Is every person a child of God? Yes, say many ‘Christians’ and also, apparently, Pope Francis. In a recent message released January 6th, he said:
“Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: We are all children of God” and the fact that the majority of people profess some sort of religious belief “should lead to a dialogue among religions. We should not stop praying for it and collaborating with those who think differently.”[i]
Are all people children of God? Should there be interfaith dialogue and collaboration amongst those who think differently? Is this what Scripture teaches?
No, Scripture says something totally different. Throughout the Bible we read of two distinct peoples. On the one hand there are the people of God, namely the church which Christ gathers, defends and preserves through the ages (LD 21); and on the other hand there are those who do not belong to God, namely the ‘world’ of unbelievers and false religions. It is in Satan’s interest, of course, to rub out this divinely appointed dividing line by promoting interfaith collaboration and a ‘we’re-all-children-of-God’ notion in order to get God’s children over the line into his camp. The pope, head of a false church, is on the wrong side of the dividing line.
The late Rev C Vonk, in his book De Voorzeide Leer, spoke about this demarcation line in a segment titled “Forbidden Friendship”[ii] as follows:
Throughout the ages, Gen 3:15 (I will put enmity between you and the woman, etc.) has been known by various names. It has been called Protevangel, namely the first gospel; and also Mother-promise, namely the promise that would embody all following promises. After man’s fall into sin our gracious God turned, first of all, to the originator of all misery [Satan], the deceiver of His child [Eve], and powerfully separated the two with a stern hand. He even predicted a war between the two former friends. In fact, He did not merely predict that war, but decreed it. Commanded it. The two of you shall and must fight from now on. And not only against each other, but also Satan together with those who belong to him against the woman together with those that belong to her. I command a never-ending warfare between the two of you and your descendants. For the LORD spoke of seed: “Between your seed and her seed.”
The Hebrew word for ‘seed’, zerac, can also have the broader meaning of party, followers. Scripture speaks, for example, of the zerac of the wicked (Isaiah 1:4) and of the zerac of the righteous (Proverbs 11:21). Adopting that meaning also for Genesis 3:15, the LORD ordained a war between serpent and woman, and between the party of the serpent (the serpent-followers) and the party of the woman (the woman-followers.)
When we say woman-party we should think of all people (all of mankind). Not of only a few, or of some, or of many people, but of all people. And we have every reason not to think of [all kinds of] snakes, but of the spiritual background, mentioned earlier. God commanded Eve together with her ‘party’, that is all of mankind, to wage war against the serpent and his followers, that is Satan and all his devils.
As God did not condescend to mention Satan by name, and the author of Genesis strictly observed Israel’s rule not to mention the name of foreign gods – let alone the name of the master of all idols – that war is further described in terms which, taken literally, are applicable only for people and snakes. “This (seed of the woman) will crush your head, and you shall pierce its heel.”
Instead of translating “crush your head”, some prefer the stronger expression “targeting your head”. In that case God would not have commanded woman’s followers to merely resist Satan and his followers, devils and false gods, but to deliberately confront and attack him. Lying in wait for him. Not just on the defensive, but actually opening the attack.
And now about the words Protevangel and Mother-promise. If anyone would insist that Gen. 3:15 is Gospel [i.e. the first allusion to salvation in the coming of Christ] I’d agree, but we could go back a few verses earlier and see Gospel in Gen. 3:8 where the LORD asks: ‘Where are you?’
Anyway, we should not forget that the first gospel preaching on earth took the form of a declaration of war and of universal military duty. In accordance with God’s will all of mankind was originally registered for military service against Satan, idolatry and unbelief. God pulled Adam and Eve, after their foolish friendship with a partner who would cause them nothing but death and destruction, back from their dangerous friends and placed them back at His side, next to Him, the God of life. And in their first ancestors all people were dragged back across the forbidden dividing line and placed at God’s side.
That’s why all unbelief and godlessness on earth is to be strictly condemned as recidivism [backsliding, apostasy], renewed desertion, repeated refusal to serve God our Creator and Redeemer. That’s why all preaching of the gospel to all people has to be accompanied by the command to believe and repent to the only true and merciful God. And we’re not merely allowed but compelled to accept that preaching. Faith in the Scriptures should not be regarded as a hobby of an eccentric little group. It is the pressing duty of all mankind to be on God’s side in the holy war which He declared already in the Garden of Eden. The question: “Am I allowed to believe?” is through and through foolish, for some very ancient reasons.
We will not object when, here at Genesis 3:15, people speak about the Messiah. It is almost instinctively done. Who is able to keep his thoughts back from flashing forward to Jesus Christ, who came into the world with the mandate to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) and who obeyed that command “to the point of death” (Phil 2:8)?
But people should stop giving Bible texts like this the Messianic label. For where in our body do we not find blood? And which page in Scripture has nothing to do with Christ? The practice of labeling certain texts as especially Messianic may easily underrate others. The Messianic qualification applies to each part of the Bible. As a consequence it applies nowhere in particular. For that reason a variety of similar expressions is perfectly unnecessary. As an example, there is absolutely no need to import Christ into many Old Testament places in order to speak or preach “Christocentric” about them. All one need do is pay attention to the role each part plays within the whole of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms.
[ii] C Vonk, “Forbidden Friendship”, in De Voorzeide Leer, (Vol. 1a, Introduction to Genesis & Exodus, Barendrecht, 1960). This book is in Dutch and this article has been translated from Dutch.