Posts Tagged ‘Core of Christian belief’

After Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit (of the knowledge of good and evil) their eyes were opened, just as the serpent had promised. However instead of making them more like God they became less like him. In this post I will seek to answer the question: Why was it such a profound thing for Adam and Eve to realise they were naked?

So to recap, in Genesis 2 God created Eve and united her and Adam together because “It is not good from man to be alone…”(Genesis 2:18, ESV). Eve was created from the flesh of Adam making her a suitable to be his helper. After Adam saw her he was overjoyed, because he had finally found what he was looking for in all creation (a human helper). Therefore their flesh was the symbol of their union. This is why Genesis 2:25 is so important, stating that that Adam and Eve were both naked and neither of them was ashamed of their flesh, because they had a perfect working union.

Therefore it becomes clear why it is such an important and profound thing to say that Adam and Eve were so ashamed of their naked bodies and that they wanted to cover them. No longer does their flesh symbolise perfect unity, instead it has come to symbolise their treachery, shame and broken unity. The term flesh has so much negativity associated with it in the Bible after Genesis 2 that in Paul’s letter to the Romans he uses the term flesh to represent everything that is wrong with humanity (e.g. Romans 8). This is the flesh that Adam received from God (who judged it as good), the same flesh Eve received from Adam (he loved her at first sight because of it). So in the end their flesh and the clothing they use to cover it became a symbol of the broken union of Adam (humanity).

The accusations of Adam
The fractured union of Adam and Eve (and creation) is further highlighted when God confronts Adam with his transgression. Immediately he blames both God and Eve for what happened, “The woman whom you gave to be with me…” (Genesis 3:12). The pride of Adam is on full display here, before he was content to hide from God, now he boldly accuses God of giving him a helper that is not only unsuitable but outright evil (to his face).

In light of Genesis 1-2 there are three important implications of Adam’s accusations:
• The unity between God and man is broken. Adam accuses God of evil, of giving him a helper that is not just unsuitable but capable of insurrection
• The unity of mankind is broken. In Adam’s own words Eve’s flesh is his flesh and her bone is his bone, she was made from his flesh. The basis of their union was Adam’s flesh, for him to claim that Eve was inadequate is to completely deny their union and in the process he implies that he is defective. Such is the profound connection between members; to hate another is to hate yourself.
• The first husband turns against his wife. The union of mankind is broken, along with any hope for future unity. Adam is Eve’s husband, their marriage was designed to unify humanity and provide a relational mechanism by which humanity is to perpetuate and strengthen the union of Adam’s flesh.

Therefore it becomes clear Adam and Eve no longer seek to maintain and perpetuate the unity of Adam’s flesh in marriage, but rather out of self-interest they maintain and perpetuate a state of bastardised unity. Losing this union of family and species is a significant part of the image of God which humanity lost in the fall. Where there was once unity there is now disunity, individuals sharing in Adam’s flesh and not acting in accordance with the order of marriage God had given (Eve leading and Adam following).

So what has actually changed?
While remnants of their union remained, they still shared in Adam’s flesh and were still married, however their union was broken. At this point the union of man reveals itself to be more than just flesh (form) and marriage (order). What does seem to have changed is their attitude to both. They no longer view each others bodies and the order of their marriage as good things. Therefore unity must be seen as more than just form and order, it also includes some sort of attitude.

So what is this attitude? While it is not overtly stated in the passage, it can be inferred from the events in Genesis 1-3 with the following observations:
• When Adam saw Eve for the first time it was love at first sight because she shared his flesh. He was over joyed to see her (a positive attitude)
• When they realised they were naked they were ashamed of it (their flesh). This is at least dislike or at most hate (negative attitude)
• When God confronts Adam about his sin he shifts blame to Eve (pushes her under the bus). Adam reveals his attitude to Eve is at least apathy or at most hatred coupled with an instinct of self-preservation/interest.

Therefore what seems to be missing from their relationship is self-sacrificial love (the love of God). This will be discussed more in my next post.

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This post is essentially a restatement of what is in the summary posts. This is merely to demonstrate the logic of Genesis 1-2.

