Jason Lisle, Why Genesis Matters: Christian Doctrine and the Creation Account (Dallas, TX: The Institute for Creation Research, 2012), 54pp.; also available for Amazon Kindle
Reviewed by Doug Smith
Astrophysicist Jason Lisle (Ph.D, University of Colorado; Director of Research at the Institute for Creation Research) has written an extremely helpful work in Why Genesis Matters: Christian Doctrine and the Creation Account. The book is a short, clear introduction to Genesis as the foundation for what Christ taught and what Christians should believe.
Lisle begins by showing how marriage, the sanctity of human life, clothing, laws, a seven-day week, and the Gospel itself is founded in Genesis. To remove the historical foundation of these practices and doctrines is devastating. For example, if Genesis is not historically true, why should we be bound by what God decreed concerning who can marry?
In his chapter entitled, “Commonsense Bible Interpretation,” Lisle discusses some of the various literary genres included in Scripture, including poetry, parables, and history, and shows how Jesus and the apostles interpreted Genesis as what it plainly appears to be: history, not non-historical poetry.
The author goes on to support his view that the Bible teaches a recent creation of the earth, examining the day-age position (which allows for long periods of time rather than something analogous to a normal 24-hour day) and refuting it by looking at the context of the word “day” in Genesis 1 and the way God bases our work week on the days of creation in Exodus 20:11.
Lisle affirms that it is faith in Christ that is necessary for salvation, not a specific belief concerning the timing of creation. Nonetheless, one’s view of creation will affect how one views and communicates the authority of the Bible. Rejecting a historical view of Genesis undermines doctrines such as the origin of sin and its consequences of death, disease, and suffering. If these doctrines are attacked, so is the need for one to rescue us from our fallen condition.
As the book closes, we are warned not to neglect the root problem of all the sinful issues in our society. Our culture lacks the foundation of truth that the nation of Israel had. When the apostles preached to the Jews, they assume that their hearers shared a solid foundation on creation. When Paul went to the Greeks, he found that was not true. And it is not true for us today. It is not enough to simply combat the “bad things” in the world, nor is it enough to tell people of their need of Jesus. We must also teach the truth of creation, the truth of Genesis, the foundation of the Bible, which gives us a basis for the gospel of Christ, which changes lives.
Dr. Lisle writes in a clear, concise, straightforward style. As a scientist and student of the Word, he brings his knowledge of both to the table in a balanced format that presents the Word of God as the ultimate authority and absolute truth. This book is easy to complete in about two hours, but deserves return visits for pondering its arguments and implications.
The arguments in the book are clear and make sense. I do not know how one can walk away from the case Lisle makes and say that evolution or long ages of time are consistent beliefs with what the Bible clearly teaches. For example:
The Bible teaches that death was the result of Adam’s sin. Sin entered the world through Adam, and death entered through that sin (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21). This fact is foundational to the gospel. Because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) , it was necessary for Christ to die on the cross to pay for our sins. But if the world already had death in it, then how can death be the wages of sin? Would it make sense to say “by man came death” (1 Corinthians 15:21) if death were already in the world millions of years before man? How could death be the penalty for sin if it preceded sin by millions of years? And if death is not the penalty for sin, then how could we make sense of the gospel? (page 42)
This book is suitable for middle schoolers (maybe a bit of a challenge, but worthwhile for a diligent student) and up and is useful for personal study, or teaching a class in Sunday school or a Christian school. (We are currently using it with a CAPS class on Genesis, in conjunction with studying Genesis chapters 1-11.) It would be a great resource for someone studying in a Christian college, especially if the Bible department at their school teaches that Genesis 1-11 is not literal history, that Adam and Eve were not historical persons, no literal fall, no global flood, etc. (I faced a situation like this and resources like this are just what the doctor ordered).
I highly recommend Why Genesis Matters. You can get the Kindle version here for $2.99.
You can watch the author deliver a 40 minute message on the topic of his book here:
and here’s a longer presentation with some live Q & A: