Close to where we use to live in Nebraska stands Bryan Hospital. Like most hospitals, its current size and shape has evolved through the years. But great care was taken as the hospital expanded to not encroach on the beautiful Victorian mansion sitting beside it. The mansion testimony to the hospital’s history and heritage, for it is the former home of a man named William Jennings Bryan. Thus, Bryan Hospital. Bryan’s accolades are many; benefactor to the hospital, Congressman from the great state of Nebraska, Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, and three-time democratic candidate for President. Oh, and one more thing, prosecuting attorney in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. William Jennings Bryan, defendant of the Biblical view of creationism vs. substitute high school teacher John Scopes, defendant of teaching Darwinian evolution. Okay, so now I’ve got your attention!
Attorney Bryan won that case. Scopes, a substitute science teacher, was found guilty of teaching human evolution, which was in violation of Tennessee State law. It was 1925 after all. But in a classic case of winning the battle but losing the war, the publicity that the Scopes Monkey Trial garnered lead to the repeal of many such state laws across the country. And today it would be very difficult to find a high school science course in America that did not teach some form of “human evolution.” Indeed, today it is difficult to find a school, museum, or National/State park that has not bought into the theory of evolution completely.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible’s view on how it all began is in one sense so very much simpler than the theory of evolution. But on the other hand, also very, very complicated. Indeed the word Genesis, as in Genesis 1:1, simply means “beginnings.” Starting with creation, the first book of the Bible simply tells the story of beginnings. Starting with the beginning of time, energy and matter. And then onto the creation of all plant and animal life; onto apes and man himself. But if you read the book of beginnings carefully – again, it is far more complicated then it looks – you realize that man is not just simply another step in God’s great evolutionary chain!
And Genesis is also the beginnings of many other things: marriage, family, brotherly love and brotherly rivalry, farming and animal husbandry, cities and the creation of culture, languages and the differentiation of races. And of course, the beginning of Satan’s temptations, the beginning of sin and death. The beginning of evil on earth.
Starting somewhere mid-June, we will begin our summer series on the first eleven chapters of this incredibly beautiful, important, and sometimes difficult book: Genesis. And yes, this summer, the plan is to get through only the first eleven chapters. And no, I will not be answering all of your (or your children’s) questions on dinosaurs, carbon dating, did the great flood really happen, and all the rest. Indeed, it is quite likely that many Sundays (or Monday evenings) you will end up leaving with more questions than you came! But, at least it will be a good beginning.
Because going back to the beginning is always a good place to start. Now, if you re-read the first paragraph above, you might find something rather odd. In 1925, William Jennings Bryan defended the biblical, fundamentalist view of creation; i.e. it all happened in six 24-hour days. This from the three-time Democratic candidate for president! And in Bryan’s day, most Democrats would have done the same. And while political winds change as frequently as the Minnesota weather, God’s Word always stays the same. Thus, what God said at the beginning remains true even today. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
In Christ’s Loving Service, Pastor Steve