Six Day Creation Conference
SIX DAY CREATION CONFERENCE
EVOLUTION HAS EXPLANATORY STORIES BUT DESTROYS THE CAPACITY TO EXPLAIN ANYTHING
‘In the beginning the Word of God was formidable and void of error. Then Sci-Man said, “Let the book of Genesis be an inspiring story of the creative power of the universe over billions of years. “And there was grieving, and there was mourning, the first nay. Then Sci-Man said, “Let ancient notions of sin and righteousness yield to enlightened understandings of the nature of good and evil” And there was grieving, and there was mourning, the second nay. Then Sci-Man said, “Let the incarnation and resurrection of the Christ be a charming myth about an ambivalent character of questionable origin. And there was grieving, and there was mourning, the third nay. Then Paul said, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”
‘The Word of God stands or falls as a unified whole. It is impossible to distort the plain meaning of Scripture in one place without compromising the integrity of the whole. It is also not without special significance when such distortions occur at the very foundation of all God’s revelation to His people, the Book of Genesis.’
The preceding was taken from the brochure which introduced the sixth “Annual Northwest Conference on Reformation and Revival.” The Eastside Evangelical Fellowship of Redmond, Washington, member of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals, sponsored this event.
The conference began October 20 at 8:15 a.m. with Psalm singing and continued until 5:00 p.m. with six speeches and two question and answer periods. The organizers estimate attendance was about 290.
The speakers were Douglas Wilson and James Jordan. Douglas Wilson is the
pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. He is the editor of
Credenda/Agenda, has taught various classes at Logos School, and is a fellow of philosophy at New St. Andrews College where he teaches theology, rhetoric, and other electives. He is the author of several books and should be well known from his many articles.
James Jordan is founder and director of Biblical Horizons, a Christian research and publishing institute located in Niceville, Florida. Jordan is the author of several books including “Creation in Six Days”, and several books of Bible exposition.
Here is a little flavor from the speeches and then a brief reflection.
BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICS AND GENESIS – Douglas Wilson
“Words do not have decimal places,” argued Wilson. Language and the study of words are not an exact science. Scientism’s approach to the Bible will never defeat scientism’s approach to the world. What is “scientism”? It approaches a subject like cats or electrons in an analytical fashion, neatly fitting all knowledge into carefully defined categories. The quest for scientific respectability kills theology and apologetics.
Hermeneutics is the way you understand words. The nature of words, he said, presupposes a speaker, a message, and a recipient. In this context the speaker is God, the message is the Bible, and the recipient is man. God created man with the hermeneutical tools to understand – ears and the linguistic structure of the human mind. The problem lies with man, who, as Romans 1 tells us, understands the truth well enough, but suppresses it.
Wilson devoted some time to explain that the Bible should be read typologically, demonstrating that this is the way Christ and Paul read it. “All the Scriptures speak of me,” said Christ to the Pharisees, those ancient followers of scientism.
Typologically doesn’t mean allegorically, for it does not suppose the unreality of the original text. Rather, read typologically, historical events have a larger significance than their immediate impact – Israel was baptized in the Red Sea and Israel drank water from the Rock which was Christ (1 Cor. 10). Wilson concluded his first speech by giving some general principles to control our hermeneutics.
FRAMEWORK THEORIES: WHAT THEY ARE AND WHY THEY’RE WRONG – James Jordan
Jordan’s first lecture addressed the Framework theory and opened by questioning Framework’s assertion that non-literal interpretations of Genesis 1 have some support in the early church. Explaining that Augustine did waffle on six-day creation and opted for instantaneous creation, Jordan showed the cause of Augustine’s error.
He pointed out that literal six-day creation was the consensus of the Church and was never questioned until modern science came along,. One of the many weaknesses of alternative views is that they are so far from obvious. that ‘they strongly disagree among themselves
The Framework theory is the main alternative among Reformed churches, Jordan explained. It views Genesis 1 as non-literal and non sequential. One of its main arguments says that a careful examination of the literary structure of Genesis 1 shows it to be non-literal. “When,” said Jordan, “does literary structure empty historical reality? Because ‘In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue’ is in poetic form, is its historical accuracy questionable?”
