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#39943 - Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:41 AM Young Earth vs. Old Earth  
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Tom Offline
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Hi

I have a friend that is Reformed in his soteriology and up until recently I have never found anything that we really disagreed on.
However, the other day we were having a conversation about Young Earth vs. Old Earth and to my surprise he told me that he favors the Old Earth view.
When I told him about the Hebrew word (“Yom”) or “Day” as it is translated into English, consistently having a meaning of a 24 hour period of time when it follows a numeral. He basically told me that he doesn’t believe that Genesis is necessarily a literal form of writing and he would argue against the view that all of Scripture is to be taken as dictated by God, whether it keeps the literally style of the writer or not.
He believes that there are errors in the Bible and when many scholars try to say thing such as “they are copy write errors etc… that doesn’t really defend the position. This is because if it is true that God really wanted to preserve the words of Scripture in the manner that “literalists” (as he called them), He would have done so.
He believes instead that we shouldn’t take Scripture in this manner; instead it should be looked at as God telling certain individuals to write things down, but not in a manner that is without error, but retains the general message. In this way the creation story in Genesis could very well describing creation in just a general way and not contradict an old Earth view.
Here is one example of where he believes Scripture has error.
Quote
Chronicles and Kings contradict each other.
How old was Ahaziah when he began to reign? forty-two or twenty-two?
(2 Chr 22:2 NRSV) Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri.
The Hebrew word for forty here is ‘arba’iym (Sound familiar?)
705. ‘arba’iym, ar-baw-eem’; multiple of H702; forty:–forty.
(2 Ki 8:26 NRSV) Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel.
Hebrew word for twenty here is ‘esriym:H6242
6242. ‘esriym, es-reem’;
from H6235; twenty; also (ordinal) twentieth: –[six-] score, twenty (-ieth)

He has no problem with this kind of error anymore, but he used to when he was a literalist. Again his problem is a matter of preservation.

I believe that the example above is a copyist error and it doesn’t invalidate inspiration, or the authority of Scripture and I am not sure I understand his point about “preservation” and how it is inconsistent with a “literalist” understanding.

Sometimes I wish I could think well on my feet, because my friend sure can.
I have a huge problem with what he said because among other things, I think it calls into question Orthodox doctrines such as the doctrines of Grace. It kind of baffles me how my friend could believe in the doctrines of grace and believe the things he is stating about Scripture. Hermenutically speaking, I think it isn’t consistent.
The problem however, is I am not sure how to show him this inconsistency.

If anyone has any thoughts that might help in this regard, I would appreciate it.

Tom

#39944 - Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:35 AM Re: Young Earth vs. Old Earth [Re: Tom]  
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Tom,

Copyist errors are rare but not something to shake our firm belief in the inspired, infallible and inerrant word. It is NOT our translations which are "inspired" but the original manuscripts. It has been shown again and again that not one major doctrine of the faith is in the least bit put into question, never mind changed due to these minor occurrences. However, should one reject verbal plenary inspiration there is no reason to believe anything that the Scripture says since it is ALL subject to error being that it would be nothing more than the writings of mere and fallible men. To be consistent, one must accept one or the other. You cannot have articles of faith upon which you entrust your eternal destiny which are based upon a fallible source.

Here's how Keil & Delitzsch in their Commentary on the Old Testament deal with the issue:


