Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 15 (2010)

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Volume 15 of the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal arrived at the seminary last week and will shortly be mailed. This issue has five articles and eleven book reviews.

Here is a list of the articles.

“An Old Testament Sanctifying Influence: The Sovereignty of God” by Robert V. McCabe

“God and Counterfactuals” by Matthew A. Postiff

“‘Come Apart and Rest a While': The Origin of the Bible Conference Movement in America” by Mark Sidwell

“‘Violent Motions of Carnal Affections': Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, and Distinguishing the Work of the Spirit from Enthusiasm” by Ryan J. Martin

“On Reading Institutional Histories: A Review Article” by Jeffrey P. Straub

The book reviews are as follows.

David VanDrunen’s Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought, reviewed by Mark A. Snoeberger

James Leo Garrett, Jr’s Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study, reviewed by Jeffrey P. Straub

Samuel M. Ngewa’s 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Barry J. Beitzel The New Moody Atlas of the Bible and Carl G. Rasmussen’s Zondervan Atlas of the Bible, reviewed by Kevin Paul Oberlin

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr’s The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, reviewed by Larry Rogier

Sung Wook Chung (ed.)’s John Calvin and Evangelical Theology, reviewed by Timothy Scott

Scott Aniol’s Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, reviewed by Ken Brown

Darrell W. Johnson’s The Glory of Preaching: Participating in God’s Transformation of the World, reviewed by Allen R. Mickle, Jr.

Scott Oliphint and Lane G. Tipton (eds.)’s Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics, reviewed by Michael Riley

Everett Ferguson’s Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries, reviewed by Van Carpenter

Subscription rates for the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal are $11 for two years and $21 for four years. You have two options to subscribe.

1. Pay for a subscription online

2. Send payment to: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, 4801 Allen Road, Allen Park, MI 48101

If you have any questions about subscribing to the journal, click here to go to the seminary’s website for further instructions.

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The Beginning of a New School Year

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Between enjoying a couple of weeks with my family and some ministry opportunities, this has been an enjoyable and busy summer. Summer officially came to an end last week. Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary‘s fall seminary program started on Monday evening, August 23, with our convocation dinner. The following day, we had orientation for new students and on Thursday, August 26, classes began.

This fall begins DBTS’s thirty-fifth year of operation and my twenty-eight year of teaching at the seminary. In God’s good providence, I have enjoyed twenty-seven profitable years at DBTS and am looking forward to another one. As has been the case for almost three decades, our students will have a heavy academic load this semester.

This fall I am teaching three classes: Hebrew Exegesis of Job, first semester of Elementary Hebrew Grammar, and Pentateuch. I have uploaded to my website the course requirements for each of these classes. If you still need the course requirements, or just want to see what these classes look like, you may get a concise overview for each class and then download the complete set of requirements by clicking any of the following links.

Hebrew Exegesis of Job

Elementary Hebrew Grammar

Pentateuch

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Jonah & Nahum: Summer 2010

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During the weeks of June 1-11, I am teaching an English Bible class on Jonah & Nahum. The class is set up for Master of Divinity and Master of Theology students. The major difference between the two groups is that the prerequisite for ThM students is an MDiv degree. As far as class work is concerned, ThM students must do additional work, such as writing a critical book review and being able to translate on sight the books of Jonah and Nahum from a Hebrew Old Testament.

My class is one of six that are being taught this semester. Our summer school classes are set up so that two classes are taught over a two-week period followed by two subsequent two-week periods of classes. Below is DBTS’s summer school schedule for 2010.

Summer School 2010

If you are enrolled in my class or have an interest in Jonah & Nahum, you can download a copy of the requirements by going here.

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The Nature of the Noahic Flood

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Earlier this week on Monday eveming, we finished our Biblical Creationism class. We looked at the ninth of ten lessons in my syllabus. This lesson is on “the Nature of the Noahic Flood.” The initial part of this lesson covers seven biblical reasons supporting the global nature of the Genesis Flood. We treated these reasons in the first part of our class (classes at DBTS are just short of two-hours in length). In the second part we looked at a DVD on the Grand Canyon and Noah’s Flood.

In the first half of class, we looked at biblical reasons that provide support for the Genesis Flood being global.

A. The depth of the flood, Genesis 7:19–20

B. The duration of the flood, Genesis 7:11 and 8:13–14

C. The geology of the flood, Genesis 7:11

D. The size of the ark, Genesis 6:15

E. The need of an ark, Genesis 6:13, 7:2, 6:19–20, 7:9, 15

F. The testimony of the apostle Peter, 2 Peter 3:3-7

G. The purpose of the flood, Genesis 6:5-7, 11-13 (see Whitcomb, The World That Perished, pp. 47-65).

In the class syllabus, I have two other major sections in this lesson: God’s involvement with the flood and results from the flood. Because of class time constraints, I recommended for the class to read the final portions of this lesson after class.

When I went white water rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon in the summer of 2008, I became convinced that this Canyon of Canyons was a monument to the Genesis flood (concerning my trip, I did a blog entry here; one of my colleagues on this trip, Dr. Del Tackett, has an outstanding series of 10 posts summarizing each day of our trip along with outstanding pictures; to look at this, you should start with first post “The ‘Canyon'” and follow his posts by going to his section “Science“; and finally, for an advertisement for this year’s trip, go here). Because of my trip, I had resolved to give more attention to the Grand Canyon in my Biblical Creation class. What better way in a classroom is there to get a sense of the Canyon than taking a 55-minute visual trip through the Grand Canyon, while listening to the expert voices of 5 creation scientists. So, for the last hour of our class, we watched the DVD “The Grand Canyon: Monument to the Flood.”

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Though a DVD is not the same as an actual trip in which you get soaked with river water where temperatures are between 46 to 50 degrees, bake under the sun in 120 degree temperatures, etc., you get a sense of the Canyon while being guided by Drs. Steve Austin, George Van Burbach, John Morris, Andrew Snelling, and Kurt Wise. This DVD presents seven evidences that support the Canyon having been formed as a result of the global flood in Noah’s day.

Ocean waters covered the continents

Rapid burial of plants and animals

Widespread strata

Short time between strata

Massive tectonic upheaval

Rapid erosion

Doubtful dating methods

In short, Drs. Austin, Van Burbach, Morris, Snelling, and Wise provide both geological and biblical evidence that clearly explain the provenance and history of the Canyon. Because of the colorful graphics, aerial pictures, and interviews with these men, I would highly recommend that you purchase this DVD from here.

In the final analysis, this was an enriching semester for me for two reasons. First, besides having solid testimonies and a commitment to understanding biblical truth, the desire of the 15-students in this class to understand the early chapters of Genesis made this a great milieu in which to teach. Second, because evangelicalism is being inundated with voices that support an old-earth cosmogony, this class reinforced my commitment to defending a literal interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis that unambiguously affirm that God created the heavens, the earth and all things therein a few thousand years ago.

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Death & Decay in Genesis 3

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When you study God’s perfect creation in Genesis 1, it is hard to harmonize it with the world that we live in today. However, Genesis 3 provides an explanation for our tension. So, after having looked at the creation of Adam and Eve, last Monday evening we examined Genesis 3, as well as a few other relevant biblical texts, to see how and when death and decay entered in the created order. The point of this examination is to demonstrate that disease, suffering, and death did not become a part of God’s good universe until God’s vice-regent, Adam ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Here are the three parts around which our discussion was organized:

I. Temptation leads to the fall by magnifying disobedience, 1–7.

II. God responds to the fall by announcing judgment, vv. 8–24.

III. The fall has a fourfold significance for Biblical Creationism.

With the first part of the lesson, we focused on Genesis 3:1-7. This text shows that the satanically-possessed serpent deceived Eve who became the first human sinner when she ate from the fruit in v. 6. However, we should carefully note that God’s curse on humanity and the created order did not occur when Eve ate but when Adam ate from the fruit, v. 6 (see 1 Timothy 2:12-14 and Romans 5:12-21). In addition, we demonstrated from Genesis 3:8-24 and other pertinent biblical texts that God’s announcement of judgment focused on Adam & Eve, their posterity, Satan & the serpent, the animal & plant kingdoms, and finally the whole creation.

