The Genesis Crisis, which isn’t –

genesiscrisis.png

The Crisis which isn’t

Yet again, we are offered an imaginary crisis about Christians who accept the findings of modern and ancient science.
John MacArthur is a leading American preacher and has The Master’s Seminary attached to Grace Community Church in Sun Valley California. He went to that church in 1969 and has preached his version of the Gospel ever since.
Image result for john macarthur
MacArthur’s many books are popular and widely available in Britain. Some are even seen as academic theology and I groan when I find them used in a theological essay
Among other things he holds that Roman Catholics are not Christians, which can only be termed bigotted.
He also claims that the earth is only 6000 odd years old, and repeats the usual poor creationist arguments for this. Of course, any Christian who believes otherwise has rejected God!!
He has recently spoken again on the importance of Genesis
and put an article by  Cameron Buettel a preacher at Grace on his facebook page with a ringing endorsement from MacArthur. Buettel gives the standard YEC arguments on why “EVOLUTION” is wrong.
I take his blog and make detailed criticisms in quotation form.,
in this format
To summarise his faults here they are;
His understanding of the historical attitudes to geological time by the churches is simply inaccurate summed up by
But those six days of creation are now at loggerheads
That implies any being at loggerheads is recent.There are two problems here;

First, the worldwide church has never, ever, ever insisted on a 6/24 time schedule for creation. Some have, many have not.

Secondly, it was after 1660, not just the last few years that the question of long geological time became apparent.

Thirdly, most within the churches were never at loggerheads over issues of time.

And modern dating methods go back 300 years which many added since. They cannot be summed up so dismissively.

The churches  have never been precise on origins but have always been certain that God is creator.

The writer’s tone leaves much to be desired , as when he unjustifiably criticises Buffon for scoffing. His writings are anything but scoffing and are seeking understanding, not criticising Christianity.

His attitude to N T Wright and Keller not only leaves much to be desired on the quality of his criticisms but are somewhat nasty. His heading of  Accommodating Lies is totally out of order. (BTW I am critical of aspects of NTW !!! But these must be done politely and in accord with Jesus’ teaching)

He uses the common Creationist strategy of polarising Historical Science and Empirical science, so as to be able to reject any understanding and acceptance of geological time.

Paul Braterman has written a good blog on the value and truth of historical science

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/why-historical-science-is-the-best-kind-of-science/

his comment  ;

the wonky religions of Big Bang Cosmology

is really quite risible as he seems unaware that the Big Bang was put forward by a Christian , Fr George Le Maitre. Le Maitre was even criticised for allegedly putting Christian ideas into science.

He concludes with;

Why it matters

Image result for john macarthur

 The irony of this book title. That is why I write this. It does matter to be truthful as you criticise those you do not agree with. Here both MacArthur and Buettel fail disastrously. 
To me the whole subject matters as it is a matter of truth that the earth is billions of years old and to tech in the churches anything else is to teach falsehood. 

Evangelical

 https://www.facebook.com/JohnMacArthurGTY/

 

 

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The following blog post was originally published on February 17, 2015. —ed. Most of us are familiar with politicians who obfuscate simple questions with complex political answers. Who can forget …

Source: Blog Post –

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B150217/evangelical-syncretism-the-genesis-crisis

Evangelical Syncretism: The Genesis Crisis

by Cameron Buettel

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Comments (272)

A + A – RESET

The following blog post was originally published on February 17, 2015. —ed.

Most of us are familiar with politicians who obfuscate simple questions with complex political answers. Who can forget Bill Clinton’s “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”? Unfortunately, obfuscation exists in the realm of theology as well. God may not be “a God of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33), but there are scores of biblical scholars, theologians, and pastors who insert plenty of it into the first few chapters of Genesis.

I wonder who?

