Creation as ycehporP

As will happen in any discussion of creation, the question of whether is intended to be read literally (“plainly“) recently came up. Also not surprising, OEC was subjected to “guilt by association” with denial of the resurrection. In thinking about how to express the difference between and (and how a common hermeneutic can allow one to be read figuratively, and yet require the other to be read literally/historically), a distinction happened upon me, which I will briefly lay out here. It is quite simple, so I’m certain it can’t be original to me, but I don’t have the time to chase down all the various sources that have (half-consciously) coalesced into this view. So here we go:

What’s the difference between reading the Bible literally when it speaks of creation, vs. the Fall, the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, the Exodus, the Flood, Balaam’s talking ass, etc? The difference is witnesses.

Moses wrote down the details of the Exodus (and many other miracles in the wilderness) as his own personal testimony. While he also wrote about many things that he did not personally witness, almost all of them were witnessed by somebody. The miraculous birth of Isaac was witnessed by Abraham and Sarah; the Flood by Noah; the Fall by Adam and Eve — and all of these were carried forward by oral tradition until Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote them down.

But what about creation? Who was there to witness that? As God’s rhetorical questions to Job and friends powerfully illustrate, the answer is no one. So the only possible way for any man to become aware of any details of creation, is through special revelation. Perhaps Moses was in a trance while the Holy Spirit told him, word-by-word, what to write. Perhaps God showed Adam a vision, Adam passed it down, and Moses wrote the oral history he grew up with (with the assistance of the Holy Spirit). Whatever the technical details of enscripturation, it is undeniable that Creation was unwitnessed, so the Biblical account relies 100% on special revelation.

What do we call that, when God (from his timeless perspective) gives man special revelation about historical events which man (from his time-bound perspective) has not witnessed himself? Oh yeah, that’s right, we call it prophecy! And so I think it is useful (and not illegitimate) to consider in the biblical genre of prophecy. This might seem strange, since typically we think of prophecy being revealed before and fulfilled after, so you might call God’s a posteriori revelation of his acts of Creation a “backwards prophecy.” (Get it?)

But then again, maybe the prophetic revelation of Creation in is not so backwards after all. Many millenia passed, from the time the prophecy was written down, until the time that man had the necessary technology to “witness” (observe, and make inferences about) the historical Creation events God was referring to. And in the meantime, (as recently noted by friends of Blogorrhea) “let’s face it, the people of God don’t exactly have a very good history of being able to figure prophecy out.” It should come as no surprise that — lacking witness of the realization of the Creation prophecy — Christian theologians for millenia had interpreted incorrectly. As so often happens in the Bible — when we witness the fulfillment of prophecy, we smack our foreheads and say, “So that’s what that meant! I never would have guessed!” ( vs. ; vs. ; vs. A.D. 70, etc.)

Now I anticipate that the 6×24 camp will immediately disagree with my proposed categorization of as prophecy, pointing to the detailed, concrete literary style as proof that it is historical, not figurative, in tone. That may work to defuse any speculation that is poetry. But directed against prophecy, that argument proves too much. Consider Ezekiel’s temple. Chapters 40– of Ezekiel are much more detailed and concrete than (look at all the specific measurements!), yet nobody claims that Ezekiel’s description of the temple is to be read literally. (At least nobody Reformed reads it literally — or does there exist such a beast as a Reformed Dispensationalist?) And why do we excuse Ezekiel for his concreteness and take his language figuratively? Because it’s prophecy.

Drilling down a little further, consider the description of the altar in . We find 5 instances of the word whose significance is so hotly contested in , namely “day”. And among these, we find ordinals (“second day”, “eighth day”) as well as the seven-day period analogous to the sabbatical week (and plenty more days with ordinals and sabbatical patterns in the following chapters). If the YEC camp are correct that the days in can only be exegetically understood as contiguous 24-hour periods, it seems to me they would also need to be stockpiling bricks and mortar and sheep and goats for the construction and purification of the coming temple!

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115 Responses

  1. kazoo,

    However, I would just like to ask if there were any “plain reading” or therapeutical views of Genesis 1 & 2 before Darwin’s time that suggested anything other than 6 literal 24-hour periods? It seems to me that in 1800 years of exposition, any interpretation method that Rube or other OEC’s want to apply wouldn’t be new from Darwin’s period and on, right? In other words, it wasn’t until this God hater Darwin became popular that people felt they needed to question what scripture was teaching.

    In MY other words, it wasn’t until the fulfillment of the prophecy was witnessed that a correct interpretation was possible, so it’s not surprising that millenia of interpreters may have gotten it wrong.

  2. Josh,

    If I may gently pose a challenge to any who do not embrace the literal 24-hour day view: read Numbers 7:11-88, and compare to Genesis chapters 1 and 2.

    I see your Num 7, and raise you Ez 43…

  3. I’m reading A Matter of Days by Hugh Ross. He lists a good number of examples of alternate views of creation days before Darwin.

  4. Remember to play nice, boys.

  5. As i noted on my own blog i’ve been detained the past 7 weeks and severely handicapped in my ability to keep up with Blogorreah. That being said I’ve sought many times to re assert a point I was making in my comment on “Young (earth) creationist” but without staying up to date on the conversation didn’t think it would be worth the while to do (it went to 100 comments between my views).

    So here I log on and see I’m being called out. Hooray for the opportunity!

    When i made my comments regarding what you should be teaching your child regarding the ability of God to do the miraculous I picked the resurrection as the case in point of not kowtowing to science when science and faith conflict. In retrospect that was the worst example I could have chosen since no believer would ever refute the resurrection.

    So here comes a post talking about prophecy and witnesses etc which gives me a great chance to clarify…

    so here goes,
    How can it hurt your child to believe 6×24? You say he’s in error, but is your basis for determining error a hermeneutic based on science? IOW if science didn’t assert billions of years of existence would you still be drawn towards that view?

    Before answering that question you have to recognize that not only is the resurrection jeopardized by acknowledging the authority of science, but thousands of other acts of the miraculous as well. You then try to make a distinction on the basis of personal witness miracles.

    Such a distinction would then mean that each every “miraculous” occurrence in the book of Genesis should be rationalized or naturalized (since Moses wrote it all without witnessing any).

    OK so creation isn’t literal but…
    is the talking serpent?
    is the flood?
    the tower of Babel and the confusing of the languages?
    Sodom and Gomorrah?
    The birth of Isaac?

    You bring these up as accounts that are “witnessed by someone” and then orally passed down. You then attempt to separate them from creation by said distinction of witness.

    But again I go back to the question, “why”? and the question of potential damage to #1’s future standing in his fraternity.

    What I can gather from your position is that the only thing in the Bible that you want to rationalize scientifically is the creation account. You’ll tell #1 that the fall,the flood, the tower of babel, Sodom and Gomorrah and Isaac all actually literally happened in the way they were described but not creation?

    And why will you tell him this? Because of science?
    It’s simply not possible for light to travel that fast. The stars have to be billions of years old if we can see them.

    Don’t you see the problem here? science tells us that a woman in her 90’s can’t possibly give birth. That every animal on earth can’t possibly fit onto a boat built by one man. That a woman can’t possibly be turned into a pillar of salt. That snakes can’t talk!

    Where do you draw the line? either God can do the miraculous or he can’t. Either he can bend the laws of nature or he can’t. Either he can create a universe that looks billions of years old in 6 days or he can’t.

    What I’m referring to here is his ability, which is what I think kid’s want to be reassured of. I’m not asking if he did or didn’t but can he?

    Did God create the universe in 6 days of 600 billion isn’t a concern of mine. Could he have is.

  6. How can it hurt your child to believe 6×24?

    It might limit his future career choices. However, if he disbelieves in the Resurrection, a lot more is at stake. That’s why the whole point of my earlier post was that I will not be forcing my OEC on him, especially if it causes him to doubt the truth of Christianity.

    Such a distinction would then mean that each every “miraculous” occurrence in the book of Genesis should be rationalized or naturalized (since Moses wrote it all without witnessing any).

    You missed the whole point, which is the difference between Moses writing down what he witnessed, or his father witnessed, or his father’s father witnessed…or Adam witnessed — and writing down special revelation of what nobody witnessed. That distinction is what puts into the genre of prophecy.

    It’s simply not possible for light to travel that fast. The stars have to be billions of years old if we can see them. Don’t you see the problem here? science tells us that a woman in her 90’s can’t possibly give birth.

    You’re confusing different types of impossibility. It physically impossible for a nonogenarian to give birth. But it is logically impossible for light to travel faster than the speed of light. More specifically, God “can create a universe that looks billions of years old in 6 days”, but he can’t do so in a way that, what we see “happening” in the heavens, ever actually happened. Nor can God make a rock so big that even he couldn’t lift it, or microwave a burrito so hot that even he couldn’t eat it.

    Lemme put it another way; on the previous thread, Doug asked “Can God create an antique?” I would answer; he can instantaneously create something that looks like an antique, but he can’t instantaneously create something that truly is antique.

    Did God create the universe in 6 days of 600 billion isn’t a concern of mine. Could he have is.

    Could he have isn’t a concern of mine. Would he have is.

  7. But before this gets too far off track from the git-go, do you object to

    (a) My definition of prophecy, or
    (b) My assertion that fits that definition, or
    (c) My assertion that prophecy is usually not to be taken in the most literal sense?

  8. Great post Rube. Well done.

    Daniel, to answer your question, of course God could have. But I’m with Rube here. That’s not the concern.

    What also isn’t the concern is whether or not creation took millions of years or whatever. Those of us who interpret the narrative non-literally say that the POINT of the narrative is not to give a time frame of the creation events. We are not reading about God creating the world in a novel or watching it on TV. God’s not giving us all the information to simply satisfy our curiosity.

    Ask yourself, what is the POINT of the narrative? What is the text’s message to us? The answer to that question better bear some relation to the law or the gospel, some relation to Christ. The answer better tell us something about God and how we relate to him.

    Gen 1 is not a made for TV movie entitled, “The Creation: What Really Happened.” The POINT of the narrative is not to let us gleefully see exactly what happened and how it happened. In the same way, the POINT of the book of Revelation is not to serve as a crystal ball either, telling us how to interpret the Iraq war. The Left Behind series is way off the mark. It’s apocalyptic literature. It’s artistic, it paints pictures, it speaks in ways that are over our heads.

    Read John 1:1-5. This is a similar exalted style of writing. What is communicated to you when you read it exhausts your ability to communicate it to someone else. How would you explain to someone what John 1:1-5 means, what it says to you, how you understand it? How would you do that? Words would escape you eventually, and you’d be frustrated, because you know what it’s saying, but you just can’t satisfactorily explain it to someone else. This is exalted prose that is just a little bit over our heads. We can spend the rest of our lives trying to master texts like this, and after 20 years, we will have only begun to understand it.

    The thing that really disturbs me about the 6-24 view is that its proponents seem so quick to talk about the casual-glance-interpretation. Yep, whatever you understood about the text when you were 10 years old in Sunday School, that’s still what it means. It’s no more complicated than that. But it IS more complicated than that, far more complicated.

    And I am no hypocrite here. I don’t have the text all figured out. The text humbles me greatly. I don’t have all the answers. It baffles me. I have far more questions than answers. I don’t have any nice, neat explanation for Gen 1.

    The only thing I’m fairly certain of – though not entirely certain – is that the 6-24 view is wrong. There it is. That’s my view of that text.

    More positively, I think the point of the narrative is to proclaim God as Creator, and to demonstrate the covenantal nature of creation, and the efficacy of the Word to bring about God’s purposes. Therefore, because God is our Creator, we owe him obedience. Because we were made in his image, we should imitate him. Because he followed a pattern of 6 days of work and one day of rest, therefore we should and uphold the Sabbath. And this is all because we are in covenant with him. And the efficacy of the Word that would later become flesh is plain enough. And for us, it comforts us, proving to us that God’s Word is strong to save, that we need not depend on ourselves. Why? Because that same Word can bring forth the universe out of absolutely nothing. This is the multifaceted point of the passage.

    The 6-24 view does not contribute to this point of the passage, nor is it necessary to uphold this point. In fact, quite the opposite, it takes our focus away from what the text is really saying, as I’ve described above. The non-literal point of view in no way undermines the point of the passage, but in fact enhances it, because it takes the focus off the days, etc.

    E is for Enough.

  9. “Drilling down a little further, consider the description of the altar in Ezek 43. We find 5 instances of the word whose significance is so hotly contested in Genesis 1, namely “day”. And among these, we find ordinals (”second day”, “eighth day”) as well as the seven-day period analogous to the sabbatical week (and plenty more days with ordinals and sabbatical patterns in the following chapters).If the YEC camp are correct that the days in Gen 1 can only be exegetically understood as contiguous 24-hour periods, it seems to me they would also need to be stockpiling bricks and mortar and sheep and goats for the construction and purification of the coming temple!”

    Hmmm, I suppose authorial useage is now out the window as a way to determine author’s intended meaning!

    I mean, going from *Moses’* use of “day” to *Ezekiel’s* use of day etc?

    Also, I offer a “cumulative case” argument rather than the more ambituous argument put in my mouth viz. “only” read historically.

    Before I continue, am I right in supposing that you have not read *the* authoritative commentary on Eze by Daniel Bock?

  10. I might as well toss this 250 lbs monster into the mix:

    http://www.ldolphin.org/haseldays.html

  11. Can’t hurt to toss in another 250 lbs monster from the mind of world-renowned Hebraist James Barr

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/chronology_barr.pdf

  12. Echo,

    The thing that really disturbs me about the 6-24 view is that its proponents seem so quick to talk about the casual-glance-interpretation. Yep, whatever you understood about the text when you were 10 years old in Sunday School, that’s still what it means.

    Except I, nor any 6-day expert that I have read, have argued this way. Is this really fair, Echo? You’re either misrepresenting the state of our arguments, or you’re acting as if toothless fundies represent the best of 6-day exegesis.

  13. I mean that I “have *not* argued this way.” I maid myself intoa tootheless fundy! Even though I did years of crystal meth, I do still have my teeth!

  14. And, I mean “made” not “maid”!

  15. Before I continue, am I right in supposing that you have not read *the* authoritative commentary on Eze by Daniel Bock?

    Do I need a commentary to know that certainly God’s earthly temple will never be rebuilt, and more certainly that God’s covenant will never revert to physical sacrifice?

    Hmmm, I suppose authorial useage is now out the window as a way to determine author’s intended meaning! I mean, going from *Moses’* use of “day” to *Ezekiel’s* use of day etc?

    Do you think Moses didn’t understand a fundamental difference between enscripturating oral tradition into redemptive history vs. directly mediating special revelation?

  16. Ok, we haven’t heard from him in a very long time, so, here again is my favorite quote from the famous street preacher, Billy Sunday: “When scholarship disagrees with the Scripture, scholarship can go to hell.”

    Genesis isn’t a figurative/poetic book. Genesis is a book of history. God created the earth in six days. On the seventh day, He rested.

    Period.

  17. Thanks for reading the article and interacting with the content…

    Care to try again? I agree Gen 1 is not poetry. The case I made was that Gen 1 is prophecy. So do you disagree with
    (a) My definition of prophecy, or
    (b) My assertion that Gen 1 fits that definition, or
    (c) My assertion that prophecy is usually not to be taken in the most literal sense, or
    (d) My assertion that Gen 1 is not to be taken in the most literal sense?

    (And why? Show your work)

  18. When scholarship disagrees with the Scripture, scholarship can go to hell.

    Are you telling Reuben to go to hell?

  19. Bruce :-) I’m no Billy Sunday (I actually had some “book lernin'”), but his quote always serves as mental floss when scholarship gets cute with the Scripture in lame efforts to appease anti-God evolutionists.

    Reuben: Genesis is a book of history. God was there and obviously revealed his eye-witness account to Moses, Adam or both. It’s still history.

  20. What kind of book is Daniel?

  21. Daniel is history that includes prophecies and dreams, as part of that history…clearly labeled. You would agree that the book of Acts is a history book, right? But the book of Acts also contains words of prophecy that are CLEARLY LABELED as words of prophecy. Your problem the creation account is that it reads EXACTLY LIKE HISTORY, and NEVER is it labeled as a prophetic utterance or dream.

  22. Paul,

    The claim of all 6-24’s is that the plain reading of the text is the correct reading of the text. The plain, literal sense is the correct sense. My claim about this is that it is an under-sophisticated approach to the one passage in Scripture that demands the most sophistication. Albino’s posts in this thread ought to prove my point well enough. Though I understand that you have exegetical arguments for your view, your view still amounts to what I have said it does. Don’t shy away from it; that’s your view.

    Also, Rube pointed out Ezekiel, and now you say that that doesn’t answer any of your arguments, but that we have to allow authorial intent to come into play. But you’ve been arguing on and on about how when “day” comes packaged with a number that it MUST, MUST, MUST ALWAYS AND FOREVER mean an ordinary day. That’s how Moses always uses it and how the whole OT uses it. That’s your claim, now debunked by Rube.

    You mentioned that my argument takes the form of “if’s” and “maybe’s”. Well, your argument is in the form of “in all cases it is true that…” and I’m simply disagreeing with you. I’m saying, and Rube is saying, that it’s NOT true in all cases, thus my argument and Rube’s argument naturally takes the form of if’s and maybe’s, because we’re just trying to cast doubt on your claims, not definitively make claims about what it HAS to mean, only what it DOESN’T have to mean.

    Much is at stake in these if’s and maybe’s, because your claim demands that the text HAS to mean something in particular for particular infallible reasons. But if those reasons are shown to be fallible, then the text no longer HAS to mean what you say it means. And if the text doesn’t HAVE to mean what you say it HAS to mean, then we cannot affirm that it does in fact say what you claim it says.

    We cannot affirm the 6-24 view as true unless the text forces us to say that it is true. I grant that the text MAY mean what you say it means, but I do not grant that it HAS to. If it doesn’t have to, then I don’t have to affirm it, and in fact I cannot affirm it. I cannot affirm as true what it might mean, but only what it must mean.

    E

  23. Albino,

    Your claim that Gen 1 reads exactly the same as, say, the narrative of the battle of Jericho, betrays a profound lack of familiarity with the richness of the Hebrew text. It doesn’t even read the same in English, and in Hebrew it’s a whole different story.

    Your claim is similar to saying that John 1:1-5 reads exactly the same and is the exact same kind of literature as the story of Jesus healing the paralytic, for example.

    Claim the literal view if you like, but there are far better reasons for embracing it than failing to distinguish between the exalted style of Gen 1 and basic historical prose.

    Accepting that the text of Gen 1 is very majestic and exalted does not mean you can’t have your literal view. Granted, it may generate just a little bit of sympathy for people who hold a non-literal view, but it should by no means shake your confidence in your literal view.

    E

  24. Rube,

    Though I grant that the majority of the church throughout the ages since Christ’s advent have interpreted Gen 1 literally, I by no means believe that science is necessary to understand it as non-literal (not that that’s your claim). I categorically deny that it is only after Darwin that people have interpreted the narrative analogically. In fact, my reading of the NT supports the notion that the Apostles themselves had a non-literal reading. For evidence, I’d cite John and Hebrews at the least. And I think there’s reason to believe that some OT authors interpreted it analogically as well.

    However, I will grant that science has been an occasion for many people today to return to the text and think it through again. Some indeed are even trying to reconcile Darwin and the Bible. Fine. But we aren’t in that camp, you and I.

    Nope, we’re in the camp that says that the text makes it clear that it is not to be taken literally. And one need not be post-Darwin to interpret the text correctly, even if it has helped some people to do so.

    But as long as we’re talking about the people of God misunderstanding Scripture, literally everyone except Jesus in the Gospels misunderstood the prophecies of the OT. Even John the Baptist questioned Jesus, “Should we look for another, or are you the One?” John didn’t get it. “Hey, I’m in prison here. What’s the deal? I thought you were gonna kick out the Romans!” In fact, that’s the very reason why Christ was crucified by…drumroll please…the people of God. Why? Because he wasn’t the Messiah they were expecting. Let us not forget that it was the Church who railed against Christ and crucified him, because he simply couldn’t be the fulfillment of Scripture, because, by God, they just knew they had interpreted it correctly, and who is Jesus to turn it all on its head?

    So, the Scripture itself makes one thing abundantly clear: the majority interpretation of Scripture is very likely to be completely wrong.

    Unless of course we think the church has a good history of understanding justification properly. But it doesn’t. Even those of us who DO understand justification properly aren’t consistent about it, and mess it up all the time, trying to add our own works to the works of Christ on our behalf. No, the people of God are generally a pretty bad gauge about how to interpret Scripture. Exhibit A: Rome.

    A pastor once told me, if you’re going to preach the gospel, there’s only one thing you need to know. Preach the pure, unadulterated gospel. Don’t dress it up, don’t try to make it more appealing, don’t make it cute and amusing. Keep your dirty, grubby hands off of it, and proclaim it boldly as Scripture unfolds it. Pretty good advice. But it goes completely contrary to the tradition of the church.

    Well, but predestination is pretty clear in Scripture. Surely the people of God have in general accepted it. Nope. I’m afraid not. That’s been a point of contention from the start. Just read John 6.

    How about the Lord’s Supper? Pretty important part of the life of the church, and surely that’s been generally understood properly in the history of the church, right? Nope, that’s been screwed up from the very beginning. See 1 Corinthians. Exhibit B: Rome. Exhibit C: Luther. D: Zwingli.

    Spiritual gifts? No. Turn on your TV.

    Baptism? No. People used to wait until their deathbeds to get baptized, because it washed all their sins away. Yikes.

    Prophesy? No again.

    End times? Definitely not.

    Separation of church and state? Exhibit E: Rome.

    Church government? Oh boy, that’s a history I don’t even want to think about, much less recount.

    By the way, the Pope made the benevolent, gracious and merciful claim today that he would “exclude (child molesters) from the sacred ministry”. What a wonderful man. He really is in touch with the Scriptures, isn’t he? “Hey everybody, just wanted to put you all at ease. We’ve had cardinals working around the clock, searching the Scriptures, and we’ve finally concluded that priests that sexually molest young boys shouldn’t be in the ministry. Don’t worry, they’ll be excluded from now on from that most sacred of offices. Well, yeah, we’ll still cover it up, but we want you to know that if the evidence is absolutely unavoidable, we’ll defrock them. Oh yeah, we’ll do it. Maybe.” What a joke.

    As a matter of fact, is there any doctrine that the church has in general gotten right with some fair consistency? Well, yes, there are a few things, such as the divinity of Christ. But a whole lot of people have believed otherwise even on that, and it has popped up again and again in the history of the church, and flourishes in abundance today.

    The Trinity too has a large number of detractors constantly in the history of the church.

    Thank God that some people in the history of the church have had the courage to stand up to the majority opinion and shake things up a little bit. Without them, where would we be?

    Where would we be without Augustine, who stood up to Pelagius? And where would we be without Luther, who stood up to the whole church? Where would we be without Calvin, who was sent into exile? Where would we be without the psycho Scottish Presbyterians, who said “no” to bishops, indeed to a king? And where would we be without the apostle Paul, who refused to compromise saying that if justification were by the law, Christ died for nothing? And where would we be without Christ himself, whose very person and work screams to the Jews that the Scriptures are more complicated than they wanted to believe, that the plain and simple reading of Scripture wasn’t the right reading?

    The simplest, most common sense approach to Scripture would yield a Son of God who is a lesser, created deity, baptism being performed for the dead, justification by faith and works, the Left Behind series, a Pope as king of the church, slavery being accepted, women wearing head coverings, speaking in tongues at all times, Benny Hinn, universal salvation, Arminianism, and a whole host of other nonsense.

    Those who tout the plainest, simplest reading of Gen 1, who insist that this is how the church has always interpreted it, and well, we should too – well, I’m not sure they understand the trajectory that they’re putting themselves in. The sure and certain foundation they want to stand on is neither sure, nor certain.

    The only sure foundation is the Word itself (not our interpretation of it), and our task is to strive to understand it, continually challenging everything we think about it and testing it to see if that’s what it really says. Only in so doing will we avoid the errors of the past, and continue to refine the church’s understanding of the Word of God.

    We are very quick to assume that there are so few of us now who “get it”, and I say this in the most general sense. I’m not just talking about Gen 1. On every issue, we assume that people typically got it right over the ages, but then today, people became deceived in mass. (Oops, I mean en masse.) But it’s not so. The people who get it has always been few and far between. The way is narrow, and few find it. That’s how Jesus said it would be.

    Oh, but we long for those medieval times when everyone on the planet was a Christian, and there were no confusing doctrinal disagreements. No – they don’t call it the dark ages for nothing.

    Shall we embrace the authority of Scripture to correct us in our understanding of it, or shall we lean on our own understanding, embracing tradition as the highest authority?

    I say Scripture. We all are brought to points of decision where we are humbled before God because we misunderstood what he said. I misunderstand what my wife says all the time, and I know her a lot better than I know Scripture! But how can I not allow her to correct my understanding of what she said? “No, honey, you DID mean it the way I took it, I don’t care what you say!” Come on, we don’t treat our spouses that way, do we? Why would we treat Scripture that way?

    I’ll say it again: that’s the kind of thinking that crucified the Word become flesh.

    E

  25. Giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not trying to undermine scripture (I hope); your post has no real purpose, other than to cause confusion. All scripture is prophetic in its nature, simply because all scripture is God breathed and Holy Spirit inspired. Prophecy, by definition, is God speaking through man.

    To say that the creation account is not historic is to say that God is a liar. Are you sure you want to say that? You have said that there were no witnesses (more than once); but, God Himself was witness to what happened in those days. What Moses wrote in scripture is what God, through His Holy Spirit instructed and inspired him to write.

    If you are trying to say that a six day creation, of actual 24 hour days, is wrong, then you are putting yourself in the camp of the evolutionists. Considering that evolution is as much a religion as Christianity, how can you say you are both?

    Speaking scientifically, there is ample evidence to show a young earth, through what are known as natural clocks. Every single one that has been discovered shows a young earth (less than 25,000 years old – maximum; and the vast majority show less than 10,000 years). If one desires to speak of science, they should be sure of their facts.

    Ultimately, all of this boils down to faith. I like Albino Hayford’s quote of Billy Sunday: “When scholarship disagrees with the Scripture, scholarship can go to hell.” Until we come into agreement with that, we are calling God a liar.

