Two weeks ago we began to look at Schaeffer’s book Genesis in Space and Time. In examining the first three chapters we look at Schaeffer’s thoughts on creation. This week we turn to Genesis 3 with the fall and its implications for creation.
Love, Obedience and Death
Though there were over 600 laws in the Mosaic Law God summarizes them all into two – love God and love others (Deut. 6 & Matt. 22). It is our loving God and others that is crucial and comes to the forefront at the fall. At creation God and man had a loving relationship which incorporated mans obedience to God. In this regard Schaeffer states,
The kind of love proper here is also rooted into obedience, simply because of the nature of the relationship between the two parties. Love of the creature toward the creator must include obedience or it is meaningless. (48)
This is not just true of man’s relationship with God after the fall but before it as well. Genesis 2:16-17 gives us the command God gives to Adam and Eve to not eat of the true of knowledge of good and evil. Their relationship with God is dependent on their obedience of that command. Schaeffer sees this as the “purpose of man”, that, unless he obeys, he cannot “be fully man.” (48) Man is made for love and obedience and his relationship with God is dependent upon them. Schaeffer rightly states
Love and obedience in Genesis 3 are placed in the context of a commandment concerning a tree – the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is important to note that the test Adam faces does not involve a choice between an evil tree that God has made and a good tree that God has made, for God has made no evil things. (49)
This is an important observation for many reasons, two of which Schaeffer mentions. First, Christianity does not teach that good and evil come from God. Good and evil are not forces that work together in the universe to bring abut a peaceful end. Second, God is not responsible for evil. Again, Schaeffer’s words are helpful here
God has indeed made the possibility of man’s choosing, including the possibility of choosing wrongly. But God has not made evil. There is not an evil tree and a good tree. There is simply a choice. When God finished creating, there was noting made which was contrary to His character. (50)
Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit they went from knowing about good and evil based on God’s telling them to knowing of good and evil based on experience. It was to be enough to know of evil from what God had told them. This required trust in God on their part that what He told them about evil was all they needed to know. They did not have to experience it themselves to know it. Here is the tension of love and obedience – God loved them enough to warn them but would they obey the command?
Upon knowing of evil through experience, man now knows death because of his disobedience. Man has died in three ways: on earth in life, at the end of life when the body dies and in eternity. It is helpful to understand these three deaths if we understand death to be separation from something. So, first, man was separated from God on earth while he was living. God cast him out of the garden which in part was a casting him out of His presence. Second, man will die physically. This is both a judgment and part of the means of salvation as Paul will address at the end of 1 Corinthians. It is a judgment for their disobedience but also salvation because God will not keep man in his sin cursed body. Rather, he will give him a resurrected body after the pattern of Christ’s resurrected body. Finally, man will die eternally. This refers to the eternal death many will face who are separated from God because of their sin and subsequent rejection of God during their life on earth.
With the entrance of the serpent into God’s creation we have “a new stage in the flow of biblical history.” (52) Schaeffer is quick to point out that the simplicity and shortness of detail we are given about the serpent is less than we want from the text. “We want to know more that we are actually given,” says Schaeffer. (52) While there is not a lot of detail given in Genesis, Schaeffer draws our attention to more of scripture later in the cannon. He discusses passages like Isaiah 14:12-15, John 8: 44, Rev. 12:9 and 20:2 as passages that clearly point back to the fall event and identify the serpent as Satan. On the parallels between Isaiah 14:12-15 Schaeffer notes
The story of Satan in Isaiah is paralleled almost exactly in Genesis in regard to man’s revolt. Satan wants to be equal with God, but the end of this is that he will be brought down into the abyss. In Genesis 3 the woman would be equal with God, but she ends in death. As we consider the entrance of the serpent into the garden, we see the revolt about to spread across the world of mankind which God has made. There is no revolt among the machines, nor the plants, not eh animals. But in the circle of that which can rebel, angels and men, we see rebellion……I think it is clear that the Devil used the animal, the serpent, as his first try to challenge and defeat God in the world of mankind. (55)
What we see is that a creature of God, Satan, has used God’s very good creation, a serpent, to bring about the fall of the pinnacle of God’s creation, man. Not only does Satan use God’s good creation to tempt Eve but he twists God’s word to so as well. In the face of this choice Schaeffer observes
The woman stands in her glory – the glory of being created in the image of God with no necessity upon her to choose evil. Standing in a perfect environment, having heard the voice of God, she is at a place where she can choose. (56)
While we all know that the serpent changed God’s command to Adam & Eve sometime we miss the subtleties of the text. Schaeffer is very adept at bringing these out and does so here. “Notice the direct contradiction. God said in the day you eat, you shall die; Satan said in the day you eat, you will be like God.” (56) God promises death for what the serpent promises as being like God. Schaeffer continues,
She can have experiential knowledge, but that knowledge is no truer knowledge than the knowledge from God, and the result is that the whole human race will be in agony. It is a lie, of course, that she is going to be like God, because experiential knowledge of evil is not what makes God God. (57)
The Results of the Fall
The account of the Fall is short and the judgments that follow are pointed and swift. As Paul tells us in Romans 5:12-19, with the Fall of Adam, as the representative head of all humanity, sin not only entered into the world but it entered the entire human race.
