In the Space of Six Days

For those of you looking for a heated argument your blog, I would recommend writing a post wherein you express your view that the “days” of Genesis 1 are not ordinary 24-hour days (it helps to put “days” in quotation marks). Quote M.G. Kline from Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony or Lee Irons from The Genesis Debate, use words like “non-literal” and “non-sequential” a lot, and then tag the post with “framework interpretation” when you’re done.

Well, The Confessional Outhouse is not looking for such heat. Instead, let’s see how two denominations, the URC and the OPC, have dealt with the issue of the interpretation of Genesis 1 in recent years.

When I first started attending the URC congregation of which I am now a member, the hot topic was an overture on Genesis 1 to the upcoming 2001 Synod. Had the overture been affirmed, the “24-hour interpretation” would have been made the official (or was it unofficial?) view of the young federation. The third of the nine points of the overture read:

3. Synod affirms that the whole creation was accomplished in six ordinary days [Gen. 1:3-2:2; Ex. 20:11]. The creation days are clearly defined in Scripture as each being composed of a period of darkness and a period of light, and as each having evening and morning and are presented as following chronologically one after the other. [Gen. 1:5b, 8b, 13, 19, 23, 31b; Ex. 20:19]

I don’t want to get into all the problems I have with this statement, I’ll just tell you that I’m thankful the overture didn’t pass. In defeating it, Synod said:

The Three Forms of Unity adequately contain the parameters within which the interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 can responsibly take place.

Synod refused to bind its ministers and congregations to an extra-confessional statement. The confessions have spoken as to the things we must affirm regarding the creation of all things. The Three Forms never tell us that we must interpret the six days of creation as ordinary 24-hour days.

Neither do the Westminster Standards. The WCF (4.1), WLC (15), and WSC (9) all employ the phrase “in the space of six days” but do not say that these “days” must be interpreted as ordinary 24-hour days.

The 71st General Assembly of the OPC affirmed and passed the findings and recommendations of the Creation Report (pdf) in 2004. Here’s how the report handled the confessional phrase “in the space of six days” (emphasis mine):

Even if we assume, though, that the vast majority of divines held to a twenty-four-hour day view (and we do not have explicit data in this regard for most of the divines), does it follow that it was the original intent of the divines to prescribe twenty-four hours and to proscribe any other view? To assume such, we believe, is to mistake the nature of constitutionalism more broadly and of the Westminster Assembly more narrowly. The nature of confession-making is such that on any number of points a significant majority may believe something together and yet choose not to make that common belief an explicit point of doctrine in the confession, prescribing the majority view and proscribing all others. It is not sufficient in seeking to ascertain the original intent of the framers of a constitutional document simply to survey their writings and discover how most of them viewed a particular subject. Rather, it is necessary that one demonstrate that not only did the framers have this or that particular view but that they sought to impose this view exclusively on the body politic or ecclesiastical. There is no known evidence that the framers of the Westminster Standards intended to prescribe that the duration of the creation days must be confessed to be days of twenty-four hours in length.

In ascertaining original intent in this sense then we must always pay the most careful attention to the words that the divines themselves chose to employ. It is not safe to assume that even if most divines held to a view that the six days of creation were each twenty-four hours that they intended to enshrine this view into the constitution. It may be assumed that the twenty-four hour day view was so common that it was deemed unnecessary for the divines to specify such. Or it may be assumed that the divines did not think explicitly in the category of days “consisting of 24 hours.” The last phrase, however, is a phrase that was moved but not adopted by the Assembly in regards to the question of the Sabbath. The Assembly Minutes indicate that in the debate on the doctrine of the Sabbath it was decided to “waive” the proposal that the words “consisting of 24 hours” be part of the description of the Sabbath day. This clearly indicates that the divines had such language at their disposal. They chose not to employ the phrase “consisting of 24 hours” in describing the Sabbath, perhaps because Lightfoot believed the Sabbath to be eternal. And they did not employ such language when they spoke of creation as being accomplished “in the space of six days.” That the divines did not say “in the space of six days consisting of twenty-four hours” should be lost on no one. The Westminster divines had full ability to prescribe twenty-four hour days but did not explicitly do so. One is then hard pressed to argue that the original intent of the divines was to do something that by the words of the Standards themselves they did not clearly do.

Here’s the first motion (emphasis mine):

That the General Assembly recommend that presbyteries should expect a ministerial candidate to articulate his view on the days of creation with a proper recognition of the hermeneutical, exegetical, and confessional considerations involved. The following kinds of questions should be used by presbyteries when examining a candidate, whatever his view of the days of creation, in order to show that his doctrine of creation is consistent with the Standard’s system of doctrine:

A. Does the candidate’s view uphold the following and can he explain what they mean:
1. creation ex nihilo
2. the federal headship of Adam
3. the covenant of works
4. the doctrine of the Sabbath
5. the sufficiency and perspicuity of Scripture
6. the historicity of the creation account

B. Does the candidate understand the priority of Scripture in the relationship between special and general revelation?

C. Does the candidate understand the hermeneutical principles that are expressed in Scripture and in the Standards?

D. Is the candidate able to address the issue of evolution both exegetically and theologically?

E. Can the candidate articulate the covenantal structure of the plan of redemption as found in Genesis 1-3?

These two denominations upheld their respective Standards and avoided the mistake of stating an official position on the “days” of Genesis 1. Both denominations recognized that the confessions have spoken concerning what must be affirmed about the creation of all things and they refused to go beyond them.

-It’s good to be confessional. (that’s my new post tagline)

rick.jpg

Advertisements

About Rick

I am not my own
This entry was posted in Compare and Confess, G.A./Synod. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to In the Space of Six Days

  1. RubeRad says:

    Nice work, Rick. I had read the OPC report before, in preparation for a debate, but I missed the connection with the Sabbath day. That’s a very interesting point.

    Anyhoo, one of my elders once told me that there is a Presbyter in our old OPC Presbytery (we’re PCA now) that considers anything other than 6/24 a denial of infallibility.

  2. RubeRad says:

    And if you follow the FV debate at all, you will find it interesting to read this from James Jordan, in a Biblical Horizons entitled “The Framework Hypothesis: A Gnostic Heresy “:

    I submit that the entire Christian faith stands or falls on how Genesis 1 is interpreted, and that the guardians of the Church must take an unequivocal stance on this matter….

    Our conclusion is that these modern approaches to Genesis 1 are simply heretical. Not that those advocating them are heretics, for they sloppily and with happy inconsistency retain most of the Christian religion. But if their hermeneutical procedure is allowed standing within the Church, their disciples will in time carry forth their heresy consistently, and the faith will be lost. Thus it has ever been.

    For this reason, no one advocating such views should ever be ordained to the ministry or be allowed to teach in theological seminaries. … They have corrupted the very foundation and beginning of the Bible, and the rest will follow in due course.

    The same author changes his tune when the cannons are turned on him! In Biblical Horizons #177, “The Closing of the Calvinistic Mind “, Jordan writes:

    But, you see, once upon a time, there were people who wrote, people who published, and people who read deep and thoughtful books…

    These men, and those like them, were aware that the Reformation was only the beginning of a restoration of Biblical thought. Works like the Belgic and Westminster Confessions were steps along the way, but not the last words. Presuppositionalists like Cornelius Van Til and others did not hesitate to criticize John Calvin and the Westminster Divines for employing flawed philosophical notions. Nor did they mind pointing out places where theological formulations needed improvement as a result of the exorcism of bad presuppositions. And, wonder of wonder, nobody minded.

    Because back in those days, Calvinists were still able to think.

    It seems no longer so. The controversies over the so-called “federal vision” and “new perspective onPaul” are but two examples of the closing of the Calvinistic mind, at least in many parts of the Reformed world. Men with little knowledge of history, evidently incapable of thinking presuppositionally, and sometimes (not always) rather obviously motivated by political concerns (if not by sheer envy),have not hesitated to distort and even lie about this thing called “federal vision” (which, as they discuss it, is largely a product of their own minds).

    With minds like steel traps, these critics insist that“shibboleth” be pronounced their way, on pain of expulsion. Indeed, those who try to reason within the great Reformed tradition – the tradition reflected by the list of books above – have been called “heretics”because they don’t say “shibboleth” rightly.

    The only possible conclusion I can draw from this juxtaposition is that James Jordan considers the doctrine of 6/24 Creation to be more critically important than the doctrine of Justification.

    Crazy.

  3. Rick says:

    Rube,
    Sheesh. James Jordan, Crazy indeed. I can’t even comment on the first quote – other than to say it gets my nose hot. I have a good friend who is an ardent 6-24 guy and he would never say that the Christian faith “stands or falls” on its interpretation. Anyway, isn’t that borrowing from Luther’s statement on Justification?

  4. Echo_ohcE says:

    That gets my nose hot too. How outrageous. Somebody sure has a fundamentalist hermeneutic! If they don’t take the days literally, how CAN they take the resurrection literally????

    Come on, mental midgets, grow up! Get just a little bit more sophisticated than 3rd grade math class!

    I hereby challenge ANY 6-24 view holder to tell me how on EARTH the word “day” can be taken to be an ordinary 24 hour day in Gen 2:3.

    There will be no coherent response to this, mark my words.

