Hebrews 11:1-3 on Six-Day Creation

This article, by Rev. Williamson, is reblogged with permission from The Aquila Report.

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Hebrews 11:1 gives us an inspired definition of true (saving) faith. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” According to this definition true faith (faith as God has defined it) is concerned with two categories of things:Hebrews 11 on 6 day

  1. “things hoped for” and
  2. “things not seen.”

Furthermore, according to this definition, faith is the source of assurance and conviction concerning both of these categories of things.

THINGS HOPED FOR

What, then, are some of the “things hoped for” in our Christian faith? To name a few:

  1. The visible bodily return (parousia) of Jesus Christ.
  2. The bodily resurrection of the dead.
  3. The judgment of the whole human race.

Since God alone knows the future it is obvious that three these things (and any other future things) can be known by us in only one way. That way is by God telling us in words what is going to happen in the future. The most brilliant scientist cannot know anything at all about any of these three things in any other way than the way you and I can know them. Therefore he cannot speak with any more authority on these things than you or I can as Bible believing people

THINGS NOT SEEN

Parallel to “the things hoped for” which can only be known by faith, are “things not seen.” One such thing of great importance is the creation of the universe. Creation was not “seen” by human eyes. Adam was created last, on the sixth day, so even he wasn’t an eye-witness of these acts of creating. Therefore Adam himself — and all the rest of the human race — could only have reliable knowledge about God’s work of creation if he revealed such information to them in words.

He has revealed them to us in Genesis 1-2.

The most brilliant scientist has no access to information about creation beyond what God has said in the Bible. That is why Hebrews 11:3 says “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.”

In other words, in both instances — with respect to future things and past things unseen by human observers — there is only one source of knowledge or understanding. That source is what God says in words in the Bible.

The most brilliant scientist is therefore brought down to the same humble level as any other person when it comes to assured knowledge of creation.

TWO THINGS TO REJECT

Since the truth about creation is found in the Bible alone, two things that are often said to stand in the way of believing in six-day creation must be firmly rejected. One is the claim that scientific evidence in the world itself proves that it is old (meaning that it took a long time to make it). The other claim is that one can hold on to biblical faith and yet allow for evolution.

1) We must reject claims that the world is old

When something is created instantly it has the appearance of age. This clearly seen in two of the miracles of Jesus: creating wine at the wedding feast at Cana, and creating food to feed the 5,000.

If it were possible to go in one of our imaginary ‘time machines’ to visit that wedding feast in Cana, and if a sample of that newly made wine could be taken and whisked back to the famous FBI forensic lab in Washington D.C., those world-renowned scientists would surely say that ‘it took at least 100 years to make wine of this quality.’

And they would be right if they were thinking it was wine made by the usual process! But that is just the point: this wine was not made by ‘the usual process’—it was made by the supernatural power of Jesus, with the appearance of age.

2) We must reject that evolution and the Bible are compatible

Evolution teaches us to believe that the things we see in the world today have evolved out of other things. It teaches that one thing can evolve out of another thing. But God says “that which is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

When Paul stood on Mars Hill in Athens he knew he was facing a people who had once known the true God, but he also knew they did not like the God they originally knew. So they became foolish: turning away from God to worship and serve the creature instead of the creator (Rom. 1:25).

The Greeks had once honored a supreme God whom they called Zeus. But, as Aristophanes put it, “vortex drove out Zeus and came to reign in his place.” Vortex was a Greek name for ever-swirling change. I also read somewhere of a later Greek Philosopher who already said—2,000 years ago—that “the worm, striving to become man, mounts up through all the spires of form” (the equivalent of the modern idea of evolution). How true the wise words of Solomon who said “there is nothing new under the sun!” (Eccles. 1:9) What we face today, in our American culture, is the very same God-denying apostasy, in principle, that Paul faced on Mars Hill.

What we need today in Presbyterian and Reformed Churches is a new surge of faith as God himself has defined it—faith created in us by the word of the wonder-working God of creation as well as redemption.

Is this not the message of Psalm 33?

Let all the earth Jehovah fear
Let all that dwell both far and near
In awe before him stand.

For, lo, he spoke and it was done
And all, with sovereign power begun,
Stood fast at his command.

Conclusion: there is no good reason to abandon—or to qualify by ingenious means so as to water down or weaken—the straight-forward confession of the Westminster divines who said in the Westminster Confession of Faith 4:1, Larger Catechism Q/A 15, and Shorter Catechism Q/A 9, that God “created all things of nothing, in the space of six days, and all very good.”

G. I. Williamson is a retired minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, living in the Orange City, Iowa area. He is the author of study guides on the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Heidelberg Catechism.

What’s at Stake? The Gospel Is at Stake (Tim Challies)

Tim Challies recently interviewed Dr. William Van Doodewaard about his new book The Quest for the Historical Adam.  With his kind permission, we are republishing it here on Creation Without Compromise.  The original post on Challies.com can be found here.

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There is always one truth or another that is being disputed. There is always some doctrine or another that is under attack. And speaking personally, I find it hard to keep up. Sometimes it is best to recruit some help, and I did that very thing recently. I keep hearing about differing views on the historical Adam, with more and more people moving away from a strictly literal understanding that Adam was divinely created by God on the sixth day of creation. Knowing that William Vandoodewaard had just written a book on the subject (The Quest for the Historical Adam), I asked if he would help me sort it all out. He did that in this brief but helpful Q&A.

MeCan you briefly (and as objectively as possible) lay out the different options when it comes to the historical Adam? What are the predominant views?