  26. Please forgive if I repeat ideas in the thread above (I haven’t read the thread, just responding to your original post).

    I don’t have any problem referring to Genesis 1 as prophecy. That puts it on a spectrum of symbolism that ranges, admittedly, quite far to the abstract. The glaring omission I see in this argument, however, is that the spectrum also ranges quite far in the other direction, toward the concrete. Some prophecies were dead-on when it came to actual historicity — several about Jesus’ origins and death come to mind. Consider also the I Kings chapter 13 prophecy about Josiah burning false priests’ bones on the altar, fulfilled extremely literally in II Kings chapter 23.

    So while the unwitnessed, prophetic nature of Genesis 1 means this text might be symbolic, it does not necessitate that it is. We’re left to weigh its mode against other Scripture. Given my argument from the two rationales for obeying the Sabbath, and Josh’s argument from the parallel language in Numbers chapter 7, the scale tips against symbolism and toward historicity.

    (By the way, this post gave me a chuckle — I’ve been intending to use the unwitnessed nature of Genesis 1 in a different argument of my own, so seeing you employ it for other purposes surprised me.)

    Smaller notes:

    RubeRad: What do we call that, when God (from his timeless perspective) gives man special revelation about historical events which man (from his time-bound perspective) cannot witness himself?

    A critical error there: the latter verb should be “has not,” not “cannot.” Prophecy is what we call God giving man special revelation about historical events which man (from his time-bound perspective) has not witnessed himself.

    That distinction is important for your own purposes, because you’re arguing that Genesis 1 prophecy is currently being fulfilled since we are finally witnessing it (you continually insist we observe the past directly in starlight).

    Furthermore, the distinction is important for all of our purposes because suggesting that man cannot witness prophesied events casts into shadow our hope of seeing the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God prophesied in Revelations. We will see those events come to pass.

    RubeRad: And in the meantime, (as recently noted by friends of Blogorrhea) “let’s face it, the people of God don’t exactly have a very good history of being able to figure prophecy out.” It should come as no surprise that — lacking witness of the realization of the Creation prophecy — Christian theologians for millenia had interpreted Gen 1 incorrectly. As so often happens in the Bible — when we witness the fulfillment of prophecy, we smack our foreheads and say, “So that’s what that meant! I never would have guessed!”

    Kudos to you on the craftiness of this argument. However, I have a difficult time swallowing the idea that failure to comprehend a prophecy would be due to technological incompetence when such failure typically results from spiritual negligence (or plain old stiff-necked sin). You’re proposing dozens of generations of believers who, despite even the highest devotion to Scripture, got Genesis 1 wrong simply because they were born too early. Sin seems the more likely reason.

    RubeRad: The miraculous birth of Isaac was witnessed by Abraham and Sarah; the Flood by Noah; the Fall by Adam and Eve — and all of these were carried forward by oral tradition until Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote them down.

    Small quibble: do we know these events were conveyed by oral tradition? Wouldn’t Abraham, Noah, even Adam have written down some record of their interactions with God? Seems irresponsible to have left their testimony to faulty human memories.

    I bring this up because many Christians make comments indicating they subconsciously subscribe to a caveman image of Adam and Eve (I catch myself sometimes). But were Adam and Eve illiterate? With a lifespan of several hundred years, it’s more likely than not that Adam and Eve would have devised a writing system, the artifacts of which may remain undiscovered, or which may not have survived to our day.

  27. Daniel is history that includes prophecies and dreams, as part of that history…clearly labeled.

    It doesn’t take any guessing to understand that Gen 1:1–2:3 are set apart from 2:4–… with a prophetic “Thus saith the Lord” — where else could that knowledge come from?

  28. To say that the creation account is not historic is to say that God is a liar. Are you sure you want to say that? You have said that there were no witnesses (more than once); but, God Himself was witness to what happened in those days. What Moses wrote in scripture is what God, through His Holy Spirit instructed and inspired him to write.

    Rich, thanks for stopping by (and giving me the benefit of the doubt — although I think you need to do some more background reading around here before you make assumptions about me and evolution). To turn your words around: God Himself is witness to whatever Ez 40– is about. What Ezekiel wrote in scripture is what God, through His Holy Spirit instructed and inspired him to write. So to say that God’s temple will not be rebuilt, and that God’s covenant will never revert to animal sacrifice, is calling God a liar.

    And you probably won’t be surprised that my view sees a literal interpretation of as making God a liar, because that implies that the astronomical light show we see playing out before our eyes is fiction, not documentary — a history that never happened.

  29. … and now for a bit of fun.

    Positing Genesis 1 as prophecy raises the possibility of its being false prophecy.

    I know, I know, the Holy Spirit inspired Genesis. But before you cast stones at me, let’s consider whether they might not best be aimed in another direction.

    Goodness

    Steve insists that only one idea in Genesis 1 is important: God did it. That list seems short to me, and Echo has agreed that at least one more concept should be added: what God did was good.

    The goodness of creation isn’t easily neglected: Genesis 1 repeats it seven times (the last time elevating the pronouncement to “very good”).

    Does that goodness matter? Well, the gospel makes little sense without it. What need do we have of salvation without a prior fall? What is a fall without a prior point of elevation? Without initial goodness, salvation is as relevant as a lifeguard watching a parking lot.

    Many reject Scripture for evolutionary reasons, but compare their total to those who reject Scripture because they can’t reconcile the concept of a good and loving God with the not-good reality of their day-to-day lives. The first case is primarily intellectual, exists mainly in industrialized nations, and has kept people deaf to Scripture for about 150 years. The second case comes from the heart and has kept people deaf to Scripture in all peoples in all lands across all millennia.

    Why does God allow suffering? Why does God permit evil? These questions are not only universal, they’re primary grounds for evangelism. The Scriptural response, of course — which is contingent on original goodness — calls us to repent and be saved.

    Yet it doesn’t take a scientist to determine that our world is not good. In nature we see God’s invisible qualities, eternal power and divine nature (Romans chapter 1), yes, but not His goodness. We see only a shadow of goodness that has since become corrupted (murder, rape, oppression — or, ignoring human motivation, tsunamis, blizzards, earthquakes), suggesting to us a God who is at best capricious, if not outright harsh and negligent. The universe we know is one of wheat and tares.

    But our world does match Scripture — the Scripture of Genesis chapter 3, not chapter 1. And there’s the rub.

    Science gives us one view of the universe: the uniformity of nature. What we observe now has always been.

    Scripture gives us two views: a universe created good but later cursed to decay. What we observe now is not what was originally.

    Basic operating principles changed in Genesis 3. Death ended life. Childbearing became painful. Work became tiresome. The entire universe shared in the curse:

    The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans chapter 8)

    In stark contrast to this two-part Biblical view, science assumes the uniformity of nature, the consistency of natural laws all the way back to the beginning (if there was a beginning — the current vogue is to invoke crashing branes and the multiverse to explain existence through infinitely regressing turtles). When, then, did goodness exit our stage, or the curse enter?

    I’ve already shown that no one who believes in miracles holds to the the uniformity of nature (what is uniformity if not uniform?), which frees us from a philosophical commitment against 6×24.

    Yet 6×24 is still distasteful, smacking as it does of a mythological Golden Age, a time when all things were grander than they are now.

    Interesting, then, that Peter defended the notion of a Golden Age (emphasis added):

    First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. (2 Peter chapter 3)

    Perhaps old earth creationism can avoid Peter’s censure. Perhaps someone can demonstrate for me how the uniformity of nature entailed in old earth creationism does allow for the original goodness of the universe. If so, your explanation will do me a welcome service and win my gratitude.

    To demonstrate my sincerity I’ll share a passage from an email I sent RubeRad back in February:

    forester: I’m curious to see if you can disarm my best YEC pitch. There’s a degree of cognitive dissonance in YEC that can be uncomfortable; however, the potential theological compromise I see in OEC is even more uncomfortable. If you have an answer, a way of reconciling what I see as a scientific/theological incompatibility, I’ll be grateful for it. But again, I can’t roll over, I can’t accept less than a thoroughly persuasive argument in response to my own best formulation.

    My invitation is sincere, but I also repeat the challenge: I won’t roll over. I was a Darwinist until the age of 25, which gives me confidence that empiricism will make short work of any reconciliation between original goodness and the universe we observe. Our inability to identify a single absolute difference between humanity and other animal species — a seeming no-brainer — should be a hint as to the difficulty of the task.

    Go ahead: declare Genesis 1 symbolic prophecy. Define “good” abstractly. Throw an arm around Elton John’s shoulders and croon “The Circle of Life.” Death is natural, after all.

    Just realize you’re denying the impact of the curse in Genesis 3, an impact felt by every human being who has ever asked why God allows suffering and permits evil. And that, brothers, undercuts our Gospel: we are wrong, we are flawed, we are cut off from God, but we were not always so — and now God has made a way to restore us to Himself.

    If 6×24 is false, then Genesis is false prophecy. Our world is not good, and we must join Richard Dawkins (et al) in beaming rocks at the Holy Spirit.

  30. Given my argument from the two rationales for obeying the Sabbath, and Josh’s argument from the parallel language in Numbers chapter 7, the scale tips against symbolism and toward historicity.

    For me, Ez 43 demolishes the Num 7 argument, but I agree that your Sabbath argument is still evidence on the historical side of the scale.

    A critical error there: the latter verb should be “has not,” not “cannot.” Prophecy is what we call God giving man special revelation about historical events which man (from his time-bound perspective) has not witnessed himself. That distinction is important for your own purposes, because you’re arguing that Genesis 1 prophecy is currently being fulfilled since we are finally witnessing it

    Good point. I made that change in the post. However I would not say that Gen 1 is currently being fulfilled. It was fulfilled at the end of the sixth day, people in all times have seen (cogito, ergo sum) that it has been fulfilled, but only recently have we gained access to some details of how it was fulfilled.

    You’re proposing dozens of generations of believers who, despite even the highest devotion to Scripture, got Genesis 1 wrong simply because they were born too early. Sin seems the more likely reason.

    I think that’s a little strong. I don’t know that it’s sin to fail to interpret prophecy correctly. If it is, then maybe I should change my mind and indoctrinate #1 with OEC!

    Another point that I didn’t have space to make in the original post; why are there different eschatological views in the church? Because someone (probably everyone!) is misinterpreting end-time prophecies. And because we understand that misinterpretation of unfulfilled (un-yet-witnessed) prophecy is par for the course, we cut ourselves some slack, and tolerate a diversity of interpretations, and continue to discuss. So should it be, I argue, with Gen 1.

    Small quibble: do we know these events were conveyed by oral tradition?

    Another good point. Sola Fidelity recently told me that there is a thought running around out there that God revealed written language to Adam (as well as spoken). Some thought is warranted about whether “name the animals” is a command for man to develop a language for himself, or to use the language God had given him.

    Either way, however, the distinction between witnessed history, and revealed prophecy, still stands.

  31. Forester:

    Interesting thoughts on goodness. Certainly, death before the fall is one of the biggest theological challenges of non-6×24, but I am persuaded that plant/animal death is not part of the curse, but is part of what was declared very good. I wonder whether there will be any plant/animal life in the New Creation — certainly we will no longer need them for food or companionship. Yet how strange to try to imagine an even better creation than this one, yet without plants or animals! Maybe it will be a Borg cube (if we’re insisting on taking prophecy literally)!

    everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation

    Seems to me Peter is upholding my view there. For your view, Peter would have had to say “since the end of creation.”

    I’m curious to see if you can disarm my best YEC pitch.

    I have seen said pitch prophesied, and I have interpreted that I am witnessing progressive revelation of the fulfillment of that prophecy…

  32. Many reject Scripture for evolutionary reasons, but compare their total to those who reject Scripture because they can’t reconcile the concept of a good and loving God with the not-good reality of their day-to-day lives. The first case is primarily intellectual, exists mainly in industrialized nations, and has kept people deaf to Scripture for about 150 years. The second case comes from the heart and has kept people deaf to Scripture in all peoples in all lands across all millennia.

    Very, very true, and well said. And I say, let’s get this OEC/YEC thing behind us, so we can focus on attacking this more significant question — because this is the question that scripture actually does address.

  33. RubeRad: I have seen said pitch prophesied, and I have interpreted that I am witnessing progressive revelation of the fulfillment of that prophecy…

    :-) There are more steps to come — I still need to disarm your starlight reservations and reconcile Genesis 1 and 2, for starters. But yes, this was the corker.

  34. So, the Scripture itself makes one thing abundantly clear: the majority interpretation of Scripture is very likely to be completely wrong.

    Echo, thanks for fleshing out all those additional examples. That’s much of the point I was trying to make.

  35. Hi Rube,

    Funny stuff here. On the one hand we have the 6-dayers getting mocked for not being “scholarly” and just “readin da text” and saying “it means how it reads” and then on the other hand I ask if you’ve consulted *the* scholarly commentary on Eze. and you say, “Why do I need to do that? It’s just obvious what it means.” Anyway, *I* thought that was interesting, but that’s just me.

    Second, I wasn’t asking about the temple. I don’t take that as historical. And I don’t see the argument:

    [1] Ezekiel’s 3rd temple with all its measurements is not historical

    so

    [2] Genesis isn’t either.

    being made.

