Archive for September, 2011

Driscoll: Creation Sorts…

Posted: September 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

The scriptural data on creation has several views described by Mark Driscoll in his book Doctrine.[1]  This is a critical analysis of those views within the framework of what I hold to be true regarding the testimony of scripture.  I hope to show not only what I believe is in accord with scripture, but also why it is the most reliable position, and to demonstrate a mature and well-considered analysis of the text.
            If I am to be honest to my convictions and transparent regarding my beliefs, I testify here that I am an adherent to “young-earth creationism”.  I hold this belief because of the clear evidence of scripture taken in context with consideration for the possibility of other interpretations.  Other interpretations have failed to sway me for various reasons.  For example, Historic creationism falls on it’s face when we consider that the text certainly may allow it, but the author most likely did not mean for a breadth of time to be considered when he wrote “beginning.”  Why?  No I do not read or speak Hebrew, but if we look at the word re’shyth (translated beginning) we see that its semantic domain contains beginning, first, chief, choice part.  If we look at the flow of thought and realize that even though “it does not connote any specific length of time, nor does it necessarily mean that the next thing stated follows immediately”[2], the narrative does.  This is most likely why the translator used “beginning” for this occurrence of this word, knowing that the word “beginning” for the western mind connotes a sequence.  The narrative here is sequenced and therefore re’shyth here is aptly used as the beginning of said sequence, where the next occurrence is God commanding light into existence.  There are places where one could impose a lengthened period of time on the text, but this is only allowed by what the text does not say.  This is the same approach espoused by William Lane Craig[3] and the adherents to his form of philosophical molinism where God looks down the corridors of time and foreordains only that reality which has the potential to yield the most people restored to God, as God chooses not to impose His will upon a supposed form of human libertarian free will.  That is a mouth-full, but it is in the same predicament as historical creationism.  Scripture never states anything remotely close to molinism, but the text doesn’t deny it either.  What the adherent to these axioms finds themselves doing is playing a dangerous game of dancing in the areas where scripture is silent, and somehow verifiably defining them.  That is one example of my objection to one of the listed positions on creation posited by Mark Driscoll; my objections to the others are similar and based on the same sort of scriptural analysis.
            What of the “biblical difficulties” Driscoll projects onto the young earth view?  There are some distinctions that must be made, which Driscoll seems to gloss over.  This first difficulty is Driscolls treatment of the creation of light as synonymous with the creation of the sun.  These two are separated intentionally in the text.  Driscoll imposes “Biblical difficulty” by assuming that the sun was the only thing having the ability to emit light and therefore no light could have existed before the creation of the sun on the fourth day.  Further “difficulty” is enumerated in the related error that morning and evening couldn’t have existed without the sun and moon.  If we allow the sequencing of the text to speak for itself it becomes clear that evening and morning where descriptive of the waxing and waning of light and dark, and not so much the heavenly bodies called sun and moon as of yet, for they hadn’t yet been created.  If anyone is able to separate the sun and moon from the light and the dark, it is our God who is the One who causes them to shine, who gives source to their light.  As is evident by my examples of how I interpret these texts, my approach is more literal than Driscoll is prepared to accept.
            One issue I had not yet considered is the treatment of re’shyth as an extended period, thereby allowing for an old earth and young humanity.  I have not been persuaded by this view of the creation account, as I have already explained.  This brings itself to bear on the topic of the age of the universe in the same manner as molinism relates to the text of scripture: scripture merely allows it.  Scripture far from intends it.  It is more reliable and scripturally sound to assert that “the heavens” effectively means “all else outside of the earth.  This is supported later in scripture when “the Heavens” are enumerated, including the entire universe.  This too is not outside of the semantic domain of shamayim (the heavens) and in fact is a more likely treatment of the word in context.
That being said, I also find issue with the suggestion that all of this must be reconciled with an old-earth view.  An old-earth view is certainly not the measure of relevance and meaningful commentary on creation.  To the contrary, an old-earth view is an adaptation for supporting an evolutionary view.  A discussion on this topic should rightly address what God’s creating “every creature according to its kind” means, as well as an analysis of the opposing data regarding micro/macroevolution and the effective limitations and realms of observable operation of each.[4]
As can be seen by my stated position, the issue of Biblical authority in this debate is one that is manifest throughout but hardly addressed in an adequate fashion.  Or perhaps it seems that we never hear from the folks who can adequately handle the scriptures in such a capacity as to display the foolishness of any other position besides the Biblical one.  This is the true power of scripture.  Not that every word is true.  To be sure it is!  But the power of the text is in the fact that a learned approach, with insight into the subject at hand fundamentally asserts the impossibility of the contrary and leaves the one asserting the negative to be grasping for proof, while the word is found to be a never-ending well spring.
 

