Contending for Creation

by Reed DePace

I’ve both enjoyed and been frustrated at the various origins discussions we’ve had here at GB. I’ve enjoyed them because I’ve found my own understanding and confidence in a straightforward reading of Genesis 1-2 strengthened and deepened. I’ve been frustrated because I’ve not seen that result shared across the board by all those commenting on these origins posts.

I want to ask those of us who do find our confidence in the straightforward reading of Gn 1-2 (from 6/24 YEC to those who essentially buy this is what the Bible requires but don’t want to make any positive scientific affirmations) to think about the nature of this debate. I agree we get how serious it is. I may be saying something that you already get, yet just in case not, I’m asking you to take a moment to consider again what is going on in this debate for the “other side”.

Begin by focusing on this question: what does it mean to assert the authority of special revelation (Bible) over general revelation (Science)? I’d argue that those posting here from the (supposed) other side do not disagree with this way of answering this question: the Bible RULES Science. In other words, I don’t see anything in what they’re saying which leads me to conclude that they are not sincerely affirming this necessary truth.

This being said, then how do we explain those areas, those comments from the other side where we believe they’re concluding things that require exactly the opposite belief? What do we do with those areas in which we’re convinced that they’ve just said something that is based on the Science RULES Bible perspective?

I’m not admonishing us, as if I think we’re doing something wrong. Instead I hope you hear me encouraging, even exhorting us to take our own explanations and make them better. Sympathetic with their concerns and patient in our explanation, yes, but we owe them even more!! We must pursue active, even graciously aggressive efforts to winsomely demonstrate how the Bible RULES Science.

I suspect that those commenting on blogs like this one who are pushing for an expanded understanding of Gn 1-2 (and then 3-11) are the brave ones, the confident-in-their-faith ones. While I do find some sympathy for them, even such as the “high priest” of the effort, Dr. Pete Enns (a former professor of mine), I am GREATLY more concerned for the potential legion of young professing believers for whom this debate is critical.

We tend not to recognize how true one of Ken Ham’s insights really is – every issue in some manner or form does come back to an origins question. Consequently, while not saying it is the only issue, I am saying that we must keep before us this point: the argument over origins is vital to all the other THREATS to the Church in our land.

Take for example the issue of the normalization of sexual fornication in the American Church. Let’s not be wheenies with our words here. Not believing in 6/24 creation might not mean you’re a heretic going to hell, but believing you’re a born-again, Holy-Spirit baptized, justified-adopted-sanctified, persevering-to-glory child of God who rejoices in the freedom of his sexual fornication IS a damning conviction. (Read 1Co 6:9-10, deal with what “no one who is a fornicator of any type” (vs. 9) and “such were some of you” must mean.)

What we believe about origins directly applies to this subject. If we agree that “being born this way” is true this means in the end that a propensity for what the Bible calls sexual perversion is actually a part of God’s original perfect creation. From this perspective perversion is a wicked label for these various fornication practices (i.e., those things we euphemistically label “lifestyles” to make them appear innocent and holy). I.O.W., a failure in our origins apologetic will support a state of atrocity, one that will do more than anything else to remove the Church in America’s lampstand from before the Spirit whose holiness will not allow Him to gaze with love on any wickedness.

All this to urge those of us for whom this all seems so much clearer: let’s double down on our patience, our love, AND our zeal. There is a Church to see restored and a Nation to see saved. The “other side” may exasperate us at times (as I’m sure we do them). Yet they are actually a gift from God in that they can help us proclaim the glory of our God clearer.

by Reed DePace

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195 Comments

  1. Hugh said,

    June 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    What part of “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” don’t they understand?

    If they speak not according to this word [Isaiah 8:20] (and dare to go beyond what is written [1 Cor. 4:6]), why ordain ‘em?

    “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” [1 Cor. 2:14, KJV]

    Paul to told the Ephesians, “that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” [Eph. 4:14f]

    And, “avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” [Titus 3:9ff]

    Paul also said, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” [Rom. 16:17ff]

    ~ Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ~

  2. Reed Here said,

    June 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Hugh: if you are observing that it is ordained shepherds who are leading the pack in terms of reformulating things; …

    If you are observing that it is ordained shepherds who are making arguments that sound like a re-birth of higher-criticism hermeneutics …

    I agree! Some may be wolves, some certainly are not. The issue is then how are we called to protect the sheep? Let’s add to what we’re already doing.

  3. Hugh said,

    June 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Amen, Reed. “How [then] are we called to protect the sheep”?

    Let’s see: But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. [2 Tim. 3:1-5]

    All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. [2 Tim 3:12-4:5]

    “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment[g] stained by the flesh. [Jude 19-23]

    Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. [Jude 3f]

    Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  4. Steve Drake said,

    June 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Brother Reed,
    Are you setting up a false dichotomy here with your ‘Bible Rules Science’ or ‘Science Rules Bible’ exclusiveness? It seems that you are saying that this is the only thing that either side is focusing on, that it revolves around just that issue.

    If that is the case, then I would agree that both sides take the Bible seriously as the authoritative Word of God, seeking to honor that Word in life and practice.

    To me, that is ‘not’ however, the primary issue between both sides. It is the formalization of opposing viewpoints on origins, diametrically opposed to one another, that have a direct bearing on the gospel of Jesus Christ that both proclaim to uphold. Both views cannot both be correct on the meaning, person, and work of Jesus Christ in creation and on the cross as it pertains to the gospel. We are fundamentally on opposite sides of the entirety of the gospel itself.

    Either Christ in redemption on the Cross ‘redeemed’ the ‘whole’ of His created order, or He didn’t. The ‘gospel’ is not just primarily for man, but the entirety of His created cosmos. This is what has been lost in all of our discussions. It is what the other side refuses to acknowledge, address, and counter. To show from Scripture, that Christ’s redemption was ‘only’ for man, thus allowing death, disease, suffering, pain, plagues, droughts, starvation, natural disasters and mass extinctions and all the rest to reign on the earth for millions and millions of years before Adam even came on the scene and sinned.

    This is a hugh divide. Insuperable divide. Monumental in its implications. The focus should be here, not elsewhere.

  5. Hugh said,

    June 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    “This is a hugh divide. Insuperable divide.”

    Oh, I HATE being the cause of divisions! ;)

  6. Reed Here said,

    June 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Steve: no, I’m not saying that this is the only issue being focused on. I’m saying both sides will offer a sincere affirmation of this. Thus the issue is not one of debating with an unbeliever for whom science is god.

    As to the summary you’ve given, to wit of different gospels, I agree that this is ultimately what it comes down to. That is, we are dealing with questions that will, in the end, effect the character of the gospel we believe.

    This does not mean that elements of noetic confusion necessarily mean one cannot be truly saved. I think we agree that God saves on the basis of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Ordinarily this includes a profession of faith, but even that is not essential to salvation. In other words, the noetic quality of one’s profession is not determinative of one’s salvation.

    This is not to affirm that noetic confusion is thereby o.k. Just because God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick does not mean we should be happy with being a crooked stick.

  7. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Wow, Reed. Well said.

    You Pastors rock. You know that?

    Peace

    AB

  8. Joel Norris said,

    June 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Hello Reed,

    Thanks for reaching out (I hold to the OEC view).

    The way I see it, it’s not an issue of the Bible being above science or science being above the Bible, but whether we have the correct understanding of what the Bible or science is telling us. Sometimes science corrects our understanding of what the Bible is telling us, like heliocentrism vs. geocentrism. Or whether the last verses of Mark are really Scripture (I briefly spoke to Lane Keister about this at the 2011 GA). Yes, the mind of sinful man is darkened, but there is also common grace that enables the natural man to see some things that are true.

    Fundamentally, I think special revelation and general revelation should not be in strong disagreement. And I’ve had some experience with geology, so I’m not just adopting someone else’s view of science. What would be helpful to me is to hear from YEC adherents is how their view of special revelation is consistent with what is seen in general revelation — so far I’ve not heard anything at all convincing. Instead there seems to be a doubling down on fideism (one of my former PCA pastors actually proclaimed himself to be a fideist).

    Here’s some sincere questions I have of YEC adherents. These are questions I have struggled with.

    1) When special revelation and general revelation seem to disagree, is there ever a point where the evidence in general revelation is so strong that it would cause you to revise your interpretation of the Bible?

    2) Do you think general revelation supports a YEC view, or do you hold to a YEC view solely because you think the proper interpretation of Scripture requires it?

    3) If you hold to a YEC view solely because of Scripture and despite what is seen in general revelation, how do you avoid having Christian faith being turned into a solely subjective experience? I.e., governed by personal interpretation and unable to point to common experience outside of oneself?

    Joel

  9. Steve Drake said,

    June 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Reed @ 6,
    Yes, my #4 was not an inference or indictment on the ‘salvific’ nature of the gospel for us as individuals or the noetic quality of profession one might have on either side of this debate. It is however a decisive difference to the ‘whom’ of the One who saves, His person, His work, His Nature and attributes, and to the question of what exactly did He ‘save’ and ‘redeem’.

    Did He ‘redeem’ just man, or did He ‘redeem’ the entirety of His creation (Col. 1:16)?

    So, with that question, one could then ask what difference this makes.

    Does it really make a hill of beans in the end whether He ‘redeemed’ only man with His work on the cross, or whether He also ‘redeemed’ the whole sub-human natural order, the entirety of His created cosmos?

    I think people here have been asking that question, and don’t see a difference. Therein is part of the problem. What ‘other’ doctrines of Scripture does this question and its answer impinge upon? Or does it? Does the answer to that question in italics above touch upon and effect any other doctrine of Scripture? If it does, what are those implications, and are they sincerely that much of a big deal to be concerned about?

    Can we list them? This is the exercise that must now be conducted and demonstrated then if I’m following your train of thought in terms of the ‘salvific’ nature of the gospel for us as individuals, which both sides already agree upon. Does it stop there, or must other things be brought into play that affects the system of thought we call our faith?

  10. Steve Drake said,

    June 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Reed,
    Remember, the premises to the question in #8 above are these:

    A) OE and millions and millions of years of death, disease, suffering, pain, droughts, plagues, starvation, emaciation, natural disasters and mass extinctions, and the upward progression of all life and man from lower life before Adam and sin.

    B) YE, Adam created on 6th day, no sin, no death, no natural disasters or mass extinctions, no starvation, no disease, no suffering, no millions and millions of years. Sin only entering after 7th day of God’s sabbath rest.

    The question:
    Does it really make a hill of beans in the end whether He ‘redeemed’ only man with His work on the cross, or whether He also ‘redeemed’ the whole sub-human natural order, the entirety of His created cosmos?

    Possible implication depending upon acceptance of A or B above:
    1) The doctrine of marriage and ‘one flesh’ Does acceptance of A affect this doctrine? Does acceptance of B affect this doctrine?

    Answers?

  11. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Well, Steve, for my part, it makes a big difference. Christ’s work redeemed all of creation. Every atom.

    The question before me is, “what is Death, Andrew?”

    Steve, I’m gonna be blunt. I don’t know what “death” is.

    So it’s asked me, “ok, what does the Bible say “death” is?”

    Now I understand these questions before me.

    I can share e-mails with you.

    I’ve done too much publicly already.

    Just sayin…

    Regards,
    Andrew

  12. Steve Drake said,

    June 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Another possible implication and effect (or not) on doctrine:
    2) the shedding of blood for the remission of sin (Heb.9:22) (Gen. 3:21)

    Does acceptance of A in #9 above affect this doctrine? Does acceptance of B in #9 above affect this doctrine?

    Answers?

  13. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Steve,

    Don’t know who you are addressing.

    I did want to tell you. Both of the books I bought are now at home. I am too busy to start reading them yet.

    But I will get to them.

    Still reading and learning,
    Andrew

  14. Reed Here said,

    June 28, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Joel: by biblical definition, I must assume that:

    > The Bible RULES science,
    > General revelation is under a noetic cloud, and
    > The Spirit provides infallible understanding of the Bible.

    Not to get into the details, nor to deny that general revelation can help, but it is to say that your comment does not seem to assume these points. The inference is that you think it could go either way, depending on the circumstances.

    Example, science DID NOT correct the Bible with regard to geocentrism vs. heliocentrism. I expect you agree, but your language belies at least some lack of consideration of the significance of the conviction that the Bible RULES science.

    Sincerely and respectfully, this is an issue for some of us. We hear something like, “yes the Bible RULES science,” but then in subsequent comments on particulars, it appears to this is actually a relative conviction for some OEC.

  15. Andrew Duggan said,

    June 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Hi Joel,

    You wrote:

    Sometimes science corrects our understanding of what the Bible is telling us, like heliocentrism vs. geocentrism.

    As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, geocentrism was never something that the Bible was telling us. Geocentrism (like OEC and Evolution is now) was the intrusion of science into hermeneutics. Geocentrism is Ptolemaic/Aristotelian science. Just because some ancient churchmen committed that error doesn’t mean we keep the error, but switch the source (as to Copernican Heliocentrism, General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics)

    I will avoid the pitfall of your other major point with respect to Mark, but simply ask, in light of Jesus’ statement of “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow Me”, how do you really have an authoritative, infallible, inerrant scripture if it what is scripture is determined by science?

    Now to Reed’s main point:

    This is not the first time the reformed churches have been down this road. My question is: are the reformed churches going to take the same approach as last time? Seems like they are. On what basis is anyone expecting a different outcome?

    If, as Lane offered previously that doctrinal errors are moral failings, are we not to call those erring teachers to repentance? I know that is hard to do in a winsome sort of way, which is why Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel don’t come off as all that winsome.

    Why do we seemingly celebrate resistance to repentance on the moral failing of doctrinal error, while we condemn it in those who live a perverted “lifestyle”? Does this ever get to a “hardness of heart” level?

    Andrew

  16. Brad B said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:01 am

    “1) When special revelation and general revelation seem to disagree, is there ever a point where the evidence in general revelation is so strong that it would cause you to revise your interpretation of the Bible?”

    First, is “general revelation” meant to be understood as the creation declaring the proof of God{?}, or is this being used as a snynonym for materialism? If the latter I object to the hyjacking of the term.

    Never, if the special revelation is coherent with the SYSTEMATIC understanding of the whole revelation. As I see Reed and Hugh mentioning, the ramifications of ones view of origins ends up making a declaration about ones worldview, one consistent with systematic biblical theology or inconsistent with it.

    A single or two scripture references that may seem to be at odds with what is being sensed in the physical world but enjoy coherence with the rest of the biblical revelation trump mountains of evidence obtained by sense perceptions.

    Until science can cohere systematically within its disciplines, it will never be on par with the biblical revelation. The only Scientist capable of making that happen, also gave the special revelation as well as a Helper to understand the special revelation, but even He’s incapable of helping rescue science from it’s logical challenges.

  17. Hugh said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Mr Duggan (#15),

    We contend that heliocentrism intruded. Scripture teaches the sun revolving around the earth. Dismiss it with science, but it is the biblical language. Repeatedly; in different genres.

    Thank you.

  18. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Hello Reed,

    Thanks for your response.

    My knowledge of the history of the heliocentrism/geocentrism controversy is that people indeed held to the geocentric view because they believed that was what the Bible taught. Science did not correct the Bible, but it did correct how some people understood the Bible. Since what I said was a true statement, I do not understand why you responded so sensitively to it, especially considering your recommendation for patience in the original post.

    I would like to hear more about what you mean by your statement, “The Spirit provides infallible understanding of the Bible”. Do you mean the Spirit provides you, or some particular branch of the church, with infallible understanding? How can one know whether one has infallible understanding?

    I’m sorry, but you’ll need to explain to me what a “noetic cloud” is.

    Can you define for me more precisely what you mean by “the Bible rules science”? For example, the Bible teaches that God has regularly ordered the world, which means that it is possible for man to use science to investigate natural law, and thereby conclude, by the regularity of natural processes and evidence in nature, that the earth is old.

    Joel

  19. Hugh said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:12 am

    On geocentrism*: http://bylogos.blogspot.com/

    * A term I dislike, but to differentiate from heliocentrism.

  20. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Hello Andrew,

    I agree that geocentrism is Ptolemaic/Aristotelian science, but from what I know of the controversy, people argued for a geocentric view on the basis of Scripture. If you went back in time and explained that they were actually holding to an intrusion of Ptolemaic/Aristotelian science into hermeneutics, I don’t think they would see it that way. They would counter that science wasn’t involved at all, but they instead “just believed the Bible” when it said the earth stands still and the sun moves.

    Joel

  21. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Hello Brad,

    You said, “A single or two scripture references that may seem to be at odds with what is being sensed in the physical world but enjoy coherence with the rest of the biblical revelation trump mountains of evidence obtained by sense perceptions.”

    I don’t think it will be fruitful for me to engage you directly on this point, Brad, but for anyone else reading the comments, I think Brad has provided a great illustration of why I have concerns with certain versions of YEC.

    One or two scripture references trumping mountains of evidence obtained by sense perceptions may sound like a very high view of the Bible, but it turns the Christian faith into a very subjective and personal religion. If sense perceptions are so valueless, then the Christian cannot reach out to the unbeliever, because they have no common ground of experience. The disdain of sensory perception also strikes me as Gnostic, though I’m certainly no scholar in this area.

    Although I am OEC, I understand the fears that YEC people have about the church abandoning biblical truth and going off the rails – I have those fears, too. But I think doubling down on fideism is not the solution. Yes, we will be safely isolated from the world (and Lord willing, we won’t fall into internal heresies), but the world will also be isolated from us.

    Joel

  22. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Joel Norris #8:

    “Fundamentally, I think special revelation and general revelation should not be in strong disagreement.”

    [AB Comment – You are right! In fact, they are in concord:

    http://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=460%5D

    Joel Norris at #21:

    “The disdain of sensory perception also strikes me as Gnostic, though I’m certainly no scholar in this area.”

    I have the same struggle. I bought two books on the YEC position. I am trying to crack this nut.

    I am ordained in the OPC as a deacon, although currently “inactive.” I was asked pointedly during my ordination interview how long I thought the days of creation are. I said, “I don’t know.” Now, in the last comment section of a blog about Biologos coming to GA, I felt threatened that my Christology had problems because I am not yet ready to put my foot down in a YEC position. But I am committed to learning about the YEC’s. Getting inside their heads. Find out what makes the YEC tick, so to speak. Why does the typical YEC find this so central? Why have I been attacked in the past over my “I don’t know position?” I don’t recall ever feeling pressure to convince a YEC that they need to give up their position. HOWEVER, I do feel the YEC is threatened by the mere existence of an existent OEC Christian. That is just my two sense. My gut. I’ve experienced this debate for the better part of the last 8 plus years. I am in the Northern Califonia presbytery of the OPC – there has been very active movement over this issue, resulting in denominatonal type conferences, of which I have attended. All of which I can share about to anyone interested.

    I would challenge the standard YEC person reading these words with this: why do you feel so strongly about your position, and why are you so zealous? Please consider me, an ordained officer, who by some’s estimation’s here, doesn’t belong in ordained office due to my lack of adherence to a YEC position. Why do you feel that I should not be an officer? I am open to whomever wants to bring charges or atttacks against me in my presbytery. I am not inviting a fight. But what I am saying is, we need to see how the church handles this kind of issue, corporately. That was what was so helpful in the 2009 animus imponentis conference in the OPC. It was largely a two day conference on ecclessiology, I think. I got to see how the church broadly deals with sharp divisions within our presbytery.

    What I am saying is, the church moved in it’s position over geocentricity. The church did something. It began to recognize the overwhelming evidence that the sun does not revolve around the earth.

    The PCA article posits that’s where we are in geology – the evidence is overwhelming in favor of an OE view. It’s interesting when I read that in Modern Reformation. We can not deny that the editors of Modern Reformation had motives for including that in the publication.

    I think the typical YEC Christian has a lot of their beliefs about the core convictions about what the Gospel is and what Christianity is, wrapped up and superglued to the idea of the YEC. Joel, I think we should ask ourselves (as people who are not yet YEC), why are the YEC’s like this? They explain their position. But I would say maybe we hold our views, and let God work in his time over this issue. Here’s the thing. I am not threatened by their holding YEC. They are the ones threatened by my unwillingness to go YEC. I don’t know why. But I think it centers around the fact that our unwillingness to go YEC is a threat to their view of the gospel.

    I would urge those of us who are not yet YEC to outdo our YEC brothers in showing love.

    And let’s exercise patience, all of us. If you want to bring charges against me, maybe you can get an eclessiastical ruling, which helps to show what the church’s mind is on the creation issue. Do you see? How is eclessiastical law different that the case law of our own legal system in the U.S.? If the PCA can have a trial over someone who holds a OEC view, that will help shape the debate to come. That’s what happened in the OPC with the Terry Gray case, where the OPC definitively spoke (this was in the mid to late 1990’s) in saying that an elder in the church can not hold to the position that Adam had animal ancestry (but I am opening up a can of worms here, I know, let’s avoid evolution, please). My only point is, in that case, the church has spoken. We can all blog and comment till we are blue in the face. What we need to do is have the church to speak. We may want this to go before the courts of our general assembly or some other court system within the church. I think that will help resolve.

    Until then, my non-YEC brothers, I urge you, along the lines of Reed’s post – let us have zeal. Oh yes, we are zealous. Let us place our zeal first and foremost at the foot of Jesus Christ, our head, the head of the Church. Let us serve him with all that is in us. And love others within and without of the church like no one has ever seen before.

    That’s what changes hearts and minds, my friends. It would change my heart and mind, I know, and has. When someone shows love to me and is unexpected, over creation issues, or anything, it’s usually a shock to my system. Would that we be a people who shock one another. Just my lengthly musings, brothers. Sorry. Very very wordy today.

    Peace.

    AB

  23. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 7:36 am

    PS

    This is where I typically say something to the effect:

    Ok, I’m willing to, instead of face charges at presbytery, simply play a round of 18 holes on any Saturday morning with any of you. Happy Friday folks! Let’s get out and enjoy some of this marvelous creation that God has placed before us. Whether it’s a hike, bike ride, or just a simply leisurely walk along the golf course, swinging the clubs. Point is – I hate to hyjack this forum – but if you are in Northern California and want to play some golf, I should be able to find time tomorrow morning, or sometime in the future.

    Let’s all be friends at the end of the day. Golf buddies. Jesus delights to see unity among brothers. I think we’ve acheived this, thus far, and I’m confident that we will continue to.

  24. Steve Drake said,

    June 29, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Reed,
    You say from your orginal post:

    what does it mean to assert the authority of special revelation (Bible) over general revelation (Science)? I’d argue that those posting here from the (supposed) other side do not disagree with this way of answering this question: the Bible RULES Science.

    Joel in #8 says (asks) of those who hold the time-honored and classical YEC view:

    When special revelation and general revelation seem to disagree, is there ever a point where the evidence in general revelation is so strong that it would cause you to revise your interpretation of the Bible?

    Is he contradicting your claim that the other side also holds: the Bible RULES Science? I see in the very nature of his question, the disproof of your claim. They may pay lip-service to it, but they don’t believe it. For them, there are always going to be caveats here, for example: “The Bible RULES Science except when overwhelming scientific interpretations of the evidence show us otherwise.

    No?

  25. Steve Drake said,

    June 29, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Reed,
    Your #14 succinctly answers my question. Sorry for the confusion.

  26. Steve Drake said,

    June 29, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Andrew @ 15

    My question is: are the reformed churches going to take the same approach as last time? Seems like they are. On what basis is anyone expecting a different outcome?

    Good question brother. Dr. Morton Sminth in Joseph A. Pipa and David w. Hall, eds. Did God Create in Six Days?, Tolle Lege Press, 1999, 2005, has an excellent article on the history of exactly this slide in the American Presbyterian Churches, both North and South. I found it fascinating.

  27. Alan D. Strange said,

    June 29, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Just this note in the discussion to keep things clear.

    While the Bible is the primary source of special revelation (all special revelation is not inscripturated, but we are no longer receiving such from a cessationist viewpoint), it is not the case that general revelation and science are to be equated.

    General revelation, according to Psalm 19, Romans 1, and elsewhere, is an external and internal (Romans 2) witness to the God who is there. It testifies to His greatness and that we are answerable to HIm. In other words, the things that are seen reveal and testify to the ultimate Unseen.

    It is true that science is involved, at least in part, in examining the world that God made, the world that serves as a general revelation of Him to us. But what calls itself science is an interpretation of things that it witnesses in nature, it is not nature itself, or, to put it another way, science is not general revelation. General revelation is not a word revelation; it is picture revelation of Him who is the eternal Word, together with the other Persons of the Godhead.

    To equate science and general revelation is to attribute to the enterprise of science something that does not belong to it. General revelation is what it is–the creation’s witness to the Creator–and science is something else, either a believing or unbelieving interpretation of that creation. And even then, general revelation is only properly understood, in a ultimate sense, through the lens of Scripture.

    The unbeliever can look at the world and, with skills and special training, understand in great detail a great number of things proximately, but, as an unbeliever, he cannot understand one single matter ultimately, because he rejects the God who made and sustains it all. Unbelieving scientists can see much within the the true scope of their field but have less ultimate understanding than do our catechized children.

  28. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Alan: thanks for the reminder. Using “general revelation” as mere shorthand for external evidences, or which physical/hard sciences is but a part. Your clarification should be kept in mind, lest we forget and confuse things.

  29. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Wow:

    “The unbeliever can look at the world and, with skills and special training, understand in great detail a great number of things proximately, but, as an unbeliever, he cannot understand one single matter ultimately, because he rejects the God who made and sustains it all. Unbelieving scientists can see much within the the true scope of their field but have less ultimate understanding than do our catechized children.”

    Amen!

  30. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Andrew and Joel: the key words are proximate and ultimate. The fact of this state of affairs is what the Bible teaches about the Fall’s effect on man’s mental faculties (i.e., the noetic effects, from Greek gnomos, knowledge; gnosis, to know).

    This world’s facts are examined by a being who operates under a noetic cloud of confusion. By simple fact of cursed-creation, mankind can never fully comprehend anything this side of eternity. Such fact should make us humble when using any gen rev insights to “correct” special rev.

  31. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Reed,

    Can I just send to you a huge “thank you” for your labors?

    I want to say that everything I have read that comes from your fingers, is extremely helpful and wise.

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the call for humility in your last sentence.

    And I want to thank all who are wrestling with these creation questions, from all sides. I really feel this has been a good discussion! And that’s no simple task, when the topic is creation.

    I only hope I have been as gracious to you all.

    I want to thank you for the opportunity to express myself and ask questions.

    For the sake of the Kingdom, and for His Glory alone,

    Andrew

  32. rcjr said,

    June 29, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Reed,

    Deep and sincere thanks from me for your faithful defense of YEC. I’m with you 100 percent. That said I can’t say I’m wild about your question. Asking whether special revelation has authority over general revelation is like asking if Romans has authority over James, or Luke has authority over Revelation. Both the authority and the inerrancy of a given revelation is grounded in the source, the Revealer. Both of God’s books are inerrant and have absolute authority as they are from Him. Oh, but someone says, there’s a noetic cloud over General Revelation. True enough, but I’m sorry to report that that same cloud is over Special Revelation. In both instances the voice is compelling and true. In both instances the ears are defiant and dishonest. The key distinction, it seems to me, is over the issue of perspecuity. Special revelation is more clear than general. As such my chief goal is to understand what it says. If I, by His grace, get that right, general revelation will take care of itself. Which is why I am young earth, and just one of many reasons Im a Reed fan.

  33. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Fellow Reed fans:

    “The key distinction, it seems to me, is over the issue of perspecuity. Special revelation is more clear than general. As such my chief goal is to understand what it says. If I, by His grace, get that right, general revelation will take care of itself.”

    I perceive wisdom in these words from rcjr. I love that: “general revelation will take care of itself.”

    I want to thank all of you who express your opinions. Would that we be free to tell each other what we think. And those of us who struggle with this or that doctrine, find listening ears in the church, and gentle hands, like Reed DePace. We all need someone to help us along at times, don’t we.

    Keep doing what you all do! And thank you to all you pastors, seminarians, etc. The work you do, I think, is more helpful and important than you realize.

    Peace.

    AB

  34. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Reed,

    I don’t understand why you say I said “science corrected the Bible”. When I look at my original comment, I see “sometimes science corrects our understanding of what the Bible is telling us.” Are you reading into my comments something that I did not write?

    Joel

  35. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Reed,

    Perhaps it would be helpful for me to share a bit of my own background. At the time of my own conversion, what caused the most resistance was my unwillingness to submit my intellect to a YEC view. The issue is not whether a YEC view is necessary for salvation, but rather whether I would submit everything to God, as when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. And so I was YEC for awhile. I later changed back to an OEC view because the earth looks old. But I do have personal experience with submitting the intellect.

    One issue that merits discussion is under what conditions we bring outside information to bear on our understanding of Scripture. And it is necessarily the case that we bring outside information to understand Scripture – knowledge of the original languages, knowledge of Near Eastern geography, knowledge of ancient cultural practices, etc. We never approach Scripture with a blank slate. Rather than wrangle over whether something sounds like “Science ruling over the Bible”, we would be better off clarifying the conditions and proper means of bringing outside information to bear on our interpretation of Scripture.

    Joel

  36. Steve Drake said,

    June 29, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Joel @ 36,

    we would be better off clarifying the conditions and proper means of bringing outside information to bear on our interpretation of Scripture.

    Why wouldn’t this statement be just as valid, brother:

    “We would be better off clarifying the conditions and proper means of Scripture to bear on our use and interpretations of outside information against it?”

    What drives the priority of the one over the other?

  37. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Hi Joel,

    Hey, I’m interrupting, I know. But I just have to confess for a second. When things are written in the comment section of a theological blog, it seems that is the author’s way of inviting attention, inviting criticism, first and foremost of course, from the person addressed in the comment, but tangentially to anyone who happens to glance upon the comment. Such as yours truly.

    As for this:

    “we would be better off clarifying the conditions and proper means of bringing outside information to bear on our interpretation of Scripture.”

    This, I perceive, is a very wise comment given what we are discussing, and very apt.

    I would like to high-light to you a creation report performed in 2004 by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church:

    http://opc.org/GA/CreationReport.pdf

    I don’t know if you have seen this or have familiarity with it.

    When I open this pdf file, and search for “interpretation of scripture,” there are nine hits. What that means is, in this lengthy report, you can find some of these questions you must have, right there. Earlier on another string, we were talking about animal death before the fall. Well this report talks about it, for about 2 pages.

    It’s an extremely helpful report. I simply submit this to you and the other readers.

    Also, as one who is a deacon in the OPC, I always like the opportunity to toot the horn of my little clan.

    Peace.

    AB

  38. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Steve @ 36,

    I think maybe what Joel is getting act, is the fact that as human beings, we bring “personal baggage” anytime we approach Scripture. Can any of us honestly say that we understand 100% what Scripture says? I mean, I think we can use theologians of the past. Augustine. Calvin. Hear what they have to say. But we are all human beings raised in particular environments. None of us can escape this fact. I think we should remove from this discussion about creation issues, and think more broadly. While you may think Creation does not have an “elasiticity” inherent in the issue (meaning, it’s Steve’s way or the high way), you must know that there are doctrines upon which Christians can rightly come down on opposite sides. Take for example, Eschatology. Are anyone reading this blog going to really tell any one of us, that unless we accept this or that Eschatology, then you adhere to a false Gospel? I was raised in a heavily dispensational environment. I rejected in for an A-mil position. But I don’t think the current pastor of that baptist church would necessarily say I adhere to a false Gospel. Maybe he would. Who knows…

    My point is, for me, I see an “elasticity” that should exist over the creation issue. To think about Escahatology, think of how the future things are looking into the distant distant future. The picture is a little muddy maybe? I don’t have all the passages of revelation down pat – I still have questions.

    That’s where I am at with Genesis. Instead of looking way way forward, Genesis, to me, I must now finally confess, is looking way way way way back into the past.

    I see a lot of questions here. And I want to hear more from you, Reed, others. And I will be reading, Brother.

    Peace.
    AB

  39. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I meant STeve at 37

  40. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Actually, I think Joel’s saying a lot more than “personal baggage.” He’s saying that for most people, we do not know the original languages. And so we continue to study what the Scriptures say. I am sorry. I am speaking for people.

    I’m going on time out for a few days.

    Peace.

    :-)

  41. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Steve @ 37,

    “We would be better off clarifying the conditions and proper means of Scripture to bear on our use and interpretations of outside information against it?”

    Yes, this is the other side of the same coin.

    “What drives the priority of the one over the other?”

    No priority. Please don’t expect a precise treatment in a blog comment.

    Joel

  42. michael said,

    June 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    I want to jump right to making a comment after reading what you wrote Reed before reading all the subsequent comments made thus far.

    I want to point to two Greek Words used by Peter when he writes his second epistle to make my point. These words are used in chapter one of 2 Peter and should be weighed in context.

    The Words are:

    ἐπίγνωσις
    epignōsis
    ip-ig’-no-sis
    From G1921; recognition, that is, (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: – (ac-) knowledge (-ing, -ment).

    ………………………………………………………………………………………..

    γνῶσις
    gnōsis
    gno’-sis
    From G1097; knowing (the act), that is, (by implication) knowledge: – knowledge, science.

    What this tells me is there is a place for inquiry and study of the sciences by the Church and there is also a place for Her to come into full spiritual discernment. We should live in balance one with the other.

    What this also implies, in my view, is there needs to be a balance applied to those growing in both spiritual knowledge and the knowledge of natural science, as you are encouraging and exhorting in here by this article, when we work through the various differences we encounter with others who are holding to some other “in or out of the creation order” balance as established by Genesis 1-2.

    For those of the nation of Israel of his day, it seems from Peter’s writings, he held to this sort of balance you are encouraging in here. He must have been upholding all subsequent teachings fixed by God Himself about it, too, that is, his exhortation is there should be applied natural science observances that God fixes about the first day of the year and then counting down days so that the Sabbath day is observed and so on so that all the three important annual festivals are observed, etc.; and also all the other sundry observances those of the State of Israel are to hold to basis the science of astrology as taught in the Scriptures. One observance is the observance of the year of Jubilee. In order to observe that year, the year of Jubilee, natural science basis astrology must be adhered to. This system of observances underscores a counting based in the YEC 7/24, 6 days working and one day of rest understanding with some years being twelve months and some years being thirteen months a year.

    Also there is the observance of a sequence of 6 years and then the seventh year of rest for the land. Even the earth gets to rest from time to time!

    Also there is implied in this understanding a respect is due by the nations to Israel as they see Israel live their beliefs in the world contrary to their own. This respect seems wanting? We are all to live our beliefs faithfully, too, beliefs others observe about our life and times and our beliefs about what science teaches us to observe.

    I suppose this ability to live in this balanced way with others who hold such other diverse opinions about the place science holds in life different than ours goes a long way in bringing about God’s Peace into the world by the Church. This Gospel of the Kingdom being preached to all men for a witness brings peace but it also brings about, then, the end of science, does it not?

    Jesus did say: Mat 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

  43. Todd said,

    June 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Reed,

    I’m more than a bit surprised that Reformed folk are now raising YEC to a gospel issue, but it seems much of your argument is premised on the fact that Genesis 1 and 2 clearly teach YEC. Many of our reformed forefathers (Warfield, Machen, Young, Kline, etc…), nor PCA or OPC today were/are not so confident with such assertions. I need to be convinced exegetically before abandoning my OEC. And for many of us you are going to need to assume the best, that we are looking at the same Bible with the same view of authority as you, but we just do not see what you see there; a clear YE 6-24 hr. day creation.

  44. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    This Gospel of the Kingdom being preached to all men for a witness brings peace but it also brings about, then, the end of science, does it not?

    Sure. It brings about the ends of lots of things. Take for example drinking water. Jesus gives us the eternal spring.

    But consider, while we live this life, we still ought to draw from the well of real water…

    My only point being, I for one like to listen to what even unbelieving scientists are finding in their study of God’s creation. Is not the parable of the Shrewd manager to suggest that sometimes there are things that the sons of This world have a “leg up” on, on the children of light. That doesn’t mean we say the “evolutionists prayer,” but let’s out-love the evolutionists. They shall know us by our love.

    The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

    (Luke 16:8-9 ESV)

    Now I am really off the rails,

    AB

  45. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Joel: your comment to Steve concerning priority and precision is an even more telling example of what I am challenging you about.

    We’re talking origins here. While not every question on this does lead to a fatal fracturing of the gospel, many can and will; and easily at that. I.e., the intellectual distance between the seemingly immaterial thought and the fatal blow to the gospel is often nano-seconds in length.

    Priority IS exactly the issue! What does it mean that the Bible is to have priority over science? (Assuming you agree.) Then, how does this work out in the process of applying the principle to the facts of the discussion? Without such priority, we’re not in the end talking as brothers who may end up agreeing to disagree. We’re at best talking as brothers with at least one of us refusing to submit to God’s authority.

    Sincerely, the brush off “don’t expect precision in a blog comment,” is lame, and possibly sinful. (Eph2:29) Is it possible you’ve been interacting at a casual level and not recognizing the seriousness with which I am asking us to discussion this topic?

    Please do not take offense Joel. I respect the integrity with which you’ve journeyed to where you. As to your appeal for wrangling*, is that not exactly what I am appealing for you to do? Of course languages, etc., are play a part. That is not the subject of my post however. I am dealing with something more fundamental, specifically how do we use such extra-biblical tings in a manner consistent with submission to the Bible’s authority.

    *If you are interested in the sincerity with which I/we’ve wrangled in the past, please take a look at all the other posts here at GB on origins. You might not think I/others have successfully “roped the bull,” but at least you will conclude that we really are trying to wrangle with you. ;-)

  46. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Andrew: grateful for your comments. May God be merciful and one day I live up to them. In the meantime, no need to say it anymore. Thanks brother. :-)

  47. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Reed,

    I’m sorry, but I disagree that I used sloppy grammar, and I disagree that my sentence structure conveyed what you says it conveys.

    “Corrects our understanding” means that our understanding is corrected. It does not mean “corrects the Bible”.

    I don’t see any difference in meaning between “our understanding of what the Bible is telling us” and “our understanding of what we think the Bible is telling us”.

    Perhaps this touches on the issue of infallibility that you mentioned? Are you suggesting that it is possible for us to infallibly “understand the Bible”, and not just “think we understand the Bible”.

    Joel

  48. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    RCJr: ah, mutual fan clubs! You make an excellent point. Even our understanding of special rev is under the noetic curse-cloud. This is why the grace-alone promise if Spiritual illumination at the heart of perspicuity is so precious. It gives me hope that I can actually engage in honest, helpful conversation, rather than just being a know-it-all made of cheap grocery store bag plastic.

    And this too is why I am a YEC. I hear the challenges from science our brothers are struggling with. I sympathize with their desire to remove the dissonance, to avoid unnecessary offense to the unbelieving world.

    Yet I am persuaded that in the end the real solution lies in the hermeneutics lab not the science lab. All the “is God really saying?,” origins questions may arise from within the latter. But they can ONLY be answered within the former.

    So in the end, as far as I can understand what the Bible says, I have to be YEC. No embarrassment needed. Call me a moron. I’m o.k. with that and more (thanks be to God). Just as long as Jesus is lifted up.

  49. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Joel: infallibility, are you familiar with the Westminster Confession of Faith? There is an excellent summary of the significance of what it means to infallibly know something to be true in chapter 18.

    In the meantime, what about priority and precision? I’ll take “you’re reading too much into my grammar.’ (Not quoting exactly, but hopefully truthfully.)

    I raise the same challenge to such comments as those.

  50. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Hey, now, Reed. I for one (member of the fan club) never used the word Moron.

    I think the OPC article says that OErs can call YECers, and vice versa, as follows:

    “Some young earth creationists paint those who hold the earth is very old as liberals who deny the authority and perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture. Likewise, some who hold that the earth is very old treat young earth creationists as scientific neanderthals (pun intended) who simply need to get with the program and accept the obvious.”

    I for one hope all this blog commenting has been helpful for others and not just me. With that, I issue my thanks to you all. Have a great weekend, folks. And enjoy your rest and worship on the Lord’s day.

    Peace.

    -AB

  51. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Andrew: well, if that’s the case, this neanderthal is going to enjoy dragging his knuckles this weekend. ;-P

  52. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    And I’ll be dusting of the glasses that is Scripture, which Calvin says we begin to see things clearly. If nothing else, having a clean set of glasses should help me see where my golf balls land. A lot go into the deep weeds or other wild rough territory…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Calvin's_view_of_Scripture#Necessity

  53. andrew said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Reed,

    You are mistaken in your reading of Joel.

    The phrase ‘our understanding of what Scripture teaches’ makes a clear distinction between our fallible interpretation of Scripture and the infallible meaning of Scripture.

    What you need to do is briefly apologise (these things happen), and move on to more important things (I am also a YEC). Making patronising comments about sloppy grammar, when the fault is your inability to understand a straightforward English statement, even after it has been explained, does not help our cause.

    Perhaps you could consult with Lane. I am confident he will not see Joel’s statement as you do.

  54. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Andrew: sheesh, thanks for the kind admonishment.

  55. Steve Drake said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Todd @ 44,
    Hey Todd,
    In defense of Reed, I’m not sure he’s the one who’s been pushing this, whether on this thread or the ‘Apparently…’ thread. I think your concern may be with me, correct, or am I not seeing where Reed is also advocating or confirming or ‘not denying’ my assertions.

    i still believe this is a hugh and unanswered question between the OEC and YEC sides, and I have at great pains tried to draw this distinction in many of my posts. I think it’s still a great question.

    So, in furtherance of that goal, dear Pastor, what is your definition of the gospel?

  56. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Reed,

    The infallibility discussed in WCF chapter 18 concerns assurance of salvation. The more relevant chapter for the topic of infallible understanding of the Bible is chapter 31. Here the WCF says all synods since the Apostles may err, and if synods may err, certainly individuals may err.

    Infallible understanding of the Bible is not a Reformed doctrine.

    Joel

  57. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Joel: computer problems have now stopped this post from making it two times. Maybe this time it will take.

    Notwithstanding Andrew’s admonishment, after reading your last comment, no. 48, I retract and apology for my grammar comment. You are correct, your phrasing does refer to the interpreter, not the Bible itself.

    If I might, I still wish to stress the importance of the matter. I’d ask you to forget my error in the first part and ask if you would agree with my concerns noted in my comment concerning “priority” and “precision.” I’m not arguing that this is a support of YEC over OEC. Both sides need to keep this issue in mind. Instead I am asking if it is possible that to some degree we’ve not been as careful as we think we have in determining exactly how the Bible RULES Science.

  58. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Todd: you’ve not read me say that.

  59. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    As an “I don’t know how long the days are” wishy washy creation guy (I’m all over the place, for anyone following along at home), I actually really get this idea of “priority.” At least I think I do.

    I have loved the Bible all my life.

    So for “priority” sake, it’s why I spent good money to buy books to understand the YEC position. It’s not with jaundice eye that I look upon the YEC position. I’m gonna go back to something about my “personal baggage,” and the environment I was raised in. I’m going to be blunt – I really like science. I check http://www.realclearscience.com/ along with some other real clear websites.

    I do think there is value in Christians of different stripes on the creation issue talking about it.

    The way I see it, the creation questions before us as Christians are not going away any time soon. I think we all need to wrestle. But let’s also stay friends, yo. We’re all flying the same flag, right? Peace. -AB

  60. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I know I am supposed to lay off all the Reed praise, but the fact is, I really like this blog post. I think it sets the stage really really well for the potential for a good discussion on the issue. My hat is tipped…

  61. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Joel: my reference to infallible knowledge was specifically to WCF 18 and its application in terms of perspicuity. Assurance of salvation contains an intellectual (a noetic) component, agreed? If so, then the character of infallibility extends to foundational knowledge of the gospel.

    Applied to origins questions, this would apply to questions that directly effect the gospel. E.g., without delving into the debatable at this point (e.g., Adam’s creation), would we not agree that knowing that sin entered the world through the personal choice of one rational being who was accountable in his choice for its consequences unto all mankind is essential to the gospel? (Cf., Rom 5)

    This is the kind of infallible knowledge I am referring to. While not of the essence of saving faith, it is surely something that can be infallibly known.

  62. Steve Drake said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Todd @ 44,

    I need to be convinced exegetically before abandoning my OEC. And for many of us you are going to need to assume the best, that we are looking at the same Bible with the same view of authority as you, but we just do not see what you see there; a clear YE 6-24 hr. day creation.

    While I grieve with you, and understand your statement Pastor, I simply will not accept the fact that you say that the YEC side has not exegetically demonstrated, over and over and over again, the time-honored, classical 6-24 position. The extant literature is full of such exegesis. It is simply unconscionably of one to assert that this has not been done.

  63. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Listening to Dr. Vern Poythress’ recent interview Reformed Forum, I find some insights and considerations applicable to the topic here. Give a listen and see what you think.

  64. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Hello Reed,

    Apology accepted.

    I welcome the addition made by Steve @ 37.

    Regarding precision in blog commenting, it’s simply the nature of the medium that people will not write with the comprehensiveness, precision, and nuance that they would when writing a scholarly book. If you think that leads people like myself into sin by discussing serious topics too casually, then I urge you to turn off commenting.

    It’s not clear to me that we can have further fruitful discussion on this topic since you seem to consistently take my statements in the most uncharitable way possible. This thread has given me the impression that the sensitivity with which you react to OEC adherents may be due more to something within yourself than to actual statements by OEC adherents.

    And I say this in all love, brother, as nothing more than a sinner saved by Christ. Let us contend for the faith each in his own way, as we see God leading us.

    Joel

  65. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Hello Reed,

    Apology accepted.

    I welcome the addition made by Steve @ 37.

    Regarding precision in blog commenting, it’s simply the nature of the medium that people will not write with the comprehensiveness, precision, and nuance that they would when writing a scholarly book. If you think that leads people like myself into sin by discussing serious topics too casually, then I urge you to turn off commenting.

    Joel

  66. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Reed,

    I still don’t agree with where you are taking infallibility from WCF chapter 18, but I like the direction you are taking the discussion in terms of what is essential in origins and the gospel. I’ll commment more at a later time.

    Joel

  67. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Joel: precision is kind of a basic requirement in these kinds of discussions. If all you meant by it was to observe the weaknesses of blogging, all well and good. That does not negate or make the issue of precision pointless. It makes its pursuit different. It is still necessary.

    As to priority, might you explain what you meant by “no priority.” I may be over reacting here as well.

  68. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Brad, appreciated your comment vis-a-vis one or two verses coordinated with the rest of Scripture trumping a mountain of empirically derived evidence.

    Joel, this is not a statement demonstrating a doubling down on fideism. That is a tad of a mis-characterization. E.g., the Bible does offer numerous passages that state the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. They go no further than to state that he was truly dead, and then afterwards now truly alive. Empiricism will deny this possibility unto the end of the end. Does that mean I’m doubling down on fideism when I reject empirical evidence that dead men can’t rise?

    The same with Gn 2’s statements concerning God’s fiat creation of the first man, directly from previously created inanimate material. The rest of Scripture may not develop things beyond this, but it certainly demonstrates that this basic fact is presumed true. Does that mean denying empirical theories that man evolved from a group of 10,000 +/- apes means I’m doubling down on fideism?

    Why can’t it simply mean I believe the accurate interpretation of the Bible requires this of me? That is the import of Brad’s comment.

  69. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Reed,

    I agree that precision is very needed in these kinds of discussions. What I am asking for is that a request for clarification be made rather than assuming someone left out a particular point for nefarious reasons.

    Regarding priority, don’t think one is always above the other. For our understanding of the nature of man and salvation, definitely special revelation has priority. For astronomical motions, general revelation has priority, not because Science rules over the Bible, but because the Bible is not given to us for the purpose of explaining the “how” of astronomical motions (the “why” is a different story).

    Joel

  70. Hugh said,

    June 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Joel (way back @ #20),

    They would counter that science wasn’t involved at all, but they instead “just believed the Bible” when it said the earth stands still and the sun moves.

    Exactly. The Bible says the sun rises, runs its course, and then sets.

    Scientific observation can prove nothing, since one cannot accurately deduce motion from a moving object, right?

    Without an absolute frame of reference, how can absolute motion be determined?

    Cannot then everything in the universe be considered to be moving?

    And nothing can be proven to be stationary, can it?

    We chose Sol as our reference point, but now we’re told the galaxy is in motion, “hurtling through space,” and “rotating around its dense galactic center.” O.K.

    So we’re stuck with only the Bible for absolute, certain truth.

    …science is not capable of giving us any truth. And if the scientific method is a tissue of logical fallacies, why should Christians seek to argue from science to the truth? Simply stated, they should not. Science is useful in accomplishing its purpose, i.e., subduing the Earth. But that is all it is useful for, nothing more…

    Science has its place in a Christian philosophy, an important place. But science is never to be seen as a means of learning truth. Truth is found in the Scriptures alone; the Bible has a monopoly on truth. It is God’s Word that must be believed, not the experiments of men. As [John] Robbins has said: “Science is false, and must always be false. Scripture is true and must always be true. The issue is as clear, and as simple, as that.”

    Why is science necessarily false? Because

    1) Observation is unreliable…
    2) All scientific experiments commit the fallacy of asserting the consequent…
    3) Science commits the fallacy of induction…
    4) Equations are always selected, they are never discovered…
    5) All scientific laws describe ideal situations…

    From W. Gary Crampton’s liberating article, “The Biblical View of Science,” http://www.wordofhisgrace.org/science.html

  71. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Reed,

    One more comment before I go back to work.

    This is what I mean by a doubling down of fideism.

    I once heard that a pastor said, “Even if they find the bones of Jesus, I will still believe.” I don’t know what he was believing, but it wasn’t the Christian faith.

    The denial of the resurrection stems not from positive specific knowledge but rather from a general belief that the dead do not rise. There’s a profound difference between believing something that we cannot see with our eyes and believing something that goes against what we do see with our eyes. Imagine that (I speak as a madman) we discovered a tomb that with certainty held the bones of Jesus. We’d be fools to ask people to still believe the resurrection.

    Now, it seems to me with very much certainty that the earth looks old. The fideist approach of my former pastor requires me to believe (that the Earth is young) what goes against what my own eyes see (that the Earth looks old).

    I freely acknowledge that I could be wrong. But I’ve never heard any YEC explanation that comes close to convincingly accounting for what I’ve seen in geological formations. And simply being told that the Bible rules over Science doesn’t make the earth look younger.

    Joel

  72. Hugh said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    But Joel, science is necessarily false. :)

  73. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Joel: on precision, fair enough. Agree it is always better to ask before assuming. (Still working on that myself, but my wife tells me I’m not as bad as I used to be.)

    On priority, I’d put things differently. We’re talking about two different contexts: 1) things that are merely material, and 2) things that are material and spiritual. I would say the Bible has priority both to the extent it speaks.

    In principle the Bible is not silent on anything (e.g., in giving numerical references the Bible presumes the validity of mathematics). Therefore in some manner the Bible always has priority.

    But in practice we’re actually talking about the extent to which the Bible speaks on a given matter. That is, the Bible’s priority extends to the extent to which it speaks on a given matter. In the astronomy example the Bible speaks in terms of original creation and ongoing maintenance of heavenly bodies. The Bible therefore has priority to the extent it speaks to both these categories of astronomy.

    I guess what I am asking for agreement on, in principle at most here, is that the Bible speaks with absolute authority to the extent it actually speaks on any given topic.

    Presuming this is true then puts us in position to properly use the insights from gen rev such as science. This requires at least two things. First, it requires that where there is a clear conflict (e.g., dead do not come to life), science is declared wrong (otherwise we must declare the Bible to be wrong). Second, it means that we must bring gen rev information to our examination of the Bible with an attitude of submissive humility, hopefully sanctified submissive humility.

    It is not wrong but necessary, due to the ongoing battle with our flesh, to remind ourselves of this ordering of priorities often, regularly, and repeatedly.

    To repeat: the Bible always has priority, but that priority only applies to the extent the Bible speaks.

    Is this a better way of saying it?

  74. Hugh said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    According to special, trumps-all revelation, general revelation teaches

    God’s invisible attributes which are clearly “seen,” even His eternal power and Godhead.

    …what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them… ~ From Romans 1 ~

    Anything else?

  75. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Joel: thanks for the fideism response. The Jesus bones example is a bit anachronistic, as we know they will never truly find such bones.

    Your response does demonstrate though, something I’d ask you to consider. You presume (in both Jesus bones and geological age) that empiricism is infallible. This is not a sure foundation for faith.

    In other words if the Bible said, Genesis 1:2b And God made the earth exactly 23,565.35 solar days prior to the birth of the Messiah,” given your statement about what your eyes see (empiricism), aren’t you stuck in the Catch 22? It would be fideism because the Bible goes against empiricism. But there is no real faith in the one who calls God a liar.

    I’m not arguing that I’ve proven anything vis-a-vis geological age. I am merely using an absurd example to demonstrate a possible weakness in your position.

    After all, how do we know that they will never find Jesus’ bones except exclusively and only by faith? Surely that is not fideism is it?

  76. Hugh said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    In order to fulfill this: “We must pursue active, even graciously aggressive efforts to winsomely demonstrate how the Bible RULES Science.”:

    I ask all concerned to please read the article linked in #69, above.

    Thank you.
    Hugh

  77. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    “You presume (in both Jesus bones and geological age) that empiricism is infallible. This is not a sure foundation for faith.”

    There’s so much that my brain is bouncing around about, about this issue. It’s so so so true. It’s why I found Plantinga’s zinger (that rhymes) about how evolution is a defeater for naturalism, so bitingly ironic. The point again was, as I understood it, why should a purely naturalistic formed human brain (formed as a result of survival, closed system natural selection evolution) necessarily have the capability to understand the very supposed closed genetic combining system from which is sprang. That’s a lot of words. But it’s fun to see Plantinga use the evolutionist’s own thinking to attack what he saw as the real, darker, enemy, naturalism (or said maybe better, “materialism.”)

    Yes, of course, empiricism is not infallible.

    It’s all a Genesis 3:5 issue to me:

    For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
    (Genesis 3:5 ESV)

    The fall shows that man necessarily wanted to be like God. Science by it’s very nature is trying to unpack the mysteries that still lay before us. Who can deny that science has done amazing things. Look at what we learned about the atoms in the 20th century and the resulting power capabilities that were unleashed.

    What physics is running up against in the 21st century is “Quantum Mechanics.” Physics is unable to use it’s contemporary tools (i.e. classical physics) to determine what is really going on in physics! I really have tried to come along side Richard Feynman’s writings here. Even Tim Keller in a lecture mentioned how Quantum Mechanics is a game changer for the pure emiricists.

    I also really like the book, “A short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson. Yes, the reader will hear overtly evolutionary thought. But the take away, we know way way way less than we usually talk like we know. It’s a really good book, folks. It’s written by a top caliber guy, telling us, “there’s way way so much stuff we don’t yet know, in physics, biology, chemistry, nuclear physics, etc etc.”

    We need to retain our sense of humility. And of wonder. Our God never ceases to amaze us as Christians at what he is doing in our lives. Why should we expect His physical creation to be any different. Or the human body for that matter.

    I guess I am just saying, let’s retain our sense of wonder.

    Wow, what was in my coffee this afternoon??!?

  78. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    But only read Bryson after you follow your M’Cheyne 4 chapters for the day, of course. Priorities people. Bible first!!

  79. Steve Drake said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    RE: Vern Poythress interview @ Reformed Forum. Reed’s post #63.

    Poythress: ‘You have to change, not the Bible that has to change.’

    His distinctions on personalistic worldview vs. impersonalistic worldview were right on the money. Many evangelicals adopt the latter in their thinking when they come to Scripture.

    And Waddington’s acknowledgment that ‘all thinking brought captive to Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5) seems very apropos.

  80. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Plantinga also rips Dawkins to shreds. It’s worth the price of admission.

  81. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Joel: comment no. 64 got diverted by WordPress into the spam filter. Just now found it there. The reference to sin was not meant personally at you, but a reminder of a principle.

    I’m not seeking to be uncharitable Joel at all. A mistake is a mistake. There is nothing in me that is not also in you. What I am referring to is a repeated pattern of thought from numerous OEC guys who struggle to rightly prioritize the Bible over science. They affirm the Bible’s priority, and then in practice qualify it in ways that limits it or makes it null and void. Again, I see this as unintentional, but happening nonetheless.

    You may doubt that I am seeing something that is real and present. Do you think comments no. 73 and 75 offer any valid criticisms, even in the slightest?

    Regarding priority: isn’t it better to presume the Bible has priority to the extent it speaks? Can you see how putting things this way at least eliminates a potential pitfall?

    Regarding fideism, can you see why I do not think your comments get you out of the empiricism pickle jar?

    I’m not seeking to be uncharitable in saying these things. I’m hoping for iron sharpening, nothing more.

  82. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Here’s a quick comment, Reed.

    I regret that #64 got out of the spam filter because I think the discussion has taken a turn for the better.

    I think you make some good points in your later comments and will make a full response when I can.

    Joel

  83. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks Joel. Peace. Yep, blogging leaves a lot to be desired in the clarity department. Please know I mean well, even when my brain and fingers don’t work so well together.

  84. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Hey Reed:

    I picked up on this, as I was thinking about your post:

    ” I am GREATLY more concerned for the potential legion of young professing believers for whom this debate is critical.”

    As a parent of 3 young ones myself, I feel the same pressure. The same desire to teach my children according to the Word of God, in creation and so much more.

    The origins questions are so important. In the animus conference it was mentioned that in Jewish tradition somewhere, they did not teach their kids the first chapters of Genesis until they were 30. It was in a Fesko comment during that lecture, I can find the exact reference.

    As in some many matters as pertains to children, these matters start in the home, with parents. What I want is for families / parents who hold to old earth, to be able to teach their children according to those beliefs and not feel as though they are second class citizens. Parents should not have to be forced into the church’s YEC predominant view. This is one reason I like the OPC creation report. It lays out in several fashions the views that are OK, and the plusses and minuses.

    We all care deeply, as members of churches, parents, etc. I would encourage us all to try to look past people’s beliefs, say, these matters, and love the people and their families. The Old earthers. We don’t want to set up false barriers. If the Yec position is the right one, the God will reveal that to be so in His time. In the meantime, let’s love the people God brings to our churches. And only mark off those things that truly mark what the church of Christ is. If YECers want all the wolves who believe in old earth out of your churches, then you may get your wish. They will simply leave. But the loss will be the church’s loss. Let’s think long and hard about why we fight the battles we do. And to pick our battles wisely.

    I’m off my soapbox,

    Andrew

  85. Brad B said,

    June 30, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Hi Reed, thanks for picking up my points from #16. I’m pretty much limited in available time to contribute, but you did well to answer Joel’s critique of my post.

    For Joel, if I write something that seems to deny the necessity of reason for a robust worldview, be assured it is a misunderstanding. I am though, sensitive about attempts to elevate science above its place. Natural science is a third tier discipline behind theology and philosopy as far as yeilding truth and far too many elevate it above its capability.

    I appreciate Alans post #27, saying better than I could what I would want to say. Along with that, I think every established fact of emperical knowledge should be treated with some bit of skepticism simply because of mans limitations and the biblically revealed fact that spiritual conditions affect interpretations of sense perceptions.

  86. Andrew Duggan said,

    June 30, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Hi Hugh,
    Re: 17,

    Scripture speaks about the Sun moving across the face of the sky (the Heavens). Gen 1 speaks of the Sun being created in the Heavens, which it was, and Ps 19:6 about the circuit of the Sun. That is true observationally from standing on Earth. It does not say the Sun revolves around the Earth. The bottom line on the subject of Geocentrism vs Heliocentrism is that unless one has an observational frame of reference from outside the system, you can’t really tell what is moving around what. You can only observe relative motion. Projecting the correct and valid observational language from an earthly frame-of-reference about the motion of the Sun relative to the Earth to an absolute conclusion about the Sun revolving around the Earth is not a valid argument. Now there might be other sources for that other than the Ptolemaic/Aristotelian scientism of Geocentrism among the ancients, but it seems to me that with the rise spread of Greek culture that those were displaced by Ptolemaic/Aristotelian Geocentrism.

    The sad fact is that fallen men of all ages are bad thinkers, and we are all prone to allow external data and theories to inform our interpretations of Scripture, but re: WCF 1:7 in light of WCF 1:10 this is simply not a valid hermeneutic.

    Andrew

    P.S. Lest anyone should argue that Ps 93:1 teaches that the Earth is fixed and since the Scriptures also say the Sun moves that is a necessary consequence that the Sun moves around the Earth, I would point you to similar language in Ps 55:22 about the righteous, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” If one should have such a wooden understanding of how Scripture speaks then he must also admit that the righteous (believers) are planted in the Earth and are unable of physically moving.

  87. Andrew Duggan said,

    June 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Hi Joel,

    Re: 20,

    Of course if I went back into history to explain this to them they would not see or agree they were doing that, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t allowing that intrusion of scientism to take place in their thinking. OEC and Evolutionists deny they do this today. And frankly there are some YEC that allow science to intrude into their interpretive method. (See my comment above about fallen men of all ages being bad thinkers.) However, of all the “positions” on origins, only YEC is not based on the intrusion of scientism. The bottom line is that the Scriptures do not say that the Sun revolves around the Earth, it speaks about the Sun’s movement across the face of the sky, which is still a true observational statement. We still speak this way today, when speaking about sunrise and sunset, and if the Sun is in the East, (morning), West (afternoon) or South (mid-day) (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere). If you are going to claim the legitimacy of reading Scripture to actually teach Geocentrism (which then needs to be corrected by science) you must admit that everyone today that speaks of the Sun observationally from an earthly frame of reference is actually still believing in Geocentrism.

    So we must entirely reject the error of the allowing any scientific theory (scientism) to inform our understanding of Scripture, not simply replace old out-dated science with new.

    Andrew.

  88. Andrew Duggan said,

    June 30, 2012 at 9:02 am

    All,

    One more followup: in light of some of the above comments:

    When I wrote “If you are going to claim the legitimacy of reading Scripture to actually teach Geocentrism (which then needs to be corrected by science) …” note well I said “… reading Scripture to actually teach “, not “Scripture actually teaching”.

    Thanks.

  89. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Just a final thought:

    I know I am beating a dead horse. But I appreciate plantinga’s work. He’s lived in the evolutionists world (ie read their books) and uses their own arguments against them.

    Can we not see that the world is placing a huge intellectual challenge before the church? Some of is may have reason to fear. Of course, we never have anything to fear!

    My point is, be bold in studying the evolutionists. Dig into their literature.Ask questions of the one putting forth evolutionary doctrine around the lunch table at work. As Captain Picard says, “engage!”

    I just think we need to as a church recognize our untiy and engage the unbelieving world more, instead of one another. Yes, we must sit in our bunkers, and debate about whether this or that weapon is better as we as a church move forward militantly. But let us remember at all times, the cross of Jesus goes on before us into battle. The victory is one. Let’s love the evolutionists as we study them and learn their thought. All the while, rejecting outright the very first assumptions that they built their thought system on.

    Longer then I intended,

    Andrew

  90. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

    *won

  91. Steve Drake said,

    June 30, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Reed (from original post)

    What we believe about origins directly applies to this subject. If we agree that “being born this way” is true this means in the end that a propensity for what the Bible calls sexual perversion is actually a part of God’s original perfect creation.

    If the propensity to sexual perversion is part and parcel of Christ’s work in creation, an act of the very outflow of His being and character and for what in Gen. 1:31 at the end and summation of His whole entire work in six days He calls ‘very good’, then it is normalized, instituted, inaugurated, and condoned behavior. I get that.

    How do you tie that in with an OE and millions and millions of years position however, and Is it a gospel issue within the correct definition of ‘gospel’?

    I think Todd may be right in #43. You draw a line between the ‘damning conviction’ of fornication and sexual perversion and to what one believes about origins, whether YE or OE. I applaud you in this. This is a beautiful connection, a loose end knotted up, the end wicked up shut.

    I am confused by your denial in #58 that this is not a ‘gospel’ issue though. I think I see now that Todd has drawn the right inference from what you seem to be saying.

    Can you clarify this please?

  92. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Andrew Duggan @ 87

    Hello Andrew,

    My main point is that at the time of a controversy it is possible to sincerely think that Scripture is telling us something about the fundamental structure of the universe when Scripture is instead using everyday observational language for a different purpose.

    Joel

  93. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Brad B @ 85

    Hello Brad,

    I agree that theology and philosophy come prior to science, if only implicitly, because they provide the interpretive framework for empirical facts. But some interpretations are more strained than others, and if your interpretation ends up being quite strained, then I think it is time to revisit your theological and philosophical framework. If you insist that a single scripture reference trumps mountains of evidence obtained by sense perceptions, then I think it is wise to ask yourself whether the scripture reference is saying what you think it is saying.

    Joel

  94. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Steve: I may have read Todd wrong. He said:

    “I’m more than a bit surprised that Reformed folk are now raising YEC to a gospel issue.”

    Given his comments on the prior thread (“Apparently”) and the broader context of this conversation I may have read into what he was saying, hearing something more explicit than he meant. That is, I took “gospel issue” to be short hand from Todd to mean “affirming YEC is essential to being saved.” If that is wrong, then I am wrong and apologize to Todd.

    If all he means by “gospel issue” is that somehow topics involving origins, be they Genesis 1-3 exegesis, scientific information, or OE/YE theories, then yes, I am raising these to that level.

    I think I carefully qualified with my statement vis-a-vis the connection between sexual perversion and origins a telling/proving example. In that same comment I also made it clear that I am not equating an affirmation of YEC with an essential belief in the gospel. All I am saying is that errors in origins can lead and do lead to fatal errors in other areas of belief.

    I guess at this point I’d ask Todd, if we’re understanding him correctly, why this such a surprise? This seems kind of standard fair in this discussion. Otherwise, why have it? Why all the hoopla over origins if it really does not impact our belief in Christ?

  95. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Joel, in your response to Brad:

    “If you insist that a single scripture reference trumps mountains of evidence obtained by sense perceptions, then I think it is wise to ask yourself whether the scripture reference is saying what you think it is saying.”

    And if after having done that, and you’re still convinced that science is wrong, then what?

    Brad’s comments are not a denial of what you are noting. They are pushing for a biblical prioritizing. Admittedly this will end up leaving us with tension between the World and the Church, but a source of true truth tells us to expect that, right?

  96. Todd said,

    June 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

    “That is, I took “gospel issue” to be short hand from Todd to mean “affirming YEC is essential to being saved.” If that is wrong, then I am wrong and apologize to Todd.”

    Accepted. I did not mean essential to being saved.

    “I guess at this point I’d ask Todd, if we’re understanding him correctly, why this such a surprise? This seems kind of standard fair in this discussion. Otherwise, why have it? Why all the hoopla over origins if it really does not impact our belief in Christ?”

    Because historically the question of origins had little to do with age of the earth, extent of the flood, or if animals died before the fall; they were questions of creation ex-nihilo and historical Adam.

  97. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Todd: accepting your observation has some merit to it*, why do you think these kinds of origin questions are relatively new? Then, do you think their newness necessarily invalidates them?

    * We’re ignoring here that origin questions have always been a part of the Church’s conversation, including age of the earth subjects (e.g., Augustine, Origen). What is new is the way we are framing these questions. But for the sake of working through your observation I think we can safely leave this off the table.

  98. Steve Drake said,

    June 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Reed @ 94,

    Why all the hoopla over origins if it really does not impact our belief in Christ?

    I think we need to separate the above into several questions, or rephrase it somewhat, maybe thusly:

    1) Why all the hoopla over whether the OE/millions and millions of years interpretation vs. YE/thousands of years interpretion impacts our understanding of Christ’s work in creation and on the cross? How does the correct interpretation affect our understanding of Christ.

    and 2) What are the implications of this for the ‘gospel’?

    You have drawn a perfect illustration with the fornication, sexual perversion connection in answer to #2 in my opinion. I have not seen a response from our OE brothers that they even acknowledge this connection, or are willing to engage it.

  99. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Hello Reed,

    It’s going to take me awhile to pull together the multiple strands of our discussion.

    First, I think it incorrect to say that unbelievers think that science has “proved” that the dead do not rise. Perhaps some armchair atheist philosophers might say so, but I don’t think that is the position of serious thinkers. Rather, the possibility of miracles is excluded by their materialist worldview, and aside from that, they would say that the occurrence of any miracle has not been demonstrated to their satisfaction. Empiricism can never deny the possibility of miraculous resurrection, nor can there any empirical evidence that dead men cannot rise through miraculous means, and I think the atheist philosopher would agree with this statement. And I think you would agree that the use of empirical methods to understand the material world (science) is not the same as the assumption that only material phenomena occur and empirical methods are the only way to find truth (scientism).

    The “bones of Jesus” example is of course fanciful, but I raised it to make the point that faith is not, as Mark Twain once said, “believing something you know ain’t true.” Faith is believing things that we have good reason to think are true, though there may be no supporting evidence directly before our eyes. Empiricism is certainly not infallible, but neither should we say it doesn’t matter.

