On the Creation of the world, my views.

More Ken Ham stuff here…

The premise and motive for Ken Ham’s concern are admirable and reasonable:  to make sure the authority of Scripture is upheld.  For those of us with a high view of the Holy Writ, such a concern is one of the lynch-pins of our fellowship.  Thank God for those of presumably like-minded intentions.


However (let the goraning begin), the underlying philosophy of Ken Ham’s article (my young-earth view is the only way to avoid mangling Scripture) is to the thoughtful ethos of Evangelical and Spirit-filled Christianity what Glenn Beck is to Joel Watts. AVOIDED LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!!!!


Okay, now that I have used Glenn Beck and Joel Watts and the Plague in the same paragraph, I shall cease cackling maniacally, and continue with my (ahem) thoughtful discussion on this subject.




I have for the most part been pretty carefree about the subject, since the details of Creation and the timing of the Rapture, and the finer points of Ecclesiology, though they make for interesting discussion, do not count much for the scheme of things with respect to our mutual salvation.  Ken Ham, however has forced me, by this discussion to put my two cents in on the subject, since my positions in the kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ, and in Assemblies of God permits me freedom of belief with respect to this subject.  


Any serious study of the Scripture on these subjects must first have three things, according to John Wesley and St. Augustine,

In the essentials, unity
In the nonessentials, liberty
In all things, charity (or love)


The essentials of Christianity are as follows. The twelve points of the Apostles Creed.  Beliefs in the authority of Scripture, the triune Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ, the reality of divine healing, the return of Jesus Christ, and our identity in Christ.  As far as Creation, there is one thing that is necessary for us to believe.  Mankind was created perfect and upright, but, through his own choice,he rebelled against God, and by this rebellion, he reaped physical death, as well as spiritual death, which is separation from God.


I believe that mankind was created on day 6 of a literal 6 day event.  Both the Young Earth Theory and the varying Gap Theories, as I interpret them, allow for that literal 6 day event, whether you call that the creation of the earth, or the recreation of the earth after some cosmic event.  


Even though I really don’t care what we believe of these two theories, just like I don’t care WHEN the Rapture takes place, since following Christ and being in relationship with him is the basis for faith, I will still state some of these things that strike me as interesting and give my opinion on these matters. 


Do try to keep in mind though, two things.  1) These are called theories for a reason.  2) We cannot speak beyond Scripture in these matters on authority, since only God know the ends and the full details of these events, and we will find out then, as we will on the rest of the mysteries of the faith.

David Falls, in his book “Foundations for the Battlefield,”begins the work of discussing spiritual warfare with the creation narrative, since it is somewhat helpful to his case.  Falls, who has made a study of warfare a central part of his hobby of knowing the Lord for the past two decades, writes two noticable things concerning the Genesis 1:1-2 passage. 

First

“In the above verse I see one apparent contradiction: our God is a God of light.  He is radiant.  When Jesus was transfigured, He glowed so brightly, he was painful to look at (Matt. !7:1-17)….  Yet, the earth is dark” (page 23).



In other words, if God is light and a God of radiance and glory, why are we introduced to the earth in verse 2, in the words of several translations as, “without form and void/formless and empty/without form and an empty waste/a soup of emptiness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness.”  And there is the matter of the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the dark abyss, the deep waters, the face of the deep, or the surface of the waters.  Not, the Spirit of God hovering over nothing, but rather the Spirit of God hovering over something.  Arguments against other ANE literature abound at this point.  Who knows.  The truth of the matter is that God created everything we see out of nothing.  The fancy Latin term for this is “creatio ex nihilo.”


Unless we go the route of literalizing the term “void,” which is a poetic way of saying “nonexistent,” which the Genesis account could be doing in response to the other farcical accounts, the only argument that is a literal interpretation of the balance of the vocab used in the lion’s share of translations could be some form of the Gap Theory.  Even using a word such as empty can still connote something that exists that is empty, in the way that we humans can be empty emotionally at the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a bankruptcy, though this might be stretching the analogies farther than warranted. 


Some commentators, including, if memory serves correctly, Wenham, say this phrase can be accurately translated as chaotic and formless, which still does not get us empty enough to qualify as “creatio ex nihilo.”



Second

“Second, if we read on, we see another quizzical thing. If you are reading from the [KJV], there is a spot where God says, ‘be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen 1:28).’  I thought about that word replenish one day, so after some research I discovered that, sure enough, the word in Hebrew actually means “replenish.” “But how can that be?” I wondered…How can the earth be [replenished] with life when life has never existed before?”

One minor concern of mine here is what Falls’ research consisted of, I never got around to asking him.  Believe me, I am not saying he is incompetent by any means.  The book is probably the best terse discussion of spiritual warfare and our role in it based on some very hard-fought and costly experiences, the tenth of which I would not dare to discuss in this forum.  I am just saying exactly what is on my mind, no more.  Further, the word there could potentially be translated as “replenish,” though there are other ways to translate it.  

Falls then goes on to deal with the Gap Theory in a nutshell, doing a pretty decent job of explaining it. 

Overall, this is why I have a concern with Ken Ham making an issue or example out of this position paper and throwing it under the spotlight.  I get testy when people in the body of Christ go about defending their interpretation of some non-morality based issue in Word of God against supposed enemies with backhanded critical remarks that sound sophisticated but really come across as exclusivistic.  Many denominations do this.  They take a particular issue and grind it like an axe, and become that issues prophet, declaring all others heretics.  The Boston Church of Christ did it with water baptism, some pastors I encountered in my early days of involvement with the Assemblies of God treated speaking in tongues as a condition of salvation, and now Ken Ham and other groups seek to take whole denominations to task just because they give their ministers liberty in dealing with such things as the finer points of the creation narrative.  

On a personal note, it was because David Falls, who came out of the Assemblies, prayed for me, and did not preach at me me about speaking in tongues in a proselytizing way that I ended up having a personal encounter with the risen God that broke through to my heart, and gave me the blessing of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.  

Also, on another personal note, more pertinent to the subject at hand, my first encounter with a cogent presentation of the Young Earth Theory came as a teacher at a local Christian School in Springfield, Missouri as a science teacher.  It was the same Bob Jones Science Textbook that “strawmanned” the Gap Theory, as well as an encounter with a presentation by Kent Hovind on Creation and the Flood narrative, that helped me to understand the Young Earth Theory from a well-reasoned postulation.

The reason I appreciate the new AG Position paper, is that it does not force me to defend one literal interpretation of the Scripture against all others.  I enjoy the open forum for dialogue that this paper and men like Ben Aker from the AG Seminary allow us younger generations of ministers who are up-and-coming to have the flexibility and liberty to ask the open, honest, and sometimes difficult and hard questions of the Scriptures without having to fear of retribution.  

It may be possible that Ken Ham will come to the point that he stops proselytizing us that we may become more open to his viewpoint.  Until that happens, it is impossible for those of my ilk to have open and honest dialogue with AIG and like-minded dogmatic groups who come across as judging our views.

Let us have an open forum for dialogue, not just one simple dogma that is unalterable or one way of interpreting and applying the Hebrew, especially from someone who views the Genesis narrative as holding every major doctrine of the Christianity. 

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