    The only coherent response that can possibly be said in response is this: you’re right, we CAN’T take day literally here if we take it literally in Gen 1.

    Does that mean that MOSES is forcing us to interpret the resurrection figuratively?

  5. Echo_ohcE says:

    One of the better arguments I’ve heard for the 6-24 view is the argument from the 4th commandment. They say that if you look at what it says there, namely that it repeats that God created in 6 days, and rested the 7th, and this is why we rest on the 7th day, then you must conclude that even as the 7th day is taken literally there for us in terms of Sabbath keeping, then it must also be taken literally in Gen 1.

    In response to this, I’m going to simplify things quite a lot.

    In liberal theology (at least in some of its forms), there is a distinction between the kernel and the husk, the Idea and the form in which it comes.

    So if I were a liberal, I’d say that the IDEA that God is the Creator is the important thing about the Genesis narrative, but the form of the week is absolutely meaningless.

    This is a simplification.

    But I’m not a liberal in this way. The form DOES matter. Here’s another helpful distinction.

    Rather than the term “literal”, let’s offer some other more precise words.

    Univocal: this means that there is an exact one to one correspondence between the word used and the thing referred to. So for example, if I say that my hair is brown, I actually mean that my hair is brown, no qualifications.

    Equivocal: this means exactly the opposite of univocal. It means that there is NO correspondence at all between the word used and the thing it is describing. So if I say that someone’s dog ran away, but what I mean is that I have brown hair, then there’s no connection between what I’ve said and what I’ve meant, or of the reality I’m describing.

    Analogical: now here’s something that kind of comes in between univocal and equivocal. If there is an analogical correspondence, that means that what you’re saying bears some connection to the thing being described, so it’s not equivocal, but it’s not a one to one correspondence, it’s not univocal. So for example, if I say that my car is a lemon, I don’t mean it univocally, that my car is a piece of fruit. But I don’t mean that my car and a lemon have nothing to do with each other either. What I mean is that they’re both sour, they both leave a bad taste in my mouth. They’re both unpleasant to deal with, to encounter. I’m drawing a comparison.

    What I’m saying about the days of creation is that it bears an analogical relation to the 7 day week that we experience every 7 days. It is an analogy. The point of the Sabbath was to teach the pattern of working that earns rest. You worked 6 days and earned your rest on the 7th. But we know that this points to our eternal heavenly rest. And furthermore, our working, say on a farm, doesn’t earn heaven. Rather, it’s a picture of a greater reality. It’s a picture that doing the work of the law earns eternal rest in heaven. And of course the principle being illustrated is the works principle of the covenant of works.

    The use of analogical language is ALL OVER THE PLACE in Scripture.

    Or how can Paul, in Eph 5 talk about the relationship between husband and wife, and discuss in very eloquent language how men and wives should treat each other, and then suddenly say that he’s talking about Christ and the Church?

    What does he mean by it? Perhaps we should not take his instruction to husbands and wives to be talking about husbands and wives at all? What fundamentalist with a hyper-literal hermeneutic will deny that wives should submit to their husbands? But Paul tells us that he’s really talking about how the church should submit to Christ!

    Paul is DEMANDING here that we recognize that just as we are made in the image of God, husbands and wives are an analogical picture of Christ and the church. It’s not univocal, because I don’t know of any husband that has submitted himself to death on the cross for his wife, and I don’t think anyone would say that you have to do this to be a good husband. But it’s not equivocal either, because when Paul says something about husbands and wives, he says he is describing the reality of the relationship between Christ and the Church!

    Paul is using analogical language here.

    So, when the 6-24 guys say that if we don’t take “day” literally in Gen 1, that we’ll destroy the entire Scriptures, then I’d submit that that same charge must be applied to the Apostle Paul who used analogical language.

    The notion of analogy CAN be misapplied, and that IS something to be cautious of. But that is not reason to simply rule it out altogether. Paul makes use of analogies, so our use of analogies couldn’t possibly undermine the authority of Scripture simply in virtue of the claim of analogy. We MUST make mistakes on TOP of our claims of analogy in order to undermine Scripture, we MUST misapply it or fail to interpret it properly in order to undermine Scripture. But taking any part of Scripture as being analogous language, by itself, does NOT undermine Scripture.

    Or when Paul says that Sarah and Hagar are two covenants, in Gal 4:22ff, do we say that Paul is undermining the historicity of the Old Testament? Are we so rash as to accuse HIM of saying that Abraham never existed? Do we accuse him of having a view that even TENDS toward that? Do we, in short, find ANY FAULT with what he is saying here? If we don’t, then we can’t find fault with analogical interpretation unless it’s mishandled. Analogical interpretation, by itself, is not wrong, but is actually made use of in the NT.

