Protology and Eschatology II

From J. V. Fesko’s Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 With the Christ of Eschatology, pp 18-20.


Since the advent of the presuppositional apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, several generations of Reformed theologians and ministers have learned to question presuppositions. In this regard Van Til writes:

We ought to find small comfort in the idea that others too, for example, non-Christian scientists, have to make assumptions… We all make assumptions, but we alone do not make false assumptions. The fact that all make assumptions is a mere psychological and formal matter. The question is as to who makes the right assumptions or presuppositions.

Yet many within the Reformed community accept the conclusions of creation science without investigating its presuppositions. To find the presuppositions of creation science one must examine its history. The founder of the creation science movement was George McCready Price (1870-1963), a Seventh-Day Adventist and self-taught geologist. He was the only individual William Jennings Bryan cited in the Scopes trial as an anti-evolution scientist. The second generation of creation scientists came in the 1960s with the work of Henry Morris and the publication of The Genesis Flood, which he wrote with John Whitcomb. Few note, however, that Morris and Whitcomb are dispensationalists. Whitcomb was a professor of theology at Grace Theological Seminary, a dispensationalist institution. What marks dispensationalism?

The hallmark hermeneutical principle of dispensationalism is strict literalism. Charles Ryrie writes that, “If plain or normal interpretation is the only valid hermeneutical principle, and if it is consistently applied, it will cause one to be a dispensationalist. As basic as one believes normal interpretation to be, to that extent he will of necessity become a dispensationalist.” Reformed theologians almost universally reject the hermeneutical principle of dispensationalism in eschatology. They reject eschatological conclusions that presuppose literalism — as Ryrie’s statement demonstrates, hermeneutical presuppositions drive conclusions.

What is perplexing, however, is that many within the Reformed community will reject dispensational eschatology but embrace its interpretation of creation, or as it is more broadly understood, protology.

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84 Responses to Protology and Eschatology II

  1. justsinner99 says:

    “What is perplexing, however, is that many within the Reformed community will reject dispensational eschatology but embrace its interpretation of creation, or as it is more broadly understood, protology.”

    That is not exactly an accurate way to state what you are saying. YEC may be the standard position of most Dispensationalists, but that view could hardly be considered to have originated with them. (Were there no YEC’s prior to the 1850’s???)

    Also, Revelation is *clearly* apocalyptic (i.e. includes prophetic visions, imagery, etc. that are clearly not to be understood in a wooden, literal fashion). That cannot be said of the Creation account in Genesis. One might suggest that such an interpretation is possible (as you & others have), but I have not yet seen anyone demonstrate how or why it should or must be understood that way.

  2. Zrim says:

    And to the extent that Dispensationalism and theonomy are mirror hermeneutical errors, is it any wonder theonomists come off as strict literalists and Calvinism’s version of fundamentalists?

  3. mikelmann says:

    Is the problem literalism or is it reading biology into the scriptures? Many texts, of course, are to be read literally, but the problem seems to come when purposes foreign to the purposes of the inspired authors are read into the sciptures and then taken to be dogma. Early Genesis – however one reads it – is simply not there for the primary purpose of being a biological textbook. Similarly, eschatological passages are not there so we can predict the time of the end. Not sure if this is a different point than yours or if I’m just slicing the cold cut a little thinner.

  4. RubeRad says:

    Were there no YEC’s prior to the 1850′s???

    I think it may be more to the point, or better asked, were there any “Creation Scientists” before the 1850’s?

  5. justsinner99 says:

    Weren’t they all (in a sense)?

  6. RubeRad says:

    Not in the dogmatic sense that they are now, but in the uncommitted, haven’t-really-thought-about-it sense. (Not to imply that YECs today don’t think; they certainly have thought, and they have come to very definite conclusions).

  7. The Janitor says:

    It makes no more sense to call a literal (YECs) reading of the text dispensational than it does to call a literal reading of the resurrection narratives literal. This looks like another guilt by association attempt to bias against YECs.

  8. The Janitor says:

    Oops, that should be “than it does to call a literal reading of the resurrection narratives dispensational.” 🙂

  9. David R. says:

    The Janitor,

    That’s actually a very dispy sounding argument (and dare-I-say, question-begging–sorry, I realize that label is getting quite well-worn these days in the blogosphere… 😉 ). The point is that the creation science movement doesn’t represent an old view (as many assume), but rather a modern reaction against Darwinism. (Reminds me of years ago when I was studying Jewish history, we were taught that so-called “Orthodox Judaism” was actually a modern reaction against the Reform movement.)

  10. The Janitor says:

    David,

    I don’t see how it’s “dispy sounding” or question begging. Perhaps you could spell it out for me?

    You seem to be riding on Rube’s guilt by association train, as though saying it’s “dispy sounding” will make us all drop our monocle’s in our chardonnay and say “Heavens no! Wouldn’t want to be dispy sounding!” I would hope that all of us would be more concerned with truth than such petty attempts at labeling, yes?

    As to whether creation science is a fairly new field, forming in reaction to Darwinism (not quite right), I’m not concerned with it. The framework hypothesis is also a new kid on the block; no doubt also a reaction to Darwinism and deep time geology. I have no major issue with these positions forming as the issues themselves formed. Prior to creationism or deep time geology, there was no need for a “creation science” and no need to try and see the early chapters of Genesis as anything other than a straight forward account of history.

  11. Roger du Barry says:

    Taking the Bible literally emphatically does not lead to Dispyism at all, IMO. Misreading it does.

  12. David R. says:

    The Janitor,

    Riding the creation science train, are you? I don’t know if you read the first post in this series, but a reason was provided as to why the creation account ought not be viewed as a straight-forward reckoning of history on the order of, say, the Resurrection narratives. Your argument seemed dispy in that you appear to view Matthew 28 as the standard of interpretation for other biblical texts. (You probably know the dispy mantra: The Resurrection was literally fulfilled, therefore all prophecies will be literally fulfilled.) It seemed question-begging in that you assume that texts describing creation should be understood as literally as those describing the Resurrection. You said: “It makes no more sense to call a literal (YECs) reading of the text dispensational than it does to call a literal reading of the resurrection narratives dispensational.” I realize your point is to protest guilt by association, but if Genesis 1 in fact shouldn’t be read literalistically, then labeling that approach dispensational doesn’t seem so far-fetched, does it (regardless of the conservative consensus on Matthew 28)? Hang on to your monocle.

  13. The Janitor says:

    David,

    Riding the creation science train, are you?

    Is that the best you got? 🙂

    We all agree, I hope, that guilt by association is an illegitimate means of discrediting a position. We do not all agree that creation science is an illegitimate discipline. So the attempted “comeback” falls flat.

    I don’t know if you read the first post in this series, but a reason was provided as to why the creation account ought not be viewed as a straight-forward reckoning of history on the order of, say, the Resurrection narratives.

    I read it and responded to it. You can find a link to my response on the pingback in the comments section.

    Your argument seemed dispy in that you appear to view Matthew 28 as the standard of interpretation for other biblical texts. (You probably know the dispy mantra: The Resurrection was literally fulfilled, therefore all prophecies will be literally fulfilled.)

    Wow, you sure did read a lot into my two sentences that I didn’t write.

    It seemed question-begging in that you assume that texts describing creation should be understood as literally as those describing the Resurrection.

    Again, I said nothing explicitly or implicitly in this direction.

