Six-Day Creation: Is it worth the battle?

Discussion in 'Natural Revelation and God's Creation' started by Reformed Covenanter, Jan 7, 2008.

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  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    In John Frame's book Salvation Belongs To The Lord he says that he believes in six-day creation but does not think we should engage in battles over the issue.

    I think we should. If we cannot take God's word seriously in Genesis 1, then where or when can we take it seriously?
     
  2. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    How many things should we fight for according to John Frame?

    CT
     
  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    That's a good question, given the old "Machen's Warrior Children" piece. I would imagine Frame has some list somewhere of essentials or fundamentals of the faith. Whether it's the same as the old "Five Fundamentals" I don't know since I haven't read much Frame.
     
  4. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I presume it should only be over soteriological issues; but I do not know for definite as I have not heard from the horses' mouth.
     
  5. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I would say six day creation is a matter of officer integrity because of its explicit inclusion in the Confession. (I don't agree with those who say the Confession only duplicates the words of Scripture -- it doesn't.) From a hermeneutical perspective, six day creation is important because it shows a commitment to the literal interpretation of Scripture. Dogmatically, it reinforces the divine fiat-fulfilment nature of creation, which has a number of bearings on other theological and moral questions. Finally, practically, the Sabbath as a creation ordinance comes into doubt if Gen. 1:1-2:4 is not a literally historical account.
     
  6. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I would definitely agree that it should be a term of office. Certainly in terms of hermeneutics the consequences of denying 6 day creation are dire. Can we apply the same approach to the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection?
     
  7. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I would agree with Matthew's comments here. If someone does not believe in a literal account of Genesis, that should, at the least, be interpreted as an exception to the WCF. Whether that exception then constitutes something that strikes at the vitals of religion, or whether it undermines the system of doctrine taught in the standards can then be debated (and I am not fully convinced on this point that a Framework guy is a heretic, even though I think he is wrong and out of accord with the Standards). I have known guys who hold to the Standards rigorously in all areas except this one.
     
  8. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I would not like to use the "H" word, but, nonetheless, it smacks of a lack of confidence in God's word.
     
  9. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    Here is the article referenced. and the section:

     
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    This is nonsense; if a plain historical account cannot be taken seriously in Genesis 1, then why should we take anything else in Biblical history seriously.

    I think this is due to Calvinisms' love-affair with humanism. How any Calvinist cannot except literal six day creation is beyond me. A Calvinist should believe that God, not unbelieving science, is sovereign.
     
  11. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    it is worth the battle, since any other view is explicit heresy.
     
  12. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks Matthew. I have done some major reading the last few years on the I.D. / Creationist debate. Most of what I have read as you have described it is where I lean given that understanding and reading.
     
  13. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior

    I'm NOT sure about this. I think and feel very strongly about a literal six days, but I think that this error can be held for a time. God does not bring all of our views and doctrines to perfections so quickly. I know I have overturned many a wrong notion, as most of us have, with diligent study and the counsel of those more gifted than ourselves,and time. I do believe that faulty handling of Genesis 1 opens up a pandora's box to interpret the rest of scripture badly.
     
  14. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    In my Christian college and seminary education, ALL of my professors were representative of the poetic/metaphorical interpretation of Genesis. They simply dismissed the straight-forward interpretation as nonsense. That, coupled with some Hugh Ross books, left me feeling quite comfortable with a framework or progressive creationist view.

    A couple of years ago, while fighting tooth and nail with progressives in my denomination who were arguing for the ordination of openly gay men and women, it finally hit me. The same hermeneutic used to finesse Genesis fits quite nicely when trying to dismiss any number of Pauline teachings in the New Testament.

    After three decades of ministry, I had never given a serious consideration to the issues, hermeneutically or scientifically, but simply coasted on what my teachers had said. Surely the distant starlight problem and radiometric dating alone made the Genesis account impossible to reconcile with modern science . . . or so it seemed.

    Discovering the Answers in Genesis web site (with their presuppositional apologetic) was a gift of God. One need not crucify his intellect to believe in a young earth. The "facts" of science fit (and can be reconciled with) either a Darwinist-naturalist worldview or an orthodox Christian worldview. The solid work by the AiG folks on some of the scientific problems offers credible answers to secular challenges, even the technical ones.

