Creation is one of the most hotly debated issue within, and outside of, the church today. On almost all sides we have people touting “you must believe as I do or you’re not a true Christian,” even in the face of numerous examples of people not on their side throughout church history.
May I suggest, back the truck up, let’s all calm down. The age of the earth is NOT a core tenant of the Christian faith.
One can be a Christian and not even believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, however I personally do draw the line there in terms of valid doctrinal positions I would consider for myself. In other words, I am committed to the inerrancy of the Bible, however there is still a wide variety of options regarding the theology of Creation.
On one side you have the ultra-narrow 6-day 6,000 years ago crowd well represented at Answers in Genesis. This group takes the Bible, as they read it in modern English in an early 20th century context, as the truth regardless of what appears in the world.
On the other side you have the Theistic Evolution folks who believe God used what we think of as naturalistic processes to accomplish all of creation. This group essentially sees a sharp distinction between the literature of the Old Testament and the actual events of physical creation and is defended best by the BioLogos Foundation. Most scientists who are experts in the fields of biology, geology, human origins etc. who are also Believers tend to fall into this category.
Somewhere in the middle are those of the Concordance view. This viewpoint seeks to show strong correlations between the record apparent in the natural world, and the words recorded in the Bible. This position is most popularly put forth by Reasons to Believe. They have no problem with the universe being very old, but see a general correlation in the various mentions of the act of creation in Scripture. They would point to facts that, if the universe were no more than 10,000 years old, we wouldn’t be able to see beyond the Orion arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, stars and planets would not have time to form, the universe would not be big enough to support life on earth etc.
So what is right?
I personally land closer to a Concordance view, but I see major problems in all three camps.
What is right, in my view, is this…
- The Bible is inerrant. What that means is, Scripture does not affirm anything untrue. You can see The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy for the definitive definition of what inerrancy actually is (and, more importantly, isn’t!). It is of great note, one of the chief architects of the modern definition of inerrancy, B. B. Warfield, did not see a necessary contradiction between the doctrine of inerrancy and Theistic Evolution.
- God is the one who did (does) it. Regardless of the details, it is clear that creation accounts (like Genesis 1) are intended to tell us that it was not a “natural” event. It is not something that came about apart from God, and, I believe just as importantly, God is still involved in the process. As Paul says in Rom 11 “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” and in Col 1 “he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” that is to say, God is involved in everything, even holding everything together. He is not a watchmaker God of the Diest, if God were to “die” we would cease to be. Naturalistic processes cannot explain creation, progress, the whole 9-yards.
- Mankind is the chief and special creation. We are not simply one group of primates in a long succession of primates, we are special. Gen 2:7 “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” is different than the creation of the other animals. When God declares “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” that is the Bible telling us we are more than monkeys. Not only this, God became a man. Sin and salvation are exclusively the domain of mankind.
There are a lot more details that I could put forth as my current opinion, my view of what the Bible is saying (and what it isn’t saying), but these are in the realm of debatable. There are people on all ends of the scale (all three “camps” mentioned above) who hold to these three points of mine here. To this end, I count people Brothers who claim the name of Jesus within this framework. I’m also willing to extend that title to those who may be just beyond the fray of these parameters as well.
Let’s talk about this, but let’s also focus on the majors, and allow people to decide for themselves within their own expertise, conscience, and leading of the Holy Spirit.
Let me leave you with this… What’s the busiest day you’ve ever had? How much can you cram into 24-hours? If “day 6” is a 24 hour day, Adam can rightly lay claim to the busiest day in recorded history…
- created a host of creatures to live and flourish on the land (Genesis 1:24–25);
- created human beings (Genesis 1:26–29)—albeit in two stages, the first one being the formation of the man (Adam) out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7);
- planted a garden in Eden (Genesis 2:8);
- caused trees and plants to grow in the Garden of Eden in accordance with the same ordinary providence He exercised over creation from the beginning (Genesis 2:9; cf. Genesis 1:11–12, 2:5);
- placed Adam in the Garden (Genesis 2:15) and appointed him as its keeper;
- made a covenant with Adam (Genesis 2:16–17; cf. Hosea 6:7);
- recognized that Adam was alone and noted that this was not a good state of affairs (Genesis 2:18);
- introduced Adam to the animals, and allowed him to name them (Genesis 2:19–20);
- put the man to sleep, made a woman (Eve) from a part of Adam’s side, and then brought her to Adam (Genesis 2:21–22)
- Adam’s reaction to receiving Eve after naming all the animals and having major surgery “at last!” so as to communicate a long duration of waiting for her (Genesis 2:23)
“Letus make man in our image, after our likeness.