About Return to Genesis

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Before reading what I have to say about my book, Return to Genesis, I invite you to read this review of my book by a Mennonite pastor titled Another Step Forward for the Evangelical Mind.

People have written me to ask what this book is about, even though I provided a standard description. Perhaps they want to get a feel for what I’m like, and how I feel about my own book.

Return to Genesis is rich in theological content. Therefore, it’s understandable that Christians would want to know whether or not they can trust me enough to spend hard-earned money on this book and take time to read it. For these reasons, I’m providing this overview of my book.

It goes without saying that an author might not be the most objective reviewer. However, even if I felt free to exaggerate or lie (which I don’t), I can think of no reason to do so. I haven’t been motivated by greed, either in the writing of the book, nor in marketing efforts, nor as I write these words. Anyone who reads Return to Genesis will know that I care more about what the Bible says than about the opinions of men. This is evident in my critiques of biblical literalism, Dispensationalism, young-earth creationism, and Judaism. By the way, since “literalism” is a loaded term, I definitely believe in taking literally every word that God intended for us to take literally.

Like any other writer, I need to sell books if I’m to continue writing. Nonetheless, for me, being a Christian author is a ministry and a calling from God. If it doesn’t work out, that’s how it goes. Any kind of honest labor is honorable in God’s sight. I don’t compromise my beliefs for the sake of attracting readers and their money.

Frankly, as I’ve told other Christians about my book in social media channels, I’ve encountered a lot of negativity, close-mindedness, and judgmentalism. Christians who responded in these ways didn’t know my heart, the years of study and prayer that I put into this book, whether or not God had called me to write, or how much God might bless them if they went to the trouble of buying and reading my book. In other words, they knew virtually nothing.

One minister in a Christian forum criticized me for not having offered enough information about my book. At the time, I had only provided the two press releases and the “Look Inside” feature at the Amazon listing. I had also written several pages in response to his questions. Even though I thought this criticism was unfair, I took it to heart. I resolved to provide all the free information that anyone could reasonably expect. You’ll find links to some of this free content within this post.

The main reason why I want Return to Genesis to sell is because I know that would help advance God’s kingdom in the world. As I will explain, God’s people can benefit more from this book more than I can from any amount of sales.

Return to Genesis might offend you in some places because God’s Word doesn’t always conform to our ideas of political correctness. I can promise, however, that you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll learn. In fact, you may well learn more from Return to Genesis than from any other book you’ll ever read, apart from the Bible. Granted,  an encyclopedia volume has more information, but it doesn’t contain much relevant or original content.

Return to Genesis covers a wide range of topics, many of which are important enough to be considered "Theology 101." I start with a question that many Christians don’t think much about—how to interpret the Bible. Should we interpret it literally, figuratively, or be open to both? This isn’t "how to be saved," but it’s more closely related to salvation than you might think.

I’m what you might call a “holistic thinker.” In plain English, I’ve always tried to connect various ideas in my attempts to make sense of everything. The Bible has been especially helpful to me in that regard. I’m also interested in history. The result is that I came up with an allegory to explain how I see God working in the history of western Christianity. So far, the few readers I’ve communicated with have enjoyed it.

The next topic I discuss in the book is the belief system known as Dispensationalism. That’s a big word, but I know you’re already familiar with its teachings, which include "Left Behind" theology. I’m referring to the speculation about Christ’s invisible return for the secret rapture, the expected reign of Satan and his Antichrist, the Great Tribulation with its billions of deaths, and finally the expected mass slaughter at Armageddon.

Dispensationalists teach that the Jews are God’s chosen people, even though few Jews believe in Christ, and the “dispies” anticipate that most Israeli Jews will be slaughtered at Armageddon. They claim that the Gentile Church is kind of an accidental "parenthesis" in God’s plan of salvation for the Jewish people. Such beliefs have contributed to the political ideology known as "Christian Zionism."

Practically speaking, Dispensationalist theology seems to inflict its greatest harm through its pious and pessimistic worldview. Pessimism, especially about the future of God’s Church, is the opposite of God-centered faith.