    However, even if there was no AiG or credible answer to the evolutionists from a scientific perspective, the compromises made by Reformed theologians in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century undermine their claim to biblical authority. Charles Hodge virtually ceded the ground to the scientists when he wrote:

    "It is of course admitted that, taking this account [Genesis] by itself, it would be most natural to understand the word [day] in its ordinary sense; but if that sense brings the Mosaic account into conflict with facts, [millions of years] and another sense avoids such conflict, then it is obligatory on us to adopt that other."

    Notice how Hodge readily grants to naturalism the right to lay claim to ownership of the "facts." I would contend that the "facts" are only meaningful when put into some conceptual framework. The structure offered by evolutionists leads to atheism. Compromising with them to achieve some temporary tactical advantage is stupid. The confessions take Genesis in the sense in which it was written, a sense which also stands behind Ex 20:11 and the establishment of the sabbath, the Pauline argument regarding Adam and Christ in Romans, etc.
     
  15. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    I 100% agree with your condemnation of the capitulation of Hodge and I am presup myself, but I do believe that there is room for the "day as age" interpretation without capitulating all to naturalism.

    That is - I do not think the last day will last a literal 24 hours. What is time measurement to God? He does not measure it as man does, anyway. The Sabbath was made for man for a purpose and it was not to be about measured time or measuring out God's rest.

    Man is bound by time, not God. "Objective" time measurement (ex:an exact 24 hour day) is an invention of Man.

    How long do you think the "last day" of judgment will be?

    Answer: As long or as short as the Lord wills it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2008
  16. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    :up: This is one of those theological and moral issues which hang on the fiat-fulfilment position of Gen. 1. Rushdoony has a good book entitled Revolt against Maturity, in which he argues persuasively that belief in "mature" creation is fundamental to Christian ethics. He builds on Van Til that non Christian ethics are themselves creative, whereas a truly Christian ethic is receptive because it presupposes creation is the moral prerogative of God alone. A genuine belief in the historicity of Genesis commits a man to the normativity of nature as God has made it. Hence sexual distinction, propagation, work, etc., are non-negotiable.
     
  17. Narnian

    Narnian Puritan Board Freshman

    The question is whether or not it is a plain historical account. I recall taking an OT class from J. Barton Payne at Covenant Seminary back in 1977 where Dr. Payne said the reading of the Hebrew of Genesis prohibited a literal 7 day view of creation.
     
  18. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Yom in Hebrew has much the same range of meanings as it does in English. And, in Hebrew as in English, context determines meaning. "In my father's day, it took four days to drive all day from California to his boyhood home in Southern Illinois." You don't need to be a brain surgeon to realize that the first use refers to "age" or "era," the second to 24 hour days, and the third to the daylight part of the day. We are similarly able to discern the meaning of the word in the Bible in most cases without too much difficulty.

    "Day" is used more than 2300 times in the Old Testament.
    * 410x in OT outside of Genesis 1 - "Day" + number (singular or plural) = normal day.
    * 38x in OT outside of Genesis 1 - "Evening and morning" together without "day" = normal day.
    * 23x in OT outside of Genesis 1 - "Evening" or "Morning" with or without "day" = normal day.
    * 52x in OT outside of Genesis 1 - "Night" with "Day" = normal day.

    And, don't forget the Sabbath. Exodus 20:11 treats the days of creation as literal and as culminating in a sabbath day.

    Paul treats Adam as the first human sinner, not any of the purportedly millions of pre-humans needed by evolution to get to us in 3.8 billion years. The Adam and Christ comparison depends on a literal Adam. The Bible teaches that death came through Adamic sin. Millions of years of death and destruction prior to "Adam" turns the explanation upside down.

    As Hodge, himself, avered, if exegesis alone were at stake there would be no question. The arguments of context, hermeneutics, grammar, etc. all side with normal days. It is only when one feels insecure in the face of naturalistic science that we have ANY reason for elongating the days beyond the straight-forward reading.

