Old Earth Re-Creationist Models that Interpret the Days of the Creation Week Literally

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Over the past two Monday evenings in our Biblical Creation class, we started covering old-earth creation models that interpret the days of Genesis 1 literally. More specifically we started looking at the Gap Theory by describing and evaluating this hypothesis.

Description of the Gap Theory

    Though gap theorists disagree on some details of this hypothesis, all advocates of the traditional gap theory agree that Genesis 1:1 describes a perfect and complete creation of the heavens and the earth, that 1:2 records the ruin of the originally perfect earth, and that an elapsed period of time between the originally perfect earth and its restoration set forth in 1:3–31.

Evaluation of the Gap Theory

    In class we looked at five of of my criticisms against key arguments supporting the gap theory: the use of “create” and “make” to support the gap theory, a grammatical allowance for a temporal gap, retranslating “was” as “became” to support the gap theory, “formless and void” as a reflection of judgment, and “darkness” as a reflection of judgment. This was followed by addressing three theological deficiencies with the gap theory. Since my class notes are an update of a paper that I previously wrote, I will not describe it in this post any further. If you would like to check out my arguments against the gap theory as an example of how not to interpret the Bible, go to “What about the Gap Theory?

This evening in our class, we will finish looking at old-earth re-creationists models followed by a presentation of arguments for young-earth creationism. I hope to post about this later on the week.

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Extending the Future Impact of Canyon Ministries

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One of the ministries that can have a great influence on educators in evangelical colleges and seminaries is Canyon Ministries. Rather than presenting a week of academic lectures in an air conditioned classroom, CM, under the leadership of renowned rafting guide Tom Vail, is able to have an impact on these educators by providing a week long white water rafting trip down the Colorado River. This trip provides explicit geological evidence from the Grand Canyon, God’s classroom of nature, that supports a literal interpretation of the Genesis Flood. For the past two years, CM has provided scholarships, with the financial help of a few other ministries and individuals, to specifically chosen Christian educators. 2010 will mark the third year that CM has offered this type of trip. What is distinctive about the Christian leader’s trip is the way it is set up. The objective of each trip is to invite 1/3 of the group who are committed to young-earth creationism, another 1/3 are those who adhere to old-earth creationism, and the final 1/3 are somewhere in between.

Because of my biblical studies, I have been convinced of a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 for many years, including the Genesis flood. Since I have been involved with other young-earth creationists for some time, I was invited to be part of the 1/3 of the group in the 2008 trip that were committed to young-earth creationism. Though it was not necessary for my convictions to be confirmed by anything other than the Bible, it was gratifying on this trip to see physical evidence from the Grand Canyon that supported the biblical view (for some details on my trip, read my blog post).

Besides Tom’s capable leadership as well as starting each of our trips on our rafts with the memorable “let’s go boatin’,” we had other capable scholars join us to lecture on various aspects of a literal interpretation of the flood narrative in Genesis (to see who these leaders are as well as their credential, you can return to my blog entry and scroll half way down the page). One of the scholars who had a profound impact on me was geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling. I often think of Andrew as a cornucopia of geological data as well as his ability to correlate how this data connects with a literal interpretation of Genesis. In addition, I was privileged to make friends with over 20 biblical scholars from other evangelical institutions.

Because of CM’s impact on me over the course of a one-week white water rafting trip, I would like to be able to assist this good cause by making two recommendations. First, if you are interested in the June 21st 7-day trip, there are a few seats still available (go here). Second, 24 scholarships have been provided for Bible educators from around the country (including Dr. Mark Snoeberger from DBTS). At this point CM is $30,000 short of meeting their scholarship expectations. Let me encourage you to pray and to financially contribute to this year’s “Christian Leader’s Trip.” If you are interested in financially partnering with this Christ-honoring trip, simply go to their website and scroll down to the bottom of this page where you are given instructions on how to contribute; or you can contact them at CanyonMinistries.com. I pray that God will continue to bless Canyon Ministries.

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The Global Flood & Mining Mountains in West Virginia

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In West Virginia uniformitarian geological wisdom dates the coal in their mining mountains to 300 million years ago. Supposedly, this region was an enormous swamp with no distinguishable characteristics that stretched for hundreds of miles, just above sea level. However, in contrast to the 300 millions years, Dr. Tas Walker presents good evidence that questions conventional geological wisdom about the West Virginia Coal Mines and supports this as being only a few thousand years old.

