Sunday School: Laying the Groundwork for Genesis (Pt.1)
Simplified Outline of Genesis
• The creation of the world and humanity (1–2)
• The beginning of sin (3)
• The new creation (9)
• God’s plan for blessing the world (12:1–3)
• How that plan begins with the family of Abraham (12–50).
Overview of the Pentateuch
• Primeval Era (Gen. 1–11) “The Bible begins by telling the story of how the world began, how humanity fell into sin, and how God began to address that sin. This story describes God’s creation of the world and all of life, the harmony that was in the world, the sin that destroyed that perfect harmony between God and his creation, the spiral of sin and violence, the judgment and salvation in the flood, the covenant that resulted, the common heritage of all people, the tower of Babel, and the family line to Abram.”
• Patriarchal Period (Gen. 12–50)
• From Egypt to Sinai (Exod. 1:1–Num. 10:10)
• From Sinai to Moab (Num. 10:11–Deut. 34:12)
The Primeval History of Genesis (1:1–11:26)
• In the Beginning (1:1–2:3)
• Adam and Eve (2:4–25)
• The Fall (3:1–24)
• Cain and Abel (4:1–26)
• From Adam to Noah (5:1–32)
• Wickedness in the World (6:1–8)
• Noah and the Flood (6:9–8:22)
• God’s Covenant With Noah (9:1–17)
• The Sons of Noah (9:18–29)
• The Table of Nations (10:1–32)
• The Tower of Babel (11:1–9)
• From Shem to Abram (11:10–26)
“Science and Scripture” (Karen Birkett)
“Christians should never allow Christianity to be tied to a secular system of thought. Aristotelianism was very attractive and convincing as an intellectual system, and it gave Christianity a great intellectual boost when the two were “reconciled”; but Aristotelianism was not Christian, and Christianity should never have been made to depend upon it.
The great Aristotelian synthesis left medieval Christianity irrevocably tied to an ultimately faulty philosophy. By the time the flaws in the philosophy were demonstrated, the upholders of the system supposed to be Christian were so steeped in Aristotelianism they were unable to cope with the changes. The result was that Christianity was discredited for something that has nothing to do with it . . . . . . . .Simply put, the conclusion is this: when we let our interpretation of what Scripture says be led by philosophies found outside the Scripture, we are not giving Scripture its due as an integrated and coherent—although not exhaustive—guide to understanding reality. For while it is true that God has given us tremendous gifts to enable us to think, to investigate, and to control the world, while it is a noble and worthwhile thing to pursue truth outside of Scriptures, yet that is the knowledge that is always contingent and open to uncertainty. Scripture is our solid foundation; other knowledge should be understood and interpreted in its light, not the other way around.
What does this mean in practice? It means that we will approach Scripture reverently, contextually, and with all the literary tools available to help us understand what the text is actually saying, however ill that may fit with preconceptions. There are many volumes written on how to read Scripture, and this is not the place to rehearse basic Bible-reading techniques. It is the place, however, to stress that a belief in the authority of Scripture may at times lead us to tension with whatever is the reigning extra-scriptural philosophy of the time. When that happens, we will hear other claims to knowledge gladly, and with full realization that God is capable of revealing truth through the gifts of intelligent observation and thought with which he blesses the human race, but with a healthy skepticism. Scripture sometimes says hard things, and our preconceptions—in any direction—can blind us to its truth. It takes study, and effort, and community perseverance in prayerful humility to read it accurately. For the purposes of this essay, the main message is: do not approach Scripture saying “but it can’t mean that”—whatever “that” might be. It can. It can mean whatever God has written it to mean. External philosophies, even ones as successful in explanatory power as modern science, do not have the final say. For a great many areas of knowledge, Scripture will say very little in terms of specifics. This appears to be the case with much of the detail of science.
It is no accident that the Protestant doctrines of God’s sovereignty and divine freedom were the background to the Scientific Revolution in the West: if God cannot be bound by our ideas, then we cannot assume anything about this creation, but must go out and investigate it to find out how it works. God gifts us and privileges us to be able to do so. The details are ours to discover; Scripture is not generally concerned with such things, and is not constrained by them.
Yet Scripture is very concerned with other aspects of reality that science needs. It is what grounds us in reality, in our knowledge that there is a real and good world to be investigated. It tells us of the rational and wise creator who made a world that is able to be understood and described intelligibly. It gives us reason to believe in a predictable world characterized by consistent rationality. Incidentally, it provides the moral foundation for cooperation and honesty on which the international scientific endeavor completely depends. Without the foundation of Christian Scripture, although much of the world has forgotten it, science makes very little sense, and becomes very difficult to do. Ultimately, science without Scripture is pointless; for only Scripture reveals the purpose for the universe that scientists study so avidly. It is here for the glory of Jesus Christ; and without that knowledge, science is ultimately an exercise in tedium, or at least frustration. For science’s sake, as much as Scripture’s, we must get them in the right order”.*
• Birkett, K. (2016). Science and Scripture. In D. A. Carson (Ed.), The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (p. 955). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.
• In The Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis (Henri Blocher)
• Controversy of the Ages: Why Christians Should Not Divide Over the Age of the Earth (Theodore Cabal, Peter Rasor II)
• The Genesis Debate (Duncan, Hall, Irons)
• Genesis 1-15 (Gordan Wenham)
• Lewis, Jack P. (1989) The Days of Creation: An Historical Survey of Interpretation (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society) https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/32/32-4/32-4-pp433-455_JETS.pdf
• ESV and NIV study notes.
• Darwin on Trial (Philip E. Johnson)
• Darwin’s Black Box: The Bio-Chemical Challenge to Evolution (Michael Behe)
• The Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (Stephen C. Meyer)
• Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Morland, et al)
Articles/books on Hermeneutics and Biblical Authority
• Birkett, K. (2016). Science and Scripture. In D. A. Carson (Ed.), The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (p. 955). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
• Waltke, B. K. (2016). Myth, History, and the Bible. In D. A. Carson (Ed.), The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (p. 576). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
• Carson, D. A. (1996). Exegetical fallacies (2nd ed., pp. 117–118). Carlisle, U.K.; Grand Rapids, MI: Paternoster; Baker Books.
• DeRouchie, J. S. (2017). How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology (p. 496). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
More in Sunday School: Laying the Groundwork for Genesis
August 30, 2020Sunday School: Laying the Groundwork for Genesis (Pt.2)