Evangelicalism abounds with theologians who don’t know what the meaning of the word “day” is. The Hebrew word for day, yom, appears more than two thousand times in the Old Testament and would attract virtually no debate were it not for six specific appearances in Genesis 1. But those six days of creation are now at loggerheads

“Are now at loggerheads”?  He ignores the fact that there was no unanimity of the days before 1660, when effectively the first geological research began, which is not NOW but 360 years ago.

Soon after that some suspected that earth was older than Ussher claimed – as did John Ray and others in the 1680s. I can take you to the exact site below Snowdon in north Wales, where his friend Edward Lhwyd cam to the conclusion that the earth was somewhat older. More in the 18th century realised the earth was ancient and despite the claims of Mortenson and others, many of these early geologists were Christians. As a result few educated people, Christian or not, doubted an ancient earth by 1800, and saw no conflict with their faith. It is very misleading to imply geological time is a new issue and only “now at loggerheads”.

This kids readers into thinking it is only a recent issue, whereas belief in an old earth was the dominant view from 1800, and also the dominant view in the Fundamentals of 1910.

with modern scientific dating methods.

This is so vague. Geological dating methods have been developing with Steno’s Principle of superposition in the 1660s, relative age dating by fossils in about 1800, radiometric age dating from 1907. so they are as modern as Gallileo! This is not the place either to mention all or give a history of their development.

Many of the dating methods used by geologists today were used by geologists 200 years ago. In fact the essentials of geological study in the fields makes considerable use of methods used by geologists 200 years ago. that makes them hardly modern.

Rather than stand firm on the biblical account,

This begs many questions. Yes, we have the biblical account – here Gen 1 to 11 – but how should it be understood and interpreted? Interpretation has shown great variety for 2000 years. Consider this on the period from 1600 to 1850. Genesis 1 & geological time from 1600-1850

Just considering biblical grounds there is little consensus, except that from 1600 most allowed more time than 144 hours.

The question is whether Genesis One tells us of God the creator, written in terms a person would understand 3000 years ago or is a detailed account of creation

church leaders acquiesce to unprovable theories

Unprovable theories may sound impressive to someone unfamiliar with geology, but not to a geologist, who will know how these “theories” have been thrashed out over time. The whole principle of geological succession with its fossils and periods – Cambrian, Ordovician etc, were worked out before 1850 and have been demonstrated as proven, with only minor adjustments since.

OK in the sixties Plate Tectonics was “unproven”, but after rigorous testing was “proven”.  Studying geology at Oxford in the 60s, we were presented with Plate Tectonics and some of the professors were producing cutting-edge papers. It was exciting, but not yet considered proven as it was in a few years.

and confuse the clear and consistent biblical teaching on origins.

Beyond the fact of God being creator, many details in Genesis are not clear, as is shown by the diversity of opinion before geologists came along.

 

A History of Skepticism

A French naturalist of the 1700s, Comte de Buffon, scoffed at the six days of creation and the straightforward biblical genealogies that dated the earth around six thousand years old

Here Buettel is scoffing at and mocking Buffon. Buffon was an incredibly able naturalist who wrote prolifically. In his Histoire Naturelle he discussed the work of earlier writers with great care and respect. Having read most of his volumes (some in French) I did not find one example of scoffing. Yes, he questioned his predecessors and was critical of them, but he was respectful to them and to God.

In 1778 in his Epoques he revised his age of the upwards to 2 million years and allotted about a dozen pages to a careful interpretation of Genesis One. Reading that taxed my limited French, but his discussion of the text of Genesis was of a very high standard.  His interpretation was similar to several orthodox protestant and Catholic scholars e,g, Father Joseph Needham

Soon after Ussher wrote with his 4004BC date in 1656, various Christians were questioning his views  – and not from a position of scepticism or doubt.

. He said it had to be much older—about seventy-five thousand years old.

This he claimed from the time involved in cooling the earth from a molten state, scaling up from a small globe a few feet in diameter to a globe the size of the earth.

For his time it was a good try, but was soon rejected and replaced by better ideas.

Since that day,

 

scientific dating results have followed the same trajectory as the American debt ceiling. By 1862 it was 100 million years;

This is misleading to the point of duplicity.

It was difficult to actually assign an age to the earth or to strata and scientists differed wildly in their estimates.

Before 1862 many thought is was far more than 100 million with the Rev Samuel Haughton suggesting 1,500 million just to the base of the Cambrian, which would give the age of the earth as nearer 10 billion. The 100 million years came from Lod Kelvin and was soon overthrown by the discovery of radioactivity in the 1890s. 

by 1913, 1.6 billion years

In about 1907 Boltwood argued from the presence of radioactive Uranium compounds in rocks that the rocks were hundreds of millions of years old, and by 1913 Arthur Holmes argued that this meant the earth had to be in the order of 1.6 billion. As it was a new technique many procedures needed fine tuning. Up to 1946 the base of the Cambrian came out as between 500 and 600 million and the age of the earth somewhere up to 2.5 billion. This was based on relatively few rocks being dated.

Today the estimate sits at 4.5 billion, but it will surely change again as soon as someone comes up with a better, more convincing guess.

more duplicity.

It was not a case of coming out with bigger dates , but serious and careful scientific research.

In 1946 Holmes revised his age to 4.6 billion and in 1955 Claire Patterson independently came up with 4.55 billion. Since then estimates have scarcely changed by more than 10 million or so. The arguments are rigorous and easily found by googling. To call them guesses is simply pathetic and says a lot about Buettel and MacArthur.

That is cheapskate mocking and scoffing.

In 1946 there were few dates to work from but now there are thousands if not more.

The truth is, science can’t offer us one, comprehensive answer for how we got here.

The truth is Buettel resorts to scoffing and ridicule to convince of his views.

Today we have a clear picture of the age and development of the earth, but there are still many things we do not understand.

There are lots of acceptable theories—except, of course, the plain reading of the Genesis account.

Silly comment

The Mythical Middle Ground

Regardless of historical science’s inability to get its story straight,

This is based on the YEC false distinction of historical versus empirical/experimental science.

Buettel is not willing to admit that scientists today have a consistent story for the evolution of the universe earth and life and apart from the handful of so-called creation scientists no one rejects it. Yes , they question it and at times make minor adjustments.

its various conjectures are given unquestioned authority

This is just nonsense. Scientists question as a matter of principle.

and exert enormous academic and ideological pressure.

Trivial compared to fundamentalist churches like Grace. It is abhorent that self-styled Christians should make such wild accusations.

And in the face of that pressure, many theologians and biblical scholars attempt to harmonize creation and evolution in hopes of maintaining both their academic credibility and their orthodoxy.

Perhaps some do, but the vast majority seek to understand the truths of Christianity with the truths of science out of sincerity not personal or academic credibility.

Popular author and theologian Tim Keller is a good example. Keller uses a false dichotomy to justify his attempt to harmonize evolutionary theory with the biblical text, saying that we shouldn’t have to “choose between an anti-science religion or an anti-religious science.” [1]

Back to an attack which is not quite in the spirit of I Corinthians 13

However, it must be said if the earth is more than 20/30 thousand years old then we do have to look at Genesis One as a 6/24 day will not work.

It’s worth remembering that true empirical science is measurable, testable, repeatable, and observable.

 Here we go again! Yes, you cannot repeat events of 500 million years ago but you can measure them, test them and observe them. from there you can make predictions of what you find elsewhere.

A good example is the way Neil Shubin et al discovered Tiktaalik  – an intermediate between fish and amphibian. He worked out where it should be in the fossil record and thus went to strata of that age in Arctic Canada and lo! it was there.

 

Tiktaalik Chicago.JPG

 

Therefore evolutionary theories require at least as much blind faith as the Genesis account, if not more

He’s on a roll here! However he uses the words “evolutionary theories” to lump together many aspects of science; geology, biology cosmology.