Finally, we saw how the fall has a fourfold significance for biblical creationism. (1) The fall teaches that disease, suffering and death were not part of the created world over which Adam ruled before he ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (2) Because the created order was cursed at the fall (Rom 8:19–22), this means that Adam’s rule as God’s vice-regent would no longer be peaceful, but would be marked by hostility. (3) Since the fall is the time when disease and death started in the world, this rules out any form of evolution, its supposed Christian offshoot known as theistic evolution or its more current form known as progressive creationism, day-age view, the gap theory and framework interpretation. If any of these hypotheses are correct, Adam and Eve, prior to the fall, ruled over a graveyard of fossils and not the Garden of Eden. (4) As a righteous judge, God had to hold Adam accountable to the standards he had established. Therefore, God had to impose the curse on his creation. However, in the midst of judgment, God announced in microscopic form, Genesis 3:15, his provisions to bring blessing to His fallen world.

With our next lesson, we will look at the nature of the Noah’s flood.

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Creation of Adam and Eve

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Because of academic and domestic commitments, I have been delinquent in blogging about my Biblical Creation class. Nevertheless, I will return to our recent lesson that focused on the creation of Adam and Eve. With this post, I will summarize our discussion.

Our lesson had six parts:

I. God’s direct creation of Adam in Genesis 2:7

II. God’s direct creation of Eve in Genesis 2:18, 21–25

III. God’s creation of Adam and Eve in His image in Genesis 1:26–27

IV. God’s mandate to His image-bearers in Genesis 1:26, 28

V. The antiquity of God’s image-bearers

VI. God’s design in creating His image-bearers

To begin with, in Genesis 2:7 God formed man’s body “from the dust of the ground” followed by his breathing into his nostrils “the breath of life.” In Genesis 1:20-21, God also animates the animals with “the breath of life.” What makes God’s animating principle in man distinct from animals is that man is created as imago dei, a divine image bearer. Second,, we saw that a little later on day six, God took one of Adam’s ribs and formed his wife (Gen 2:21-22). Besides the creation of Eve in the image of God, we saw a number of truths that affirm God ordained the biblical roles for husband and wife before the fall. Further, Genesis 2:24–25 also teaches us much about marriage.

Third, when we looked at the first couple being created in the image of God, I argued that this means that humans are a representation and likeness of God in that they are personal, spiritual and moral beings. While people shares these qualities as finite, created beings, God has these qualities as the infinite Creator. Genesis 5:3 illustrates what it means to be created in someone else’s image and likeness. “When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” We should observe that “image” and “likeness” are used interchangeably in this verse. We should further note that Seth is not identical to Adam, but he is like Adam. As such, Seth is like and a representative of Adam but he is not Adam. In an analogous way, man is like and represents God, but he is most emphatically not God. In short, God is the infinite Creator and we are the finite creation. Fourth, God gave the dominion mandate to his image bearer’s. In Genesis 1:26, 28 there is a strong connection between one being in the image of God and one having dominion over the creatures of the earth. We highlighted six aspects of the dominion mandate: fill the earth (Gen 1:28), subdue the earth, rule over the animal kingdom, cultivate the garden (Gen 2:15), maintain a vegetarian diet (Gen 1:29-30; cf Gen 9:3), and abstain from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17).

Fifth, we looked at the antiquity of God’s image bearers. Before the nineteenth century, biblical genealogies, especially Genesis 5 and 11, were used as prima facie evidence to establish an age for the earth as well as the creation of man being only a few thousand years ago. There are three views we examined: (1) a strict chronological interpretation of Genesis 5 & 11 found in the Masoretic Texts, (2) a strict chronological interpretation of Genesis genealogies as supported from the Septuagint, and (3) gaps in the Genesis genealogies allowing for creation to be anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 years ago. As a result of reading Whitcomb and Morris’ The Genesis Flood, in the early 1970s, I had embraced this later view for many years. However, since writing my chapter in Coming to Grips with Genesis as well as interaction with others when I went white water rafting down the Colorado River in 2008, I have rejected this understanding. Though there is supposed evidence that supports arguing for gaps in the Genesis genealogies (for example, see William H. Green, “Primeval Chronology,” in Classical Evangelical Essays, ed. Walter C. Kaiser [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972]), the Genesis genealogies, in distinction from other biblical genealogies, contain an age when a specified son is born to a patriarch along with his age at death. As such, the two genealogies seemingly have chronological significance.