Vers. 25-29. REIGN OF AHAZIAH OF JUDAH (cf. 2 Chron. xxii. 1—6). — Ahaziah, the youngest son of Joram, ascended the throne in the twenty-second year of his age. The statement in 2 Chron. xxii. 2, that he was forty-two years old when he became king, rests upon a copyist's error, namely, a confusion of K twenty with M forty. Now, since his father became king at the age of thirty-two, and reigned eight years, Ahaziah must have been born in the nineteenth year of his age. Consequently it may appear strange that Ahaziah had brothers still older than himself (2 Chron. xxi. 17); but as early marriages are common in the East, and the royal princes had generally concubines along with their wife of the first rank, as is expressly stated of Joram in 2 Chron. xxi. 17, he might have had some sons in his nineteenth year. His mother was called Athaliah, and was a daughter of the idolatrous Jezebel. In ver. 26 and 2 Chron. xxii 2 she is called the daughter, i.e. grand-daughter, of Omri; for, according to ver. 18, she was a daughter of Ahab. Omri, the grand¬father, is mentioned in ver. 26 as the founder of the dynasty which brought so much trouble upon Israel and Judah through its idolatry. (vol. 3, p. 338, Eerdmans, 1976)


In His grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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#39945 - Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:41 AM Re: Young Earth vs. Old Earth [Re: Tom]  
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Tom,

Quote

Tom Said:
He believes instead that we shouldn’t take Scripture in this manner; instead it should be looked at as God telling certain individuals to write things down, but not in a manner that is without error, but retains the general message. In this way the creation story in Genesis could very well describing creation in just a general way and not contradict an old Earth view.


This is a very dangerous attitude of your friend towards the Scripture. It opens the interpretive door widely to liberalism and heresy.

There are other such unresolved (especially numerical) copyist errors in the Scripture, for instance:

40,000 (1 Kings 4:26) - "And Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen."
4,000 (2 Chron. 9:25) - "Now Solomon had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem."

Which was it, 4000 or 40,000 horse stalls? In fact, this unresolved copyist error is but another proof of the INSPIRED TRUTH in God's words.

How was this error allowed to remain in the Scripture for all of these hundreds of years when the scribes knew all along that there was a contradiction here?

The answer to this question is simple and unavoidable. The scribes and copyists through the ages held the Scripture in such respect and awe that they knowingly allowed this obvious error to remain rather than speculate as to the original manuscript content!


Denny

Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." [John 6:68]
#39946 - Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:26 PM Re: Young Earth vs. Old Earth [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Pilgrim

I agree with you and have studied this matter a fair amount.
What you said is basically what I told my friend, but he doesn't seem to see that his understanding puts anything in danger.
From talking to him, I think he knows this subject better than I do and used to hold to it (what he calls the "literalist" view).
He asked me to give examples of how his view puts any major doctrines in question. But, since I don't think well on my feet and for that matter I am having trouble thinking of a way to show him this, I thought I would ask people on the Highway to help me.
He also knows that we believe that the originals are inspired, not the translations, but sees this as a problem as well.

One thought I had about this issue, is that I don’t know of any Conservative theologians that hold to his view. If I am correct only liberal theologians have his view.
Am I correct about this?
I am not sure where I am going with this thought yet, nor am I sure it is a legitimate argument to use in this matter.

One more thing to add.
He said he believes the word "inspired" should be taken in the same manner that someone would be inspired to write someone’s life story. In this case God "inspired" the writers of scripture to write what they are told down, in their own words and with their own human faults.

Personally I think this view make the Bible somehow less than "God's Word".
Yet he is more comforted by it than the verbal plenary inspiration view, or as he would call it "the dictation view".

Tom

Last edited by Tom; Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:38 PM.
#39947 - Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:23 PM Re: Young Earth vs. Old Earth [Re: Tom]  
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Quote
Tom said:
One thought I had about this issue, is that I don’t know of any Conservative theologians that hold to his view. If I am correct only liberal theologians have his view.
Am I correct about this?

I know of no conservative Christian, never mind theologian who denies verbal plenary inspiration.

Quote
Then, Tom has One more thing to add
He said he believes the word "inspired" should be taken in the same manner that someone would be inspired to write someone’s life story. In this case God "inspired" the writers of scripture to write what they are told down, in their own words and with their own human faults.

Personally I think this view make the Bible somehow less than "God's Word".
Yet he is more comforted by it than the verbal plenary inspiration view, or as he would call it "the dictation view".

His definition of the historic Christian Church in regard to "inspiration" is woefully in error. The Scriptures are more than clear what "inspiration" means:


2 Peter 1:19-21 (ASV) "And we have the word of prophecy [made] more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit."


Peter makes clear that those men who wrote Scripture did not do so out of an "inner desire and/or motivation", but rather they wrote as the Holy Spirit "moved" them, i.e., they were guided by the Holy Spirit to write those things which God determined should be revealed. His view sounds very much neo-orthodox; the writers of Scripture are simply "witnesses" of what they saw and experienced and nothing more. Thus, their writings are fallible. How far he embraces Barthianism (neo-orthodoxy) cannot be known at this point.

It is true that God did "dictate" certain portions of holy writ, e.g., the creation and much of what took place before Moses. But the majority of Scripture certainly wasn't dictated.

For the historic Christian view on inspiration and related subjects, see the articles located here: Sola Scriptura.

In His grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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#39948 - Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:52 AM Re: Young Earth vs. Old Earth [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Pilgrim

When you said:
Quote
How far he embraces Barthianism (neo-orthodoxy) cannot be known at this point.
you said more than you know. I am not sure my friend is into Barth or not, but I have been running into people that are. I am not sure it is in relation to this particular topic, but it is related to Barth's view of the Trinity, and is being made popular in the novel called 'The Shack'.
I sure hope my friend isn't dogmatic about this, because people who agree with the novel 'The Shack' about the Trinity, outside of Reformed circles, in my experience seem to be in far greater number than those who don't.
Of course I am only talking about those who have read the novel, but unfortunately I have only found one (Dave Hunt<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/crazyeyes.gif" alt="" /> , who called the book "New Age") non-Reformed Christian that doesn't agree with the Trinity that 'The Shack' portrays.
In fact, there are even theologians that say they disagree with the Trinity that people like Augustine and Calvin; they believe Barth’s view is much closer to the biblical view.

Sorry for going off on a little bunny trail, but I hope you understood my point in mentioning it.

Tom

#39949 - Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:14 AM Re: Young Earth vs. Old Earth [Re: Tom]  
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Quote
Tom said:
I am not sure my friend is into Barth or not, but I have been running into people that are.

Admittedly, there wasn't much to go on when I made that remark, i.e., he may hold to some degree of neo-orthodox doctrine re: the doctrine of Scripture. I got that from your quoting his words below, which btw are very contradictory:

Quote
He said he believes the word "inspired" should be taken in the same manner that someone would be inspired to write someone’s life story. In this case God "inspired" the writers of scripture to write what they are told down, in their own words and with their own human faults.

1. In the first sentence, he redefines "inspired" to mean "motivated", which clearly is NOT what the Scripture nor the Church's historic doctrine of Scripture teach. His definition is what Barth and neo-orthodoxy teach; the writers were simply 'witnesses' of the truth and thus they are fallible as is their record of their experiences.

2. The second sentence is more akin to the biblical/Church's view, which does include elements of dictation, something which he apparently rejects.

At best, your friend is rather confused about the historic teaching on this matter. And, he has certainly put himself in a precarious position with this distorted view he holds. It is akin to putting a screen door in a submarine. [Linked Image]

In His grace,


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
#39950 - Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:38 PM Re: Young Earth vs. Old Earth [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Tom Offline
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Pilgrim

Quote
Admittedly, there wasn't much to go on when I made that remark, i.e., he may hold to some degree of neo-orthodox doctrine re: the doctrine of Scripture. I got that from your quoting his words below, which btw are very contradictory:


Sorry, I understood you correctly the first time.

When I said:
Quote
I am not sure my friend is into Barth or not, but I have been running into people that are.
I wasn't questioning what you said. I was telling you what came to my mind when I read what you said. Barth is someone that is coming up in conversation a lot lately and although I don't know to what extent, his views seem to be gaining popularity.

I am sorry for not being clear. I just hope this post is clear. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

Tom

Last edited by Tom; Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:40 PM.

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