life with the stories of the Old Testament. Also, a passage speaks directly to someone such as when Francis of Assisi heard the passage to sell all he had. It can also typologically point to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the ark which held the Word of God; Judith, who slew a tyrant is a Marian type; the burning bush, which contains the fire of God but was not consumed, as Mary held the Second Person of the Trinity in her womb but was not burnt up.[4]
  • Tropological (or moral) interpretation: “the moral of the story,” or how one should act now. Many of Jesus’ parables and the Book of Proverbs and other wisdom books are packed with tropological meaning

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegorical_interpretation_of_the_Bible

Some of the Reformers used this method of Bible interpretation. They believed, as I do, that the latter three methods of interpretation must be informed and conform to the literal interpretation. We must understand what the Biblical authors were saying and what God was saying to them.

To claim that the Bible is saying something more than what it is actually saying tends towards something called Gnosticism. Gnosticism holds that there is some secret meaning in the Bible, which only certain people have, and it cannot be accessed by everyone. To be honest, this is very similar to the temptation in the Garden. “There is something which you do not know, something which God is hiding from you. If you eat this fruit, you will know it and be like him.”

I believe it is important that we do not try to “read into” the Bible, which is called eisegesis, we should read out of the Bible what it does say, exegesis.

We also need to look at what is a simpler explanation, that everything in the Bible has a secret meaning? Or that it means what it says? Under this view, we would also have to contend with why Christ doesn’t point any of this out as support for who he was? He asks how they could be so confused by his claim that he is Christ when the scriptures clearly point to him. He then references a scripture that clearly reveals attributes of the Messiah that fit him.

I do not say all of this to say that we do not have to work to understand what the scriptures mean. But, if we have to add layers upon layers of interpretation of the Scriptures, it can begin to obfuscate what God is trying to communicate to us.

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Thank you Joshua for your reply. And thank you for the framework. I needed just that, a starting point for evaluating sermons and interpretations. My general rule of thumb has been to see if Christ is at the center, so I was confused as my pastor’s interpretation clearly seemed to do just that. So thank you, I can now ask him on some of these points.
The real question now is how to approach the issue. I know some members of the congregation also share the same concerns. But it’s a small church, so I don’t want to cause a dissension.
Just to give a bit more background, my wife and I at first seriously considered leaving the church when we heard this interpretation. But we live in a provincial island in Korea where it’s just really hard to find a church that proclaims sound gospel (it took us more than 6 months to find this church!). And we are planning to move out of the island early next year, so you can imagine the dilemma. It is still the gospel that’s being preached, so we are likely to stay. Any suggestions?

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I remember something that Ravi shared in many lectures. After a long conversation with one of the leading Islamic people, the Islamist says - Ravi, I think it is time for us to ask ourselves in the not whether the resurrection has happened, but why.
Has not the time come, for us Christians, some believing others, like me seeking, to ask yourself such a question? This Ishma leader, what question he comments on is fundamental, essential. So what is fundamental to Christianity?

Listen to Hugh Ross on YouTube to get both a literal and a scientific view.
I found his explanations very helpful

Somehow this topic caught my eye, Young, so i would like to add a little of my own insight/confusion.

First what if the pastor’s interpretation is a valid possible “layer of meaning” to the Creation story, while the Creation details are also actual history. How could that be possible? And to add another layer, how could the Creation be done in such as way as to display what appears to be something like current evolutionary theory?

That’s a big job, to try to reconcile multiple layers of real meaning within the same story. But here goes, part 1:

Suppose our God has infinite power and imaginative creativity, as we know He does. And suppose that, before He created anything, He first planned each detail of the universe, down to the smallest particle and waveform, before He actually materialized anything in our limited dimensions.

So He could, if He wanted to, start with an infinitely compressed “singularity” of energy/matter, and then planned “the Big Bang” to expand the original starting point into a complete, expanding universe.

But nothing yet existed in the physical dimensions, just in His “foreplanning”. Then, on Day 1 He materialized the space for the new universe, and on successive days He materialized different aspects of the “final product”. Of course, each layer of the Creation would contain the complete design history of His pre-Creation planning process (which would look like billions of years of growth to us, whereas the actual materialization time was extremely short – “Let there be, and there was”.

So light would appear to come to earth from billions of years away, trees would have rings, rocks would have fossils, etc, when newly created. But the whole universe could have been held in suspended animation as each Day’s additions were made, until Adam/Eve were created, and then the whole new (but suspended until the right time), universe was set in motion as a material universe.

And since it was Christ Who made the final product, if i am reading Scripture correctly, your pastor has some good insights, and evolution has some reasonable observations (just an incorrect time-frame), and the Creation story is a reliably historical account.

Well, that’s a lot to chew on i think, so i’ll wait for input before continuing the concept. If there is any…

Are we having fun yet?

Thank you all for your input.
And yes, Dean, I really like the “layer of meaning” idea. I believe God, in His infinite wisdom, infuses meaning into Bible narratives and the idea that God did so to the Creation story certainly seems plausible.
But what I was mulling over with is what Joshua mentioned above that any interpretation must conform to the literal/original intent of the author. And I was taught and agree that the context in which the original text was written and the original intent of the author are both definitive.
I have to clarify with my pastor, but he seemed to treat the historical/chronological account as almost unimportant to focus on the allegorical interpretation (Creation to Christ). But now I see that there isn’t as big a contradiction as I first saw. God could’ve, indeed, added an additional layer of meaning, that is of the revelation of Christ into the creation story.

As for the short-earth or the long-earth theory, I think it could go either way. But what do you mean an incorrect timeframe, for evolution that is?

I come to realize that the bible is alive. The more I read and pray the more God threw the bible talks to me and rivals to me. When I try to fine meaning with earthly eyes the more it gets me in trouble.

This is a great thread. Thx for wonderful answers. B

I appreciate your sensitivity to not create division and confusion in the church. You certainly want to avoid that. This is something you will really have to pray through and discern. Sometimes, I believe, we can be called to a place to help bring reform and change to a place in a humble and loving way. So, just because we do not agree with a place does not by default mean that we are supposed to leave. Perhaps God has us there for a reason. If the pastor seems up for it, it might be worth seeking to have a conversation and ask some heartfelt and genuine questions of him.

Or maybe you should find a new place? Lol. I don’t believe there is one blanket answer to this.

I pray you have wisdom as you consider which path to take.