in the beginning, god

September 11, 2009

I suppose it would be possible to over emphasize the first few chapters of Genesis, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in North American Christianity. These few chapters are the foundation that a Christian way of seeing life and creation are built on, and I don’t think we look at them enough. They offer far more than a text to engage a creation vs. evolution debate. In fact, that’s not really their point at all.

Because of this, I was looking forward to digging into my review copy of In the Beginning, God: Creation, Culture, and the Spiritual Life, by Marva Dawn. At first glance, this appears to be a simple book — only 120 pages of short essays reflecting on the first three chapters of Genesis. But Marva Dawn has more to say in those 120 pages than some authors do in books that are twice as long. Easy essay is a thoughtful reflection on how Genesis 1-3 contribute to a greater Judeo-Christian understanding of the Scriptures and life.

I’ve already quoted the book a few times (here and here), but here are a couple more thoughts from the book that I’ve been sitting with:

  • She begins with a critique of how we tend to read Scripture as a self-improvement manual, rather than a revelation of the nature and character of God: “What would happen if instead we first asked such questions as these: ‘What is God doing in this text?’ or ‘What is God revealing about one or all of the Triune Persons in this passage?’ It might seem like a small matter, but it is actually an enormous shift in perspective. It is the move from self-improvement to adoration.” (p. 9)
  • “We can too naturally tend toward asking what the text says and means for our benefit instead of what it says about God, and how its purpose ultimately is to draw us into worship.” (p. 11)
  • “Since we were originally fashioned in the likeness of God, all our growth in faith will enable us to speak His truth, imitate His goodness, and reflect His beauty.” (p. 118)
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