While some of our brethren affirm their belief that the physical world came from a God-guided “Big Bang” several billion years ago, others maintaining faith in the literal interpretation of Genesis still ask what difference it makes if one teaches a God-guided “Big Bang”. They ask if we all believe God did it, does it matter how He did it? The same question has been asked by theistic evolutionists. If one grants that the how of creating the physical earth is unimportant, it’s equally unimportant as to how God created man, whether instantaneously from the dust of the earth or through previously existing animal life by means of billions of years of evolution. If the how isn’t important, we must conclude that it’s not important even if one teaches theistic evolution of both Earth and life.
Those brethren who seek to have us view a non-literal interpretation of Genesis as “no big deal” fail to see the grave danger it presents. They believe we “bite and devour one another” by refusing to accept teachers of a God-guided “Big Bang”. While I accept the sincerity of their view, I must respectfully point out the grave dangers found in compromising with and accepting into fellowship those who teach a non-literal view of creation. Let’s discuss four consequences of accepting such teachers of doctrinal error.
First, we accept those who undermine the foundation of biblical interpretation. Genesis is the book of beginnings. It introduces concepts and sets the stage for all further revelation much like the first chapter of a novel introduces and sets the stage for the plot. Genesis 1 and 2 was written as a literal narrative. When we allow for that literal narrative to be interpreted as a non-literal story, we establish a pattern that presumes narratives appearing to be literal should actually be interpreted as non-literal. With that presumption set in place, no other narrative account in Scripture is safe from non-literal interpretation.
The global flood of Noah, the confusion of languages at Babel, Israel’s crossing the Red Sea, Jonah being swallowed by a great fish, numerous accounts of miracles, the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus are all narrative accounts. Can we deny the global flood making it merely a “figurative”presentation of a regional flood? Can we say the confusion of languages at Babel was a “literary device” to explain a long process of languages diverging? What if we adopted a non-literal interpretation concluding that Jesus was not literally born of a virgin?
According to some brethren, one doesn’t directly sin by rejecting the creation account. Does he sin by rejecting these other literal truths? How far do we go? Which ones in the list above do we allow and tolerate? Or can we deny the reality of all without it making a difference? No, we can’t deny basic, literal truths of Scripture and still be accepted by God and faithful brethren.
Second, we commit sin through “lawlessness” as defined by Scripture (cp. 1 John 3:4). “Lawlessness” refers to action without or against God’s law. To pervert and twist the Word of God so as to deny the literal creation account is to speak without law and against law. It violates the divine mandate to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). God calls that sin, even though some brethren say no sin is involved. Jesus used the same word when He said, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). Thus, Jesus also called “lawlessness” sin. Do those urging tolerance for advocates of a non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2 agree with Jesus? If so, let them tell us how people can twist and pervert the law of God so as to deny the literal creation account clearly taught by that law.
Third, we deny the fundamental essential of biblical faith (cp. Hebrews 11:3). The means or instrumentality by which God worked in creation is His speech or Word — “He spake and it was done” (Psalm 33:9). The worlds were not framed by the “Big Bang” nor did the “Big Bang” cause them to be done. If we don’t believe that God framed the inanimate worlds by His Word, commanding it into existence, we don’t have faith as defined by inspiration. Can we receive a teacher of error who lacks biblically defined faith? Surely we recognize that we can’t.
Fourth, we destroy the basis upon which the new creation takes place. Second Corinthians 4:1-6 draws a parallel between the Genesis creation of the world and the new creation of those in Christ. Both are depicted as taking place by “the word of God”. According to God’s Word, the creation of light came at the point God commanded it into existence (Genesis 1:3). Likewise, the new creation in Christ occurs at the point God commands it to occur — at baptism (Romans 6:4-11, 18). If the original creation took vast ages beyond the point of God’s command, how could we logically conclude from the parallel of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 that the new creation happens instantaneously? If the creation took billions of years to complete, the parallel made would logically demand that the new creation in Christ does not occur at the moment of baptism as declared in the gospel.
What was the intended point of this parallel? It shows that God’s Word had power then and it has power now. It emphasizes that God’s Word accomplished the creation then and it accomplishes the new creation now. If one takes the power from the word of creation, he takes the power from the word of the gospel. If one takes away the power of God’s Word to cause creation, he takes away the power of the gospel to cause the new creation. God has given the inspired parallel. We dare not disregard it or receive those who do so.
In addition to the present consequences of receiving advocates of non-literal interpretations of the creation account, there will be a continuing effect in the future as a floodgate of error is opened.
Adapted from Harry Osborne