    I was talking about the *days* (I also assume the scholars here didn’t read the links to the papers by the Hebrew scholars I provided?).

    And so at this point I can address both you and Echo.

    Echo made much hay about my “it always means such and such.” Well, it does, but there are a couple considerations to make. I cite Hasel:

    This rule is pervasive in the Old Testament. The only exception in numbers of 1-1,000 is found in an eschatological text in Zechariah 14:7. The Hebrew expression yô’echad employed in Zechariah 14:7 is rendered into English in a variety of ways: “for it will be a unique day” (New American Standard Bible, New International Version); “and there shall be continuous day” (New Revised Standard Version); “it will be continuous day” (Revised English Bible); or “and the day shall be one.”108 The “continuous day,” or “one day,” of the eschatological future will be one in which the normal rhythm of evening and morning, day and night, as it is known will be changed so that in that eschatological day there shall be “light even at the evening” (vs.7). It is generally acknowledged that this is a difficult text in the Hebrew language and can hardly be used to change the plain usage in Genesis 1.109

    And the footnote:

    109. The other exception is with numbers above 1,000 in the apocalyptic text of Daniel 12:11-12 with the reference to 1,290 “days” and the 1,335 “days.” There are some differences from Genesis 1. In both instances in Daniel 12 the plural form of “days” is employed in contrast to Genesis 1. In Genesis 1 the “day” refers to what has happened in the past; in Daniel 12 “days” refer to a prophetic time in the future. The context of all other prophetic time predictions in the book of Daniel makes it clear that in prophetic perspective each time element whether “times” (4: 16, 23,25,32), “time, times and half a time” (7:25), “evening[s and] morning[s]” (8:14), “weeks” (9:24), and respectively “days” (12:11-12) stands for another reality in real historical time. In other words in Daniel the year/day principle is at work each time a time prophecy is provided. The Danielic apocalyptic context is different from the creation context of Genesis 1. Time at the beginning, in creation, is not identical with predictive time which finds its fulfillment in the historical future. There is nothing predictive in Genesis 1. The latter is a prose-record of the past and not apocalyptic prophecy of the future. These content and contextual perspectives do not warrant a departure from the plain meaning in the Genesis creation account.

    So, contrary to what Echo claims about me above, i.e., “you’ve now been refuted by Rube” I *do* take the days in Ezekiel to be 24 hour days! How ’bout dem apples! :-)

    I suppose one might say, “But it was a vision.”

    That doesn’t change the fact that they *represent* actual 24 hour days. For instance, I could tell you I had a dream and that in my dream I went to Disneyland. On the first day we rode Space Mountain. One the second day we did… One the third day we did…

    Now, my point is simply this: Would you take my to be speaking of 24 hour days or not??? Would you think I mean: in the first age I did this. In the second long age I did that…etc.?

    The answer is, quite simply, no, you wouldn’t.

    Likewise, Ezekiel is describing the rituals given in Ex. and Lev. he is talking about actual 24 hour days. he is not saying: On the second day-age take a lamb and kill it!!

    So, having established that, when we read Genesis we now know that Moses is meaning “24 hour day” and he is also describing something that *did* happen. Since it is a *fact* that god created.

    So, go back to my dream. Say I change it and left out “dream.” So, I told you that I did go to Disneyland. Those actual 24 hour days would have happened in history as opposed to me dream.

    Now, having shown that Ruben actually made my case for me (i.e., he *has not* offered a counter to my “ordinal/day/morning-evening” argument), I’d like to address two mote things:

    1) I do not appreciate the repeated claims by Echo_ohcE that the 24 hour view is the “non-scholarly view.” First, it is an accepted form of exegesis, one mentioned in all the textbooks on exegesis, that clear meanings of text are a valuable way to do exegesis. Second, why doesn’t he tell, well, I don’t know, perhaps: Ian Duguid, John Currid, G. F. Hasel, Doug Kelly, John Frame, many famous church Fathers and many of the old Reformers, not to mention many trained scientists, for example Harvard trained geologist Kurt Wise, that they are not reading Genesis as a “scholar”? I find it offensive and frankly it’s getting old.

    2) Ruben said:

    Certainly, death before the fall is one of the biggest theological challenges of non-6×24, but I am persuaded that plant/animal death is not part of the curse, but is part of what was declared very good.

    Well, I don’t think animal death or natural disasters etc., are a result of the fall. I have no exegetical or scientific reason to believe that floods, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones, or tidal waves are a result of the fall and/or the flood. I see no reason why, counterfactually, if Adam never fell there wouldn’t be natural disasters or animal death.

    I also know that some 6day theologians, Jeff Jordan (yes, i know he’s FV and I’m not endorsing all he says) for instance, believe that god created soil with actual decayed matter already in it.

    Anyway, I don’t consider the death before the fall argument to be the best argument against OEC. I go with the type of exegetical arguments I listed above.

  36. Now I anticipate that the 6×24 camp will immediately disagree with my proposed categorization of as prophecy, pointing to the detailed, concrete literary style as proof that it is historical, not figurative, in tone.

    Unfortunately, that’s not how I’ve argued.

    So, I’m still waiting to see my exegetical case refuted.

    At this point I removed whatever force you thought Eze. 43 had, and so that argument is off the table (never was *on*, for me), and then for Ruben, Josh’s Numbers 7 argument comes back.

  37. I must confess, I don’t understand the argument you made, which you say “removed whatever force Ez 43 had”, so from my perspective, my argument is not off the table.

    I have some more thoughts about Ez 43 and literalness, but they will require some quote-mining and time that will have to wait…

  38. Then I don’t understand how you think Eze. 43 does damage to my arguments from Genesis.

    Also, this is what I’m referring to from Echo,

    Also, Rube pointed out Ezekiel, and now you say that that doesn’t answer any of your arguments, but that we have to allow authorial intent to come into play. But you’ve been arguing on and on about how when “day” comes packaged with a number that it MUST, MUST, MUST ALWAYS AND FOREVER mean an ordinary day. That’s how Moses always uses it and how the whole OT uses it. That’s your claim, now debunked by Rube.

    So, either I rebuted his claim or Echo is misrepresenting what you take yourself to be showing.

    You also said this:

    We find 5 instances of the word whose significance is so hotly contested in , namely “day”. And among these, we find ordinals (”second day”, “eighth day”) as well as the seven-day period analogous to the sabbatical week (and plenty more days with ordinals and sabbatical patterns in the following chapters). If the YEC camp are correct that the days in can only be exegetically understood as contiguous 24-hour periods, it seems to me they would also need to be stockpiling bricks and mortar and sheep and goats for the construction and purification of the coming temple!

    The days in both gen and Eze. 43 are 24 hour periods.

    Then I don’t kknow what to make of your non-sequitur that if I take the days to be 24 hour periods I must actually buold a historical temple.

    So, we must be like ships passing through the night, because in all charity I cannot for the life of me figure out how you think what you;ve done refutes any of the arguments I’ve made for 6D in Genesis. I didn’t see any flow of premises leading to a conclusion, etc.

    All you’ve shown me is that perhaps you’re not understanding the argumetns I’ve been giving for Genesis 1. Not necessarily your fault. Maybe I’m a bad communicator.

  39. I don’t know what to make of your non-sequitur that if I take the days to be 24 hour periods I must actually build a historical temple.

    What I was aiming to try to say, is that

    IF Ez 43 describes ordinary 24 hour days, but we are not forced to the conclusion that history will eventually include another temple that is consecrated with sacrifices on the first 24-hour day, the second 24-hour day, …etc.

    THEN Gen 1 may also be describing ordinary 24 hour days, but we are not forced to the conclusion that history actually included creation events that happened within 6 24-hour days.

    It’s the difference between applying the literalness at the level of a prophetic vision, vs at the level of the reality to which the prophecy points. I.e. literal content of the prophecy vs. literal intent of the prophecy.

    A very clear example would be how Beale distinguishes between how the vision in Rev 21 is well-read literally as like a Borg Cube, which does not at all mean that the New Heavens and the New Earth will be like a Borg Cube.

    I seem to recall a helpful paragraph or two about this distinction by Irons, from near the beginning of the Framework exposition in this book. I’ll see if I can look up the quote tonight.

  40. Rube,

    i) Since we’re here creation has already happened. I make arguments from Genesis to the effect that God creatED A in one 24 hour day, he then created B on the next 24 hr day, he then created C the very next 24 hour day, etc.

    ii) The “within” argument is addressed in the Hasel article, cf. sec. 4.

    iii) I agree there is much imagry. I even thing we see Beale’s temple view in gen. 1–which is one good reason to deny Echo’s “flat earth” arguments (of which i also listed a plethora of scholars on Gen.1 and ANE thought).

  41. skewz me: see Hasel

    sec iv *and* sect. v.7

  42. I should also add that I have consistently argued that no one if *forced* to accept my 6D view. That my view doesn’t have some sort of Cartesian certainty behind it. That my view is *necessary*. Or anything like that.

    Gievn that I have purposely made this point on a few occasions, to come up with “maybe” and “we’re not forced” is to completely miss my arguments. It is also not helpful in persuading me. What I want to know is, when all is said and done, and the exegtetical chips fall to the ground, who has the stronger *positve* (and negative) exegetical case?

  43. wow, again I have no ability to keep up with this conversation.

    I will however respond to the comment I saw directed at me.

    That’s why the whole point of my earlier post was that I will not be forcing my OEC on him, especially if it causes him to doubt the truth of Christianity.

    and that’s all I am saying. I guess I didn’t fully understand your point and/or just wanted to reiterate why you shouldn’t do such a thing.

    Could he have isn’t a concern of mine. Would he have is.

    Well i think the reason for the universe is quite clearly stated in the Genesis 1 account. They are governors and markers of times and seasons.

    I could spend a lifetime questioning the necessity for each and every aspect of nature, (most peculiar to me is dinosaurs, why would God make an animal that he would kill off?) but as far as celestial bodies are concerned they have a clear purpose.

    And from what we know about the sun and the level of radiation and heat we receive from it we can all agree that if that stars were closer than they are then we would all be in trouble.

    So would God create stars to appear billions of years old if he only created them 10,000 years ago?

    You say, “no”, I say he “could” have.

    While I am obviously not answering the question directly I prefer acknowledging that I don’t know in something as speculative as this subject.

  44. IF Ez 43 describes ordinary 24 hour days, but we are not forced to the conclusion that history will eventually include another temple that is consecrated with sacrifices on the first 24-hour day, the second 24-hour day, …etc.

    THEN Gen 1 may also be describing ordinary 24 hour days, but we are not forced to the conclusion that history actually included creation events that happened within 6 24-hour days.

    IF Ez 43 describes ordinary priests and men, but we are not forced to the conclusion that history will eventually include another temple that is consecrated with by priests dressed up in robes.

    THEN Gen 1 may also be describing an ordinary man, but we are not forced to the conclusion that history actually included creation events that included an ordinary man.

    ;-)

  45. Cute, but that’s what Gen 2–3 is for, and the distinction I am arguing for has historical Gen 2–3 speaking against an evolutionary descent of man, but Gen 1 silent on the question of Big Bang cosmology.

  46. Huh?

    I took the form of your argument, kept the premises relevantly the same, and so if your conclusion goes, mine does. If mine does’t, you need to add qualifiers to your argument.

    I might as well respond to your temple argument: “Cute, but that’s what Exodus 20 is for.”

    As I said, I’m still at a loss as to what you think you’re showing.

  47. I might as well respond to your temple argument: “Cute, but that’s what Exodus 20 is for.”

    True. Which is why I said to Forester

    For me, Ez 43 demolishes the Num 7 argument, but I agree that your Sabbath argument is still evidence on the historical side of the scale.

    I just don’t think it’s strong enough evidence to tip the scale.

  48. Also, given:

    I should also add that I have consistently argued that no one is *forced* to accept my 6D view. That my view doesn’t have some sort of Cartesian certainty behind it. That my view is *necessary*. Or anything like that.

    Gievn that I have purposely made this point on a few occasions, to come up with “maybe” and “we’re not forced” is to completely miss my arguments. It is also not helpful in persuading me. What I want to know is, when all is said and done, and the exegtetical chips fall to the ground, who has the stronger *positve* (and negative) exegetical case?

    It may well be that you and I have no actual argument. You and I agree that your and my position are both tenable; I happen to be persuaded one way, and you the other. (Which is OK, and to be expected when attempting to interpret prophecy!)

    But most 6×24 are not so generous as you, and do assert that the text forces a YEC interpretation.

  49. Rube,

    Many OEC are not as generous as you. They indicate that I am something like a toothless fundy who just fell off the turnip truck on my way down from the Appalachian mointains.

    But I’m happy to leave it at: hey, we’re just not persuaded.

    There’s more important fish to fry, and no one’s standing before God rests on OEC vs, YEC, it rests on resting in Christ.

  50. Rube,

    I don’t understand why they want to make this absolute, uncrossable chasm between the narrative entailing symbolism and being history. Anyone has to admit that there is at least some symbolism in the narrative.

    But let’s talk about the prophecy in Revelation. Let’s take, for example, the four horsemen. They bring plagues and death and famine, etc. Now, most of us Amill-ers would say that these characterize the age between Christ’s ascension and his return. But at the time of the writing of Revelation, this was prophecy, speaking at least mostly of the future. These four horsemen keep the beast in check. So empires rise and fall, sometimes being brought down by famines and things, etc.