 

Bibliography

1.     Driscoll, Mark Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
Wheaton Ill.,: Crossway 2010
2.     Lane Craig, William Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
[S.I.]: Pearl Pub. 1995
3.     Alpha and Omega Ministries. “Evidence for Special Creation From Scientific Evidence.”


[1]           Mark Driscoll, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
(Wheaton Ill.,: Crossway 2010)
[2] Ibid, 90
[3]             William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
([S.I.]: Pearl Pub. 1995)
[4]           Alpha and Omega Ministries, “Evidence for Special Creation From Scientific Evidence,”

Advertisements

        In his article “Applying the Old Testament Law Today” J. Daniel Hays presents what I would assert is the most profoundly revealing method of Bible analysis academia has ever produced.[1]  Founded not upon what one may arbitrarily think a verse is saying, nor upon what is keenly new from an old text, but from a well informed position of history, literary analysis, and contextual consideration.  Presented here is no “new” method, and neither is this rightly called “principlising”, as the author terms it.  What this is called is no less than sound exegesis of the text, where one reads from the text and not into it (eisegesis) seeking to uncover that which is hidden by the expanse of time, that which is separated from us by the rift of culture: the author’s (both earthly and heavenly) intended meaning.  Only from this stand point can we come to the proper, and same conclusion Hays does when we find a universal principle, bridging the old and new testaments, which Hays rightly points out, “These universal principles will often be related directly to the character of God and His holiness, the nature of sin, the issue of obedience, or concern for other people.”  Truly the only weakness in this method is from that of the one using it, as we all have presuppositions to which we are sometimes blind, or those by which we are blinded. This method effectively gives the user the best chance at neutralizing their bias, and least chance of emotionalizing or misinterpreting scripture.  Why?  Because the “universal concepts” are inductively revealed by word meaning, sentence structure, history, culture of the time, etc. in the best and most consistent manner, the author’s message is thereby preserved and honored while the reader’s own ideas of what the text is saying are thereby minimized and he/she is brought into submission to the true meaning of the text.[2]
            So, bringing all of that to bear on the subject of the Old Testament’s validity today for the New Testament Christian; it is evident that the text is not in contradiction but harmony.  When the text says that the law shall not pass away (Matt 5:17) and then seems to contradict itself when it says that believers are no longer under the law (Romans 7:1 – 6; Galatians 3 – 4), and given the well exegeted treatment of the text by Hays, it is clear that what the law displays of God’s character and holiness will never pass away.  That is how the law itself can be no longer valid and yet we turn to it to understand who God is in His immortal qualities; not seeking to obey laws, but seeking to know and love God as we are empowered to do so by the spirit.
            This method put to task on Leviticus 26:1-11 brings us into a conditional covenant between God and the people He has freed from slavery, whom He provided for in the desert, a people known by God’s own name.  In nationally bearing the name of God there are requirements placed on this nation which may have seemed odd to others, but the Lord merely explains them here by saying “I am the LORD your God.”  This is to say that the universal principle is one of God’s decree and righteousness.  Merely by virtue of who He is, He is able to command in righteousness that His people do “xyz” no matter how ludicrous it seemed on the surface.  He is God, and what He decrees to be pleasing unto him is what will ultimately please Him, and what He decrees to be an abomination is exactly that.  These things exist as either good or bad by virtue of God’s decree to make them so.  So God expressly states here, do what I tell you because I say so and I am righteous and holy, or you will not reap my blessing.
This is expressly stated by God to be a conditional covenant, so the conditional clause “if” is the portion of this that no longer applies.  For later, as in the past, we see that Israel at no time lives out the terms of the covenant.  However, God is merciful and later extends a Royal grant to a people who have no other hope and who merit only destruction, a covenant where His own character is at stake if this covenant is to be broken.
This is where the personal application is found; in realizing that any one of us, at any time, according to our own covenants, would be found damnable, and God by virtue of His holiness wields such mercy as to provide a way of restoration for those who could not otherwise survive His righteous judgment.  I realize this in my own life as I am unable to live a day without sin, and yet God has cast my sin upon the kipper that I may live and glorify my father in heaven.[3]
  

 

Bibliography

1.  J. Daniel Hays, “Applying the Old Testament Law Today” Biblical Studies.org.uk
2.  Duvall, J. Scott and J. Daniel Hays. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005.
3. LaSor, William Sanford, David Allan Hubbard, Frederic Wm. Bush. Old Testament Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, UK: Willian B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.


[1]           J. Daniel Hays, “Applying the Old Testament Law Today” Biblical Studies.org.uk
[2]           J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005), 87-96
[3]             William Sanford Lasor et al., Old Testament Survey (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, UK: Willian B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 96-97.