Why Are There 2 Creation Accounts in Genesis?

If I was part of a different religion (or didn’t hold to one), I’d likely say one of the following things:
– “I told you this faith is a primitive folklore that you people took way too seriously”.
– “Sounds to me the editor couldn’t decide on one so he included both.”
– “Wait, I thought you said this text was inspired, why are there two conflicting accounts? Is God confused? Is there a such thing as inspiration?”

There are probably other things we can say here but that’s an adequate start.

So why the two creation accounts and what we do with some of the conflicting points?

The differences between the two accounts include:
– 1:1-2:3 is a stand alone passage. 2:4-4:26 is apart of a larger narrative that includes creation, the first generations of humanity, the fall, Cain and Abel, etc.
– Timelines – Ch. 1 gives creation in 6 days. Ch. 2 suggests one day.
– Order of events – Ch. 1 has plants, trees, animals, birds then humans. Ch. 2 cites humans first.
– Name and plurality of God – Ch. 1 – Elohim (God) – plural form. Ch. 2 YHWH Elohim (LORD God) – singular form
– God’s action in creation in different Hebrew words that have actual different meanings.
o “bara” 1:1, 21, 27, 2:4 – “to create” – divine creation out of nothing.
o “asa” – 1:24, 26, 31, 2:4, 18 “to do” – to make (out of something)
o “yasar” – 2:7, 8, 19 – “to form, shape or fashion” – like a potter would

The similarities include:
– Both proclaim God is the agent of creation.
– Both tell of creation of life in animals, birds, sea life, and human.
– Both give responsibility to humans.
Be fruitful and multiply
Fill the earth and govern it
Reign over the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, animals scurrying the ground.
– Both have creation has God’s intent.
– Both insist that Creation is very good.

So back to our question, why the 2 accounts?
I am not sure anyone on this side of eternity can perfectly answer that but here are a couple of thoughts. However I find that these two accounts together offers more of a complete portrait of God’s grandeur. Gen 1 offers an overall cosmic picture. Gen 2 concentrates more on humanity – God’s relationship to people. Other scholars and writers have noted the literary features the text provides in the similarities and differences.
Second, when considering the audience in the ancient world, the complimentary passages allows them to see a a relational, monotheistic God. This was a new concept to the ancient world whose gods were pantheistic and devalued the sacredness of human life. A loving God that created humanity in his own image was groundbreaking.
These two chapters do not undermine inspiration but in my mind, acts consistently with it. As many have often said, the Genesis account is not a science book, it is a revelation from a benevolent God that desires to be in communion with us.
And so the two accounts help us to see how God sees us. This is part of creation, part of God’s revelation. God places humanity at the highest place, we are his centerpiece and the Genesis narrative helps us understand this eternal truth.

George Lucas Changed Star Wars Again and I’m Cool With It

By now you know that George Lucas released the latest version of Star Wars and he’s messed again with “the originals”. As expected, there’s been a huge outcry by the SW loyalists and as predicted, George Lucas could not care less. Nor could I.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the story of Star Wars.  As a kid, I thought Luke Skywalker was the most amazing thing in the world. I remember praying for him so that I would see him in heaven (I was young and didn’t understand the world of actors. But fortunately, my wife explained it all to me last year).

I may not be a real Star Wars fan (like I’ve never read any of the books, I have forgot some of names of characters who appear for a split second and I got rid of my toy light saber after the fifth grade) but I do love Star Wars on so many levels. So here’s why I don’t care that George Lucas is changing the story again.

One, stories change. They have a life of their own. They are not scripts, they are stories.
Two, we change, and therefore at the very least, the way we tell the same story that we told many times before changes.
Three, the world is changing and therefore the way we are able to tell a story changes. Many of our stories became fixed and stagnate because when we went from sharing stories in person to in print and in media, the stories became fixed. Through an ideal world, our media would allow for the changing story every time we played the same dvd, (at least, we have reissues). BUT imagine the day, when a studio releases a movie, it flops and the audience gives feedback to fix it so when it’s released on dvd (or back in theaters or however we are consuming movies by then), it’s better!  Don’t laugh, when the right people figure this out, we’ll have even more access to even better stories.

Here’s why I think this is interesting. Of all the stories I know, the gospel of Jesus is the greatest I know. The story of a God who creates humanity with free will, that rebels against him, that therefore allows death and evil into the world and creates suffering, pain, and despair is therefore redeemed by the same God who becomes one of them and offers humanity love, hope, and life.  No offense to Skywalker but it’s a bit bigger than closing your eyes and shooting into an air shaft and blowing up a weapon planet.

The way I tell the  story of Jesus changes too. The way you tell this story probably changes. I would even dare to mention, the way God tells the story changes as well. Are there not two creation accounts in Genesis? That post is coming soon. Even further, consider how the narrative of salvation unfolds throughout the entire Bible.

Maybe George Lucas is just imitating the original storyteller.

