Wb, a good friend, has made another post on this subject, saying that it is inconsistent to treat Genesis 1 as a theological text while treating the resurrection of Christ as something historical. (Mine are here, here, here, and here)
Let me cut to the chase.
First, by taking a purely ‘historical-contextual-grammatical hermeneutic’ in the Old Testament, we could not find Christ. Unless you, like the Apostles and Christ Himself, theologize the Old Testament, Christ will remain hidden and the New Testament disjointed.
Second, as I stated in a post earlier, Paul theologized the Old Testament stories – and indeed, did so many times as did the author of Hebrews. Did they take these things as historical fact? I would assume so as they certainly presented it as such. Yet, Paul took the very historical example of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar to present a theological truth:
Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says?
The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave-wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave-wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother.
As Isaiah said, “Rejoice, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into a joyful shout, you who have never been in labor! For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband!” And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit.
But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman. (Gal 4:21-31 NLT)
Was Paul’s primary view of Abraham as something historical? No. Paul’s primary usage of the Old Testament was theological. The bible is a grand narrative, building up itself, and Paul saw that.
If we take a look at Hebrews, we find the same thing. The Old Testament wasn’t mined for historical fact, but for the theological truth of Christ and the Church. Examine Matthew, who said that the things Christ did ‘completed’ the words of the prophets. The Incarnated Word of God incarnated the Scriptures. Were they historical? Sure, but what did the New Testament writers see first? The Theological. Bare in mind, that theologizing something is not spiritualizing something. Paul’s use of ‘illustration’ in Galations is hardly close to Origen’s use of allegory 150 years later.
First, did Paul theologize the Resurrection of Christ?
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?
Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.
We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. (Rom 6:1-9 NLT)
Of course he did! Did he have to prove the Resurrection or keep in it as a historical fact? No. Many times through Scripture, the Resurrection of Christ is seen as the deeply theological truth that because He rose again, we will too, which, by the way, was part of Paul’s previous religious community. Further, the Resurrection of Christ is cast into the light of the Church – we are the Body of Christ; we have a new life; we are a new creation; we have been raised to walk in the newness of life.
Step back for a moment. Take the Resurrection of Christ. Is it a historical event? Certainly. Does it tell us more than just the Son of God rising from the Dead? Sure it does, as I have previously explained. But is it a modern day, every present, event in which the Church partakes daily? Hourly? Individually? Corporately? It is indeed.
Did Creation happen historically? Of course, but is there more to it than that? Yes! Is creation on going? What of the Eighth day? If you consign biblical history to history, you faith is history. But, if you can glean daily, and live hourly these things afresh, then it is a living faith more valuable than any translation or interpretation.
What would be inconsistent with New Testament teaching is to only assume that historical events are purely as such.
Regarding whether or not Christ took the Genesis account as historical fact, I don’t think that it is fair to say that He did, as I have shown previously, as His use of Genesis 1 is limited to one verse in which He extols a great theological concept. The same with Moses, actually:
For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. (Exo 20:11 NLT)
Moses is saying the same thing which I state – God did it, but the reason that He did is more important.
Further, Wb quotes from Rick, who solidifies my point on this issue:
Kudos to those who can (inconsistently) hold to such views and maintain their faith in the historicity of the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and see this same essential belief as non-essential regarding the very creation of the world and the fall into sin. If the “meaning” is all that matters and not the “fact” or historicity of an event then why do they still hold to such concerning Jesus? Because this is considered essential to faith in the revelation given.
Arrogant much, Rick? It is this view point that concerns me – that people who believe in a literal, scientific Genesis One, belittles the faith of those who see it something much, much more. Instead of seeing that Christian liberty tends to allow a certain amount of things to be discussed, Rick has taken the step of calling into the question the validity of a person’s faith who sees the bible as something more than a historical record. Further, Rick seems to misunderstand ‘myth,’ but I suspect, that he could careless.
Creation is not a ‘foundational’ doctrine, Rick. As a matter of fact, no where in the Scriptures is the need to believe in Creation, the Fall, and human origins called a foundational doctrine. How presumptuous we are when we declared ‘foundational’ beliefs. Did Christ preach creation or human origins? Did Paul? Did Paul preach that one has to maintain a certain viewpoint on Genesis in order to be saved? No. What did Christ preach? Repentance of Sins. And and Paul? Christ and Him crucified.
What a disgusting viewpoint, Rick. I would suggest that Rick try a little humility.
Here is a little secret – when you look in Leviticus, and you look at the plan of the Tabernacle, and you find Christ, you have theologized it. When you look in Hosea 11 and find Christ, like Matthew did, you just theologized it. Are you assuming that it is a historical fact? I would assume you are. What is the most important part of Scripture? It is Christ and as the Living Word of God, He taught us how to look at the Text. Look at His examples.