Is God the Author of Sin?

In response to my last blog post (we welcome responses!), The Errors of Arminianism, a reader asked me (by email) to answer the Arminian charge that the Reformed faith is guilty of making God the author of sin. I intended to write my own answer to the question: is God the author of sin. But in doing some research I came across this brief and yet thorough treatment of the question by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema (posed to him by a reader of The Standard Bearer). Below is the question and the full answer, but if you want to look it up for yourself you can find it here.


How can God ordain sin and still remain a perfect God?


This is a large question, on which much could be written. I will try to make a few pertinent remarks. 

In the first place, let us remember that neither of the two truths mentioned in the question—that God ordained sin and that God is the eternally perfect God—is dependent upon our understanding of the relation between them for their truth. If scripture teaches both—and it does—then we bow in childlike faith before the scriptures, whether we can fathom the possibility of both truths or not. 

In the second place, I wish to emphasize that it is not a pet Protestant Reformed doctrine that God ordained sin. That is simply the age-old truth which our Reformed confessions maintain. Thus we read, for example, in Article XIII of the Confession of Faith: “. . . so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment: nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he orders and executes his work in the most excellent and just manner, even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly. And, as to what he doth surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into, farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, to learn only those things which he has revealed to us in his Word, without transgressing these limits.” 

In the third place, notice that the truth that God ordains sin is a scriptural doctrine. There are several classic examples of this in scripture; but let me mention just one outstanding example, the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 2:23: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Notice that the most heinous sin in history is indeed the responsibility of wicked men, not of God, who is perfect; yet it takes place according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. 

In the fourth place, bear in mind that the alternative to the doctrine that God sovereignly ordains sin is the denial of the sovereignty of God: for then sin comes about without God and apart from God and his control. And from a practical, spiritual point of view, where would you rather have sin controlled—by the devil, or by our sovereign heavenly Father? To ask this question, it seems to me, is to answer it. Our Confession of Faith puts it aptly when it says in Article XIII: “This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father; . . . being persuaded, that he so restrains (bridles, HCH) the devil and all our enemies, that without his will and permission, they cannot hurt us.” 

In the fifth place, let me submit the following statements in answer more specifically to the “how” of your question: 

1) God ordains sin without himself becoming the author of sin

2) God ordains sin perfectly, that is, holily—in a holy manner and for a holy purpose. 

3) Part of the purpose for which God ordains sin is, certainly, that he may reveal his own perfect and infinite holiness over against it.


The Errors of Arminianism

In 1618-1619 the Great Synod composed and adopted the Canons of Dordrecht in response to the Arminian heresy. In five heads or chapters the Synod set forth the truth of scripture often referred to as the five points of Calvinism. The Synod also explained and rejected the errors of Arminianism. In one place the Canons describe one of the errors of Arminianism as “bring[ing] again out of hell the Pelagian errors (Head 2, Rejection of Errors 3). Arminianism is alive and well today. So I point you to Eric Davis’s article entitled Arminianism and Its Hazards. You will have to click on the link to read the article in full. Below are the six “hazards … which are,” according to Davis, “consequent of Arminian teaching.”

  1. Harming the plain sense of a large amount of scripture.
  2. Tending towards salvation by works.
  3. Exalting man’s ability to reason over the plain sense of God’s word.
  4. Forbidding God from doing as he wishes.
  5. Disregarding the testimony of church history.
  6. Man shares glory and credit with God for salvation.

For further reading on Arminianism: The Voice of Our Fathers by Prof. Homer Hoeksema.



RCC: A False Church

The pope visited the US last week with much fanfare. Pope Francis is a hit with political leftists and with a certain segment of Protestants. This is an appropriate time to be reminded of the evils of the Roman Catholic Church that Pope Francis represents. So I share with you today an excerpt from an article by Jordan Stanbridge, Why Evangelicals and Catholics cannot be Together.

As the title of the article indicates, Stanbridge is opposed to the 1994 Evangelicals and Catholics Together document that prominent evangelicals and Roman Catholics signed in a show of unity. Stanbridge views the Roman Catholic Church as an institution of the devil. Therefore, there can be no agreement between evangelicals and Rome. Click on the link above and you can read his six reasons why evangelicals and Roman Catholics cannot be together. In light of the pope’s recent visit I have decided to include Stanbridge’s condemnation of the Roman Catholic Church’s view of authority below.


It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the magisterum of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in their own way, under the action of the Holy Spirit, they all contribute affectively to the salvation of souls. – Catechism of the Catholic Church 95

Picture a company with three owners. They walk into a room they all have the same power. That’s what this is like in the RCC.

And although Scripture should trump any false interpretation in the RCC, the Pope and his cardinals, as well as tradition have undermined Scripture for centuries. God has not given man the right to alter His word, The Holy Spirit is in charge of illuminating the mind of His children and cause them to understand the truth. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us clearly that scripture is all we need to live a life that glorifies our Creator.


