What is the CRC's official position on the creation account in Genesis? Why even discuss it when we could just keep to a literal six-day creation?
The CRC’s official positions on a great many issues can be viewed by going to crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/position-statements. (For this topic, click on “Creation and Science” in the sidebar.) Five declarations adopted in 1991 point to our belief that general and special revelation “address us with full divine authority,” but then “each in its own unique way,” just as we are taught in Article 2 of the Belgic Confession. They speak of wanting to honor our commitment to the freedom of exegesis, not “imposing … an authorized interpretation of specific passages in Scripture.” They acknowledge the church respects the “freedom of science by not canonizing certain hypotheses, models, or paradigms proposed by the science” but also insist that all “such theorizing be subject to the teaching of Scripture and the confessions.” They uphold the biblical teaching of creation, sin, and redemption. And they confess that “humanity is uniquely created in the image of God,” rejecting “atheistic and naturalistic evolutionism” which “reduces humanity to being ... the end product of a natural process.”
Denominational wrestling with this issue has a long and complex history that can’t be quickly and simply summarized in the brief space available. If you’re looking for a well-written modern explanation of our doctrine of creation, be sure to read the second chapter of Cornelius Plantinga Jr.’s Engaging God’s World. It’s well worth it.
So why not just stick with a literal six-day creation account? Because the author of Genesis had no intention of giving us a 21st-century, scientifically precise account of how God created all things. The intention instead was to spell out a creation account that would serve as a polemic against all other creation stories or metanarratives floating around in the Middle East. It is, for the author, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whose stories will now be told) who is the mighty one who created all things, the only one worthy of our praise and obedience.
About the Author
Henry De Moor is professor emeritus of church polity at Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. He’s the author of Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary