“How is the Gospel affected by an incorrect interpretation of the first three chapters of Genesis?”
Many in the church claim that it doesn’t matter if Genesis is historical or poetical. They claim that “all that matters is that Jesus rose from the dead and we should just focus on that.” I agree that the resurrection is vitally important; however, it is important because of the greater context of the Redemptive story that gives the resurrection its fullest meaning. The gospel is wrapped up in the story of God’s Creation, Humanity’s fall, God promising redemption, building a nation, and fulfilling his promise in the person of Jesus. If we distort the first 3 chapters of Genesis, then the rest of God’s message can be distorted.
Yes, you can be saved even if you do not accept a literal interpretation on Genesis. We most assuredly are saved by Grace alone in Christ alone by faith alone. With that said, saying Genesis is merely "poetic and contains spiritual, but not historical truths" leads to logical inconsistencies and stumbling blocks to faith. The American Church must come to terms with the fact that when we re-interpret the first 3 chapters of Genesis, we end up taking a sledgehammer to the foundation of our faith.
This compromise leads us to these logical conclusions:
· If it should not be accepted as real history, then Jesus was lying when he said “have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female” in Matthew 19:4.
· If Jesus was lying about when humans came into the world (i.e. was there millions of years before humans or were they created at the beginning?), then Jesus is a sinner and is not worthy to be a perfect sacrifice for us.
· If we allow for millions of years of death before Adam and Eve, then we must interpret scripture to say that God is calling death “good” before sin entered into the world. (Genesis 1:1-31, Genesis 3)
· If sin can be called “good”, then God calls pain and suffering “good.” If God calls death good, then why should we trust him when he tells us not to murder in Exodus 20:13? If God is telling us not to murder other people, the implication is that he values preserving and protecting life. However, it would seem inconsistent with God wanting to protect innocent life if millions of years of death is what he actually called “good.”
· If death is to be considered good BEFORE the fall of Adam and Eve, then Romans 5:12 is not telling us the truth when it says “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
· If death is not the result of sin entering into the world, it doesn’t make any sense why Jesus died a physical death on the cross for our sins as 1 Peter 3:18 says. Also, Romans 6:23 say that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Additionally, Scripture affirms the importance of our foundations:
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3
“If I told you earthly things, and you do not believe, how will you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” Jesus in John 3:12
“If you did not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will you be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” Jesus in Luke 16:30
Therefore, we must defend Genesis as literal history because it is foundational to the Christian faith.