    If you want to see the weasel-wording of those embarrassed by the Bible in the face of modern science, check out Grudem's attempt to do justice to the doctrine of creation and the supposed "assured findings of science" in his theology. You will see that ONLY those who believe that science has decided the issue in the Darwinist direction feel even the slightest discomfort with the plain sense of Genesis.
     
  19. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    A lot can happen in a "day" with the Lord.

    Joshua 10:13
    And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day.
     
  20. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Regardless of how one interprets the passage in terms of reconciling it with physics, claiming sheer miracle, or whatever . . . who would argue that "a whole day" means anything else than an attempt to explain the time elapsed as "about a whole day"???
     
  21. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    Just supporting the premise that "day" is mutable.
     
  22. sotzo

    sotzo Puritan Board Sophomore

    1. We should engage in battles over it when the Gospel is at stake. Battling over it in order to supposedly demonstrate who is more faithful to God is more prideful and arrogant than any view of the creation account.

    2. We should not assume that an alternative view of any portion of Scripture necessarily makes one "less serious" about God's word than we good Reformed folks. To be sure, there are positively wrong interpretations...however, deeming an old-earther to be less serious than us about the things of God is a non sequitur.

    3. There is a double-edged sword factor here. Many of our premill brethren could use your same argument to say that unwillingness to accept Revelation at face-value is heretical and should exclude one from becoming an officer.


    I have not read this book, but knowing Frame from other writings, he is not evading the implications of non-literal intepretations of Genesis. Rather, he is concerned to apply wisdom to the "how" and "when" we engage in such battles. He is very good about sorting the forest from the trees.
     
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Draws sword...any takers? Setting the premillennial trap. Anyway, I forgot the ratio but the preponderance of the waw in the first few chapters of Genesis strains a poetic reading of the text.
     
  24. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree. It's been said that, if you believe Genesis 1:1, you shouldn't have a problem, ultimately, with anything else you find in the Bible.

    There's the personal integrity angle, too. If you truly believe that Genesis 1 teaches a six-day creation, then you have an obligation to propagate and defend that view. The same principle applies to other views of Genesis, too, of course, even though they're wrong (heh, heh)...
     
  25. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Douglas F. Kelly's Creation and Change: Genesis 1.1 - 2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms was the book that caused R.C. Sproul to change his view from endorsing Hugh Ross to accept a six-day creationist view.

    A Hebrew scholar from Master's Seminary also subjects the Genesis account to a rigorous statistical analysis, essentially "proving" the narrative nature of the text and the impossibility of a poetic reading (cf. pgs. 173ff of Thousands Not Billions, ed. Donald DeYoung).
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2008
  26. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Speaking as a premill lifer, the hermeneutic used to advance amill or postmil views does not bear the same kind of unintended consequences present with a spiritualizing hermeneutic of Genesis. Good and Godly scholars have held diverse eschatological views as well as both old earth and young earth views of Genesis. I was an old earther for nearly 40 years before changing my mind and embracing the young earth view. Presumably my theology was essentially orthodox during those four decades, albeit seriously errant and, ultimately in my view, dangerously deficient.

    Besides, the PB is the LAST place I would stage a Custer's Last Stand over eschatology! Yikes! I am quixotic enough to march into hell for a heavenly cause. But, yowee zowee, even with Jacob packing heat and having my back, it would be a proverbial masacree! :duh: By the time the Brits and Aussies worked me over, there wouldn't be much left for the jughead to eliminate with extreme prejudice! (no offense Semper Fi, sir. We appreciate your sacricfice and service, sir! Please remember that Jacob is the provocateur. And, did I mention he is also armed?).
     
  27. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This is a good discussion. I want to preface my comments and questions by making it clear that I have not yet been convinced of one position over another, and am simply thinking through and comparing various issues as they relate to each side of the broad issue. That said, there are certain arguments within the issue that I am convinced are weak or flawed; but none of those so far are enough in themselves to fully carry the weight of the whole issue, one way or another.

    Matthew and Lane, I'm curious as to how you would point out the language of WCF 4 ("in the space of six days") as specifically elaborating on the meaning of the direct Scriptural language (Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11, "in six days") in one way or another.