    I realize your point is to protest guilt by association, but if Genesis 1 in fact shouldn’t be read literalistically, then labeling that approach dispensational doesn’t seem so far-fetched, does it (regardless of the conservative consensus on Matthew 28)? Hang on to your monocle.

    If Genesis 1 in fact should be read literalistically, then who cares if labeling that approach dispensational doesn’t seem so far-fetched? More chardonnay?

    At this point, David, I’m not sure you and I can have a fruitful conversation. You seem too quick to jump the gun and think you have me pinned down on arguments I haven’t made. Furthermore, you seem to be pretty stuck on the whole “dispy” thing. While I am not dispensational, I’m afriad I don’t view it as the boogeyman you would need me to in order for such loose associations to scare me away from YECs 🙂

  14. justsinner99 says:

    The argument really makes no sense.

    Connecting a literal view of the Genesis creation account with Dispensationalism because many or most Dispensationalists hold to YEC isn’t just a little straw man – it’s a whole scarecrow.

    Let’s take that logic and apply it to other teachings: The resurrection of Christ? Whoa! The Dispys hold to that one because of their literal hermeneutic. Guilty by association, right? Right??? (Now that you mention it, N.T. Wright holds to a literal resurrection, so maybe it’s a NPP thing?)

    As I said before, YEC was for all intents & purposes the standard view of Christian theologians LONG before Dispensationalism even existed. It is certainly the position of the Westminster Standards.

    To say that some Reformed theologians have not held to it, or to say that some have shown that a literal hermeneutic does not necessarily apply to the Genesis account is one thing. To show that one necessarily *should* not apply a literal hermeneutic to Genesis 1-2 is quite another thing entirely.

  15. David R. says:

    Wow, Janitor. I read your article. Talk about reading a lot into stuff. “Whatever is too difficult to explain in literal terms must be explained in non-literal terms, if it is to be explained at all.” I’m considering starting a new blog series entitled SMAFYEC (Straw Man Arguments from Young Earth Creationists). 🙂

    Though you get an A for effort, I think what we’re dealing with is more like this:

    1. Because eschatology is far removed from our experience, Scripture explains it in highly figurative terms that aren’t used in ordinary historical accounts.

    2. Therefore, it’s not wise to read eschatological narratives as though they were ordinary history.

    3. Protology is as far removed from our experience as is eschatology.

    4. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising if similarly figurative language were employed in explaining it.

    5. Therefore, it’s not wise to insist on a woodenly literal reading of the creation account.

  16. David R. says:

    justsinner99,

    YEC … is certainly the position of the Westminster Standards.

    We hear this a lot. But if it’s really true, then why is it that no presbyter in the history of Presbyterianism has ever taken an exception to WCF 4.1, even though many have held to non-literal views? And likewise, why is it that no minister has ever been defrocked, let alone tried, or let alone even charged for holding such views? If I’m wrong about this, I’d love to be corrected. (Bear in mind, we’re talking specifically about the length of the days, not theistic evolution or any other issues connected with creation.) Take Charles Hodge for example. Though he argued for system subscription, he himself claimed full subscription to the Standards. And as far as I know, no one has ever questioned his right to that full subscription until recently.

  17. RubeRad says:

    YEC … is certainly the position of the Westminster Standards.

    Yeah, I’m not so sure about this. I think the “in the space of six days” language is simply a rejection of Augustinian instantaneous creation, as I don’t think anybody had conceived of millions/billions of years in the 1600s. It’s kind of (what’s the word? I got “asynchronous” stuck in my head, but I know that’s not right) to read into the Westminster standards the debates we have today.

    And if you read again the first Protology and Eschatology post, you will see that (at least according to Bob Strimple) the current animus against OEC is foreign to Presbyterian history.

    Flipside to DavidR, you are right to a point; if Strimple is to be believed (and I don’t see why not), historically it has not been the case that OEC Presbyterian ministers have taken exceptions or been prosecuted, but Strimple’s point is that this is changing nowadays, particularly in the southern california presbytery most local to WSCAL. My understanding is it is very hard to be ordained in the SoCal OPC if you are not YEC. (See also “James Jordan, “the entire Christian faith stands or falls on how Genesis 1 is interpreted…no one advocating such views [OEC,Framework] should ever be ordained to the ministry or be allowed to teach in theological seminaries”)

    Janitor, if we’re going to complain about unwarranted “guilt-by-association” arguments, how about you get your YEC friends to ease off the denial-of-the-Resurrection stuff. Find me an OEC who denies the resurrection, and I’ll denounce him till the cows come home. You may see a slippery slope, but I feel quite secure. (And thanks also for being a more irenic conversation partner than the usual YEC. Here, your chardonnay is all ruined with monocle-grease. Have a craft-brewed Double-IPA instead!)

  18. justsinner99 says:

    David: “4. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising if similarly figurative language were employed in explaining it.

    5. Therefore, it’s not wise to insist on a woodenly literal reading of the creation account.”

    “It wouldn’t be surprising if” does not = similarly figurative language was clearly employed.

    So #4 does not really lead to #5. In fact, it doesn’t really lead to much of anything (non sequitur).

  19. justsinner99 says:

    With all due respect, Hodge & Warfield’s views on Creation are *not* the point. (Their views should serve to temper some of the rhetoric that often flies back and forth on this issue, but that is a different discussion – Ruberad, fire up a new post on that subject!) 🙂

    Ordained TE’s/Ministers not needing to take exceptions for certain non-YEC beliefs is *not* the point. There is a big difference between a Presbyterian denomination deciding that certain views are acceptable within their ranks (as in the PCA and OPC) and stating that the Confession itself includes or condones those views. It doesn’t because it couldn’t (unless the Westminster Divines had a time machine or a prophetic vision).

    The point is that the WCF, as originally written, holds to a YEC view. Sure, that was LONG before Darwin and those who followed after him, so billions of years were not even on the radar screen (oops – another anachronism!), but that doesn’t really change the point. That’s all I’m saying.

  20. justsinner99 says:

    P.S. I think someone is missing Janitor’s point on the whole resurrection comparison. He (correct me if I am wrong) isn’t saying that someone actually *is* denying the literal resurrection. He’s just using the same logic that was employed in the original post to demonstrate it’s invalidiity with regard to YEC.

    It is clearly a false guilt by association because the association isn’t causative or determinative. (In other words, YEC may be common in Dispensational circles, but it was in no way, shape, or form original to Dispensationalism.)

  21. RubeRad says:

    Anachronism — that’s the word I was looking for! And as you note, WCF was written LONG before OEC was on the radar screen, so it is anachronistic to impute a YEC affirmation (or OEC rejection)to them.

    And I still think it’s a distinction worth making, Fesko links the term “Creation Science” to Dispensational origins, not “YEC”. I would say the latter is a theology, which maybe Ussher started, but the former is the attempt to do science (which is a cultural, not cultic project) so that it lines up with a YEC theology (or maybe they would prefer to say science starting from a presupposition of YEC.)

  22. justsinner99 says:

    “And as you note, WCF was written LONG before OEC was on the radar screen, so it is anachronistic to impute a YEC affirmation (or OEC rejection)to them.”

    Disagree somewhat on the former (I think the WCF *does* affirm YEC in as far as the length of the 6 days is concerned at least, although none of the divines would have had a clue why we even call it YEC), but absolutely & necessarily agree on the latter (i.e. the WCF not rejecting a view that would have been unheard of in their day).

  23. justsinner99 says:

    Good distinction regarding YEC & Creation Science.

    The latter is in support of the former, but the former doesn’t necessitate the latter.

