Monday, May 17, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon given recently by the Rev. Curt Young at Presbyterian Church of the Atonement in Silver Spring.

It’s good to wrestle with the meaning of Scripture. That’s why God gives us revelation, so we grapple with it until it subdues us.

Convictions hard won are best remembered. Their impact on our lives is greatest.

In recent years, Genesis 1 has been the scene of tremendous struggle, only not so much a struggle with the text as a struggle over the text, sparked by widespread acceptance of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

If you are going to accept as an explanation for origins, that living things evolved from one another, the complex from the simple by random mutations and natural selection … the survival of the fittest, that’s going to require time.

By time, I mean lots of time, in fact hundreds of millions of years, enough time to appease the protest of human reason that the natural order of things is to move from states of greater complexity to lesser complexity, from greater order to disorder, rather than vice versa. Ah, the argument goes, but given enough time and random opportunity, even the least possible thing becomes possible.

Genesis 1 is at the center of a struggle because it reveals that God created the world, as our catechism puts it, “in the space of six days, and all very good.” Further, Genesis presents God’s work of creation in terms of entire classes of living things — plant life on land, all creatures of the sea, all creatures of the air and finally all creatures on the land.

This is no portrait of aquatic creatures becoming amphibious creatures becoming land creatures becoming sky creatures.

In evolutionary theory, it isn’t just the truth of the Bible that is denied but the God of the Bible. Our shorter catechism asks, “How does God execute His decrees?” The answer is, “God executes His decrees in the works of creation and providence.” These works are distinct. The work of creation speaks of the immediate direct intervention of God to create the world, a one-time series of acts to which only God was witness. His work of providence is His ongoing ruling over all His creatures and all their actions. To deny His work of creation is to deny the God of the Bible.

Still, many in the church have thrown in the towel and dismiss Genesis 1 as a myth. The problem is, if Genesis 1 is a myth, what about Genesis 2 (Adam), Genesis 3 (the fall), Genesis 6 (the flood) or Genesis 10 (Babel)?

Many others in the church have done their best to defend the Bible, but disagreed with each other in the process. …

The good news in recent years is that many leaders in both camps are making an effort to unite to challenge the naturalist claims, to take the offensive rather be on the defensive. …

God created the world for man not only to experience His goodness but to experience Him, not only to offer our labor but to offer thanks and praise to God for all He has done for us.

Even as God ceased creating because what He had made was very good, so that He enjoyed the expression of His goodness, we who follow Him are called to cease our labors after his pattern, one in seven.

Creation is about salvation no less than the Cross. No wonder John was constrained to proclaim Christ in the midst of it all. God’s agent in our redemption was His agent in our creation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. … All things were made through Him.” Creation is all about our worship and knowing God in the midst of His blessing. This is the overall theme of Genesis 1 supported throughout the Bible. It is the message we must never fail to proclaim and defend.

In the beginning, before God began speaking blessings to the earth, it was utterly desolate.

Look through the great telescopes and see it confirmed countless times, that we should be awestruck, not only with what is out there, but what we have been given here and enjoy every day.

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