Defiance: Illustrating Genesis 3

D. A. Carson, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story; Leader’s Guide  (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), 33–34:

A young school teacher in Northern Ireland once told me how she taught the substance of these early chapters of Genesis. Fresh out of college, she found herself a job teaching “religious education” (still common in the United Kingdom) to young boys in a rather rough school. She was making no headway at all. She decided to try another approach. Using plaster of Paris, she got them to create their own little creatures (one imagines that some of them were pretty grotesque) and then, over the next days, their own world, complete with a village, animals, a little lake, fences, and so forth. She had the boys make up the “backstory” behind each little creature and begin to weave the accounts together. Eventually she asked them to pool ideas for some rules or laws that they thought they should impose to preserve some order. The boys came up with quite a number, including a prohibition against going too close to the edge of the “world” less they fall off and break, and a prohibition against going into the lake, where of course they would dissolve. These and other “laws” were grouped together to see if they could be boiled down for simplicity. The boys decided that the one law “Do what I tell you” was the most comprehensive.

The next day, the teacher came into class and asked them to imagine that one of the little creatures the boys had created stood up and said to his maker, rather defiantly, “Leave me alone. This is my world, not yours. I’ll do what I want. I certainly do not want you telling me what to do. Get out of here and leave me alone!” How, then, should the boys respond?

There was a moment of stunned silence, and then one of the boys volunteered, “I’d break his bloody legs!”

That is how the teacher introduced Genesis 3. And of course, the degree of culpable betrayal and defiance that we human beings display against the perfectly good, wise, and sovereign Creator is infinitely greater.

For more information on The God Who Is There, see here.


  1. says

    What an illustration. Geoff and I watched the video series, but I can’t remember now if he (Carson) mentions it in there or not. I need to take this and think on it.

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