- In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
- After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, rendering them fit unto that life to God for which they were created; being made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change.
- Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which whilst they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.
The account of creation in this chapter.
If anything should be obvious, it is that this chapter assumes a very literal understanding of Genesis 1 and 2. Repeated and explicit reference is made to the events of those chapters in each paragraph in ways which make clear that the authors of the Confession understood them in the most literal and historical fashion. Whatever else, therefore, may be said about the many theories being propounded which are departing from such a reading of Genesis, they find no comfort at all in the Baptist Confession. Yet the fundamental issue is, of course, what does the Bible teach?
The Confession is again on this issue a safe and accurate guide to the meaning of Scripture. To state the matter succinctly, the only sound interpretation of the Bible is the one which understands it to teach that God did, indeed, make the world in a literal week of creation. Why is this the case? There are several reasons.
First of all, the idea that Genesis 1-11 is figurative must be addressed. There are parts of the Bible, of course, which are figurative. However, any unbiased literary analysis of Genesis 1-11 will convince the reader that it bears all the marks of historical narrative.
If we take Genesis 12 and following as historical narrative (and it would be a radical critical position to deny the historicity of Abraham), then it cannot be doubted that Genesis 1-11 is intended also to be understood as such. The genealogies of Genesis 10 and 11 conclude with the family background of Abraham. The genealogy of Genesis 11:10-32 is, furthermore, identical in structure to that found in Genesis 5. The genealogy of Genesis 5 begins, however, with Adam and Seth. Thus a seamless literary structure and genre ties Abraham to Adam. If Genesis 1-11 is a radically different literary genre than Genesis 12 onwards the transition from one to the other is, strangely enough, imperceptible.
Other arguments may be brought which show that this account is not to be taken figuratively.
- If Genesis 1-11 is a kind of literature not intended to be taken literally, one is baffled by the constant impression of plain historicity which these chapters give. For instance, the specific location of the Garden of Eden is described in detail (Gen. 2:8-17).
- Jehovah himself in no less a place than the Ten Commandments attributes significance precisely to the seven days of creation. The weekly day of Jewish worship, the Sabbath, is to be the seventh day because, says Jehovah, ‘in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy’ (Exodus 20:8-11).
- Another argument against taking the creation account figuratively is the frequent, literal use of the people and events of Genesis 1-11 in the New Testament. I list 22 passages in A Modern Exposition which assume that Genesis 1-11 is literal.
The fact is that one cannot neatly remove Genesis 1-11 from the biblical organism. It is not like removing scaffolding on a building after a paint job is finished. It is rather like wrenching the head from a living animal. The head may be gone, but all sorts of tendons, bones and dripping blood attest that it was not an optional part of the organism. Similarly, Genesis 1-11 cannot be wrenched from the Bible without leaving the organism of biblical authority oozing with proof of the violence of such an act. It cannot be wrung from the rest of the Bible without destroying both biblical authority and the gospel of Christ.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.