My View On Creation (it’s a fact!)

YouTube has graciously changed their upload policy to allow longer length videos. Accordingly, I was able to upload my 45 minute documentary Creation is a Scientific Fact. That video was produced by me a few years ago and my view has changed a little since. Overall, I am in large agreement with the position expressed at www.Reasons.org by Hugh Ross and staff.  Also I have written a brief essay justifying my position from scripture.

PERSONAL VIEW OF CREATION

I strongly believe the Christian worldview is more coherent with reality and science than the naturalistic one. I fall somewhere between the categories of “Historic Creationist” and “Literary framework/ Day age.” I usually say that I am a progressive or “old-earth” creationist. I believe in creation ex nihilo and that the big bang cosmology has decisively confirmed it. Paul writes in Romans one that God’s “eternal power and divine nature” have been made in self-evident in creation and that for this reason atheists are “without excuse” (Rom 1:20). Therefore, I believe that sound science and biblical revelation should not conflict. When there is a perceived conflict there is a problem with either our exegesis or the interpretation of the scientific data. Both must be up for scrutiny. By all appearances the earth appears very old. Without getting into the technicalities of radiometric dating, very easy to understand ice core samples show rings similar to tree rings which strongly evidence that the earth is far older than young earth proponents imagine. These ice cores have been co related with known volcanic eruptions ash signatures and the dates match up.[i] This evidence is simple and compelling and reveals an earth orders of magnitude older that the young earth creationist model. Not to mention the evidence from geology and cosmology. The evidential case for a very ancient creation is overwhelming. I do not believe God would create the universe to appear old, when it was actually recent.  That would seem to constitute a viable excuse, in effect negating Paul’s argument in Romans 1:20. Like many contemporary Hebrew language scholars, I believe that sound exegesis places the creation of the entire universe during an unspecified duration of time “in the beginning” (Gen1:1). I believe God designed and employs a limited amount of evolution but I do not accept common ancestry. Above all, I believe man was uniquely created and given God’s image.

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE FROM GENESIS 1-3

Genesis 1:1 boldly declares that God created the entire universe “in the beginning” which is rendered from the Hebrew term bereshit. This word בראשית  is the name of the book in the Hebrew bible.  I first encountered it in a book Genesis Unbound by Hebrew scholar Dr. John Sailhamer. In it he explains,

The Hebrew word reshit which Moses used has a very specific sense in scripture. In the Bible the term always refers to an extended yet indeterminate duration of time – never a specific moment. It is a block of time which precedes an extended series of time periods. It is a time before time. The term does not refer to a point in time but to a period or duration of time which falls before a series of events.[ii]

There have been dissenting opinions on the use of this term.[iii] But we can allow the bible to determine the answer by logical examination. The bible mentions that the angels were present singing while God created the earth (Job 38:7). Angels are created beings and were thus created necessarily before the earth. This is implied in Psalm 148:2, 5: “Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.” The angels, as well as the celestial objects mentioned in verses 3 and 4, are declared to have been created by the Lord. Furthermore, it is clear that the earth is already present in a formless state before the days of the creation week have ensued (Gen1:2).  There is never a day specified when God created the angels, chemical elements, molecules like water, and the earth. They are already present as the spirit hovers over the waters. Thus, there had to be time for all of this to occur prior to day one. This confirms that the rendering of bereshit as an unspecified duration is indeed correct. Additionally, the expression “heavens and earth” is a Hebrew figure of speech called a merism which means the entire universe or “all things” [iv] Thus verse one is a factual statement of what God did “in the beginning.”

Over an unspecified period of time, God created the entire universe consisting of stars, planets, and matter. I believe the creation week that follows describes God arranging what he had already created into the biosphere for man. I see the “days” as long periods of time. The Hebrew word yom can mean twenty-four hours yet it often means a longer period of time.[v] Even in the creation account, yom is used for a period of time summing up the entire creation week (Gen. 2:4). I really don’t think the purpose of the account was to quantify duration in hours. To do so is impose a modern empiricism on an ancient text.[vi] This account was written for us but not to us. It was written to ancient Hebrews with a pre-scientific worldview.

AGE OF UNIVERSE

I do not think dating creation from the bible is sound exegetically. A literal reading of the text does not specify any time duration for the formation of the universe. And even if it did, the attempt to derive dates prior to Abraham by adding up genealogies found in the book of Genesis is misguided. The tired old enigma, “Who was Cain’s wife?” ought to point out that Genesis was not intended to be a comprehensive chronology. Furthermore, the Hebrew verb for “fathered” often merely implies ancestry.[vii] Francis Schaeffer commented, “…we can say very clearly that the Bible does not invite us to use the genealogies in Scripture as a chronology.”[viii] Thus, scripture does not really support the young earth hypothesis. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports an old earth and I don’t see a compelling biblical basis to doubt it.[ix] There’s no need to reconcile Genesis to an old earth.  Actually, it is science that has had to reconcile itself to the biblical view.

Much to their chagrin, naturalistic scientists have concluded that time and space indeed had a beginning. According to Norman Geisler, “General Relativity supports what is one of the oldest formal arguments for the existence of a theistic God—the Cosmological Argument.”[x] It also infers and extremely old universe. Thus, I do not see any reason to argue against science on the age of the universe. God is not confined to our space time continuum.  In fact, the Bible tells us that “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Pt. 3:8). The Old Testament concurs, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Ps 90:4). The point is not that day is exactly a thousand years for God but that God is not temporal. God is not a simply a being with a lot of time on his hands. He transcends time in the manner that you transcend a two dimensional stick figure confined to a flat piece of paper. I think it is a category error to ask, “Why would God need billions of years?” God is outside of time altogether, it is an invalid projection of finite thinking on to an infinite God. He didn’t need 13.7 billion years or 6 days.

IS THEISTIC EVOLUTION POSSIBLE

This is somewhat of a loaded question because it depends on what is meant by “theistic evolution.” I completely reject the deistic version where God just seeded life and then pulled back. There is an important distinction between micro and macro evolution. Microevolution is the idea that creatures change over time and explains the wide varieties of breeds we observe. Macroevolution or Darwinism is the theory that all of life evolved from a single ancient ancestor purely by natural selection. According to Geisler and Turek, “Darwinists are masters at defining the term ‘evolution’ broadly enough so that evidence in one situation might be counted as evidence in another.”[xi] This creates a situation where it is extremely important to be precise in one’s use of terminology.

I think micro-evolution has occurred within certain genetic boundaries and God is actively involved in the world. I do take the bible seriously when it says God created things to reproduce “according to their own kinds” (Gen. 1:25). Due to this, I do not accept that all of life shares a common ancestor. Still, I find it compelling that the creation order matches what most scientists believe is the general order in which life evolved. That coupled with the evidence of the Cambrian explosion, where fossils for nearly all major phenotypes appeared suddenly in the geologic record, strongly supports creation over an extended period. However, I believe humans were uniquely created by God relatively recently on a geologic scale.

CONCLUSION

In this essay I have briefly expressed my personal beliefs concerning creation. As a new believer this was an area of primary concern. One of the primary reasons I did not take the bible seriously as a young adult was that I thought it was in error. The arguments of young earth creationists unfortunately only reinforced my skepticism. After serious study, I saw that nowhere did the bible claim the earth was only six thousand years old or any age at all for that matter.  I think it is a mistake to rest the credibility of scripture and thus the gospel upon a dubious scientific claim like a young earth that scripture does not actually make. The book of Genesis was written in an ancient near east context to people with a pre-scientific worldview. We should not impose our modern worldview on it.  It is important to pick one’s battles carefully. I believe Darwinism must be rejected but we must acknowledge that science has made great progress. For that reason, I think the most responsible and credible position is in line with the progressive creationism/intelligent design movement.


[i] Hugh Ross. “Deep Core Tests for the Age of the Earth.” Reasons to Believe. 07 01, 2005. http://www.reasons.org/deep-core-tests-age-earth (accessed 10 30, 2010).

[ii] John Sailhamer. Genesis Unbound. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1996, 38.

[iii]R. Laird Harris, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 826.

[iv]John H. Sailhamer, “Genesis” In , in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 23.

[v]R. Laird Harris, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 370.

[vi]John H Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament) Volume 1: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 10.

[vii]R. Laird Harris, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 378.

[viii]Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer : A Christian Worldview. (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996, c1982).

[ix]Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004), 206.

[x]Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 74.

[xi]Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 141.

[xii] Mark Driscoll. “Answers to Common Questions about Creation.” The Resurgence. 2010. http://theresurgence.com/2006/07/03/answers-to-common-questions-about-creation (accessed 10 30, 2010).

The Doctrine of Man: A Critique Of Christian Transhumanism

My research project for systematic theology class last term has been published on Raiders News Network, a bible prophecy/ science & technology news site. If you are not familiar with transhumanism the paper has an introduction that will catch you up to speed before it delves into the thornier theological issues. This issue might distrub you but truth is often stranger than fiction and we are living in very strange days… that are likely about to get stranger.

Here is the link: The Doctrine of Man: A Critique Of Christian Transhumanism

Ancient Astronaut Theory Meets 2012

The History Channel has really been pushing the envelope lately. They got the attention of this apologist. Accordingly,  I just guest posted a piece called “Ancient Astronaut Theory Meets 2012” over on Chris White’s 2012 Deception site.  Just click the link above to give it a read.

What is the Real Meaning of Christmas?

Christmas always brings nativity scenes when we come face to face with the baby Jesus. Have you ever stopped to think about what it must have meant for Jesus to incarnate as an infant?  Jesus had existed for eternity (Jn. 1:1), made all things and yet he condescended to become a man. For that reason I propose a different Christmas text than the usual account in Luke about the shepherds and the nativity. Let’s think about it from Christ’s perspective…

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ” (Philippians 2:5–11)

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There are at least five ways the Virgin Birth is a change in position and state:

  1. Change in dwelling place
  2. Change in his possessions
  3. Change in his glory
  4. Change in his position
  5. Change in his form

(1-4=temporary; 5=permanent)

Yes there is a Man sitting in heaven today and he is interceding on our behalf (Heb 7:25). I have heard it said that the only man made thing in heaven will be the scars on Christ’s body. As the ultimate act of love and humility, Christ temporarily gave up His glory in heaven, omniscience at times (Mk. 13:32), omnipresence, omnipotence (Jn. 5:19) for undeserving sinners like ourselves. That is what Christmas is really about.

I wish you and yours a very peaceful and pleasant celebration of God’s wonderful mercy!  Thank you for reading my work and supporting this website in 2010!

Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament by Christopher J.H. Wright

This is a review of the book Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, which is a scholarly examination of the Old Testament background which contextualizes Jesus and his mission. The author, Christopher J.H. Wright, is a biblical scholar having earned his Ph.D. from Cambridge in Old Testament ethics. He is an ordained Anglican and serves as International ministries director for All Souls Church in London, England. Wright is chiefly addressing the discontinuity between the two testaments in the minds of many modern Christians.  The book excels at placing Jesus in his proper Jewish context. In this way, the book succeeds to correct the westernized picture of Jesus prevalent in modern evangelicalism. However, detailed criticism will be offered in that Wright seems to follow the naturalistic trend of liberal biblical criticism. While Wright’s Hebrew Bible scholarship is stellar, his Christology is earthbound.

I was disappointed with this book. While it is masterfully written, what first promised to be a scholarly update detoured into postmodern Christology. Wright’s work is reflective of his presuppositions and methods. He seems to have naturalistic leanings. Biblical theology has been distinguished from systematic theology in that the biblical data is studied critically as an historical discipline, whereas systematic theology is more philosophical.[1] Wright’s work reveals a chasm between liberal biblical theology and orthodox systematic theology. Wright’s book simply does not logically cohere with the essential doctrine of Christ’s divinity. This criticism will be thoroughly documented through multiple lines of evidence from Wright’s book.

The New Testament unabashedly leads one to the conclusion that Jesus is God.  Wright’s Old Testament biblical theology methodology masks that inference. For instance, there is no comparison between the exalted Jesus that emerges from John Walvoord’s examination of Jesus in the Old Testament found in Jesus Christ Our Lord and the Jesus presented by Wright. Conspicuously absent from Wright’s work is any discussion of Christ’s eternity past or the incarnation. For example, in Micah’s prophecy about his birth in Bethlehem it is said, “…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Mic 5:2). This infers Christ’s eternality. Wright does not go there. Another example, James Montgomery Boice argues that the atonement was Jesus’ main mission and that “the death of Jesus is the theme of the Old Testament…”[2] Wright is not as decisive. Furthermore, Wright never mentions theophanies, the appearances of Christ in the Old Testament before the incarnation. According to Walvoord, “It is the teaching of Scripture that the Angel of Jehovah is specifically the second Person of the Trinity.”[3] It follows that when Jesus said “before Abraham was I AM” (Jn. 8:58) the Pharisees understood it as that claim. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if Wright does. There is a vast difference between the Christology coming from a theologian like Walvoord or Boice and a biblical scholar like Wright. Even more disappointing, the tone of Wright’s work implies such a high Christology is fanciful and unnecessary. After all, who would complain if he received a car when he was only promised a horse?

Wright’s analogy about the son that expected a horse yet received a car has limited merit. It might be useful for addressing traditional Jewish objections that Jesus didn’t meet their expectations. However, I would qualify that as, “he hasn’t yet met their expectations.” Wright seems to discount any precision at all in prophecy. Examples of prophetic precision include the exact seventy year exile (Jer. 25:11), Cyrus explicitly named 100 years in advance (Isa. 44:28), the fall of Tyre (Eze. 26) and Isaiah fifty-three’s remarkably prescient description of Jesus. Consider that a car would indeed be a disappointment if you were a jockey entering a horse race. Thus, it is more likely that when God promises a horse he will indeed deliver a horse. Most of the problems seem to stem from our expectations of sequence and timing. God is not bound by time. In the case of Jesus, it is a case of now and also not yet. I still expect very literal fulfillments of Old Testament prophecy in the millennial kingdom. While two advents are not revealed in the Hebrew Bible, there is ample reason to expect Jesus will fulfill the details the Jews are still waiting for. Unfortunately, I do not get the impression that Wright thinks so.

His discussion of typology is somewhat sobering in respect to traditional dispensational scholarship. Perhaps there has been overindulgence. However, I am critical of Wright’s treatment. Arthur W. Pink is famous for his typology of the Tabernacle. After listing a multitude of ways the tabernacle was a type of Christ, Pink remarks, “Thus we see how fully and how perfectly the tabernacle of old foreshadowed the Person of our blessed Lord.”[4] I am fairly certain Wright had Pink in mind with his criticism. Wright makes typology seem like only a human conceived analogy. In contrast, like Pink, I believe God orchestrated history as an intentional pointer to Christ. The Passover lamb, Abraham’s offering of Isaac and the sacrificial system are much more than backward looking analogies. They were planned. He is over compensating and rationalizing away the wonder of it. His criticisms are somewhat valid, we do need to understand the original context, yet it doesn’t mean the typological interpretative scheme is completely wrong, only that perhaps some have overindulged it. I agree it is not the way, as in the only way to interpret the Old Testament, but I really don’t think it is used so exclusively, even by those deemed fanciful.

Not wishing to appear fanciful, Wright often hedges. For instance, first he says most scholars are agreed that “Son of Man” was not a Messianic title. Then he works his way through three categories of “Son of Man” sayings. The idea is that these categories represent how Jesus defined himself. While it is true that “son of man” can be used a human title, Jesus referred to himself as “the Son of Man” as in a reference to Daniel 7:13. Wright celebrates this possibility with enough pomp to almost seem like worship. But it’s not a speculative matter. In fact, Jesus makes the connection for us at his trial. He claims that they will see him coming on the clouds (Mat 26:63), just like the Son of Man in Daniel seven. And it is not the first time he claimed it (Mat 24:30). Wright gives tacit acknowledgment to these eschatological passages yet does not fully allow for what they imply. For instance, the third category is that Jesus will “sometimes act as a judge on God’s behalf.”[5] One wonders, does this mean Jesus is merely God’s agent?  It reeks of Arianism. Jesus is God, the second person of the trinity, but this book seems embarrassed to come out and say it.

Another egregious error is that Wright characterizes Jesus as a mere human being sorting out his own identity by reading the Hebrew Bible. The book is burdened with examples. For example, he writes:

The Old Testament provided the models, pictures and patterns by which Jesus understood his own essential identity and especially gave depth and colour to his primary self-awareness as the Son of his Father God.[6]

To the uncritical reader the ending might sound like a high Christology but I just do not believe Jesus needed assistance in his self-awareness. Jesus was not a normal man merely using the Hebrew bible to figure it out as he went along. Yet, Wright uses phrases like Jesus “drew on another figure from his Hebrew bible and that was the Servant of the Lord.”[7] This reads like Jesus is just acting out what he read. Also, Wright can’t seem to make up his mind. For instance, he first states, “Jesus here claims to be the one that Isaiah 53 was written about”[8] and then one page later hedges saying there are only “good grounds to believe Jesus saw himself are the servant figure…”[9] From this sort of tentative language, one wonders if maybe Jesus only saw himself that way. After all, people like the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and David Koresh also see themselves that way. He continues this line claiming,

In order to get the full value of this insight into the mind of Jesus, however, we must do the same as we did for the other figures that Jesus found in his Hebrew scriptures and applied to himself – especially the Son of God.[10]

Apparently, Jesus simply “found and applied”. This mischaracterization is ubiquitous. Again in chapter five, Wright discusses how Jesus was “molded and formed in his values” by the Hebrew Scriptures. This is just astounding. I hope that he might consider that Jesus did not merely find ideas in his Hebrew scriptures and apply them to himself. Perhaps the author might consider the fanciful notion that they were written specifically about Jesus and that Jesus was even present when the prophets wrote them. Indeed, if Jesus created all things and pre-existed the entire universe in perfect triune fellowship, then Wright’s “figuring it out as he goes along” Jesus just seems absurd. Jesus might ask Wright, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mat.16:15)

His contrast of the servant of the Lord as an individual with the nation is quite good.  Especially in light of the rabbinic attempt to explain it away by reinterpreting the Servant as the nation post AD 70. Wright describes how the nation failed in their role and that Christ shoulders the role of the servant. Strangely, Wright now sees that role in the church. He lists four points where his biblical insights impact modern Christians: (1) the continuity of the mission from ancient Israel to today; (2) Wright points out that Paul exhorted “to the Jew first” and it was very encouraging that he does not endorse supersessionism; (3) our mission in servant-hood as exemplified by Jesus’ washing the disciple’s feet and (4) the completion of the mission in its wholeness.[11] On this final point Wright loses coherence. He writes of Jesus,

Yet it is clear that in his own lifetime he did not complete the task entrusted to the Servant of bringing the law and justice of God to the nations. Is it not then surely the case that these are aspects of the mission which he has entrusted to his servant church, those, being ‘in Christ’ are commanded to carry forward ‘all that he began to do and teach’?[12]

This is blatant eisegesis albeit creative. Actually that reference is to Acts 1:1 and it is merely Luke telling his reader that he recorded “all that he began to do and teach.” Our mission is to, “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mt 28:19). Furthermore, Jesus promised to return to complete His mission (Matt. 24:30, Rev. 3:11, 22:7, 22:12, 22:20). While dominionists also promote Wright’s idea, they seem rather odd eschatological company for an Anglican biblical scholar.

This review offered a critical analysis of Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. The value of Wright’s work is that it succeeds at promoting the proper historic Jewish context for Jesus’ life and work. However, strong criticism was offered that the author’s methods and presuppositions lack coherence with orthodox Christology. That criticism was thoroughly evidenced from Wright’s work and compared to classic texts by respected theologians. Maybe Wright is too concerned with what other scholars think? In the end, it seems that this book promotes knowing a different Jesus than the eternal omniscient Lord in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9).


[1]C.H. Bullock “Old Testament Theology,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology: Second Edition, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 861.

[2]James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith : A Comprehensive & Readable Theology (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 288.

[3]John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Galaxie Software, 2008; 2008), 44.

[4]Arthur Walkington Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John (Swengel, Pa.: Bible truth depot, 1923-45), 37.

[5] Wright.Knowing.150.

[6] Wright. Knowing. 135.

[7] Wright. Knowing. 154.

[8] Wright. Knowing. 155.

[9] Wright. Knowing. 156.

[10] Wright. Knowing. 157.

[11] Wright. Knowing. 174-180.

[12] Wright. Knowing. 180.