Posted by Pastoral Musings on 15th February 2013
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 15th February 2013
Though I haven’t paid attention to the total number of hits, I’m glad that this post is getting seen daily.
The contrast between Genesis and Enuma Elish cannot be emphasized enough.
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 8th January 2013
Why Genesis? That is a fair question, is it not? Why write a book of this sort? What is its purpose? What does it tell us about the world, about its authors, compilers, and hearers?
Briefly put, Genesis was written for a group of people who did not know YHWH. They had probably encountered the name, and even worshiped Him by that name (See Genesis 4:26); but they had not truly experienced the covenantal significance of that name YHWH (See Exodus 3:13-15;6:1-8). Genesis would be an introduction to YHWH.
Not only that, but Israel was an idolatrous people, and had been for many generations. Abraham was an idolater before he believed God, and his descendants worshiped the idols of Egypt while in Egypt (See Joshua 24:1-15). They were going to need to be instructed about the nature of YHWH, what He had done and was doing, as well as the fact that He would tolerate the worship of no other gods.
The reason that Israel was given to worship YHWH alone was that He is the God who brought them out of Egypt, and that He is the God who created all things (Exodus 20:1-11).
Another reason that Genesis was given was to show Israel their history so that they would know that they could/should trust YHWH. When one sees the hand of God as the Creator of all things, sees how sin affects and destroys, considers the covenant faithfulness of YHWH to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he will be led to trust Him.
Finally, it is quite reasonable to assert and believe that Genesis is a historical narrative and is thus a record of things which actually happened. After all, it is not much of an inducement to faith and worship to learn that the stories which were told about your God are things which did not truly happen. While some say that truth can be conveyed in many ways, and I would agree, I would also argue that the very fact that worship is based upon the fact that God both created all things, and that He did so in six days, would be severely undermined if God truly did not do just as we have been told.
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 3rd January 2013
What do cosmic dust, gas stars, and the first three chapters of Genesis have in common?
Much, it seems.
You see, there is a news article that tells us of a gas star being created out of cosmic dust. It would seem at first glance as if there is an ongoing creation.
Is that actually so? Not at all.
This cosmic dust is thought to come from dying/dead stars. (See this link, also.) While it is obvious that I will disagree with the millions and billions of years, I do find it quite interesting that what is allegedly being created (or evolving) is more likely just to be a ball of refuse from supernovas.
What does this have to do with Genesis chapters 1-3? Much, because those of us who accept these chapters as historical narrative understand that the fall led to death and futility in all of creation (See also Romans 8:19-21). We expect things to die. We also expect that God will, at times, do amazing things with dead matter (Consider John 11 and Lazarus, as well as 1Corinthians 15:1-58).
Is God still creating the world? No. He is upholding and sustaining it by His command (Psalm 119:89-91;Hebrews 1:1-3).
Today the world is fallen and dying. In the future it shall be remade (See Revelation 21:1-8) into an eternally perfect habitat where we shall worship and enjoy the Triune God forever.
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 22nd August 2012
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
As Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the thing that was foremost in his mind was that Israel worship YHWH. For them to worship YHWH, they would have to know Him. For this purpose Moses leapt right into describing the nature of God.
We have already seen that the statement, “In the beginning God created”, shows us that there was a beginning to time. It also teaches us that God is before, above, and Lord of time.
Not only did God create time, but He also created space and matter. He created the heaven and the earth. Not only do we have time, but we have space and matter. Time, space, and matter are the creation of God.
The Ancient Near Eastern myths presented their gods as the products of matter. The ANE gods were not necessarily eternal, but had beginnings. They were often the products of the procreation of the gods. Some were created by other gods. The God of Israel, however, is the Creator of all things. He is before matter. He is above matter. There is nothing upon the face of the earth that should be considered a god, because the Creator is God of matter.
Moses understood this very well, because he wrote a song of praise to the LORD which said, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalm 90:1–2) Moses’ aim was to show Israel this truth so that they would recognize that YHWH is so vastly superior to the gods of the world that there is truly no comparison between them. They are made of matter, yet YHWH is God and Lord of matter; thus He is God and Lord of all things.
Today there are many who wish to present the Genesis account of the creation as being comparable to the ANE creation accounts, or even as having borrowed from them. Once we understand that the God who created all things is shown as so vastly superior to the gods of the world, we must reject this notion of parallelism and borrowing. There is simply no true comparison between the ANE myths and the Genesis account of creation, just as there is no comparison between the gods of the world and the Creator of all things.
