Published
7.29.2020

How order not sin frames Genesis

We continue our reposting of some gems from our past library of talks. This episode is highly significant partly because of the big idea but also because it is John Walton who espouses it. John as you know is a legendary Bible scholar and author, and is the major voice for putting the OT back into the worldview of the Ancient Near East. That gives a fair bit of weight to the rather innovative ideas in this conversation. In essence, John says that it is ‘order’ (and what he calls the ‘order spectrum’) that frames the thinking in Genesis – not ‘sin’. He implies (what I would say more boldly perhaps) that the ‘sin’ framework is a modern anachronistic reading – whereby we are reading our modern paradigms backwards into the text. What this does is to deny us some of the rich meaning in the text, and stop it extending our faith and minds. None of this is to deny that ‘sin’ is not an absolutely core part of Christian theology – but it does modify just what that word might mean for us. And it is a bigger word than ‘sin’ because the order spectrum includes chaos that does not come from a moral failure – and lots of our lives fall into that category. We make a big mistake by sucking everything back into the moral/sin category. It can really distort our understanding of life and how to react to it. This talk is a real conversation between John and I. There is a lot of back and forth, and of course it is exploratory and unscripted.

John Walton

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