Critique of the Framework Interpretation

As an outgrowth of my own recent two-part study of the framework hypothesis in volumes 10 (2005) and 11 (2006) of the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, I have observed that this view of cosmogony is rapidly growing in popularity among evangelical educators and students in the western world. An article recently posted at Creation on the Web makes this very point. “The ‘framework hypothesis’ is probably the favourite view among respectability-craving seminaries that say they accept biblical authority but not six ordinary days of creation.”

Authors Drs. Don Batten, David Catchpoole, Jonathan D. Sarfati, and Carl Wielande provide a reason for the current popularity of this myopic interpretation of the creation account: “It is strange, if the literary framework were the true meaning of the text, that no-one interpreted Genesis this way until Arie Noordtzij in 1924. Actually it’s not so strange, because the leading framework exponents, Meredith Kline and Henri Blocher, admitted that their rationale for this bizarre, novel interpretation was a desperation to fit the Bible into the alleged ‘facts’ of science.”

This critique is a modified extract from chapter 2 of the The New Answers Book: 25 Top Questions On Creation/Evolution. Because of the increasing popularity of the framework hypothesis, I highly recommend that you read the concise and helpful “Is Genesis poetry / figurative, a theological argument (polemic) and thus not history?” If you desire to do a little more reading, you can also ready my “A Critique of the Framework Interpretation of the Creation Week (Part 1 of 2)” and “A Critique of the Framework Interpretation of the Creation Week (Part 2 of 2)” (also if you have a chance check out my regularly updated current creation news, which is found on my “resources” page).


  1. says

    Thanks for this post, Dr. McCabe. I’ve been reading Graeme Goldsworthy’s Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics & According to Plan and Vaughan Roberts’ God’s Big Picture. I have found some helpful material, but it disturbs me that they see how one views the days in Gen. 1 as inconsequential, so long as one believes God is the Creator. But if one views the days as long ages, doesn’t that open up the way to denying the historicity of Adam and Eve, and then endanger Christology, etc.? I would think that the interpretation of the days is more important than they do. Thanks for your labors. One other question – does it seem to be that some Bible/theology profs are more likely to take a framework view than Bible-believing scientists? Thanks.

  2. says

    I appreciate your observations, Doug. I have argued in other places that if we minimize the days of Genesis 1 we weaken the foundation for the gospel (see my 2005 paper from Inter-City Baptist Church/DBTS’s Mid-America Conference on Preaching, “Defending the Foundation of the Gospel: Literal Days in the Creation Week” ). More directly with what you noted about the days being long ages that opens us up “to denying the historicity of Adam and Eve,” I concur. On p. 32 of my journal article “A Critique of the Framework Interpretation of the Creation Week [Part 1 of 2],” I state that “I am persuaded that this figurative approach [the Framework Interpretation] distorts the basic historical fabric of Genesis 1:1–2:3 and promotes an interpretative model that, if fully developed, undermines the historicity of Adam’s federal headship over the created realm that God had entrusted to him.”

    In reference to your last question, some form of the framework interpretation is rapidly becoming the interpretation of choice on cosmogony with Bible and Theology professors, as you noted. Since I am not as familiar with Bible-believing scientists who hold to an old earth creationism model, I am not in a position to definitively comment. However, it would seem that if someone involved with a scientific discipline is a Bible believer and holds to an old earth position, I would think this position might have some appeal. Again, thanks for your comments.

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