  24. David R. says:

    justsinner,

    David: “4. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising if similarly figurative language were employed in explaining it.

    5. Therefore, it’s not wise to insist on a woodenly literal reading of the creation account.”

    “It wouldn’t be surprising if” does not = similarly figurative language was clearly employed.

    So #4 does not really lead to #5. In fact, it doesn’t really lead to much of anything (non sequitur).

    It would have been a non sequitur if I had said “5. Therefore, the figurative reading of the creation account is correct,” or “5. Therefore, a literal reading of the creation account is incorrect.” But that’s not what I said. What I said was that dogmatism on the issue (i.e., such that would result in labeling all other positions out-of-bounds or unreformed) makes no sense.

  25. David R. says:

    The latter is in support of the former, but the former doesn’t necessitate the latter.

    Exactly.

  26. David R. says:

    Rube,

    My understanding is it is very hard to be ordained in the SoCal OPC if you are not YEC.

    Unfortunately the same situation holds in the NorCal & NV OPC. Strimple’s testimony that things could change so dramatically since the late ’50s amazes me:

    But now — again I’m no prophet; if anybody had told me when I was at Westminster Seminary in the late 50′s that in the year 2000 this would be the big issue (certainly in the state of California, in the two OPC presbyteries in our state) I would tell them that they certainly weren’t prophets, because that is ridiculous …

  27. justsinner99 says:

    Have to wonder how much of that (i.e. the apparent strictness on YEC in the OPC out here in SoCal) is due to things like theistic evolution (i.e. the denial of the historical Adam & Eve). If that is the case, I must say I sympathize with that motivation a great deal.

    Getting back to the hermeneutical discussion – I do think it is more than a bit difficult to go from a figurative/non-literal hermeneutic in Genesis 1 & 2, but then somehow switch to a more literal reading starting in chapter 3 and following. The text, IMHO, does not seem to give any hints to the reader that any such “switch” needs to be made.

  28. Pingback: God did the best he could with the dimwits he was working with – BAAYEC # 5.2 « Janitorial Musings

  29. The Janitor says:

    I’ve been working and haven’t been able to keep up with the discussion, but I have responded to your straw-man charge and your own argument here, David: http://janitorialmusings.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/god-did-the-best-he-could-with-the-dimwits-he-was-working-with-baayec-5-2/

    I’ll have to read the rest of the comments and, maybe, catch up in the discussion later on.

  30. Just curious – where did you come up with the screen name “The Janitor”? Any significance to it?

  31. The Janitor says:

    I’m a janitor.

  32. Ironic, considering all the talk in this thread about literal or non-literal hermeneutic.

    See? Sometimes the simplest reading really is the best! 😀

  33. I wrote this over on Janitor’s blog, but thought it would bear repeating here:

    I would add that *not* all things eschatological in Scripture are described in a figurative manner, so the premise really breaks down in a hurry. (No disrespect intended to my beloved former Systematic Theology professor.)

    Revelation? Sure, but we are told up-front that it was a vision (much like the OT Prophets). But Paul’s teaching on eschatology shows no signs of figurative language. It is simple & straight-forward.

  34. David R. says:

    Andy,

    Getting back to the hermeneutical discussion – I do think it is more than a bit difficult to go from a figurative/non-literal hermeneutic in Genesis 1 & 2, but then somehow switch to a more literal reading starting in chapter 3 and following. The text, IMHO, does not seem to give any hints to the reader that any such “switch” needs to be made.

    One thing that moves me in a figurative (or better, analogical) direction is that there are already analogues built in to the text, both explicitly and implicitly. For example, Genesis 1:1 gives us the creation of the invisible heavens, but then vs 8 gives us something else called “heaven” (or sky), the earthly analogue of the heavenly original, explicit right there in the text. One of the great themes of the creation narrative is that man is created in the image of God, the earthly analogue of the heavenly original. And just as the Creator worked for six days and then entered His rest, so the creature must do the same. This of course speaks of the covenant of works and the probationary tasks of the two Adams, the obligation of perfect and perpetual obedience required in order to enter the Creator’s rest of the seventh day. And this sabbatical structure of man’s history is paralleled in the patterning of his life: work six days and then rest one, over and over.

    So just as the Creator is distinct from the creature, the invisible heaven is distinct from the earthly heaven , God’s work of creating is distinct from man’s creaturely work, and God’s sabbath rest is distinct from man’s weekly sabbath rest, it stands to reason that there is a similarly analogical relationship between God’s work days and man’s work days.

    Someone else could paint this picture a whole lot better than i can, but I hope you get the idea. This isn’t a slam-dunk of course, but it’s just one part of the evidence that inclines me toward a non-literal (or analogical) view.

  35. Steve Drake says:

    The failure of the analogical-day view, as with the framework hypothesis and all other old earth views is to put the events of history on a timeline and explain them in relationship to Adam and the entrance and effects of sin and the Fall and Curse. Many within the OPC and PCA seem to finally be seeing where this leads and it’s incompatibility with Scripture and the doctrines the Church has held up for millennia.

  36. The Janitor says:

    Trying to catch up some…

    RubeRad,

    “if we’re going to complain about unwarranted “guilt-by-association” arguments, how about you get your YEC friends to ease off the denial-of-the-Resurrection stuff. Find me an OEC who denies the resurrection, and I’ll denounce him till the cows come home. You may see a slippery slope, but I feel quite secure.”

    I’m not sure what you have in mind about the resurrection. I will sometimes use the resurrection as a test-case, so to speak, for the logic of an OEC argument. Is that what you have in mind? I think the real question there is not how you secure you feel, but whether the same logic you apply to one thing can be consistently applied to another thing and if not why?

    You might say this is what you’re trying to do with the dispensational thing too, right? Well I don’t object to the method of trying to show an inconsistency, but only that there is something uniquely dispensational to a YEC reading of Genesis 1-3. And if there isn’t anything uniquely dispenstional about thinking Genesis 1-3 indicates a young-earth position, then it just looks like an attempt to scare people away from YEC because it has something in common with dispensationalism.

    “(And thanks also for being a more irenic conversation partner than the usual YEC.)”

    And thank you too 🙂 There can also be some pretty condescending OEC, as I’m sure you know. This isn’t my hill to die on, despite it being the major theme of my blog… but that has unfolded unintentionally really. I believe there are non-YEC views that are acceptable.

  37. The Janitor says:

    Concerning whether or not the WCF intends six ordinary days or not…

    David,

    You’ve asked: if the YE reading of the WCF is intended, why haven’t non-YE persons under the WCF been prosecuted or called out? And why has no non-YE person taken exception to the WCF at this point?

    This seems like a side-issue. It doesn’t have any bearing on whether the WCF intends six ordinary days or not. You might say we would expect persons to be called out on this or we would expect non-YE persons to take exception to this. But YEC who subscribe to the WCF have called out non-YEC on this point. That their calls have gone unheard can be explained in other ways: OEC is just too popular now to draw that line in the sand, Hodge and others carry too much clout, the ones making the call are themselves OEC etc. Maybe some of these are true, maybe none of them are. But there are plenty of ways to explain why the WCF might be YE, but people want to sweep it under the rug.

    RubeRad,

    You said:

    “It’s kind of [an anachronism] to read into the Westminster standards the debates we have today.”

    The belief in the creation of the world in the space of six days was certainly around during the time of the WCF (David Hall claims that at least some at the Westminster Assembly did hold to six ordinary days of creation). So for the the WCF to affirm six ordinary days of creation would not be anachronistic… nor asynchronous.

