Are YE Creationists the only ones to take the bible seriously?

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I beg to differ with my friend Tony Breeden. Now, I’ve met Tony  several times, and he is a wonderfully spirited man who cares deeply for his family and for Scripture. While I believe that he may be overshooting the text with his Young Earth Creationism (YEC), I think he is spreading a blatantly false rumor, or inferential at the very least, when he insists that only YEC believers take the Scripture seriously or that somehow, if you take the bible seriously, you will be a YEC.

I am not a YEC believer – but I believe that Scripture is to be taken serious (which is why I continue to call myself a theological conservative). However, I believe that by taking it seriously, we must take the humanity in Scripture – the human authors under the Divine Inspiration in their human limitations – seriously as well. We must take in context, culture, and the history of canonization. Canonization concerns not only the books, but the order of books, the manuscripts and the shape of the text. (Think Esther and Daniel for this one). And before you throw me under the bus for saying that God has to work within human limitations – read the Scripture and examine it as a progressive revelation of God to His creation. There is a veil still yet causing us to see through a glass darkly. If you think that everything is Scripture is easily revealed, then you are in effect denying what Scripture says.

For Creation Sunday, YEC believers are asking that the first 11 chapters of Genesis be nailed to the door of your local church. Why? Why not the Gospel preached, always? Why is it that an extreme woodenly literal view – when in fact the original authors may not have meant it that way – be nailed to the door instead of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ who was the fulfillment of all the Scriptures and is the holy hope of humanity, regardless if you believe in YEC or OEC or EEC or ASAP, XYZ and MNOP? And to do so to symbolize Luther’s protest against the abuses of the Church is silly. Of course, Luther also believed in a stationary earth around which the Sun rotated, so maybe they are on to something.

I note the conversation which Anthony Lauterbach, who dined with the Luthers, quotes pertaining to Dr. Martin’s view of Copernicus:

There was mention of a certain astrologer who wanted to prove that the earth moves and not the sky, the sun, and the moon. This would be as if somebody were riding on a cart or in a ship and imagined that he was standing still while the earth and the trees were moving. “So it goes now. Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth .” (]], ]] (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1960), p. 33.)

What we actually have are people getting the Protestant Reformation wrong when they declare the Scripture as the absolute authority. For example, when you use the Protestant canon, you are using Tradition. When you (mis)use sola/solo scriptura, you are using Tradition. When you insist on literalism as the only way to take the Scripture seriously, you are denying traditions of the Christian Church. And when you add that Genesis 1-11 is more important than the Gospel, even if it is passively added, then you are adding to Scripture.

I ain’t going to lie – it chaps my ever-widening hide to see Christians deny to others Christians the ability to take Scripture seriously  (whatever that may mean to the subjective sense) because one sect believes it differently. I take Scripture seriously. I believe it to be divinely inspired and is itself a means of communicating Grace. I do not believe in the overly Alexandrian allegorical interpreting method, but that we should endeavor to mind the true meaning of the text by looking first at the context. I believe in literalism in context. For me, I believe that I take the Scripture serious because I believe it must first be understood objectively before we can apply it subjectively. And what is more, I believe that we can understand it objectively – in context, in culture, in time and space, etc… And when we do that, we will turn from recent insistences on Scripture to actually take the Holy Writ seriously. Of course, by that same token of trying to understand and apply Scripture, my dear friend would say that I am not taking Scripture seriously.

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17 Replies to “Are YE Creationists the only ones to take the bible seriously?”

  1. My view is that by treating Genesis 1-3 as science we lose its original meaning which is about relationships and the beginnings of the covenant which underpin the jewish people. That seems to be why it is there in the bible. By forcing it to be science we fillet out its main purpose.

    1. I sorta agree, Gordon. I think it was a polemic against Babylon noting that God from the very beginning had set out the Jewish people for His purpose.

    1. Because maybe some of these people who claim to be decedents of the Protestant Reformation will look at his approach to Scripture and see how foolish they are?

      Or, it just looked really good

  2. Well, you know I’m YEC, but I think there are others who take the Bible seriously, even if they are wrong 🙂
    Seriously, we can all learn from one another if we take the time to listen.

