How could God have created the world in 6 days when geological data shows the earth is over four billion years old?
How does the Bible’s description of human creation align with scientific evidence supporting evolution?
If Adam and Eve were the first couple, where did their son Cain’s wife come from?
These are the kinds of questions that come up today when Bible-believing Christians read the story of creation in the opening chapters of Genesis. The various answers are often fuel for furious and acrimonious debate that has led to an artificial division between faith and science. While these questions may be important in our progressive world, our pre-occupation with them has meant we’ve actually missed the main point of the story.
The problem lies in the questions themselves. Genesis was written at a time when people were not asking the same kind of questions we’re asking today. Theirs was a world where science hadn’t even been invented – when there was no such thing as the “scientific method”. Understandings about the world was simple – the earth was a flat disc separating the waters below and the waters above. All of it originated at some point of time with the gods.
In the Genesis story of creation, God didn’t bother taking time to correct readers’ cosmology and explain that water isn’t held up by a dome with windows that allow the rain to fall through. Genesis 1-3 is not a scientific account given to explain how the world was created. Far more important issues were at stake. Genesis was written to show us who we are, why we’re here and what we’re supposed to do. The answers it gives have framed the foundation of Christianity and have become the bedrock of Western civilisation.
Learn how to hear God’s voice in the comfort of your own home! Our 6-week teaching series: How to Hear God’s Voice has been taught in seminars and small groups all over the world. And now, we’re so excited to launch our popular online course in German!
This will be the first of our courses in a foreign language and we’re offering a 20% discount this month only.
Of course it’s also available in English too. Wunderbar!
You will learn:
- What God’s voice sounds like
- God’s nature as a communicator and his desire for two-way conversation
- How to recognise God’s voice among others
The course includes:
- 8 high-quality video presentations
- Downloadable study guides
- Interaction through discussion boards
- Access to teaching resources on hearing God’s voice
- Bonus! On completion, free MP3 download: “How to Recognise a God-Dream”
Cost: 59AUD, 65NZD, 49USD, 35GBP, 39EUR, 44CHF
Register for the course and forward your confirmation email to moc.snoitasrevnocdognull@sesruoc to receive a 20% refund, THIS MONTH ONLY (ends April 30)
All videos and study guides in German, with a small proportion of instructions in English.
Guest Post by Ali Kennedy
I’ll never forget the first time someone laid their hands on me and prayed. Though I had grown up in the church among many wonderful Christians, it really wasn’t a common practice to pray with others. Rather, “prayer requests” were the custom, voiced aloud during a Sunday service with the understanding that people would go and pray in the privacy of their own home. I have memories of heading out the door of the church and hearing people say, “You’ll be in my prayers this week Ali!”
I have no doubt that many of those promises to pray from a distance were genuine and effective, for God hears all our prayers. But there was something different about the moment when my friend laid hands on me and I actually heard the words she prayed – out loud – over me:
“The vision I am seeing, Ali, is fabric. It is the most beautiful design I can imagine. It’s made from the most exquisite materials – the brightest colors, the softest silk, the finest fibers, gold. I can’t see the beginning or the end of it; I just see part of a larger piece of work, a larger design. It’s the way the Lord created you and how He sees you. It looks like it should be handled with care, but it’s a lot tougher than it looks. Versatile. Able to be used for many different purposes. And there’s only one in the world like it. Let me say it again: the fabric is you.”
Magnums are one of my all-time favourite ice-creams. I love the smooth Belgian chocolate and the rich ice-cream inside. But some years ago, Magnum launched a new marketing campaign, labelling each of their ice-creams with one of the seven deadly sins. There were names like “sloth” (caramel swirl ice cream and chocolate),“revenge” (raspberry ripple ice cream and dark chocolate) and “greed” (tiramisu, amaretti and chocolate). My favourite (champagne ice-cream and white chocolate) was ‘vanity’. It never felt as good after that.
Why is it that something as good as a Magnum ice-cream is associated with sin? Why is it that pleasure is often associated with evil? This is the topic of this week’s podcast: The Theology of Chocolate – how our twisted ideas turned God into a killjoy. (NB. Some of you are thinking this is an overzealous rant designed to justify a chocolate binge at Easter, and you may be right).
Magnum’s marketing campaign reinforces the idea that eating something enjoyable is sinful and therefore eating something tasteless is not. Or in other words, if you follow God’s ways and do the ‘right’ thing, you’re not going to enjoy life as much.
Where does this idea come from?
Is Pleasure Sinful?
The idea can be traced back to a system of thinking called Gnosticism that flourished in the early centuries after Christ. The Gnostics believed that earthly pleasure was the antithesis of heavenly good. The spirit was good and the flesh was bad. So, if you wanted to be spiritual, you should deny the physical. Spirituality was associated with pain and abstinence. If it was pleasurable, it was evil.
A woman has a vision of a man she’s about to date and goes on to marry. A man has a dream of a hand reaching into his heart and wakes up free from the symptoms of the abuse he suffered as a child. Another woman has a recurring vision of an unknown tribe from China who she is invited to work amongst shortly after. There’s scenes of the future, insights into the past and understanding of the present. In all of these experiences, God is understood to be speaking to bring healing, reconciliation and empowerment to his people.
Researching People’s Experiences of Hearing God’s Voice
During the course of my three years of doctoral research, I’ve listened to over 70 people from 3 different churches share about their experiences hearing God’s voice. My focus has been on experiences that involve new or previously unknown information and are predictive or directive in some way. Often this part of the process can be tedious for researchers as it involves time-consuming recording, transcribing and coding of data, but not in my project. The stories are ‘out there’. They result in life-changing decisions, audacious acts of courage and endeavours that break people out of their comfort zone and lead them to do things they wouldn’t normally do. The results are often miraculous. They echo the heart of Jesus when he promised us his Spirit would continue the work he started here on earth 2000 years ago (John 14:16-18).