The Presbyterian & Reformed on Creation: Slouching toward Evolution

I am neither Presbyterian nor Reformed, but I continue to gain much and have much of my thinking shaped by those who are. But there is a current of thinking swelling up that I hope to fall into. Certain people with a platform continue to dismiss the historical reliability of Genesis 1-11. They continue to question the Church’s traditional, literal, young-earth, interpretation. As this post links too, William B. Evans is another who has laid his cards on the table. Men like Evans make intellectual appeal to science and ancient literature and tell us that our interpretation must take these things into account.

Carlton Wynne eviscerates such thinking:

The need of the hour, it seems to me, whether we are discussing the relative merits of competing creation views, confessional subscription and interpretation, or any other related issue, is to state as clearly and as boldly as we can that the authoritative nexus of meaning–the divinely sanctioned access point for the meaning of a biblical text–lies within the canon of Scripture itself and not in reference to anything extra-biblical, especially apparent similarities with ANE literature. This is an indispensable corollary to Scripture’s authority and sufficiency that we lose to our epistemological and hermeneutical peril. On a related note, however informative ANE literature may be for studying isolated texts, we cannot allow it to norm our reading of Scripture nor determine what Scripture, as a whole, is. The book of Hebrews alone, with the scant authorial and extra-biblical contextual evidence available to us today, ought to check our dependence on background studies for interpreting the Scriptures and lead us to read it, and every other biblical text, ultimately in light of its canonical perspective and place in the unfolding organism of special revelation.

The denial of the plain meaning of Genesis 1-11, the denial of the Church’s historical understanding of Genesis 1-11, is a denial of sola Scriptura. I am not sure how Wickipedia can understand sola Scriptura- “Sola scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God, is the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all—that is, it is perspicuous and self-interpreting“- and men like Meredith Kline, Bruce Waltke, Tremper Longman, and William B. Evans cannot. Is the Bible able to stand on its own? Can the Bible offer its own authoritative interpretation? That is the question here.

Evans and his cohorts say Moses was only using faulty ancient tradition. Evans and his cohorts say the Westminster divines were relying on faulty science. I heard the exact same thing in 2009 when I was involved in a reading group of Calvin’s Institutes: passages in which Calvin clearly demonstrated a belief in a young-earth, 6-day creation, were acknowledged with the comment that Calvin was only depending on the science of his day. Apparently Moses was proficient enough to write Scripture, but not truth. Apparently Calvin was discerning enough to see errors in Rome, but not the “science of his day.” The Westminster Assembly was able enough to set creedal standards that guided a denomination for 350 years, but not able to know what they were really talking about.

So the problem with Moses, Calvin, the Westminster Assembly et al. was that they all were held captive to the thinking of their day. None of them were able to penetrate the fog of their own age’s ignorance. They were all slaves to the thought of their contemporaries. Am I the only one on whom this irony is not lost? Evans charges the ancients with communal ignorance as he embraces the wisdom of this world.

Zeitgeist is not all it is cracked up to be.

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A.W. Tozer on Moses, Creation, and Men who Know Too Much

I have leafed through a book entitled Earth’s Earliest Ages. I will not say that I have actually read it because I quickly concluded that the author seems to believe he knows more about the antediluvian period [the period of earth’s history before the flood in Noah’s day] than Moses did. When I discover a man who claims to know more than Moses on a subject in which Moses is a specialist, I shy away from his book. (A. W. Tozer, Christ the Eternal Son, p. 18)

One thing I have enjoyed about reading through Herman Bavinck’s reformed Dogmatics is his understated way of completely eviscerating views he disagrees with. Such grace in dealing with opponents is rare. Tozer demonstrates the same quality here.

Many called Tozer a 20th century prophet: thankfully he never claimed the title for himself. Nevertheless, Tozer saw things as they really were and was long ago foretelling the demise of the evangelical church. Here again he demonstrates a clear vision of the core issues.

How did Moses know about the Creation, Flood, and world before Abraham? There is a chance that he received this information traditionally: handed down orally or in written form. Given that nearly every ancient culture has similar accounts of these events, this is possible. But given their variety, I find it unlikely. I am of the opinion that Moses received such information directly from the Spirit of the Lord. However Moses received the information, God set his seal upon it by making it Scripture. Whether the Spirit guided Moses is “selecting” the truth from the oral or written sources he had; or whether the Spirit revealed it to Moses directly; Genesis 1-11 is God’s Word given to God’s prophet.

When someone, anyone, challenges the veracity of Genesis 1-11 he makes bold claims. He claims that Moses got it wrong. And since Moses acted as God’s prophet, he claims God got it wrong. When a man makes such claims we are quite justified in ignoring him. He is a three year old claiming to be Superman.

The Blessing of Being God’s Chosen People: Deuteronomy 4 & Hebrews 11

For the past six months I have been using Grant Horner’s Bible reading program which has one reading a single chapter in 10 different portions of Scripture.* (It is explained in more detail here.) Reading the Bible at ten different places in one sitting often brings out connections between texts that might have otherwise been missed. Today was a case in point.

Reading number 2 was Deuteronomy 4. As Moses winds down retelling the history of the nation of Israel his heart overflows with gratitude:

For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. (Deut. 4:32-39)

Israel was blessed like no other nation before or since. No other nation was freed from slavery by God’s mighty power. No other nation received its law directly from the Lord of all Righteousness. No other nation was ever promised continual existence by the One who has determined the boundaries of all nations. No other nation has been blessed like Israel.

Reading number 3 was Hebrews 11. After spending some time meditating on the blessing of Israel, I read in that chapter:

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Heb. 11:39-40)

O Christian, do not think lightly of the Lord’s blessing. While no other nation has been blessed like Israel, no other people have been blessed like the Church. It is to us that the end of the ages has come. To Israel were the promises, but to us is the fulfillment. Let your heart swell with wonder and awe at the great accounts of redemption in the Old Testament. Then let your heart overflow in praise in the knowledge that the church has received even greater blessings.

God saved Israel by the might of his power. God saved the church by the death of his Son. God gave the law to Israel by his finger on stone. God gave his law to the church by his Spirit in the heart. God gave Israel an inheritance by driving out their enemies. God gave the church an inheritance by casting out their sin.

Moses spoke well. Christ better.

Thanks be to God!

*I have modified Horner’s schedule a little bit. By his schedule, in 250 days one would read through all the OT prophetic books once and Job-Song of Solomon 4 times. I think that is little imbalanced so I am including the Minor Prophets in the Job-Song of Solomon section.