February 06, 2014

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Is Genesis 1 An Argument Against Evolution? "If Genesis 1 isn't literal, the Gospel isn't literal either!" "If the earth isn't 6000 years, then we can't trust the Bible on anything!" These statements are a kind of rally cry for some Christians. Yet, it has also been the source, sadly, of much consternation for sincere, devout followers of Jesus who cannot accept a young earth or a literal six days. Convinced that they must either "take it or leave it", they walk away. Countless others, one might guess, have never even ventured to ask about Jesus, the cross, resurrection and redemption because they've been told they need to accept everything or nothing. In the wake of the recent "creation debate", I wonder if Christians have achieved much besides driving yet another artificial wedge between "faith" and "science", as if the two have not happily co-existed-- indeed fed each other!-- in past centuries. I have no interest in re-hashing or critiquing the debate, not only because I am not the person to do so, but also because I didn't watch it! My interest is a more modest question: How are we to read Genesis 1? Let's begin... ------------------------- The Cosmologies of the Ancient World The cosmology in Genesis does not stand alone but within the landscape of many ancient creation stories, each providing different answers to similar questions. No one was asking, "Did god create the heavens and the earth?" The question was, "Which god, and why?" It is in comparing the Genesis account against these other stories that one may discover the significance of the Genesis cosmology. And perhaps along the way, you'll also see why I don' think Genesis backs you into a corner having to make the false choice between creation/young earth and evolution/old earth. The Sumerians had no specific creation story text, though descriptions...
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Why An Ash Wednesday Service? "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." Psalm 103:13-14 (ESV) _________________________ You don't need to observe Ash Wednesday. This isn't a command. There is no rule for it. In fact, as far as Church traditions go, it is a fairly late development-- and by late I mean around the 8th century. But ashes have long been a symbolic part of YHWH worship. There were a sign of sorrow and mourning (2 Sam. 13:19, Is. 61:3, Jer. 6:26, Ez. 27:30). They were also an act of repentance and turning toward God's face. Daniel says that he "turned [his] face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes" (Dan. 9:3). Jesus uses ashes symbolically to speak of repentance (Matthew 11:21). As with all spiritual practices, the practices themselves are not the point; the practices point to Jesus. So, how does-- or, rather, how can-- Ash Wednesday, point us to Jesus? Let it be an act of humility. Make yourself low before the Lord Almighty, the One who formed us from the dust. Let it be a confession of mortality. The psalmist urges us to "number our days", to remember that we have limits, that we are finite, that we shall one day return to the dust (Ps. 90:3, 12). Kneel before the "Lord our God our Maker" (Ps. 95:6). Let it be a time to repent. We do not confess our sins to make God gracious; we confess because we have found that God is gracious. We turn away from self-reliance and self-destruction, and we turn toward the God whose nail-pierced hands are ever and always open to us. Repentance...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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