Christians who expect an Antichrist to reign can’t sense much motivation to resist systemic evil in “secular” realms such as politics, business, and the news and entertainment industry. After all, Dispensationalism has taught Christians that we’re the dregs of society who are, and will remain unsuccessful in our attempts to transform the world for Christ. Likewise, Christians who fatalistically think that Bible prophecy says the Church will never lead the Jewish people to Christ can’t be highly motivated to witness to Jews. One of the leading Christian Zionists, John Hagee, refuses to preach the gospel to Jews.

Following the example set by great Christians such as Charles Spurgeon (the “prince of preachers”), I thoroughly refute Dispensationalism in this book.

I almost wish I could take pleasure in demolishing false doctrines. However, though I’m no Pollyanna, God wired me in such a way that I don’t like to shatter anyone’s beliefs without giving them something better to believe in. This is defensible both logically, and from the Bible. Jesus said that when a demon is cast out of a person, that empty space must be filled or the demons will return in greater numbers (Mt. 12:43-45).

What we’re dealing with here is doctrines of demons. Even if you prove to someone that what they believe is false, they’re likely to wonder, “What else can I believe?” Then they may to return to what they’re comfortable with (Prov. 26:11).

For this reason, after refuting Dispensationalism, I offer Christians something much better to believe in. “Better,” because it’s fully biblical and, as we should have expected all along from our wonderful Savior, overwhelmingly positive. I examine prophetic passages such as Daniel 9:24-27 and Matthew 24 in order to show that, contrary to Dispensationalist teachings, the Bible gives us reasons to be optimistic about the future, including the future of this world.

By the way, anyone who is interested in Bible prophecy can find further information at this blog post and on my prophecy "magazine" page. page. Incidentally, you can see my other “magazine” topics by going to my Scoop.it home page.

The only “problem” with expressing hope for a more Christianized world is that can easily leave the reader hanging. Pessimism about the future doesn’t lead to many questions, but only to a “batten down the hatches” approach to life. On the other hand, Christian optimism leads to innumerable questions about how we as Christians can change the world for the better. By the way, this expectation is implied in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

This is another area in which I refused to let readers down. In fact, I feel that a major strength of this book is the suggestions I offer for applying biblical principles in the realms of politics, culture, and church life. For an example of what I’m talking about, see my two-part blog post on restoring sound money.

I understand that readers won’t always agree with me, but I hope my writings can motivate other Christians to discuss these important topics from a biblical perspective. As it is, Christians aren’t known for being original thinkers in “secular” realms such as politics and culture.

As you may have noticed, I’ve already enclosed the word secular in quotes twice. The reason I do so is because I don’t recognize the modern dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. There’s no realm in this Universe that doesn’t belong to Jesus Christ. There’s also no true knowledge apart from that which comes from God. For anyone interested, I wrote further about dualisms such as the sacred-secular distinction here.

In case you’re wondering how all of this ties in with the Book of Genesis, which made the title of Return to Genesis, I will explain…

Before outlining the poetry in Genesis, I took three chapters to reconcile the creation and flood accounts with modern science, primarily by examining the Scripture text. Christians are selling entire books with the claim that they reconciled Genesis 1 with science. Frankly, I don’t think they don’t do as good a job of it as I do in these chapters. They aren’t always faithful to the text of Genesis, and don’t fully explain the poetry and symbolism.

The most intriguing part of Return to Genesis would likely be the “unveiling” of the poetry. This takes up nearly one-third of my book. I think you’ll find the poetry to be both informative and entertaining. I virtually take you into the mind of the writer to learn about that ancient way of thinking, which was very different from our own.

Most of the poetry in the Old Testament takes the form of parallelisms. In order to understand some of them, we must know the metaphors and symbols, which I fully explain in the book. The Holy Spirit also wove parallelisms into the lives of biblical heroes and heroines, who were types of Christ. This is one way in which the poetry serves to assure us that the Bible is divinely inspired.

Personally, I was amazed to find so much poetry, especially in Genesis 1-3. I feel particularly honored and humbled to have discovered a complex poem extending across Genesis 1 and 2. I call this poem the "Creation Cycles." This poem alone will answer many questions that you have about these important chapters, which have always challenged Christianity’s greatest theologians.

Unfortunately, due to the influence of biblical literalism, Bible poetry is highly underrated today. I didn’t write under an illusion that Christians today have a proper, high esteem for Bible poetry. Still, that was what I found, and it was the only way to make sense of some parts of Genesis.

