Man's survival capabilities are now being weighed in the balance. Many heads of state, scientists, futurists, ecologists and others of the intelligentsia have already found them wanting. Twentieth-century man is in a state of shipwreck and the prospects for viable lifeboats are very few indeed.. But are we seeking answers in the wrong places? Is there a long-forgotten formula. found in an ancient collection of documents that would assure human survival? Are we trying to operate the machine without the manual?
Recent surveys have shown that at least 95 percent of the American people claim they believe in God. Similar polls in other Western nations yield somewhat lower percentages in the sixties, seventies and eighties. Still, the vast majority of mankind in the Western world does appear to believe in some kind of God. To some He is only a First Cause who wound things up like a clock and then left the whole universe to tick away its eons without intervention. But by whatever method this God started the whole process in the first place, does it make sense to us as rational beings that He would have left mankind without any basic instruction book?
A Prospective Manual?
There is no shortage of "holy books" with supposed messages from heaven. However, it would be only logical to begin our studies with the Book upon which the dominant religion in the Western world is based. Despite the fact that the Christian Bible is a consistent best-seller, it is not a document that world statesmen and politicians habitually consult as a handy problem-solving manual. Usually it occupies the traditional spot on the family bookshelf and is superficially revered — but virtually untouched. Few would dispute the rather sharp decline of biblical influence in our daily lives. Our secular education has generally precluded any serious study of the Scriptures. Religion is hardly front-page news today, and the counsel of its leaders little valued. Even unskilled manual laborers earn higher wages than the average clergyman. A big barrier to widespread acceptance of biblical teachings is the very beginning of the Book itself. Chapter one, verse one of Genesis simply states: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." But those polled did not even rank creation among the top five theories advanced to explain the origin of the universe. The Christian evangelist has no small problem on his hands. Convincing the world that Christianity is really, after all, a religion of revelation is no easy task. The world's secular viewpoint has already prejudiced most against the theologian's case. And of course the advocates of the Christian religion have not presented a united front to the world. There is not even any universal agreement on what the Christian Bible actually teaches. So where do we begin in sorting out the problem of revelation? Where do we find the most agreement? Upon what person is the whole Christian religion built? Even those who believe much of the Bible to be myth still acknowledge that God has manifested Himself in a unique manner through the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is He who is the author and the founder of the true Christian religion. His view of the Bible must be considered as decisive. We cannot lightly lay aside His statements about creation.
Jesus and Creation
Was Jesus a *creationist or a believer in evolution? For the answer, notice His description of world conditions at the end of this age. "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be" (Matt. 24:21, RSV). Mark's Gospel puts it this way: "For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be" (Mark 13:19). Consider too Jesus' own personal letter to the Laodicean Church in the 90's A.D. Notice how He describes Himself: "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation'" (Rev. 3:14). Other New Testament scriptures make it plain that Christ is the originator and source of all God's creation. Paul described Jesus as "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him" (Col. 1:15-16). So if we accept the New Testament record as authoritative, we can come to no other conclusion than that Jesus literally believed chapter one, verse one of the book of Genesis, i.e., the simple statement that "in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
*The term "creationist" as used here refers to belief in the literal interpretation of Genesis 1:1.