    Let me address your fanciful example, “And God made the earth exactly 23,565.35 solar days prior to the birth of the Messiah.” Yes, a statement like this would make me revisit my empirical investigation of Earth’s age. Or maybe I would say that I don’t know how to reconcile them, as is the case in many other instances, and trust that it will somehow all make sense in the end.

    Joel

  100. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Steve: I understand your point, but I intentionally worded the question the way it is. Pending Todd’s responses, the wording will be helpful in exploring the next step.

  101. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Reed @ 95

    “And if after having done that, and you’re still convinced that science is wrong, then what?”

    I would say, let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

    I didn’t come here to convince you of OEC; I came here to help you understand why someone like me holds the OEC view, which I thought was something you were looking for (I apologize for barging in if this was not the case). I would be happy if our discussion concluded with you saying, “I don’t agree with you, Joel, but I see better where you are coming from.” It doesn’t bother me that you, my wife, my pastor, or anyone is convinced that YEC is correct.

    The difficulty comes when YEC adherents insist that YEC is the only biblically acceptable view or that YEC is more scientifically supported than OEC.

    I agree that the Bible has absolute authority to the extent that it actually speaks on any given topic. But what if I tell you that I’ve humbly thought through things, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the Bible is not speaking on the age of the Earth and that the science is right? Now what?

    Joel

  102. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Joel: I’m beginning to think that maybe an underlying issue for you is the appearance that YEC folks in effect deny irrefutable empirical evidence. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m reading this last set of comments as you saying, “well in principle I agree with your example. However let’s not forget the potential for the error of ignoring empirically derived facts.” Not trying to be contentious at all here, but rather trying to capture what is driving your comments, what is your chief concern.

    As to it being maybe (only, merely?) armchair atheist philosophers who would deny the resurrection, respectfuly (I’m smiling as I write):

    > You are being seriously naive,
    > You are seriously unaware of the world around you, or
    >A natural desire to not concede a point you think might weaken your case –

    Has driven you to say something rather silly.

    Are the Four Horseman of Atheism “armchair atheist philosophers”? Are such eminent scientists as Stephen Hawking, Jay Gould, et.al. lightweights whose opinion does not hold sway over the science academy? A denial of the possibility of the resurrection is not even something these folks want to argue over because to them, based on the verifiable and undeniable facts of science – life after death does not happen.

    As to Jesus bones, so answer the question. What will you do when they find “Jesus'” bones? (If things progress like they normally do, you know, providentially, this will happen.)

    Mark Twain’s definition of faith is ludicrous but understandable where it comes from (i.e., the Church’s failure to clearly articulate faith coupled with unbelief’s consuming desire to deny the truth). The definition you provided, while I appreciate what you are trying to say, leaves me unsatisfied. You base your definition of faith on “good reasons.” Faith indeed is rational, but the rational component of faith IS CERTAINLY NOT its foundation. Faith’s foundation is not rational but relational. We know infallibly (a noetic, rational assurance) because we are known infallibly (John 10:14).

    Further, such relationally grounded faith results in this astonishing circumstance of affairs:

    Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

    Now, if you mean by “good reasons” something explicitly contrary to empirically derived truth, I’m with you. If however you are striving to argue for something like faith that is not contradictory to empirically derived truth, then I cannot quite go there with you. Yes, when we see things without the noetic effects of the curse clouding our empirical abilities, this will certainly be true. But that does not happen until this creation is pefected. In the meantime we must live by these principles:

    • There is nothing inherently contradictory between special revelation and general revelation.
    • Yet the observational abilities of the examiner (mankind) are incorrectably(by him) flawed.
    • Thus his empirically derived facts will always be approximate; they will include both accuracy errors.
    • Because of his observational flawed starting point, man the observer can never truly be sure where truth ends and error begins in his observations.
    • This does not make man’s observations useless; approximate truth is sufficient for ordinary physical life. The errors inherent in his observational conclusions do not necessarily/always yield fatal results.
    • It does mean that such observations, when they touch on matters of spiritual life, are always suspect.
    • The simple fact of the state of affairs means that man cannot trust his observations for confidence in spiritual matters.
    • This is not to say man’s empirical derived observations cannot play a role in understanding spiritual matters.
    • It is to say that they must play at best a tentative role, a subservient role of a flawed source of truth that occasionally provides helpful insights.

    Now, lest I be heard effectively denying the role of general revelation in the Christian life, let me be clear. No, that is not what I am saying. Instead I am arguing for a clear demarcation of who is Master (special revelation) and who is slave (general revelation). I believe stating the relationship between the two in any manner that is less than this runs the risk of accepting the possibility of at least an equality between the two (or worse, the superiority of gen over special).

    Your last comment concerning my fanciful Gen 1:2b hypothetical gives me reason to believe you understand and agree with what I’m saying here. If so, I go back to my first question. Why does it sound like you are saying, “yeah …, but however …”?

  103. Andrew Duggan said,

    June 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Hi Joel @92,

    Well that’s not now how it came across to me. However, I do agree about Scripture’s use of descriptive language when speaking about the Creation is sometimes not speaking about the fundamental structure of creation. That is why I wrote about observational statements about the Sun. However, I am left with the impression that you tend to think that the Scriptures rarely, if ever (beyond Gen 1:1 affirming that God is the Creator), speak about the fundamental structure of Creation.

    The issue remains: what is to inform us whether the Scriptures are telling us something fundamentally about the structure of Creation (I think using the word universe here is unhelpful), or not. Science cannot help us make that determination, only the Scriptures can.

    That is my main point.

    My comparison of Ps 93:1 and Ps 55:22 is a demonstration of how Scripture informs about whether or not it is speaking fundamentally about the structure of creation.

    Gen 1, however, does give us a concrete account not only that God created the heavens and the earth but also gave us a timeline and some high-level information on how He created them. FWIW, Gen 1-11 give us a concrete account of the entire timeline of history from Creation to the calling of Abram. But to the point, the timeline of Gen 1 in the space of six normal length days, is stating something concrete and fundamental. Applying Scripture to inform us on making that determination we see this is confirmed by Ex 20:11. Otherwise the reason annexed to the fourth commandment is a fiction, and like it or not, the consequence, however unintentional of that is to impugn the Righteousness, Holiness Justice, Goodness and Truth of God himself. I know that language is not popular, but if the phrase “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth the seas and all that in them is” doesn’t mean six days as the same sort of day we are to remember as the Sabbath then how does one avoid implicitly charging God with the use of equivocating language? Even if one buys into Klein’s upper-register cosmology (which I don’t) it is not of any use for avoiding charging God, because all the Decalogue in Ex 20 including the reason annexed to the 4th commandment in Ex 20:11 is absolutely “lower-register”. That is confirmed by Deut 29:29. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

    Andrew

  104. Andrew Duggan said,

    June 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Reed,

    Now, lest I be heard effectively denying the role of general revelation in the Christian life, let me be clear. No, that is not what I am saying. Instead I am arguing for a clear demarcation of who is Master (special revelation) and who is slave (general revelation)

    Well said.

  105. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Joel: I’m grateful for your interaction. I do not think you’ve come to “evangelize” for the OEC position. Please don’t let the necessary pointed-ness of conversation, combined with the weaknesses of blogging, deter you from being persuaded that I do indeed respect and honor you. In no way do I see this post or our conversation as a match intended to prove OEC vs. YEC.

    Hopefully that removed, I think you are answering the question I asked in my last comment. You said, “I would say, let each be fully convinced in his own mind.”

    This can be read as an appeal to fideism. I take it that this is not what you mean. Are you merely saying that the individual has to be persuaded in his own mind?

    O.k., persuaded on what basis? By the combination of Biblical interpretation and empirical data? What happens when there is a conflict between these? What is the individual Christian to do, the pastor to do, the congregation to do? You see, the conflict will come. Where is real assurance in such matters going to come from?

    You said, “I agree that the Bible has absolute authority to the extent that it actually speaks on any given topic. But what if I tell you that I’ve humbly thought through things, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the Bible is not speaking on the age of the Earth and that the science is right? Now what?”

    Assuming you and I were in a relationship where extended time delving into these matters was a proper use of both of our resources, I’d want to sit down and work with you through the various reasons for your conclusion. I expect in some areas we’d agree that the Bible is silent on this or that particular component, and that we’d disagree in the others.

    But here is the key to my concern in this post. In those areas where we disagreed I’d spend my time with you seeking to examine and identify the necessary interpretation of the Bible on these things. I would listen to the challenges from science, but I would not let them determine what the Bible means. E.g., I would expect my doctor to use the lab to check for the presence of colon cancer and not rely on the Bible. Contrary, when we’re talking about biblical interpretation I would rely on the tools of interpretation and not science to determine what the Bible means.

    Finally, if you disagreed with my interpretation I would respond with peace and love, even if you reached a conclusion in some factor that I believed meant your faith was worthless. I would treat you with dignity and respect while maintaining my conviction. I do that now in my ministry with some who have rejected their childhood faith through the influence of evolutionary considerations. But note, I do so not because society, my momma, or science tells me this is the right way to behave. I do it because the Bible tells me this is how sincere God-born love expresses itself.

  106. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Reed @ 102

    “As to it being maybe (only, merely?) armchair atheist philosophers who would deny the resurrection”

    Lots and lots of people deny the resurrection.

    “Are the Four Horseman of Atheism armchair atheist philosophers?”

    Yes, from everything I’ve heard, prominent academically trained atheist philosophers see them that way.

    “As to Jesus bones, so answer the question. What will you do when they find “Jesus’” bones?”

    Actually, didn’t someone already report “finding” Jesus’ bones a couple years back? I’m fully aware that certain people would love to create a contrived fact.

    Now onto faith. I’d say that faith has a subjective (personally felt) component and an objective (outside oneself) component. Regarding the latter, I’ll note that throughout the Bible, God provides reasons for people to believe Him. Compared to me, you seem to more strongly emphasize the subjective component and less strongly emphasize the objective component. I know you are not saying this, but it comes across to me that you are placing your personal sense of assurance as the foundation of your faith, and if so, how are you different from a Mormon? The fact that God knows His elect infallibly is one of the secret things of God.

    Joel

  107. Steve Drake said,

    June 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Joel @ 101,

    The difficulty comes when YEC adherents insist that YEC is the only biblically acceptable view…

    Respectfully, Joel, the premises upon which this statement are built are fallacious. Can you see that? It’s a very useful tool in the OE handbook, and I’ve seen it used dozens of times over and over, but it needs to be dismantled, nipped in the bud, and forever shown as the fallacy it is, and I would encourage you to think through the ‘exact’ premises for which you even say this.

  108. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Steve @ 107

    A very gifted, humble, and Christ-loving intern from our church was called to a church in the NoCal OPC presbytery. The presbytery voted down his ordination one or two times specifically because he was not YEC (they explicitly told him this was why they voted no). According to the OPC creation report, this man’s views were fully acceptable, yet the majority of the presbytery refused to ordain. Some of the YEC-only men did not attend a later presbytery meeting, and our former intern then managed to get a majority vote for ordination.

    Joel

  109. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Reed @ 105

    “Are you merely saying that the individual has to be persuaded in his own mind?”

    I’m referring to Romans 14:5. There are some issues where brothers in the Lord will need to agree to amicably differ.

    Joel

  110. Steve Drake said,

    June 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Joel @ 108,
    Let’s take a look at these examples from the premises of your statement in post #101,reiterated in my post #207:

    ‘The difficulty comes when virgin-birthers insist that the virgin birth is the only Biblically acceptable view.

    ‘The difficulty comes when physical resurrectionists insist that Christ’s physical resurrection is the only Biblically acceptable view.’

    The difficulty comes when paedobaptist adherents insist that paedobaptism is the only Biblically acceptable view.’

    Etc., etc., etc. ad infinitum.

    I am challenging the very premises you want to use to claim this as a point of high-ground. It is fallacious. It is inconsistent with everything else you want to claim about your Christianity. I would encourage you to stop using it. As a mantra of the OE handbook, you’ve gotten a lot of mileage out it, but it’s time to dismantle it and throw it away.

  111. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Joel: I think maybe I’d ask you to consider studying “faith” a bit more. My description is nothing more than that summarized in our mutual standards (you’re OPC, right?).

    Faith has three essential components: knowledge, agreement and trust. All of these must be given by the Holy Spirit in order to be valid saving faith. There is no dichotomy between the subjective element (the Spirit’s gifting) and the objective element (the content of the knowledge). There is a relational prioritization however, the subjective is the source of the objective. The Early Church debated this and concluded it this way: we do not know in order to believe; instead we believe in order to know.

    This is a vital and very necessary distinction that I’m not sure I see you adhering to in your comments. (May just be the weaknesses of blogging, so I’m not concluding anything).

    I’m not placing my personal sense of assurance over empirical evidences. The subjective in view is not me and my own opinions. It is the infallible witness of the Spirit in view. To be sure, this is experienced by me subjectively. But that does not weaken it. On the contrary your experience subjectively of the same truth does not rests on a mutual agreement, but it rests on the Spirit’s actual working in you too. This is both objective (Someone truly outside of us) and subjective (Something truly known inside of us).

    I’m arguing that the only sure foundation for true knowledge in faith is never some combination of my own subjective convictions buttressed by objective empirical conclusions. Instead the only true foundation is the Spirit’s own witness (objective) to/in us (subjective).

    I guess it is fair to say Joel that I’m pushing against what appears to me to possibly be a mixing of rationalism and fideism in your arguments. If I am right on this then you are hearing my responses filtered through a grid from which I am not operating . You are hearing comments that sound like they are championing fideism (faith alone, be damned knowledge!). That is not the direction I am leaning because it begins from a fault starting point. Instead I am arguing for a starting point that takes seriously the Fall and its effects on our ability to know.

    Frankly, we need the Spirit to know more that I think you may be recognizing. I suggest that there is more to the infallibility angle than you think is there. More than that, I am saying that it is a better foundation. I don’t think it will itself convert your from OEC to YEC. I do think it will help you listen a bit more objectively to the whole debate. Even more, when those inevitable Jesus bone challenges come, I think it will give you and those to whom you minister much greater security and confidence!

    (E.g., if/when you face the challenge of homosexuality with someone close to you, you will find that this way of approaching things will give you a surer foundation from which to love them and maintain your love for God’s truth that says the issue truly is sin, no matter what empirical observations say.)

  112. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Steve @ 110

    I’m sorry, but I don’t follow you.

    Are you saying that OEC is at the same level as denying the virgin birth and physical resurrection of Jesus? (I’m just trying to figure out what you mean.)

    Joel

  113. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Joel: no, I don’t think Steve is saying that. He is challenging a rhetorical tactic often used by OEC folks. Ask him to unpack that.

  114. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Reed at 63 – very good interview. Readers, you should listen to that, at the link.

    Peace.

    AB

  115. Alan D. Strange said,

    June 30, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Mr. Norris,

    Those details with respect to the Presbytery of Northern California (OPC) are not quite correct.

    I am not a member of that Presbytery but am familiar with some of the history with respect to this matter. Perhaps someone from that Presbytery could give it more precisely but this is how I understand it: it was not a majority, but a minority, of that Presbytery, whose vote did not permit the candidate in question from proceeding forward.

    In the OPC, for a candidate to be licensed or ordained, a vote of 3/4 plus one is needed in the affirmative. Or to put it another way, as does the Form of Government, if 1/4 is not satisfied with the candidate’s examination, the presbytery does not proceed to license or ordain.

    The vote in that Presbytery was in the majority for the candidate, but there was at least 1/4 who did not wish to sustain the candidate’s examination. The Presbytery did later vote, with sufficient number, to proceed to ordination. The record needs to be set straight for the sake of all concerned.

  116. Steve Drake said,

    June 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Joel @ 112,
    Fair enough. Reed at 113. let me try to do just that.

    Having trouble getting my comments to post. Lost everything I had typed for last 20 minutes. Doorbell ringing. Be back shortly.

  117. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Steve: hah! Providence at work! Happens to me regularly.

    (Sadly for me, the times I wish it would have happened is when the Spirit lets me post a comment I will later regret. But then, His lessons in humility are always precious. :-))

  118. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    When is providence ever not at work? OK OK, sometimes, it seems more striking. The joys of commenting amongst fellow concerned theologically reformed brothers! I have had several of my long Comments disappear in cyberspace.

    Thanks to the God who is in control,
    Andrew

  119. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Alan @ 115

    Thank you very much for the setting the record straight!

  120. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Joel: by any chance are you the Joel at Scripps?

  121. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I’ve golfed with a guy from scripps (that ucsd)

  122. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Reed @ 120

    Yes, I am the Joel at Scripps.

  123. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Reed,

    Actually, I’m PCA.

    Perhaps what I say below will help. It comes from my reading of Van Til.

    Presuppositions are the foundation for understanding any facts. But not all presuppositions are equal. Correct presuppositions will be found to be consistent with the facts, and incorrect presuppositions will be found to be inconsistent with the some of the facts. For example, the materialist presupposes that reality consists only of matter and is governed by blind natural mechanisms, but then he thinks someone is morally wrong if they do certain acts. But moral rightness and wrongness can’t come from matter and natural mechanisms, and this inconsistency demonstrates that his presupposition was wrong.

    So yes, I agree that we believe in order to know. But reason (humanly speaking) confirms the correctness of our faith.