As previously stated, before the beginning God was one, then God created the universe to be one in him. God did not create the universe to exist separate from himself. Rather it was created to be in union (relationship) with God. There are three important contextual points already mentioned that need to be discussed here to help understand how all things are united in God, these are:
• God created all things
• God judged individual parts of creation to be “good” and the sum of the parts to be “very good”,
• “Good” means to be like God and “very good” refers to being more like God (united, many and one), and

God created all things; he was created by no one, meaning that he has unquestionable authority to pass judgement on all things (creation). At the end of the first five days of creation God judged each new part plus the previous parts to be “good” and at the end of the sixth day he beholds the entire order of creation and declares it to be “very good”. To understand what “good” means is to understand who God is. When God judges creation as “good” he is using himself as the benchmark/definition, for what else was there to measure against? There is no greater judge or higher standard by which creation could be assessed. Therefore this judgement is a statement of approval, consistency, union and harmony between the God and his creation. The form that the universe took in the beginning was the image of God.

What about the difference between the use of “good” and “very good”? If “good” is a statement of being consistent with who God is, then “very good” can be seen as a statement of being more like God. So God judges the whole order of creation as more fully reflective of his image than each part separately or the incomplete creation on each of the first five days. It is the union of the parts that make up the whole which represents the union (image) of God.

What about humanity?
While God judged the universe using himself as the standard it does not mean that the order of the universe completely reflects every aspect of God. God acknowledges this through his judgements of “good” (like God) and “very good” (more like God). All parts of creation individually do not fully reflect God’s image.

Therefore when God specifically states that he is making mankind in his image (Genesis 1:26-27) he is acknowledging that mankind reflects his image more fully than any other part. He makes this even more apparent in Genesis 9 when he makes a distinction between his image reflected in mankind and animals, saying:

The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.

(Genesis 9:2-6)

Leaving aside the disunity that is being emphasised in this passage (this will be discussed in later posts). God makes a qualitative distinction between mankind and animals, showing that a single human more fully reflects his image than any animal. While animals reflected the image of God in part (good) and as part of the undefiled order of creation (very good), mankind reflects God’s image when evaluated separately from creation (very good). Not to say that mankind was created to live separately from creation (they weren’t).

Therefore God created the universe in his image, united he created it. Nowhere is this more evident than in humanity.

Flesh is not the whole story of the first human union. Being united in flesh alone is not enough to ensure a good working union between distinctive members (man and woman). This is why God also gave humanity marriage, for the good ordering of the first human union. The first marriage can be viewed in two important ways, the unification of:
1) Adam and Eve under a common relational order, and
2) the human race to Adam under a common relational order.

Firstly, in Genesis 2 there is no clear break between Eve’s creation (vs23) and her wedding (vs24), the narrative flows immediately from one to the other. While there may have been real/measurable time between the two events, the way the story presents them indicates that Eve was never created to exist independently of Adam (relationally unaccountable/a separate relational construct). The fact that Eve was born from the flesh of Adam makes her human, however it is their marriage that unites them relationally.

Secondly, in the beginning (after Eve’s birth) humanity consisted of exactly 2 people. This means when God wed Adam and Eve together he was not only uniting them as husband and wife but he was also uniting the entire human race under a single relational order. Establishing the order (context) for right relating between all humans.

The only way of maintaining unity between distinctive individuals is through a common relational order/structure imposed on and adhered to by all members. For unity to be maintained questions like “who would lead and who would follow?” needed to be resolved for unity to exist in the image of God. God gave mankind marriage to order and govern human relationships, making the family unit the basis for building and sustaining the union of the human race. This is so that all mankind would be one family, united in marriage and flesh. This is why the Bible says:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
(Genesis 2:24, ESV).

Marriage and the creation of new families needs to be seen as a unification process rather than destroying one union to create another. This passage is not saying that marriage is a process that breaks union between children and their parents. Rather marriage alters the dynamic and complexity of their relationship for the good of all. Therefore every new marriage adds to and enhances the human union through the cycle of marriage, sex, conception and birth. Increasing the complexity of the connections and relationships within the human union, strengthening the whole. The fact that humans are conceived and born from the flesh of their parents is a profound mark of their membership in the human race/family. However it is the fact that they are born into a family that provides each new member a stable relational context for living and operating in unity.

In my next post I will discuss the general union of all things in Genesis 1-2.

In Genesis 2 Adam searches creation for a helper, judging all creatures to be unsuitable (under his authority as head). This poses an interesting question, what was Adam looking for in a helper?

The key to answering this question lies in God’s solution to Adam’s problem, Eve. As previously stated (last post), Eve (woman) is not a separate species of creature to Adam, this is because God created her from Adam’s flesh (vs23-24). All the different species God put on the earth (including Adam, human) were created from the dust of the earth, Eve wasn’t. As the Bible says:

Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
(Genesis 2:19 ESV)

If Eve had been created from the dust of the earth then she would have represented a distinct/separate species to Adam (human). This would have made her just as unsuitable to be his helper as the rest of the animals/creatures that populate the earth. Therefore it is the simple fact that she shared in Adam’s flesh that makes her suitable for him.