    “And that rock was Christ.”

    I mean COME ON!!! Why be irrational?

    Do you REALLY want to interpret “day” univocally in Gen 1??? Then I’ll help you be consistent.

    If you take the word “day” univocally in Gen 1, you must also take the CONTENT of the day univocally.

    That means that on day 1, you have to, HAVE TO affirm that there is some light with some unknown source. But we know what it CAN’T have been, namely sunlight, because the sun wasn’t created until day 4. Nevermind that this “light” doesn’t still exist, and is therefore not part of the creation. Nevermind that you people want to say that this is some kind of glory or something like that. You MUST affirm that it is univocally LIGHT. And you must affirm that it has therefore some source, whatever that may be. And you must therefore also affirm that what is described here as part of the creation is no longer part of the creation. Where is it? Can we see it? The only light those people knew of in those days was light that came either from the sun or from a candle or lamp, and it was none of these things that can POSSIBLY be in view here. So what is this light? And if we can’t figure it out because that light is no longer something we experience, then how can we expect the Hebrews to have figured it out, assuming that there wasn’t some other light source than the sun, moon and stars at THAT time as well? And if they couldn’t figure it out, then WHAT VALUE DID IT HAVE????? How did it teach them that this was part of the work of God’s creation if they didn’t know what the light referred to?

    But nevermind this problem, because it’s only the beginning of the nightmare that you face when you insist that the word “day” must be taken univocally here.

    Day 2 also gets tricky. You must, you MUST also take the firmament univocally. You MUST affirm that the sky is blue because there is water up there above the dome of heaven, and you must affirm that there are waters under the earth, which is why when you drill a hole in the ground you get water. You MUST affirm these things, because this is what’s being described. Do you want to take “day” univocally? You must, MUST affirm the existence of everything described as created on those days univocally as well. You have NO CHOICE. You are forced by your hermeneutic, your method of interpretation, because you must be consistent.

    Day 3 provides you a reprieve, but don’t get too comfortable, because now you have to deal with day 4.

    On day 4, God creates the sun, moon and stars. And we are told why: to separate the day from the night.

    Now why on EARTH do we need day and night to be separated, if days 1-3 already talked about them as if they were already separated? What did the sun, moon and stars accomplish that wasn’t already done? There was already morning and evening on days 1-3! What did we NEED the sun, moon and stars for? After all, we already had the light on day 1! The light was already separated from darkness in v.4! Yet day had to be separated from night in v.14, and light from darkness in v.17. What does it mean? Did the separation in v.4 become undone? Did God change his mind about this mysterious light and decide to make light all over again, coming from a different source, so as to better separate light from darkness, day from night?

    And are you sure that day and night don’t point to the enmity and separation between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent? Are you sure there isn’t more going on here? What’s the meaning of John 1:5? Does that have ANYTHING to do with this?

    Is any of this beyond common sense?

    And why is there no evening and morning the 7th day? What does that mean? Did the 7th day end? Is it eternal? Did Moses just forget to add that part? Does it have anything to do with 1 John 1:5? Anything at all? Is there any warrant whatsoever in saying that these problems add up to not being able to take the passage literally?

    Or maybe you think Moses is quite simple! Maybe you think he’s incapable of grasping such concepts. Maybe he wouldn’t know what it meant to draw an analogy because that was beyond his comprehension. Do you suppose that the ancient people were simple? Have you READ the Old Testament?

    Ecclesiastically, I have to say that the 6-24 view is legitimate, because so many people hold to it, and get so emotional about it. But I’ll tell you what: this is the single biggest concession to sloppy exegetical work that I can imagine. The 6-24 view is sophomoric and is chalk FULL of problems that cannot be overcome. It is simplistic.

    I really don’t care if you adopt the framework view or the analogical view or the day-age view or whatever, but when you insist that the 6-24 view is the only acceptably orthodox view, you are actually the ones trashing Scripture and handling it roughly. You simply are doing malice to the text. You are not doing it justice. You are not being consistent, you are not letting the text itself speak. You read it casually and turn your brain off when you do it. I’m sorry, but that’s the fact.

    And I’m not just inflamed by Jordan’s ridiculous comments. I’m inflamed by what seems to be the standard among those who hold this view.

    Even those who hold this view who are also charitable to those who hold other views are still mishandling Scripture in a profoundly disturbing way. I really don’t care how many careful exegetes you cite who agree with you. For 1500 years no one seems to have understood that justification is by faith alone. It is not beyond plausibility that lots of people have stumbled over the Scriptures.

