Friday, November 11, 2016

Why Should I Be Interested In Genesis?

Quest Forums recently started a new series in our meetings. In “It’s a Start,” we will be taking the next few months to move through the book of Genesis. The approach is a pretty simple one. I announce a handful of chapters beforehand, give everyone a chance to go over them before we get together, and then spend the time going over whatever questions they may have.

It occurred to me, however, that it might be a good idea to answer the most basic question here. If someone sees invites on Facebook, comes across the website, or hears about Quest Forums from a friend, one of their first questions might be, “why should I be interested in Genesis?” And that’s a valid question. So if you have never thought about it before, but are willing to consider it, allow me to give you a few reasons. And if you are intrigued by what this glimpse offers, consider joining our discussions. You can find out more at the “Meetings” tab at the top of this website.

Secularism and Genesis

Most people who have never read Genesis, but who have a cursory knowledge of it, are familiar with it because of some of its most fantastic-sounding stories. It contains the accounts of the Creation of the world, the Garden of Eden, and Noah’s Flood, and it is for these that it is best known. Interestingly, they only make up the first eight chapters (out of 50). But certainly, they are very important. And to modern ears, they can sound very strange.

They are, in fact, so incompatible with secular interpretations of scientific evidence that they are considered impossible, and those who believe the stories are often mocked as uneducated or brainwashed. That, then, allows most people to ignore Genesis and its implications. It can be seen as a collection of children’s stories, or as an intriguing piece of ancient literature, or even as a source of valuable spiritual illustrations. But what it cannot be, from this perspective, is the truth.

The Case for Genesis

Obviously, I am critical of that view. I could go over some of the scientific reasons why, but I am not going to do so for a few reasons. For one, we are discussing some of them in our meetings, so I don’t want to give any spoilers! For another, there is enough there to fill out a few articles, and I might want to do that later. But most importantly, the scientific defense of Genesis is not the primary reason to study or trust it.

Don’t get me wrong. The effort to reconcile the evidence of science with the records of Genesis is an important one. But it does not provide a starting point, ironic as that may be to say about the first book of the Bible. Christians looking to defend Genesis do so because they already believe it. They work back to showing why it is believable.

Of course, that can open another line of criticism. “You don’t follow the evidence wherever it leads. You just decide beforehand what you want it to say. This is only about being able to hold onto the Bible!” I’ll admit, there is some truth to that. But only as much as is true of everyone else. Scientific evidence never really “leads” anywhere. Science is merely the observation of phenomena. It does not have the ability to tell us what it means. Humans have to try to piece that together ourselves, and we all carry preconceived notions into that process. We all have a tendency to make the “facts” say whatever we want them to say, until we are confronted by something totally undeniable that forces us to upend our entire worldview.

Jesus and Genesis

Which brings us to the point of this article. I believe there is an event so earthshaking, and so undeniable, that it shows Genesis to be true. In fact, this event makes it so that a literal interpretation of Genesis is the only legitimate explanation of life. The moment of which I speak is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

At first blush, that might be confusing. How could one myth be used to prove other, earlier ones? But it does, starting with an understanding of the fact that the resurrection was more than a myth. I have discussed that elsewhere, if you want a longer look. But in short, the resurrection is the best attested event in all of ancient history. The witnesses to it were unquestionably reliable, because telling the story cost them more than it gained them and no one dies for what they know to be a lie. Furthermore, the records of their witness were made in their lifetimes. The resurrection is not a legend that developed long after Jesus and His first followers were dead. It was the consistent message of the church from the moment Jesus ascended to heaven. And the only way to explain why the church told that message was because it had actually happened.

The resurrection is more than a myth. It is the truth. As a result, Genesis must also be true. That is because there is a continuity between the Gospels and Genesis. Jesus rose back to life, but importantly, He had also said that was exactly what He was going to do. By fulfilling His promise, Jesus validated everything else He had said. And the most important thing He had said was that He had come to rescue people from their sins.

Why does that matter? Because Genesis provides the only explanation of where sin comes from. According to Genesis, God had created the world without flaw, without evil, without death. However, He also created human beings with free will. He made them with the opportunity to decide whether they would love Him, or themselves. And unfortunately, they chose the latter and introduced all the ills we know into the world.

This is the crux of the matter, so follow me here. If secularists are correct, then death and decay have always existed. There is nothing evil in them, because there is nothing evil at all. A material universe cannot say whether anything is good or bad. It is just stuff. Furthermore, human beings cannot be sinners. We are not fallen from perfection, but are instead evolving toward it.

But that cannot be true. It cannot be true, because if it was, then Jesus would have had no reason to come, die, and rise again. If we are improving, then we do not need a Savior. But we have a Savior. There is no rational way to doubt the resurrection. Therefore, we are not improving. Death, rather than being a fact of life, is a curse in need of lifting. And that is exactly what Genesis says.

It is worth mentioning one other reason why Genesis matters, another way it offers continuity. It is, in essence, a family history. Mankind begins with Adam and Eve, who set it off on the road to ruin, and starts over with the family of Noah. Eventually a man named Abram comes into view, and 4/5ths of Genesis is devoted to him, his son Isaac, his grandson Jacob, and his great-grandson Joseph. Another name for the grandson, Jacob, was Israel, and the rest of the Old Testament is about the nation descended from him. In particular, it comes to focus on David, one of Israel’s earliest kings, who was a descendant of Jacob’s son, Judah. It was promised to David that his line would eventually result in someone who would rescue Israel, and all humanity, from the consequences brought on by Adam. And when the proper time came, Jesus Christ was born into that lineage. All the promises of God from Genesis on find their fulfillment in Him. And knowing the book of beginnings helps us to see how it all ties together.

Pursuing Understanding

If you need a summary, here it is. Sin and death are problems, and Jesus is the solution. If the solution is real, then so are the problems. And since they are, then a record which explains how the problems came to be is the truth. That is what we find in Genesis. Therefore, Genesis is true. Since it is true, it has much more to teach us than just trivia and allegory. Understanding the history found there is the way to understanding humanity. It makes perfect sense to be interested in it.

Maybe you have never heard any of this before, or thought of it this way. If so, then it is probably a lot to digest. This really has been a very breathless presentation of a lot of information in a short space. Perhaps it leaves you with more questions than answers. But that is a good thing. It means you are at least open to looking further. And that is exactly what Quest Forums exists to help you do. You can submit questions online, or better yet, you can join our meetings and ask them there. I hope you will. If you are seeking meaning, we can do it together. Don’t be afraid to try. There may be some discomfort in unlearning what you think you know, but there is great reward in learning the truth. Knowing it allows you to pursue your purpose. That is what Genesis helps us do.

Thanks for checking out the Quest Forums blog! If you enjoyed this post, please consider following me here, on Twitter (@Quest_Forums), or on Facebook (“Quest Forums”). Links are in the sidebar. I am always looking for new questions and comments, so submit yours on any of these sites or by emailing And please, spread the word! The share buttons below are a great way to do that. I want to connect with as many people as possible, so if you know anyone with questions about the Bible, send them my way.

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