The Progression of Theistic Evolution

Theistic evolution is a view that attempts to yoke Genesis 1-3 together with the findings of scientists. Many have warned that the Bible and the findings of scientists (many of them unbelieving scientists) cannot be equally yoked and that the attempt to join the two together will end in disaster—the progressive denial of important biblical truths. Of course the early proponents of this marriage between the Bible and science masked the danger of this agenda by denying that this would lead to the rejection of important biblical teachings. But today the danger of theistic evolution has been unmasked.  

Proponents of theistic evolution openly deny many of the teachings of the Bible. They deny that God immediately called creatures into existence by his almighty Word. They deny that death did not exist before the fall. They deny the special creation of Adam and Eve by God. What next? A denial of the goodness of God! Theistic evolution is not merely a theory of origins but touches the very character of God. It logically leads to the conclusion that God is evil.

In this article Ryan Patrick McLaughlin is not so bold as to state that God is evil. But he is bold enough to ask the question, “How does the Christian claim that a good God creates a good creation account for the ubiquity of these negative aspects of nature when they are necessary and/or inevitable given the very structure of that creation?” Note the connection between theistic evolution and this question about God’s character. McLaughlin demonstrates that theistic evolution’s belief that death (and evil) have always existed leads to the conclusion that God is responsible for evil in the world. And if God is responsible for evil in the world this calls into question God’s goodness.

So is God good? McLaughlin admits that he is not sure how to answer the question. This is something that the church will have to struggle with. According to McLaughlin, this is the “real theological challenge of evolution.” Of course the church will not struggle with this question if she accepts the answer given in the Bible. But the Bible is not the source of answers for those who believe in theistic evolution. In trying to marry the Bible with science they have actually set the Bible aside in favor of science. So they turn to science to answer not only the question of how the world came into existence, but also to answer questions about God’s character. What will scientists who believe that the world exists now as it ever existed say about God when they see so much evil in the world? Of course they will conclude, if they do not simply deny the existence of God, that God is evil.

This is theistic evolution. It is not a legitimate alternate view of creation about which believers may agree to disagree. It is blasphemy against our God!


Kim Davis: A Model of Christian Conduct?

For those of you who have not followed the news, Kim Davis is the Kentucky County Clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses on the basis of her religious beliefs. Davis, a professing Christian, believes that homosexuality is a sin. After the US Supreme Court (in Obergfell v. Hodges) gave the legal right to homosexuals to marry in all 50 states, Davis, not wanting to issue any marriage licenses for homosexuals, decided not to issue any marriage licenses in her county. Many Christians view Davis as a courageous Christian who is standing up for her beliefs. Her case certainly indicates that Christians are more and more faced with hard circumstances because of their beliefs. However, Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses in her capacity as county clerk is not an example of courageous or obedient Christian conduct.[1]

I do not believe that Davis’s decision to remain in office and refuse to issue marriage licenses is the best way that she can model obedience to scripture in her situation. The US Supreme Court has given to homosexuals the legal right (according to US law) to marry. The governor of Kentucky has also ordered the county clerks in the state to give marriage licenses to homosexuals. I am aware that there are some who challenge the governor’s authority to give such an order. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has given to local governments the duty to recognize the marriages of homosexuals. Davis has been mandated by a higher authority, the US Supreme Court, to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals. I believe that by defying this authority, in the way that she is, Davis is modeling unbiblical rebellion against authority (cf. Rom. 13).

It is understandable that Davis’s conscience would be bothered if she signed marriage licenses for sodomites.[2] But she is not in a position where her only options are to refuse to issue the licenses or sin by agreeing to grant them. She also has the option of quitting her job. I believe that this would be the right thing for Davis to do as a Christian. If the government forced her to sin by requiring that she remain the county clerk and sanction homosexual marriages, she would be right simply to refuse to issue the licenses. But this is not a case where the government is forcing Davis to sin. She has the option to resign her position. By resigning her position Davis would show due honor to the authority of the civil government and be a better model of what it means to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ.

I am sure that I have said enough to spark a lively discussion. What are your thoughts?

[1] In criticizing Davis’s conduct I have decided not to focus on the fact that she is hardly a qualified defender of the biblical doctrine of marriage because she has divorced three times and married four times. Upholding the biblical condemnation of homosexuality while ignoring the biblical condemnation of divorce is hypocrisy. But even if Davis separated from her current husband (number 4) and tried to reconcile with her first husband, it would not justify her decision to hold office and refuse to carry out the duties of her office.

[2] However, I am not convinced that it is necessarily sinful for a county clerk to issue a marriage license to a homosexual couple in fulfillment of his or her duty as a government official. If the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality is the reason that it would be sinful, aren’t there many other cases when it would be sinful for a county clerk to sign a marriage license? Wouldn’t it be sinful to issue a license to two unbelievers who obviously have no intention to honor God in their marriage? What about the case of serial divorcees? Why aren’t there Christian county clerks who refuse to sign such licenses? My point in asking these questions is that I doubt that it is the duty of a government official to make sure that a marriage is biblical before they may sign the marriage license. Having said that, I have sympathy for Christians who say they cannot in good conscience sign marriage licenses for homosexual couples.