. And yet the wonky religions of Big Bang Cosmology and Darwinian Evolution

The Big Bang was so atheistic that it was first put forward by Fr le Maitre a Belgian priest and scientist. That is usually forgotten

Image result for fr. george lemaitre

have done an amazing job of frightening theologians with their façade of pseudo-scientific evidence.

An amazing statement

Theologians who refuse to compromise and cave to that façade are not “anti-science.” They are against bad science.

Really, so far Buettel has not made one accurate statement about science

If a scientific theory conflicts with God’s inerrant Word, it is the theory that requires revision; not Scripture.

Nope, you need to check your biblical interpretation as well and look to the wisdom of those in the past. That includes all the Christian (& non-Christian ) geologists and biologists over the last 350 years or more.

True biblical scholarship seeks to arrive at exegetical conclusions in conformity with the biblical text, not impose humanistic conclusions

On a roll again! Who says all this science is humanistic?

upon the text, thus changing its meaning. Those who insist on mixing oil with water combine pseudo-science with pseudo-exegesis and come up with convoluted solutions that neither scientists nor scholars can agree on.

Accommodating Lies

Again an unpleasant comment indicating a lack of familiarity with the New Testament .

Celebrated theologian N.T. Wright actually claims that he sees “emerging hominids” when he reads the opening chapters of Genesis:

Genesis one, two, and three is wonderful picture language, but I do think there was a primal pair in a world of emerging hominids, that’s the way I read that. … the way that I see it is that God called one pair of hominids and said “OK, this place is a bit chaotic, you and I together, we’re going to have a project. We’re going to plant this garden and we’re going to go out from here and this is how it’s going to be.” [2]

N.T. Wright is a proud supporter of BioLogos, an organization Phil Johnson has aptly renamed “Evangelicals and Atheists Together.”

 

BioLogos is an organization with the mission of inviting “the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.”[3] That’s like being on a mission to draw a round square. They’re trying to make evolution compatible with the Bible when it’s not even compatible with science.

 

Phil Johnson points out that BioLogos is evangelical syncretism taken to a whole other level, labelling them an “evangelical trojan horse”:

In every conflict that pits contemporary “scientific” skepticism against the historic faith of the church, BioLogos has defended the skeptical point of view.

Value judgment

 

BioLogos’s contributors consistently give preference to modern ideology over biblical revelation. Although the BioLogos PR machine relentlessly portrays the organization as equally committed to science and the Scriptures (and there’s a lot of talk about “bridge-building” and reconciliation), the drift of the organization is decidedly just one way. That should be obvious to anyone who ignores the organization’s own carefully-crafted PR and simply pays attention to what the BioLogos staff and contributors actually blog about.[4]

Tim Keller, while remaining ambiguous as to his own views, is a willing spokesman for BioLogos. On their website, Keller professes his openness to Derek Kidner’s theory that God forming man from the dust of the ground could be a description of evolution:

“The intelligent beings of a remote past, whose bodily and cultural remains give them the clear status of ‘modern man’ to the anthropologist, may yet have been decisively below the plane of life which was established in the creation of Adam… Nothing requires that the creature into which God breathed human life should not have been of a species prepared in every way for humanity.”

So in this model there was a place in the evolution of human beings when God took one out of the population of tool-makers and endowed him with ‘the image of God.’ This would have lifted him up to a whole new ‘plane of life.’[5]

Renowned Hebrew scholar Bruce Waltke believes the church must accept evolution’s terms of surrender

Buettel simply cannot avoid writing like this.

to preserve its credibility:

I think that if the data is overwhelming in favor, in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult, some odd group that’s not really interacting with the real world. . . . And to deny the reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world and would be to deny truth. So I think it would be our spiritual death if we stopped loving God with all of our minds and thinking about it, I think it’s our spiritual death. It’s also our spiritual death in witness to the world that we’re not credible, that we are bigoted, we have a blind faith and this is what we’re accused of. . . . And I think it is essential to us or we’ll end up like some small sect somewhere that retained a certain dress or a certain language. And they end up so . . . marginalized, totally marginalized, and I think that would be a great tragedy for the church, for us to become marginalized in that way.[6]

The doctrine of inerrancy becomes useless when men like Wright, Keller, and Waltke let atheists weigh in on what parts of the Bible are acceptable to believe. And while they don’t explicitly deny Scripture, their reinterpretation relegates it to a meaningless text. It is true that not all scholars who take such positions call themselves evangelicals, but they wield great authority in evangelical circles, and their capitulation is spreading like a disease.

 . This makes the false assumption that these scientists are atheists.

Many are devout Christians, but Buettel won’t respect Biologos etc

 

 

 

Clarity vs. Confusion

Genesis 1 could not be a more straightforward biblical narrative describing God’s creation week, as John MacArthur explains:

“The simple, rather obvious fact is that no one would ever think the timeframe for creation was anything other than a normal week of seven days from reading the Bible and allowing it to interpret itself. The Fourth Commandment makes no sense whatsoever apart from an understanding that the days of God’s creative work parallel a normal human work week.[7]

This statement can be tested, by looking at interpretations of Genesis one before 1660 (beginnings of geology)

Conclusions varied from an instantaneous creation – not even 6 days

6 24 hr days

That it was longer.

So it is not an obvious fact.

The reference to the Fourth Commandment is unconvincing.

 

MacArthur adds:

If the Lord wanted to teach us that creation took place in six literal days, how could He have stated it more plainly than Genesis does? The length of the days is defined by periods of day and night that are governed after day four by the sun and moon. The week itself defines the pattern of human labor and rest. The days are marked by the passage of morning and evening. How could these not signify the chronological progression of God’s creative work? [8]

How do you put over Creation to people?

You have to put it terms of their culture, which is what we have in Genesis

 

There are only two ways to deny a six-day creation: ignore the text or reject the text.

Or to understand what it meant when wrttien and what it means to us today

Scholars ignore the actual text by blinding themselves to the genre, grammar, and layout in order to insert their own. Skeptics simply reject the text as erroneous. Either way, the result is the same—a clear text becomes a confused text.

Why It Matters

Some people like to dismiss this debate as a secondary issue, not directly related to the gospel. But it is clearly an issue that goes to the authority of Scripture. And furthermore, as MacArthur rightly points out, it has massive repercussions for the gospel:

If Adam was not the literal ancestor of the entire human race, then the Bible’s explanation of how sin entered the world makes no sense. Moreover, if we didn’t fall in Adam, we cannot be redeemed in Christ, because Christ’s position as the Head of the redeemed race exactly parallels Adam’s position as the head of the fallen race: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18–19). “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life–giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45; cf. 1 Timothy 2:13–14Jude 14).

So in an important sense, everything Scripture says about our salvation through Jesus Christ hinges on the literal truth of what Genesis 1–3 teaches about Adam’s creation and fall. There is no more pivotal passage of Scripture.[9]

 

There is a more pivotal passage of scripture  – or rather four.

The four gospel accounts of our lord’s death and resurrection

Our faith is in Jesus Christ not Adam.

 

The opening chapters of Genesis are not up for debate, nor are they negotiable. The academic credibility of our faith is meaningless if we’re so quick to sacrifice the meaning of Scripture at the altar of public opinion. Better to be counted a fool for the sake of God’s Word than to be embraced for our willingness to compromise it.

But they need to be understood and explained to people

 

 

1 thought on “The Genesis Crisis, which isn’t –

  1. ianpalmer4

    I was burned by John Macarthur. I gave a class on Creation & Evolution to a Methodist church in the USA, and presented an earth older than 15,000 years based on tree rings and lake varves. One listener disagreed and walked out of my class. I found out later that John had been to the church and taught that earth was 6,000 years old. I appreciate your long soliloquy on this subject. I’m afraid many millennials will leave the church because of YEC misleading teachings.

    Like

    Reply

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