    “I’m arguing that the only sure foundation for true knowledge in faith is never some combination of my own subjective convictions buttressed by objective empirical conclusions. Instead the only true foundation is the Spirit’s own witness (objective) to/in us (subjective).”

    I think you may have put your finger on a critical difference between you and me. If you don’t mind, let me run this by my pastor and a professor at WSCal.

    Thanks, Reed, for this interaction. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to dig deeper and get beyond the shallow back-and-forth that often characterizes YEC-OEC discussions. I think, though, I will need to sign off on substantive further discussion because the kids want to play and other projects need to be worked on.

    Joel

  124. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Do you know a ‘jake’ that got married last weekend, Joel? We had fun golfing in Monterey last year…

  125. Hugh said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Mr Duggan @86 & 87 ~ Amen! Thank you for teaching me that we cannot prove the earth is still.

    Dr Strange nails it @27 ~

    “General revelation, according to Psalm 19, Romans 1, and elsewhere, is an external and internal (Romans 2) witness to the God who is there. It testifies to His greatness and that we are answerable to HIm. In other words, the things that are seen reveal and testify to the ultimate Unseen.

    It is true that science is involved, at least in part, in examining the world that God made, the world that serves as a general revelation of Him to us. But what calls itself science is an interpretation of things that it witnesses in nature, it is not nature itself, or, to put it another way, science is not general revelation. General revelation is not a word revelation; it is picture revelation of Him who is the eternal Word, together with the other Persons of the Godhead.

    To equate science and general revelation is to attribute to the enterprise of science something that does not belong to it. General revelation is what it is–the creation’s witness to the Creator–and science is something else, either a believing or unbelieving interpretation of that creation. And even then, general revelation is only properly understood, in a ultimate sense, through the lens of Scripture.”

    As I said in #74, what else does GR teach besides God’s wrath & power & Godhead?

  126. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Did Dante say, ‘the purpose of reason is to elicit faith’

  127. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Joel: appreciate your comments. Enjoy the children.

    I admit that some Van Til reflections have informed my thinking about these things. (I’m a WTS Philly grad.)

    In the end I do not think we disagree, if I might refer to something earlier merely to summarize our conversation to this point, with regards to the prioritization of the Bible over science. Given your professional training and calling, that itself is a great encouragement me.

    I think rather we’re dealing with nuances as to how these commitments actually work out in practice. I’d agree that at times YEC arguments can be quite uninformed. I’m concerned that the OEC response at times does not seem to reckon with the nature of the priority here. Even in challenging this I admit that this is not an easy subject, and one both sides can be prone to failing in.

    All that to say thanks, and as you have time, let’s talk more.

    (If/when you have time I’d be grateful to ask you a question or two off subject and off line. I think we’ve got sufficient trust between us that you might be able to help me explore some things outside my expertise. Thanks!)

  128. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Scripps is cool:

    http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lifedetection2012/lifedetection20123rd.shtml

  129. Hugh said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Dear Dante,

    Is it hot there?

    “Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom… Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.” ~ Martin Luther, Works, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148.

    “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” ~ Table Talks in 1569.

  130. Cris Dickason said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Goodness. Go on vacation for a day or two… 125+ comments in 2days. Let’s see if I can catch up while waiting for a delayed flight out of Columbia, SC.

  131. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    We will ask our questions to the Martians, once Scripps find them. Good times. Welcome back, Cris.

  132. Steve Drake said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Hit the return key or end key when I meant to hit the shift key or somethin’. Frustrating. One of those ‘aha’ moments. Like ‘oh,oh’, how do I get it back? ‘Refresh’ key, no that’s not it. Back now, so let me try again, and be more careful.

    Joel, to your question at 112,

    Are you saying that OEC is at the same level as denying the virgin birth and physical resurrection of Jesus? (I’m just trying to figure out what you mean.)

    I think what I’m trying to say is that, and Joel I apologize, because this is going to be the short version of what I lost, but the OE/millions and millions of years vs. YE/thousands of years question/issue is of the same nature as the virgin birth question/issue, or any other issue upon which the claims of Christianity are based. They both come from Scripture. We approach them in the same way. They are equally important in getting ‘correct’ because they both come from the same source.

    The reason we all believe in the virgin birth is that we all agree, at least so far, that this is what Scripture teaches. There’s no current debate over this. It is taken on ‘faith’ however, just like the resurrection, or the 2nd coming, or our own bodily resurrection at the 2nd coming. We ‘know’ these things from Scripture, no other way, and rely upon the accuracy of those claims in Scripture to make the claims we do. We realize from Heb. 11:6, ‘that it is impossible to please God without exactly that, what?, faith.

    It is invalid in the area of our ‘disagreements’ then, for one side to try and take the high-ground (an extremely good rhetorical tactic as Reed has pointed out), but nonetheless a fallacy of argument, and make the claim that it is wrong (this is the implication of your ‘The difficulty comes…’) and say that the other side is the only Biblically acceptable view.

    You have as much right to make that claim as an OEC that yours is the only Biblically acceptable view as I do. We implicitly make that claim when we say the virgin birth is the only Biblically acceptable view, or any other truth claim about Christianity. In effect, both sides are making this claim against the other already. We are both vying for the ‘correct’ Biblical view. The source is the same, the approach is the same, the implications, however, are not.

    I think it is better then, if we both agree that we are implicitly making truth claims about the ‘correctness’ or ‘only Biblically acceptable view’ for either OEC or YEC, and not saying that the one side is forcing it upon the other. It’s not a matter of forcing it upon one another, it is a matter of which one is correct, just as we have determined that the virgin-birthers are correct.

    Joel, I honestly don’t know if I’ve muddled or helped. Perhaps others can help, but I wish we could get back to the connection that Reed has drawn in the original post. That’s what we should be discussing i think.

    This is kinda long, I better post it, before I lose it again to the vagaries of my fingers, keyboard, and possibly internet fairies? :)

  133. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks, Reed. You are welcome to contact me anytime.

    Joel

  134. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Pretty good Steve.

  135. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Joel, if you want more info on norcal opc developments, email me at andrew.d.buckingham@gmail.com. I am a deacon, not an elder, but I’ve witnessed and experienced then unfolding since 2004 when I joined the PC in San Jose. Its interesting….

  136. Steve Drake said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Reed @ 134,

    Pretty good Steve.

    LOL (in the good way).

  137. Joel Norris said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Steve @ 132

    Perhaps this will help.

    I see different levels of “acceptable views”. E.g.,

    1) Believers-only baptism: I accept you as a brother in Christ, but not in my denomination.

    2) Classic pre-millenial: I accept you as a brother in Christ in my denomination, but I think you have the wrong understanding the Scripture.

    Given the PCA and OPC creation reports, I understand that certain versions of OEC are in category 2, and that was what I was referring to by “acceptable”. My complaint is when a view officially accepted by the denomination is not considered “acceptable” by members of that denomination (c.f., NoCal OPC presbytery).

    Does this help?

    Joel

  138. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Joel,

    You need to look into these conference lectures from 2009, I think.

    http://www.pncnopc.org/audio/audio-presbytery/2009-animus-imponentis-conference/

    I would be interested to hear what you think. They have transcripts too, it touches precisely on your last comment.

  139. Steve Drake said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Joel @ 137,
    Not really, brother. I refer you back to Reed’s post of #113 and the use of rhetorical tactics. I am asking you to move ‘beyond’ any PCA or OPC creation reports. I am asking that the discussion as per Reed’s original post and the connection he draws between fornication and sexual perversion and OEC vs. YEC be discussed, analyzed, and dissected.

    But, come back later brother, spend time with the kids. They grow up much too fast.

  140. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Well, its good to iron out creation issues, for the kids’ sake. That was also in Reeds post.

    Off to tend to my saplings,
    Andrew

  141. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    My question during the q&a of the animus conference was your exact question, Joel. The OPC GA received the creation report. Some in the norcal Presbytery thinks receiving a report renders it moot.

    Rather, the opc received it. And thus, the animus imponentis of the church is revealed.

    I still have many questions for YECers.

    But the only unanswered question from me for right now is?

    Anyone up for twilight rates? We could still get 18 holes in if we start now.

    I wonder what golf on mars would be like…

  142. Steve Drake said,

    July 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    the argument over origins is vital to all the other THREATS to the Church in our land.

    and:

    Take for example the issue of the normalization of sexual fornication in the American Church. Let’s not be wheenies with our words here. Not believing in 6/24 creation might not mean you’re a heretic going to hell, but believing you’re a born-again, Holy-Spirit baptized, justified-adopted-sanctified, persevering-to-glory child of God who rejoices in the freedom of his sexual fornication IS a damning conviction.

    Let me try and circumscribe this a bit, and ask this question:

    ‘ Do my OE brothers and sisters and their millions and millions of years of death, disease, suffering, mass exinctions and natural disasters before Adam sinned, see a threat from their OE/millions and millions of years position as to the normalization of sexual fornication in the American Church?’ If so, how? If not, why not?

  143. andrew said,

    July 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Steve,

    I don’t think someone who disagrees with Ussher necessarily approves of fornication. Is that the question? You ask why not? the question strikes me as a bit strange. Reeds post doesn’t draw these conclusions. I just thought he was elaborating.

    Peace,
    AB

  144. Andrew Duggan said,

    July 1, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Dear Joel,

    Although the following

    My complaint is when a view officially accepted by the denomination is not considered “acceptable” by members of that denomination (c.f., NoCal OPC presbytery).

    was not directed toward me, to me it works out like this:

    The Creation debate is controversy of religion.

    WCF 1:10 states

    The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture

    I cannot simply take the OPC or PCA’s word for it. Synods and Councils are subject to err, and if one means to bind my conscience that I must agree with the OPC Creation Report because I am member of the OPC than I am willing to face the consequences.

    Does this mean that I unchurch OEC men, or churches that tolerate them? No, but I am concerned that their hermeneutic is very much the same as the OEC men of the past, whose hermeneutic when applied to other areas of Scripture beyond Genesis leads to the denial of the virgin birth of Christ His Miracles and His bodily resurrection.

    The last time OEC (OT modernism) was tolerated it grew into NT Modernism. It is a shame to see the life-boats from the shipwreck of American Presbyterianism row straight towards the same icebergs that destroyed it. The bigger shame is the assumption that their little life boats are unsinkable.

    One can dismiss the slippery slope all they want, but this is not the first time the Reformed churches have started down this hill.

    Andrew

  145. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Andrew,

    I think the purpose of the Creation Report is not to elicit agreement but instead to provide guidance on what creation views are considered acceptable by the denomination.

    If you disagree with the Creation Report, I think you have two righteous options:

    1) Not oppose the ordination of men with denomination-acceptable views despite your personal disagreement. I think it would be fine for you to also use the appropriate means to argue against OEC and to try to get the Creation Report revised.

    2) Peaceably withdraw from the denomination.

    Joel

  146. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Reed,

    I can’t promise frequent interaction, but I’d like to come back to something you previously stated.

    “Frankly, we need the Spirit to know more that I think you may be recognizing. I suggest that there is more to the infallibility angle than you think is there. More than that, I am saying that it is a better foundation.”

    I definitely agree we need the Spirit’s illumination, but the infallibility angle still troubles me. I’ve been thinking it over, and perhaps the following describes the difference between you and me.

    My view is that all human knowledge is mediated. That is, humanly speaking we can never know anything directly but can only know things through our senses, our mental and emotional faculties, etc. Even to know something from God’s Word, we must read letters or hear words and apply our powers of induction and logic. Even when the Holy Spirit removes the dark veil and illumines the Scripture for us, our knowledge is still mediated – just more clearly than before, and we can know ultimate truths and not just proximate truths. But because our knowledge is mediated by imperfect means that are subject to the remaining sin nature, we cannot know anything infallibly.

    Your view seems to be that we can know some things without mediation, as if by the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit (although I suppose you would say not apart from Scripture). And I don’t know how you could claim to have infallible knowledge aside from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    I’m not a historian or a theologian, but your view strikes me as going beyond what the Westminster Assembly intended for chapter 18. And your view doesn’t seem to me to fit well with Reformed theology as I’ve learned it. But perhaps someone more learned than I could comment.

    Joel

  147. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Andrew Buckingham @ 124

    “Do you know a ‘jake’ that got married last weekend, Joel? We had fun golfing in Monterey last year…”

    Sorry, I don’t. There’s about 800 people at Scripps.

  148. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Follow-up to my comment @ 145

    I’m assuming Creation Reports are intended to be more than merely informational.

  149. Brad B said,

    July 2, 2012 at 3:01 am

    Hi Joel, you might find The Wisdom of the Reflected Light of some help as far as understanding my own and maybe Reed’s epistemological lines concerning knowledge acquisition.

    I also want to thank Reed for answering in #95 your challenge. It seems like we are coming from the same place. I also agree with him that if ever we Christians are to prove the biblical interpretation by something / anything else, it is a failing of significance, especially in a Reformed systematic theology. I think this includes what you are asking of natural science. If the Holy Spirit is on His game, I somehow dont think He appreciates being checked up on by the guessing game we call science.

    Last, in another attempt at clarification, scriptural coherency is not reducible to a certain verse of scripture, there are very limited interpretation possibilities when every particular verse must be in a state of consistency with [and by] the entirety of the rest of the biblical revelation.

  150. Brad B said,

    July 2, 2012 at 3:08 am

    Here is a notable quote from the linked article:

    “We see that Augustine’s doctrine of illumination points to an ongoing illumination of the human mind by God, by which the human mind’s wisdom is activated. Reflecting God’s light, the light of our mind then proceeds to judge and to evaluate phenomena of our experience, unto knowledge. And the light which lightens every mind and makes knowledge possible is the divine Logos, Jesus Christ, our Teacher.

    bolding is my emphasis.

    Hope this helps, Brad B

  151. Steve Drake said,

    July 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

    At work, or in well mannered society/discussions, I’ve learned it’s not polite to talk about sex, politics, or religion. Well, I hate to say it, but I might add “creation” as one of those issues as well, at least amongst concerned brothers as we are all here, readers of GB. What I mean is, sometimes things are better left unsaid.

    Does anyone see the danger in this? It is better left unsaid a cardinal doctrine of the Church and its proper understanding? The folly of this is beyond comprehension.

  152. Reed Here said,

    July 2, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Joel, no. 146: I’ll be glad to correct my words if they necessarily inferred that I am denying the mediate nature of knowledge. I can tell you that I am actually working from the basis of the presupposition of this. (Actually taught on this nature of faith 3x yesterday.)

    The Spirit speaks to us through mediated means. Our physical senses are engaged in the means of grace. As well our soul’s faculties (intellect, desire, conscience, will) are engaged in the means of grace. They are not engaged via the weaknesses/flaws of the old way of life, the old nature. Instead the Spirit engages them under the new way of life, via the new nature in which the Law of God is now inscribed.

    I see the distinction here and it is not an issue for infallibly knowing. The elect can truly (read infallibly, it will not prove to be wrong or fail) know certain things. One of them is ex nihilo creation (Heb 11:1-2). The Spirit uses mediated means, both external to me (word, sacrament, and prayers), and internal to me (physical senses, soulish faculties).

    This mediated characteristic does not present a difficulty to the infallible nature of the Spirit’s communication. In part I’m arguing against a purely mediated position. The Spirit does not deliver the goods and then we decide what to do with them. He is sovereign over our faith’s functioning (Php 3:12-13). As well I am not arguing for an unmediated position. We do not just experience the Spirit’s ministry directly apart from the external and internal means.

    Does this help?

  153. michael said,

    July 2, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Steve Drake @ 155, yes.

    Seems like devilish kool aid resulting in cessation of the proclamation!

    I like to point to Acts 8 and Philip “opening” his mouth reading about Jesus being led to the slaughter as a silent Lamb!

    Jesus shut His so we can open ours!

    The problem is just what you cited. We sometimes open up with the kool aid mixed with poison so that this is so and it shouldn’t be so:

    Pro 18:20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
    Pro 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

  154. Steve Drake said,

    July 2, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Michael @ 157,
    Thanks. Sometimes it is better for a young man to remain silent on that of which he does not understand.

    <Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. Prov. 16:18

  155. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Thanks, Reed.

    The discussion is now rising to a level beyond my competency to engage in without further training in theology and philosophy, but I think our differences are probably semantic. While you say a true Christian has infallible knowledge about creation ex nihilo, the fallen state of man, the physical resurrection of Jesus, etc., I would not refer to infallibility but instead say a man is not a true Christian unless he believes these things.

    I agree that there are some things we foundationally know through the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit rather than through reason (e.g., WCF 1.5), but that does not mean right use of reason is unimportant.

    Let me give an example. I wish I could remember it better, but I have sadly forgotten the details. One Sunday I visited a PCA church across the country and it happened that they were having a speaker from a regional apologetic institute provide a lecture in their adult Sunday School. In the course of the presentation, the speaker correctly pointed out a logical fallacy in the Darwinian argument. He then went on to present the Christian argument, but in the course of doing so, he engaged in the same logical fallacy he previously criticized! During the brief Q & A time afterward, I tried to explain to the speaker that he had a weakness in his argument that the Darwinians would turn against him, but he couldn’t see it. He basically asserted that it was a logical fallacy on the part of the Darwinians but not on his part because they were wrong and he was right. This disappointed me because I think there are stronger and better arguments that could be marshaled than those he put forward.

    Joel

  156. Reed Here said,

    July 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Joel: maybe I’d ask you to reflect on exactly what is Heb 11:1-2 saying when it says we “know”?