Jordan reviewed and answered some of the seeming problems with the literal understanding of Genesis 1. What kinds of days were before the fourth day? God defined the meaning and length of day on the first day, and then set up the sun on the fourth day to fit that first day.
GNOSTICISM: HOW THIS AFFECTS OUR THINKING ABOUT CREATION -James Jordan
Jordan’s second talk was on Gnosticism and why it is easy for Christians to believe in non-historical views. Gnosticism is an ancient heresy that replaces facts with ideas. (“It’s not so important,” said my college Bible professor, “whether God created everything in six days. Genesis 1 just wants to give you the idea that God created everything.” -dvd) Jordan said that the prevalent notion among many Christians to spiritualize everything is a ‘false one, a Gnostic idea. ‘Spiritual’ does not mean immaterial or non-physical, but energized and directed by the Holy Spirit.
Another Gnostic tendency is to eternalize time, yet God gives chronologies a prominent place in the Scriptures. A chronology lists events in their historical sequence. God’s work in our history builds one action upon another.
God progresses in His plan; He unfolds one development upon another. Any distortion of chronology distorts our understanding of both the plan and character of God. Attacks on the chronology of Genesis will always warp our perception of the further working out of God’s ways in history. Gnosticism reduces Biblical history to a series of concepts and moral tales rather than steps in God’s program.
AN ASSAULT ON EVOLUTION – Douglas Wilson
Introducing the subject Wilson outlined the overlap of disciplines to show how he as a pastor could comment on science. To illustrate this he said that if he ordered two eggs over easy and got three eggs scrambled he would complain to the cook. Although the cook might counter with the claim that cooking was his field of expertise, Wilson would point out that one needn’t be a cook to know the difference between two and three.
There is, however, pseudo overlapping of disciplines. When the second baseman for the Yankees urges you to buy Michelin tires, there is no reason to believe he knows anything about tires.
Evolutionary science, he said, cannot answer ultimate questions -Where do I come from? Why am I here? Evolution has explanatory stories but destroys the capacity to explain anything.
Wilson developed this theme by examining evolution’s ability to define or explain the ancient triad of ‘the true, the good, and the beautiful. Evolutionary thinking is self-destructive. If my thoughts evolved from time and chance, then I have no reason to believe my thoughts are true, and if my thoughts aren’t true then evolution, which is my thought, is not true.
After battering evolution with heavy artillery, Wilson handed us a few rocks we could heave through their windows and make them jump. When Carl Sagan says that the universe is all that there is or ever was, he’s not speaking as an astronomer. He’s speaking as an astronomer. He’s speaking as second baseman for the Yankees.
Jordan’s final offering gave us insights into the limitations of science. Natural revelation, say some, clearly reveals the facts of the universe, for the Bible tells us that. However, natural revelation, according to Romans 1 and Psalm 19, clearly reveals the truth about God, not about nature. Nowhere does the Bible say that nature is clear and easy to understand.
We may distinguish two main areas of science. First, by science we may mean the techniques and observations we use to deal with present realities. Second, we may view that science consists of theories, constructs, and models that seem to explain certain data.
Science can deal with what it sees, not with what it cannot see, and what it cannot see is history. The past is hard to understand, the future is unknown, so scientific models and procedures are limited to the present.
Finally, Jordan commented on the nature of truth. Jesus spoke the truth in parables to confuse unbelievers and to be clear to believers. The Holy Spirit works to muddy the minds of the wicked and clarify the understanding of the righteous. This is not only true in special revelation but also in natural revelation. God makes reality confusing to unbelievers.