    Where are the horsemen? Aren’t they symbolic? Yes, they’re symbolic, but they describe historical events that hadn’t happened yet. You see, when it comes to apocalyptic literature, the language of prophecy, the symbols represent historical events. Here, the horsemen depict events that will actually happen, but the depiction is analogical.

    Let’s go back to Dan 7:13-14. There we have the prophecy of the coming Son of Man who rides on the clouds of heaven. Later, in the Gospels, Jesus picks up this language in describing himself. He calls himself the Son of Man over 80 times in our 4 Gospels. And yet, in Dan 7:13-14, the Son of Man comes to earth like lightning, riding on the clouds of heaven. But Jesus didn’t come on the clouds of heaven. Rather, he came as a baby, through a woman’s womb. Nonetheless, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in history. The prophecy in Dan 7 describes actual historical events, namely the incarnation and self sacrifice of Christ, but does so in symbolic language. Jesus was indeed the man who came down from heaven, but he did so through what appeared like a normal birth, from a woman’s womb.

    How many more examples shall I cite? If I say that the Gen 1 narrative of creation is symbolic, or analogical, I don’t have to also say that the narrative isn’t historical. It is historical. It depicts events that really took place, for God truly did create the world, and that’s what the narrative says.

    Those who say that I deny the historicity of Gen 1 don’t understand the nature of analogy. To be denying the historicity of Gen 1, I’d have to say that the narrative has NOTHING to do with what happened, that it doesn’t describe it at all, that the narrative bears no relation whatsoever to the historical events.

    But this isn’t our claim. Our claim is that the narrative DOES have something to do with the historical events. The narrative DOES bear witness to history. There just isn’t a one to one correspondence between the narrative and what took place in history, just like God isn’t lying when he says in Dan 7 that Christ will come on the clouds of heaven. Why isn’t he lying? Because when it says that he comes on the clouds of heaven, it means he is divine, and yet a true man, a SON of man, borne of man. He is a Son of Man who comes on the clouds of heaven, the God-man, Jesus Christ. God isn’t lying, he’s just not speaking literally.

    Same with Gen 1. God is speaking in Gen 1. He is not saying that he created in 6 days, he’s telling us about what he did, using the analogy of a week, in order to teach us what he wants us to know about creation. He’s not revealing himself fully. In fact, he can’t reveal himself fully. Let no one suppose that if we understand the Scriptures perfectly that we will know everything there is to know about God. That’s impossible for us finite creatures.

    In Gen 1, God is not telling us about what the Israelites did in a battle, he’s telling us about what he did long ago, when we weren’t around to see it. He doesn’t give us all the details, and what he says is an analogy. He is speaking to us in baby talk. Kind of like how a parent tells their kids about a stork bringing babies. Perhaps a bad example, but you get the idea.

    E

  51. Paul,

    Ummm, you’re not a scholar, so why would someone saying that a view is not scholarly be an insult to you?

    For the record, I’m not a scholar either. And finally, I didn’t say it wasn’t the scholarly view. I didn’t use those words. The view is that the plain reading of the narrative, the very same reading that a child would have, is the right view. Whether you like it or not, your view is the view that would occur to someone in say, elementary school, perhaps 5th grade. That is just a fact. And actually, you should be saying that this is a plus for your view, because a child can understand it.

    So, I’m sorry, but neither of us are scholars. Let’s not try to pretend we are. If you want to be a scholar, then get a PhD in Hebrew, and then make your claims about the narrative. Then I’ll be happy to say that YOUR view is scholarly – though I’ll still say it’s wrong.

    Until then, neither your view nor my view is scholarly, since we aren’t scholars.

    And by the way, you keep arguing against the Day-Age view, which I haven’t seen anyone here espouse. I don’t think the days represent ages. In fact, I don’t think they are sequential at all. I don’t think the sequence of the narrative is the sequence of creation. It’s part of the analogy.

    E

  52. RubeRad: I think that’s a little strong. I don’t know that it’s sin to fail to interpret prophecy correctly. If it is, then maybe I should change my mind and indoctrinate #1 with OEC!

    My reference to misinterpretation as sin was an echo of Echo. I remember him asserting (sometime in the distant past) that misinterpretation of Scripture is a consequence of sin.

    RubeRad: Interesting thoughts on goodness. Certainly, death before the fall is one of the biggest theological challenges of non-6×24 …

    Then how do OECers grapple with said challenge? Surely you don’t strive for scientific consistency at the (now admitted?) expense of theological consistency. I’m trying to peek under the hood to figure out how you’re doing it.

    RubeRad: … but I am persuaded that plant/animal death is not part of the curse, but is part of what was declared very good.

    Okay, I’ll trigger your trap: on what grounds do you blend the categories of plant and animal? How do those grounds not also extend to proteins, amino acids … or humans?

    RubeRad: “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation”
    Seems to me Peter is upholding my view there. For your view, Peter would have had to say “since the end of creation.”

    Whoa, that’s a major misread!

    Note where the quotation marks end on what the scoffers say — Peter’s censure begins with “But they …”

    First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. (2 Peter chapter 3)

    Summarizing the argument, then:

    1. Science operates on the assumption that the laws of nature are uniform to the beginning of time.
    2. Genesis teaches a two-stage view of the universe: originally good but later cursed.
    3. The two-stage view is taught explicitly in Romans chapter 8 and in II Peter chapter 3. (Indeed, Peter denounced those who would reject the two-stage view by insisting on the uniformity of nature.)
    4. The two-stage view (original goodness, later curse) is the foundation of the Gospel: the fall requires prior goodness.
    5. Therefore, a rejection of the Bible’s two-stage view is incompatible with Biblical teaching, including the Gospel.

  53. Today is my “day” off. Can I make it indefinite?

  54. Is your contract a work of prophecy?

  55. I guess I neglected to ask what a “day” meant to everybody when I got the “day” off. Silly me.

  56. Hi Echo,

    I’m not a scholar.

    You’re not either.

    You did claim the 6-day approach was:

    The thing that really disturbs me about the 6-24 view is that its proponents seem so quick to talk about the casual-glance-interpretation. Yep, whatever you understood about the text when you were 10 years old in Sunday School, that’s still what it means.

    And,

    The claim of all 6-24’s is that the plain reading of the text is the correct reading of the text. The plain, literal sense is the correct sense. My claim about this is that it is an under-sophisticated approach to the one passage in Scripture that demands the most sophistication.

    If you can’t see how your claims are biting and offensive and un-called for, then there’s not much of a common ground you and I can work from.

    If you can’t see that what you said here is in tension with your claim that you didn’t say the view wasn’t scholarly, then we have massive cognitive barriers to cross in order to make communication possible. Because it seems obvious to me that you do just this very thing.

    Furthermore, you don’t need to be scholarly to hold a scholarly *view.* That’s just plain false. And, I never indicated that I was a scholar, so your pointing out the obvious was a waste of time.

    I appreciate your time in this discussion, anyway.

  57. Echo,

    Us literal day fellas are duing aur best too bee smart and not think liike ten yeer olds. Pleez help us with yur sofisticated seminary book lernin’ to understand that them there days in Geneis are really millionz of yeers. Thanks…Gotta get back to eatin’ my possum road kill dinner on the back porch of my trailer.

  58. My position is that, if I have to have a degree in Hebrew and read *the* definitive commentary on Ezekiel before 6×24 makes sense, then it’s just too sophisticated for me!

  59. Then how do OECers grapple with said challenge?

    By understanding that plants and animals die not because of the curse, but by the natural order of things. Lions is made for eatin’, and gazelles is made to be eaten. Note above, that Paul doesn’t consider pre-fall death one of the better arguments against OEC.

    Okay, I’ll trigger your trap: on what grounds do you blend the categories of plant and animal? How do those grounds not also extend to proteins, amino acids … or humans?

    Sorry to disappoint you, but I’ve got no trap to snap! I don’t know what you mean by blend. For my purposes, any dividing line between plant/animal(/bacteria) is irrelevant; the only relevant line is between humans and non-humans. I doubt that Adam’s body was created to live forever, but it was created to live long enough for him to fulfill the covenant of works, and receive an incorruptible glorified body. Note that pre-fall, Adam was allowed to eat fruit — isn’t that a little bit of plant death? What is “digestion” and “metabolism” but “decay” and “corruption” of the eaten food?

    Whoa, that’s a major misread!

    Oopx! You’re totally right. I failed to notice that Peter put those words in the mouths of the scoffers!

  60. 1. Science operates on the assumption that the laws of nature are uniform to the beginning of time.
    2. Genesis teaches a two-stage view of the universe: originally good but later cursed.

    First off, you are leveraging this position to justify variations in physics, chemistry, geology, etc., which I think is totally unjustified, as those natural laws contain no moral element. Is the current speed of light sinfully slow, where during the creation it was much faster and very good?

    Second, you’re creating a false dichotomy between 1. uniform–>uniform vs. 2. good–>cursed. So is the current uniformity of nature a curse? And you’re proposing that nonuniformity=good?

    Third, if you’re going to push on the flood like most YEC, you have to actually move to a three-stage view of the universe, because it the flood-of-the-gaps is the catchall for any geologic evidence of 3 billion year old earth.

    Note Peter doesn’t mention the Fall, but highlights God’s nonuniform intrusion both at creation and at the flood — but why stop there? Aren’t the scoffers also guilty of deliberately forgetting God’s power as displayed by the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the Resurrection…. Peter is not talking about a two-stage model for creation, whether good/cursed (again, no mention of the Fall), or nonuniform/uniform; he is reminding the scoffers that God’s sovereignty is on display both _by_ the creation, and _since_ the creation.

  61. My position is that, if I have to have a degree in Hebrew and read *the* definitive commentary on Ezekiel before 6×24 makes sense, then it’s just too sophisticated for me!

    I’ll take that as you intended it: a joke. If it wasn’t…ditto: gots to have dem scynce smarts to knew dat dat Gensis znt to be taykin lideraly.

    And, you do know I started pulling out all the “scholarly” material *after* repeated accusations and alllusions to how *un*-scholarly 6Ders were.

    And, I told you a while back I would start presenting a positive case for YEC. So it necessarily will get progressively more advanced.

  62. (Al,

    Oh, so this is what you meant when you lumped all us confessionalists into a stereotype of “pencil-necked weenies.”

    Yeah, like I said at the OH, as culplable as I might be myself of stereotype, and as old-school confessional Reformed as I am, I think there is a real difference between old-school confessional Reformed Presbyterianism and Fundamentalists learning to be Presbyetrians. If you ask me, a tell-tale sign of the latter is a hiding behind a pseudo-intellectualism that isn’t quite cognizant of what it doesn’t know and really doesn’t care, is more concerned with being right, thinks intellectual acumen makes the difference. But this is just another form of works-righteousness, as if all will be solved by study, the intellect, etc.

    I have said this before: Revivalists like yourself seem much better at being Revivalists than some who call themselves Reformed being Reformed.)

  63. Zrim,

    Love Jesus, love your neighbor, stay in the Word, live each “day” to glorify Christ. — Oops, did I just use the word “day” literally again?

  64. Rube,

    Sorry, I saw this a little late, but I noticed you directed me to Ezekiel 43. The immediate problem I see (and having read chapter 43) is that Ezekiel is apocalyptic literature. Genesis is historical narrative.

    This is one problem I have with other views of creation (the NON-24 hr, six-day views). From my perspective, they don’t seem to take into account the type of literature that the phrases are present in.

    I assume you take Revelation as symbolic, which I would as well. Why would you take Genesis as symbolic? Where do you take it as literal? On what grounds, when, and where do you diverge from symbolic to literal-historical?

    The non-24-hr views to me seem to be very arbitrary not only with the immediate text, but with the whole of Scripture.

  65. “My reference to misinterpretation as sin was an echo of Echo. I remember him asserting (sometime in the distant past) that misinterpretation of Scripture is a consequence of sin.”

    Echo: After his resurrection, Jesus walks along the road to Emmaus with his disciples. They tell him what had gone on in Jerusalem, how the Messiah had been killed, and they were feeling sorry for themselves.

    So in response, Jesus says that their misunderstanding of the OT wasn’t their fault. After all, prophecy wasn’t meant to be understood, it was meant to confuse them. Of course they couldn’t have known from the OT that Jesus would be put to death and then rise again from the dead! How could they have possibly been expected to understand that? Poor little children. It’s not their fault they couldn’t interpret the prophesies correctly.

    Is that what he says? No.

    Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

    What does Jesus point to as the reason for why they couldn’t or didn’t interpret prophecy of the OT properly? Unbelief. Foolishness. Reluctance to believe what the Scriptures actually say. We are all just like them. All of us. Me too. If we don’t understand the Scriptures, there’s only one possible reason: sin. Trust me, studying Scripture in depth is necessarily always a confrontation with your own sinfulness.

    As for the creation account in Gen 1, whichever side is wrong, their error stems from unbelief, whether it is the literal view or the non-literal view. Those who hold the literal view know this, accusing us of unbelief all the time.

    But if the literal view is actually wrong, then it too comes from unbelief. There is no getting around it: an incorrect view stems from unbelief.

    But those who hold the literal view will be incredulous. “What could we possibly be failing to believe in, and thus espouse the literal view of the text?” That’d be the right question, but one that I’ll decline to answer, for my part. Why? Probably because I don’t know, right? No, but because I don’t think it would be very charitable, and I don’t think it would soften hearts at all, but harden them. Let each man grow in his faith through the preaching of the Word. It is before God alone that we stand or fall.

    E

  66. Paul,

    You said: “If you can’t see how your claims are biting and offensive and un-called for, then there’s not much of a common ground you and I can work from.”

    Echo: I can see where it would be offensive. But I still think it’s called for. Perhaps a man more sanctified than I can make these arguments more charitably. How can I say nicely that you’re oversimplifying the most confounding text in Scripture, so that you won’t feel like I’m insulting your intelligence? How about this? I’m sure you’re just as intelligent as I am. If I think your view lacks the sophistication called for by the text, it doesn’t speak to a defect in your intellect, but to a defect in your employment of said intellect. But as I said in the previous post, perhaps the problem isn’t intellectual at all, but spiritual. Whichever of us is wrong, unbelief is at the root of it. Perhaps that’s why these discussions always get so ugly, because when faith collides with unbelief, reason breaks down, and hostility ensues, even for the one who has faith, because he becomes frustrated with the impenetrable unbelief of his opponent. But who knows? Perhaps I am the one with unbelief, and you are the one with the greater faith. I don’t know; God knows.

    E

  67. Josh,

    The creation narrative comes before the first “toledoth” saying of Genesis. That means it is a prologue. Genesis is organized according to the “toledoth” sayings (…these are the generations of…) The first doesn’t come until Gen 2, and it points to what follows, not what precedes. So, Gen 1 is like the prologue to John’s gospel.

    That means it isn’t simply historical prose. It’s a different genre. Prologue is one word you could use to describe it. It is like apocalyptic literature though, like prophecy. But I think John’s prologue most closely resembles it. I wonder if that’s intentional.

    E

  68. Ezekiel is apocalyptic literature. Genesis is historical narrative….Why would you take Genesis as symbolic? Where do you take it as literal? On what grounds, when, and where do you diverge from symbolic to literal-historical?

    It seems you have missed the whole point of my post, which is to argue for epistemological mode (revelation vs. witness) as guiding us to the conclusion that Gen 1 is Prophecy. In Gen 1 God is prophetically revealing what no man has ever seen — just as in Revelation (and Ezekiel) God is prophetically revealing what no man has yet seen. By asserting that Genesis “is a historical narrative” you beg the question; being generally historical does not exclude Genesis from containing also some prophecy, any more than the book of Daniel.

  69. […] Creation as ycehporP […]

  70. Echo,

    You say:

    What does Jesus point to as the reason for why they couldn’t or didn’t interpret prophecy of the OT properly? Unbelief. Foolishness. Reluctance to believe what the Scriptures actually say. We are all just like them.

    It’s nice to see that you finally realized you should be on the 6/24 camp! By “we” I am sure you mean “we, the OEC camp” are just like them. Foolish and reluctant to believe what the “Scriptures actually say.” So, repent of your foolishness and reluctance to believe, and God WILL forgive you. Welcome.

    :) (Please read this as intended, total tongue in cheek)

    kazoo

  71. Echo,

    On a more serious note, you are or at least have been saying that the YEC *view* is unsophisticated and unscholarly.

    Paul may not be a scholar, just as you aren’t. But, what Paul *is* trying to point out to you is that the *view* IS scholarly AND sophisticated. He gave us two links to SCHOLAR’S work that show this. (I briefly perused them and they are definitely heavy and scholarly).

    So, unless you can show forth an argument that proves your assertion that the YEC view is not scholarly, then you shouldn’t assert it any longer.

    In other words, the fact that children can read the narrative in a certain way, doesn’t NECESSITATE that reading as being childish.

    So, can we all agree that on both sides their are highly pedigreed scholars and move on with the actual arguments?

    Blessings,

    kazoo

  72. Kazoo,

    My POINT in what I was saying was misconstrued. That was the point in what I went on to say.

    Look, I’m not just sitting here saying, “All 6-24’s are unscholarly people.” That seems to be how my comments are being taken. That’s not what I said, and that’s not what I meant. I can’t concede anything until that point is conceded.

    E

  73. Echo,

    Echo: I can see where it would be offensive. But I still think it’s called for. Perhaps a man more sanctified than I can make these arguments more charitably. How can I say nicely that you’re oversimplifying the most confounding text in Scripture, so that you won’t feel like I’m insulting your intelligence? How about this? I’m sure you’re just as intelligent as I am. If I think your view lacks the sophistication called for by the text, it doesn’t speak to a defect in your intellect, but to a defect in your employment of said intellect.

    Except the problem is we had it out in the other thread and I’m fully confident in my defense of six-day over your critique of it.

    So, all it looks like now is that you simply *say* that my view is simplisitic etc.

    Anyway, my point was that you called the view unscholarly and undermined the likes of Dugiud, Currid, et al. You said you didn’t. I showed you did.

    I think we’ve both presented our case. The difference is that I let the strength of my arguments do the talking, you have to fill in the gaps with comments like the “sunday school” one.

    I think we can both let our respective cases lie.

    Readers are free to judge.

  74. Echo,

    You just told Jeff:

    Look, I’m not just sitting here saying, “All 6-24’s are unscholarly people.” That seems to be how my comments are being taken. That’s not what I said, and that’s not what I meant. I can’t concede anything until that point is conceded.

    Let’s read your own words, Echo:

    The thing that really disturbs me about the 6-24 view is that its proponents seem so quick to talk about the casual-glance-interpretation. Yep, whatever you understood about the text when you were 10 years old in Sunday School, that’s still what it means.

    And,

    The claim of all 6-24’s is that the plain reading of the text is the correct reading of the text. The plain, literal sense is the correct sense. My claim about this is that it is an under-sophisticated approach to the one passage in Scripture that demands the most sophistication.

    it is *clear* that you have included *all* 6-dayers in the above.

    The above included all the scholars I’ve mentioned.

    You have called them all unsophisticated, simplistic, and sundy schoolers.

    This is undebatable.

    Now, you might try to say, no, my comments were only in regards to *some* 6-dayers. The weak, poor thinking kind.

    Okay, if I take this interpretations, then what you’re saying is that you’re picking on the weak representatives of a view and not the best. certainly not the position I came in here representing.

    So, you have clearly undermined *all* six-dayers, or you have unethically attacked the weakest representatives of a position rather than the best representatives. I *know* that WSCAL has taught you not to do that.

    So, either horn of the dilemma impales you.

    Best,

    Paul

  75. Rube,

    How can you merely claim that, just because we were not there, the creation account is automatically assumed to be prophetic? What arguments would you give for this? Forgive me if you have made some already. What arguments would you give? Besides,

    (1) any *prophecy* one could say that we were “not there.”

    (2) Prophecy itself does not automatically necessitate the literature now become apocalyptic literature. You certainly wouldn’t say that Jonah is apocalyptic literature, would you?

    (3) Is God’s covenant with Abraham to be taken literally? Notwithstanding the fact that we all agree it has eschatological implications, should we view the historical *event* of the Abrahamic Covenant as figurative? I ask this because there was *prophecy* involved. On your principles, how would I know whether to take it as historical or symbolic?

    (4) I see further problems and implications with this, although not all non-24 hour brothers would agree here; but many have taken the flood as local or tranquil; the parting of the Red Sea as nothing more than a mud puddle, etc.

    (5) Assuming you are correct that, since we weren’t there, we should take it symbolically (if I understand you correctly), are we to take *all* events in Scripture where God says something symbolically? For example, the beginning of Job mentions the scene in heaven where Satan presents himself before God. None of us were there. Do you take that as literal or symbolic?

  76. Ruben,

    One more thing. Where is prophecy at all in Genesis 1? Where is God foretelling the future? It seems to me that God is telling us what happened at creation; no matter what view one holds here (literal, framework, day-age, analogy, etc.), where is prophecy in the text? If there is prophecy, what is it foretelling?

  77. Josh, Josh, Josh, I understand if you didn’t have time to read the whole comment trail, but did you even read the post? If you’re tripping on the word “prophecy”, how about you try on “vision” instead? Just as John had Revelations of the end of the world, somebody (I’d guess Adam or Moses) had to have been given a vision of what the unwitnessed creation was like.

  78. Something I heard in a sermon on Sunday got me thinking more about the idea that Moses being given a “vision” about creation.

    Doesn’t the incident with Miriam and Aaron make it clear that God’s mode of revelation with Moses was NOT in the style of the prophets? It was direct, “face to face” and dictation-like.

  79. Ruben,

    Yes, I read the post.

    I think Ben’s above point is a very good one. How do you know he was given a “vision”?

    I must say, with a smile, that the more non-literal guys try to defend their position, it seems to me that they keep trying to grasp at straws. :0)

  80. Rube,

    Furthermore, one must consider that apocalyptic genre is what is called “literal-symbolic.” In other words, Ezekiel had a literal vision. He really saw a temple.

    Moses is like Ezekiel, only Moses did not write apocalyptic genre. He wasn’t given a “vision” necessarily. How would you argue that he was? Just because he was the only one to have seen it or had it dictated?

    How does this automatically make it apocalyptic/genre/prophecy?

  81. Josh,

    Prophecy is probably not the best category to put Gen 1 in, but Rube’s on the right track here.

    Gen 1 is outside the toledoth structure of Genesis. It is a prologue similar to John 1:1-18. In fact, John seems to deliberately show especially in the first 5 verses that he’s trying to do the same thing Moses did.

    It is not historical prose. It’s prologue. Similar to apocalyptic literature, but somewhat different, I’d say.

    E

  82. Echo,

    Good to hear from you. I agree that Gen 1 is outside of the toledot structure of Genesis, because it is not offering generations in this particular section. But how is that relevant to the case here? I’m not understanding why that matters. How does that affect how we are to understand the kind of genre it is? John itself is historical-narrative; you would agree that John 1 is not to be taken in a symbolic fashion I assume.

    Please help me understand.

  83. John 1:1-18 is a prologue, not historical narrative.

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    Some have called it exalted prose, and perhaps that’s a good way to put it. But it’s not simple narrative: he did this, then he did that, then he did that, etc. There’s no dialogue. There’s no plot. Sure, John the Baptist is quoted, but only by way of saying something about Jesus. This is he of whom John said, etc. It’s an introduction.

    By no means does this necessarily imply analogy, but it’s not simple historical narrative.

    That means, all the arguments that depend on historical narrative as the genre of Gen 1 need to find something else to rest on.

    Many of the arguments for the univocal view say that because it’s historical narrative, and because (insert some other reason here), therefore, it must be taken literally (univocally).

    But because it’s prologue, and not historical narrative, that puts it closer to the apocalyptic genre. It’s not apocalyptic literature, but it’s closer to that than to historical prose.

    E

  84. Echo,

    Would you really say that John 1 is apocalyptic genre?

  85. Or would you say that it’s close to apocalyptic genre? In what sense do you mean?

  86. No, I wouldn’t say it’s apocalyptic literature. But it’s kind of like apocalyptic literature. It’s unlike apocalyptic literature, because it’s not a vision. John is not describing some dream-like thing he has seen. But it’s not historical narrative because it has no plot per se, but gives us a lens through which to read the rest of the book.

    Maybe it’s more like wisdom literature. At any rate, it’s not simply historical prose.

    For example, when it says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” it’s not simply saying that on October 13th, person X did action Y, like historical narrative might. Rather, it’s somewhat poetic, isn’t it? It is absolutely referring to true historical events, but in a poetic way. It is similar to the personified Lady Wisdom in the book of Proverbs, isn’t it? “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” refers not just to the bare fact of the incarnation, but poetically summarizes what Jesus’ whole life means. It means that the self revelation of God became visible in the flesh, and he walked among us, dwelt among us for a time. And we have seen his glory, etc.

    John’s prologue is not simple at all. It’s poetic, though it describes actual historical events. Similarly, apocalyptic literature poetically describes actual historical events. For example, in Revelation, things that generally characterize the church age are described poetically, with horsemen, seals, trumpets, etc. Plagues of locusts are described, but actual locusts are not what is meant, but the temptations of Satan, the seductions of Satan. Despite the poetic descriptions, nonetheless, true statements about history and how to understand it are being made.

    I am suggesting that Gen 1 is prologue, poetically describing God’s acts of creation in terms of a week. Some have railed against this notion, because they seem to think it implies that OUR week is the archetype to which God’s week would then merely conform and be a type of. They think this implies that God is conforming his revelation of his acts of creation to our week.

    But this is not what is meant. No, God’s creation week is the archetype, to which our 7 day week is a type. For one to be the archetype and the other to be the type, there is no need for a one to one correspondence.

    For example, David was a type of Christ. But is he exactly like Christ? No, of course not. David was a king who, relatively speaking, was a man after God’s own heart. But Jesus is not just a king, he also is a prophet and a priest. Furthermore, Jesus didn’t sin like David did. David is a type, a shadow, of Christ, the true substance.

    In a similar way, I am suggesting that our 7 day week is a type and shadow of God’s creation week.