    Again, Spirit-born faith contains three components: knowledge, agreement, and trust. Your use of the word “believe” in this context is not clear (cf., John 2:23-25). Are you focusing on only one/two component/s, at the exclusion of the other/s?

    Consider John’s teaching on what Jesus knows how that produces what we know.

    John 10:14-15a I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;

    John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

    John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

    John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

    After reflecting on these, consider all the “knowing” John talks about in his first letter. Then, answer this, how is this infallible knowing different from the knowing of faith taught about creation ex nihilo in Heb 11:1-2.

  157. Andrew Duggan said,

    July 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Joel,

    Re: 145, Really? You think that I only have two righteous options if I don’t agree with the OPC Creation Report? Well, then you are trying to bind my conscience. How I vote on candidates is a matter of conscience. However, Jesus Christ is the Lord of my conscience, not the OPC GA or its Creation Report. The 20th chapter of the Confession superceedes any received GA Report. I will continue to vote my conscience.

    I would remind you that Recommendation #2 in the report with regard to voting on candidates says this:

    That the General Assembly urge members of presbyteries and sessions to uphold the peace of the church by addressing theological issues within the church primarily through educational, administrative, judicial, or other constitutional means, and not merely by voting for or against candidates for office.

    Emphasis mine.
    OPC Creation Report

    NB. “not merely”, which means even according to the report, I may still vote against a non YEC as a matter of conscience. My participation in this discussion satisfies the first part of the quoted recommendation.

    It seems you were trying to nudge me out of the OPC because my belief on Creation is not acceptable to you.

    Did you even read the OPC Report before you wrote that?
    It seems that you are taking the tact that everyone contending for the purity of the church is necessisarily disrupting the peace of the church.

    Andrew

  158. Roy said,

    July 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Noted in reading thru 164 comments (been away with business) that several (very early asked) questions (of significant importance) had not received a reply. I will respond to 2 of ‘em (Joel and Steve) after this brief intro comment. Delighted to read an extended thread that displays the sweat work of generating light rather than heat. Well done, brothers.
    First: Joel #8 (and later) asked if nat rev gave YEC evidence.
    Short answer: nope. Bit longer answer: neither does it give OEC evidence! Final answer: nothing other than special revelation would enable one to determine the recentness of creation.
    We know from the Bible that God created. From the Bible we have a description of that creation which explicitly describes it as completed, as finished. How can that description mean anything other than every bit of creation having exactly the characteristics appropriate to that particular bit? When Adam first looks at Eve he does not deduce at least years since creation (OEC). Nor does he deduce that when looking at trees with fruit. Nor may we when looking at stars not merely thousands of light years away, but millions of times more light years away. Of course it looks old: God made it that way because that is how it should look in order to be what it is. Not at all a matter of deception, but a matter of God making everything just right, enabling us to “do science”.
    Put bluntly: the pagan has no (neutral, not based on faith) way of rejecting “last Thursdayism”. None but the Christian can say creation is at least such and such an age, and that because God says so in the Bible.
    On the other hand, neither would Adam look at Eve and deduce minutes since God formed her (YEC). He would not look at trees with fruit and deduce from them days since their creation.
    Northing in the creation itself would necessarily point to recent creation. (The caveats one may join me in making to that assertion substantiate it rather than demolish it. Eg: Of course the creation does not look like it is 80 gazzilion years old: given the physics God has set to govern the creation, the fusion processes of the stars would have ended. So the creation is less than 80 gazillion years old.) The only thing I can think of not subject to ‘balance of nature’ limits is human population. Perhaps one might deduce from that data something about the time since Noah. (I’m willing to concede that the math on this implies less than several tens of thousands of years. One cannot argue for great antiquity of man and also claim Mathusian calamities support ZPG, zero population growth policies.)
    Since one cannot appeal to natural revelation to ‘prove’ YEC, Christians ought quit the attempt. Not only is it futile. It makes them appear silly in rejecting the evidence of a complete creation.
    Second: Steve #4, #10 (and later) correctly recognized that OEC would include pre fall death. Would not that inclusion preclude OEC? And, tho Steve did not mention it, the flavor of recent creationism I think the Bible teaches, where Adam could have found oil as well as soil, buried bones as well as buried stones, all exactly as they should be as part of a complete, entire, appropriate creation.
    No, Steve, it would not exclude either.
    Reasoning from natural revelation, one might explore the need for defining Gen 2:17’s death when confronted by, eg, Adam having skin and hair. Both consist of dead cells. Could Adam never step on an ant? No fruit fall on earthworms? Critters make perfect choices that never caused them harm? The absurdities multiply.
    Speaking of multiplying, one might reason further from natural revelation, pondering the puzzle of rabbits multiplying but never subtracting. That this puzzle is no joke one must admit upon recognizing that rabbits were, well, rabbits. That they were created with reproductive natures one may not question as Ge 1:22 is rather explicit, as is the “teem” (NIV) of v20, the “produce” (NIV) of 24, and the parallel structure of vv20-23 and vv24-25. Not only people v28, but all living creation, all “kinds”, critters and veggies, were to reproduce.
    Finally, this time reasoning from special revelation, ONLY people had the covenant promise/curse of life/death. That the curse upon people affected the rest of creation also does not mean no critter death before the Fall. That rabbits existed as pre fall meals seems rather clear from Psa 104:16-27

  159. Steve Drake said,

    July 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Roy @ 158,

    And, tho Steve did not mention it, the flavor of recent creationism I think the Bible teaches, where Adam could have found oil as well as soil, buried bones as well as buried stones, all exactly as they should be as part of a complete, entire, appropriate creation.

    Adam did not find buried bones or buried oil. These were the result of the worldwide, universal, catastophic Flood of Noah. That modern geology denies this wholesale is concomitant with the secularist notion that the earth is billions and billions of years old. Their refusal to acknowledge this is concomitant with their refusal to recognize the God of Scripture.

    Reasoning from natural revelation, one might explore the need for defining Gen 2:17’s death when confronted by, eg, Adam having skin and hair. Both consist of dead cells. Could Adam never step on an ant? No fruit fall on earthworms? Critters make perfect choices that never caused them harm? The absurdities multiply.

    The absurdtities multiply because we live in a fallen world. We have no idea, no inkling, in our fallen state, and an imperfect world, to understand ‘perfection’. It is completely incomprehensible to us. We can’t even talk about what God’s perfection must have looked like.

    ONLY people had the covenant promise/curse of life/death. That the curse upon people affected the rest of creation also does not mean no critter death before the Fall.

    If this is true, then why did God ‘curse’ the animals, and curse the ‘ground’ along with cursing both Adam and Eve (Gen.3)? Why does Paul draw the direct connection between the sin of Adam and bondage to corruption of the entirety of the created order in Romans 8?

    That rabbits existed as pre fall meals seems rather clear from Psa 104:16-27

    Wrong exegesis Roy. Try again.

  160. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Andrew,

    I’m not in the OPC and I have not read the OPC creation report, and if you ask why I am commenting without having read it, it is because I am answering questions posed to me in a thread of discussion I didn’t start. I’m not here to push you out of the OPC or bind your conscience, but I’m trying to explain why I complained that some YEC adherents no longer find OEC acceptable.

    As a historical matter, it is my understanding that certain OEC views have been considered acceptable in the OPC since the beginning of that denomination. That doesn’t mean OEC is biblically correct, but it has been acceptable in the OPC. More recently, my understanding is that a subset of officers in the OPC has developed the view that it is not acceptable for any pastoral candidate to be OEC, though this view has never been adopted by the denomination as a whole. Whether the exclusion of OEC views is biblically correct or not, it is a change from how things used to work, and I think it is fair for me to be able to complain about it, and not have my complaint delegitimized as a “rhetorical ploy”.

    If a man feels so bound by his conscience that OEC is not an acceptable view for an officer of the church, then why join the OPC in the first place when it is obvious that many of its officers hold an OEC view? And if his conscience binds him after he is already a member of the OPC, why not separate himself rather than continue in a denomination where so many officers hold OEC views that he considers unacceptable?

    Joel

  161. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Reed @ 156

    I think I have a good layman’s understanding of “know” as used in the verses you cited. Whether the infallibility you describe is the best theological understanding of those verses is beyond my competence to determine. And I’m not asserting that my view that I previously described is the best theological understanding either.

    Joel

  162. Reed Here said,

    July 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Understood Joel. As you find time and need, look into it. Begin simply with what Jesus means that we know him, and that that knowledge is comparable to the knowledge the members of the Godhead share with each other. This is what makes it an infallible knowing. It will not prove to be wrong, unless the Trinity could be proven to be wrong in their inter-knowledge.

  163. Reed Here said,

    July 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Oh, and Joel: just to give you some peace from any unnecessary anxiety. Following me down the logic of this trail will not in and of itself force you into a logical conundrum vis-a-vis OEC vs. YEC. Again, my only desire here to hopefully strengthen our understanding of what it means the the Bible RULES science. I do not propose it will answer all the “but what about …?” questions science poses, merely that it will helps us prioritize things a bit better.

  164. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks, Reed. I’m not anxious. It just seems to me that to be able to properly make the fine distinction between infallibility in WCF 18 and “synods may err” in WCF 31, one needs to have familiarity with precise theological language that comes with intensive training/study that I do not have time to undertake.

  165. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    “Adam did not find buried bones or buried oil. These were the result of the worldwide, universal, catastophic Flood of Noah.”

    I have some technical expertise in geology, and I think YEC would be better off going with “I don’t know, maybe a good explanation will turn up in the future” rather than resort to the current Flood Geology explanations I’ve seen. They seem very strained and contrived (much more so than the secular geological explanations seem strained and contrived).

    Joel

  166. Steve Drake said,

    July 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Joel @ 165,
    Perhaps you have not read some good books on Flood geology. May I offer for your interest:

    Earth’s Catastophic Past’ , Vols. 1 & 2, by Dr. Andrew Snelling, Institute for Creation Research, Dallas, TX, 2009.

    Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Vols 1 & 2, eds. Dr. Larry Vardiman, Dr. Andrew Snelling, Dr. Eugene F. Chaffin, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, 2000.

    The Genesis Flood, Dr. Henry Morris, Dr. John Whitcomb, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1961.

  167. Hugh said,

    July 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Joel Norris,

    You appear petty confident and arrogant in your posts here. The locals have been easy on you, I guess out of courtesy. Dunno why.

    Haughtily ignore the biblical record to your own detriment, man. But know that without a childlike reception (if it seems to be credulity, tough) of Scripture’s record, you’re in trouble. So said Jesus. And he wrote Genesis 1, as well.

    To exalt physical evidence – or worse, your interpretation of evidence – to the level of God’s revelation is at best damaging to your psyche. At worst, it’s damning.

    Are you trusting in Jesus Christ of Scripture alone? If you’re not a Christian (like Roman Catholic, atheist, or whatever), then please start at the gospels; read of Christ and repent of your sins. Trust in his death & resurrection alone for your eternal welfare. These are embraced and known by faith only.

    Your epistemology in #146 is off. Please read “How Does Man Know God?” ~ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=84

    If you are an empiricist, you’re on a fool’s errand, and need to repent & read this: “The Hoax of Scientific Creationism” ~ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=170

    If you are a scientific creationist, repent & read “The Hoax of Scientific Creationism” ~ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=26

    Thank you.

  168. Steve Drake said,

    July 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Joel @ 165,
    One other that needs mention:

    Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, by Dr. Steven A. Austin, 1995. Don’t know the publisher, but it can be found on Amazon.com.

  169. Hugh said,

    July 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Steve, We’ve given him too much to read. He hasn’t time to learn.

  170. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I’ve read Henry Morris’ book, but not the others. I’ll have a look at the more recent work.

    Joel

  171. Hugh said,

    July 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Correction to #167, 2nd-to-last-paragraph:

    If you are an empiricist, you’re on a fool’s errand, and need to repent & read this: “A Lie in My Right Hand – Idolatry and Empirical Apologetics” ~ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=170

  172. Reed Here said,

    July 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Joel: your point is well taken about the possibility that some YE scientific theories not being all that good. Nothing wrong with observing that and acknowledging it to be true. After all, that is one of the things I am cautioning my OE brothers about. The science they are seeking to build on may very well slip out from under them.

    As to the juxtaposition of WCF 18 with 31, infallible knowledge with synods may err, I do recognize the issue and admit it has to be addressed and dealt with.

    My take on this is that we must first distinguish between what the Bible teaches and what the Church says the Bible teaches. Infallibility inheres to the first. Fallibility inheres to the second. The infallible knowing that is available to us is in the end is subjective at present (where we live daily), and objective only in the future (at the consummation of all things). Infallible knowledge comes through the means of the Church (wherein reside the ministry of the means of grace), yet the infallibility rests not on the Church’s pronouncement but the Spirit’s.

    This then leaves us in a situation rife with dissonance. The fallible means of investigating the truth is the context for the experience of coming to know the infallible truth. God does not promise to remove the dissonance of this state of affairs from my day to day faith. He does promise however to speak infallibly through the dissonance.

    Thus I can infallibly know creation ex nihilo. This does not mean I do not deal with the dissonance created by the likes of the Four Horsemen of Atheism, et.al., It does however change how I approach that dissonance. I approach it with a humble confidence that in the end my infallible grasp on the Truth will be increased, even as it may adjust via questions posed by science. Thus, as I rest on the Spirit’s promise to my knowing, I come to such questions from a position of strength not available in the natural world. This is the power of “I believe in order to understand.”

    Given Heb 11:1-2, creation ex nihilo is an easy one to cut through the dissonance. I admit that the length of the days of creation, the extent of the flood, etc., are not as easily filtered. I do know that God would have me approach such questions with the same faith assurance that I can know the truth as I have with creation ex nihilo.

    I’m not offering a fool proof apologetic. I am offering a secure one, for it carries the guarantee of the Spirit’s approval.

  173. Hugh said,

    July 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Reed,

    Per your #111, please read “Saving Faith” ~ /www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=10

    Quotes: “Though the Larger Catechism does not address itself directly to the psychological analysis of faith or belief, this problem is one that has merited the attention, not only of Christian theologians, but also of secular philosophers. These secularists, even when they are not so successful as the theologians, have one advantage; to wit, their task is simpler because they do not consider religious complications. Many theological discussions fall into confusion because elements necessary to saving faith are assigned to any belief whatever. Here one must first try to analyze belief as such, and then characterize those beliefs, or that belief, which justifies…”

    “The crux of the difficulty with the popular analysis of faith into notitia (understanding), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust), is that fiducia comes from the same root as fides (faith). Hence this popular analysis reduces to the obviously absurd definition that faith consists of understanding, assent, and faith. Something better than this tautology must be found.”

    (Sproul & Co. also messed this up last month in “Tabletalk.”)

  174. Roy Kerns said,

    July 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Steve #159: re the Flood. I start by observing that I believe Noah and company alone survived a global flood.

    I’m very familiar with attempted exegetical support for a local flood. Some of it is fairly sophisticated done by people absolutely convinced of the sufficiency of scripture and with technical skills to do the work . But I believe the Flood global because that seems to me the far and away the best understanding of what scripture says, including NT refs to the Flood.

    But I’m also very familiar with that which demands I understand the Flood as something very different than merely, mostly, even maybe natural. For just a couple of simple minded examples. Varves in land locked lakes found in high mountains don’t show evidence of a Flood. Neither do ice core samples from Antartica.

    One can multiply examples and counterexamples. How long does trapped oil of oil fields not seep away? That line suggests recency. But is fossil fuel really fossil fuel? Or does it percolate from the earth’s interior with the earth having a composition similar to several other planets in the solar system? Point is: I’m not willing to trust my understanding of natural revelation.

    Far more importantly, The Flood was not natural; it was wonderful (that latter a technical term, btw. cf Moses and wonders in Egypt, Jesus as Wonderful Counselor).

    Attempts to interpret the Flood by limits of what normally goes on just do not justly recognize its actual character. As a recreation of the world, it shares in the discontinuities of the original creation action. One can no more explain the Flood than one can the Creation. Or, to change examples, one can no more explain the Flood than one can explain wine at the wedding feast, having all the characteristics of good wine according to the tastewitness account, yet only minutes old.

    Thus while, for example, I have great admiration for Whitcomb and Morris (and for several giants of the 20th C whose efforts led to the publication of Genesis Flood), I think this sort of thinking does the same thing as those who say that because the creation was recently created (it was), it must look recently created (it does not). Bad exegesis of biblical data. And bad understanding (read denial of) natural revelation’s data.

    BTW, how old do you think the soil was upon which Adam walked in Eden? What are the characteristics of garden soil? How old was the star (aka the Sun) which warmed Eden (rough guesses, give or take a few billion, OK). What do you intend to do with Adam having skin and hair? Do you think it a fair reply to not wrestle with your rabbits not being able to multiply EVEN THO the Bible says they did?

    I totally agree with your point that the Creation got cursed along with Adam. Said so in my 158 even if not with the specificity or citations you did. But what was the (sorry to use this word) nature of that curse? Surely you would not make it (or the blessing of life) identical to what people received?

  175. Joel Norris said,

    July 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Reed @ 172

    I’ll visit this topic again.

    You say, “Thus I can infallibly know creation ex nihilo.”

    Since you’re not directly quoting Scripture, let’s recognize that you are making a doctrinal statement (a correct and true statement, but a doctrinal statement nonetheless). And you’re not arguing that this is a good and necessary consequence of Scripture, you’re claiming infallible knowledge, and you’re sharing this infallible knowledge with the world. How can you not be violating WCF 31? How is this different from the pope making some “infallible” pronouncement?