Dr. Walker, with Creation Ministries International, has posted an informative article that deals with this evidence about these coal mines. Not only does he point out a number of problems with the swamp idea, he shows how the actual evidence from the mines “points to the vegetation being dumped by a huge watery catastrophe—strong evidence to the reality of the global Flood,” a few thousand years ago. I highly recommend that you read the whole article at “Mining Mountains in West Virginia.”

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2010 Rice Lecture Series

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Yesterday at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary‘s annual lecture series, we were privileged to have as our guest lecturer Dr. Michael Vlach from The Master’s Seminary, where he serves as Assistant Professor of Theology. Dr. Vlach’s is a current leader in dispensational studies (check out his website).

The tile of Dr. Vlach’s lecture was “Replacement Theology: Has the Church Superseded Israel as the People of God?” His lecture had three sections: “Introduction to Replacement Theology,” “A Critique of the Arguments of Replacement Theology,” and “The Case for the Restoration of Israel.” Dr. Vlach’s lecture was well-done. And, I would highly recommend that you read his lecture notes and listen to his three lectures by going to DBTS’s website.

Old Earth Creationism: Figurative Interpretations of the Days of Creation (Part 2)

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This past Monday in my Biblical Creation class, I finished covering my fourth lesson that focused on four figurative interpretations of the days of creation week (to read about this, go here). In our class we covered three areas of weakness and a questionable presupposition that theistic evolution, the day-age view, progressive creation, and the framework interpretation share. With this post, I will summarize four items: a hermeneutical inconsistency, an inconsistency with the perspicuity of Scripture, undermining the fall of Adam & the Edenic curse, and presuppositions & biblical interpretation.

A hermeneutical inconsistency. If the narrative in the creation week is historical literature, then it should be interpreted according to the conventions of that genre—conventions that most evangelicals use when interpreting the remainder of the narrative in Genesis. Though some want to interpret the creation account as something other than historical literature (e.g., poetry), the presence of distinctly narrative features calls such approaches into question.

Non-literal interpretations of the creation week minimize the historical details of the creation account. And, this is what we would expect if Genesis 1:1–2:3 were a poetic, or even a semi-poetic, account. However, this account has the characteristics of historical, narrative literature, rather than poetic literature. If this account were poetry, poetic parallelism would be its dominant feature, as it is in passages such as the creation hymn in Psalm 104. In contrast to the expected rhetorical features associated with poetry, Genesis 1:1–2:3 consistently uses a grammatical device that characterizes historical literature, the waw consecutive. This device occurs some 2,107 times in Genesis, averaging out to 42 times per chapter. In Genesis 1:1–2:3, while there is an absence of poetic parallelism, there are 55 waw consecutives. Whatever else may be said about the creation account, this grammatical device marks it as historical narrative, just as it does in the remainder of Genesis.

An inconsistency with the perspicuity of Scripture. The doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture maintains that the average believer can comprehend the Bible’s overall message. What this doctrine denies is that a believer needs assistance from an external interpreter, whether it be a Pope, philosophy or any other human authority, to arrive at a proper understanding of the Bible’s basic doctrines.

In Scripture, the literal understanding of the creation account is both assumed and used as the basis for other commands, such as the Sabbath command in Exodus 20:8–11. Furthermore, the literal interpretation is set forth and assumed throughout Jewish and Christian history. In fact, it was not until the nineteenth century with the development of uniformitarian geology that the literal interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3 was even questioned, something that lead Pipa to remark, “What in Genesis 1 or the rest of scripture suggests a non-literal view? Did the church make such a gross error in almost 2000 years of interpretation”?

Undermining the fall of Adam and the Edenic curse. Each of the non-literal views of the creation days directly affirms or allows for suffering and death before the fall of the head of the human race and, thus, undermines both the headship of Adam and the Edenic curse. When Adam fell, it not only affected his posterity but also the realm over which he ruled, the Edenic curse. In developing these two doctrines, we looked at a number of biblical texts that support this interpretation: Genesis 1:26, 28; 2:5, 15; 3:14, 1 Corinthians 5:21-22; and Romans 5:12-21, 8:21-22. The two biblical texts that I use most often are Romans 5 and 8. Paul’s biblical theology about the the Fall and the Curse on the created realm are strong texts for which I have never had a reasonable to get around their force. As such, death, suffering and decay of necessity started with the Fall our Federal Head, Adam, in Genesis 3.

Presuppositions & biblical interpretation. As previously noted, the 24-hour day view has been the dominant view of Christian interpreters from the Church Fathers until Charles Lyell in the mid-1800s. What has primarily changed since Lyell’s time is the way man defines and uses science. Modern scientific opinion has seemingly been elevated to the status of general revelation, and with its elevation “scientific opinion” has become an a priori that influences how we interpret Genesis 1:1–2:3.