WilliamThere are really five possible views:

  1. Adam was specially created by God on the sixth day, as understood by the literal interpretation of the Genesis text. Adam is created without ancestry, apart from any evolutionary processes. He is the first human.
  2. Adam was specially created in the manner that Genesis describes (out of the dust, life breathed into him), but without the time frame of six days of ordinary duration—it occurred at some unknown point in the ancient past. Adam is created without ancestry, and apart from any evolutionary processes. He is the first human.
  3. Adam was created through a combination of natural processes and supernatural, divine intervention at some unknown point in the ancient past. Evolutionary processes played a part in Adam’s creation, he had animal ancestry, but God intervened, doing something special in his conception, or making him human after birth, even though his biological parents were not. Some argue that God’s intervention included changing Adam’s physical constitution; others argue that it was only God’s gift of a spiritual constitution or soul that set Adam apart from his animal ancestors.
  4. Adam developed the same way as in #3, but he was simply an individual whom God entered into relationship with, making Adam religious. The immediate change that made Adam “human” was relational, not constitutional.
  5. There was no Adam. Adam is simply a figure or type for early humanity as a category.

While these are the five main categories, it is helpful to be aware of their place and proportion. The historic, mainstream understanding of the Christian church is view #1. Despite continuing efforts to the contrary it remains the predominant view among evangelical Christians. By contrast, view #2, rooted in post-Enlightenment geological theories, is actually a minority stream. Views #3–5, while trendy, very vocal, and on the evangelical edge (where broad evangelicalism merges into theological liberalism), actually represent an even smaller fringe than view #2.

Ongoing round-tables and “four views on Genesis and origins” type books produced by parts of evangelical academia are misleading. They give the impression that the literal understanding of origins is a minority when it actually remains an overwhelming majority commitment, much to the chagrin of its opponents.

MeWhat is really at stake here? What does the church stand to lose if we widely accept an alternate view of the historical Adam?

WilliamThe teaching of God’s Word is at stake here. God’s character is at stake. The gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake. Accepting an Adam with evolutionary origins immediately impacts what it means to be human, created by God in His image. It opens a Pandora’s box of theological problems—from Adam’s relationship with his animal parents and surrounding community, to the doctrine of sin and the fall, to God’s holiness, goodness, and justice. It immediately impacts the doctrine of Christ as the One by whom all things were created, as well as His incarnation and work of salvation. It’s an issue that touches so many others: from soteriology to race relations to sexual ethics to the new creation at the second coming. Those who take the logically consistent step beyond an evolutionary Adam to a figurative Adam join a line of thinkers including Voltaire and Kant.

MeDo you think there is an inevitability here? Do you think that those who deny a historical Adam are necessarily on a slope to full-out theological liberalism?

WilliamThe denial of a historical Adam is already theological liberalism, beyond the bounds not only of evangelicalism, but also historic Christianity. There is an inevitability of further decline, not always in the case of the individual who departs further from Christian orthodoxy, but almost always in the next generation, and in any institution or church that allows this. The underlying problem is the capitulation to reading Scripture through the lens of this world’s culture and thought, rather than reading culture and thought through the lens of Scripture.

MeAre all 4 of the alternatives to the literal reading of Genesis 1 equally dangerous? Or do you think there is room within Christian orthodoxy for some or all of them?

WilliamI don’t believe that we should ever say there is room in Christian orthodoxy for “lesser” error: if something is unscriptural we should not give it a pass. Christian orthodoxy should not be viewed as the “core concepts” of biblical Christianity; orthodoxy is the whole counsel of God’s Word. Our job is to be committed to being conformed to Christ, to the Word, in all things. This should be our passion and joy, pursued in love for Christ, His church, and a world in desperate need of the complete gospel.

But Christians are at various points in their spiritual growth, so, as one theologian said, “a man may be in error, and yet not be a heretic.” Someone may hold to an error at some point and still be a Christian. Understood this way, the first alternative view on human origins is the least problematic: you can hold to view #2 and retain an orthodox view of Adam, but it is nonetheless error requiring correction because it requires hermeneutical choices which set the stage for worse alternative views, in Genesis and elsewhere. Views #3 and #4 move significantly further into error. #5, with its flat out denial of Adam, brings one into the realm of heresy. The Quest for the Historical Adam details the historical realities and theological consequences of each of these in contrast to the coherence and orthodoxy of the literal understanding of our origins.

MeShould the average Christian church-goer get informed about this issue, or is it one where we can allow the scholars to work it out?

WilliamAverage Christian church-goers cannot afford to ignore this issue. Its erosive impact is continuing, if not gathering steam, in American evangelicalism. It may impact you directly through the minister you call or the elders you ordain: discernment here is essential for the church’s life and future.

Our children are likely to face the denial of the historical Adam at many Christian colleges—under the guise of Christian education. The issue is not just for us, but for our children’s future in the faith and for the continued expansion of the kingdom of Christ. Despite the naysayers who say “there is no slippery slope,” church history shows over and over that those who buy into alternate views of human origins are getting on the road that leads to complete abandonment of biblical Christianity.

I believe the best way to be informed is not found in immersing ourselves in books that present various views of the creation account, but by understanding Scripture’s richness, beauty, and cohesiveness on our origin, taught by faithful expositors and theologians for millennia. We must begin recapturing the marvelous reality of the literal understanding of our origin, all it entails, and how it applies to our lives. This was a key part of my aim in The Quest for the Historical Adam. When we understand the reality of what God has said and done, we will not trade our birthright for a pot of stew. We will worship our Creator and Redeemer.

WilliamYes, I would recommend two recent books: Richard Gaffin’s No Adam, No Gospel (P&R, 2015), and the collected essays in the volume God, Adam and You (P&R, 2015).