    This is simply begging the question. Since you believe the Genesis creation account to in fact be a "plain historical account," you can certainly make arguments for why that must be the case; but in saying that the error of those who disagree is chiefly seen in the further implications for biblical hermeneutics because they don't take "a plain historical account" seriously, you are completely assuming that the creation account is in fact "a plain historical account," which is the very question being asked in the debate.

    I can't honestly see how this is anything but an ad hominem that again begs the question, since you are automatically assuming that any non-literal reading of the creation account is "unbelieving science." In other words, Reformed theologians who have held to a non-literal view would not logically respond with an implication that "No, unbelieving science, not God, is sovereign," but rather would simply respond by making a case that their view is not, in fact, rooted in "unbelieving science." You can certainly argue otherwise, and indeed, that is where the very debate lies.

    Keon, please clarify what you mean by "heresy." If you take the view that there is only one biblical definition of the word, and that that definition is damning error, then there is a definite problem with your post with respect to board policy. If, however, you take the view that there is damning heresy as well as a legitimate use of the word to refer to non-damning but serious error, and if you simply have the latter use in mind in this case, it would be best to simply refer to it as just that--serious error--so that the discussion can, again, remain civil and beneficial.

    I likewise sympathize with definitely challenging and taking to task, and pushing for clear textual evidence for, the claim that the creation account easily has a different natural reading than the parts of Scripture we all agree to be literal history. But I'm curious as to your second sentence here (bold emphasis above): What about people who hold a non-literal position for a lifetime? What about Charles Hodge, or Meredith Kline?

    I have to give a hearty "Amen!" to this point; even if I were to become convinced of a non-literal view of the creation account, it certainly would not in any way rest upon a concession of scientific theories automatically being "the facts," an assumption with which I'd be willing to bet everyone here would take serious issue.

    Exactly. As a sort of corollary or logical "other side of the coin" to my preceding statement, even if I decisively adopted a literal six-day view, it would not rest upon a mere assumption that a day-age view in itself logically necessitates a naturalistic perspective, but rather on the basis that a day-age view simply does not square with an accurate reading of the text.

    This seems like a good point to me; certainly one worthy of further consideration and interaction, if nothing else. So, how would the literal six-day creationists on the board interpret the last "day" of Judgment; and as a follow-up question, if you would say it is something other than 24 hours, why would you read it differently than Genesis 1?

    One possible response I can think of to the latter question is that I have heard that while Scripture does use the word for "day" found in Genesis 1 in non-literal ways in some passages, there are no other passages in which it is used in a non-literal way when it is used repetitively in a back-to-back way.

    Excellent observations here, Joel. I would only seek clarification or possibly suggest otherwise on your first point: Are issues where the very Gospel itself is at stake really the only issues worth fighting for? What about issues concerning the sacraments? Ecclesiology? Confessional subscription? Although I would never claim the Gospel itself to be threatened by any of the orthodox yet differing positions on those matters, yet would certainly say they are worth fighting for, since they have great implications for the life of the Church and the believer.
     
  28. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Appealing to a wide semantic range for the word "yom" is inadequate. In Gen. 1 "yom" is defined by ordinals and so the semantic field is significantly reduced. The use of the ordinal clearly makes this a time referent.

    If one looks at Numb. 7, one will notice a variety of parallels to Gen. 1:1-2:4, including the descriptive use of "day" (beyom) to refer to the whole period. It is clear that Numb. 7 is providing an historical record. The same clarity should shine through the creation account, and I believe it would if it were not for certain non-biblical concerns which overshadow the interpreter.
     
  29. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Scripture says "in six days" whereas the Confession says "in the space of six days." The term "in the space of six days" is used from Calvin onwards to assert that God used six literal days to create the world in contradistinction from the view that God made the world in an instant but then used the six days as a literary device. See, for example, Calvin's commentary on Gen. 1:5. It might also be pointed out that the Confession maintains the Sabbath day was the last day of the week from the beginning of the world (chap. 21, sect. 7), which commits its subscribers to the view that the seventh day of creation was a literal "lower register" day.
     
  30. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    According to Exodus 20 the account to creation was six-literal days. How many Sabbaths do you know which last for millions of years?
     
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