Reflecting On the Nassau’ Mission Trip 2 Months Later

This past Sunday, the students and leaders from my previous church shared about the week that we spent in Nassau serving at the All Saints AIDS Camp. Though I wished I could have been there to see and be a part of the presentation, I was confident that the MEFC community were going to have a great morning together.

Not too many days go by when I don’t think about the “All Saints AIDS Camp”. I think of the residents, I think of the missionaries Tim and Felicia, I think of the organizations that are serving there, namely Next Step Ministries (but I know there are more), I think of the various staff people and mission teams (Minnesotans!) that we got to connect with as well and a host of others. I remain unmoved by how important short-term missions are. While there are bugs to work out in these types of missions and while there are numerous bad stories out there, these experiences are extremely powerful and they do so much good on numerous sides.

So here’s what I am thinking about today. My hope is that residents of the camp think of the couple hundred people that came through this summer and remember that many care about them. I love that they post our pictures in their cabins and I hope they remember the prayers, the laughs, the hugs, the awkward moments and the kind gestures – I know I do.

I hope we never forget what we experienced through our senses – the smell, the heat, the dirt, the sounds and the things that our eyes see that don’t come through our pictures.

I hope my young little family serves together on a mission trip (like our friends did from Minnesota). I am among those that could not care less if they make it to the “Big Leagues” and I don’t care to see their names in lights. I know Susan and I would be grateful to see them choosing to live a life that is faithful to the unique calling they received from the Lord (whatever that means, accounting, the NHL, non-profit work, whatever).  As we hope to get there I pray that we are always involved in the mission of the Kingdom of Jesus. I hope we are always loving and serving “the other”.

I hope our leaders lead their own trips. I’ve recently filled out recommendations for two people who will be serving in a leadership position with a missions organization next summer. I can’t tell you how excited that makes me feel. And while I know the Lord would have led them to this one way or another, it’s so good to be a part of it.

I hope our students never just see this as an “amazing trip” as if it were a sight-seeing adventure. I hope it continues to shape them. I hope they always wrestle with the superficialities of the world and the realness of what they encountered. I hope they struggle with that feeling of wondering if they are the only one who cares and I hope that moves them to action, sharing the message, and praying to the Lord for strength.  I hope their character grows, their humility deepens and their faith grows.  And I hope they are always willing to labor for those that God cherishes.

“In the Beginning God Created ..” (Possibly) Blogging Through Our New Sermon Series, Living God’s Story

We just started a new sermon series at my new church. It’s called Living God’s Story and it’s a 40 week journey spanning Genesis to Revelation. I am not sure I have ever been a part of a 40 week sermon series before and if I have, obviously I have repressed it – 40 weeks! That’s like an entire episode of one of those shows on the Lifetime Channel (they take that whole “Lifetime” brand way too literally).

Seriously, I am excited about going through the Scriptures as a community and you can read more about it here and you can do a number of other things on that link like listen to the sermon, check out a family discussion guide, there’s a prayer guide and a new feature called the “Scrapbook page”.

If you have been following this blog since January, you may remember me committing to reading the Bible this year. I realized fairly quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to blog through it as I secretly hoped. I was so concerned that I would not finish my reading as publicly proclaimed that I started aggressively reading ahead. I finished in the first week of June. Yes, looking back on it, I wish I could have trusted my discipline and blogged a little more (but it takes a good bit of time).

Now I’m thinking of blogging throughout the sermon series. There’s little chance that I’ll finish the sermon series before Bryan delivers the messages so I have a shot here, right? So here it goes.

The first message was entitled, “In the Beginning, God Created”. As I mentioned in a series of posts back in January, I happen to like the beginning of Genesis though there are numerous frustrations one encounters when reading the text. In preparing for the sermon and to teach the Oasis class (a class for our LIFE Community leaders who are leading their groups through the sermon series), I think I fell back in love with the aspect of God’s creativity and His love for humanity.

Probably about 10 years ago, I was caught up with the question of why God bothered creating us. Later I started to appreciated God’s relational traits but thought the possibility of theistic evolution undermined that. And while I do not claim to hold that view today, I see that I have always been guilty of underestimating God’s character when it comes to loving His creation. It could very well be that God loved humanity so much that it brought Him joy to see and guide our evolution through perhaps the genetic code as Francis Collins suggests in The Language of God.

It could also very well be that it brought God joy to create all of creation in a week. These days I am perfectly content not to know the how. And that’s probably my new favorite feature of the book of Genesis. In an age when the world believed the myths of gods creating and killing humans for their own enjoyment and entertainment, the Hebrew story spoke of a God that intended for humans to live a life in harmony with Himself and with the rest of creation. Imagine that the idea of a loving God was considered “new” at one point in human civilization.

On the other hand, it’s probably not that hard to imagine – there are countless people who either don’t believe in a God, are agnostic about it, or worse, do not believe that God cares for them. As believers, it’s our responsibility to share that. Indeed He does and the story we find ourselves in begin with the words, “In the beginning God created …”

Want to Lose Weight and Curb Your Social Media Addiction in 2 Weeks? Change Jobs, Move and Welcome a Newborn …

Be honest, did you click over here for the weight loss, breaking free from social media or to see a picture of our new baby girl?

