Thursday, April 17, 2008

Conversation with Philip Latimer

These past 2 days I've enjoyed conversation with Just Genesis reader, Philip Latimer from Washington. I am posting that conversation with his permission.

Dear Jandy,

As I’ve read your work on your website, I’ve started to take another look at Genesis and have some thoughts I wanted to share.

Reading the creation account in chapters 1 and 2, I believe the story could not have been written without revelation from God. I do not think that creation can be comprehended by an observation of nature without the accompanying explanatory revelation from God. The revelation explains the observations of man. Relying on observation only can lead to a false understanding of creation and does not reveal the true nature and purpose of creation.

I have come to understand the binary or polar nature of creation and how this in itself is a revelation of God. The very first line in Genesis shows this. Creation is revealed in opposites. Heaven and earth, light and dark, wet and dry, up and down, left and right, male and female, hot and cold. It is revealed in physics. In magnets, opposites attract and likes repel. In chemistry, there is base and acid, sweet and sour. Theoretical physics proposes anti-matter that opposes matter. Of course, scripture reinforces this by revelation.

Deuteronomy 30:15: See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil…

Romans 1:20: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

Revelation 3:15-16: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.

And, of course, the great revelation of Christ as the Author of creation - Revelation 1:8: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Referring back to Revelation 3, the Lord accuses the church at Laodicea of being lukewarm. One of the lies of satan is to deny the revealed nature of creation, blind people to this distinction and lead them to a lukewarm, muddled “middle way” that leads to nowhere. You hear this in the popular “world views” of today: There is no sin. There is no distinction between male and female. There is no Creator. God is within ourselves and we are God. It’s all good, it all leads to God.

I’m not really sure what Eden was or was really like but I do believe it was a pre-fall communion with God in a form that we, in our present fallen state, cannot fathom. I think that in the post edenic world, man lost that communion with God and for a while lost the revelation that came with it. The post edenic generations mentioned in Genesis up to Noah began to try and reestablish that link. I think this is what is meant in Genesis 4:26: …then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.

Those early generations were trying to reestablish that link to God that had been lost. They believed there was supposed to be some sort of communion with God and the early religions of man were attempts to establish that communion. The different religions that evolved show that the revelation from God was true but men, due to their fallen nature, either received it in error or were deceived by communing with things other than God. Some, like Enoch and Noah, got it right. Because he was faithful to God, Noah became the focal point to continue the revelation of God to the post flood generations up to when God established the covenant with Abram.

According to your accounts of Noah being in Africa, it must have been quite a long period of eastward migration till we end up with Abram in Iraq.

I am also interested in something you posted about Buddhism growing out of the earlier stories and beliefs of the groups that migrated eastward into India from Africa. So, these are my thought and ramblings. I enjoy your site and I still go back and re-read many of the postings. I find it all very interesting and look forward to reading more.

Regards,
Phil


Dear Philip,

Thank you for your insightful letter. I'm humbled that you have found something of help at Just Genesis.

The ancients noted the binary structure of reality, but many weren't fooled into thinking that the opposites are equals. Most Afro-Asiatics weren't dualists, like the Zoroastrians. The darkness of Gen. 1 isn't the opposite of light, but the absence of the Uncreated Light of God. The light of the heavenly bodies wasn't created until the 4th day. The light of Gen. 1:2 is the Uncreated Light associated with Divinity. So the darkness, as a spiritual and metaphysical reality, existed before God breathed the generative Word.

C.S. Lewis plays with this theme toward the end of his novel "The Last Battle," one of the Chronicles of Narnia. If you haven't read it, please do. One of these days I want to do a series on C.S. Lewis and Genesis.

I entirely agree that it is only by divine revelation that we know anything that can be said to be True. Genesis is no ordinary book! It has been divinely superintended through centuries and it is such that, were we to lose all of the rest of the Bible, but still have Genesis, we would be able to find God's Messiah, the Son of the Woman who crushes the head of Satan and triumphs over death, restoring us to eternal Paradise (His kindgom which has no end.)

As an anthropologist, I do rely on observations, ethnographic studies, etc, but many of these studies, being interpreted by non-Believers, present false conclusions. Usually the data by itself points to the reality of a loving God at work in the world. I try simply to present the facts.

As to migration from central Africa to Iraq taking a long time, that is not necessarily the case when one considers how the chiefs established their territories with wives on a north-south axis. The first-born assumed the territory of the deceased father and all other sons had to move away to establish their own territories. This happened with Abraham, Terah's youngest son. Nahor inherited Terah's territory and Abraham had to move away. The interesting part of that story is that his move was against the flow of migration! He was called to go southwestward, toward the land that would become the kingdom of David.

More specifically to your question, if a man has 5 sons and their territories are contiguous, we find a natural northeastward movement from west central Africa to Iraq, and even to the Indus River Valley, the far eastern boundary of the old Afro-Asiatic Dominion. I present this as a theory, not a fact. Still, it is based on the biblical data more than on anything else.

I enjoyed reading what you have written here. Terrific references from Scripture to illustrate the binary structure of reality. I'd be very pleased if you'd allow me to publish your email at Just Genesis and comment as I have here. Let me know.

Thanks for writing. God is good.

Jandy


Dear Jandy,

I'm an old Lewisite from way back. I think I know which scene you mean in The Last Battle. Are you referring to the scene between Emeth and Aslan? I love that scene. I think that's John 10:16.

I know about his cautions on dualism and I certainly don't subscribe to opposites being equal. I think the error of dualism is that it attempts to ascribe to the nature of the Creator the binary aspects observed in creation. It limits God and makes Him only half the equation. Creation in it's binary form is an object lesson from God. It shows us the choices that we have in life. We can be with God or not. We can live or die. We can obey or disobey. We can be with Him in Light or separate ourselves into darkness. We can be inside or outside. We can be sheep or goats. We can be wheat or chaff. In other words, free will. Creation demonstrates that free will has only two choices.

Jesus constantly used examples of this in His teachings. Some people, though, want to have it both ways; hold onto their sins AND have heaven. Kind of like that character in The Great Divorce who had the whispering lizard on his shoulder.

The other scene I love in the Narnia books is the one with Eustice & Aslan when Eustice can't remove the skin of his sins and Aslan must do it for him.

I think I understand your example of the chief and his five sons. The territory would expand like cells in a bee hive, if that's an apt analogy.

Onward & Upward!

Phil


Dear Phil,

I was thinking more of the scene involving the dwarfs who Aslan attempts to save through the intercession of Lucy, but the dwarfs' spiritual darkness is such that they can't see that the Great Lion has served them a feast of the richest fare. In their self-made confinement, the gifts taste like mud and straw.

You wrote: "The different religions that evolved show that the revelation from God was true but men, due to their fallen nature, either received it in error or were deceived by communing with things other than God." Isn't this exactly what Aslan explains to Emeth after the destruction of Narnia? Emeth confesses to Aslan that he has served Tash and Aslan explains that He takes as service to HIM, the service of a God-fearing heart.

Your bee hive analogy is a good one.

May this day be blessed.

Jandy

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