Though good men follow Usher’s chronologies for valid reasons (for example, see the arguments of Travis Freeman, “Do the Genesis 5 & 11 Genealogies Contain Gaps?” in Coming to Grips with Genesis), I currently am persuaded that the Septuagint’s approach to Genesis 11 is more accurate (the source that has influenced me most is Benjamin Shaw’s “The Genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 and their Significance for Chronology” [Ph.D. dissertation, Bob Jones University, 2004]). The following two charts reflect this approach to the Genesis genealogies (the two charts are taken from Shaw, pp. 218-19).

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I will make a couple of observations based upon the above charts. First, creation took place at 4954 B.C., in contrast to the Masoretic Texts’ date of 4004 B.C. Second, the flood took place in 3284 B.C., in distinction from the MT’s 2349 B.C. There are two reasons that support my understanding. Initially, what drives me to my conclusion is not so much the Septuagint but Luke 3:35-36 which places a Cainan in between Arphaxad and Selah, whereas Cainan is omitted from the MT. In addition, a flood in 3284 fits with historical records of the ancient Near East. These records lucidly reflect that the monumental civilizations of the ANE were scattered and rebuilt around 3200 B.C. almost 900 years before the flood if you are following the MT. In the final analysis, I am persuaded that the view of the LXX provides the most persuasive evidence in explaining the biblical material as well as generally providing a reasonable explanation that harmonized with the ancient Near Eastern material.

Finally, God created man for His own glory and not because He needed him. Because God is infinitely independent, He does not need His creation and He does not need His creatures. God did not create because He was lonely. God created in order to bring glory to Himself. According to Isaiah 43:7, God speaks to his people whom He has created for His own “glory.”

With this evening’s lecture, we will look at death and decay in Genesis 3 and, the Lord willing, we will begin looking at the Genesis flood.

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Genesis 1:1–2 Represented in Young Earth Creationism

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This past Monday in Biblical Creationism, we wrapped up our examination of old-earth re-creationist models followed by a presentation about how Genesis 1:1–2 ties in with young earth creationism.

Initially, we finished looking at a modification of the gap theory, the precreation chaos theory. Because of the inherent syntactical problems with Genesis 1:2, while still maintaining unwavering commitment continuing to embrace the concept that Genesis 1:2 reflects a chaotic state of judgment, Merrill Unger modified the gap theory and Bruce Waltke formulated this into the “precreation chaos theory” (see his five-part series in the 1975–76 issues of Bibliotheca Sacra; you can find this entry listed in my bibliography). To read an impressive rebuttal of this view, see Mark Rooker’s 1992 Bibliotheca Sacra article “Genesis 1:1–3—Creation or Re-creation? (Part 2)” (again, this can be found in the bibliography).

In the last part of our class, we examined a young-earth creationist’s understanding of how Genesis 1:1–2 connects with the rest of Genesis 1. Verse 1 is an independent statement declaring that God created the original mass called earth out of nothing. Since Moses used the waw-conjunctive to introduce v. 2, he was explaining what the earth was like at the time of its creation in 1:1. Consequently, v. 2 is answering the question, what was the earth like at the time of its creation in v. 1? The answer of v. 2 is that it was in an abiotic form, it was “without form and empty.” It was covered by water and the Spirit of God was hovering over it. However, for there to be a literal day, God, immediately after his first creative activity, created a light source in Gen 1:3 in order to begin a day-night cycle for day one, as Genesis 1:5 indicates. Day 1 was the first normal 24-hour day of a six-day project. When God created the heavens and the earth, He chose to complete this process in six normal days (see also Exod 20:8-11 & 31:15-17).

DBTS has a spring vacation next week but when our students return we will look at the creation of Adam & Eve and how death & decay entered the created order in Genesis 3.

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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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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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