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Genesis In Space and Time: The Flow of Biblical History


The historicity of the Bible was always a central tenet of Schaeffer's thinking. If God did not create the world and man in real space-time as described in Genesis, then Christianity is no different than any other cultural myth or existential leap. The questions of the world and it's form, and man and his "mannishness" can only be answered sufficiently if God is there, has acted in space-time and the Bible is the accurate, historical record of those actions.

Commercial Availability of Work
Genesis In Space and Time (paper - 174 pages)
The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer (paper)
The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer (Windows CDROM)

Quotes From The Book
An impersonal beginning...raises two overwhelming problems which neither the East nor modern man has come anywhere near solving. First, there is no real explanation for the fact that the external world not only exists, but has a specific form. Despite its frequent attempt to reduce the concept of the personal to the area of chemical or psychological conditioning, scientific study demonstrates that the universe has an express form. One can go from particulars to a greater unity, from the lesser laws to more and more general laws or super-laws. In other words, as I look at the Being which is the external universe, it is obviously not just a handful of pebbles thrown out there. What is there has form. If we assert the existence of the impersonal as the beginning of the universe, we simply have no explanation for this kind of situation.

Second, and more important, if we begin with an impersonal universe, there is no explanation of personality. In a very real sense the question of questions for all generations -- but overwhelmingly so for modern man -- is, "Who am I?" For when I look at the "I" that is me and then look around to those who face me and are also men, one thing is immediately obvious: Man has a "mannishness." You find it wherever you find man -- not only in the men who live today, but in the artifacts of history. The assumption of an impersonal beginning cannot adequately explain the personal beings we see around us; and when men try to explain man on the basis of an original impersonal, man soon disappears.

In short, an impersonal beginning explains neither the form of the universe nor the personality of man. Hence it gives no basis for understanding human relationships, building just societies, or engaging in any kind of cultural effort. Itís not just the man in the university who needs to understand these questions. The farmer, the peasant, anyone at all who moves and thinks needs to know. That is, as I look and see that something is there, I need to know what to do with it. The impersonal answer at any level and at any place at any time of history does not explain these two basic factors -- the universe and its form, and the "mannishness" of man. And this is so whether it is expressed in the religious terms of pantheism or modern scientific terms.

But the Judeo-Christian tradition begins with the opposite answer. And it is upon this that our whole Western culture has been built. The universe had a personal beginning -- a personal beginning on the high order of the Trinity. That is, before "in the beginning" the personal was already there. Love and thought and communication existed prior to the creation of the heavens and the earth.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)

The historic Christian position concerning Genesis 1:1 is the only one which can be substantiated, the only one which is fair and adequate to the whole thrust of Scripture. "In the beginning" is a technical term stating the fact that at this particular point of sequence there is a creation ex nihilo -- a creation out of nothing. All that is, except for God Himself who already has been, now comes into existence. Before this there was a personal existence -- love and communication. Prior to the material universe (whether we think of it as mass or energy), prior to the creation of all else, there is love and communication. This means that love and communication are intrinsic. And hence, when modern man screams for love and communication (as he so frequently does), Christians have an answer: There is value to love and value to communication because it is rooted into what intrinsically always has been.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)

Here is an answer for modern man overwhelmed by the problem of being, by knowing that something is there and yet not being able to understand it. Everything which has being, except God Himself, rests upon the fact that God willed and brought it into creation. With this I understand why Being is there and why it has form, and I understand that particular part of being which I myself am and the "mannishness" (personality) that I find in me. Things fall into place, not through a leap in the dark, but through that which makes good sense and can be discussed. Once and for all, God did create the Being of the external world and man's existence. They are not God and they are not an extension of God, but they exist because of an act of the will of that which is personal and which existed prior to their being.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)

Often in a discussion someone will say, "Didn't God, then, if He is personal and if He loves, need an object for His love? Didn't He have to create? And therefore, isn't the universe just as necessary to Him as He is to the universe?" But the answer is, No. He did not have to create something face-to-face with Himself in order to love, because there already was the Trinity. God could create by a free act of the will because before creation there was the Father who loved the Son and there was also the Holy Spirit to love and be loved. In other words, God had someone face-to-face with Himself in the three Persons of the Trinity.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)

It is wrong to praise God merely as an upper-story, contentless, religious experience. That is one form of taking His name in vain.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space,
Ch. 1)

As a younger Christian, I never thought it right to use the word creation for an artistís work. I reserved it for Godís initial work alone. But I have come to realize that this was a mistake, because, while there is indeed a difference, there is also a very important parallel. The artist conceives in his thought world, and then he brings forth into the external world. This is true of an artist painting a canvas, a musician composing a piece of music, an engineer designing a bridge, or a flower arranger making a flower arrangement. First there is the conception in the thought world and then a bringing forth into the external world. And it is the same with God. God who existed before had a plan, and He created and caused these things to become objective. Furthermore, just as one can know something very real about the artist from looking at his creation, so we can know something about God by looking at His creation. The Scripture insists that even after the Fall, we still know something about God on this basis.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)

Some Christians became excited about the big bang theory, thinking that it favored Christianity. But they really missed the point -- either the point of Scripture or the big bang theory or both. The simple fact is that what is given in Genesis 1:1 has no relationship to the big bang theory -- because from the scriptural viewpoint, the primal creation goes back beyond the basic material or energy. Even if one accepts the big bang theory, Genesis 1:1 would then go beyond it by saying that God created out of nothing the primal stuff present at the big bang. We have a new thing created by God out of nothing by fiat, and this is the distinction.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)

It is either not knowing or denying the createdness of things that is at the root of the blackness of modern manís difficulties. Give up creation as space-time, historic reality, and all that is left is what Simone Weil called uncreatedness. It is not that something does not exist, but that it just stands there, autonomous to itself, without solutions and without answers. Once one removes the createdness of all things, meaning and categories can only be some sort of leap, with or without drugs, into an irrational world. Modern manís blackness, therefore, rests primarily upon his losing the reality of the createdness of all things (all things except the personal God who always has been).
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)

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