  38. The Janitor says:

    Andy,

    P.S. I think someone is missing Janitor’s point on the whole resurrection comparison…

    Whether it was missed or not, yes, that was my point. Thank you.

  39. The Janitor says:

    RubeRad,

    Continuing the WCF point:

    WCF was written LONG before OEC was on the radar screen, so it is anachronistic to impute a YEC affirmation (or OEC rejection)to them.

    It doesn’t follow that if OEC was not around therefore it’s anachronistic to see an affirmation of YEC in the WCF. YEC, or what we would call YEC, was around during that time. The belief that God created in six ordinary days a few thousand years ago was around during that time and so an affirmation by the WCF that God did so is certainly possible.

    And I still think it’s a distinction worth making, Fesko links the term “Creation Science” to Dispensational origins, not “YEC”.

    But then it’s also worth distinguishing between something that a dispensationalist happened to start and something that flowed uniquely out of dispensationalism.

  40. David R. says:

    Janitor,

    This seems like a side-issue. It doesn’t have any bearing on whether the WCF intends six ordinary days or not.

    No, it’s not a side issue, it’s central. Confessional Reformed boundaries are determined, not on blogs, not via academic research, not in laboratories, but in church courts.

    You might say we would expect persons to be called out on this or we would expect non-YE persons to take exception to this. But YEC who subscribe to the WCF have called out non-YEC on this point.

    Again, “calling out” doesn’t settle anything in the ecclesiastical world, any more than in the civil.

  41. David R. says:

    Steve Drake,

    I don’t understand the criticism. BTW, by “analogical,” I was referring to all non-literal views, not one in particular (not that this affects your criticism).

  42. Steve Drake says:

    David R,
    Thanks for the clarification. All non-literal views bear on the age issue, though. All non-literal views implicitly or explicitly reject the traditional approx. 6000 year history and age of the earth (there may be individuals who hold to the Framework Hypothesis, for example, who are young earth, but these are in the minority). To argue for a non-literal view must of necessity by corollary bring in discussion of the age issue. Either it’s left open, thus by de facto acquiescing to the finds of naturalistic science and it’s conclusions on age, or declared ‘not important’, ‘not knowable’, ‘not bearing on the gospel’, and therefore no need to discuss it. The continued debate on the topic from both sides would suggest that each side finds the other in error and in need of correction.

    The criticism comes from the implications of not holding to the traditional literal view and it’s bearing on Adam, the Fall, the Curse, the work of Christ in creation and on the cross, and ultimately the Gospel.

  43. David R. says:

    To argue for a non-literal view must of necessity by corollary bring in discussion of the age issue.

    True, but I would point out that creation days aren’t the only issue bearing on age. For example, there is also the question of telescoped genealogies in the early chapters of Genesis. So literalism on the days doesn’t necessarily work out to 6000 years either.

  44. Steve Drake says:

    David R.,
    Not sure what you mean by telescoped genealogies in the early part of Genesis. I take it you are referring to Gen. 5 and possibly Gen. 11. Perhaps you can explain how these genealogies do not support the YE position?

  45. David R. says:

    Steve,
    Right. My point was simply that if those genealogies are telescoped, which is I think the way the evidence points, then we’re talking possibly much more than 6000 years, if even if you hold to 6/24.

  46. Steve Drake says:

    David,
    I guess I’m asking for ‘what evidence’? I’ll give you the fact that some YE adherents differ in the range of possibly 10K – 6K years, but that’s not what we’re talking about, right? How is it your conclusion that the genealogies are ‘telescoped’?

    I’m concluding that your post above (8 or 9 or 10 posts above) concerning figurative language means you accept the millions and millions of years of naturalistic science. Is this a correct conclusion?

  47. The “telescoping” in Genesis would in no way be sufficient to make much of a difference, time-wise.

    It certainly wouldn’t make enough room to move one from the YEC camp to the OEC one. (It would be a difference of at most thousands of years, not millions or billions of years.)

  48. David R. says:

    Steve (and Andy),
    Regarding the evidence for telescoping, I think Kline is helpful: http://www.amoskeagchurch.org/sermons/?sermon_id=159
    (Begin listening at 21 minutes in.)

    I’m concluding that your post above (8 or 9 or 10 posts above) concerning figurative language means you accept the millions and millions of years of naturalistic science. Is this a correct conclusion?

    Not necessarily. I don’t have a firm commitment to one particular view of the days, though I am strongly opposed to the insistence that 6/24 is the “Orthodox” view, or that a different view renders a ministry candidate suspect, or even ineligible. My inclination is toward figurative days, partly for the reasons I provided. Honestly, I have not spent much time thinking through how to harmonize science with Scripture. By “naturalistic” science, are you contrasting that with creation science?

  49. Steve Drake says:

    David R.,
    I encourage you to take a look at the history of belief on the ‘days’ and the age issue, starting with the early chronologists: Josephus’ Antiquities, Julius Africanus’ Chronologia, Eusebius’ chronology of world history written for Constantine, St. Jerome’s translation of Eusebius into Latin, Isidore of Seville (560-636), Bede the Venerable (673-735), Otto of Freising (1111-1158), Luther’s chronology Supputatio Annorum Mundi, and then a century later Ussher, Bishop of Armaugh, and his Annales Veteris Testamenti. Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton also wrote chronologies of world history as well.

    The history of modern geology, and men like James Hutton, was the enormous amount of written chronological history (starting with Adam) as stated above that confirmed the 6/24 days of creation and an approximately 6000 year earth, to which these men had to so struggle to fight against.

  50. David R. says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for the recommendations. What do you hope I would gain from this study? I can’t make sense of your second paragraph. Are you saying that the earth is 6000 years old? If so, based on what? Scripture? Science?

  51. Jerry says:

    The ‘Telescoping’ argument is more commonly known as the ‘Gaps in the Genealogy’ argument which was put forth by Warfield, William H Green and Francis Schaeffer.

    Jim Jordan has answered these three men in their own words in a paper titled:

    Open Book Occasional Papers
    10) The Biblical Chronology Question, An Analysis

  52. David R. says:

    I think Kline calls it the “selective” view, or something to that effect.

  53. The Janitor says:

    The James Jordon paper Jerry mentions can be found here.

    Personally, I’ve always accepted Robert Reymond’s argument in his ST that there are gaps in the genealogies. However, I’ve never really read the YEC arguments against there being gaps. I’ll have to check it out.

  54. Jerry says:

    Actually, the link that the Janitor provided is missing the first six pages of the argument. The artical has a note stating that it was originally published in the Winter 1979 (2:2) and the Spring 1980 (2:3) editions of the CSSHQ.

  55. Steve Drake says:

    David R.,

    ‘Thanks for the recommendations. What do you hope I would gain from this study? I can’t make sense of your second paragraph. Are you saying that the earth is 6000 years old? If so, based on what? Scripture? Science?’

    An understanding that the non-literal, figurative view of Genesis 1 and the age issue is ‘not’ supported by almost all Church historians and chronologists from the earliest days of the Church’s inception. That the figurative, non-literal view is a novel, recent conclusion only reached after acquiescence to secular geologists and their ‘deep time’ philosophical conclusions in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

    It’s not me saying the earth is approximately 6000 years old, it’s Josephus, Julius Africanus, Eusebius of Ceasarea, Isidore of Seville, Bede the Venerable, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Calvin, Martin Luther, James Ussher, etc., etc.

