Not long ago I asked people on Facebook what books I should review, so here’s the first one in that list “The Lost World of Genesis One.” Before I dive into it, I just want to remind any readers that this isn’t a traditional book review, I’m more spitting ideas and thoughts out as I reflect on the book. Anyway, here we go.
For as long as I’ve been a Christian at least, being a legitimate Christian meant a few things 1. It meant that you are saved by the blood of Jesus 2. It meant that you go to church and pray 3. It meant that you took the Bible seriously, literally, and unquestionably. For someone like me who came out of a worldview that was vague and largely based on “what you felt was right,” this came as a breath of fresh air. Finally, I had rules and expectations to fall on to and for a while I loved it, it felt safe, and I just followed pretty confidently anyone who taught me the Scriptures. But as I grew in my faith, as I went to Bible college and into ministry, I started to realise a lot of this stuff wasn’t so black and white especially when it comes to how one interprets the Scriptures…
There are so many different understandings on different things when it comes to the Scriptures. The Atonement, the gifts of the Spirit, the last days, and even Genesis 1 and creation. As I see it there is somewhat of a spectrum when it comes to where Christians land on the creation issue. On one end of the spectrum, you have Young Earth Creationists that take the creation account in Genesis 1 literally. They believe that God created the heavens and the earth in seven literal twenty-four hour days and that the age of the earth can be traced back (through genealogies and scientific method) to be about only ten thousand years old. On the other end of the spectrum, however, you have Theistic evolutionists. They believe that the creation account doesn’t serve to give us a literal account of how God created the universe, rather, God used the evolutionary process over potentially billions of years to create the cosmos.
John H. Walton’s book “The Lost World of Genesis One” speaks into the Genesis 1 debate and clears up a lot of the messiness that so often clouds this issue. Walton digs deep into the ancient near eastern context, using great exegesis, and suggesting that Genesis 1 isn’t about whether or not God literally created the world in seven literal days or how old the earth is, rather, it is about God Himself, and how everything that He created functions (including humanity) in relation to Him. He argues this by giving us 18 propositions (though I think he could have argued his point in less).
Personally, I found his book overall to be a breath of fresh air. For me, the age of the earth debate is one of the biggest wastes of time that the Church has ever been involved in. There are legitimate Christians on the entire spectrum. A lot of trees have had to die over something the Bible doesn’t really emphasise, but I think it is fairly typical of us to get caught up in something that’s not that important (trust me I understand for some people it is). I don’t think Genesis 1 cares about young earth or evolution, I think Genesis 1, 2 and 3 serve to set up the entire biblical narrative that ultimately culminates in Jesus’ first and second coming. I recommend anyone from any place on that spectrum to read it and be challenged by what Walton has to say and then maybe, just maybe, we can start to work towards putting to rest some of the messiness surrounding these discussions and start talking and doing the more important things like actually preaching the Good News (which of course is found in Genesis 1-3 if taught properly).