In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer famously declared, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” This book delves into a subset of that idea; for indeed, how we treat the story of Creation and the Fall goes a long way toward dictating how we think about God’s Word—and therefore, what we think about God Himself.
John MacArthur and the Master’s College Faculty. What Happened in the Garden: The Reality and Ramifications of the Creation and Fall of Man. Abner Chou, editor. 302p., $19.99, Kregel Academic.
If that publication info above feels a bit scholarly to you, well, it is. But the effort is worth it. As editor Abner Chou puts it in the introduction, “The story of Genesis 2-3 is the foundation for the rest of the story of Scripture. Change one part of that and we shift our entire theology. Even more, theology is not just ideas … but the way we understand reality around us…. What would change when you reinterpret the opening chapters of Genesis? In a word: Everything.”
That quote sets up the framework for the entire book, written by several members of the (now) Master’s University faculty. Part 1 of the book analyzes the Genesis narrative from a variety of angles—historical, hermeneutical, biological, genetic—before finally delving into the symbolic/allegorical questions that plague much modern-day “biblical scholarship.” Depending on your viewpoint,. Grant Horner’s conclusion will either sound like Occam’s Razor or circular reasoning, but either way it cuts right to the point: “Our tendency to explain away, dehistoricize, and misread Genesis 3 is a direct result of the very thing the narrative describes in such absolutely clear terms—a literal, historical account of a Fall into spiritual blindness.” Kind of reminds me of the Baudelaire quote, “The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”
With the foundation established, the second and briefest part of the book digs into two specific theological ramifications of the Fall—namely, the doctrine of original sin and the promise of the “seed” (Messiah) in Genesis 3:15. Again, what one believes about the narrative itself is bound to dictate what they believe about these two critical pieces of the Christian faith.
Part 3, then, gets into the “worldview” issues, again from a variety of angles—human enterprise, the laws of thermodynamics, natural and divine law, psychology, gender issues, and education. In the final chapter, “A Sin of Historic Proportions” pastor and Master’s University president John MacArthur returns us to the original premise of the book:
The facts are clearly on the side of Scripture. The whole chronicle of human history proved the doctrine of original sin to be true…. The work of Christ is the remedy—the only remedy—for the failure of Adam. Adam cannot be merely a myth or an illustration. He is the living, breathing reason we are in this mess. And Christ is the only way out of it.
Again, not easy stuff—but if you’re up for it, you’ll have the opportunity to see through the “mess” more clearly for the effort.