    Yes, the genealogies are the primary Scriptural evidence for this, along with a 6/24 calendar day view of the ‘days’ of Genesis 1. One must look also at the theological implications to the doctrines of historic Christianity which an old (4.5 billion year old) earth conflict with.

  56. David R. says:

    Steve, there are other things that were held to almost universally for much of church history, but are now almost universally rejected, even in confessionally Reformed churches. What makes this issue different? (Or do you believe everything that was believed by that list of men just because they believed it?) I don’t know to which theological implications you refer. I can certainly think of some problems for the 6000 years old view though.

  57. The Janitor says:

    David,

    I think we would all agree that that something was believed universally (or nearly so) in the church for some period of time does not itself prove the view to be correct. Scripture is our final authority. But it does give that belief a lot of weight. And I think that one would need good reasons showing what is wrong with the traditional view and how the alternative is superior.

    In regard to this issue, it seems that the traditional view is not being overturned because of better exegesis, but because the dominant scientific paradigm disagrees with it. In a sense, that is not to overturne tradition with Scripture as our final authority weighing against the authority of past churchmen, but to overturn tradition with the ministers of science.

    Of course, I think the issue is a little more complex than that. But it’s how the acceptance of old earth and theistic evolutionist views appear to many, both Christian and non-Christian.

    It sounds like you might be saying that YEC has theological problems. Im curios about what you have in mind, if that’s what you mean.

  58. David R. says:

    Janitor, it’s gotten to be something of a cliche, so I hesitate to bring it up, but in light of your comment, how is young earth different than geocentrism?

  59. Steve Drake says:

    David R,
    I was just about to ask when the Janitor brought it up, but I too am curious about the ”theological” problems with a view that held sway in the Church for 1800 years. If you are not referring to ‘theological’ problems, but instead were seeking to reference ‘scientific’ problems, or something else, then that is a different question. The truth is that an old earth/millions and billions of years has quite a number of theological problems that most old earth adherents avoid like the Plague, or like Pete Enns who is at least honest in his assessment, denies for example, the historicity of Adam and Eve as the first and only progenitors of the human race.

  60. David R. says:

    … or for that matter, musical instruments in worship. For a thousand years, there were no musical instruments used in public worship because it was considered Judaizing. Very few, even among confessionally Reformed, hold that view any longer (though I personally believe it is the correct one).

  61. David R. says:

    Steve, you’ll have to explain how old earth is incompatible with historical Adam and Eve. I’m sure many OPC ministers who hold to old earth (and the presbyteries that ordained them) would be surprised to hear that.

  62. David R. says:

    For problems with 6/24 days, you can by perusing the OPC creation report. Kline covers some of the issues for non-telescoped genealogies in that link I posted. (Did you listen?)

  63. David R. says:

    “… you can begin …,” that should be.

  64. Steve Drake says:

    David R.,
    I am well aware of Kline’s arguments. I find them unconvincing. I have not read the OPC Creation Report, but ‘have’ read the PCA Creation Report in it’s entirety. I am not challenging the idea of a denomination to offer up several different views acceptable within it’s ranks. That’s a separate issue, one I happen to believe is fraught with error, but I am challenging any view other than the traditional orthodox 6/24 approx. 6000 year view held and believed on by the Church for 1800 years that seeks to compromise with the scientific and philosophical conclusions of secularists. I am challenging any view that says an old earth/millions and billions of years of death, disease, decay, and destruction is compatible with the doctrines of historic Christianity. Enns’ denial of an historical Adam is just one example of this.

  65. The Janitor says:

    David,

    Janitor, it’s gotten to be something of a cliche, so I hesitate to bring it up, but in light of your comment, how is young earth different than geocentrism?

    Well, clearly young earth creationism deals with how long ago God created everything and geocentrism deals with the belief that the the heavenly bodies revolve around the earth. 🙂 I’m just being cheeky. I think the suggestion is that the same approach to Scripture that leads us to believe in a young earth would also lead us to believe in geocentrism. But I’m not sure how that argument is supposed to go. I’m doubtful that it can be shown that accepting YEC requires us to accept geocentrism and I’d like to see an argument first.

    However, I think Dr. John Byl has argued that the geocentric/heliocentric debate is underdetermined. If that’s the case, then we might say “So what?” to the suggestion that YEC entails geocentrism.

    I’ll get around to reading the report you mentioned eventually.

  66. David R. says:

    Janitor,

    But I’m not sure how that argument is supposed to go. I’m doubtful that it can be shown that accepting YEC requires us to accept geocentrism and I’d like to see an argument first.

    You seemed to be arguing in a comment above that science shouldn’t be allowed to overturn tradition (in the case of YEC). So I asked if you are willing to apply that argument to geocentrism too. IOW, a long list of ancient churchmen held to geocetrism. By your reasoning it seems that on that basis, we should too, no?

  67. The Janitor says:

    I haven’t argued that science shouldn’t be allowed to overturn tradition. Rather, I said “[tradition] give[s] that belief a lot of weight. And I think that one would need good reasons showing what is wrong with the traditional view and how the alternative is superior.” And I indicated that the primary basis for this should be Scripture or exegesis.

    Thus, by my reasoning, if the geocentric was the traditional view, it has a lot of weight and we need good reasons showing what is wrong with that view and how the alternative is superior. These reasons should be primarily exegetical, from Scripture.

    If Byl is correct (and I’m not in a position to dispute him) then we may not have such good reasons, despite how unpopular that might make us.

  68. You just knew someone was going to go to the “flat-earther” card.

  69. Steve Drake says:

    Andy,
    A tired-out old play from the OE playbook. It doesn’t work and needs to be retired.:-)

  70. Agreed.

    Not very charitable, truthful, or helpful for that matter.

    Also not very charitable, truthful, or helpful when one of us YEC’s goes to the “You just don’t believe the Bible” card when discussing this issue with OEC’s.

    How’s that for fair & balanced? 🙂

  71. RubeRad says:

    Sorry guys, it must seem like I’ve abandoned my own blog, but for some reason lately my Google Reader doesn’t notify me of comments until days later. At this point I don’t have too much to add to the discussion, except for…

    Revelation? Sure, but we are told up-front that it was a vision (much like the OT Prophets).

    It is a small logical jump to realize that Gen 1 was also a vision. How else could man have learned about what happened when no man was around to witness it? (one answer is forensic science, but they didn’t have that in bible times…)

    And this:

    The failure of the analogical-day view, as with the framework hypothesis and all other old earth views is to put the events of history on a timeline…

    It begs YEC to assume the bible intends to put all of history on a timeline.

  72. The Janitor says:

    “How else could man have learned about what happened when no man was around to witness it? (one answer is forensic science, but they didn’t have that in bible times…)

    Description would be another way.

  73. David R. says:

    Poythress has a pretty thorough (and I think, helpful) discussion of all this: http://www.frame-poythress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/PoythressVernRedeemingScience.pdf

  74. Echo_ohcE says:

    A thousand apologies, but I haven’t read all the comments. Nonetheless, I did manage to read some of them, and just wanted to point out one thing. I’m posting in response to the discussion above regarding the meaning of the language “space of 6 days” in the WCF.