As if it couldn’t be clearer, Adam’s reaction to Eve makes the link plain. When God brings Eve to Adam there is no description of what she looks like or her personality, other than the fact that she was created from Adam’s flesh. So Adam says:

This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
(Genesis 2:23 ESV)

At last! Adam found what he was searching for, a suitable helper, a human helper. She is called helper because she is a good thing that added to (improved) him. It is through their union that they more fully reflected the image of God. So Adam called her woman, to reflect their union in his flesh (she was made from man).

Therefore to be human is to share in the flesh of Adam. Consequently every human is united in the flesh of Adam through the union of their parents. Which means that the only way to become a member of this human union is to be born into the flesh of Adam, through the union of the flesh of a man and a woman. Adam is the head and progenitor of the human race; this is why mankind bears his God given name (Adam means man).

If Eve had been created from the ground her marriage to Adam would not have been a human union but a union between two distinct species/types of creatures.

In my next post I will discuss the importance of marriage for the human union.

In the beginning God created man as one (Adam alone), however this oneness did not reflect the oneness of God initially. God clearly states that the unity of Adam (alone) did not reflect his unity, saying:

“It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
(Genesis 2:18).

Though God passes his judgement of “not good” it is only after Adam had realised that none of the creatures God had placed under his care were suitable to be his helper that God acts to create woman. It is important to see that Adam’s oneness is a matter of relationship as well as fact. God could have acted before Adam understood the problem, yet he didn’t, this is so that Adam could understand the nature of his problem. While Adam was created as one his natural state was not to be alone, reflecting the natural state of God (one but not alone).

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

(Genesis 2:18-25 ESV)

God created woman (Eve) so that man would not be alone (either of them). There are four important implications about the creation and existence of Eve that need to be highlighted to properly understand the unity of perfect humanity in the beginning:
• Eve does not represent a separate type of creature or a new type of humanity
• Eve is not a separate humanity to Adam, she is the same humanity
• The unity of mankind is a unity of flesh and marriage
• The marriage of Adam and Eve is the archetype of the relational order and mechanism God gave to mankind for the unity of mankind, and
• The unity of humanity with Eve (male and female) more fully reflects the image of God than Adam did on his own.

Ultimately what this reveals is that the perfect man was(is) never supposed to exist in isolation. God always intended (when he determined to make man in his own image) that man should be one but not alone (a human unity/family).

In my next post I will flesh out the above observations to explain what perfect human unity was like in the beginning.

It is important to go back to where it all began (in Genesis Ch1-2) to understand how everything came to be before exploring the current state of things and where it is all headed.

In Genesis 1-2 the Bible introduces the living God to the world through his act of creating the universe. It is through the creation process that God sets out the conditions for his relationship with the universe. This makes Genesis 1-2 the most important depiction of what mankind was created to be in the undefiled order of the universe (in God), before Adam tainted himself and his entire union with sin. These two chapters provide the necessary context for everything that happens in the bible (why God’s plan for salvation has to happen the way it does).

Genesis 1

It was no accident that the universe ended up the way it did, even the order that God chose to create each part of creation on each day represents rational deliberate action. An example of the deliberateness of creation can be seen in the simple fact that each subsequent day requires those things that were created the days before to exist (e.g. dry land before plants, plants before animals, etc). Therefore a complete environment is created, ready for humanity, on the first five days.

Furthermore at the end of each day of creation God shows his approval of his work, declaring it to be “good”. The judgements at the end of each of the first five days are not an assessment of what was created on that day only. God’s judgements are assessments of a work in progress, the total work done on each day and the previous days. Yet after mankind (man and woman) takes its place in the order of creation God’s final judgement is one of resounding approval, judging the entire order of creation as “very good”. So what is the difference between the completed work and the individual parts/work in progress?

God’s approval is based on the union, harmony and consistency between himself (the one true God) and his creation. Without any other standard to measure creation by God can only be seen to be using himself as a benchmark. Therefore “good” can be understood as God declaring that creation reflects who he is. This means that when he judges creation to be “very good” (at the end of the sixth day) he is declaring that the sum of all the parts more fully reflects who he is. In this way the unity of God can be seen in creation, with each part of creation made to fulfil a specific purpose, a functioning part of a greater whole. Nowhere in creation is this more evident than in mankind.