It is not uncommon for me to hear professing Christians assert that the discoveries of contemporary scientists are a form of general revelation and that the special revelation that the Bible communicates has the same level of authority as scientifically discovered general revelation, both are the voice of God. If this is the type of reasoning being circulated in our culture, does this not imply that the “general revelation” communicated by “contemporary scientists” is something other than general revelation since it was unavailable from the time of creation until the modern era. Further, this confuses general revelation with scientific opinion and implies that general revelation has the same propositional force as special revelation. It is the propositional revelation of Scripture (Ps 19:1–6, Eccl 3:11, Acts 14:17, 17:23–31, Rom 1:18–25, 2:14–15, 10:18) that defines general revelation. And, Scripture defines general revelation as a constant knowledge about God that is available to all men; it is, however, not comprehensive knowledge about God (e.g., it reveals no Gospel) or nature (e.g., it does not include accumulating scientific opinion.

Through the years I have heard and read statements like these from well-known Christian scholars and and have often asked myself that, if we did not live in our current age, would this type of statement have been made and, furthermore, would any of the alternate interpretations of Genesis 1:1–2:3 even be valid options for evangelicals? It seems that the spirit of our age has created a modern mindset conducive to a reinterpretation of the creation account. However, many of the influences that shape such reinterpretations are external to Scripture, rather than being derived from a consistent biblical theology. In my estimation, there is no biblical reason to reinterpret Genesis 1:1–2:3.

Therefore, my conclusions are that theistic evolution, progressive creationism, the day-age and framework views pose more exegetical and theological difficulties than they solve and that the traditional, literal reading provides the most consistent interpretation of the exegetical details associated with the context of the early chapters of Genesis and the overall theological message of Scripture.

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Interpreting the Book of Proverbs (Part 9)

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I have been delinquent in completing my series on Proverbs. I will do six more parts to complete this series. In part 8, we began looking at literary clues in specific contexts in Proverbs. With this post, we will finish looking at these clues in explicit settings.

B. Other Literary Clues

1. One-Line Sayings & the Use of a “Punch-Word”

This type of one-line saying, built on the model of contrastive parallelism, may show a certain emphasis through the use of a “punch-word” (Alter, The Art of Biblical Poetry, p. 168). An example of this is seen in Proverbs 11:1.

A-false balance is-an-abomination to-the-LORD.

But-a-just weight is-His-delight.

In Hebrew this proverb takes seven words, four in the first line and three in the second. I have hyphenated the terms to reflect which expressions were one word in the Hebrew text. The antithesis of “a-false balance” is “but-a-just weight.” The two Hebrew terms, “an-abominations to-the-LORD,” are compressed into a significant one-word counterpart with “His-delight.” Both of these latter expressions are strong theological descriptions of that which is an abhorrence and a pleasure in God’s sight. The counterpart of “an-abomination to-the-LORD” is the theological punch-word “His-pleasure” (ibid.). This compressed punch-word is a theologically satisfying emphasis of this one-verse unit. In contrast to that which is abominable in His sight, this verse affirms that God’s pleasure is found not only in worship but even in the marketplace.

2. One-Line Sayings & the Parallelism of Specification or Intensification

Other one-line sayings, built on the parallelism of specification or intensification, may reflect a “consequentiality.” This type of proverb shows that certain types of activity generally lead to certain types of consequences. This is to say, it reflects that God has created and governs the world and man in such a way that certain consequences are generally the result of specific actions. “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6). God has designed life in such a way that when parents seriously instruct their children according to a godly pattern, the consequence is that they generally share the same godly patterns as their parents. In a modified manner, we see another example in 21:31, “The horse is prepared for battle, but victory belongs to the LORD.” The first part of the verse focuses on preparing the horse for battle. The last half moves to the conclusion of the battle. The last half is unexpected in that we have a new figure introduced into a proverbial equation, “the LORD” (ibid., pp. 172–73). This is to say, we do not have a strict cause-and-effect relationship between the first half of the verse and the second. However, from the sage’s vantage point, God is the ultimate cause for everything in life.

3. One-Line Sayings & the Riddle Format

One-line sayings may also reflect a type of riddle format. The riddle format not only includes a riddle, but it may also include a perplexing statement or an image. The pattern of this format will have a riddle, perplexing statement, or image introduced in the first half of a verse with the second half explaining it. A perplexing and shocking image is used in Proverbs 11:22, “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.” The image in the first half of the verse would have been repulsive and ludicrous to a Jew. How foolish it is to think that a gold ring could beautify a pig. The second half makes the point. An undiscerning and ungodly beautiful woman is comparable to the same attempt to beautify a repulsive pig. Another example is 17:12, “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.” A fool in his folly is a greater danger than meeting a bear that has been robbed of her cubs (ibid., pp. 176–78). As Alden has said, “Consider meeting a fool with a knife, or gun, or even behind the wheel of a car; a mother bear could be less dangerous” (Proverbs, p. 134).

