January 24, 2019

Dear Friends,

Sports teams have mascots. Three thousand years ago, nations had mascots too. They called them gods. And each nation had a partisan loyalty to their particular deity.

The Canaanites had Baal and Asherah. The Philistines had Dagon, the fish god. The Babylonians had Marduk, while the Ammonites worshipped Molech.

The Israelites had Yahweh. And when their neighbors would ask “what is your god the god of?” they would respond with the bold declaration that their God is the One who made heaven and earth.

Consider Psalm 121:1–2

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

Or Psalm 115, which is all about the God of Israel being the One, True God.

May you be blessed by the LORD,
who made heaven and earth! (Psalm 115:15)

Or the final thought in Psalm 124.

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

Yahweh, the God of Israel is defined as the God “who made heaven and earth.” They belong to Him. They are His possession. And as a result, He is the Lord above all other Gods.

Last week in this newsletter, I talked about how central the doctrine of creation is to our faith. If the god you worship is not the God who made everything, you’re not worshipping the same God Jesus worshipped. You’re not worshipping the God of the Bible.

But as you undoubtedly know, not everyone who is a Christian agrees on how the One True God accomplished His work of creation. And the debate has led to some headed rhetoric over the years.

Todd Wilson is a pastor in suburban Chicago. He gives leadership to an organization called the Center for Pastor Theologians. Todd is a bright guy, with a degree in Philosophy from Wheaton and a PhD in New Testament from Cambridge. He believes the Bible is authoritative and he embraces a biblical understanding of the gospel.

But he’s not convinced that the Hebrew word Yom (which is translated “day”) always means a 24 hour period. He thinks the creation of the earth may have happened over a period of more than 144 hours.

When people at his church heard that he was not convinced about a literal six day creation, word started to spread that “Pastor Todd thinks people descended from apes!”

That’s part of what prompted Todd and others to hammer out ten theses about creation and evolution that all of us who believe in the Creator God of scripture should be able to affirm, even if we disagree on how old the universe is.

Working together with other pastors and theologians, Todd and the team called their ten theses Mere Creation. “This is not,” Todd writes, “what young-earth creationists believe or old-earth creationists believe or advocates of intelligent design believe or evolutionary creationists or theistic evolutionists believe but what most (evangelical) Christians, at most times, have believed and should believe about creation.”

See what you think:

Mere Creation

The doctrine of creation is central to the Christian faith.

The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is the Word of God, inspired, authoritative, and without error. Therefore whatever Scripture teaches is to be believed as God’s instruction, without denying that the human authors of Scripture communicated using the cultural conventions of their time.

Genesis 1-2 is historical in nature, rich in literary artistry, and theological in purpose. These chapters should be read with the intent of discerning what God says through what the human author has said.

God created and sustains everything. This means that he is as much involved in natural processes as he is in supernatural events. Creation itself provides unmistakable evidence of God’s handiwork.

Adam and Eve were real persons in a real past, and the fall was a real event with real and devastating consequences for the entire human race. (Todd says he recognizes that there are some evangelicals who have begun to dispute this idea and he thinks it may eventually become a minority position among Christians).

Human beings are created in the image of God and are thus unique among God’s creatures. They possess special dignity within creation.

There is no final conflict between the Bible rightly understood and the facts of science rightly understood. God’s “two books,” Scripture and nature, ultimately agree. Therefore Christians should approach the claims of contemporary science with both interest and discernment, confident that all truth is God’s truth.

The Christian faith is compatible with different scientific theories of origins, from young-earth creationism to evolutionary creationism, but it is incompatible with any view that rejects God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Christians can (and do) differ on their assessment of the merits of various scientific theories of origins.

Christians should be well grounded in the Bible’s teaching on creation but always hold their views with humility, respecting the convictions of others and not aggressively advocating for positions on which evangelicals disagree.

Everything in creation finds its source, goal, and meaning in Jesus Christ, in whom the whole of creation will one day achieve eschatological redemption and renewal. All things will be united in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

There is one correct way to interpret the first three chapters of Genesis. And we ought to work diligently to understand the text of scripture as faithfully and as carefully as we can. We should remember that the “facts of science” have evolved regularly throughout human history. The same is true about our understanding of some aspects of God’s word. His truth does not change. But church history is full of examples of people who have misinterpreted or misapplied the Bible.

That’s why I think point #9 above is an important point for us to hold to as we study the Bible. One day we’ll know whether God spoke the universe into being in less than a week or over six eras of history. Until then, humility and respect for others with whom we may disagree ought to mark our discussions as we work together to dig deep into God’s word.

Once again, we had a great turn out and a lively discussion Monday night on the subject of pornography. This Monday, we’ll conclude the series as we watch episode three of the Brain, Heart, World series. Every man 13 and up is welcome. We’ll start at 7:00 and be done by 8:15.

And looking ahead to February, the Monday night women’s Bible study starts back up on February 4. Here’s the scoop:

We now know who’ll be playing in Super Bowl LIII this year (the Saints were robbed!).

What we don’t know yet is what kind of soup you’ll be bringing to our Souper Sunday after church meal. Here are the details.

Guys, have you marked out the last weekend in March on your calendar? We have some big stuff planned for that weekend.

And don’t forget what’s happening every other Thursday night at church. A special time for our kids to get together.

One of Jesus’ stories was about an apocryphal conversation that took place between a wealthy man and the great patriarch Abraham following the death of the rich man. What’s the point of the story? We’ll find out on Sunday.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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