    From Calvin’s commentary on Gen 1:5: “The first day. Here the error of those is manifestly refuted, who maintain that the world was made in a moment. For it is too violent a cavil to contend that Moses distributes the work which God perfected at once into six days, for the mere purpose of conveying instruction. Let us rather conclude that God himself took the space of six days, for the purpose of accommodating his works to the capacity of men. We slightingly pass over the infinite glory of God, which here shines forth; whence arises this but from our excessive dullness in considering his greatness? In the meantime, the vanity of our minds carries us away elsewhere. For the correction of this fault, God applied the most suitable remedy when he distributed the creation of the world into successive portions, that he might fix our attention, and compel us, as if he had laid his hand upon us, to pause and to reflect.”

    Now it’s no secret that Calvin’s commentary is older than the WCF by about 100 years. It’s also no secret that his Institutes was widely read internationally during Calvin’s lifetime. Calvin was famous while still alive. John Knox studied for a time with Calvin, and then returned to England.

    It seems then to strain common sense to suggest otherwise than that the WCF is actually quoting from Calvin’s commentary on Gen 1:5. I know – Calvin didn’t write in English. He wrote in either Latin or French. Nonetheless, his writings were translated and reprinted in English. (The first translation of the Institutes in English was in 1561.)

    Why would the Westminster divines have quoted Calvin? First of all because they mean the same thing by it that Calvin does, namely as a refutation of the instantaneous view. This view was held by Augustine, for example.

    But second, perhaps they quoted this because it was very specific language. Do you find it odd that Calvin spoke of the “space” of 6 days? “Days” is a measure of time. “Space” doesn’t measure time. Units of time don’t take up space. So it seems to me an odd way to phrase this. Since it’s odd, it would be odd to quote it. Nonetheless they do. I wonder then – does Calvin mean by this phrase that these days were simply of ordinary, 24 hour length? Maybe. Why didn’t the divines simply say that God created the world in 6 days of ordinary length? If that’s precisely what they were trying to say, why didn’t they say it in just those words?

    Look again at what Calvin says: “for the mere purpose of conveying instruction.” Calvin is annoyed at those who propound the instantaneous view. When asked why Gen 1 says that God created in 6 days when what it means (in their view) was that God created in a mere moment, the answer of the Instantaneists is that Moses was merely conveying instruction. Calvin rightly finds that explanation deeply unsatisfying, defying common sense.

    But Calvin doesn’t go on to say that it’s more than mere instruction because the passage means that creation took place in precisely 6, 24 hour days. No, he goes on to explain what he means by saying that it’s more than MERE INSTRUCTION. It’s far MORE than instruction. It’s about God speaking in such a way “for the purpose of accommodating his works to the capacity of men”. Calvin is saying that God is speaking in baby talk to his creatures that they might be able to grasp (no matter how childishly) his works of creation.

    Calvin’s commentary goes on to make a very interesting point around Gen 1:16. There he talks about how Moses calls the moon the second greatest light. But Calvin points out that astronomers have proven that Saturn (which he calls a star) is actually greater in size than the moon, but because the moon APPEARS to us to be bigger/greater, therefore Moses calls it the second greatest light. Again, Calvin is pointing out how God speaks to us in Gen 1 in a way that accommodates our weakness. It accommodates our PERSPECTIVE. Calvin points out that Gen 1 describes the world that most people would have intimate knowledge of.

    This same argument can and should be made when people complain that the Bible describes the earth as being flat. The Bible isn’t insisting that the earth IS flat. Rather, its original audience were people who believed that the earth was flat, and the Bible wasn’t interested in correcting that view. God didn’t CARE that people thought the earth was flat. In fact, they had every good, legitimate, rational reason to believe that the earth was flat. You’d believe the earth was flat too if you hadn’t seen pictures of it from space. So why wouldn’t the Bible speak to people in such a way that they would understand it?

    This is what Calvin means when he says that it’s more than MERE instruction. It’s about God accommodating our weakness. Michael Horton would say that God is speaking analogically.

    And because I can’t help but carry my point through to its logical conclusion, I have to add that those who insist that the narrative of Gen 1 can only be interpreted to mean that God created all things in 6, 24 hour days must also believe that the earth really IS flat.

    After all, if you insist that the days are to be interpreted as literal 24 hour days, and if you insist that the sequence of the days must also be taken at simplistic face value, then you must also insist on taking the CONTENT of those days at face value.

    By this I mean that you have to believe that there IS such a thing as the firmament. You have to believe that there are waters above and waters below and that God separated these waters and put the dry land in the gulf in between.

    This refers to the well documented cosmology of the Ancient Near East. They believed, generally, that the earth was flat. They believed that underneath this flat earth was a lot of water. These are the waters under the earth, also known as the underworld, which was inhabited by sea monsters and demons (see the second commandment in Ex 20). This is why ancient peoples associated the sea with death (see especially the book of Jonah). And of course there must be water under the earth, because how else could you explain the presence of the sea in conjunction with man’s ability to drill wells?

    And of course there was water above the dome of heaven (aka the firmament). This is, after all, why the sky is blue. It’s also why water falls from the sky when it rains. It’s rain being released from heaven, the dome of heaven, where angels (stars) dwell. This is why the people of Babel wanted to build a tower that reached to heaven. They thought that if they could climb up there and stand among the angels (gods), they’d become god-like.

    Because Gen 1 says that on the second day, which must be a 24 hour day and must follow sequentially the first day in which God created light, God formed the dry land and separated the waters from the waters, those who insist on a literalistic interpretation must also accept that God actually formed an expanse which separated waters from waters. And this must literally be understood in the same way that the original audience would have understood it, and that means that you must accept that the earth is flat.

    You must also accept that the light created on day one has no source because the sun, moon and stars weren’t created until day 4. And by the way, a day consisting of 24 hours has no meaning prior to the creation of the sun, but you must insist nonetheless that the first three days were also of ordinary, 24 hour length. But because days are of different lengths on other planets, you have to admit that Moses is speaking from an earth-centered, how-mankind-perceives-it point of view. The notion of a “day” doesn’t inherently refer to 24 hours unless you are speaking of mankind’s experience of what a “day” is. Again, without a sun or in different locations in this (unimaginably vast) universe, the concept of a “day” (assuming it means the period of light that is opposed to the period of darkness causes by planets rotating on their axis and being alternately lighted by their “sun” and darkened by turning away from it) has vastly divergent meanings.

    In other words, unless you’re willing to argue that “day” inherently means whatever it means on earth, you have to accept in some sense that God is speaking to us in ways that accommodate our ability to comprehend it. God is speaking to us in baby talk in Gen 1. He is speaking to us within the context of human experience of the creation, speaking to us about it in ways that would make sense to us.

    Given that that’s clearly the case, it defies reason to presume that the light created on day 1 is any other than that which emanates from the sun. Ask an ancient what his understanding of “light” is. His answer will have everything to do with sunlight – unless he’s talking about the light from fire. But daylight is what he will naturally think of. That’s pretty much the main source of light they had. So when Gen 1 says that on the first day, God created light, why would the original audience have thought of light in an abstract sense? That doesn’t make much sense to anyone today, so why would we think it would have made any sense to them? The light of day one is simply and clearly and obviously to be understood as daylight, which is to say sunlight.

    But the sun isn’t said to be created until day 4!

    And so we should all take some kind of non-literal, analogical view. Common sense demands it. Fesko is right. The hyperliteralist hermeneutic is silly, which is why it gives us nonsense like the Left Behind series. Don’t be a silly hyperliteralist.

    I’m not saying that the “days” of Gen 1 have nothing to do with the days we experience as consisting of a 24 hour block of time. I’m just saying that they aren’t exactly the same thing, even as our experience of creation isn’t exactly the same as God’s understanding of creation.