Not only is this so, but there are those who wish to deny that the Genesis account of the creation is a historical narrative. We are told that we should not take it literally, because it says nothing about science. Once again, this is a notion that the text bids us to reject. Why? We must reject it because it makes a bold scientific statement that says God is the Creator of matter.
If we accept Genesis 1:1 as making a theological statement that God is Creator of matter and greater than the gods of ANE cultures, we must also embrace the whole of the Genesis creation narrative as speaking historically about God and His creation. To do otherwise is to be arbitrary, seeking to speak to the Scriptures instead of allowing Scripture to speak to us.
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 4th May 2012
Well, blogging surely has been slow around here.
It may remain that way. I’d rather say something of substance on occasion instead of vacuous posts going up regularly.
That said, life has also gotten in the way. Yes, there is life outside of blogging. I’ve been through an extremely rough patch for the last four years. The last four months were especially rough, because, while I thought things were going to get better, I hit a very rough patch. I faced treachery, deceit, lies, defamation of character, and finally was blessed to get relief a few weeks ago. Now I’m sick with a spring cold. Of course I’d take the cold above the other any old day
I have some ideas that I hope to blog about in the future. I’ll list some of them, though I’ll probably not get around to them all.
1. Orthodoxy in the Apostolic Fathers. Was there a single orthodoxy, or multiple orthodoxies?
2. Genesis and the ANE myths.
3. A historical survey of the interpretation of the Genesis Creation Account from the Scriptures, Second Temple Judaism, and The Early Church Fathers (probably ending with the Apostolic Fathers).
4. The meaning of man being a living soul, and the implications of this in counseling.
OK. Now my work is cut out for me, because I’ll have to post on at least one or two of these things. I’m committed.
Oh, by the way, Joel is working on a new book; but I don’t think he’ll be asking me to contribute. I do look forward to reading it when it comes out.
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 26th April 2012
Please let me know what you would recommend one to read if he were to wish to study more in this area.
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 21st March 2012
the system is thoroughly atheistic, and therefore cannot possibly stand. God has revealed his existence and his government of the world so clearly and so authoritatively, that any philosophical or scientific speculations inconsistent with those truths are like cobwebs in the track of a
tornado. They offer no sensible resistance.
Charles Hodge, vol. 2, Systematic Theology, 15 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
In saying that this system is atheistic, it is not said that Mr. Darwin is an atheist. He expressly acknowledges the existence of God; and seems to feel the necessity of his existence to account for the origin of life. Nor is it meant that every one who adopts the theory does it in an atheistic sense. It has already been remarked that there is a theistic and an atheistic form of the nebular hypothesis as to the origin of the universe; so there may be a theistic interpretation of the Darwinian theory.
Charles Hodge, vol. 2, Systematic Theology, 16 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
Professor Huxley says that when he first read Darwin’s book he regarded it as the death-blow of teleology, i.e., of the doctrine of design and purpose in nature. Buchner, to whom the atheistical character of a book is a recommendation, says that Darwin’s “theory is the most thoroughly naturalistic that can be imagined, and far more atheistic than that of his despised (verrufenen) predecessor Lamarck, who admitted at least a general law of progress and development; whereas, according to Darwin, the whole development is due to the gradual summation of innumerable minute and accidental natural operations.”
Charles Hodge, vol. 2, Systematic Theology, 16-17 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
Darwin, therefore, does teach precisely what Dr. Gray pronounces atheism. A man, it seems, may believe in God, and yet teach atheism.
The anti-theistic and materialistic character of this theory is still further shown by what Mr. Darwin says of our mental powers. “In the distant future,” he says, “I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.” Of this prediction he has himself attempted the verification in his recent work on the “Descent of Man,” in which he endeavours to prove that man is a developed ape. The Bible says: Man was created in the image of God.
Charles Hodge, vol. 2, Systematic Theology, 19 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
Note that Hodge explicitly states that one can hold to Darwinism and be a theist. On the other hand, Darwin’s theory is essentially atheistic.
One does not have to be an atheist to hold to what began as an atheistic philosophical theory. One can be a committed theist, and even a Christian theist, and hold to this theory. The fact that Christian theists hold to some form of this theory does not make it correct, however. That is part of what Hodge is telling us here.
