Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A dangerous compromise

In August the general presbytery of the Assemblies of God backed away from a commitment to uphold the Scriptural teaching of a recent six-day creation by issuing a wavering statement that reveals the denomination has made a dangerous compromise with the spirit of the age.
The advance of scientific research, particularly in the last few centuries, has raised many questions about the interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation. In attempting to reconcile the Bible and the theories and conclusions of contemporary scientists, it should be remembered that the creation accounts do not give precise details as to how God went about His creative activity.
The "lack of precise details" is no reason to reject what is clearly revealed. We should not be dogmatically more precise than the creation accounts themselves (Gen. 1-2), but we most certainly shouldn't be less precise either. This is true of other portions of Scripture as well.

Shall we say that because Scripture does not give us precise details as to how Jesus healed the paralytic (Matt. 9:1-8), we are therefore free to suppose it did not happen immediately (as a plain reading of the text implies), but over a period of weeks or months or even years?

Just so, if Scripture says that God created all things in six days, then--in the absence of clues within the text itself which suggest the passage is to be taken otherwise than literally--we ought to heartily affirm the same.
Nor do these accounts provide us with complete chronologies that enable us to date with precision the time of the various stages of creation.
How do we know they are not complete? And what is meant by "the various stages of creation"? Are they assuming progressive creation over millions of years? The creation accounts are written in the style of historical narrative. They are clearly intended to be taken as descriptive of actual history, not as allegory, myth, or legend. The only sense in which it is appropriate to speak of "stages of creation" is with reference to the six days, which are not symbolic of long ages, but were literal 24 hour days, which is evident by the repetition of the phrase "and there was evening and there was morning, the first (second, third, etc.) day."

[E]qually devout Christian believers have formed very different opinions about the age of the earth, the age of humankind, and the ways in which God went about the creative processes.
True, devout Christians have formed very different opinions about these (and many other) things. But a Christian may be devout, and yet not think clearly, or handle the Scriptures accurately. This is no excuse not to uphold what Scripture clearly teaches.
Given the limited information available in Scripture, it does not seem wise to be overly dogmatic about any particular creation theory.
But if God has revealed the fact that he created all things "in the space of six days", is it really only a theory? And is it being "overly dogmatic" to insist upon it?
Whatever creation theory we individually may prefer, we must affirm that the entire creation has been brought into being by the design and activity of the Triune God. Moreover, we also affirm that the New Testament treats the creation and fall of Adam and Eve as historical events in which the Creator is especially involved. We urge all sincere and conscientious believers to adhere to what the Bible plainly teaches and to avoid divisiveness over debatable theories of creation.
This is just the point, isn't it? The Bible plainly teaches a recent six-day creation. It is not those who insist on it who are being divisive, it is those who are offering substitutes for it. Jude tells us to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). To do this is not divisiveness but faithfulness.

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