Consider the distance of the stars. How far away are they? Where is the edge of the universe? God has created so many mysteries black holes, anti-matter. Ponder the human mind. When science has it all mapped out and explained it as a series of electrochemical impulses, somebody laughs and asks him to explain Beethoven’s Fifth.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? – Douglas Wilson
In Wilson’s final lecture he dug into the philosophic roots of evolution and modern man’s dilemma. Man swings from Heraclitus’ world of flux, change, the many, chance, and irrationalism as the ultimate, to Parmenides’ world of monism, all is one, fate, and rationalism as the ultimate. For the Christian the threeness of God and the oneness of God are equally ultimate. We confess in the forever blessed Three-in-One. Christianity is worshipping the three-in-one God, solves forever the problem of the one versus the many.
For all faiths except the Christian, matter is ultimate, eternal. For the Christian, God alone is eternal, who was before the beginning, who was when there was nothing, who, from nothing made all things by His Word.
If matter is eternal God is caught up with us in the universe. This thinking made its way into liberal churches as Process Theology and is creeping into the evangelical world today as Openness Theology.
But God is God-before all things, by whom all things consist. All things are dependent for both origin and continued existence upon God. Before God all men are either covenant-keepers or covenant-breakers.
That finishes this journalistic part. Journalism is a holy calling and its tools are paper, ink, electronics, and truth. I’m concerned that my reporting has been accurate. You can check it out by sending for the tapes
– $180 to Eastside Evangelical Fellowship, P.O. Box 1158, Woodinville, WA 98072-1158.
Now for a commentary. Since Jordan contended more directly with the Framework theory, his barbs scratched his audience a little deeper than Wilson’s. That’s natural since the Framework adherents are fellow Christians and are our brothers. The evolutionists as objects of Wilson’s scathing logic are rank unbelievers and merit little mercy.
Observing Wilson over the last years one can notice him broadening his charity and focusing his theology. Jordan, whose sphere of operation is perhaps less directly connected to the church than Wilson’s, shows some signs of eccentricity in Biblical interpretation. I realize this is a generality, but when I hear odd Biblical schemes I could wish to see evidence of broad historical church consensus. Perhaps there is and I’m ignorant.
But surely the focus of this Conference calls for the Framework advocates to recognize that theirs is the novelty, and a very serious one indeed. I tend to think it is more serious than whether one is post-mil or a-mil, whether one holds to professing communicants or paedo-communion, evidentialism or presuppositionalism. An ordinary believer might find a discussion of the merits of post-mil over a-mil a little over his head. But I’ve never met a six-year old yet who had trouble knowing how long it took God to make everything.
Ii is surely admitted by all and established by sound historical research that literal six-day creation is the historical consensus of the Church. If it is, we’ll understand that since the Church was free from serious attack on the doctrine of creation until the 19th century; until then she had no need to articulate it in confession. What’s her excuse now? What restrains churches from many denominations from getting together, making common cause and confessing this, vital and joyful doctrine of creation?
One more reflection – another ecumenical plea. When I used to attend Christian Reconstruction Conferences in Seattle, someone very dear and close to me expressed dismay. He had read unflattering accounts about Reconstructionists. He had not read them, but about them. Labels are the sluggard’s substitute for ears. I really pray that the Reformed world will .continue its progress in Biblical charity, in careful listening to see whether behind unfamiliar terminology and approaches fundamental unity exists. Do we read hoping to discover they’re allies or enemies?
Do we draw comfort from a church that grows smaller as we reduce it to those whose socks are the same color as ours? Or do we rejoice to find brothers in unexpected places?
Many years ago someone began attending church where I preached. When asked what he thought of the preaching he said, “It’s like a good steak. Sometimes I have to cut out a little gristle, but its still a great piece of meat.”
Isn’t that the way to approach our brothers? Whether I’ read Augustine or Anselm, Luther or Calvin, Warfield or Berkhof, I run across a little gristle now and then. But I do love a great steak and that’s what Wilson and Jordan served.
by DONALD VAN DYKEN[A report from ‘Christian Renewal’ November 12, 2001, by permission.]
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