    In the same way, the tabernacle was a type of the archetypal heavenly tabernacle/temple, even though we know that it’s not exactly the same thing. In the earthly tabernacle, there was incense burning, whereas in the heavenly, the incense is replaced by the prayers of the saints. In the earthly tabernacle, animals were sacrificed continually, in the heavenly, Christ presented himself as the sacrifice once for all. We could of course go on.

    The point is, God’s acts of creation are described poetically. That it takes place in a week says something about it, and establishes a pattern of works and rest that we are to imitate, but God’s works are not like our works, his rest is not like our rest, and therefore, his week is not like our week. His week consists of 6 days of work followed by one day of rest. His week consists of work and rest. But if his work is not like our work, if his rest is not like our rest, how can his week be like our week? We rest because we get tired and need to rest. Not so with God. We end the day when darkness falls, but to God, the darkness is as the daytime. We work for things we need in order to put food on the table. God does not. He worked to manifest his own glory, we work to the glory of God. His work is not like our work, his rest is not like our rest, his week is not like our week. And yet in some ways, his work IS like our work, which is why it’s called work. His rest in some ways IS like our rest, which is why it’s called rest, and in some ways, his week IS like our week, which is why it’s called a week. But it’s not exactly the same thing.

    As I’m sure you know, God is not temporal. He is not bound by time. He transcends time, because he is the Creator of time. He does not experience time, he is not divided into past, present, and future. God doesn’t get tired at the end of the day and go to sleep, he doesn’t long for the weekend during the long hours of the work week. His week is not like our week. His “time” is not like our time.

    There is some similarity between his creation week and our weeks, but exactly what that similarity is can’t really be known, because we can’t ascend into heaven, become God, and see God as he sees himself.

    Similarly, we know that we are made in the image of God, so we know that we bear some similarity to God. Will we ever know precisely what the nature of that similarity is? No. We can know something about it, but we can’t know everything. We can’t know God perfectly as he knows himself, so how can we know exactly how we are like him?

    Even when we are glorified, we will not be infinite. We will never know God like he knows himself. Thus there will always be a certain unknown, not understood mystery with God.

    So since there is mystery in God to our minds, then how can we know exactly what it means for God to work, to rest, to pass a week? We can’t know exactly. But he accommodates us, speaking to us in ways that say, “I am like this or I am like that.” God’s self revelation always comes to us in this form. All of Scripture reveals God analogically.

    That does not mean that all Scripture is to be interpreted analogically. For example, when it says that the Israelites conquered Jericho, that should be taken literally. But what does that say about God? What it says about GOD, is to be understood analogically, even though what it says about the Israelites and Jericho is to be taken literally.

    Likewise, Jesus’ miracles and his passion are to be interpreted as literally describing historical events. But what do these events teach us about God? What it teaches us, it does by way of analogy.

    For example, when Jesus fed the 5,000 with bread, that is to be interpreted literally. He really did feed 5,000 people with bread. But what does that say about God? Does it say simply that he feeds us with bread? No, of course not, it says much more. People being satisfied with bread for a day is but a type and shadow of what is being taught about God. What is being taught is that he feeds us, nourishes us and sustains us, giving us eternal life forever in the age to come. He is our source of all life, whether temporal or eternal, all bread, whether the food on our table or the food given to us on Sunday in the preaching of the Word, or the food given to us in the righteousness of Christ given to us by faith, which sustains our eschatological life in the age to come, and the taste of that life that we have here in this present evil age too, as evidenced by our love for the brothers.

    Everything in Scripture has something to say about God. The law teaches us about God’s character by way of analogy. And it must do so, because though the law teaches us God’s character, yet we know that he is not under the law. The same law that tells us, “Thou shalt not kill” cannot bind God who wields the power to “kill and to make alive”, and who wields such power justly. God can kill whoever he wants, and this has been proven again and again. He will come again to judge the world, and will kill everyone not in Christ. When he commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites, was he violating his own law? No, he’s not under the law. Nonetheless, the law teaches us about his righteous character, but by way of analogy. He’s not bound to the law.

    In a similar way, the temporal death that we all experience at the end of our lives is but a type and shadow of the true penalty for sin. To be sure, the wages of sin is death, but not just death with respect to this life, this age, but with respect to the unending age to come. Those who die in their sins will die forever in the age to come, being burned without end in the lake of fire. Even those who are justified and who will live forever die temporally.

    But how can we, being finite, grasp such concepts? How can we comprehend hell? How can we comprehend the riches of the New Heavens, New Earth, eternal life in blissful, perfect union with Christ and through him with the Father? How can we even comprehend such things in this life which is temporary and fleeting, a whiff of vapor that passes in a moment? We can’t understand the age to come without putting it in terms of this life that we experience, that we know, that we live in.

    Do you want to comprehend hell perfectly and understand it? It’s not possible. You can know something about it. It’s likened to being burned in a trash heap forever. It’s likened to being cast out into outer darkness forever. It’s likened to being kicked out of the land and exiled in a pagan world. It’s likened to unending death and torment. It’s pictured for us in the torments of the cross of Christ. But we can’t comprehend hell perfectly. We can only know about hell through analogy. We can’t really comprehend what “forever” means. All we can know is that there is no end to it. An end we can comprehend, a lack of an end is beyond us, though not entirely, since we can comprehend an end, and we can comprehend a lack of something. But a lack of an end? No, that alludes us.

    How can we possibly fully comprehend God? God transcends time and space. We don’t even know what that means, because we ourselves are bound by time and space, being finite. Everything about God is infinite, and everything about us is finite. Thus all we can understand is finitude. Thus, if God wants to teach us about himself, he must speak to us in finite terms.

    If he wants to teach us that he is angry and is about to exact judgment, then he says that he is putting on his helmet, strapping on his breastplate, grasping his sword, taking up his shield, bending his bow, and marching off to war. But surely God doesn’t put on a helmet. He doesn’t have a head. Even if he had a head, he wouldn’t need a helmet to protect it.

    I think of the Matrix, when Neo asks Morpheus, “So you’re saying I can dodge bullets?” “No Neo, I’m saying that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.”

    God needs no bullet proof vest, because no bullet can touch him. God needs no gun with which to shoot and kill his enemies.

    If the Scriptures want to convey that what we have done is contrary to God’s will, and thus brings us under judgment, then it says that God is angry, that he repented of ever having created man in the first place, that he is provoked to jealousy, that he testifies against us.

    But these things are analogy. God doesn’t get angry, as if our actions provoke emotions in him. The Westminster Confession declares that he is free from all passions. And that only makes sense, given that he transcends time. It’s not as if he didn’t know that I was going to sin yesterday, and that when he learns of it, he suddenly is provoked into a rage. No, God knew about it from all eternity. He doesn’t pass through time like we do. His emotional state is not in any way dependent on the creatures. He is not dependent on the creatures at all.

    Nonetheless, it’s not a lie when it says that God gets angry, or is provoked to jealousy, or repents of having created man, or whatever. These are not lies. They teach us something about God and how we relate to him. They teach us about how we have fallen away from his favorable judgment. But they speak about God as if he were a man, because he created man in his own image, and thus if we are to understand him at all, we have to understand him in terms of being a man, even though we are also told that he “is not a man, that he should repent.” He’s like a man in some ways, but in other ways, very different, in ways that we can only ever begin to grasp at.

    More than that, Jesus himself wept over Jerusalem. But that doesn’t mean that the eternal God does or even can weep. For starters, he doesn’t have tear ducts. Nonetheless, he is revealing himself this way for a reason. Perhaps one day we’ll understand, but more probably, we’ll never fully understand, and we’ll only be constantly trying to refine our analogical understanding of God.

    So God’s week is not like our week. God doesn’t get tired at the end of the day, God doesn’t take a day off at the end of the week. Nonetheless, God is LIKE these things. Exactly how? I have no idea.

    But let me be clear. Gen 1 is NOT to be interpreted analogically because all Scripture can only reveal God analogically. No, that’s not the reason. The creation took place in time and space. The narrative could have been written in such a way as to be more exact, and taken more literally. But that’s not how God chose to reveal his acts of creation. He was not concerned with producing a science text book.

    If you’re anything like me, there’s a part of you that says, “Man, I wish God had revealed to Moses that the earth was round, so that the narrative would be more scientifically accurate.” I mean, wouldn’t it be great if it said, “And God formed the dry land into a sphere, and placed it in an orbit around the sun, and then poured the oceans upon its surface”? Wouldn’t that be great? Then the arrogant scientists wouldn’t be able to say anything, they couldn’t say that the Bible is just simple, crude, ancient literature, and so just write it off as no longer relevant. Wouldn’t it be great if scientists were proving the Bible more and more right everyday, if everyone for centuries had thought it was very strange, but today, in all our brilliance, the Bible was just proving how accurate it had always been?

    And yet that’s not the case. All over the Bible, the earth is flat, has four corners, there are waters above a dome of heaven, waters under the earth where the dead dwell in Sheol, where demons live.

    Does it ever bother you that the Bible isn’t interested in correcting such flawed thinking? It bothers me. How come the Bible doesn’t seem to care that everyone was walking around believing in a flat earth when it was really round? Why didn’t God want to reveal that to people?

    But then I stop and realize, that’s not his point. The Bible isn’t revelation of the creation, the Bible is God’s SELF revelation. God doesn’t care if we think the earth is round or flat, or more precisely, he doesn’t care if we’ve discovered it yet or not. He didn’t consider that to have any urgency whatsoever. Nope, he cared if we knew him or not. His priorities are vastly different from ours. He cared about our sin problem, and he was and is interested in solving that problem. The Bible isn’t a science text book, it’s a theology book.

    To be sure, we can learn lots about ourselves when we read Scripture. But what is the point of all of it if not to help us to understand God? Why did God become a man and give up his life for us, if not to solve our sin problem, and thus to reveal his great love for his people, his justice on the one hand, his mercy on the other? Isn’t this the whole point of Scripture? Isn’t this what he tells Moses is his very name? “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy…The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious…but who will by no means clear the guilty.” Isn’t that what it’s all about?

    Given this, why would the point of Gen 1 even be in keeping with the point of all of Scripture if the point was to teach in what way God formed the cosmos? It isn’t. That’s the point. The point is to teach us the fact of God as Creator of all things visible and invisible, to teach us that there are not many gods but One God who is over all, and sits enthroned over the universe, who is not subject to us as we wish him to be, but who gave us life, forming an environment in which we could live, who sustains us, who saves us, who rescues us, who delivers us from our rebellious wicked hearts, who loves us more than we will ever be able to understand, and who was willing to give his only Son to die in the place of those who had made themselves his enemies.

    This is the point of all of Scripture, this is the place where all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are stored, this is the mystery of God revealed in part throughout the ages, the secret into which angels long to look, the meaning of it all, the center of all history, whether redemptive or otherwise: Christ in you, the hope of glory.

    It is in Christ that it all finds meaning, it is in Christ that all things come to a head, it is in Christ that we find the center of history, the purpose of all that had gone before and all that came after. Christ is the point, and he makes an even greater point, revealing God to us to the limits of what is possible to do to finite creatures who cannot peer beyond the veil of death.

    What then is the point of Gen 1? What is the point of the light? In him was light, and the light was the life of men. We had sat in the valley of the shadow of death, we had sat in deep darkness, but upon us a light has shone. God said let there be light, and there was light. Life came into being in that which was dead. Life springs into existence in us in regeneration. Life comes into being with the death of Christ, and that light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot and will not overcome it. And this light is separated from darkness, the enmity will continue forever between the two, for they are separated. He came unto his own, but they forsook him, they esteemed him not, thinking him despised and rejected of God. He came unto his own, but they did not receive him, because the light was separated from darkness. But by his Word, light shines in darkness, and darkness is powerless before him.

    And what is the meaning of the waters? Why were they separated? Because that which was not good was transformed into that which was good. Even as we pass through the flood waters of judgment in baptism unscathed, even as the Israelites passed through the sea on dry ground but the Egyptians were judged and so drowned in the sea, so too the creation came out of the separated waters, and God proclaimed it good. That which was unfit for God to reveal himself was transformed, the waters were separated, the dry land appeared, man was formed in the gap, declared good, and behold, Adam dove back into the water. And oh, how man longs for the sea, as if being called home, to this very day.

    And the sky teemed with birds, the land teemed with plants and animals, food for the man, pointing him to the God who bent all creation to work together for his good, for his sustenance, the fish in the sea for his pleasure in the glory of God, the stars in the heavens to help him keep his bearings, to see the passage of time, to note that all things were moving in a direction, drawing to some conclusion that must surely eventually come. He formed the mountains to catch the clouds, that rivers might be formed, and where the rivers flowed, life would follow in their wake, and man would see that the rains were like the Word, for wherever they fell, life sprang forth. Everything was full of beauty and countless lessons for man to contemplate, that he might learn about his Creator, his Sustainer, his benevolent King and Ruler of all things.

    And behold, it was very good, and so passed through the waters of judgment unscathed, rising from the deep and the darkness, for where there had been no life, behold, there was life. Where there had been no manifestation of God’s glory, behold, his glory shone forth like the light of the sun, as if in a dark place.

    And he made them male and female, so that man could understand not just what it is to be under authority, but what it is to be in authority, so he could perceive in himself the glory of God, as he acted in love and benevolence over his wife.

