I am not yet ready to resurrect truth in the Trenches. Apologetics is something I love, and I believe God has given me some talent for answering the questions about why the faith is either true (for unbelievers) or why the faith is not untrue (for believers whose faith may be tested by the questions of our age). Yet, I believe that to make Truth in The Trenches what it should or could be I need help, and I need to think through an approach that will make this blog more useful to the Church.
But I’m also continuing to study apologetics; currently in a PhD program at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We’re currently in a class discussing issues of origins and Genesis with Dr Ted Cabal, and we’ve done reading in Hugh Ross. Reading through these works, I believe that my discussion of other positions has been miscommunicated (this may be true of some others as well, but I can ultimately only speak for myself). I’ve often discussed other positions in terms of compromise, and I have come to understand many have taken offense at this terminology, and rightly so, I should have been more precise.
Compromise – the wrong term
When I discuss compromise with the world, I do not mean to make a statement about another person’s fidelity to Christ, their faith, or their love for God. Such a thing would be to put myself in the place of God, who alone can see the hearts of men, and judge them properly, as Paul warns us, “who art thou to judge another man’s servant, before his own Master he stands or falls.” What I have intended to communicate instead is that we are all influenced (negatively) by the spirit of the age in which we live. We are social creatures, and our understanding is influenced by the surrounding culture, in this case a culture that is fairly naturalistic in its approach to science, and the presuppositions that God does not exist certainly influences the interpretation of the fossil record. Just as there was a tendency among the church fathers to view the Scriptures through the lenses of Greek philosophers, so to, it is easy for us to interpret Scripture through the lenses of the beliefs of our modern day. In a sense, my arguments are aimed less at “old earth creationists,” “progressive creationists” or the few remaining “gap theorists” than towards attempts to try to accommodate neo-darwinian evolution. Even for theistic evolutionists (or evolutionary creationists as some prefer) my point is not intended to be personal. In other words, I am questioning their wisdom and their hermeneutic, not their faith.
Does this somehow mean I am abandoning Young Earth Creationism? The answer is no, my arguments haven’t changed. I see no syntactical basis for argument for a different means of interpreting Genesis 1, (or Genesis 1 through 11 as a unit) from the rest of the book of Genesis, which is clearly intended as history. Romans 5 and other passages discussing the connection of sin with the problem of evil also raise serious issues with the existence of death before the fall. Compromises with inerrancy historically are both serious in and of themselves, and historically have led to heretical compromises on infallibility and inspiration. There are other points I have made in the past as well, though I may reformulate other points with an eye towards greater precision in my expression. This is not to say alternative approaches have been raised, but I do not find them compelling, or fully satisfying.
Does this mean I believe that the Young Earth Creationist model is somehow unchallengeable, or that there are no hermeneutical challenges facing a young earthier? The answer is of course not, and I never have, however I might have been understood in the past. Instead, I consider the hermeneutical problems challenging young earth interpretational work on the text of Scripture (such as why there was a tree of life in the Garden of Eden, if there was no death in the world) to be less serious than the problem of death. Genesis 1:5 (making a connection between “light” and “day”) would seem to imply the days of creation are literal 24 hour days; and additional points can be raised. Yet, Old Testament studies have not had the same benefit that New Testament studies have, and a certain amount of care must be exercised to allow that some archeological discovery, or grammatical insight might present a change in our understanding of the text, grammar or terminology of Genesis, but I must work with the data I have, not the data that I might or might not possess in the future.
My point is not one of my position, but of Christian charity. The minister is to be a “lover of good men.” It is difficult or foolish to refer to men like Gleason Archer (an old earth creationist), or B B Warfield (whose essays in On the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture is one of the most important theological discussions of inspiration in the modern era) as somehow being willing to compromise the faith; in fact, the very idea that they intentionally disregarded the scriptures to be thought well of by others is ludicrous based on what we know of these good men. I assume that these men along with Whitcomb and Morris of young earth Creationist fame are in one accord today, perhaps all of them with a better understanding in glory than they had in this life. Perhaps, in spite or our differences we should debate the issues by day, but remember what marks us as disciples throughout the discussion. I disagree Warfield and Archer on their interpretation of solving these problems, perhaps, but I warmly acknowledge them as men God used greatly in my own theological development.