    Or perhaps you view it as so tied up with assurance of salvation that they are practically the same. If so, where do you draw the line on infallibility? With the Scripture, there is an objective standard. Aside from miniscule textual variants, everyone knows exactly what Scripture is, so everyone knows exactly what is infallible, though we may not agree on the interpretation. But what’s the exact scope of Reed’s infallible knowledge? If you don’t know what part of your knowledge is infallible and what part isn’t, how can it be infallible?

    Or perhaps you mean this knowledge is infallibly known only to you personally, as your infallible assurance of salvation is known only to you personally, and thus you cannot communicate to anyone else what your infallible knowledge is. But if so, why do you refer to it when having discussions with other people?

    Joel

  176. Steve Drake said,

    July 3, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Joel,
    Here’s an on-line resource for Flood geology as well:

    http://www.logosresearchassociates.org. If you click on the ‘Featured Pages’ for the contributors, it brings up a wealth of papers on the subject and various others.

  177. Steve Drake said,

    July 3, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Roy @ 174,

    Varves in land locked lakes found in high mountains don’t show evidence of a Flood. Neither do ice core samples from Antartica.

    See Earth’s Catastrophic Past by Dr. Andrew Snelling for a refutation of this. On line resources include http://www.creation.com, http://www.crev.info, http://www.icr.org, http://www.answersingenesis.org.

    One can no more explain the Flood than one can the Creation. Or, to change examples, one can no more explain the Flood than one can explain wine at the wedding feast, having all the characteristics of good wine according to the tastewitness account, yet only minutes old.

    Gen. 6-9 does an excellent job of explaining the Flood if you read it carefully, paying attention to the dates given in the text. Year-long in extent, inundative and abative cycles, breaking up of the fountains of the deep, windows of heaven opened, etc. Most importantly, judgment on all except Noah, his wife, his 3 sons and their wives.

    What do you intend to do with Adam having skin and hair? Do you think it a fair reply to not wrestle with your rabbits not being able to multiply EVEN THO the Bible says they did?

    Yes, but not in clear contradistinction to the other passages of Scripture that speak on the subject. Something, it seems, you are clearly wont to do. Proof-texting, Roy, your rabbit reference is an example of this.

    But what was the (sorry to use this word) nature of that curse? Surely you would not make it (or the blessing of life) identical to what people received?

    Adam was representative and federal head. His sin brought death, disease, suffering, plagues, bloodshed, natural disasters and mass extinctions to the entirety of Christ’s created cosmos. They all as part of God’s curse, came after his sin, not before.

  178. Reed Here said,

    July 3, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Joel, no. 175: I think you are missing this brother.

    Did Jesus rise from the dead, yes or no? I know you say yes. So how do you know? Because: 1) the Bible says so., and 2) the Spirit confirms this to you. This is relatively straightforward.

    Notice my summary here is in doctrinal formulation format (if you will). Does that mean there is some distance between my words and the infallible knowledge? Not for me or you because we have the witness of the Spirit. We can use this doctrinal shorthand if you will to express what we infallibly know to be true.

    The same applies to Heb 11:1-3 (sorry for shortening the reference to verse 2 in my previous comment. Verse one defines faith for using two words: assurance and conviction. This is nothing more than a description of infallibly known knowledge. We are convinced that something is true (convicted) via the Spirit’s ministry. And we are given assurance from the same Spirit that it really is true.

    Look now at vs. 3: By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

    All things visible, that is the universe, meaning according to the use of such words all creation, is what is in view. This is not theologizing but a rather straightforward reading of the text.

    Look at the contrast between things made out of the word of God vs. not made out of existing materials (visible). We could spend books and books, as the Church has in the past, exploring the meaning of this. Or we could simply use the doctrinal short-hand that the Church has adopted, creation ex nihilo.

    It is silly to compare this to papal authority, as if all that is in view is a man-made construction of that does not correspond to truth. If that is all we have, we might as well swim the Tiber, for the RCC has won the debate.

    Maybe it will help to think about it this way: assurance of grace and salvation, the starting point for the infallible knowledge reflections, is not of the essence of faith. That is someone can still be saved and not be assured that this is true.

    Applied here, maybe all that is going on is that you are note persuaded by the Spirit that creation ex nihilo is true. That does not mean it is not. With sympathy for any doubts you may have, I’m not about to back away from those things the Spirit has illuminated for me. Nor am I going to back away from declaring it to others. It is not a matter of proving, but professing. It is not a matter of “Reed’s knowledge alone” (that is actually quite offensive). It is a matter of the Spirit’s gift. Again, take a look at what we can know according to Scripture. This is all the Spirit’s infallible knowledge, not yours, not mine.

    The silly, sad, slavery of modernism that its child postmodernism still has not escaped contains in it a relentless and futile never ending desperate search for absolutely verifiable beyond a shadow of earthly, natural, man-centered doubt objective truth. Get over it. It does not exist. All truth is rational, but that is not what makes it truth. Instead the veracity of truth is relational based. It is only in knowing Jesus that any truth can be truly known.

    We shall know the truth via the One who is the source of truth, and thus frees us from the slavery of searching in the dark cave for the light of the sun of truth at our backs.

  179. michael said,

    July 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Reed!

    Excellent, excellent!

    “… Does that mean there is some distance between my words and the infallible knowledge? Not for me or you because we have the witness of the Spirit. …”

    Now that is a “Living” Word! My spirit bears witness to your words that those words were inspired by the Spirit!

    That plus the rest of your comment seems to me to reflect what the Apostle Paul was saying recorded by Luke in the book of Acts, chapter 17, when addressing their “unknown” god:

    Act 17:22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
    …”

    We need to get beyond being very religious!

  180. Reed Here said,

    July 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Well Michael, let’s be careful in our use of the word “inspired,” especially with regard to something I’ve said. :P

    Let’s just say that the Spirit’s witness is not limited to ink, wood pulp, eyeballs and gray matter, but that it actually does have a spiritual reality to it.

  181. michael said,

    July 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Geeesh Reed,

    you sure know how to sober up a fella! grrrrr

    What I pray thee do you suppose the Apostle meant then?

    Eph 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
    Eph 5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
    Eph 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    Eph 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. </b

    Ah, God is "Spirit" and He seeks those who will worship Him to worship Him in carnal, … oops, I mean in spirit and truth! :)

  182. Steve Drake said,

    July 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I’d like to again draw our attention to the ‘gospel’ as it relates to your post Reed, ‘Contending for Creation’.

    Is it a ‘salvation” issue?

    For my OE/millions and millions of years brothers and sisters, consider this:A salvation issue?

    Let us first consider why the age of the earth as it involves the truthfulness and historicity of Genesis 1-11 actually is a salvation issue. Salvation is intimately tied to faith in an authentic Savior. If Genesis 1-11 does not depict historical reality, then the claims and authenticity of Jesus Himself, who without reservation affirmed the reality of these events, are immediately called into question. Did Jesus err in these matters? If the answer is yes, then to place faith in Him as Savior, which involves the mind, equates to an irrational act. Scripture reveals that believing God is at the very heart of salvation (“And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23). Believing God is a deliberate act of the heart, is central to the gospel message, and is central to salvation. If plain statements made by the Lord Jesus are not objectively true, then how can we possibly exercise authentic saving faith in Him? The age question is a salvation issue for this very simple reason.

    (From http://www.logosresearchassociates.org, The Importance of the Age of the Earth).

  183. Joel Norris said,

    July 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Reed @ 178

    Reed,

    If you said you had absolute certainty about creation ex nihilo, I would agree with you. I have absolute certainty about creation ex nihilo.

    Referring to infallible knowledge sounds papal to my layman’s ears. I could very well be wrong about that, but I’ve never heard that way of putting things in the twenty years I’ve been reading Reformed books and worshipping in several Reformed churches around the country.

    Joel

  184. Steve Drake said,

    July 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Joel @ 183,
    As a member of Scripps, are you actively yourself engaged in searching for ‘life’ on extraterrestrial objects? What part do you play in this endeavor?

  185. Joel Norris said,

    July 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Steve @ 184

    I have no involvement with that, and I didn’t know that even happened here.

    There’s no central direction for research at Scripps. It’s whatever each individual professor wants to do, can get money for, and can get published.

    My main research area is clouds and climate.

    Joel

  186. Steve Drake said,

    July 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Joel,
    Thanks for that clarification. I’m surprised that you didn’t ‘know’. Do you see a problem with that goal as it relates to Scripture?

  187. Steve Drake said,

    July 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Joel @ 185,
    In other words, Joel, is it your belief that God ‘could’ have seeded life on extraterrestrial objects, in much the same way He seeded life on this planet which then progressed through evolutionary steps from unicellular life up through <Homo sapiens sapiens, and eventually instilled in him a soul that would then be described as “Adam”.?

  188. Reed Here said,

    July 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Joel: appreciate the “ring” in your ears vis-a-vis papal declaration. I think some of this goes back to the subjective/objective dilemma. It just is not a winnable issue because it presupposes something that is not to be. The fall means mankind is under a noetic curse – our soulish faculties are flawed. Only for those who have experienced the new-birth is this flaw countered. It is not removed until the New Heavens/New Earth. At present however it is still practically effective. But it is only effective in a dependent manner. The experience of infallibility is expressly in under the Spirit’s control. Trying to assess this via the subjective-objective criteria just won’t work.

  189. Joel Norris said,

    July 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Steve @ 186 and 187

    Steve,

    I think there are about 180 professors at Scripps. We don’t have meetings where everyone tells everyone else what they’ve been working on.

    Do I believe that God could have created life on other planets? I suppose He could have. Do I think He did? I have no reason to suppose that He did. These are questions I don’t think I need to answer.

    So far as Adam goes, I believe he was a direct creation.

    Joel

  190. Steve Drake said,

    July 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks Joel @ 189,
    I was concerned that you had bought into the evolutionary line. Or how much you buy into it? Deistic, theistic? That sort of thing. Glad that’s out of the way. Good to hear you’re not an evolutionist.

  191. Joel Norris said,

    July 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Reed @ 188

    “The fall means mankind is under a noetic curse – our soulish faculties are flawed. Only for those who have experienced the new-birth is this flaw countered. It is not removed until the New Heavens/New Earth. At present however it is still practically effective. But it is only effective in a dependent manner.”

    I agree with all this, but your mention of “infallibility” set me off on the path I took for the reasons I described in #183. My discussion of subjective and objective was my attempt to put into words why I found your discussion of infallibility (or what I thought your were saying) was problematic.

    Joel

  192. Reed Here said,

    July 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Understood Joel. I am pushing that when the Bible says we can know something we can actually know something.

  193. Andrew Duggan said,

    July 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Dear Joel
    @160,

    My point in my reply was to demonstrate that you don’t really have any reasonable basis for your complaint vis-a-vis of the Creation Report, because that report has no standing to forbid members of sessions or presbyteries to vote for or against men with regard to their views OEC vs YEC.

    While some may say that one’s doctrine of Creation does not impact the Gospel, that’s not where Christ himself drew the line.

    Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen”

    Matt 28:20

    The church does not have the luxury to say it doesn’t impact the Gospel therefore we need not contend for the truth and try to stop those who would lead the church astray. Christ says: “all things whatsoever I have commanded you”. Therefore we are to contend for all that Christ has commanded, and that includes what He has commanded concerning what man is to believe concerning God’s work of Creation.

    You may not have meant your complaint as a rhetorical ploy, but it reads exactly like others who do.

    Additionally, your historical argument can be reduced to as follows: Because the OPC has failed to exercise discipline in the past on the matter of the doctrine of Creation, the OPC has forfeited its right to ever do so, or that anyone attempting it is a disturber of the peace of the church. There does seem to be a prevailing sense in your argumentation that the peace of church is defined by the boundary pushers, and that peace is defined as leaving the boundary pushers alone to redefine any and all doctrine to suit their whim.

    That is exactly the mechanism of the broadening big-tent church, which leads to apostasy. As I said before, this is not the first time the reformed churches have started down this hill.

    I think Lane’s post yesterday Who’s Being Divisive? speaks to this matter quite well.

    The Historical Adam and Theistic Evolution would not be the boundaries today if 6/24 YEC had been maintained. The OPC (and the PCA for that matter) failed to reclaim the entirety of the Reformation at its (their) founding, leaving the doctrines of Creation and Worship basically surrendered. That however does not alleviate me from the responsibility to contend for the purity and entirety of all the Christ has commanded.

    Would it be easier to leave the OPC than to stay – absolutely. However despite your limited list of righteous options, with regard to the doctrine of Creation the right time to peaceably withdraw would be when the OPC forbids teaching YEC or requires one as a matter of conscience to support the teaching of OEC.

    You asked why join the OPC when historically it permitted those with non YEC views of Creation. In a large sense I never did join the OPC; I was born into it. So it is not like I am sort of YEC troublemaker joining non YEC churches just to make trouble.

    You also wrote:

    If a man feels so bound by his conscience that OEC is not an acceptable view for an officer of the church, then why join the OPC in the first place when it is obvious that many of its officers hold an OEC view?

    I mean this with all gentleness and sincerity, but your use of “bound by his conscience” is not at all what the Confession speaks of in WCF 20. I would recommend re-reading WCF 20 and meditating on the Scripture references. While I think this is important enough to mention, unfortunately, there is not sufficient time or space to more fully interact with it here or now.

    The OPC has much to commend it. As the confession says all churches are a mixed bag, more or less pure. I will continue to contend for its purity and peace as long as I am a member. I will not however allow a desire for the peace to trump the necessity for purity.

    Almost finally, I don’t want to run anyone out of the OPC or the PCA over the matter of Creation, what I do want is for those who engage in the moral failing of holding to non scriptural view of Creation to repent and believe what Christ has said.

    It is very much a shame to watch the PCA and OPC make the exact same mistakes as their fathers of the late 19th century.

    Andrew

  194. michael said,

    July 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Andrew,

    this is a rhetorical exercise responding to some of your comments to elucidate a difference in practice between you and me as servants of the Lord.

    Here, consider two things from Scripture and then another and another to lay out the foundation for making my observations:

    Rom 9:11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls–

    ………………………………………………………………………………..

    Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

    Please note the “order” in Acts 20:32 and the phrase purpose of election in Romans 9:11.

    You make these comments to Joel:

    “… the OPC has forfeited its right to ever do so, or that anyone attempting it is a disturber of the peace of the church. There does seem to be a prevailing sense in your argumentation that the peace of church is defined by the boundary pushers, …”

    “… I would recommend re-reading WCF 20 and meditating on the Scripture references. …”

    “… what I do want is for those who engage in the moral failing of holding to non scriptural view of Creation to repent and believe what Christ has said.”

    When you write there is a prevailing sense in Joel’s argumentation that the peace of church is defined by the boundary pushers, I quite agree! (sic) It should not be that way and we should do everything in our power and authority to establish Scriptural order inside and outside the Church community because It seems that personality and emotional strength among boundary pushers tends to silence the meek and lowly so much so that their silence betrays their own “purpose of election”.

    When you write that you recommend this order, first read the WFC 20 and then meditate on the Scripture references, my soul cringes especially when we see the great defender and exegetist of the purpose of Election, our “eternal purpose”, the Apostle Paul, commended the elders of the church of Ephesus “first” to God and then to the “Word of His Grace” and then later on in his ministry we see him exhorting Timothy:

    2Ti 4:13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.

    I’m all for reading up on the ECF’s, the books of great minds of both Saints and sinners, History, Science, the many systematic theologies and the theological foundational writings like the Westminister Confession of Faith and all her ancillary documents that spawned the great movement of the Presbyterian Church, either OPC or PCA or other branches from their historical roots. But I want to point to the order elucidated by those Scripture references cited above and the importance the Holy Spirit places on that order being as of first importance in our understanding God, then the Word of His Grace so we can read then the books and journals with a better sense of Biblical understanding or not be led astray listening to keynote speakers at conferences and so on, talk radio, etc. etc., It seems when we conform to the Holy Spirit it makes for one being a stronger defender of the Faith and more able to hear error by that order and position within the Church so that as lowly and meek as we are we are not pushed back but can put the foot down and take the stand accordingly against boundary pushers which is the purpose of election!

    I suppose it just may be a lack of this sort of order in maturity that this is the reason the boundary pushers are able to push and advance? Is it because of this lack of order that I just identified that cause boundary pushers to push and prevail over the purpose of election of the Saints within the Church in the world? Maybe not?

    It seems to me it is at least one reason for their success?

    It also seems to me these Words are apropos, too:

    Psa 149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
    Psa 149:7 to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
    Psa 149:8 to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
    Psa 149:9 to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!

  195. Steve Drake said,

    July 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Andrew Duggan @ 193,

    …what I do want is for those who engage in the moral failing of holding to non scriptural view of Creation to repent and believe what Christ has said.

    Well said, brother. Some might, most won’t. I appreciate your clarity here. I have not heard anyone emphasize this, or call for repentance of those who hold to a non-scriptural view of Creation (OE/millions and millions of years, and all accommodationist positions that undermine the historical, classical view as handed down from the apostles). But this is exactly what is needed. The implications to the ‘gospel’ are being drawn in threads now by quite a number of different individuals. The utter failure by our accommodationist brothers to address these implications speaks louder than words.

    and:

    It is very much a shame to watch the PCA and OPC make the exact same mistakes as their fathers of the late 19th century.

    Shameful indeed.


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