I got an email from a friend after that last post about creationism, telling me about a debate that he went to at a local university between a creationist, a free thinker and a professor. The professor really got him wondering about a few things:
Not for everything mind you but for a few things he really had me starting to think, hmmm, how did that happen then or well I know God created everything but maybe it wasn’t in 6 days or maybe it wasn’t 6,000 years ago. This is not to say that I stopped believing in God even for a minute but it made me wondering if I had really looked into this enough or really understood everything I should understand about creation vs. evolution. Without getting into any details right here and now I just wanted to tell you that your post on this Genesis 1 was very timely for me. Like I already mentioned, I needed to be reminded that I don’t interpret God’s Word based my external knowledge about given topics.
This is the reason I’m so anxious to guard this. This is a major doctrine of Scripture which is being torn down to meet the demands of a philosophy which hates God and Christianity. And it can be extremely seductive and deceptive.
I mentioned Bultmann in the comments of that previous post. I thought you might like to hear what I was talking about. Bultmann makes the argument that a great deal of Scripture is mythological in character, describing supernatural events and perspectives that we know now to be false. But Bultmann believes that he can save Christianity from the ravages of modern empiricism, by stripping it of all supernatural or mythological elements.
Here are some quotes from _Kerygma and Myth_, by Rudolf Bultmann:
The real purpose of myth is not to present an objective picture of the world as it is, but to express man’s understanding of himself in the world in which he lives. Myth should be interpreted not cosmologically, but anthropologically, or better still, existentially. (B, sec. 2)
Thus myth contains elements which demand its own criticism- namely, its imagery with its apparent claim to objective validity. The real purpose of myth is to speak of a transcendent power which controls the world and man, but that purpose is impeded and obscured by the terms in which it is expressed.(B, sec 2)
That is to say, the text’s message will be enhanced and improved by removing the mythological elements (that is, anything supernatural or miraculous, anything which does not fit our naturalistic understaning) so that the meaning behind them can be more fully seen. In other words, the text should be interpreted religiously, not scientifically, according to Bultmann.
The quotes above fit perfectly with this “religious framework” interpretation of Genesis 1. But Bultmann wasn’t talking about Genesis 1. He’s talking about Christ.
We are compelled to ask whether all this mythological language [about the virgin birth, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection] is not simply an attempt to express the meaning of the historical figure of Jesus and the events of his life; in other words, significance of these as a figure and event of salvation. If that be so, we can dispense with the objective form in which they are cast. (Ch. 2, B, Sec. 2(a))
So, with precisely the same argument as those attacking the six-day reading of Genesis 1, Bultmann is arguing that the “kerygma”, that is, the message or “religious truth” of Christ can be preserved while the “objective form” (that is, all the actual events of his life) can be “dispense[d] with”. And in fact, by doing so we will enhance the message of Christ, rather than lose it.
So here’s the million-dollar question for Rusty, Joe, and any others who want to defend a non-literal reading of Genesis 1- Why is the above line of thinking valid for Genesis 1, but not valid for the Gospels? On what basis can we say that the historical account of creation can be dispensed with, but not the historical account of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection?