Evangelicals and others and their different approaches to the Bible and biblical authority


(Christy Hemphill) #1

I understand why it is an uncomfortable thing to think we may have gotten it wrong and worry about where we draw the line in what we question. And I understand that some people dismiss everything that comes out of mainstream science as biased and untrustworthy. But it’s not unprecedented in the history of the church to change how we interpret something. At one time people believed the clear teaching of the Bible was that slavery was God-ordained.


Is the story of Noah inappropriate for young children (violent genocide)?
(Tokyoguy) #2

Christy, I don’t know anyone who actually dismisses everything that comes out of mainstream science, do you? Or are you just exaggerating? If the latter, not helpful for a conversation.

Christy, I’ll stick with Jesus on this one. I think that since He is the Creator, He knew when He created Adam and Eve and He says that He did so in the beginning of creation - not in the last 0.001% of history. BIG difference.

So, let me get this straight, Christy. You actually think that the early Church Fathers, the OT writers, Jesus, the NT writers, etc. all got it wrong and finally now in the last century, thanks to mainly godless scientists who interpret their limited data based on the idea that God does not exist or that even if He does exist, He could have had no role in creation, we finally have the right answer? That’s what you think? And you think that is the proper lens through which to interpret the data? And that this approach to historical science(where the scientific method is of no use) makes for trustworthy scientific hypotheses that should be given precedence over the eyewitness accounts God left for us in His inspired Word?

I can’t muster up that kind of faith, Christy.

I think Dr. John Piper has some good things to say about slavery here: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-did-god-permit-slavery


(Christy Hemphill) #3

@tokyoguy111 Pretty much, yes. I might say it with a little more nuance. :wink:

But I’m not basing my acceptance of Christian faith being compatible with an ancient earth and the evolutionary model on “godless scientists’’” word alone. I’m taking the word of godly scientists whose character and lives I respect, and whose word I trust. I’m taking the word of godly theologians and Bible scholars who have the knowledge and ability to contextualize Scripture and draw out its meaning to its original audience. I trust their ability to interpret it well more than my own ability to understand what the biblical authors meant just by reading a de-contextualized translation of a collection of ancient documents.

It is not this huge thing for me to realize that humans throughout history have been limited by their cultures and perspectives and the information and traditions that were available to them, and they got some things wrong when it comes to the interpretation of the Bible. Augustine thought women were subhuman. That doesn’t mean we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater and distrust everything he says. It doesn’t make everything come crashing down for me.

I don’t think Jesus was omniscient when he was incarnate as a human. I think there is plenty of Scriptural support for this which I won’t get into, but it doesn’t bother me that Jesus or Paul said things that reflected their culture and time and the understanding of the world then. I don’t think Jesus was sent to earth to teach science lessons.

I am convinced the idea that the scientific method cannot be applied to “historical science” is a misconception. Deb Haarsma wrote a nice article explaining this, if you are interested in how I came to that conclusion. http://biologos.org/blogs/deborah-haarsma-the-presidents-notebook/the-reliability-of-historical-science

The main issue I think in having a conversation with another Christian about this is sorting out how we handle “the authority of Scripture.” I’m an Evangelical. I take the authority of Scripture very seriously. My friend George here is more comfortable chalking things up to myth and stories than I am, though I do think understanding the genre of the narratives in the Bible is really important. But I am personally not inclined to dismiss anything the Bible says just because it doesn’t fit my view of the world. I want to see some thoughtful exegesis and hermeneutics that make a good case for how it should be understood. Bible scholars I respect are doing that work. I came to this forum from the theology/biblical interpretation side of things, not from the science side of things.

Christians come to different interpretations all the time. My husband was an Army officer. He deployed during the Iraq war. I have sat through enough OCF Bible studies to know that a Christian can come to the conclusion from the Bible that the military needs salt and light just as much or more than any other part of society and that God sometimes uses war to bring justice to the oppressed. I also have close friends who are Anabaptist and Mennonite who are convinced, because of Scripture, that war is evil and no Christian should ever participate in it. I think both groups of people are under the authority of Scripture and following the conviction of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

For most of church history, the church baptized infants. I respect Christians in traditions that still do and I understand the arguments for it. No one has wrung their hands over me lately because I was baptized as a believer and my kids aren’t baptized, even though that practice is a bit of a revisionist thing that came along after the Reformation. We would claim we are getting back to what the Bible really teaches and the tradition got it wrong.

I think the interpretation of Genesis is a similar case where Christians of equal sincerity and Christ-likeness and passion for God’s word can come out on opposite sides. I love the Bible. I totally believe with all my heart that Jesus is Lord and his kingdom is coming and my life is not my own. I believe my obedience to what the Bible teaches matters and I will give an account some day for my works. I believe God’s revelation in Scripture disciplines us in wisdom, and shapes our view of reality, and conforms us to Christ-likeness, and equips us to go change the world. I don’t need things to make sense all the time and I don’t idolize my own knowledge and understanding.

So, I sometimes find it hard when people who reject evolutionary science and an ancient earth automatically think that those who don’t must be self-centered, sub-Christians who want to use the Bible to their own ends and ignore it when it’s inconvenient. Or that they just lack the backbone and integrity to stand up to atheists. My life is pretty full of inconveniences specifically because I am trying to obey the things God made really clear in the Bible. I don’t think seriously following Jesus is supposed to be comfortable. And I mostly live and work with other Christians in an environment where it is much easier to be accepted and respected if you are YEC.

The ancient earth and the explanatory power of many aspects of the evolutionary model (I don’t think it answers every question, but it makes sense out of a lot of observations) are not things I think the Bible insists I must reject in order to be in submission to its authority. If you do, then by all means, follow your conscience. But it would be nice if we could take a Romans 14 approach to it all.


(Henry Stoddard) #4

Hello

Noah and the flood did not bother me as a child. Was the flood a universal flood or local one? That is what interests me. I believe it was just in Mesopotamia. Noah’s Ark is not creating murderers in the world. Has anyone ever gone to a psychologist and said: Oh, Noah’s Ark made me go out and kill a hundred people yesterday by spraying water on them?

I do not think so. If this is the case, please show me the article.


(Tokyoguy) #5

Well Christy, all I can say is that you use a VERY different hermeneutic than I do and I do not think it is the right approach to God’s Word. We will have to agree to disagree, but this is not an area where I feel we can compromise on and say whatever you want to believe is fine. It effects our view of God and His character, of sin, of humanity, etc. and impacts the salvation story as well. You will disagree of course, but I feel your approach will inevitably lead to a loss of biblical authority and an erosion of people’s faith. If there was no sin that brought sin and death on all mankind as Bible says, why are humans born with a sin nature? I’m glad that you personally are a committed believer, love Jesus, and seek to follow Him. Wish you the best. But I strongly disagree with your view of Jesus, the Bible, and the trustworthiness of evolutionary science.

I guess I am even sadder that you claim to have arrived at your position through the Bible as opposed to through science. Most people do not do that of course. I think those who claim to interpret the Bible in this way have been either consciously or unconsciously influenced by modern evolutionary theory and other pronouncements of science which they view as more credible than God’s Word. Again, I disagree. But there isn’t much point in discussing it as our approach to God’s Word is different.


(Tokyoguy) #6

George:

“What does God’s Book of Nature tell us? Is the Earth billions of years old? The answer is YES - undeniably.”

I agree that IF we start with nature alone, and assume the universe was created totally apart from any interference of any kind of deity, that yes, we would come to the conclusion that the earth is billions of years old.

But even God’s so-called book of nature has to be interpreted and that is the problem. What paradigm do we use to interpret it? You reject God’s Word and start with nature alone and so you arrive at that conclusion. I would too if I approached the data and interpreted the data through your worldview. I just disagree with your worldview/paradigm. I think the Bible provides necessary
information that we need to know in order to properly interpret God’s book of nature – which is very limited in what it can tell us. It is not equal to the Bible as a source of revelation.

“Is there any kind of animal where a human could live INSIDE … for 3 days (Jonah’s fish / whale)? The answer is NO. Even the largest whales have throat diameters that would only accommodate a
basketball. And once past the throat … where would the oxygen come from that would keep a prisoner human alive, in the fish’s gut, for almost half a week? There isn’t any. How would he survive the processes of digestion? He couldn’t.”

It says that God provided a fish. Now am I to believe that the God, who created the universe and preserves it each day with His Word, was unable to provide one fish and to keep Jonah alive for 3
days? Now, if you do not believe in miracles, then yes, this story is impossible. No wonder skeptics question it. There are a number of miracles in this account:
‘The Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest’ (Jonah 1:4)
‘The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah’ (Jonah 1:17)
‘The Lord spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land’ (Jonah 2:10)
‘The Lord God prepared a vine, and made it to come up over Jonah’ (Jonah 4:6)
‘God prepared a worm…and it chewed the vine that it withered’ (Jonah 4:7)
‘God prepared a vehement east wind…’ (Jonah 4:8)

What was involved in “providing the great fish” is not specified, but certainly it involved a miracle.

“IT’s A STORY. But what about Jesus referencing the STORY? He LOVED stories too. He did not present footnotes with his every discussion so that people would know what was and was not A
STORY.”

This is an important story. Jesus indicates it is a foreshadowing/prophecy of His death and resurrection. You think He used a fairy tale to do this? I don’t. There is no indication anywhere in Scripture that this was a fable, parable, or anything other than historical truth.

“Did Jesus think his followers would hang on his every word… and accept what he said as irrevocably true regardless of how impossible it could be? Probably not.”

What He did say was that He is the way, the truth, and the life. He claimed to speak the truth and to be the truth. When He spoke in parables, He usually indicated this. I believe Jesus intended us to believe what He said – otherwise why say anything?

“Mr. Tokyo … do you think there were no rainbows after a rain until AFTER Noah’s Ark? The account of the creation of rainbows IS A STORY.”

No, I believe that God gave new meaning to the rainbow at that point. According to Calvin, God frequently invested existing things with new meanings, e.g. the bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper. I would see it in this way.

“Until Evangelicals learn to ACCEPT that religion includes a a certain number of figurative stories …
they are going to lose generations of young men and women who believe the witness of their eyes and ears … and how God makes the Universe and natural laws work.”

George, my friend, why in the world would you think that evangelicals do not accept that the Bible includes a certain number of figurative stories? I don’t know anyone like that. This is a convenient stereotype that people like to spread about evangelicals to try and discredit them, but it is not
true. It is a lie, so please do not spread slander about your brothers and sisters in the Lord!
Evangelicals DO accept that the Bible includes a certain number of figurative stories. We just differ on what is figurative and what is historical.

We respect science and can learn a lot from studying nature about natural laws etc. But when it comes to history and God’s role in creation, we believe His Word is more reliable than what 20th century scientists say who assume no miracles and that God could not/was not involved in the creation of the world at all.


(Christy Hemphill) #7

All you know is my view on the trustworthiness of evolutionary science. You can’t really deduce from that my view of Jesus or the Bible. I think that is one of the hard parts of having conversations with believers who disagree on this topic. There are a lot of assumptions going both ways. Not everyone who accepts evolutionary science has the same approach to the Bible or the same theology. Just like not every creationist is an ignorant boob who takes every word of the Bible literally.

I think humans are born with a sin nature. It is obvious to me in every way that humans are all totally messed up and in need of redemption. I do think Adam existed as a real person. I think he and Eve had a covenant with God that they broke, and in a spiritual way and we are all counted as “in Adam” and are part of the community of covenant-breakers until we are “in Christ.” I believe the possibility of eternal spiritual life and physical immortality was presented to Adam and Eve and their disobedience brought the consequence of spiritual death and cut them off from the hope of physical immortality. That hope was restored in the victorious resurrection of Christ, which we can all participate in by faith and be resurrected to spiritual life in the here and now and have the hope of being resurrected to eternal physical life when the New Creation comes. That is the hope held out in the gospel.

What I don’t insist on is that our sin nature is somehow tied biologically to DNA and transmitted by sperm cells, so we all have to be literally biologically descended from Adam in order to be sinful and need a savior. People in biblical times could enter the covenant people even if they weren’t biologically descended from Abraham. We as Gentiles can be counted as grafted into the Abrahamic blessing. John told the Pharisees and Sadducees that God could raise up children of Abraham from the rocks because they were too wrapped up in where their DNA came from. Jesus was counted as a son of David in Matthew’s genealogy in fulfillment of Messianic prophesies even though, if you accept the virgin birth, he wasn’t genetically related to those people through Joseph. The way I see it, these are examples of covenantal language that talk about a spiritual realities, not biological realities. I’m all on board with substitutionary atonement and with Jesus being the second Adam. I just don’t need a genetic connection for that.

I understand that people think there is a slippery slope, and once you allow science to challenge the way you understand something in the Bible, there is always the question of where you draw the line. But it annoys me sometimes that some people seem to think the slippery slope only works in one direction and there is not an equally dangerous slippery slope in the other direction into legalistic Fundamentalism. I don’t have numbers or anything, but it sure seems to me that as many people are walking away from their faith because they were pushed off the ledge to the “right” as are walking away because they were pushed off the ledge to the “left.” So I don’t buy the whole, “this leads to the erosion of people’s faith” argument. Tim Keller, and N.T. Wright and John Ortberg, and Phillip Yancey, Scot McKnight, and Andy Crouch have all been instrumental in building up my faith, not eroding it. And none of them insist you have to reject evolutionary science.


(Tokyoguy) #8

Christy: “All you know is my view on the trustworthiness of evolutionary science. You can’t really deduce from that my view of Jesus or the Bible. I think that is one of the hard parts of having
conversations with believers who disagree on this topic. There are a lot of assumptions going both ways. Not everyone who accepts evolutionary science has the same approach to the Bible or the same theology. Just like not every creationist is an ignorant boob who takes every word of the Bible literally.”

Christy, thanks for writing back. I didn’t expect an answer. Most people realize they cannot
defend their beliefs from Scripture. It is true that I cannot be sure of your exact view of Jesus, but what I can tell you is that if you trust the pronouncements of evolutionary scientists more
than the teaching of Jesus, something is wrong somewhere. He taught a literal view of Noah’s flood. He taught that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning of creation – not in the last 99.999% of the history of creation. Some Biologos people think that Jesus in his humanity was not omniscient and so He made mistakes in what He said. Others think that Jesus did not speak the actual truth to the people back then because they would not have been able to handle it. In other words, He altered his message to the level of the crowd. I don’t know what you believe, but I believe that Jesus is the Son of God fully human and FULLY God and that He certainly did know whether or not the Genesis flood took place and when He created Adam and Eve. I mean, after all, He Himself was the Creator! John 1:3, Col. 1:16.

[By the way, have you ever met a creationist boob who takes every word of the Bible literally – someone who, you know, thinks that Jesus is actually a door when He says “I am the door.” Or someone who actually thinks that Jesus is a flaming torch that gives light to the whole earth when He says “I am the light of the world” This is a silly and dishonest exaggeration that holds no truth whatsoever intended solely to try and make creationists look like ignorant boobs.]

The first prophecy about the Messiah is found in Genesis 3:15 in the passage about judgment on Satan. Was that prophecy part of the fairy tale as well?

You remember the story of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus? I’m going to assume you believe
this actually took place. Remember how Jesus came alongside the 2 disciples and began to explain to them why these things all had to happen? Did you ever notice what exactly Jesus to Cleopas there? Cleopas was a believer, but he didn’t understand why Jesus had to die.

‘“About Jesus of Nazareth”? they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they
crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and
found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”’
Then in v. 25-27 Jesus says this:‘“How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself’ (v. 25–27).

The same thing happened when Jesus appeared to His disciples in the upper room (Luke 24:44–46). Jesus took them back to Genesis, to what Moses had written concerning Himself, when He said: ‘
… This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’"

So, Christy, what do you think it was that Moses wrote that was needed to clearly explain the Gospel? [You do believe that Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible, right? Not everyone does. Some think Jesus was wrong here.]

I know what I think it was. It was the creation story upon which the whole gospel is based. This included the perfect creation of Adam and Eve, their sin, and the subsequent passing of sin and
death to all men which explains why we need the substitutionary death of the Messiah. I guess you think Jesus based all that on the myth of Genesis? It’s hard to understand why Jesus would
expect a myth to be fulfilled or how a myth could actually be considered to be prophecy.]

Christy: “I think humans are born with a sin nature. It is obvious to me in every way that humans are all totally messed up and in need of redemption. I do think Adam existed as a real person. I think
he and Eve had a covenant with God that they broke, and in a spiritual way and we are all counted as “in Adam” and are part of the community of covenant-breakers until we are “in Christ.” I believe the possibility of eternal spiritual life and physical immortality was presented to Adam and Eve and their disobedience brought the consequence of spiritual death and cut them off from the hope of physical immortality. That hope was restored in the victorious resurrection of Christ, which we can all participate in by faith and be resurrected to spiritual life in the here and now and have the hope of being
resurrected to eternal physical life when the New Creation comes. That is the hope held out in the gospel.”

[OK, so your beliefs here are very interesting. I want to know why you “think” all these things.
Because it is obvious to you that humans are all messed up or because the Bible teaches this? If it wasn’t obvious to you that humans are all messed up, would you still believe it if that is what the Bible teaches? Anyway, what is your “thinking” based on?

You obviously cannot believe that Adam’s sin brought about physical death and yet you say that his sin cut them off from the hope of physical immortality. Really? You actually think Adam would have lived forever if he had not broken covenant with God? How in the world could that be possible, Christy? All humans and animals and all life dies. You think that God would have sustained their physical bodies so they did not age and could actually live forever as humans?

Wow! So you are willing to believe in miracles in the Genesis account! Christy, it almost sounds like you actually believe chapter 3 of Genesis – but then you say you don’t. I’m not sure why when most of what you say you believe comes directly from the Genesis 3 account. I’m really curious as to how you came to believe all these things if you think the story is nothing more than a myth. How do you determine what part of the myth is true and what part is false? Many Biologos people would disagree with your views on Adam, Eve, life, and sin. Many think Adam didn’t even exist because of science.
If so, God sure did a poor job of communicating His truth to us!

I guess what I mean to say is this: Christy, do you really think that your particular way of thinking is what God intended to communicate to all humans through the fable of Genesis? You think He chose to use a fable(instead of telling us the actual account of what did happen) because that was the most
effective way to communicate His truth to us humans? Why? Why would God make up a fable and treat it as history all throughout Scripture, when He could have just recorded what did actually happen? And how in the world could God expect us to understand what He is trying to say to us if He treats it as history in the Bible? And certainly God would have known that humans would misunderstand this until Darwin and his cronies came along, and still He chose to write this fable as history?

So, some further questions. Do you believe that Adam and Eve were not sinners and that sin did not exist until they broke the covenant with God? Why do you think that the story of the Garden of Eden is false? What is there is Scripture anywhere that would indicate that to you? Is there anywhere that story is dealt with in the Scripture where we find an indication that it was fictional? How about Mark 10:6 where Jesus says that He created them male and female at the BEGINNING of creation? Was Jesus mistaken? Maybe it wasn’t the beginning of creation. Maybe it really happened in the last 99.999% of creation when humans finally were created by God through evolution. Or evolved by natural means apart from any help from God? I don’t know what you believe there. Anyway, that sure was a LONG 6th day of creation, right? I guess God’s rest finally began after that time? What is the New Creation going to restore? In Acts 3:21. “Heaven must receive him until the time comes
for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Don’t we see the
restoration of all things described in Rev. 21 – no more tears, pain, death, sorrow, etc. And yet, this would not be a restoration because these things all existed from the very beginning in your belief system. You even believe that death came through man as Paul says in I Cor. 15:21-22, 45, but you don’t believe in the historical record that explains this?]

Christy: “What I don’t insist on is that our sin nature is somehow tied biologically to DNA and transmitted by sperm cells, so we all have to be literally biologically descended from Adam in order to be sinful and need a savior. People in biblical times could enter the covenant people even if they weren’t biologically descended from Abraham. We as Gentiles can be counted as grafted into the Abrahamic blessing.”

[Sure, but so what? What does that have to do with anything? A physical relationship to Abraham was never required for salvation. The genetic relationship has to do with our sin nature, not our
salvation. Adam was the first man and all humans are related to him. Eve is said to be the mother of all so it is clear, [unless you re-interpret that too] that we are related to her as well. These things become outright lies if you simply reject them and re-interpret them to fit what evolutionists are claiming. You are familiar with this verse right Christy? Gen. 3:21 “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.” All part of the fairy tale right? ]

Christy: “John told the Pharisees and Sadducees that God could raise up children of Abraham from the rocks because they were too wrapped up in where their DNA came from.”

[ ???]

Christy: “Jesus was counted as a son of David in Matthew’s genealogy in fulfillment of Messianic prophesies even though, if you accept the virgin birth, he wasn’t genetically related to those people through Joseph.”

[One reason for the virgin birth could have been to circumvent the sin nature that we receive from Adam.]

Christy: “The way I see it, these are examples of covenantal language that talk about a spiritual realities, not biological realities.”

[OK, the way you see it. Got it. Is that the way you think God intends us all to see it? Why do you see it that way? That was never the view of the early church or biblical authors. This seems like a
johnny come lately re-interpretation of God’s Word to fit the godless interpretations of the data by evolutionary scientists. It is not at all justified to play with the meaning of Scripture like that in my view.]

Christy: “I’m all on board with substitutionary atonement and with Jesus being the second Adam. I just don’t need a genetic connection for that.”

[So you think Adam actually existed, but you don’t think that Adam was the first human or that we are all related to him, right? Why is it a problem for you to accept this teaching? Adam and Eve are clearly presented as the first humans – all through the Bible. If you believe in the existence of a man
called Adam, why not believe in the recorded history about him? How do you differentiate the two? Might as well just throw it all out. This story is validated and treated as literal history by biblical authors all throughout Scripture, so, Christy, if this story of Adam is simply a fairy tale, how in the world is anyone expected to accurately understand the Bible? God certainly did a poor job of communicating His truth to us if we couldn’t figure out what it meant until godless evolutionary scientists came along and helped us out. He was misleading us for all these centuries! If this story is a myth, ANY story in Scripture, including the resurrection, could also be claimed to be a fairy tale and we could say nothing against it. The resurrection is anti-science as well. If you reject miracles in the beginning, why not be consistent and reject them throughout the Bible?

Why should we trust what various people claim to be the overall meaning of Genesis if we can’t trust it on the details? After all, Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?’ Also, if all God meant to communicate to us through Genesis was that He was the creator, then why even write all the false details? ]

Christy: “I understand that people think there is a slippery slope, and once you allow science to challenge the way you understand something in the Bible, there is always the question of where you draw the line. But it annoys me sometimes that some people seem to think the slippery slope only works in one direction and there is not an equally dangerous slippery slope in the other direction into legalistic Fundamentalism. I don’t have numbers or anything, but it sure seems to me that as many people are walking away from their faith because they were pushed off the ledge to the “right” as are walking away because they were pushed off the ledge to the “left.” So I don’t buy the whole, “this leads to the erosion of people’s faith” argument. Tim Keller, and N.T. Wright and John Ortberg,
and Phillip Yancey, Scot McKnight, and Andy Crouch have all been instrumental in building up my faith, not eroding it. And none of them insist you have to reject evolutionary science.”

[I understand your point. I understand that some people have lost their faith in God because they feel the evolutionary story does not jive with the Bible. You want to prevent that from happening by showing that we can believe in both. And temporarily, that might help some people, but as time goes on, the compromise will continue. What is needed instead of compromise is for all Christians to take a stand on God’s Word and be united against the evolutionary indoctrination and faith claims that cannot be tested. Instead, people are compromising and dissing creationists who do take God at His Word. So many Christians are being encouraged to read evolution into God’s
Word. This is the start of a huge problem. Science/atheists will not be happy to stop at Genesis. Archeology, psychology,history, etc. Where do you stop? What is your standard for truth, if it is not the Bible? This problem is just going to grow and although you yourself may never leave the faith, I’m afraid that many people will see the compromise that is taking place and be adversely influenced. Incorporating evolution into the Bible will strengthen no one’s faith in God’s Word. I personally do not believe the Bible allows for the type of interpretation you are making. Why? For many of the reasons I mentioned above, but also because when you compromise with science on the foundational passages of the Bible, this has huge implications for how you interpret the rest of the Bible. Because these passages are quoted and referred to so often in the Bible, to be consistent, you have to continue to interpret them as myth all the way through. This results in some really twisted hermeneutics. It results in having to believe that either Jesus didn’t know that Genesis is a myth or that, even though He knew, He taught it as truth because that is all the people of his time could handle. This position requires you to believe that Jesus knowingly taught a lie.

It is true that the men you refer to take an old earth and pre-evolution position. I’m extremely
disappointed by this, but these days, there is great pressure to take this kind of a position to avoid being called an ignorant creationist boob and seemingly lose all credibility with people! Keller is working with intellectuals in New York. I think he feels he has to take that position in able to reach them and hence that influences how he reads Genesis. Anyway, the reason these people take the
position they do stems first from science, not from the Scripture and that is a problem for me.

Sorry. This got to be way too long. I just cannot go as far as you do Christy. I can’t believe that God would use the process of death, bloodshed, suffering, extinction, and competition to create all living creatures. The Genesis account where God originally creates the world free of death(the last enemy), sickness, suffering, etc. a world where all the animals were vegetarians – this makes much more sense to me. Why would God write that in Genesis if it was not true? Why include such stuff in the myth if it is not true and how did God expect us to accurately discern what is and is not myth in that account?

I’m repeating myself now and already said far too much so I’ll just shut up.

Blessings!


(Brian Christensen) #9

Thank you for having talk with grace, seasoned with salt! I’ve heard from both camps. Videos…blogs…conferences, in Church and out. If we could communicate such way we could be the light and salt the world needs. Almost all of my spiritual mentors growing up either allowed (none were scientists, just bible scholars) did not make it a make or break to believe in the evolutionary model. And I think many would be saddened at the current lack of willingness to talk on the YEC side.


(George Brooks) #10

Tokyo Guy: Name ONE STORY you think is figurative that most Evangelicals think is LITERALLY true? This should be fascinating…

@tokyoguy111 … still waiting on your answer… [Tuesday AM edit]

George


(Christy Hemphill) #11

@tokyoguy111
I split this off into its own thread because it really wasn’t about Noah’s ark.

Oh, and tip for using the forum: If you select something someone else said and then hit the quote option that magically appears, it will drag that content into your post and you can comment on it. Then the person you quoted gets a notification to come check out what you said too.

I won’t get to everything you touched on because I have finals this week, but I thought I’d take a crack at one or two.

But most people did not get all the way through the Meritorious Award in AWANA. I can prooftext with the best of 'em.

First off, I don’t think evolutionary science is something you “believe in”. It’s something you accept or reject as fact. You don’t “believe in” the moon landing. You either accept it happened or it didn’t. It’s not going to change your life either way. I “believe in” the truth claims of the Bible, which science doesn’t speak to because they are about spiritual realities. So I don’t think this is a fair either or you are proposing. It’s apples to oranges. Jesus came to earth to preach about the coming kingdom and reveal himself as the Messiah. He did not come to teach science. So it is a false choice to say believe Jesus or believe modern scientists. They weren’t even talking about the same realm of reality let alone the same topic. I don’t know what you mean by “he taught a literal view of the flood” Do you mean he referred to it? Can’t you refer to figurative realities? I can make an allusion to Bilbo Baggins to make a point without committing one way or another on Bilbo’s historicity. I’m not arguing that Noah and Adam were necessarily fiction, just that making an allusion to them doesn’t incontrovertibly establish their historicity.

Don’t you think that “beginning of creation” could be interpreted more than one way? Couldn’t it possibly be the beginning of God’s redemption story in creation?

I don’t think Jesus was omniscient. I don’t think the whole scene of praying in the garden of Gesthemane makes sense if he was. I think the passage in Phil 2:7 that speaks of Jesus emptying himself to put on humanity means he laid aside some of his divine attributes to “fit” humanity and experience it the way a high priest who truly knows our every weakness would need to experience it. I think he had access to God the same way we do, through communion with the Holy Spirit, only he did not have sinful selfishness getting in the way, so he was probably more in tune with the Holy Spirit than any of us will ever be. You can come up with a different interpretation, but mine is biblical too. I didn’t get it from science.

The whole idea of divine accommodation, (which BioLogos did not make up, it has a long history in Christian theology, even in Calvinism) is not that Jesus misled people because they couldn’t handle it, but that he communicated in the way that would best accomplish his divine communicative purposes, not in a way that was intended to correct every misconception about the world that people may have had. The Bible presents kidneys as the seat of your conscience and emotion. So, we now know it’s really the brain. So what? Does that make God a liar and the Bible wrong? God didn’t see fit to give a biology lesson, he wanted to get his real point across and he accommodated his communication to the concepts people had at the time. When Jesus was talking about Noah and Adam he wasn’t giving a creationist apologetics lecture.


#12

Why do you want to subordinate conclusions gathered from science to conclusions gathered from reading Scripture? On what basis are you doing this? Can you not make up your mind about something based on what you read from Scripture, then encounter overwhelming scientific evidence that you were wrong, and thus change your position? Is not all truth God’s truth, including that found in his physical world? I firmly believe that when Scripture and science seem to pull you in different directions, you don’t get to say that the conclusion you arrived at based on reading the BIble is automatically correct. For a concrete example, these two guys did that, and almost everyone now agrees that it didn’t work out:

Calvin on Psalm 93:
“Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?”
** EDIT: I have read that the above quote is falsely attributed to Calvin. However, Calvin has indicated elsewhere that he is stationary-earther.

Martin Luther:
“There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must . . . invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth.”


(Christy Hemphill) #13

Did Satan literally bite Jesus in the foot?

You are making a false dichotomy between historical reporting and figurative language and acting like only one way of talking can say true things. But in reality, you can report history falsely and you can say something true using a metaphor. I don’t really understand what bearing it has on the prophesy whether a person thinks that creation account is reporting history or speaking figuratively. And in any case the prophesy itself is figurative.

The first five books explain the initiation of redemption history. Adam and Eve are a part of that, Noah is a part of that, Abraham and David are a part of that. Jesus as the Messiah doesn’t make much sense outside of the context of the story of God’s history of covenants with humanity. I don’t think Jesus mentioned dinosaurs or the age of rocks. The Old Testament is an ancient book and te first five books represents a collection of records and recorded oral traditions that was edited and shaped by those who compiled it. Reading and writing were different back then, so if your concept of Moses writing the Pentateuch is he sat down at his scrolls one day and God whispered in his ear and he cranked those babies out and that product is what we are looking at today, then no, I don’t believe Moses “wrote” them. Neither does any Bible scholar I’ve ever read

I wouldn’t say the first 11 chapters of Genesis are pure myth. But I think they are mythologized and contain literary devices we are not familiar with and aren’t necessarily meant to be taken at face value. I don’t think you need to believe Methusaleh actually lived 969 years in order to see God and accept God’s redemption plan. I think we can see lots of aspects of the Garden of Eden narrative as figurative and still get the message. It seems like you think figurative language is a lesser form of communication. Why? Some philosophers of language argue that the truth of metaphor cannot be pinned down in literal language and metaphor is actually foundational to human understanding. Something is not less true because a metaphor is used to present it. Plus prophesy is almost always couched in figurative language, so it’s confusing to me that you are making this connection.

It is obvious from observation that humans are messed up. I believe the explanation for their condition and the plan of redemption that is found in the Bible. There are things that are not obvious that I believe because the Bible teaches it. Like it is a good idea to love your enemy. And blessed are the poor. And if you want to be great, learn to be a servant.

There is that interesting part about the tree of life in the Garden that shows up again in God’s city in Revelation where all his people are physically living forever with him. Of course I think God can give us resurrected physical bodies so we will actually live forever as humans. That is what Jesus has as he rules the universe. (See how completely comfortable I am with totally unscientific spiritual realities?) I don’t necessarily think that there had to be a real tree with miraculous fruit, but I think the truth of the account is that God was intending to sustain their physical lives in a supernatural way and that sustenance was removed with their rebellion.

Good question! Welcome to the joys of biblical scholarship. That is actually not my most pressing why question when it comes to the Bible. But I have never felt that “I don’t understand why God did this that way” means you get to assume he did it the way you would have done it in his place.

The Genesis account wasn’t originally told to 21st century Evangelicals, so their preferences for how truth/history gets presented are not relevant.

I personally don’t think God cares all that much which details we believe about how the physical world came into existence. And you have decided somehow that the Genesis account is obviously “written as history.” Plenty of people who know something about ancient near eastern literature would say you are just reading your modern western assumptions into the text, and that wasn’t how it was written at all.

I think sin is directly related to God’s covenant and commands, not some general violation of absolute morality. So, yes, I don’t think sin existed before God gave the boundaries. How could humans disobey God if he had never communicated with them and made clear his expectations? By sinless, I think Adam and Eve were morally unaccountable. I don’t think the whole world was perfect and free from wrong before their disobedience. Evil has always been a part of creation for whatever reason. The snake was in the garden, and whether that is literal or figurative, it’s a philosophical problem.

.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #14

@tokyoguy111

Tokyo,

The Bible is not about science, it is about salvation.

If God began Genesis at the Big Bang and then gave a blow by blow on how the universe was created, no one could ever finish reading the first chapter. Instead of doing that, God abridged the first 99% of natural history and got straight to the good stuff, which is human history.

To me that make good sense. I don’t see why this should offend you. God can present God’s story however God sees fit.

P.S. God’s Word is Jesus Christ, the Logos, the Rational Word of God, not the Bible. See John 1:1-3.


(Christy Hemphill) #15

I think we need to clarify some things to even remotely be on the same page.

Propositions have truth values. In order for us to be talking about something being true or false, we have to be talking about a proposition. What proposition are you talking about?

Stories can be interpreted literally or figuratively but how you interpret them doesn’t imply anything about whether they are true or not. You can figuratively talk about true things and you can literally talk about false things. “I am 25 years old” is literal language. It’s false. “The Lord is my Shepherd” is figurative language. It is true. But the truth of the second statement is presented in a metaphor, which is more open to multiple meanings than literal language. It can be adequately understood. We can respond to its truth. But we can’t necessarily pin it down and reduce it to literal propositions. It has inexhaustible meaning.

I think the narrative of Adam and Eve is meant to be interpreted figuratively. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s true. I just don’t think its meaning is something that can be reduced to literal propositions of “this is what happened.”

The first is a spiritual truth claim. What exactly constitutes “the historical record”? I think the historical record exists in nature and we have minds that can make sense of it. The ideas that the earth is 6,000 years old and was entirely covered in a global flood at one point recently, and all species on earth came from pairs of animals on an ark, and all languages on earth originated at Babel are demonstrably false. Along multiple, multiple lines of evidence.

How are our sin nature and salvation not intimately related? If we can be adopted into Abraham’s lineage in a spiritual sense, why can’t we just as easily be adopted into Adam’s lineage?


(Tokyoguy) #16

Thanks for the tip!

Good luck with your finals! Sorry. Luck is not the right word is it. I hope you are able to do your best on your finals!

OK, reject/accept the claims of evolutionary science or accept or reject the evolutionary paradigm. To me, saying you believe their claims or disbelieve their claims is the same thing, but I’m happy to use accept/reject if you like.

That’s easy to do. No one can test those claims to see if they are true or not. But do you accept what the Bible says when it intersects with this world? Jesus asked Nicodemus this very interesting question: " If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"

Now to me, this means that He is saying that his earthly teaching - anything having to do with this earth - history, science, anthropology, psychology, etc. - all these things are true so therefore you should accept the spiritual things I am teaching you that cannot be verified. So I don’t see Jesus as teaching things that would be false - even if it is not a science book - which no one claims of course. But why would the creator of the world not be accurate when his teaching intersects with science? I don’t accept that. So, if Jesus asked you that same question Christy, how would you answer? Or, if a skeptic asked you why he should believe the spiritual claims of Christ if his earthly teaching is clearly wrong, what would you say?

Yes, He came to do a lot of things - to reveal God, to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin, to preach the gospel, to train the disciples and begin the building of the Church, to teach God’s truth, etc. No one is claiming that Jesus was trying to teach physics or anything, but in His teaching and preaching, it is not unreasonable to believe that the Messiah who is 100% God in human flesh would be accurate in what He teaches. My view.

Well, Christy, if that is what you honestly think Jesus was trying to do, we simply disagree here. Jesus never gave any hint whatsoever that these people or events were not historical. Besides, you even said that you believe in Adam and Eve. What did Jesus say about the flood? Let’s take a look. Here is Luke 17:25-32 in the ESV.
" Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife."

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, …” Now, you think this is Jesus’ way of saying the flood is figurative? Honestly? That is the impression you get from reading this passage? Was Lot also fictional/figurative? Sodom & Gomorrah? If Lot was not fictional, why would Noah and the flood be fictional?

You do realize that you are doing here exactly what Peter prophesied by the Holy Spirit would happen in the last days, right? “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,”

Peter is referring here to the OT(prophets writings) and the NT(apostles’ writings). Remember these!

“knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.”

What do think Peter is saying here, Christy? Who are the scoffers and what is it they deny?

They don’t think Jesus will ever return, right? The basis for their scoffing? They claim that everything has gone on the same from the very beginning until now. Sun rises and sets as always. World continues on as always. death, life, 4 seasons, etc. etc. etc. So they say there is no evidence of God or His supposed return! Kind of like Lyell’s claim of uniformitarianism?

What does Peter say their problem is?

What event does he specifically point out as a rebuttal to their claim?

How does he say the earth was formed? How does this coincide with the Genesis account of creation? Hint: it has to do with water!

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

Is this going to be a global judgment? How is it going to happen? “by the same “WORD””, right? The same word that created the heavens and the earth, right? Just as the final judgment is going to be worldwide, so was the flood. These men denied the flood ever happened. This enabled them to make their claim that all things exist from the beginning to this day as they always have. No evidence for God! But Peter says they are wrong and that the deliberately forgot the flood.

Maybe you think the flood here too is a fictional event? If so, consider this Christy. If the flood was a real historical event, how do you think Peter might have changed his message if he wanted to communicate that? Or lets say it this way. Is a literal flood a legitimate understanding of this passage? If not, what makes that so?

Well, that’s not what Jesus said, but sure, that is what Biologos people would have to reinterpret it to mean to avoid the plain meaning of what He said. If that is what Jesus meant, I wonder why He didn’t just say that instead of mislead people for thousands of years! And the point is, not whether it could be interpreted more than one way. The word “day” in Genesis can be interpreted more than one way. It has various possible meanings, but that does not mean that we get to pick and choose which meaning we want to apply to it. The context determines the meaning. Same here I believe.

But Christy, it gets worse. He says this in Luke 11:50–51 “so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, … ”. Notice the words “from the foundation of the world” and notice who is mentioned as the first prophet. Abel, right? Doesn’t it sound like Jesus is saying that Abel was alive from the foundation of the world and not in the last 99.9999% of human history? I suppose that also means something about the beginning of the redemption story? How do you come up with these things? I don’t see that in there anywhere!

Or how about Romans 1:20, where the Apostle Paul says of God: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Do you see what Paul is saying here? He is saying that people have been able to perceive these
attributes of God in His creation ever since the creation of the world. Not only in the last 99.9999% of the history of the world.

Now, perhaps you will come up with some way to change the clear meaning of this text too, but the point is, you are on the defensive all the way through Scripture. The plain meaning of the words have to be twisted over and over again to enable a consistent interpretation of an old earth. Again, if your interpretation of these passages is really correct, God did a horrible job communicating truth to us! It has been misunderstood for thousands of years and the Church has been teaching lies for thousands of years.

OK, I agree with you that Jesus laid aside some of his divine attributes, but that does not mean that He was teaching falsehoods or lies! That is literal blasphemy! Although He laid aside some of these attributes, He certainly did not ever give up the divine attributes of goodness, mercy, love, and truth. so He would never teach something false. Why? Look at these familiar verses:

John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me."

John 8:28 “So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but SPEAK JUST AS THE FATHER TAUGHT ME.”

We are agreed that Jesus came to reveal God the Father, right? Jn 1:18. And are we agreed that Jesus said that He does nothing on his own, but rather everything He said and taught was just as the Father taught Him? Are we agreed with that? If so, what kind of a representation is Jesus giving of the Father if He is inaccurate in what He was saying? He tells us that God’s word is truth in Jn. 1:17, and that He is speaking God’s word to them, but if it is NOT really truth, then …
Jesus may have given up his divine attribute of omniscience, but He still spoke with the authority and omniscience of the Father whom He came to reveal to the world.

So, sure, you can take each passage and make up your own interpretation of it to preserve your OEC beliefs, but are you accurately handling the word of truth? Or, are you instead rejecting the clear meaning of the text and reinterpreting it to fit the conclusions/interpretations of finite men/women of the 19th-21st centuries who reject God’s Word and base their interpretations of the data purely on the assumption that God is not really the Creator, but that everything has a purely natural cause?

I don’t think it is me who is coming up with a “different interpretation” though Christy. I think it is you who is doing that.

I agree with this. The Bible also speaks of the rising and setting of the sun. It is phenomenological language that we use even today. That was not a scientific expose of the solar system. We speak about our hearts in a way that is not scientifically accurate either, however equating this with Adam and Noah seems a stretch. He referred to these people those events as being historically real.

Christy, not sure how long I can continue this. Not sure how productive it is either.


(Tokyoguy) #17

This is the crux of the matter!

What hint is there anywhere in Scripture that makes you think it is meant to be interpreted figuratively?

Did Jesus or any other biblical writer ever give such an impression? One of the most important principles of biblical interpretation is “let Scripture interpret Scripture”. Scripture interprets Genesis as a literal historical even wherever it is mentioned in my view.

If figurative, what parts should we view as “true” and what parts as “false”? How do we know then exactly what the truth in the story is? I guess we just have to guess.

Yes, if you start from the secular starting point. There is good evidence for the flood. Languages seem to be reducible to a number of language families as opposed to one original language. But whatever evidence we give will just be re-interpreted in the Materialistic framework and rejected, so this it is not very helpful to dialog about that. Evolutionists claim homology as evidence for evolution, but when homology is violated, they claim convergence. Evolutionists claim genetic evidence for evolution, but when that evidence is violated, they claim horizontal gene transfer. And so it goes. The evidence is simply interpreted within the evolutionary paradigm which of course will not agree with the Bible. The starting point and assumptions are completely different.

OK, true. Only humans can be saved so our humanity is also related to our salvation. The big difference is that we are never told that we are adopted into Adam’s lineage, but we are told that we are adopted into Jesus’ family or Abraham’s lineage. I don’t know why say things like this. Anything is POSSIBLE with God. So yes, is it possible God created through totally natural means of evolution? Is it possible the earth/universe is billions of years old? Sure. The point is, what did God say? He said we are part of Adam’s lineage by birth and that as a result, we are sinners by nature. He didn’t say we were adopted into Adam… BUT, He did say that we are adopted into God’s family and can be spiritually Abraham’s descendants. I think we need to stick with what God has said as opposed to what is possible, because anything is possible.


(Tokyoguy) #18

Roger, I believe the Bible is about everything it touches on. If it touches on science, but is not accurate in doing so, why would we believe that it is accurate when it speaks of spiritual things that we cannot check, but have to take by faith? Relegating it to simply spiritual topics is not permissible.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Jesus said to Nicodemus that the whole message of salvation being received by people depends on the veracity of what He says about earthly things. So it is not just the spiritual things that Jesus says that are true, but the earthly things as well.

Saying that God abridged the first 99% of natural history sounds is fine, if that is really what He did. The problem is though is this: That is not what the Bible says. God never said that. He always referred to the first 11 chapters of Genesis as real history. My other posts explain that so I will not repeat myself here.

I wonder where in the lineage of mankind you think that real history begins and where the fake stuff ends. Can you show me where in the genealogies this happens? And what your reasoning is for why you chose that particular point to view certain men as real and others as fairy tales?


(Christy Hemphill) #19

I don’t think Jesus taught false things. But I think his words can be decontextualized so that they make false propositions. Jesus said the mustard seed was the smallest seed there is. If we decide to print that in a botany textbook, that would be bad, and Jesus would be wrong. Was he giving a botany lesson when he said that? No, so it’s stupid to insist he was lying or teaching falsehood when he said it. I think something similar applies to the discussion of the creation of the world. In the worldview of the time, which Jesus himself shared to a certain extent, nobody knew the earth was 4.3 billion years old. Nobody could go see dinosaur fossils at the museum. No one interpreted what he said to be saying anything inaccurate or misleading. Why would Jesus mention prehistory no one knew about? It wouldn’t have made sense to his audience and it would have detracted from the points he was trying to make.

You can believe Noah was a real person without believing that the account of his life is meant to be interpreted as a 100% factually accurate historical account and a scientific description of an event. You can think that when it talks about the flood waters covering the whole earth, it doesn’t have to mean and only mean that 100% of the surface of the earth as we know it know up to the tip of Mt Everest was covered with water. This is demonstrably impossible. There is not enough water in the hydrosphere. It makes much more sense to say, huh, since the “plain meaning” is describing something that we can prove with math and geology never happened, maybe we shouldn’t interpret it that way. Maybe it’s hyperbole. Maybe the whatever history is there has been mythologized for literary effect. Maybe a flood covered all the land the composers could see for miles around and for all they knew, it was the whole world.

Ah, yes, the inevitable 2 Peter reference…
Do you think anything I have said mocks God or denies the reality of Christ’s imminent return?

The point of the reference to creation was to point to God’s power and authority to judge. The flood is a picture of judgment and redemption (even if its actual historical scope was smaller than reported or even purely metaphorical). The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, and those who forget or deny God’s reign and right to judge will be in trouble. The passage does not stand or fall on the literalness of a global flood. It stands or falls on God’s dominion over the earth. Is a literal flood a legitimate understanding of the passage? Sure. Is it the only understanding? No.

Have you ever heard of the book by John Walton, “The Lost World of Genesis 1”? It makes a very good case that in the context in which it was written, people did not understand the foundation of the world to mean the material creation of the stuff the world is made of, but the assigning of roles and functions within the created world. I didn’t make this stuff up out of my imagination in order to avoid the “plain meaning” that I didn’t like because I heard the siren song of atheist scientists. I have read books by a lot of people who have spent a lot of time studying Hebrew, studying the Old Testament, and studying the literature and the archaeology of the ancient near east, and they have made some observations and drawn some connections that make a lot of sense, that I would never have been able to get out of the text just by reading it from my limited perspective. Maybe that is a difference in how we approach Scripture, but I don’t assume for a minute that I should automatically be able to understand what the Bible says and means. I read commentaries and Bible dictionaries. I think the discipline of biblical interpretation is an important academic discipline that serves the Church, and I owe it to godly scholars who have invested their lives in studying God’s word and the context it was written in to listen to what they have to offer.

Well, not really. I actually never feel defensive about science reading Scripture because I never assume that the Bible is trying to refute things that God has clearly revealed to scientists through his creation. It doesn’t make sense to me to say that in order to preserve God’s reputation as trustworthy in the Bible, we need to insist he reveal things that make him out to be a liar in creation. I think he can be trustworthy in both realms, and if I ever come to a place where there seems to be conflict, I assume my understanding of one or the other is off. But I don’t know why we are supposed to automatically assume it’s the understanding of science and God’s revelation in nature that is off.

We agree Jesus doesn’t teach false things. I think we just have a different idea of what counts as “false” and “accurate.”

Again, I’m going with the conclusions of godly scientists who believe in the same Creator and claim the same risen Lord I do, and they tell me the earth is ancient and life evolved. I trust they know more about such things than I do, and the truth of Scripture is big enough and inexhaustible enough to handle the reality that nature reveals. The God of the Bible and the God of creation are the same God.

Thank you for your respectful engagement. I don’t think the point is getting someone else change their mind, but getting a better idea of where another person is coming from and showing the world Christians can amicably discuss controversial issues without damning each other to hell. I think this is an important witness. If the next time you hear of a Christian accepting an ancient earth and evolving creation you don’t automatically assume they have unthinkingly swallowed a bunch of atheist propaganda and are obviously on the brink of apostasy, I will consider the conversation productive. :sunny: Maybe someone else reading the thread will see how pleasant you have been and change their opinion that all YEC folks are impossible jerks. No one has to “win” for it to be a productive conversation.


(George Brooks) #20

This paragraph should go in the BioLogos Hall of Fame !