Many Christians are opposed to calling Genesis One an allegory or poetry. These Christians warn that this threatens to change the clear message of the Bible, watering it down, and thus compromising the Gospel. On the other side, other Christians are troubled by efforts that interpret Genesis too literally. Does not an over-literal reading of Genesis One conflict with modern science, creating an unnecessary obstacle for a non-believer in coming to know Christ? John Walton, an Old Testament scholar at Wheaton College, takes both of these concerns seriously, and he suggests a third alternative.
In the previous Veracity post about John Walton, you were introduced to Walton’s thesis that the first chapter of Genesis is an account of the functional order of the universe, NOT the material origins of the universe. It sounds a little odd, but some refer to John Walton’s perspective as an archetypal view of creation. Walton calls it a cosmic temple inauguration view.
Yeah, just go ahead and try to explain that to your grandmother…. or Joe Friday.
Okay, it does sound a little fancy and nerdy. But just exactly what is Dr. Walton driving at? Let us give Dr. Walton a little room here, shall we? Walton argues that the Genesis was written for us but not to us. It is as though we are reading someone else’s mail when we read Genesis. Walton contends that Bible students today need to understand Genesis from the perspective of those ancient Hebrews who first read the text. If we fail to do that, we risk distorting God’s Word.
Whoa. Do I have your attention now?
In the last Veracity post on this topic, we set out some of the primary points of John Walton’s thesis. But before doing a “deep-dive” it might be good to consider some of the objections critics have been making to his ideas. Then, as you look over Walton’s presentation, you can evaluate on your own whether he has made a good case or not. Even if you are not entirely convinced, you will be challenged to grow deeper in your faith and understanding of God’s Word.