The truth is, none of us can fully understand Genesis without knowing about the poetry. In turn, Genesis helps us to better understand the rest of the Bible.

The poetry of Genesis reveals dominion to be one of the book’s primary themes. Even if you don’t choose to purchase the book, you can see an example of what I mean at this post, in which I compare Adam with Joseph and Jesus.

Genesis reveals a God Who is somewhat unfamiliar to most Christians today. Our God was, and still is very interested in reigning in this world. First, He sought to reign through Adam and Eve. After the Fall, He made His home among Abraham’s physical descendants. Now, God the Father reigns through Christ, Who in turn reigns through the Church.

Christ proclaimed to His disciples that He has all authority in heaven and earth (Mt. 28:18). This statement would have meant little if He wasn’t willing to make that authority available to His disciples and to us.

I feel that my book leaves all Christians with a priceless gift, which is my proposal for worldwide Christian unity. You won’t have seen this idea before from ecumenical Christians. This isn’t “my idea” because it comes directly from the Bible, which makes it God’s idea. The plan is centered around doctrinal truth, not around a shallow, "kumbaya" concept of togetherness. As I explain in the book, a major prerequisite must be fulfilled in order for this plan to work.

I inform readers in the final chapter how Christian unity can lead to stronger Christian marriages and fewer divorces. I’ll also let that be a mystery instead of trying to answer that question in this review.

Here’s some further information about this book, including reasons why you may want to read it:

  • I sought to communicate on the level of intelligent lay people with little background in theology.
  • God wants every Christian to value and understand basic Christian doctrines such as creation, the fall, redemption, and the end times.
  • Please don’t let anyone tell you that Bible prophecy doesn’t matter! This book will show you that it definitely matters.
  • When Christians let their leaders study theology for them back in the Middle Ages, it didn’t turn out well. Since we’re all priests in God’s eyes, we shouldn’t be as dependent as we now are on human teachers.
  • People with a vested interest in established institutions and belief systems are usually slow to accept new ideas. Change must begin with individuals like yourself.
  • Not only are we responsible for learning about God’s Word for ourselves, we’re called to educate fellow believers who are caught up in error, and to leave a positive legacy for our children.
  • God doesn’t want us to deny and defy science, but to be seen as people who are wise, credible, and relevant. These words also describe God’s Word, once we properly understand it.
  • God expects us all to value Christian unity and make every effort to be in unity (Eph. 4:3).
  • Any movement that seeks long-term success must maintain an optimistic view of the future, similar to that which Christians such as the Puritans held in the past. Faith and optimism also help us in our personal lives.

I would like to end this on a personal note…

I confess that I used to view God as a hard taskmaster and disciplinarian. Although I found encouragement in some Bible verses, others haunted me with the fear of judgment, and possibly even damnation. This is the subtle backdrop to any literalistic reading of God’s Word.

In retrospect, I wish that I had took God’s Word more seriously from the beginning, and taken the teachings of men much less seriously. But you probably know how it is. In church, you’re expected to listen and accept what you’re told without a lot of questioning. I can’t emphasize enough that each of us must think for ourselves rather than blindly follow what other people tell us.

I didn’t set out to discover a plan for Christian unity, or anything that grandiose. I simply wanted, if at all possible, to make sense of the creation days. I was frustrated until I decided to study Genesis 1 as poetry. That brought huge rewards, and inspired me to continue looking for poetry, all the way to the end of Genesis.

I give God the glory for having amazed me with wonderful insights into His precious Word. If only I’d had this kind of knowledge when I was younger, I’d have had more faith in God and fewer doubts about Him and His great love for me and for all people. I can’t change my past, but I can make this information available to you. That’s why I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any Christian, or anyone wanting to learn more about the Bible.

The poetry, symbolism, and the proper understanding of Bible prophecy revealed to me a different side of God. Not only is He a distant, holy God, He’s also a playful, artistic Poet Who came and lived among us in human flesh. God not only loves Christians, He loves all people and wants the best for us. I believe God wants all Christians to understand the Bible’s poetry and symbolism so that we can see this side of Him.

In retrospect, I can see how absurd and presumptuous I and my literalist brothers and sisters were to think that we had God’s Word down pat because we’d interpreted it literally. This kind of arrogance has got to go. God is mysterious and transcendent, not reducible to a literalistic reading of His Word.

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