By the action of one man in a historic, space-time situation, sin entered into the world of men. But this is not just a theoretical statement that gives us a reasonable and sufficient answer to man’s present dilemma, explaining how the world can be so evil and God still be good. It is that in reality, from this time on, man was and is a sinner. (61)
On the significance of what they had done Schaeffer states,
In the garden, in the cool (or the wind) of the day, there was open fellowship, open communication – open propositional communication between God and man before the Fall. But now that which was his wonder and his joy, the fulfillment of his need, an infinite-personal reference point with whom he could have communion and communication, became the reason for his fear. He was going to meet God face to face! Once man had shaken his fist in the face of God, what had been so wonderful became a just reason for fear, because God was really there. (64)
Not only is man fearful of God but he begins to divide himself in an attempt to pass blame on the other. Adam and Eve both blame the other for their sin and now the perfect union God made has enveloped onto itself. (65)
The judgment that follows is fourfold. First, God judges the serpent. While “all nature becomes abnormal; yet the serpent is singled out in a special way.” (65) Second, God judges Satan. Schaeffer gets to this in chapter seven which will be covered in the next post. Third, God judges the women. God hits her at the heart of her relationships: child bearing and being a wife. It is the second aspect of Eve’s curse that Schaeffer expands on and is rather interesting. He states
In a fallen world, unstructured democracy is not possible. Rather, God brings structure into the primary relationship of man – the man-women relationship. In a fallen world structure is needed for order. God Himself here imposes it on the basic human relationship. Form is given, and without such form freedom would only be chaos. (66)
Schaeffer is saying that the submissive role a women is to play in relationship to man is a result of the Fall and for the purpose of keeping order in the man-women relationship. The final judgment is on man, Adam. Here Schaeffer notes that “almost all of the results of God’s judgement because of man’s rebellion relate in some way to the external world.” (66) Here we see that Adam’s judgment is no different. These external judgments change the flow of biblical history significantly.
Along with four parties being judged there are also four separations, though they are not necessarily related to the judgments. First, man is separated from God. This is the underlying relationship that supports all other relationships man has. When this relationship suffers, they all suffer. Second, man is separated from himself. He is self-deceived and he lies to himself about his condition. This manifests itself in his sexual relationships as well at death. Regarding physical death Schaeffer calls it “the greatest separation of a man from himself.” (70) Third, man is separated from man. This is seen in his relationship with Eve. They both try to pass blame on the other and thus they are divided against each other. Will the human race have a future? This is the breakdown of man as a society. With the birth of their first two boys and the beginning of the godly and ungodly line, humanity turns on itself. Fourth, man is separated from nature and nature from nature. Man’s dominion is lost and he must fight to get it back. Nature has now become a constant judgment which will always remind him of his sin.
In sum, Schaeffer makes the following observation of man at the end of the Fall:
The simple fact is that in wanting to be what man as a creature could not be, man lost what he could be. In every area and relationship men have lost what finite man could be in his proper place. (70)