      1. Of course, the flat-earth supporters will say that the YEC folks don’t take the Bible seriously enough.

        From my own perspective, anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that Genesis 1 mentions a solid dome or “firmament” is not taking the Bible seriously. But that’s only one step in the process. Having taken it seriously in terms of what its words actually mean, rather than trying to make it say what you are persuaded it ought to, we then have to ask, if we are religious believers, what we are supposed to do theologically with texts that do not accurately reflect the natural world as we now understand it. And I think for Christians, the answer is clear: we change our cosmology, as Paul did, for instance, when he wrote about the “third heaven” – an idea which reflects the more recent Ptolemaic cosmology of his era, but which isn’t anywhere explicit in the Scriptures available to him.

  3. With respect to the author,

    You’ve misrepresented me just a touch. It is true that that I believe that the Young Earth Creation position is the only Biblically consistent interpretation of Genesis and the rest of Scripture; it is not true that I believe that anyone who takes his Bible serious will come to believe in a YEC position, for truth nor reason compells – that is, people do not always come to a logically consistent, nonarbitrary position though they should.

    Neither is it true that I believe that only a YEC takes his Bible seriously; I do believe that only a YEC takes His entire Bible seriously enough to take God at His Word and believe that He is omnipotent to have made His menaing clear even being capable of [gasp!] overcoming the limitations of fallible men to do so. This is a high view of Scripture that I make no apologies for. I have heard this hubris [oft repeated] that some claim to take the Bible too seriously to take it literally and it’s doublespeak: If I take a man or text seriously at all, I take it in the context intended, even if it comes into conflict with men who don’t affirm it and conduct science by a naturalistic philosophy that excludes God from all consideration anyway.

    Don’t be so hot to aschew tradition. The Apostles commanded us to hold fast the traditions we were taught and they all affirmed a Young Earth!

    With respect to McGrath, you doubt the Word of God at the fallible, ever-changing claims of men and interpet the Bible according to “higher criticisms” that treat the revealed Word of God as the work of fallible men [honestly, are you still going on with that old chestnut that attempts to call the firmament [‘expanse’ in other translations] as a solid object??]. In doing so, you repeat the Church’s error where it concern Galileo, trying to make Scripture fit the current consensus of science rather than reading it in the context given. The Church found texts which seems to support the Ptolemaic model and were later embarrassed to find they had made the Scriptures seem to support a thing that never was; this is the error of Creation models that accomodate long ages and/or microbes-to-man evolution. Were you consistent [rather than arbitrary] in your attitude that we must accept the findings of science over Scripture you would also deny the physical, bodily resurrection of our Lord, for men do not rise from death according to these same scientists which cry the earth is millions of years old!

    I have received several objections on this wise from OECs, whom I respect. I admire Lewis and Spurgeon, even if I think they got the age of the Earth wrong. I do not say they didn’t take their Bibles seriously. They only failed to take it seriously in one matter [well, with Lewis in more than one…]; if my wife accuses me of laziness where it concerns tossing dirty clothes into the hamper she is not accusing me of laziness in all things, simply the one… and likewise when I accuse OECs of not taking the Bible seriously where it concerns Genesis, I do not accuse them of not taking the Bible seriously at all!

    In any case, time allowing, I shall post on this matter further on my site.

    God bless you, Joel.

    Rev Tony Breeden

    1. Tony, my intent was not to misrepresent you in anyway, nor do I feel like I have. Instead, many YEC’ers feel that by necessity, which is my point as a generalization, feel that the only serious understanding of Scripture is YEC. Look at your first paragraph, for example. By virtue of that argument, those who believe that Scripture is not speaking about science but instead theology are inconsistent and perhaps even illogical…

      Regarding your second paragraph – it is inconsistent with yours first. If you believe that ONLY a YEC’er takes his bible seriously enough to, etc… then you must by necessity regard those who believe that the text is theological rather than scientific doesn’t. Instead, I believe that I take the bible serious enough to understand the text apart from the YEC myth and actually let the text speak for itself. Again, it is not about clarity of the text to you – it is about the clarity of the text to the ancient Hebrew reader sitting in Babylon. But saying that it is clear to you dismisses first the original reception and second, the whole of Scripture which speaks to the fact that not everything is as clear as day. If you took the text literally, then you must affirm a flat, geocentric earth which (almost) no one does. Even then, I seriously doubt that the text is even pointing to that, but instead using human limitations to speak the Word of God.