With our next post on Proverbs, we will look at the fifth principle for interpreting Proverbs.

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Old Earth Creationism: Figurative Interpretations of the Days of Creation (Part 1)

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In my Biblical Creation class this past Monday, I covered more than half of my fourth lesson that focuses on figurative interpretations of the days of creation. We looked at four of these interpretations: theistic evolution, the day-age view, progressive creationism, and the framework interpretation.

Theistic evolution, recently labeled by one of its current advocates as “the fully gifted creation,” argues that God created inorganic matter that contained properties with the potential to evolve into the wide variety of life forms presently observable. The advocates of this view affirm that God “created” all current life forms over extended geological ages and through random mutations and natural selection.

The day-age view maintains that the six days of the creation week were six
chronologically-arranged geological ages. This “concordist” position is supported by two primary arguments. The first is that the Hebrew term yôm (“day”) can be used figuratively to refer to an extended period of time, as it does, for example, in the expression, “the day of the LORD.” The second argument relies on the results of modern scientific dating. As such, the obvious advantage of this view is that it harmonizes the Bible with the current scientific estimate for a 4.5 billion year old earth.

Progressive creationism is distinct from theistic evolution in that progressive creationists postulate that God, while using evolution, intervenes at key junctures to create life forms that would not naturally evolve. In reference to God’s involvement in evolution, theistic evolutionists postulate that God created all current forms of living things from non-living matter by strictly using the mechanism of evolution. In contrast to this, progressive creationists assert that God progressively intervenes in many places to create specific life forms in the course of billions of years. In reality, the progressive creationist view is very similar, if not at times identical to the day-age view, though progressive creationist defenders do not tend to promote it as a concordist understanding, which often focuses on harmonizing the so-called findings of Scripture with the progression related to the unfolding of the days of the creation week.

The framework view asserts that the creation “week” of Genesis 1:1–2:3 is a literary device intended to present God’s creative activity in a topical, non-sequential manner, rather than a literal, sequential one. Framework defenders supports this hypothesis with three primary arguments. First, they contend that the figurative nature of the creation account demonstrates that it is arranged topically rather than chronologically. The following chart reflects the framework’s literary frame.

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The parallel nature of days 1–3 with days 4–6 reflect that this is something of a poetic account which overrides the sequential numbering of the creation days. Second, it is argued that the unending character of the seventh day (Heb 4:3–4 cites Gen 2:2) indicates that the six days of the creation week are not normal days. This argument is a fundamental aspect of the framework. If the seventh day of the creation week is a continuous day, then the days of the creation week are also long periods of time, heavenly time as opposed to earthly time. Third, those framework advocates who follow Meredith Kline’s version of this position also argue that God used ordinary providence (i.e., the non-miraculous sustaining and directing of all creation) to control the creation “week.” This argument is predicated on interpreting “because it had not rained” in Genesis 2:5 as suggesting that God did not create plants until he first created an environment conducive to sustain plants Based upon what Kline calls “the unargued presupposition of Gen 2:5,” he infers that God primarily used ordinary providence to control the creation “week.” Thus, Genesis 1:1–2:3 cannot be a sequential account because, for example, vegetation was created on third day before the sun was created on the fourth day.

In our next class on March 8, we will look at the major problems with these four views.

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Subscribing to Tyndale House’s Newsletter

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I have subscribed to Tyndale House’s Newsletter for a number of years; and, I would like to encourage you to do the same.

To assist you in seeing my interest in Tyndale House, here are some posts that I have done in reference to Drs. David Instone-Bewer and Peter Williams, Research Staff from Tyndale House.

My initial post, October 22, 2007, provided a link to Dr. David Instone-Brewer on the subject of “Divorce and Remarriage.”

I did another blog entry, on October 23, on “Divorce and Remarriage Update

On October 29, Dr. Instone-Brewer responded to my post on October 23, click here.

While preparing to teach a class on Haggai & Malachi, I did a post on June 8, 2009 “Preparing for Malachi 2:10-16

Finally, on January 1, 2009, I did a post about “Meeting Dr. Pete Williams

For those who read my blog, you will profit if you take advantage of this opportunity to subscribe to their newsletter, as well as checking out their website. To subscribe to their newsletter, click here.

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