Chris, you have written here a sweeping indictment of me. It’s a soft indictment, to be sure, when compared to @Jonathan_Burke’s hard indictment. He is the iron hand; you are the velvet glove. The two of you agree that it’s “the eyeglasses” I insist on continuing to wear that are preventing me from seeing what’s right there in the Bible. To be fair, however, and to better understand the situation, you should admit to yourselves that it would be more accurate to say that it has been my unwillingness to exchange my glasses for yours that has frustrated you. Jonathan has his Revelation Day / Vision Day view and I’ve spoken with him about that. You seem to hold primarily to the Walton view so I’ll deal with it for the remainder of this post. (I know you profess support for all four of the views I listed above, but you mention Walton more than the others so it seems to be primary for you.)
I have tried to convey to you the aspects of Walton’s proposal that I find helpful and distinguish them from the parts of his proposal that I find weak and unconvincing, yet you continue to charaterize me as someone who is unappreciative of cultural differences. I first analyzed Walton’s arguments several years ago, and I have been going back through his material since coming here to see what I may have missed. In going back over his material, I have found him to be, if anything, even less convincing in his main thesis (that Gen 1 is exclusively speaking about functional and not material origins) than I originally thought.
I am not the only one who thinks this way about Walton’s proposal. William Lane Craig is an outspoken advocate for an old earth. He fully accepts the scientific dating of the universe as ~14B years and the earth as ~5B years. And although he does not profess personal belief in evolution, he says belief in it is “fully compatible with Christianity.” Craig has also spoken very disparagingly of YEC’s. Yet Craig says that Walton’s insistence that Gen 1’s focus on functional origins to the exclusion of material origins is “is drawing a false dichotomy which is foreign to these ancient texts.” He calls Walton’s view “bizarre” and says that there is “a deep incoherence in his interpretation.” Therefore, for me to say Walton is unconvincing in his main thesis is not merely the mindless rejection one should expect from a YEC.
I’m going to ask you to be more specific about the assumptions you think I hold which are holding me back, but first let me address the assumptions that you did seem to specify. As I do, please keep in mind that you have assumptions, too. What’s at issue here, therefore, is not that I have assumptions and you don’t. Rather, it’s a question of whether I should exchange my assumptions for yours.
Your assumption is that there are different kinds of history in the OT. My assumption is that there aren’t. I’ve examined my assumption by reviewing in my mind the way Jesus referred to OT events. I cannot see where He speaks of more than one kind of history in the OT. He seems to speak, for example, about Lot’s wife or people in the time of Noah the same way He speaks about people in the time of Elijah or Elisha. If you want me to exchange my assumption about how Jesus viewed history for yours, you need to do more to show me Jesus regarding Gen 1-11 history differently from Gen 12-Malachi 4 history.
I do not for the life of me understand why the subject of genealogies keeps arising in this thread. Until someone can show how a different way of interpreting genealogies can bridge the gap between an earth that is thousands of years old and one that is billions of years old, genealogies are not material to the discussion.
In general, I am in complete agreement with you that “the Scriptures were written for us but not to us” and that the prophets were men of their times. However, my assumption is that “the extent to which God might have accommodated His revelation to the cultural state of the original audience” has much more applicability when the subject is science than it does when the subject is history. And, as I’ve been saying, it’s the Bible’s history versus scientifically-generated history (SGH) that is at issue here - not the Bible versus science. If you want me to exchange my assumption for yours, tell me more about how you assume God had to accommodate His revelation in historical terms. For example, what was it about ancient people that required God to tell them that creation took a very short time when it in fact took a very long time. I’m not asking why Gen 1 and Ex 20:11 and Ex 31:17 don’t have the word “billions” in them; I’m asking why God would make statements about creation’s duration that would seem absolutely silly to an educated 21st-century person.
This appears to me to be Walton’s assumption which you want me to adopt. Again, my assumption is that while I’m appreciative of Walton’s emphasis on the functional view ancients held and, particularly, the temple motif he employs, he fails to show how this would exclude material ontologies. If you want me to let go of my assumption to take hold of yours, you’re going to have to do a better job of justifying this dichotomy than he has.
Does this exhaust the assumptions that you think are holding me back from accepting an old earth and all that goes with it? If not, please tell me the others and I’ll address them as well.
I can’t tell whether you think your stint in Africa enabled you to read the Bible without eyeglasses, or whether you recognize that you exchanged the ones you had for another pair. I’m perfectly willing to admit that your new pair may have fewer smudges and thus enable you to see more clearly, but that’s what you need to show me. It is simply not the case that I’m wearing eyeglasses and that you see 20/20 without any. Therefore, put your assumptions out there alongside mine and let’s see which ones are more faithful to Jesus.