    The fact is, it’s an analogy. That’s a FACT. And I’m sick and tired of being made to feel ashamed that I can exercise just a little bit of common sense and recognize that fact. As I am not ashamed of the gospel, so too I am not ashamed of common sense.

    I’m sorry if I come across as being arrogant or proud, lacking charity and Christian love. But you’ll notice I’m not arguing in favor of my view. I don’t have all the answers. But this stuff is just ridiculous. The exegetical problems with the 6-24 view are astonishing. I’m astonished that anyone holds this view. It baffles me to no end. And that people try to say that not holding it leads to heresy enrages me every bit as much as the Council of Trent enrages me when it condemns the doctrine of justification by faith alone. It disgusts me.

    I agree it’s a difficult text, and anyone who claims to have all the answers is presumptuous. I agree. But while I don’t have ALL the answers, I can clearly see that the 6-24 view is absolutely wrong. Any one of these objections I’ve raised ought to be considered devastating. I have never heard a decent answer to any of them.

    All I’ve ever heard is how I need to be charitable to those who have reacted in fear against evolution, how I need to be mindful of my (weaker) brothers in Christ. That’s fine. I’m happy to recognize people as my brothers, and I’m happy to accept them, despite gross errors of many kinds. But there are MANY out there who insist that this is the only proper, biblical way of understanding this passage, and it’s just got to stop. It’s not right.

    And the view is obviously wrong. Obviously.

  6. Rick says:

    Dang, Echo. Just…dang. I always enjoy your comments.

    Dang.

    I try to be charitable to 24-6ers but it usually ends up getting intense. I don’t understand how otherwise great thinkers go all fundie on Gen. 1

    Thanks for your comment.

  7. Echo_ohcE says:

    I’m sorry. Just sick of it. Sorry.

  8. Rick says:

    Me too. No need to be sorry. Too bad James Jordan doesn’t come by the Outhouse.

  9. Echo_ohcE says:

    The only response you would get is more assertion about how I’m destroying Scripture and undermining the historicity of it.

    It’s irrational.

  10. Bruce S. says:

    I’d love to be present during Echo’s ordination examination.

  11. Echo_ohcE says:

    Ha! That’s funny.

    Like I said, ecclesiastically…

  12. Echo, If you really want to see some crimes against the brain, check out the latest fad among the bucktoothed, barefooted hillbillies running toward the steamship with their money in hand waiting to buy the latest snake oil cause they “don’t believen in book-learnin'”.

    The latest backwoods, fundamentalist revelation is…are you ready?…that the universe revolves around the earth! I am not kidding here. Their twisted hermeneutic leads them down a path of ignorance and madness. Here they are. Tune up your banjo and enjoy:
    http://www.fixedearth.com

  13. Echo_ohcE says:

    Wow are they serious?

    I did hear recently that there are still people who believe in a flat earth. I suppose the fact that we have pictures of the earth, and in them you can see that it’s round, well, they don’t let that stop them.

    Imagine what a vast conspiracy they must have to think is going on! They must lead very paranoid lives. I think I feel sorry for them.

  14. efwake says:

    Twisted hermanuetic is right. Literalism has run rampant but gains acceptance in the American Church like crazy… anyone else noted that stunning performance by Kirk Cameron in “Left Behind”? Jerry whatshis name and Tim LaHaye are almost as big a Christian Celebs as Kirk Cameron himself!

    I’m happy to see that someone out there was willing to take that fundamentally flawed view of Scripture to its logical conclusion no matter how absurd it may be.

  15. efwake says:

    Echo,

    I like how you open up a can.

    My take on the obsession w/ the creation account is that it is linked to the hermaneutic of those who are also obsessed with the end times. That is, fundamentalist dispensational literalism.

    I do think that we could all do one another a favor (that is, those who are strict 6×24) by allowing for the same lucidity on the beginning as we do the end. All three major confessionally reformed denominations in this area (OPC, PCA, URC) allow for an understanding of eschatology that is either Amil, post mil, or historic premil.

    While I happen to be rather vehemently Amil and will argue that point, I do not consider the other two positions to be outside the framework of a confessional reformed perspective. I believe that certain attitudes attend each position that may be problematic in certain areas, but again I believe our denominations are right to offer that latitude to our licentiates.

    So why not do the same w/ creation? If a licentiate can communicate, as Echo does so nicely above, a biblical understanding of the creation account, whether that focus upon the historicity of 6×24 or upon the Christ centeredness of the passage (holy crap Dr. Fesko is da freaking man on that one) of it, if it is worked out systematically in accordance with sound reformed hermaneutics who cares?

    Charles Hodge and BB Warfield nailed fundamentalists right between the eyes in SO many ways… I love those guys for each one. But when talking about Darwin’s theory of evolution they both cautioned Christians associating all evolutionists with the notion of the godless version of Evolution that suggests that it all took place “by chance,” recognizing the possibility that God may have used regular providence to create the world.