In Genesis 1:26 God declares that he will create mankind in his image. It is in this resolution that the Bible reveals the most important key to understanding the nature of God’s union.

Then God 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

(Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)

Mankind was created in the image of God; this simple fact is vital to understanding who God is, the original order of the universe and humanity’s place in it. There is nothing more important in informing humanity about its collective and individual identity than knowing God. So far, in Genesis 1, God has revealed that he is:
• Creator and judge of all things
• Good
• Ordered, structured and logical, and
• Many (more than 1) united in image and purpose.

Therefore when God says that he will create mankind in his own image (good) it is expected that he will create them ordered, united in image and purpose (more so than anywhere else in creation).

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27 ESV)

This passage reveals that the union of man reflects the image of God in the following ways:
• The use of the plural for God implies that humanity was made in God’s collective image,
• The use of both singular and plural for man implies that the image of God is reflected in the union of distinctive members (man and woman). i.e. humanity is not made up of homogeneous members.

Therefore God’s image can be seen in humanity as a whole and in the distinctiveness of its members (man and woman). This is the first indication that the unity and diversity in mankind in some way reflects the unity and diversity of God.

Note:This does not mean that mankind is included in the Trinity because God himself clearly distinguishes mankind as separate from himself in the following ways:
• He calls them man not God,
• God does not declare that he will be changing himself but instead that he will be creating man in his own likeness,
• Man did not participate in the creation process. Meaning man’s perspective on his role in creation can only be understood from within creation, with respect to God. Whereas God, who is creator, knows his place with respect to himself and his act of creation, a perspective outside of creation.

General unity can be understood as the original relationship that existed between God and his creation and between the distinct parts of creation before the fall of mankind. In the beginning all things were created in God’s image (good) sharing in his divine loving nature. This included the union of man (in God’s image) in Adam, who were lords of creation under God. In the new creation this will be the new union of mankind in Christ ruling over the new creation under God forever. The main difference between the unity in new and old creations is the superior headship of each Christ (Jesus is better than Adam). Under the perfect headship of Christ in the new creation unity will never be corrupted through disobedience (because he is God). It is Christ’s membership in the Trinity that guarantees his perfect headship over new humanity.

While the unions of God and man are the same type, the Bible maintains a clear distinction between them. At no point does the Bible ever consider mankind (or the rest of creation) to be part of the Trinity. Therefore unity between God and man (and creation) isn’t achieved through complete sameness. The Bible maintains that this is achieved by sharing a common image (the image of God), nature (the love of God) and under an order (marriage) set down by God according to his authority as head (and creator) of all things.

Unlike the specific union of God (the Trinity), creation (incl. humanity) does not actually share in the same form as God (unlimited, boundless, limitless, etc.). Rather the Bible describes the sum of the parts of creation as being more consistent with who God is (very good) than they were individually (good) or in any incomplete state on the first 5 days of creation. At the same time the Bible reveals that mankind was specifically made in the image of God, reflecting the character and union of God. Therefore creation (especially mankind) reflected who God is without becoming him (e.g. his image). In this way the Bible protects the uniqueness (power, authority, position, etc.) of God while maintaining unity between him and his creation.

Mankind (creation) has always been defined by who God is, this is why it can be said that there has never been an exclusively “human” nature. The nature that mankind had before the fall, that the elect will possess perfectly when they are raised to life in Christ, is the love of God (2 Peter1:3-4). After the fall mankind’s nature was still defined by God but in a negative sense, i.e. not love (selfishness). Mankind only shares in a common nature with God as long as they are united to him. God is love and as such it does not exist apart from him (unity with him). This love does not incorporate every definition that has ever been thought of. God defines his love, and anything that does not meet his perfect standard of love is not love. Love can only be expressed within the order established by God, the order (hierarchy, etc.) of unity. It is within defined order and hierarchy that God expresses his love within himself and as the head of all things. This is the love he expresses as creator and sustainer of all things, the same love expressed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore in the general union of all things God gives all good things for the benefit of all and in turn he was to be the focus of all mankind’s love and desire.

The fall of man in Adam not only bastardised the union of man but also the union of creation, which man was supposed to rule over under God. Therefore the unity that has always existed in God is no longer visible in creation. This is why humanity has always had an easier time understanding that God was many (e.g. Greek pantheon of gods) yet unable to perceive his oneness.