It’s been a fun and fast-moving time at the Ghali house.

There is so much I love about technology. Like the other day, Susan told me that our 3 year old Skyped with his best friend Matthew and they had lunch together. What’s not to love about that?

There is so much I love about social media. The last time we moved, Facebook wasn’t available to people without .edu’s. Though I wasn’t able to keep up with everything on Facebook/Twitter (and still haven’t played around with my Google +), we were able to catch up on a few things when we were able to login.

It was great to share about the news of Janelle’s birth on Labor Day. iPhones, Social Networking, hospitals with reliable and free Wifi (Thanks Winchester Hospital!) all worked together pretty well to help make this transition a little easier.

Over this past year, I do believe I have been able to be more responsible with my social media. Though i don’t think I’m leveraging it to its potential, I’m using it more as a tool than a form of entertainment (though the two are very related. When you login, you have no idea if you are going to click on something that’s going to inform you, move you, or make you laugh).

So how did I lose weight? I moved our way too many material possessions 215 miles away (had some help from some good friends like Jim Kuehlke, my in-laws, my parents and I hired a couple movers – they were great. Oh and one of these days I’m going to share about when Jim and I were stuck on the side of 84 with just about everything i owned in the back of a 26 foot U-Haul, at midnight, in the rain, waiting for the mechanic #funtimes).

As I find a life rhthym here, I’m excited to be a little more regular in blogging. I’ve missed the processing, reflecting, sharing and connecting. So far all is good – thanks for reading.

Reflecting on the 10 Year Anniversary of 9/11 With an Infant in My Wife’s Arm, a Mischievous 2yr Old & a Talkative 3yr Old

If you are in my loop, these past few weeks have moved pretty quickly for us. We said goodbye to many dear friends, moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts and my wife delivered a healthy baby girl we named Janelle Catherine – all of this in the last two weeks.

A lot of our stuff is still in boxes, we can barely find Target on the first try (even with GPS), my church office is disorganized and we have countless loose ends that need tying up. Despite all that, this has been among the best two weeks of our lives. Susan is doing better in this c-section recovery than her first, this baby cries less than the other two (at least for now), my in-laws have been an incredible help, the new church staff have been so welcoming, we’ve met a number of kind church-attenders and I know where the french press is right now (and the Starbucks closest to my office has a Clover machine. Blessed ;)

Time moves so differently when you are in and out of a hospital and making major transitions but even still September 11th was on my mind. I haven’t been able to tune in to the frenzy on tv and on social media but I have been reflecting on a couple of thoughts regarding the ten year anniversary.

I’m still horrified by the events of it. I remember so much without the aid of Youtube. I still grieve over the loss of life of that day and the many has a result of that day which include rescue/clean-up workers dealing with the effects of that day, soldiers, innocent civilians and hostile enemies. I still grieve the emotional pain that we faced and continue to face. I still grieve the evil in our hearts.

A lot has changed in so many ways. The most significant for Susan and I is that since 2008, we now have 3 children. I used to think that every parent wanted world peace because they simply wanted their child to grow up as safe as possible – I now understand that it’s much more to that. Similar to all parents, I want them to have it better than me (though my life is extremely blessed); I certainly don’t want them to have it worse (that’s among the biggest threats of 9/11). I want my children to have as great of an experience in this life as possible – I think this is the highest instance of Christian stewardship.

I was fortunate to have received a good bit of perspective last year as I hosted a couple reflection nights on the events of 9/11. One was with our young adults at a Second Mile gathering and one was with our students at a discussion night in October. Both nights included similarities and a variety of thoughts and emotions. Many at the Second Mile gathering were still processing (some families were personally affected) and I know this weekend was difficult for them and they are in my prayers. Many of our students were in early elementary school and listening to their thoughts was quite interesting. The predominant thought in our youth group was though forgiveness seemed so difficult, it was so necessary.

The post 9-11 world has changed so many things and not just at the airport. There is more paranoia, more suspicion and I’d add, a lot of racial profiling, outright racism and a fair amount of hate and anger. That said, the post-9-11 world has allowed for many needed conversations as well. Countless of people have engaged in dialogue that they may not thought necessary prior to that fateful day. There are many who have confronted their racism, paranoia, and resentment. Even better are those that have relied on the grace of God to do so (it’s my contention that you cannot understand truly begin to understand and experience forgiveness unless you humbly approach it from God’s perspective. A perspective that takes a remainder of a lifetime to live out and among the reasons why Jesus said that we must forgive our offender 70 times 70).

As I am attempt to be live my life led by the Spirit in the way of Jesus to bring glory to the Father, I am trying to practice being a peacemaker and being a person who wants at the very least to recognize himself as a person of forgiveness. Even more, I pray my children and my friends’ children will be even greater peacemakers, redeemers and dreamers filled with the love of Jesus that a post-9/11 world desperately needs.