Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Coming to Grips With Genesis

Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth

A non-review review

A book I picked up over Christmas was a new publication through Answers in Genesis called, Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth.

I added it to my reading repertoire this last week, and although I have just finished the first three chapters, the material contained in it is so thoroughly enjoyable, and in my mind relevant for the Christian Church, I wanted to plug it as a must get for apologetic purposes.

The book is a collection of essays in honor of Dr. John Whitcomb who co-authored one of the pioneering books addressing biblical creationism, The Genesis Flood, with the late Henry Morris. The primary focus of the book is to establish Genesis as a literal historical record of God creating, and more importantly, WHEN He created. The age of the earth and 'deep time,' as it is described, is the main focus in this book and the discussions within the essays explain why not only is a young earth position the correct one to defend as a believer, but also why the time of creation is of such apologetic importance. In the prologue, the two editors, Terry Mortenson and Thane Ury, speak to the necessity of properly defending Genesis as an apologetic foundation in the debate against secular evolutionists. They write,

A number of leading evangelical authors have quite appropriately urged Christians to fortify the philosophical foundations undergirding their Christian worldview. Yet many of these same writers seldom address the age of the earth. ... Other theologians and apologists contend that the age of the earth is a non-issue, with the usual claim being that it is too divisive (the implied charge is that young-earthers are the polemical culprits), or that it is an impediment to those considering the truth claims of Christianity. ... A more serious accusation against young-earth creationists is that we are in some manner denying reality. ... Creationists are saying that a firm commitment to an infallible and inerrant Bible should be just that; firm, and not tossed to and fro by the latest in a long series of ever-evolving edicts from scientism. (pp. 15, 16, 17).

The contents include,

Two forewords: one by the late Henry Morris and the other by John MacArthur,

1) The Church Fathers on Genesis, the Flood, and the Age of the Earth - James R. Mook

2) A Brief Overview of the Exegesis of Genesis 1-11: Luther to Lyell - David W. Hall

3) "Deep Time" and the Church's Compromise: Historical Background - Terry Mortenson

4) Is Nature the 67th Book of the Bible - Richard L. Mayhue (An excellent critique of Hugh Ross's view of natural theology and his progressive creationist apologetics. Dr. Mayhue teaches at the Master's Seminary).

5) Contemporary Hermeneutical Approaches to Genesis 1-11 - Todd S. Beall

6) The Genre of Genesis 1:1-2:3: What Means This Text? - Steven W. Boyd (Dr. Boyd teaches Hebrew at Master's College and his material on the genre of the first 11 chapters of Genesis is powerful. For years, I have been a gadfly pestering him after I would hear him lecture to get some of his stuff in print. He has published in more academic publications, but here it is available in a readable layperson format).

7) Can Deep Time Be Embedded in Genesis? - Trevor Craigen (He teaches theology at Master's Seminary. I took a cosmology class from him).

8) A Critique of the Framework Interpretation of the Creation Week - Robert V. McCabe

9) Noah's Flood and Its Geological Implications - William D. Barrick (Dr. Barrick teaches Hebrew at Master's Seminary).

10) Do the Genesis 5 and 11 Genealogies Contain Gaps? - Travis Freeman

11) Jesus' View of the Age of the Earth - Terry Mortenson

12) Apostolic Witness to the Genesis Creation of the Flood - Ron Minton

13) Whence Cometh Death? A Biblical Theology of Physical Death and Natural Evil - James Stambaugh

14) Luther, Calvin, and Wesley on the Genesis of Natural Evil: Recovering Lost Rubrics for Defending a Very Good Creation - Thane H. Ury

The appendices include a biographical sketch of the life of Dr. Whitcomb, a section listing affirmations and denials essential for a consistent Christian and biblical worldview, and then a listing of recommend resources. Altogether the book is nearly 500 pages worth of excellent reading material. Some folks my find it daunting, and the essays are probably more "academic" than what one will find in a popular, "top ten" best seller sold at your typical retail Christian book store. However, the effort put into plowing through this book will produce much more lasting value for the believer.

Earlier this week, a co-worker and I were discussing what we thought were some of the major issues facing the Christian Church as a whole in the U.S. For example, both of us considered the recent assault of biblical family values by homosexual activists as just a precursor to future secular persecution limiting free speech and the freedom to proclaim homosexual behavior a sin. But, a good portion of our discussion was how we both saw the need to have a consistent, biblical based worldview when defending origins against a hostile, anti-theistic Darwinism which dogmatically advocates a total replacement of creation and desires to censor any opposition to their beliefs.

The Christian Church lacks desperately in this area of apologetics. We can certainly spread blame for this retardation among Christians, but the primary reason is that believers have abandoned the authority of a biblical Genesis to shape the foundation for their Christian apologetic. Instead, they have compromised with perceived "truth" claims of men who desire to define their reality without God. This book will be a much needed remedy for the diseased thinking of Christians in this fundamentally important area.

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Blogger Craig B said...

Hey Fred -

Ever read "Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution"?


I haven't read it myself, but I've been wanting to - the title alone sounds intriguing.


9:45 AM, January 10, 2009  
Blogger bob said...

The facts of evolutionary biology are the strongest facts of science. Evolution has been tested for 150 years and it has passed every test. Newer evidence from molecular biology and genetics is powerful and undeniable.

In every conflict between religion and science, science has always won. The evolution deniers will never stop fighting scientific progress, but they are just wasting their time.

10:01 PM, January 10, 2009  
Blogger Mike-e said...

Fred, i'm going to have to pick this one up! Though i'm very interested in the "scientific" issues pertaining to this debate, i'm more interested in establishing a solid, biblical worldview. And I think that this is one of the aims of the books, since people like me will probably never the expert i'd like to be when it comes to biology, geology, etc.

To Rob, above: no creationist worth his salt would deny any fact of science. Its the evolutionist's interpretations on the facts that we disagree with. Its all about your starting premise and the "lens" through which you view the evidence.

5:47 AM, January 12, 2009  
Blogger MSC said...

This looks excellent. I am a TMS grad and can vouch for the the several TMS profs writing here. I believe Dr. Barrick is one of the great Evangelical Hebrew scholars today. When you get past his remarkable humility you become shocked at his sheer brilliance. His lectures on Gen. 1-11 are worth finding. I too took Craigen's course on Cosmology. That class prompted me to consider doing a ThM dissertation on starlight and time from an exegetical-theological perspective. The Lord directed me elsewhere.

Bob, I would encourage you to do some more reading in the area of science and Christianity. I believe you will see that your statements are a bit naive and uninformed. See for example, Pearcey and Thaxton's "The Soul of Science." To demonstrate that Evolutionary biology is far from one of the strongest facts of science you simply need to read Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." Theoretical science (of which Evolution is apart) is ever-changing with the winds of time.

Science is far more attached to deep underlying presuppositions than most can even begin to understand. There is no such thing as a raw uninterpeted fact, especially in science. Science rests upon profound philosophical considerations that are often implicitly assumed but for reasons scientists are often unable to articulate because they are not self-consciously aware of those assumptions. As such they color the way data, theories and propositions are viewed and constructed. They determine what is looked for and what isn't. They frame the whole way the universe is looked at with little or no reflection about the truth of the matter.

11:03 AM, January 12, 2009  
Blogger Rick Brentlinger said...


I ordered this book based on your recommendation.

I'm looking forward to reading it. I agree with you - we need to emphasize the absolute veracity of the Biblical account of creation.

Too many modern christians, I'm sad to say, have embraced the documentary hypothesis and rejected the historicity of Genesis and Biblical Creation.

Rick Brentlinger

9:14 PM, January 12, 2009  
Blogger DJP said...

Bob, is your parody intentional, or unintentional?

6:45 AM, January 14, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the heads up on this book. I'll almost certainly pick it up. I'm especially interested in the first two chapters.

1) The Church Fathers on Genesis, the Flood, and the Age of the Earth - James R. Mook

2) A Brief Overview of the Exegesis of Genesis 1-11: Luther to Lyell - David W. Hall

I've recently seen claims that today's creationism is a result of 7th Day Adventism with no real roots in Reformed history.

8:13 AM, January 14, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

A three things about that SDA claim as the source of biblical creationism. First, I think the main proponents who have argued this "real roots" stuff have been Unitarians and other unorthodox authors. Reformed guys who wish to maintain a Klinian-framework view have latched on to the claim for their own purposes. If I recall, Terry Mortenson wrote an article debunking the claim, or it is in one of his publications somewhere.

Secondly, just because there were some SDA authors who wrote on the subject of creationism does not automatically imply influence upon men like Whitcomb and Morris. The assumption is that no one ever thought of Genesis as an historical narrative which spoke to when God created UNTIL an SDA author wrote on it. That notion is absurd as those chapters point out.

And then third, Evolution, with its necessary view of millions of years, was not the focal point of the debate before the late 19th century, so the subject wasn't a major issue of discussion. There were pagan philosophies which spoke about a timeless earth or an eternal earth, to which Augustine and other early Christians responded, and though Augustine had more of an allegorical approach to Genesis he did affirm a fixed point of creation (no eternal matter) and believed the world was just around 6 thousand years old.

5:54 AM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP: "Bob, is your parody intentional, or unintentional?"

I love the way DJP asks questions in a pastorally-sensitive and irenic manner.

He models it for all of us.


9:27 AM, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Roy Clemmons said...

What about the objection the phrase "there was evening, and there was morning" can not mean a 24 hour time period since the sun is not created until the 4th day? One can't merely state the earth's rotation is independent of the sun since the earth's orbit around the sun is also a factor in the 24 hour time period. See:


10:55 AM, February 22, 2010  

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