While the genetic fallacy is certainly a logical error, this is not a genetic fallacy. It is recognizing that Darwinian evolution is an atheistic philosophy that has been too carelessly accepted by many.
Ideas have consequences, and atheistic ideas will have atheistic consequences.
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 10th February 2012
Often much is made of the so-called parallels between the Genesis account of creation and various Ancient Near Eastern texts. This is an attempt to consider a few things concerning the Enuma Elish and the Genesis account of creation.
When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
Naught but primordial Apsu, their begetter,
(And) Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
Their waters commingling as a single body;1
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. ” (Genesis 1:1)
The Enuma Elish opens with the heavens and the earth, while Genesis opens with God. The gods of Enuma Elish are not so much creators and distinct from the universe as they are begetters. Apsu begat the heavens and the firm ground, we are told. Mummu-Tiamat “bore them all.” On the other hand, the Genesis account tells us that first there was God, and He created the heavens and the earth. Instead of the world that we see being a part of God, it is made by Him. It is not derived from His substance, but was created ex nihilo.
Enuma Elish also speaks of multiple gods which had a beginning. Genesis presents to us one God who existed before space, time, and matter.
In the chamber of fates, the abode of destinies,
A god was engendered, most able and wisest of gods. (80)
In the heart of Apsu was Marduk30 created,
In the heart of holy Apsu was Marduk created.
He who begot him was Ea, his father;
She who bore him was Damkina, his mother.2
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. ” (Genesis 1:1)
Marduk, the god of the Babylonians, was considered to be both created and begotten. The God of Genesis, however, is seen as creating, yet not created. He is before time, space, and matter.
O Marduk, thou art indeed our avenger.
We have granted thee kingship over the universe entire.
When in Assembly thou sittest, thy word shall be supreme.3
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. ” (Genesis 1:1)
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. ” (Genesis 1:28)
Marduk is established by the gods as the ruler of the universe, while the Creator God of Genesis is supreme by merit of being the Creator of all things and before all things.
When Marduk hears the words of the gods,
His heart prompts (him) to fashion artful works.
Opening his mouth, he addresses Ea
To impart the plan he had conceived in his heart:
“Blood I will mass and cause bones to be.
I will establish a savage, ‘man’ shall be his name.
Verily, savage-man I will create.
He shall be charged with the service of the gods That they might be at ease!
The ways of the gods I will artfully alter.
Though alike revered, into two (groups) they shall be divided.” (10)
Ea answered him, speaking a word to him,
Giving him another plan for the relief of the gods:
“Let but one of their brothers be handed over;
He alone shall perish that mankind may be fashioned.4
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. ” (Genesis 1:26–28)
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. ” (Genesis 2:7)
Here the contrasts are again great. Marduk and the gods determine to create man. Man is savage and will be used to serve the gods that they will not have to work so much. Not only so, but man will be made by one of the gods dying. The God of Genesis creates man out of the dust of the ground, and honors him by making him reflective of the greatness of his Creator.
“Most exalted be the Son, our avenger;
Let his sovereignty be surpassing, having no rival.
May he shepherd the black-headed ones, his creatures.
To the end of days, without forgetting, let them acclaim his ways.
May he establish for his fathers the great food-offerings; (110)
Their support they shall furnish, shall tend their sanctuaries.
May he cause incense to be smelled, … their spells,
Make a likeness on earth of what he has wrought in heaven.
May he order the black-headed to revere him,
May the subjects ever bear in mind to speak of their god,
And may they at his word pay heed to the goddess.
May food-offerings be borne for their gods and goddesses.
Without fail let them support their gods!5
The gods of Enuma Elish must be supported by their creatures. They must eat. They must have relief. The God of Genesis is seen as being before time, space, and matter. Thus it is that He is recognized as needing nothing from man. Sacrifices to Him will only be acts of worship, not because He has need.
These are just a few observations that can be made concerning the differences between the Genesis account of the creation and the Enuma Elish. While there are indeed parallels between the accounts, the differences are of such degree that there should not be as much comparison between Genesis and Enuma Elish as there should be contrasts.
1 The Ancient Near East an Anthology of Texts and Pictures., ed. James Bennett Pritchard, 60-61 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958).
2 The Ancient Near East an Anthology of Texts and Pictures., ed. James Bennett Pritchard, 62 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958).
