Having dealt with the two main attacks upon the doctrine of the creation of man, viz. evolution and theistic evolution or progressive creationism, we now proceed to demonstrate that the Bible teaches that God created man.
GENESIS, A TEACHING MODEL?
We take the Scripture seriously. When the Bible speaks concerning the origin of man, it does so with divine authority. The Genesis account is historical, it describes what God did in bringing forth the first man and woman. We insist that this is an apriori of faith for which we make no apologies. Unless we are willing to take this position, we will be influenced and swallowed up by the tide of Scientism, Historical-critical Hermeneutics, and Word-Revelations that are sweeping over the church world today. This tide brings one inevitably to the position of Dr. H. M. Kuitert in his book, Do You Understand What You Read?
It has become impossible in our time, in the light of all sorts of scientific data (we shall not talk about theory here) to insist on what we called the literal-historical interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis. Whatever these chapters of the Bible intend to tell us (and we said something about that in previous chapters) they do not intend to teach us that the world is about 6,000 years old, and that in this young and complete world an original, human, created couple lived alone in the Garden of Eden. It might be possible for Orthodox Protestantism to abandon this concept, because among other reasons it is in conflict with the data that we come to know through normal, legitimate methods. That is to say, even as faith does not ask us ever to call white black, faith does not demand that we dig in our heels, and contrary to ail scientific evidence, insist that the original human couple of Genesis is a literal and historical pair of people. (page 101)
We might ask, what good is God’s revelation in Genesis? He adds,
If we say, for example, that the first chapters of Genesis are not meant to provide us with scientific information about the origin of man and his world, we certainly do not mean that those chapters could be sliced away from the Bible. They form a chapter in the God-given message of the Bible that we never could do without. They proclaim that Israel’s God is the creator of heaven and earth—and they keep doing that even as we understand them to be teaching models rather than stories of actual history. (page 103)
Our approach to the Scriptural account is the very opposite of Kuitert’s. The Belgic Confession cannot be harmonized with Kuitert’s view nor Kuitert’s view with the historic Reformed position. Article 14 of the Belgic Confession expresses the fact that God created Adam and Eve and that they lived in the Garden of Eden in perfection. Later the devil came and tempted them to sin and the act of disobedience brought upon them and all man-kind a horrible depravity by which he is incapable of performing that which is truly good.
The Genesis record is a historical account of the work God did in creating all things, man included. The creation of man was not a continuation of the animals, as evolution would teach, but a separate divine act. Of the animals we read, “Let the sea bring forth abundantly the moving creatures . . . let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind,” Gen. 1:20-25. As a distinctive creative act God brought forth man, for He said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them,” Gen. 1:26, 27. To this is added, “And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul,” Gen. 2:7. Of the creation of Eve we read, “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man,” Gen. 2:21, 22. This is an inspired account of both the fact and the manner whereby God created Adam and Eve. Because we believe in the authority of the Word of God, we believe this to be true.
THE SOVEREIGN CREATOR
There is a close connection between creation and sovereignty. God Creator has the right to determine and control the lives he has brought into existence. This is true for all of time and even unto all eternity. God Himself expresses thus in Isaiah, “Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me. I have made the earth and created man upon it: I, even my hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded,” Is. 45:11, 12. This is mentioned in connection with the role Cyrus would play in the release of the captives in the future. Because God made man, He uses all men for His purpose. That central purpose is the salvation of His church unto the glory of His name. Thus Jehovah said earlier, “Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up: and to the south, Keep not back, bring my sons from far and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him: yea, I have made him,” Is. 43:5-7. The sovereign Creator is able to work all things for the salvation of His people.
THE CREATURE’S RESPONSE
As children of God, we do not deny God’s having created man, but gladly acknowledge this. This was the attitude of the inspired writers who reflected upon this great wonder. In exhorting Israel, Moses reflected upon the significance of God having spoken to them from the Holy Mount. He declared to Israel, “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such things as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou. hast heard, and live?” Deut. 4:32, 33. Moses believed that God created man and that this was the original great wonder which became a point of reference to put into focus the present wonder of God speaking from the mountain.
In pleading with Job to hearken to his words, Elihu reasoned, “My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly. The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up. Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay,” Job 33:4-6. Recognizing his origin, Elihu was both humble and bold: humble because he was fashioned out of the clay, bold because the Almighty God gave him his life.
Paul was bold to preach the God of creation upon Mars Hill when he declared, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,”Acts 17:24-26. He didn’t argue with the historicity of creation: it formed an integral part of the message, God’s greatness in creation demands recognition by the creature. Thus Paul also declared to the church at Corinth, “And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul: the last Adam was made a quickening spirit,” I Cor. 15:45. If we question the existence of the first Adam, we call into question the existence of the last Adam.
Our divine origin influences our life. In the Old Testament, Solomon wrote the beautiful words, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them,” Eccl. 12:1. The humble response of every child of God to his divine origin is that we gladly give God the glory for our whole life. We exist not for ourselves, but to praise our God. Those who deny the creation of man become proud and show this by exalting man’s word above God’s own testimony. Then everything goes wrong. For us, our creation influences our Christian conduct. Because man was created before woman, something all of evolution rejects, Paul tells us that man is the head of the woman, I Cor. 11:9, 12, Similarly, in I Tim. 1:13-15, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
All of this teaches us that the truth of God given in the Bible is one whole. We speak of God’s revelation as being organic, that it is a living whole, each part directly related to every other part.
If we deny one part of that divine revelation, we distort and confuse the whole. Unbelievers deliberately do this; they delight in changing the “Word of God to satisfy the evil intent of their depraved nature. Today we see this happening about us on every side. Those who are so proud that they rather trust the theories and seeming invincible proofs of radioactivity, archeology, and science are quick to discard the Word of God as a “teaching model” wholly unreliable for telling us where we came from or whither we are going. This leads them to deny creation and claim that they still believe in the creator-God. However, if we deny God, and those who deny creation deny God the Creator, we loose the pivotal center of all truth. This explains the confusion in the church world today. When man drifts from the Word of God and denies creation, he denies God’s sovereignty over all life, he denies that God has the right to determine the future destiny of all man-kind as well as controlling history for His own purpose. He denies that the only hope for fallen man is to be reconciled to God by the death of His Son; rather he speaks about a Jesus who is a good man, who can give everyone a new lease on life. A confused church loses her calling to preach the Word, finding herself on the bandwagon of social action. When man is substituted for God, his end is near, for the height of such presumption is for him to stand in the temple and claim that he is God, II Thess. 2:4. Then his measure of iniquity will be full.
Our Reformed confession is based upon the clear teaching of the Word of God. The inspired writers gratefully acknowledged that God was the Creator of man and as such calls us to acknowledge this and praise His name for it.
In response to this calling, we maintain the Belgic Confession as a beautiful statement of faith and join the church of all ages in saying, “That God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image,” Article 14.