  75. RubeRad says:

    Hey Echo, long time no, um read! (And then you show up, and it’s all, Long Time Read!)

    Thanks for those points, I had forgotten about that Calvin quote.

    I feel the need, however, to push back as devil’s advocate (or at least as 6/24’ers advocate) on a few things. Light without sun, in the YEC system, would come directly from God, and I think this is actually an elegant parallel with the end state of things in Rev 21:23.

    As for “day” having a 24-hour meaning only from an earth perspective, here about a view that, while we now understand how physics works with all manner of “frames of reference”, the bible endorses a geocentric frame of reference as theologically meaningful (earth is God’s footstool, foundations will not be moved, …)

    As for flat earth, I think you’ve got a good point there. But see here for some push-back on that.

    And for “This is, after all, why the sky is blue”, hold on, I’ve got an interesting post coming up…

  76. Pingback: No Blue | The Confessional Outhouse

  77. The Janitor says:

    Echo,

    “I can’t help but carry my point through to its logical conclusion, I have to add that those who insist that the narrative of Gen 1 can only be interpreted to mean that God created all things in 6, 24 hour days must also believe that the earth really IS flat.”

    Please provide an actual argument that shows that if the Bible teaches the earth was made in 6, 24 hour days that the earth is flat. Please give some sort of syllogism or at least a clear argument with premises leading to a conclusion… instead of just an assertion that a young-earther must also accept a flat earth.

    I’ve seen this charge made countless times by non-YEC, but I’ve never actually seen them make good on an argument. Why is that? Do they expect YEC to be intimidated or converted by the mere assertion? Surely not. So why continue to make it? Maybe it’s to energize the choir?

    “After all, if you insist that the days are to be interpreted as literal 24 hour days, and if you insist that the sequence of the days must also be taken at simplistic face value, then you must also insist on taking the CONTENT of those days at face value.”

    Why should I think that? Why can’t a person have independent reasons for believing the days in Genesis are ordinary days and other independent reasons for thinking something else might be figuratively described? After all, narratives often have literal and figurative elements.

    It seems that non-YEC want to mock YEC for having a simplistic hermeneutic, but actually it’s the non-YEC who wants to force us into a simplistic hermeneutic without an argument.

    “By this I mean that you have to believe that there IS such a thing as the firmament.”

    I’m sure you’re aware that there are arguments against “raqia” meaning a solid dome. Even OEC have put forth arguments for “raqia” that are compatible with a YEC “literal” reading (e.g., <a href="http://www.reasons.org/articles/how-firm-is-the-%E2%80%9Cfirmament%E2%80%9D-part-1-of-2"here). Analogical Days proponent C. John Collins also argues that “raqia” doesn’t mean solid dome. So you’re not just arguing against YECs on this point.

    “This refers to the well documented cosmology of the Ancient Near East.”

    You seem to be arguing that the Bible must be teaching these things (e.g., flat earth, solid dome for sky) because ANE people believed these things. Isn’t that simplistic on your part? What reason do we have to believe that Israelites had this cosmology? What reason do we have to believe that ANE people actually held to this cosmology? The Egyptians believed the sun was a god and rode on the back of a cow. Did they hold that belief because that’s the way things appear? Did Israel share the Egyptian cosmology in that respect? If not, on what basis do you deny that they–at least–believed the sun rode on the back of a cow? After all, Genesis only clearly teaches the sun was created. It doesn’t teach the sun is not a created god. And many Bible scholars hold to a primitive polytheism theory of ancient Israelites. How far are you willing to take your “ANEers believed so surely Israel did too!” argument?

    Ultimately, you could either exegete such teachings from Scripture (e.g., Scripture teaches a flat earth) or you could go with a much weaker argument and say that this is the way things must have appeared to someone living during that time. I think the former type of argument will lead you to a very problematic view of Scripture–one that I think got Pete Enns removed from Westminster. It would also open you up to the “God is a deceiver” charge that non-YEC like to use against YEC. I think the latter type of argument has been debunked by Steve Hays of Triablogue (see here, here, here, here and so forth… you can just do a search on “cosmology” at the site). The earth doesn’t appear flat, the sky doesn’t appear solid, and the mountains don’t appear to hold up a solid dome, which appears neither as a solid nor as a dome.

    This is why the people of Babel wanted to build a tower that reached to heaven. They thought that if they could climb up there and stand among the angels (gods), they’d become god-like.

    Do you have any actual evidence for that or are you just letting your imagination run wild? I’m genuinely curious. Did we find an ancient tablet that described the motives of the person’s building the tower of Babel?

    Because Gen 1 says that on the second day, which must be a 24 hour day and must follow sequentially the first day in which God created light, God formed the dry land and separated the waters from the waters, those who insist on a literalistic interpretation must also accept that God actually formed an expanse which separated waters from waters. And this must literally be understood in the same way that the original audience would have understood it, and that means that you must accept that the earth is flat.

    No, you’ve made a big leap there. The text says God formed the dry land and separated the waters from the waters. So, let’s grant your argument that if we maintain the text says God created in sequential ordinary days that we must accept that God actually made dry land and separated waters from waters. But where does the text say the earth is flat? You’re jumping to the odd idea that if an ancient Israelites is picturing a flat earth in his mind as he pictures dry land and waters separating from waters, then we have to have these same pictures in our mind. But why are we forced to do that? Again, can you spell out some argument for me (preferably with a syllogism) showing that we must not only accept a literal reading of the text, but we must accept however some imaginary Israelite may have imagined the text?

    You must also accept that the light created on day one has no source because the sun, moon and stars weren’t created until day 4. And by the way, a day consisting of 24 hours has no meaning prior to the creation of the sun, but you must insist nonetheless that the first three days were also of ordinary, 24 hour length.

    Sounds like you’ve never read or talked to a YEC before… If you’re interested in having a debate with one, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the position first. For instance, pointing out that the light created on day one doesn’t have it’s source in the sun etc. isn’t going to catch any young earther off guard. You’ll most likely be met with “Yeah, and…?” And not only does “24 hours” have no meaning–in our modern sense–prior to there being a sun, but it has no meaning prior to there being clocks with the convention of minutes and hours. But that no more proves that the days of Genesis weren’t ordinary days than it proves a reference to an hour couldn’t refer to what we now take to be an ordinary hour prior to the invention of a clock. It’s an anachronistic way of referring to a (roughly) equivalent period of time.

    But because days are of different lengths on other planets, you have to admit that Moses is speaking from an earth-centered, how-mankind-perceives-it point of view.

    So you admit that Moses does mean an ordinary (earth) day? Great. Or maybe you just mean young-earthers have to admit to an ordinary (earth) day? Yes, we do. Moving on…

    In other words, unless you’re willing to argue that “day” inherently means whatever it means on earth, you have to accept in some sense that God is speaking to us in ways that accommodate our ability to comprehend it. God is speaking to us in baby talk in Gen 1. He is speaking to us within the context of human experience of the creation, speaking to us about it in ways that would make sense to us.

    Okay, I admit all these things. Now what does this have to do with disproving YEC?? Even if God said he created the Earth about 4 billion years ago we could still make all your same points. So… uh… Earth isn’t 4 billion years old on that account??

    So when Gen 1 says that on the first day, God created light, why would the original audience have thought of light in an abstract sense?

    Not sure what you mean by “abstract sense.” But the original audience would have thought of light as not originating from the sun because the sun didn’t exist yet. Of course, we could accept the arguments which say that Genesis 1:16 doesn’t indicate the initial creation of the sun, etc but only to a past act of creation (a la Grudem). There is nothing contrary to a YEC reading of the text in that manner.