    And then the tempter came and ruined it all. Adam found that he liked authority better than subordination. He submitted himself to his wife even as he desired God to submit to him. And in his perversion, in his anti-confession by his deeds, he dove into the flood waters of judgment, not content to be good by the Word of the Lord, but desiring to be good by his own right, to gain the prize of wisdom through his own greatness, to capture the throne of God and sit on it himself.

    And there he drowned, and the darkness took him, even as the ring took Gollum, and Adam’s posterity sat in darkness ever since, until the day that he came. For in the beginning was the Word. Adam could not supplant that Word, no matter how hard he tried, because this Word was with God, came from God, indeed, it was God. And behold, the light shines in the darkness, and much as Adam tried, he could not silence that light. He could not quench it, he could not stop it, anymore than darkness can overtake light. And that Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In HIM was light, and the light was the life of men. The men who sat in darkness, where there is weeping and toil and misery and gnashing of teeth – upon them a light has shined. And we have seen his glory, glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father. And of his fullness we have all received, grace calling out to grace, grace tumbling over upon yet more grace, grace washing over us, grace in an unending cascade upon us, first one, then the other, and another, and another, in an unending river. But it was no flood waters of judgment, rather like a waterfall of warmth and dryness, light and life. For the law was given to us through Moses, and we saw that we were in darkness, and we saw that we had drowned, and we cried out in terror and agony for God to raise us to life, and there was silence in heaven, for about a half an hour.

    Then, when the time was right, the earth shook, the heavens trembled, the mountains melted, the sun shone forth in all its light, and unto us a child was born, unto us a Son was given. And the government is on his shoulder, and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He is the beginning of all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the Son of Man who comes on the clouds of heaven. He is the Word incarnate, the Firstborn of the Dead, the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth, he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, he is the author of our salvation, the author of our faith, he showed us the love of God and laid down his life for us. He is the son of Abraham, the Seed to whom the promise was given, he is the son of David, who sits on his throne forever and ever, he is the seed of the woman, against whom the world is waging war in vain, the serpent may have bruised his heel, but he has slain that old dragon forever. He is our Knight in shining armor, the Rider on the white horse, he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lamb that was slain – for the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, and with him comes the sunrise.

    He is the Coming One, the Righteous Judge, the Suffering Servant, the Prophet like Moses, the Priest like Melchizadek, the King like David, the visible image of the invisible God, in whom all the fullness of Deity was pleased to dwell, and he became a man and shed his blood for us, purchasing us as his bride, presenting us to his Father blameless and without defect.

    No one has ever seen God at any time. But the only God, who is at the Father’s side – he has made him known.

  87. Echo,

    That was too long. Nobody cares.

    E

  88. Echo,

    Yes, but you’re making an argument from silence. And everyone knows that you can’t interpret silence accurately.

    E

  89. True enough Echo, but sometimes the silence is deafening.

    E

  90. So you’re saying that sometimes an argument can actually be made from silence?

    E

  91. Yes, sometimes it can. Sometimes a response is expected, and when there is no response but silence, the lack of a response is deafening.

    E

  92. Maybe, but a conversation on a blog is very different from a conversation in person. In person, you can see that you were heard, but here, you don’t know if anyone has even read your post.

    E

  93. Maybe, but it’s been up long enough now to know that those who were possibly interested to see what I had to say in response to Josh would have had an opportunity to read it by now. The appropriate conclusion is that they saw my post, and decided that they weren’t as interested as they thought they were, and simply didn’t read it. Thus my assertion that it was too long, nobody cares. That it was too long is evident by the fact that there is no response. Had anyone read it, they surely would have responded somehow. And if nobody read it, then they don’t care.

    E

  94. Perhaps they think you’re simply a blow hard, whose only argument strategy is: the more the words, the more likely the victory in the argument.

    E

  95. PS Maybe they follow the Bible and say, “The more the words, the less the meaning.”

    E

  96. Yes, very good points. You’ve likely interpreted the silence correctly I think.

    After all, if that’s what they’re thinking, they’re surely right. I love to hear myself talk. I often talk to myself merely for amusement. In fact, what other motivation could I possibly have for posting such a long post explaining MY wonderful view of Gen 1? Isn’t it just to stroke my own ego? It’s impossible that I would care what anyone else thought about Scripture and how they interpreted it. Surely that’s impossible.

    E

  97. You’ve a point there. Clearly you’re in seminary to stroke your own ego. It has nothing to do with helping people understand the Word of God, nothing to do with proclaiming the gospel to the lost, nothing to do with sanctifying saints, helping them to mature in grace and their faith. Clearly you’re not interested in any of those things. If you were, you would have become a doctor.

    E

  98. Ugh. You’re right. Look at how I love to hear myself talk? I’m talking to myself! What further proof do they need!?

    Someone once told me on another blog that my posts should be shorter, because they’re so long, he just skips over them. But I didn’t care, did I? No, I arrogantly decided that deep topics required full answers, not half hearted, I-don’t-really-care-what-you-think answers. I insisted that to understand the parts, one must understand the whole. Theology requires more than a glib, quick answer. How wrong I was to take important questions seriously and answer them seriously and completely to the best of my ability!

    You’re right Echo. So right. People don’t come to blogs to think things through carefully. They come to blogs to make other people feel stupid for contradicting them. Nobody cares about the ideas they’re talking about. Why should you? Too right you are, too right. It is a horrible waste of time, these blogs.

    E

  99. I knew you’d listen to reason. Now go watch Cartoon Network and you’ll feel better. Life is silly and unimportant. It’s too short for deep discussion. You know that. Go watch cartoons for a while. That’s where all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

    E

  100. Paul M: I have no exegetical or scientific reason to believe that floods, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones, or tidal waves are a result of the fall and/or the flood. I see no reason why, counterfactually, if Adam never fell there wouldn’t be natural disasters or animal death.

    So typhoons and earthquakes are part of God’s good creation?

    I have a feeling the victims in Myanmar and China would disagree with you. Pardon me if I incline toward the wisdom of their experience.

  101. To paraphrase Kline lecturing on Kingdom Prologue: “God did not create a ‘marshmallow world’ in which Adam could not drown, burn, fall off a cliff, or dash his foot against a stone. But before the fall, Adam had the benefit of divine protection from all harm.”

  102. Atta boy Rube!

  103. RubeRad: “God did not create a ‘marshmallow world’ in which Adam could not drown, burn, fall off a cliff, or dash his foot against a stone. But before the fall, Adam had the benefit of divine protection from all harm.”

    Myanmese widow: “Ah, I get it! The typhoon that drowned my husband was actually good. God simply chose not to protect my husband from that good typhoon.”

    Chinese orphan: “Right! And when I wish my parents hadn’t been crushed by tons of cement during that good earthquake, I’m really just concocting a laughable ‘marshmallow world’ daydream. As I continue grieving, I’ll be careful to avoid yearning for a world without typhoons. That would be silly.”

    Myanmese widow: “Yes, yes — bemoaning God’s good typhoons and good earthquakes wouldn’t be reverent!”

    . . .

    I like two things about your response, RubeRad: it positions God as principal actor, and it seeks to explain a death-free human condition. Indeed, my own understanding of the goodness of creation requires additional divine protection.

    However, the world you contrasted with a “marshmallow world” seems less good than neutral, allowing as it does the pre-sin possibility of self-injury through ignorance or recklessness. Granted, drowning in puddle, riptide, or typhoon are matters of degree; one (shallow) man’s drive-by puddle splash is another man’s Katrina. But you must admit there’s a difference between the self-injuries listed in your response, and the inescapable destructive forces recently suffered by the Chinese and Myanmese. Given that context, the label “marshmallow world” fails to apply. The Myanmese widow and the Chinese orphan don’t yearn for a marshmallow world — they just want a world that doesn’t take their loved ones away. Should we ridicule that desire?

    Also, your response leaves me wondering: Paul teaches in Romans chapter 8 that creation is subjected to frustration, and groans. How do you understand this passage, if not in the destructive forces of nature? How do you understand the change between nature’s original goodness and current frustration?

    (Allow me to forestall some questions about my theological understanding of natural calamities by referencing this piece.)

  104. However, the world you contrasted with a “marshmallow world” seems less good than neutral, allowing as it does the pre-sin possibility of self-injury through ignorance or recklessness.

    No, this is not an actual possibility, because of divine protection as part of God’s covenant favor.

    But you must admit there’s a difference between the self-injuries listed in your response, and the inescapable destructive forces recently suffered by the Chinese and Myanmese

    Why?

    How do you understand this passage, if not in the destructive forces of nature?

    I haven’t researched it much, but again Kline (and others?) exegete Rom 8 as a reference to Isaiah (24?), explaining that the Earth bemoans the fact that it has to cover the dead bodies of the elect; it longs to set them free (see also Gen 4:10).

    For sure though, I am very leery of any concept that non-human creation can be (hs been) redeemed. Whatever the curse did, I don’t think it is our job to fix it (or that we can expect it to get any better until the New Heavens and Earth).

  105. About Rom 8: I have yet to even read the whole article myself, but here you go…

  106. What makes the creation “good” is that it reveals the glory of God. Hurricanes reveal the glory of God.

    Before the fall, man was protected from hurricanes. That doesn’t mean that there were no hurricanes. It doesn’t mean Adam didn’t see lightning striking in the distance. In fact, when Adam would see these destructive forces at work, he would have been inspired to gratitude to God, who protected him from such forces. Seeing a hurricane to which he was immune would have put Adam on his face before God in humble, worshipful gratitude and thanksgiving for his goodness.

    When you just barely avoid getting into a car accident, don’t you say, “Thank you Lord, for keeping me safe”?

  107. Just a quick note until I have more time. I listed two things I liked about RubeRad’s response, and with Echo’s I can add a third: emphasis on the curse, not nature, as the source of fear.

    Still, I think a few distinctions are being blurred in our discussion; I need to read through the possible connection between Romans chapter 8 and Isaiah chapter 24 connection (I haven’t heard of this before, and see at least one reason to be skeptical, but will give it a fair shake); and I need to raise an additional complicating factor. But all that is to come.

    For now, I’ve read and am thinking (and pressing on with the rest of life).

  108. The curse involves nature’s forces being unleashed AGAINST us.

  109. Forrester,

    Haven’t been here in a bit, missed your post.

    Unfallen world talk is speculatory. But, you must not make the mistake of transposing fallen situations onto unfallen world ones.

    In principle, unfallen man would be subject to natural disaster. But they could be providentially shielded from natural disaster. This could take many forms. Advance warning from God, perhaps.

    Even in a fallen world, Scripture records various instances in which a remnant are providentially spared death and destruction from natural disaster.

    Let’s also remember that in an unfallen world, technology could progress at a far more expeditious rate than in a fallen world. So man could learn in some measure to master the forces of nature. Science would advance at an unprecedented pace in an unfallen world.

    I think of natural “disasters” as intrinstic goods and extrinsic evils. But here’s my qualification:

    Natural evils are actually natural goods. They’re part of the cyclical processes of nature.

    They’re only “evil” is the the relational sense that if you in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s a natural disaster *for you.*

    But it’s not a natural disaster for *nature.* In the long-term it’s good for nature to have these regulatory mechanisms.

    So I think that natural “disasters” existed, or could exist, in a prelapsarian world, although God would providentially or miraculously protect unfallen human beings from these natural “evils.”

    I have no exegetical or scientific reason to believe that floods, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones, or tidal waves are a result of the fall and/or the flood.

    I have no scientific reason for supposing that there would or could be alternative mechanisms for regulating the forces of nature.

    And even if there were, that would involve such a far -reaching alteration of the world as we know it that I have no firm idea of what such a proposition actually entails.

    I don’t simply mean a world without natural disasters, but the underlying conditions which give rise to natural disasters.

    That possibity is open to me – again, we can only *speculate* about an unfallen world.

    Since it is an *exegetical possibility*, I don’t hang my star on traditional YEC arguments, viz., no animal death, no natural disasters, etc.

    No, given that I am a 6 day creationist, and I believe tha fall happened relatively shortly after man’s creation, I’m not sure that there was *in fact* any natural disasters. But I grant that if Adam had remained unfallen, there could (would!) have been.

    I don’t hang my star on these types of arguments, then. I perfer the exegetical arguments evidenced here and in other posts. I use appearence of age arguments to nullify OEC chronological arguments.

    Thus I think my view is the best one exegetically, *and* I can answer the scientific arguments without (a) being a scientist(!) and (b) by providing a paradigm where the observational evidence is the same on both hypothesis.

    Hope that helped.

  110. This is off topic I’m sure but I prepare to travel into the depths of the Grand Canyon next week I was wondering what this particular group makes of the “great unconformity”. That is the gap of 1.2 billion years in the rock layers.

    I’ve been reading up on it and find it absolutley fascinating.

    has this topic been discussed here?

  111. Blogorrhea has seen pretty much zero discussion of geology. Mostly I’ve been talking about astronomy.

  112. Kurt P. Wise is a Harvard trained paleontologist (Ph.D. under Gould), a young earth creationist, and does stuff on geology. He has a couple of books out, see Amazon.com for them.

  113. Thank for the tip Paul.

  114. […] point occurred to me a few years ago, about how the literal vs. poetic view of Gen 1-2 is a false dichotomy; it makes more sense to […]

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