I had really intended for this to be written the day after Part 1, but life happens, you know?
I want to clarify one thing before I dive the rest of the way into my topic for today. In Part 1, I spent a lot of time discussing what I thought were shortcomings in the ESV and why I have chosen a different translation. In no way do I think the ESV is a bad translation or that people who use it are bad people. I just think there are better options and there’s a certain sense of superiority I get from some (only some) of its users.
I mentioned we had been listening to a lot of CDs from a place called Vision Forum. These are well-produced audio dramas called Jonathan Park. The stories are all about a boy named (oddly enough) Jonathan Park, his family and the adventures they have defending a literal Creationist viewpoint. They really are pretty good, but sometimes I get a little irritated with them. Why?
Let me start by saying that I fully believe God created the world. I believe He spoke it into existence by the power of His will and nothing more. I believe He created all of the plants and animals. However, I am not sure that I am a strict adherent to the notion that it had to happen exactly as it says in Genesis. Did Creation take seven literal 24-hour days? I don’t know. Do I believe that it did? More or less. Do I think it matters that much? No, not really.
I have friends who would agree with the sentiment put forth in the Jonathan Park adventures: If we can’t take the first chapters of Genesis to be literally true, then how should we expect the Fall to also be literal truth? Consequently, if the Fall isn’t literally true, why did Jesus need to come to Earth? What did we need to be saved from?
It’s not my purpose in this post to debate the theological merits of those points. What I take issue with are the sentiments that you can’t be a Christian (or at least a good Christian) without believing in a literal interpretation of Genesis. And again, it’s not about the theological implications of this. It’s really just about the practical implications. And it’s where that Bible discussion from Part 1 comes in.
I want people to know Jesus. I want them to know about His amazing work of grace and redemption. I want them to know the feeling of belonging to the Body and know that no matter what they’ve done, no matter how far they may have strayed from the narrow way, they are welcomed back by a loving Father with open arms. I want people to be changed by a supernatural love and peace. I want to see people acting and living under the influence of the Holy Spirit. And when people throw up barriers like “you must use such-and-such version of the Bible” or “you must believe in a 7-day Creation” as prerequisites (or even co-requisites) for salvation, I get irritated.
I’m not advocating a free-for-all on every doctrinal issue. And I’m definitely not latching onto Jesus as being entirely about love and forgetting His role as judge. What I am saying is this: Let people come to Jesus as they are. Let them be daily transformed into the image of their Savior. If that means they show up at Bible Study with the New Living Translation, welcome them. If reading verses out of the NLT helps them to know God better, to follow Him more fully, I think that’s awesome. If they don’t worry about a literal interpretation of Genesis, it’s probably okay. All of us heretics like that might even go to Heaven anyways!
Maybe someday I will be convinced that my daily walk with God is impacted by a solid, unshakable belief in the literal truth of Genesis. For now, though, I will simply make it my goal to know Him, glorify Him and enjoy Him forever and try to lead others to the light.