Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: The Battle for the Beginning by John MacArthur

"For in six days the LORD created the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it," Exodus 20:11.
     We live in a day where the Church is being swallowed up by the culture at large.  We are losing our saltiness, as we are to be the salt of the earth and if we lose that saltiness, our only good use is to be thrown down and trampled on.  We are losing our preserving influence in the world and this can be seen especially as the American Evangelical church seeks to prove its relevance through a reinterpretation of creation, especially the first couple chapters of Genesis.  It was with this in mind that I read Pastor John MacArthur's book, The Battle for the Beginning.
     In the introduction to the book, MacArthur states plainly the perilous state of the evangelical church in the world today, "So in an important sense, everything scripture says about our salvation in Jesus Christ hinges on the literal truth of what Jesus teaches in Genesis 1-3 about Adam's creation and fall.  There is no more pivotal passage of scripture," pg. 19.
    MacArthur explains well, with a pastors concern, the danger of the liberal hermeneutic(interpretive method), used by those who try to harmonize scripture and science.  The Bible states, "Let God be true and all men liars."  Pastor John seems to have this in mind as he skillfully exegetes Genesis 1-3, explaining the incontrovertible truth of a literal six day creation.  Pastor Mac states, "The simple, rather obvious fact is that no one would ever think the time frame for creation was anything other than a normal week of seven days from reading the Bible and allowing it to interpret itself.  The forth commandment makes no sense whatsoever apart from an understanding that the days of God's creative work parallel a normal human work week," pg. 21.  Pastor John's well founded criticism is that too many "evangelical" Christians use a scientific hermeneutic to interpret scripture.  He especially takes on scientist/evangelical Christian Hugh Ross and his approach to creation.  Now, Dr. MacArthur is careful to note that many old earth creationists believe in a literal Adam and Eve and the innerrancy of scripture.  He also points out that they carefully cage up their destructive interpretive method outside of the first few chapters of Genesis.  They switch methods so to speak.
     Dr. MacArthur does a wonderful job explaining the intricacies of God's creation and how evolution is an ineffective method of explaining these intricate systems and creatures.  His book is a refreshing and important  polemic affirming the authority of scripture against even science.  It is interesting that only because of a true understanding of Christian doctrine was modern science able to arise and it is now turning its attack on the very belief system that birthed it.
    I leave you with this quote from the book, as it so aptly explains how this discussion effects the gospel itself, "Paul's presentation of the doctrine of original sin in Romans 5:12-20 depends upon a historical Adam and a literal interpretation of the account of Genesis and how he fell.  Furthermore, everything Paul has to say about the doctrine of justification by faith depends on that.  "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all are made alive," 1Cor. 15:22.  Clearly, Paul regarded both the creation and the fall of Adam as history, not allegory.  Jesus himself regarded the creation of Adam and Eve a historical event, Mark 10:6.  To question the historicity of these events is to undermine the very essence of Christian doctrine," pg. 23.
     Dr. MacArthur is not over stating things here.  An incorrect view of creation has horrific ripple effects through out the rest of scripture and even can do great violence to the gospel itself.  We must be careful not to let vain philosophies guide our understanding of God's word and we must not be worried if people think we are ignorant for upholding the absolute authority of God's word, even over science.
     God bless you, learn, live and love the precious gospel of Jesus Christ!


  1. The entire audio series is free for listening or download at Grace To You

  2. Thanks so much for this post, Chris. I'll use this book, among others, as fodder for a sermon series motivated by the very ideas you highlight herein.