Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Sermon Addendum for April 16 2023 Genesis 1

 I'm going to bring back a blog feature that I was doing, oh, a decade ago...If you don't know it, most preachers and teachers of the Bible usually generate far more information than fits in the short time allotted to their presentation. For example, if I put in everything I found in a passage--background, connections to other parts of Scripture, inspiration thoughts--I would likely preach for more than an hour or two. 

Which, while I know most church folks will act like this is okay, it is not okay. The mind can only absorb what the other end can endure, and pews are far more comfortable if you lay out on them and nap than if you're sitting on them. Plus, there's long enough between breakfast and lunch.

Which means: let's put it here. This will still not be everything additional, but just a few thoughts that sit in the background.

First of all, this is creation narrative. And I've written about Genesis 1 more than once here on the blog, just look for the Genesis tag. It's important because it is the background on which the rest of the Scripture unfolds. Even Revelation: there is no part of the story of God working that does not unfold inside the world created in Genesis 1. 

That ought to spur us to care about what we see here.

Second is the idea that this is creation narrative given in a specific context. That context is what we tend to call the Ancient Near East (ANE) in the middle of the second millennium BC. The points of emphasis will answer questions that would be asked in that time frame. The information will be accessible to people in that era--the finer details that we can see with an electron microscope or the Hubble Telescope will not be addressed. 

So there is more present in the story about the work of God Almighty in contrast with the creation stories of other nations--especially Egypt!--than we might look for in our modern era. It's a bigger deal that God overcame chaos in creation, because in some ANE stories, chaos is part of the creating act. Not so in the Bible: Chaos is overcome in the; Wisdom (see Proverbs) is involved.

Third, we have to admit there are parts of our scientific understanding of reading God's general revelation (the remains of that which He has created) that are not mentioned nor easily subsumed into the account of creation in Genesis 1. This rolls back into the second point: context of the original audience.

What do we do with that?

Depends on how trustworthy you think the Almighty God of the universe is. There's trusting Him to say what He meant to say in the text, and there's thinking we should correct Him. I'd recommend the former.

Finally, note that this passage can be seen as somewhat poetic. It doesn't quite rhyme, but it's more of a narrative with some features of poetry. That affects how we should understand it to a certain extent, but does not mean we dismiss what is plainly stated.

And that's the Sermon Addendum for April 16 2023 :)

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