    When I get into a discussion w/ a fundamentalist who is hung up on Genesis 1 and 6×24 I simply ask, “Is it miraculous that we’re standing here right now?” The answer is yes, and then “Well how did we get here?” and the answer is by God’s gracious Providence. “Well, do you suppose that God may have possibly deigned to use that same Providence to bring about the progressive work of creation we read in Genesis 1?”

    Dead silence. A searching look… trying to find an elder so that charges may be brought up and excommunication to follow!

    It is good when brothers dwell together in unity, ain’t it?

  16. RubeRad says:

    Any one of these objections I’ve raised ought to be considered devastating.

    And don’t even try to interpret Ch 2 literally, or you’ll have man created before plants before animals.

  17. Echo_ohcE says:

    efwake,

    I think I get your drift, but allow me to raise an objection or two.

    First, and most important, is that we must distinguish the acts of creation ex nihilo from acts of providence. They are two different kinds of acts. The WCF distinguishes them sharply, putting everything in either one category or the other. (I myself would prefer to have a third category of redemption, because I don’t think redemption should simply be in the providence category, but the WCF does put redemption into that category. I’m not worried about it, I’d just prefer a third category. Anyway…)

    So the point is, the two kinds of acts of God are to be distinguished. This is in response to your discussion of providence above.

    That’s not to say that I don’t largely agree with what you said, I guess I’m just adding an additional qualifier, namely that we have to remember that there are unique acts of God called creative acts, and they are different from providence. Ex nihilo is how to describe the difference.

    Second, I recognize that post mill and 6-24 are confessional views, allowed by the confessions.

    That’s true.

    But they aren’t biblical. This is where the confessions are broader than the Scriptures, and why we have to remember to always hold it in higher regard.

    There is no room in Gen 1 for the 6-24 view.

    One thing I have learned about interpreting Scripture is that you stick with what the text FORCES you to acknowledge.

    I don’t see the text of Gen 1 FORCING you to adopt the framework view, for example. I see the framework view as compatible with Scripture, and I don’t see it forcing me to cast that view aside, but it’s not forcing me to accept it either.

    What the text IS forcing, however, is NOT taking the word “day” univocally. I gave the reasons for this above.

    The text DEMANDS that we not take that view. It DEMANDS that of us.

    But in the reformed churches, we don’t demand that of people.

    The reason why is that we have certain doctrines that we want people to believe in order to be termed “orthodox” in our book. But in order to declare someone “orthodox”, we don’t ask them how to interpret every single passage of Scripture. That would take way too long and be far too cumbersome.

    Furthermore, we want to leave room for people to grow in their understanding. We don’t expect everyone’s understanding to be perfect, and it’s silly of us to demand that of them.

    That’s part of why this view of creation debate is so ridiculous. We want people to understand a certain minimum of things, and then we trust that Scripture will guide them. We let them wrestle with the Scriptures.

    The big problem with these guys is that they AREN’T wrestling with the Scriptures. They just have their view, and that’s that. They can’t answer the objections I’ve raised in any kind of coherent way. They aren’t even interested in doing that.

    They don’t raise intelligent objections to an analogical interpretation, except to say silly things like that we’ll end up denying the resurrection.

    It’s IRRATIONAL. They aren’t interacting intellectually with the issues, but emotionally, every bit as much as if I had said their wife was ugly.

    Now there are SOME few exceptions. And I applaud such men. God bless them.

    But the vast majority of these guys turn their brain off when they talk about this stuff, and just answer with their hearts. They think we’re liberals trying to bring evolution into the church. That’s all they think, that’s all they’re capable of thinking, that’s all they’re ever going to think until they begin to engage their minds instead of their hearts.

    I take an analogical view of the days. I’m not a liberal. I’m not trying to bring evolution into the church. I’m trying to interpret Scripture properly. That’s my concern.

    I think this is the result of applying good hermeneutics to Gen 1. The text FORCES us to recognize that the days aren’t literal. It FORCES us to. Perhaps the biggest shining example is Gen 2:3, where what was JUST said to be 6 days is here said to be ONE day. It doesn’t require any kind of degree to see that the number of the days it took is NOT the point! If it WERE the point, how COULD Moses have written Gen 2:3? If it were the order of events that mattered, how COULD Moses have written Gen 2:5-9 in a different order? How come in Gen 1 the plants were created before man but here it’s man before plants? WHY? If the order and the days are to be taken univocally, why do we have this here?

