There are so many yellow-highlighted passages in my copy of “The Battle for the Beginning,” that I should have saved myself the marking time and simply considered the whole book a highlight.
For that’s what it is.
John MacArthur, one of the most trustworthy Bible teachers in America today –and one of the few highly visible leaders that still has a backbone – has long recognized the importance of the early chapters of Genesis to Christian formation and thought.
In short, he understands that without a proper understanding of our origins, we cannot fully understand the gospel. That Darwinian philosophy has been a scourge in society is obvious.
“Many in the church are too intimidated or too embarrassed to affirm the literal truth of the biblical account of creation,” MacArthur writes. “They are confused by a chorus of authoritative-sounding voices who insist that it is possible – and even pragmatically necessary – to reconcile Scripture with the latest theories of the naturalists.”
Clearly, MacArthur doesn’t mind mixing it up with the change agents in our church culture who like to tell young people that the Bible isn’t exactly accurate on the issue of origins, which leads to their confusion in real-life, practical ways.
For example, when I was editor for Master Books, I heard from hundreds of students who said something along the lines of, “If I can’t trust that Genesis is real history, how do I know Jesus was a real person?”
It’s perfectly logical. MacArthur knows what is at stake, and he proceeds through “The Battle for the Beginning” as a theologian. He has, however, the uncanny ability to break it down for anyone to be able to understand.
“If Adam was not the literal ancestor of the entire human race, then the Bible’s explanation of how sin entered the world makes no sense,” MacArthur illustrates. “Moreover, if we didn’t fall in Adam, we cannot be redeemed in Christ, because Christ’s position as the Head of the redeemed race exactly parallels Adam’s position as the head of the fallen race (1 Corinthians 15:22).”
Tellingly, MacArthur also weaves the end in with the beginning, so to speak, to emphasize the importance of eschatological perspective when understanding the Bible/reality as a whole: “[Scripture] is as authoritative when it instructs us as it is when it commands us. It is as true when it tells the future as it is when it records the past.”
MacArthur, though obviously not a scientist, takes on such thorny issues as the creation of light. This question has long stumped astronomers and folks who need to explain the science in order to reconcile faith in Scripture.
Noting in chapter 3 that many ask how the days of creation could have been literal days, when the sun was not created until the fourth day, MacArthur states: “The problem with this view is that nothing in the passage itself suggests that the days were long epochs.”
Here he is answering the charge that the “days” were in fact long epochs.
The key here is that MacArthur notes (as do creationist experts like Ken Ham) that one either looks to Scripture first in order to understand our world, or one looks at man’s theories and then goes to Scripture. It is a key, profound difference.
For those science junkies, MacArthur even provides much data on the types of animals created during the Creation Week and the aforementioned astronomy. In fact, his treatment of both the theology and the science makes “The Battle for the Beginning” one of the very most important books I’ve read in this field. Pastors and youth leaders in particular should absolutely make the time to read this book.
Another outstanding feature of “The Battle for the Beginning” is that MacArthur rightly addresses the philosophical underpinnings of Darwinian thought. He points out that Charles Darwin himself was heavily influenced by British attorney (and amateur geologist) Charles Lyell, who had developed a clever attack on Scripture under the guise of “uniformitarianism” (get the book!). This insight alone is quite helpful in gleaning understanding about why evolution ascended in the public’s consciousness.
Finally, MacArthur points us to the ultimate source, the Creator Himself, and to His Holy Word: “In every New Testament reference to Genesis, the events recorded by Moses are treated as historical events.”
Thus, we must come to terms with the fact that attempts to reconcile modern scientific thought with Scripture is fatally flawed: “If the biblical creation account is in any degree unreliable, the rest of Scripture stands on a shaky foundation.”
So let it be written!