Statement of Faith: Article 2 (The Bible)
Article 2: The Bible
We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.
How often do you sit down to read a book? I would guess that many of us feel that there are more pressing things on our calendars and agendas than taking time to read. We balance work and home, responsibilities and hobbies, rest and recreation. These things take up our time. And when we do manage to carve out time to read, we often find ourselves distracted by a hundred different things. We are drawn to the notifications on our phone or we allow our minds to wander, thinking of the demands of tomorrow or remembering something that we forgot to do yesterday. But integral to our faith in Jesus is a book. It is a unique book, but it is still a book; and it’s a book that we must give our attention to.
The other day, my oldest daughter woke up early and came downstairs to find me reading the Bible. She noticed that I was reading in the beginning of Genesis, about how God created the world. She seemed confused and asked, “Why are you reading that? You already know that story!” In a sense, she’s right. I’ve read the opening chapters of Genesis many times. But the amazing thing about the Bible is that it is a living and active book (Hebrews 4:12). It can do work in our hearts the first time we read it, or the thousandth time we read it. I explained to my daughter that even if we read a story in the Bible a hundred times, the next time we read it we can still learn something amazing about God and about ourselves.
Growing up, I always viewed the creation account at the beginning of Genesis through purely historical and scientific lenses. It was a text to be used to prove the existence of God over and against the materialistic approaches of naturalism and evolutionary theory. This approach to reading the creation account isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is inadequate. The creation account is designed to give us a theological explanation of the origins of the world, including ourselves. And it is an account that should inspire us to worship the Creator.
I recently had the opportunity to teach Old Testament themes to a small group of young adults at a gap program in Tioga county. As I was teaching these students, I emphasized that the Bible is a unified book with common themes woven throughout. Those themes are like threads in a beautiful and colorful tapestry. Leland Ryken points out the value of seeing these themes when he writes, “The Bible is a large and complex work. It need not be an intimidating book, however, if we can catch a glimpse of its overall unity.”
The theme, or thread, of the creation account is woven throughout the story and pages of the Bible. It appears in Genesis, of course, but it also appears in hundreds of other places. It is a theme that reverberates throughout the poetry of the Psalms. It is prevalent in the writings of the prophets, especially in Isaiah as he looks ahead to a new heavens and a new earth when all will be made right. In the making of the tabernacle in Exodus and the building of the Temple in Kings, we see echoes of the Garden of Eden, part of the original creation where people could live with God. We see allusions to creation in the New Testament in the teachings of Jesus (Matthew 6:26) and in the writings of John (Jn 1:3), Paul (Colossians 1:16), and James (Js 3:9).
When I read the creation story at the beginning of Genesis again, even for the hundredth time, it reignites my passion to worship the Creator. It also helps me to make sense of the rest of the Bible and the world around me. It is a world that, as theologian N.T. Wright puts it, “is designed to be flooded with God’s glory.” When my daughter asks why I read the stories in the Bible again and again, I can tell her, “It is because each time I read them, I can see them anew again.” It really is a book worth paying attention to because God speaks to us throughout its pages. Let’s listen.