Sunday, August 21, 2005 +

Nothing More Crucial than Genesis

From Stanley L. Jaki, “Genesis 1: A Cosmogenesis?”

Nothing more crucial than Genesis

Finally, one should muster plain common sense and no small courage to separate oneself, when necessary, from the popular bandwagon. Theologians and exegetes too are part of that wider academic world which, if and when it praises them, may merely implement the words of the Gospel: “Woe to you when all speak well of you!” But for Genesis 1 it is worth taking the risk of departing from a consensus that has provided no safe course around the shallows of concordism, if the old saying, recalled by a French exegete a century ago, is to retain its validity: “Nihil pulchrius Genesi, nihil utilius.” Nothing more beautiful than Genesis, nothing more useful.

One may add, nothing more crucial than Genesis and indeed its very first chapter. Four hundred years ago, Cardinal Bellarmine made the astute remark in his great book, De controversiis, that the temporal sequence of heresies followed the thematic sequence of dogmas as set forth in the Creeds. Citing this remark in an essay of his on patristic commentaries on Genesis 1, the Père Congar called attention to a crucial point: Today the principal Christian heresy is the practical denial of that eternal life for which the secularized world in its resolve not to look beyond nature has no use at all. Congar also noted that one cannot defend eternal life, centered on the immortality of the soul, without defending the proposition that all is created. That proposition too goes against the grain in this age of nature-worship. No theological defense of the strict createdness of all can, however, be made without a defense of Genesis 1. It should not be defended under any circumstances as a cosmogenesis, with any reference, indirect as it may be, to science. Its genuinely biblical meaning can, however, be fully defended by that reason whereby, as Genesis I tells us, man is created in the image of Almighty God.

Thanks to la nouvelle théologie.

Stanley L. Jaki