    The liberal says that Gen 2 has a different author. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that Gen 1 and 2 are in perfect harmony, both written by Moses, both inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    These guys, most of them, simply dismiss the objection as impious. It may be impious, but it’s still an honest question. Why is the order different in Gen 2 from Gen 1? Why is it said in Gen 1 to be 6 days, but in 2:3 it is said to be only 1?

    For crying out loud, if in answering for my view of creation, if I read Gen 2 out loud, I’d be affirming something other than what these guys demand.

    They say it’s GOT to be 6 days. Moses can talk about it only taking place in 1. They say the days must be taken univocally, that the order must then be taken univocally. But the order isn’t all that important to Moses in Gen 2. What’s the deal?

    I wonder how these guys reconcile things in the gospels, when one narrative has it one way, but the same narrative in a different gospel has it another. Could it be that there’s a different theological point to be made? Or do we have to say that there’s errors in the text?

    Well, since I don’t say that the text is wrong, I affirm that the differences in gospel narratives are to make different theological points.

    In one crucifixion narrative, both thieves are mocking Jesus, but in another, one of the thieves confesses his faith and looks to Jesus in hope as Messiah. The point is different in the two narratives.

    There are lots of examples like this. But what does it say about how the biblical authors wrote? To I undermine the historicity of the text?

    They say I do. But see, if you bring this kind of wrong thinking into Gen 1 & 2, aren’t you going to bring it to the gospels and other narratives as well?

    Moses has a different theological point in chapter 1 of Gen to chapter 2. What is it? The POINT is not the length of the days, the POINT is far greater, more majestic.

    And it’s this POINT that these guys miss. And that’s what I think is so tragic in all of this.

    So what’s the point? Well, I think we can debate on that, but I think the most obvious point is that it points to the covenant with man. I think Dr. Godfrey’s book on this is excellent. And it’s simple too.

    I think the framework guys have a point as well, but I wouldn’t say that I affirm the framework view per se.

    What I’d rather affirm is the point of the passage, which points to the authority of man on earth in virtue of his being made in the image of God and being in covenant with him. That’s the point.

    The fact that the days are different in 1 & 2 and that the order is different signals that those things are SERVING a greater point. But these guys stop here, and say that these details ARE the point.

    Their error is allowed by the confessions. So are many other errors. But just because I accept these people as my brothers doesn’t mean I have to say that they aren’t in error. Just because their view conforms to the confession doesn’t mean they aren’t wrong. They shouldn’t be excommunicated, fine, but that doesn’t make them right.

    Consider if two ministers disagree on the meaning of John 3:16.

    Say one minister says that God doesn’t love each and every person in the world, but when it says here that God loves the world, it means it in a corporate sense. God loves only the elect and hates the wicked reprobate. But because he loves the elect particularly, he loves the world more generally, because it includes the elect.

    His view is within the bounds of the confession.

    But let’s say that another minister comes along and says, yes, God does love everyone, because he is their Creator, even the seed of the serpent. But how does he love them? He loves them as a husband loves his wife when he comes home from work one day and finds her in bed with another man. He HATES her for what she has done, but unless he had first loved her, he never would have come to hate her, because he wouldn’t care about what she had done. His hatred for her and wrath at her on account of what she has done doesn’t do away with his love for her, because his wrath is founded on love, his hatred is founded on love. Without the love, there can be no betrayal, and without the betrayal, there can be no hatred. In this way we can even affirm that God loves the reprobate, who he hates with a perfect hatred.

    His view is also confessional.

    But they can’t both be right. The Scriptures demand one view or the other, or maybe some third view. The Scriptures are more narrow than the confessions.

    So how do we handle this in the reformed churches? Let’s say that most reformed ministers would affirm the first position, but some erudite and learned scholars begin writing about how the second position is really the better one. (This is hypothetical, of course.)

    Should we take this debate to such a level?

    What if the guys in the first group start saying that the guys in the second group have a universalist view and are doing away with limited atonement? What if the guys in the second group say, no, we aren’t doing away with limited atonement?

    Now we say that both views are confessional, and both are accepted by the church, right? All that means is not that we think both views are right, but we’re willing to tolerate both views of this passage.

    But wouldn’t it be silly if we made the interpretation of John 3:16 a test for orthodoxy? Wouldn’t it be silly if the guys in the first group stopped licensing men in the second group, or failed their ordination exams? Wouldn’t that be totally stupid?

    And then some study committee is erected by the General Assembly, to study how to understand John 3:16 in light of limited atonement.

    And then presbyteries or classis’s are instructed to examine men on limited atonement, and are told that there are two main views on the interpretation of John 3:16, and both are held by competent, confessional ministers. So they are told to accept the second view, because they aren’t undermining limited atonement.

