The Story of Scripture: It’s All Good
Chapter 1: Creation
Genesis 1:1-2:3, Mark 4:35-41, II Corinthians 5:16-21
Every story has a beginning.
As I was preparing to write my sermon about the Creation, my eyes moved toward the latest news on my webpage. In bold lettering, in the corner of the screen was the headline:
Hawking Says God Did Not Create Universe.
Boy, I am glad that I read that before sitting down to write my sermon.
First of all, the article wasn’t that bad. Hawking is not denying the existence of God, but rather, if God is needed for creation to occur. But the interesting part was reading some of the comments in response to the article.
You know posted comments are like potato chips. You can’t eat just one. And you can’t read just one.
Well, these posts had it all. People were sending Mr. Hawking to hell (as if that is in their power). Others were mocking religion. There were bible quotes from Revelation about the end of time. I could have spent hours.
We have a story that captivates our attention, in addition to provoking debates and chat room name calling. In part, the story is so captivating because of its simplicity. But the world we live in today is not that simple.
There is a reason that in these chat rooms believers are feeling overly defensive and self-described rational beings are mocking faith as a viable explanation of how things came to be.
In the Medieval world, theology was the Queen of the Sciences. Now by sciences, we mean intellectual fields of study, or disciplines. Scholars considered theology as the umbrella which covered all human learning and where all other fields of learning found their place.
In the Modern world, and now in the post-modern world, Science and Mathematics are the Queen of the Sciences. And this is because in the last 300 years, humans have moved toward wanted to define determine and describe. Knowledge is king. And those who know yield the power.
And those who know demand that the words of Genesis 1 cannot describe how the beginning came to be. Meanwhile, believers want to defend Genesis 1 as a viable way, and have tried to force the story into something it is not.
Now please understand. I do not believe science and faith are enemies. But the story before us today is a beautiful beginning to a majestic book. It is not the first page of a “How to Build a Car Engine” manual. It is not technical language, but an invitation to see Creator, watching creating, be creation. Have you ever opened a book, and then it loses you within the first page or two. You don’t want to read it because you are lost shortly upon beginning the story. What if the Bible were to do this?
Problems arise when people force this story to be something it is not, and in doing so, ruin the original beauty of the story. Growing up, I was a huge Star Wars fan. I watched the movies, played with the action figures, the whole nine yards. But then the original three movies weren’t enough for the Star Wars enterprise. And the idea of a “prequel” came to be. “Let’s make a movie about the time and events that happened before the first movie”. And one of the horrible outcomes of this idea was a character named Jar-Jar Binks. I shudder to even mention the name. But folks, the truth is SOMETIMES, you can’t improve on the original. And when you force something onto the original, it can get ugly…fast. I wonder about forcing science into a story that had other purposes. Let us let it be, and stand for what it is worth.
So really, those chat rooms are a larger question about Scripture and Science (science being, human fields of learning). Can they work together? If so, how?
Well, I’m glad you came today, because I want to tell you four possible combinations that I believe are incorrect. And then I’ll present the correct relationship to you.
1. Scripture alone, with no regard for other fields
2. Other fields, with no regard for Scripture
3. Scripture and other fields as equals, as if there is no difference to any of them.
4. Scripture and other fields competing against each other.
I believe all fields of learning tell truth. And all truth belongs to God. How do we balance Faith and fields of human learning? Scripture and Science? Other fields interpret and support the premise of Scripture. That is, God is King, Theology is the Queen and mystery is our spirit.
We remember God. God is. God is attested to in Scripture, and Scripture is interpreted by knowledge of sciences. In short, we have a faith that seeks understanding.
As Stanley Hauerwas declares, Where the theology is true and the science is accurate, there is no discontinuity between the two.
So I would respectfully disagree with Stephen Hawking: God did create the universe. I would also affirm Mr. Hawkings contributions and attempts to help people understand how that might have happened.
In this story, which is the first of our year long pursuit of understanding the Story of Scripture, we quickly and clearly see God established in the story, a God who was, and is, and is to come. We see purpose and a plan for human beings, readers and hearers and participants of this story. We see the Creator. We see the Creator creating. We see the creation.
Why did the writer write Genesis 1?
1. It is a memory devise. This story was written in a world with no kindles and no Gideons. The story is one to be repeated and remembered. Days 4-6 mirror and complete Days 1-3.
2. To identify who is the most important character in this story
3. All creation bows to one more superior (and the idea of humans subduing the earth is a pre-fall call)
4. Male and female are made in image of God (though God is not made in our image, that is idolatry)
5. God’s intent for the creation: Be fruitful and multiply.
6. To show that God liked the original creation (in fact, there is more than liking, there is delight)
7. God’s work and God’s rest is a pattern for us
As Walter Brueggeman writes, “The creator did not spend his six days of work in coercion but in faithful invitation. God does not spend the seventh day in exhaustion but in serenity and peace.”
What is God trying to say to us in Genesis 1 and today’s scriptures?
1. Sin is not the ultimate definition of who we are. God is.
2. The earth around us is not our enemy, but rather a partner in the worship and service of God
3. There is a divide between the first chapter, and the other 1100 chapters of the Bible…this is the way it was supposed to be (One of the more clever book titles was a theological book on sin by an author named Plantinga: Not the Way it was Supposed to be)
4. If the world isn’t the way it was supposed to be: then how do we get back to what is right? (This is where the passage of II Corinthians comes in. God reconciles the world to himself through Christ.)
5. Jesus modeled God to us: he was surprised when the disciples did not believe in him as the authority over the waves. (Jesus also shows us the closeness and distance between Creator and Created)
6. The creation is moving toward new creation.
7. Little new creations (you and I) bear witness to the big new creation.
At the end of the Day: It is as simple as three words.
Creator creates creation.
We believe in God, the Maker of heaven and earth.
We affirm the goodness of creating.
We are creatures who answer to the Creator.