3 The Ancient Near East an Anthology of Texts and Pictures., ed. James Bennett Pritchard, 66 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958).
4 The Ancient Near East an Anthology of Texts and Pictures., ed. James Bennett Pritchard, 68 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958).
5 The Ancient Near East an Anthology of Texts and Pictures., ed. James Bennett Pritchard, 69 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958).
Posted by Pastoral Musings on 4th February 2012
Today is a good day for a re-run post. This was originally posted in March 2010.
It seems fashionable today for a person to state that creationism is of recent origin. In fact, those who claim this often take their claim further and state that it began with E.G. White and the Seventh Day Adventists.
Is this so?
What does history tell us about this?
We know from Moses that the world was not in existence before 6,000 years ago.
Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 1: Luther’s works, vol. 1 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (1:3). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
…here a famous question is raised: “Of what sort, then, was that light by which the unformed mass of heaven and earth was illuminated? Although neither sun nor stars had been created, the text makes it clear that this light was true and physical.” This has given rise for some to look for an allegory and to explain “Let there be light” by saying that it is an angelic creature.33 Likewise, “He separated light from darkness” is said to mean that He separated the good angels from the bad. But this is toying with ill-timed allegories (for Moses is relating history); it is not interpreting Scripture. Moreover, Moses wrote that uneducated men might have clear accounts of the creation. Such preposterous ideas should, therefore, not be propounded here.
33This may be a reference to Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, I, ch. 17, pp. 23 ff.
Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 1: Luther’s works, vol. 1 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (1:19). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Calvin expressly disclaims the intention of expounding in detail the story of the creation of the world,and judges it sufficient to refer his readers to the account given by Moses, along with the comments perhaps of Basil and Ambrose, for instruction in the particulars of its history (I. 14:20, ad init.; cf. I. 14: I). He lets fall, however, a few remarks by the way, which enable us to perceive his attitude towards the narrative of Genesis. Needless to say he takes it just as he finds it written. The six days he, naturally, understands as six literal days; and, accepting the prima facie chronology of the Biblical narrative, he dates the creation of the world something less than six thousand years in the past. He does not suppose, however, that Moses has included in his story anything like an exhaustive account of all that was created. The instance of angels, of whose origin Moses gives no history, is conclusive to the contrary. Moses, writing to meet the needs of men at large, accommodated himself to their grade of intellectual preparation, and confines himself to what meets their eyes.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; but when the earth did not come into sight, but was covered with thick darkness, and a wind moved upon its surface, God commanded that there should be light; ) and when that was made, he considered the whole mass, and separated the light and the darkness; and the name he gave to one was Night, and the other he called Day; and he named the beginning of light and the time of rest, the Evening and the Morning;and this was indeed the first day: but Moses said it was one day,—the cause of which I am able to give even now; but because I have promised to give such reasons for all things in a treatise by itself, I shall put off its exposition till that time. After this, on the second day, he placed the heaven over the whole world, and separated it from the other parts; and he determined it should stand by itself. He also placed a crystalline [firmament] round it, and put it together in a manner agreeable to the earth, and fitted it for giving moisture and rain, and for affording the advantage of dews. On the third day he appointed the dry land to appear, with the sea itself round about it; and on the very same day he made the plants and the seeds to spring out of the earth. On the fourth day he adorned the heaven with the sun, the moon, and the other stars; and appointed them their motions and courses, that the vicissitudes of the seasons might be clearly signified. And on the fifth day he produced the living creatures, both those that swim and those that fly; the former in the sea, the latter in the air: he also sorted them as to society and mixture, for procreation, and that their kinds might increase and multiply. On the sixth day he created the four-footed beasts, and made them male and female: on the same day he also formed man. Accordingly Moses says, That in just six days the world and all that is therein was made; and that the seventh day was a rest, and a release from the labor of such operations;—whence it is that we celebrate a rest from our labors on that day, and call it the Sabbath; which word denotes rest in the Hebrew tongue.
For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.” This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.
The above quotations may not serve to establish the viability and veracity of creationism, but they do serve to give the lie to the idea that creationism is a recent development.
It would serve all of us well if those who argue against a position would do so with credibility. It is not credible to call creationism a newly developed belief. It is simply another example of the genetic fallacy, and an incorrect one at that. That simply will not work.