    Now, again, let’s pretend that the second view is actually the more biblical view (this is just hypothetical). What you have here is people who are in ERROR being told to accept people as orthodox who do a better job of interpreting and understanding Scripture than they do.

    Meanwhile, the people who are competent to understand the Scriptures are told to accept and bear with those who are a little irrational, and who aren’t quite so competent to interpret the Scriptures as they. They are our brothers, even if they are weaker.

    But accepting them as basically orthodox despite these things is not the same as saying that all views are possibly correct. Both of the views above on John 3:16 cannot be correct. But they can both be tolerated, because both groups are orthodox on limited atonement and the rest of the confession.

    So, anyway, my point is that when the church says that 6-24 is acceptable, it is not saying that it’s a correct view, or even a possibly correct view. They’re saying that the men who hold that view can still be confessionally orthodox, because they can still affirm enough of the important stuff about creation so as to conform to the confession. But that’s not to say that that constitutes proof that we – any of us – think that the Bible leaves room for more than one view.

    I mean, consider my position. I’ll say that 6-24 guys are orthodox, if they can agree with the confession. Fine. Their view is wrong, but it doesn’t make them unorthodox. Their view is unbiblical, and doesn’t do justice to the text, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective ministers of the gospel. Your view of the Gen 1 narrative is not the gospel.

    But they’re still wrong.

    What I’m saying, and I think what the church says, is that being wrong in this way is acceptable. That’s what you simply have to do in order to have a church at all. We have to accept one another, and love one another, and not judge one another. That’s not a bad thing either.

    Remember where we come from. We don’t believe that only the church can properly interpret the Scriptures. That’s important. It’s important because that’s a Roman idea. We don’t affirm that. We ordain ministers and by so doing declare them competent to interpret the Scriptures. That’s why they have to be examined in Greek and Hebrew and Church History and a host of other subjects, including theology.

    But the church doesn’t tell them how they must interpret all of Scripture. They make sure the man is orthodox, and then leave him to do his job that God has called him to. Will he make mistakes? Yes he will. But God is in control and can use him anyway.

    This is why I think the view of creation debate is such an ugly one. It’s not even a debate the church should really be having. It should be over now.

    It’s not over as recent events have demonstrated. Some men are still being shot down for ordination for this reason. It’s still taking place. It just happened recently.

    This is the kind of stuff I’m talking about that gets me fired up. How can a man be turned down for ordination for his view of the days of creation? The valedictorian of a very prominent seminary was recently shot down for ordination because of his view of creation.

    This is just STUPID. It’s irrational and childish. The man was the valedictorian at a prominent seminary. He could probably win debates with almost anyone with a PhD, because that’s the kind of mind it takes to be a valedictorian at such a seminary. So why did they shoot him down? Did he not know his stuff? Nevermind that it’s one of the toughest seminaries in the world, if not THE toughest. Nevermind about that. Nevermind that the guy is like a machine to be able to get top of the class. How could anyone think he was not worthy of ordination? It’s ridiculous.

    And to top it off, his answers given to a very hostile audience were gracious and careful. And what did it earn him? They called him a politician and said he was very diplomatic, and so didn’t trust him, and so shot him down for this too.

    Here’s a man that’s exhibiting pastoral kindness, love and wisdom with men who ought to be his fathers in the Lord, and they hate him for it and say he is unworthy of ordination.

    Are they within their rights? Unfortunately, yes, they are. They have that authority. Are they violating the confession? No, they aren’t.

    But are they in deep sin? Are they thumbing their nose at God? Are they proud accusers of God’s elect?

    I don’t know how we can say that they aren’t. Does that mean that they aren’t saved themselves? I don’t know. But since I know I’m a Christian and I’ve acted wickedly against other Christians before, I would say that their actions don’t mean that they aren’t Christians themselves.

    But they need to REPENT!!!

    They ought to be REBUKED!!!

    Would that I had the authority to issue such a rebuke – but I don’t.

    I don’t know who does.

  18. Echo_ohcE says:

    I think my comment got sucked into a trap of some kind.

  19. RubeRad says:

    Hmmm, there were only two comments trapped in the spam-filter. One was 2729 words long, and the other was by “Meet Singles” — which one is yours?

    JK — it’s up there now!

  20. Echo_ohcE says:

    You’ll notice that there are no 6-24 guys on here proving me wrong.

  21. Rick says:

    We’re a young blog, Echo. Not too many folks have found us yet.

  22. Echo_ohcE says:

    Well, you guys will just have to get out there and promote it then. Go post on other blogs and leave your blog address as a signature.

  23. Rick says:

    Do you know any good 6-24 blogs we can check out?

  24. RubeRad says:

    good 6-24 blogs

    What might such a beast look like?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s