Sometimes you have to write a blog post just for the sake of a good title. Episode 337 of Christ the Center featured Dr. Alan Strange, discussing “Animus Impotentis”. Dr. Strange is rather a cut-up, and makes this discussion of a dry-sounding topic almost as entertaining as rodeo-skydiving a nuclear warhead!
A few highlights I recall:
Dr. Strange relates how 6×24 YECs like to insist that the confessional language “in the space of six days” means “in the space of six ordinary, twenty-four hour days” (or equivalently, the animus imponentis of the language means “ordinary 24-hour”). The only reason, they say, “24-hour” is not in the confession is because that phrase is modern, and it would be anachronistic for us to expect them to speak that way. However, in researching the minutes of the Assembly, Dr. Strange found a case where there was a debate over whether the 7th day of Creation is eternal and continuing, or “24 hours”. Maybe the phrase was even “24-hour day”, I don’t recall. I think how it went was, there was a motion to assert that the 7th day was a 24-hour day, and the motion was debated, voted on, and rejected. The point being, “24-hour”-ness was in their vocabulary.
Another interesting creation-related tidbit, from the OPC Creation Report (for which Dr. Strange was a committee member). (See lines 2859ff in the report.) In 1954, there was a Dr. Edwin Monsma who wrote a tract If Not Evolution, What Then, which he requested that the OPC Committee on Christian Education publish. “The way that he sets forth his view is quite irenic. … He summarizes his position on the length of creation days this way: ‘Without categorially dismissing all other views, it does seem that this one [6×24] is most easily harmonized with Scriptures and with the whole of special revelation.” And yet, the response of the committee was: “[the committee] has reluctantly concluded that it would not be desirable for the Committee on Christian Education to publish it because of the dogmatic position taken on the controversial issue of the length of creation days.” The Report’s conclusion : “Certainly it seems to indicate that almost twenty years after the formation of the OPC, the denomination remained unwilling to publish anything under its auspices that set forth the length of the creation days as being of ordinary duration.” (See also Robert Strimple’s historical reflections on the OPC and views of creation.)
Finally, to show that animus imponentis is not only about creation, Dr. Strange discussed its relation to other topics as well. One that stuck out for me was an assertion that, Limited Atonement is not nailed down by our confessions, but the common understanding that it is a non-negotiable doctrine is a matter of animus imponentis. Apparently Hodge wrote something that tried to prove that L is indeed in the confessions but Strange considers Hodge to have used somewhat weak, overreaching arguments, and Fesko has written something more recently that does a better job.
Anyways, it was a good discussion, and you should go listen to the whole thing!