      3rd Paragraph – I’m actually not the one eschewing Tradition – my contention would be that many modern Protestants, generally toward the more fundamentalist end, do. And no, none of the Apostles affirmed a YEC stance.

      I can let Dr. McGrath answer his portion, seeing that he is more able than I.

      What you deem serious, I deem ill equipped and a hindrance to the text. Why I have no doubt that you take the Scripture serious, my contention is that by combining the two – YEC and taking the Scripture serious, you are then expelling those who believe that Scripture is speaking not about Science but about God’s order and purpose and sovereignty from the seriousness of the text. By couching the text only in YEC terms it denies the Jewishness of the text, the Tradition behind it, and indeed dismiss the original audience as unnecessary to know what it actually means.

      I defend Genesis myself, but believe that in defending it, I do not have to apply interpretations which aren’t nearly as inspired as the Text itself.

    2. Rev. Breeden, I am drawing on the work of scholars without whom even I, never mind many others who do not even know the relevant Biblical languages, would not have access to the Scriptures at all. I do not see how one can demean Biblical criticism and yet use such fruits of its labors as Bible translations.

      Be that as it may, you have not thus far demonstrated that those who understood the Bible to indicate a flat earth, or a spherical one surrounded by multiple heavens, actually misunderstood the Bible. That the meaning they found in it did not match up with what scientists later discovered does not mean that they misunderstood it. It could also mean that the Bible reflects outmoded cosmological understandings.

      If that is in fact what the Bible contains, then I in acknowledging it am taking the Bible’s actual words far more seriously than you are who are determined to defend the Bible’s accuracy even if it means denying the plain sense of its words.

      1. James,
        I can’t help but notice that Tony mentioned higher criticism. In your response you throw up the red herring that we wouldn’t have Bible translations without it. I think you know that it’s a red herring, because we wouldn’t have Bible translations without textual criticism, but we did have them before the so-called higher criticism came into being.
        While I may not agree with you on many things, I admire your intelligence and know that you can present a better argument than what you did when you said that.

        1. Well, I certainly ought to have expressed myself better, at the very least! I’m not convinced that one can make an absolute distinction between lower and higher criticism in terms of their relevance to Bible translation. Having been involved with a Bible-translation organization for some time, and having good friends who serve with Wycliffe, I can say that matters of cultural background, history, literary analysis, linguistics, and other such matters are often relevant when translators do their work. In some cases, when the Hebrew in Job is unintelligible for instance, a translator may have to choose between leaving a blank space, drawing on the history of translation, or making something up.

          But if linguistics is a matter of “lower” rather than “higher” criticism, then that is all the more reason for my point to Rev. Breeden to stand. It was he who tried to say that my view reflected “higher criticism”, but the nature of the dome/firmament in Genesis 1 is a matter of linguistics rather than historical-critical or other considerations.

    3. Rev. Breeden, with all due respect . . .

      Your very first paragraph seems to indicate that you do, indeed, believe that, as you say, YEC is the only “biblically consistent position” on reading Genesis 1-3 (even though there are two contradictory stories there . . .), and, indeed all of Scripture.

      Since there are millions, tens of millions perhaps, of Christians who are serious, thoughtful, Scriptural Christians who consider YEC so much smoke and oakum, and even, perhaps, a theological distortion of the meaning of Creation as divine gratuity, it seems to me that, despite your claim otherwise, you do, indeed, consider such to be, either willingly or not, in error in their reading not just of Genesis, but all of Scripture.

      With further due respect, that there are those who continue to argue this way, while not surprising, saddens me. With the glories of creation far grander than we can imagine, the marvelous gift of a loving God, your position makes God, and Creation, small.

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