    The light of day one is simply and clearly and obviously to be understood as daylight, which is to say sunlight.

    You’re only argument for that is that it doesn’t make sense to think of light without the sun. You say “that doesn’t make sense to anyone today” and say it wouldn’t make sense to an ancient Israelite. Well, where is your argument for that? It makes sense to me. I can easily conceive of light just existing.

    And so we should all take some kind of non-literal, analogical view.

    I’d like to see a more coherent argument first.

    The hyperliteralist hermeneutic is silly, which is why it gives us nonsense like the Left Behind series. Don’t be a silly hyperliteralist.

    Question begging labels and guilt by association… I’d like to see you raise your level of discourse here, please.

  78. The Janitor says:

    I’ve attempted to respond to the Calvin and WCF discussion here.

  79. No offense, but the argument about the phrase “in the space of” somehow meaning that the divines (and Calvin?) were not referring to measurement of time is a stretch. Just don’t see it.

    Ironically, “stretch” is also a term normally used in reference to physical space, but can also be used to refer to a measurement of time (i.e. a “stretch” of time in prison). 🙂

  80. Echo_ohcE says:

    Rube,

    The light coming from God in Rev 21:23 is a new light that exists in the New Heavens, New Earth. Note that it says that we won’t need the sun anymore because of this light. However, right now we need the sun to give us light, which indicates that we don’t currently have the light that comes from God. So then, in order to support the argument you’ve made on behalf of others, we would have to posit that this light existed for days 1-3, but then ceased for some unexplained reason on day 4. Furthermore, Moses would be speaking of the CREATION of said light that emanates from the eternal God. So that means that God is not an eternal light source. This is simply odd. Plus it would be odd for Moses to talk about the creation of something that man has never had any experience of. The Bible’s purpose is to be understood. How would the original audience have understood this light without having any access to Rev 21:23? They wouldn’t know anything about light as the glory of God. I think it’s better to understand that in Rev 21:23, we’ll GAIN ACCESS to the light that has always emanated from God. We don’t currently have that kind of direct access to God. We are a step removed from his presence. But in the eschaton, we won’t be removed at all. We’ll have direct revelation of him, thus direct glory, thus no need of the sun to reveal his glory to us in the creation.

    E

  81. Echo_ohcE says:

    Rube,

    As opposed to geocentric view, I’d posit that the Bible is written from a man-centric point of view. This is why I say that the light of day 1 must be understood as light as man experiences it, which is to say sunlight. But again, if we’re talking about “day” in a man-centric way, which in this case lines up perfectly with a geocentric way, then we have to agree that the whole passage is written in a man-centric way. This necessarily means that it’s speaking to man about the creation in a way that man would understand it. This pushes us to admit that it’s written in baby-talk. This means it CANNOT be interpreted in a facile, 1-1 correspondence (univocal) sort of way. At the same time, it cannot be understood in an equivocal way either, which would be to say that this narrative isn’t historical at all, bearing no resemblance to reality. If it’s not univocal, and not equivocal, that leaves only one other broad possibility: we have to understand it analogically. That means that it’s not to be understood as a 1-1 correspondence on the one hand (hyper-literalistically), nor is it to be understood equivocally (MERE symbolic instruction). It means that it’s similar to historical realities (not equivocal) in some limited (non-univocal) way.

    It can’t be univocal if it’s told from a man-centric (biased/limited) point of view. It can’t be univocal if we don’t believe that the earth is truly flat as it’s described in the narrative. There are no waters UNDER the earth (to use the language of the 10 commandments). In fact, it makes no sense to speak of anything being under the earth from our modern, spherical earth understanding. That’s flat earth language. I know Gen 1 doesn’t talk about “waters under the earth”, but that’s what the separated waters is talking about.

    E

  82. Echo_ohcE says:

    Janitor,

    Perhaps you missed it when I said: “does Calvin mean by this phrase that these days were simply of ordinary, 24 hour length? Maybe.”

    Let me say this as well. When I say, analogically speaking, that “my car is a lemon”, I don’t mean the word “lemon” to refer to something other than a little yellow piece of fruit. That’s what the word means. Yet I don’t mean that my car is a little yellow piece of fruit. I mean that there’s a similarity between my car and the fruit.

    Similarly, when speaking of the word “day” in Gen 1, doesn’t it still mean an ordinary day? Yeah, it doesn’t refer to something else. But as used in the context, I’m suggesting that perhaps that’s not Moses’ intent.

    Most reformed folks understand that Daniel’s 70 weeks, for example, don’t refer to a 490 day period of time. Or the two witnesses of Rev 11’s 3 and a half years – many of us think that this refers to the church bearing witness to Christ for the duration of the church age. It’s a historical reality, spoken of in a non-univocal way, and the time periods are numbered. It’s not crazy to suggest that something similar is taking place in Gen 1. Perhaps it’s not, but the suggestion is not outlandish because Scripture does the same thing elsewhere.

    Now, if you want to debate what Calvin meant or the WCF, that’s fine. When I was asked to take an oath regarding the WCF, I said I was more than willing to take an exception to the phrase “space of 6 days” if the authoritative body before whom I was speaking thought it necessary. I’m not married to that language. I don’t NEED that language to mean my view of Gen 1 is possible. I really don’t care. If every single divine and Calvin all thought that Gen 1 meant 6, 24 hour days, I’m ok with that. I was merely suggesting that perhaps it wasn’t.

    I actually think the argument for the use of the phrase “space of 6 days” on your blog is pretty convincing, even if a bit venomous.

    And yet, you still have to acknowledge that Calvin’s overall understanding of Gen 1 is that God is speaking in language that man, with his limited knowledge, can understand. That’s the case in all of Scripture, since it’s addressed to us.

    E

  83. Irv says:

    [Yo, RubeRad. Just discovered your intriguing blog. Here’s what I found on the exciting web.]

    Pretrib Rapture Pride

    by Bruce Rockwell

    Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
    Ice’s mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn’t find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 – and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers “the early pretribulationists” (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including “Pseudo-Ephraem” and a “Rev. Morgan Edwards,” taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist’s arrival as the only “imminent” event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an “imminent” pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards’ historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google historian Dave MacPherson’s “Deceiving and Being Deceived” for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
    The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read “pretrib” into phrases like “before Armageddon,” “before the final conflagration,” and “escape all these things”!
    BTW, the KJV translators’ other writings found in London’s famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) don’t have even a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib “proof” in the KJV that its translators never found?
    Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up “Famous Rapture Watchers” (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
    Pretrib didn’t flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby “explanatory notes” in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield’s criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book “The Praise of Folly” which is available online.
    Biola University’s doctrinal statement says Christ’s return is “premillennial” and “before the Tribulation.” Although universities stand for “academic freedom,” Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases – non-essentials the founders purposely didn’t include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
    Ice, BTW, has a “Ph.D” issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn’t authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he’s working on another “Ph.D” via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice’s scholarliness, Google “Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “be careful in polemics – Peripatetic Learning,” and “Walvoord Melts Ice.” Also Google “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)” – featured by media luminary Joe Ortiz on his Jan. 30, 2013 “End Times Passover” blog.
    Other fascinating Google articles include “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “X-raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving in Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrets,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” and “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism” – most from the author of “The Rapture Plot,” the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history.
    Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?

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