Debunking the Framework Hypothesis (2)

Today is the 3rd installment of an excerpt from this article.  Today we consider the Framework Hypothesis’s argument that the 7th day of creation is a long period of time.  Please feel free to respond in the comment section below. 

The second argument supporting the Framework position is that the seventh day of the creation week is an unending (or at least long and still continuing) period.7 This premise is a standard argument for Framework advocates since it reputedly proves that the first Sabbath is ongoing, and, therefore, implies that the other six days are each metaphors for extended temporal periods.8 Two items are alleged to support the unending nature of day 7. First, while each of the six days of the creation week are concluded by the evening-morning formula, the description of day 7 in Genesis 2:1–3 omits the evening-morning formula implying that it is an ongoing period. Second, Hebrews 4 confirms this understanding of day 7 with the motif of an eternal Sabbath rest.

In response to this argument, it is necessary to notice how "evening" and "morning" are used in the creation account. The clauses "there was evening" and "there was morning" have a function in the creation narrative of marking a transition from one day of creation to the next. This is to say, an "evening" denotes the conclusion of a period of light when God suspends his creative activity of one day and the "morning" marks the renewal of light when God resumes his work. Just as the fiat ("let there be" or an equivalent) and fulfillment ("it was so" or "there was") expressions used on each day of creation are not needed on day 7 because God's creative activities are finished, so there is no need to use the evening-morning conclusion because God's work of creation is concluded. Thus, the omission of the evening-morning formula on day 7 neither proves nor implies that this day was unending.

In addition, Hebrews 4 provides no substantive evidence indicating that day 7 is an eternal day. The eternal rest presented in Hebrews 4 is based on an analogy with God's creative rest in Genesis 2:1–3. Based upon the Mosaic omission of the evening-morning conclusion, the author of Hebrews is able to use the first Sabbath as a type patterned after God's eternal rest. We should further note that the actual kind of rest in Genesis 2:2–3 is completely different than the rest in Hebrews 4:3–11. The rest of Genesis 2:2–3 is a cessation from divine creative activity. Only the Creator can cease from that activity. It is absolutely impossible for the creature to experience that cessation. However, the Sabbath-rest of Hebrews 4:3–11 is a rest that the people of God actually experience. Therefore, the "rest" in both contexts cannot be identical. The Framework position assumes that the "rest" of Genesis 2 is identical with Hebrews 4. However, instead of assuming that the "rests" of Genesis 2 and Hebrews 4 are identical, Framework advocates need to demonstrate this identity.

Moreover, notice that Hebrews 4 never states that day 7 is continuing. It says that God's rest is ongoing. He started His cessation from divine creative activity on that day, but the day itself has not continued. Imagine that a person leaves for week-long vacation on a Friday. On Tuesday, he could say that he is still resting from work, but that does not mean that Friday is continuing.

Finally, this argument actually proves too much, or at least would, if it could be shown day 7 is unending. If day 7 is ongoing because it lacks the evening and morning phrase, then this seems to be an unintentional admission that the first six days are normal-length days because they do have "evening and morning."

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Debunking the Framework Hypothesis (1)

Today we return to this article by Dr. Robert V. McCabe and Tim Chaffey. In this excerpt they explain one aspect of the Framework Hypothesis’ interpretation of Genesis 1 and refute it.

The Two Triads of "Days" argument is a premise that all Framework advocates agree with. Framework supporters claim that the two triads of "days" is a topical parallelism where the topics of days 1–3 are parallel with those of days 4–6. About the parallel nature of days 1 & 4, Mark Futato states, "Days 1 and 4 are two different perspectives on the same creative work."3 Returning to the overall topical arrangement the entire creation account, Kline writes, "The successive members of the first triad of days [days 1–3] correspond to the successive days of the second [days 4–6]."4 In other words, days 1 and 4 are simply two different ways of stating the same event, as are days 2 and 5, and days 3 and 6. The following chart is representative of that used by many Framework advocates and reflects this topical parallelism.5 

Day

Formation of the World

(Items Created)

Day

Filling of the World

(Items Created)

1

darkness, light

4

heavenly light-bearers

2

heavens, water

5

Birds of the air, water animals

3

seas, land, vegetation

6

land animals, man, provision of food

At first glance, it may seem as if these writers are on to something. However, a closer look reveals some problems with this argument. First, this supposed semi-poetic construction is inconsistent with the fact that Genesis 1 is a historical narrative. Hebrew scholar Steven Boyd has clearly shown that Genesis 1 is written as historical narrative rather than poetry. Hebrew poetry commonly utilizes a high percentage of imperfect and perfect verbs. By contrast, Hebrew narrative is marked by a high frequency of waw-consecutive preterite verbs that indicate a sequence of events in past tense material. Comparing Judges 4 and 5 shows a good example of these differences. In Judges 4, the account of Deborah and Barak defeating the forces of Sisera is explained in historical narrative. The following chapter is a poetical song describing the same event. The difference in language is readily apparent even in English translations. The same is true with the historical narrative of Genesis 1 and poetic descriptions of creation activities such as those found in Psalm 104. After studying and cataloging 522 texts, Boyd concluded that Genesis 1 can be classified as narrative with a probability of virtually one.6

Second, the above chart is inconsistent with the text of Genesis 1:1–2:3. Water was not created on the second day, but the first. Genesis 1:2 states, "The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." This occurred prior to the creation of light on the first day. So perhaps days 1 and 5 should be viewed as parallel. Another problem with this chart is that the "heavenly light-bearers" of day 4 were placed in the "heavens" of day 2 (Genesis 1:14). This is problematic for the Framework advocate who believes days one and four are the same event viewed from different perspectives, because this must have occurred prior to the event described in days 2 and 5. How could the stars be placed in something that did not exist yet?

Third, the order of events is crucial here. The Framework proposes that the days are not chronological, but theological. However, if one rearranges the chronology, then it breaks down into absurdity. The waters of day 1 must exist for them to be separated on day 2. On day 3, the dry land appeared from these waters. The sun, moon, and stars of day 4 were placed in the heavens (expanse, firmament) of day 2. The birds of day 5 flew on the face of the firmament of day 2 and multiplied on the land of day 3. Finally, mankind was made to rule over all of creation (Genesis 1:28). Any attempt to rearrange days of the creation week forces impossibilities into the text.

In the final analysis, the Framework's reinterpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3 as a topical account of two triads of days is an illegitimate approach that fails to accurately interpret the creation account.

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The Framework Hypothesis Introduced

Over the course of the next few days I will be posting excerpts from an online article entitled What’s Wrong with the Framework Hypothesis? The article was written in 2011, but I only found it recently and would like to share it with the readers of the blog. I am not sure how much time Professor Cammenga will spend dealing with the Framework Hypothesis in his Oct. 9 speech on Theistic Evolution, but the two topics are related, and these posts may be considered preparation for the speech. I also wanted to share this article as a reminder of what a wealth of information is available at answersingenesis.org. Because I want to share the excerpts with you in full, these posts may be a bit lengthy.

Today I share with you the introduction of the article. Afterwards I will make some brief comments.

Introduction 1

Since the early 1800s, many Christians have accepted the idea that the Earth is billions of years old. This notion contradicts a plain reading of the biblical text so many have searched for a way to harmonize the early chapters of Genesis with the idea of long ages. Many theories have been proposed, such as the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, and Progressive Creationism. However, as these views were promoted, it became apparent that each view was based on arbitrary methods of interpretation and forced contradictions with the biblical text.

In 1924, a new view, The Framework Hypothesis, was developed by Arie Noordtzij, which sought to eliminate these problems. Approximately thirty years later, Meredith Kline popularized the view in the United States while N. H. Ridderbos did the same in Europe. It is currently one of the most popular views of Genesis 1 being taught in seminaries. Despite its popularity in academia, people in our churches have not heard this view fully explained, though they have heard of some of its claims.

The Framework Hypothesis is essentially an attempt to reclassify the genre of Genesis 1 as being something other than historical narrative. Proponents have attempted to identify figurative language or semi-poetic devices in the text. Thinking they have successfully shown that the Bible's first chapter is not to be taken in its plain sense, they make the claim that Genesis 1 simply reveals that God created everything and that He made man in His own image, but it gives us no information about how or when He did this.

The leading promoter of the Framework Hypothesis pulled no punches when explaining his goal in promoting it. "To rebut the literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation week propounded by the young-earth theorists is a central concern of this article. . . . The conclusion is that as far as the time frame is concerned, with respect to both the duration and sequence of events, the scientist is left free of biblical constraints in hypothesizing about cosmic origins."2 How can a biblical scholar, like Meredith Kline, who held to the inerrancy of Scripture, claim that he desires that scientists be "free of biblical constraints?" In order to make this type of radical claim, a literal interpretation of the creation account must be replaced by a nonliteral view, such as the Framework Hypothesis. Further, what would motivate a biblical scholar to reinterpret the creation account in this type of way?

This chapter focuses on evaluating three major arguments that Kline and other Framework advocates use to support their nonliteral interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3: Two Triads of "Days," The Unending Nature of the Seventh Day, and Ordinary Providence. These three arguments will be followed by an evaluation of a key presupposition that undergirds the Framework view.

Readers should note that the Framework Hypothesis did not arise because theologians became convinced that Genesis 1 is not literal history. Instead the theory arose because Christians first accepted the premise that the earth is billions of years old and then determined to find a way to interpret the Bible that would be consistent with this premise. As clever as the Framework Hypothesis is—and it is clever—it must be remembered that it contradicts “the plain reading of the biblical text.”

This introduction is also important because it demonstrates that the Framework Hypothesis is opposed to the orthodox interpretation of Genesis 1. Many people think that there is room for many different views on creation in the church. But the goal of Meredith Kline was not simply to gain acceptance of his view alongside of the orthodox view of Genesis. His goal was to have his view replace (“rebut”) the orthodox view! After all, if scientists will be “free of biblical constraints” for the purpose of teaching that the earth is billions of years old, then the orthodox view of Genesis 1 must be rejected.

I think this statement is also significant, “It is currently one of the most popular views of Genesis 1 being taught in seminaries. Despite its popularity in academia, people in our churches have not heard this view fully explained, though they have heard of some of its claims.” I think it could be argued that the Framework Hypothesis denies the perspicuity of scripture. No plowboy who is reading scripture on his own would ever come up with the Framework Hypothesis in order to interpret Genesis 1. The Framework Hypothesis says to such plowboys, ‘No you do not know what Genesis 1 is really teaching; you need a professional theologian to tell you what it means.’ I would rather be taught what Genesis 1 means from one of my beginning catechism students than a seminary professor who subscribes to the Framework Hypothesis!

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The Digital Divide

Do parents know what their teens are doing on the internet? An article entitled The Digital Divide: How the Online Behavior of Teens is Getting Past Parents demonstrates that parents are in the dark. Some parents decide not to monitor what their teens are doing. Others think they know what their children are doing but studies show that they do not. Here are some of the statistics from the article.

  • 8% of teens visit a website parents disapprove of (only 23.6% of parents are aware of this)
  • 43% of teens intentionally access simulated violence online (only 15%of parents are aware of this)
  • 36% of teens intentionally access sexual topics online (only 11% of parents are aware of this)
  • 32% of teens intentionally access nude content or porn online (only 12% of parents are aware)
  • Of those who intentionally accessed pornography, 43% do so on a weekly basis and only 18% of parents are aware of this.

On the basis of these many other disturbing statistics the article states, “Parents must be jolted out of their complacency. A huge gap exists between what teens are doing online and what parents really know. Parents must take an active role to ensure their teens are practicing save online behavior.”  

For parents who need help because they know their children have more tech knowledge than they do, I suggest Covenant Eyes or some other similar filtering/monitoring software.

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Better than the Alternative

Should it trouble us that there are so many denominations in the world? Should we express sorrow and even indignation over the fact that Christians have not banded together institutionally to give expression of their unity in Jesus Christ? For many the fragmentation of churches into many denominations is deplorable. It is common for speakers and writers to criticize “denominationalism” sharply and call for churches to band together for the sake of unity (usually by means of ignoring doctrinal differences).

Dr. R. C. Sproul briefly explains in the September issue of Tabletalk why there are so many denominations. His article is entitled “Why a Study Bible?”. Writing about Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into “the German vernacular,” Sproul explains,

This was anathema to the Roman church—Luther was told that if he were to translate the Bible into the common tongue, he would open a floodgate of iniquity. Hundreds of different denominations would arise, each claiming to base their faith on the Bible. Luther agreed that could very well happen. But, he said, if getting the gospel that is plain enough for every child to understand into the hands of the normal person carries with it the risk that some will misinterpret Scripture and open a floodgate of iniquity, then so be it. Luther understood the importance of every person’s knowing Scripture, and he knew that the church had to get it out to the masses even though misuses of the Bible was possible. As long as the church is faithful to this Word, she cannot be held accountable for its misuse.

God used the Reformation to make Bibles available for almost everyone to read and to spread the gospel far and wide! This has resulted in the formation of hundreds of denominations. If institutional unity (that is not based on sound doctrine) is what we really want, we could give up our Bibles and go back to Rome. Then we could have the institutional unity that existed before the Reformation. But that would be truly sad.

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Theistic Evolution: Should the Church Make Peace or War?

The lecture will be here before you know it. Learn more about what will be covered during the lecture from the flyer. Also, if you have not yet, visit www.creationortheisticevolution.com.

                                                                                                                                             

 

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Who is Gottschalk?

Later this summer the Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA) will be publishing, as a Book Club offering, Gottschalk: Servant of God, A Story of Courage, Faith, and Love for the Truth, written by Connie L. Meyer. This biography is about a French monk who lived in the ninth century and suffered for his belief and advocacy of double predestination. Gottschalk’s life, rich in dramatic events, was an integral part of the cultural and political life of Germany, France, Italy and Croatia at the dawn of their histories. However, Gottschalk still remains in the shadow of his more famous contemporaries. The book has been written to be enjoyed by junior high and high school readers. Because the story is intriguing, adults will also enjoy this history and find the reading profitable.

This book represents a new venture for the RFPA but does not signal a direction away from the theological and doctrinal books that we have published throughout our history. For several years the RFPA has discussed publishing books for younger readers and Gottschalk: Servant of God represents our first effort. Our future plans do not include offering these books for younger readers as RFPA Book Club selections. A likely possibility is a separate Book Club for the younger reader-level publications.

 

These were the Dark Ages, the days of knights and castles and kings and queens, of monasteries, Vikings, and monks. But one monk stood out from all the rest. One monk stood firm for the truth he believed though no one stood with him at all. This is the story of Gottschalk of Orbais, a light of truth in the darkness of his age—a light of truth in ours.

 

COMING SEPTEMBER 2015....

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Keep Praying for Jesus to Come Quickly

This is what I will do in response to the news that Planned Parenthood is selling the body parts of aborted babies. As a Christian there are other things I can do. I can cry, which I did when I heard the audio of one of the undercover videos (I have not watched any of the videos and do not plan to because of how disturbing they are). I can vote for “pro-life” candidates in political elections, which I always do. I can continue to write and preach against the sinful murder of abortion. I can continue to hope and pray that abortion will be outlawed once again in the United States. I can contribute to the efforts of organizations that try to prevent abortions. I can hope and pray that those who are part of the murderous abortion industry will repent and seek forgiveness for their evil deeds.  

But the most important thing to do is to continue to hope and pray and live for the coming again of Jesus Christ. The videos remind us that this world (the U.S. in particular) is full of evil. And they remind us that we are helpless to do anything to stop or eradicate the evils of this world. But that does not mean that as Christians we are hopeless pessimists. Though we are helpless God is not. We cannot avenge all evil. But God can, and He will (Rom. 12:19) in the day of Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the knowledge that God is pleased to save sinners by bringing them in repentance to Jesus Christ. I am also thankful for the knowledge that God will not allow any of the evils of the unrepentant world to go unpunished.  The unrepentant murderers who callously kill and make merchandise of babies will get their due when Jesus returns. Then, and only then, will the world be made perfect.

Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!

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The Quest For The Historical Adam

The Quest for the Historical Adam is the title of a book by William Van Doodewaard, professor at the Puritan Reformed Seminary and minister Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. I do not own the book and have not read it yet. But based on the review of Wes Bredenhof I plan to obtain and read it soon. Bredenhof highly recommends it as “a book for every minister, elder, & deacon.” If he “had the means” he “would get a copy of this into every single Canadian Reformed home (Bredenhof is a pastor in the CanRC).”

The review indicates that this book defends the orthodox interpretation of Genesis’ account of creation. According to Bredenhof the author provides a historical overview of how Christians have interpreted Genesis and demonstrates that if “anything is clear . . . there has been a consensus view for a millennia. The consensus is that the first chapters of Genesis must be taken seriously as a historical record (emphasis mine).” The historicity of Genesis is the most important issue in the debates about origins. The questions surrounding the origin of the human race and the existence of Adam are answered according to whether one accepts or rejects that Genesis is a “historical record.” It is heartening that VanDoodewaard demonstrates that historically Christians have always viewed Genesis as history.

The most important point made by VanDoodewaard is that this consensus of Christian thought is reflected in the Reformed Confessions. If the Reformed Confessions require viewing the early chapters of Genesis as history, then Reformed churches and Christians are bound to reject theistic evolution. Here is Bredenhof’s explanation of VanDoodewaard’s treatment of the confessions:

Chapter 3 deals with “Adam in the Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras.” While the author does spend some time with the Westminster Standards (especially the issue of “in the space of six days”), he disregards the Three Forms of Unity or other Reformed confessions. This is important in our day when we hear it asserted by some that theistic evolution falls within the bounds of our confessions. Nevertheless, VanDoodewaard’s research certainly does support the position that in the era in which these confessions were originally written, it would have been unthinkable for forms of theistic evolution to be tolerated in Reformed churches (emphasis mine).

Another interesting aspect of the book, according to Bredenhof, is that it provides some analysis of how the ARP and the PCA have dealt with questions about origins. This is of interest to Bredenhof because his CanREF denomination will consider a proposal at its 2016 Synod that is intended to rule out Theistic Evolution. Perhaps I will write more about these denominational struggles with the doctrine of creation another time.

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Pope Apologizes for Persecution, Still Opposed to True Reformation

This article in Christianity Today reports that Pope Francis apologized for the Roman Catholic Church’s persecution of the Waldensians during the Middle Ages. Here is an excerpt from the report that includes the apology:

“On the part of the Catholic Church, I ask your forgiveness, I ask it for the non-Christian and even inhuman attitudes and behavior that we have showed you,” Francis said during the first-ever visit by a pope to a Waldensian church. “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us!”

The report explains that the persecution of the Waldensians (“massacre, rape, and pillaging”) took place under the orders of Pope Alexander III in the 12th century. According to a scholar quoted in the report Alexander III was unenlightened and therefore unable to recognize that the Waldensians were good Christians. This scholar contends that Pope Innocent III was more enlightened, appreciating the monastic lifestyle of Waldo and his followers. Innocent III’s response (in 1210) to the Waldensians’ success was to authorize the organization of a new religious order under St. Francis, the current pope’s name’s sake. Pope Francis, the scholar claims, could very well be Pope Waldo if only Alexander III had been more “enlightened” and appreciated the Waldensians. The current Pope, Francis, is “enlightened” and supposedly views the Waldensians as “very much Christians after his own heart.” Francis appreciates the way the Waldensians provide “service to humanity which suffers, to the poor, the sick, the migrants.”

Unfortunately the report doesn’t explain any of the doctrinal reforms the Waldensians implemented. The Waldensians believed in the supreme authority of Scripture and that the preaching of the gospel is more important than the sacraments. The Roman Catholic Church has grown to appreciate the “monastic lifestyle” and “service to humanity” of the Waldensians, but continues to despise their view of Scripture and the preaching. Pope Francis is trying to present the Roman Catholic Church as more friendly than it was in the past. But he and the Roman Catholic Church remain opposed to doctrinal reforms.

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