Folks at war with God have always snipped out the parts of the Bible that they didn't like. Rationalist critics in the 19th-21st centuries have turned Biblical authorship claims into pious lies at best, rationalized prophecies and miracles to remove, well, prophecy and miracles. Anything that offended their rival philosophy was discarded by one elaborate contrivance or another.
Some are less artful. A well-known actor, whom I won't name in the post for my wife's sake, tries to ameliorate his guilt over pursuing his slavery to unnatural desires by snipping out unwelcome passages from Gideon's Bibles in motel rooms. This is vandalism as therapy, evidently yet another pursuit of the idle rich.
It has occurred to me, however, that every one of these folks could save themselves a lot of trouble. Just one snip is all it would take.
Snip out Genesis 1:1.
Among the things the decades have brought to me is a deepening appreciation of the opening chapters of Genesis, and particularly of the first verse. As S. Lewis Johnson once remarked, if you believe Genesis 1:1, nothing in all the rest of the Bible is incredible. Reject it, and all goes with it.
If some poor soul with endless time on his hands were to survey my sermons and writings for allusions to Bible chapters in, say, the last decade, I'm guessing the opening chapters of Genesis would be 'way up there. My first book starts in the first chapters of Genesis, and camps there a good long while before even trying to assail the rest of the Bible's narrative. My sermons and studies at least touch base there very frequently. Last Sunday I was in Titus 1:15-16, but opening those verses led us back to Genesis 1, 2 and 3.
In Genesis 1:1 we find a sovereign, self-existing, timeless, omniscient God creating the universe by fiat. Simply because He wants it to exist, because He wills it to exist, it comes to exist. There is none of the struggle and bloodshed of contemporary myths. Simply one God, creating all things the way He wants to create them, simply because He wants to for His own glorious reasons.
Much follows from this simple fact, this simple act. Because He pre-existed everything, God is independent of everything, and everything is dependent on Him. Because all that is exists as a reflection of His will, the universe is neither undefined nor self-defining. It is pre-defined. Scrooge isn't wrong when he says "An ant is what it is and a grasshopper is what it is" (though he is wrong about Christmas). He just didn't go far enough, and add that the ant and the grasshopper are what they are as created and defined by a sovereign God.
And so is man. So while the emergent and the PoMo alike gaze inward to the endless morass of their own subjectivity, and while the immoral pursue their cravings, and while the materialistic pretends to acknowledge nothing beyond "molecules in motion," their pursuit is a charade. It reminds us of the riddle:
Question: if we call a tail a "leg," how many legs does a dog have?
Answer: four. It doesn't matter what you call it, a tail is a tail.And so with ourselves. We can self-realize and self-actualize and self-affirm and self-love all we like, but we are creatures of a sovereign God. Our choices are only two: believe Him and think accordingly; or to come up with a diverting ruse.
But the ruse will always be a lie, and its pursuit will always be a doomed and damned enterprise.
As Genesis 1:1 reminds us. It reminds us by what it says about the beginning; but it also does that by its very use of the word, "beginning." Because just as the word "black" makes one think of "white," and "up" brings to mind "down," what does the word "beginning" suggest?
And this was Moses' very intent in writing the word. For as he brought this first movement of his narrative to a conclusion, what he wanted to write about was the "end of the days" (Genesis 49:1, literal Hebrew). That "end" would be a time when the He who had the right to rule would come with His scepter, and would reign over all the peoples (Gen. 49:10). Rebellion would be ended, prosperity would arise.
And as Genesis ends, so ends the Bible, with a vision of all rebellion defeated, Christ made head over all (cf. Eph. 1:10 Gk.), and God and His people reconciled forever in a glorious new Eden (Rev. 21—22).
Genesis 1:1 is the first sign-post, pointing to that inevitable resolution.
Which is why it should really be the first to go.