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Debunking the Framework Hypothesis (5)

This is the last installment of excerpts from this article by Dr. Robert McCabe and Tim Chaffey. In this excerpt the writers explain how the Framework Hypothesis, like all theories of creation that deny the historicity of Genesis 1, elevates science to a status that is equal or even above scripture. This is a devastating critique of the Framework Hypothesis. While they claim to handle scripture carefully, advocates of the Framework Hypothesis actually set scripture’s authority and reliability aside for science. This excerpt is important also because it exposes the fallacy of equating modern scientific opinions with God’s “general revelation” of himself in creation.

The Importance of Presuppositions

While there are other problems with the Framework that could be addressed, we will address the issue of a presupposition that undergirds the Framework Hypothesis. Since the literal day interpretation has been the dominant view of Christian interpreters from the Church Fathers until Charles Lyell in the mid-1800s, what a priori would motivate Framework defenders to reinterpret the creation account? What has primarily changed since Lyell's time is the way man defines and uses science. Modern scientific opinion has seemingly been elevated to the status of being equal or superior to biblical revelation. Many nonliteral interpreters refer to "science's" opinion as general revelation. And with its elevation "scientific opinion" has become a presupposition that influences many evangelicals to jettison the literal interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3 in favor of a nonliteral view, such as the Framework.

The "scientific opinion" of our world has a major impact on Framework advocates. For example, this is true of Kline as our opening quote of him reflects: "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." How does Kline propose to free scientists from any "biblical constraints" about the age of the earth? In short, by rebutting those who interpret the creation account literally. Besides indicating his rejection of the historical interpretation of the creation narrative, does this not also reflect Kline's presuppositional commitment that modern science should have an impact on biblical interpretation?

Another Framework advocate, Bruce Waltke shares this commitment to the scientific majority. According to him, "The days of creation may also pose difficulties for a strict historical account. Contemporary scientists almost unanimously discount the possibility of creation in one week, and we cannot summarily discount the evidence of the earth sciences. General revelation in creation, as well as the special revelation of Scripture is also the voice of God. We live in a 'universe,' and all truth speaks with one voice."12 Does it not sound like the "earth sciences," as interpreted by "contemporary scientists," communicates "general revelation?" If this is correct, does this not imply that the "general revelation" communicated by "contemporary scientists" is something other than what the Bible calls general revelation since it was unavailable from the time of creation until the modern era? Further, this confuses general revelation with scientific opinion and implies that general revelation has the same propositional force as special revelation. It is the propositional revelation of Scripture (Psalm 19:1–6; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Acts 14:17; 17:23–31; Rom 1:18–25; 2:14–15; 10:18) that defines general revelation. And, Scripture defines general revelation as a constant knowledge about God that is available to all men.13 Consequently, it is biblically inadequate to equate scientific opinion with general revelation.

In light of these statements by Kline and Waltke, we should ask ourselves this question: If we did not live in our current age, would this type of statement have been made and, furthermore, would the Framework or any other reinterpretations of Genesis 1:1–2:3 even be valid options for evangelicals? It seems that the spirit of our age has created a modern mindset conducive to a reinterpretation of the creation account. However, many of the influences that shape such reinterpretations are external to Scripture, rather than being derived from a consistent biblical theology. In the final analysis, there is no biblical reason to reinterpret Genesis 1:1–2:3.

Below is the conclusion to the article by McCabe and Chaffey.


The Framework Hypothesis is an ingenious attempt to reinterpret Genesis 1. Using sophisticated arguments, its promoters have convinced many that the plain words of Genesis 1 should be reclassified as something other than straightforward-historical narrative. As such, the words dealing with the how and when of Creation are ignored.

This brief survey has shown the erroneous arguments posed by its supporters. This view may be more dangerous than any harmonistic view since it encourages believers to ignore the text, essentially turning it into a divine Aesop's Fable. Does it really matter if a slow but persistent tortoise ever really raced a speedy hare and won? Of course not, as long as you understand the moral of the story—persistence pays off. In a similar way, Framework proponents minimize the force of the many textual details of the creation account as long as one believes God is the Creator and that He made man in His image. It is simply the latest in a long line of failed attempts to reinterpret the unchanging word of God to fit man's ever-changing opinions and should be rejected by all Bible-believing Christians.

There is one statement in the conclusion worth highlighting, “This view (the Framework Hypothesis) may be more dangerous than any harmonistic view since it encourages believers to ignore the text, essentially turning it into a divine Aesop’s Fable.” To understand the significance of this statement one must understand that the Framework Hypothesis is perhaps the most plausible of any interpretation that does not treat Genesis 1 as actual history. Because the advocates of the Framework Hypothesis claim to take the Bible seriously there are many Reformed Christians who might think it is a legitimate alternative to believing that God created all things in the space of six days. Indeed there are denominations that reject other non-literal interpretations of Genesis 1 but tolerate the Framework Hypothesis. Thus, the Framework Hypothesis may be viewed as an acceptable belief for an “evangelical Christian” whereas the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, and Progressive Creationism are viewed as unacceptable. Let Christians beware, the Framework Hypothesis is even more dangerous exactly because it too is an attack on the authority and reliability of scripture only in a more subtle form.


Debunking the Framework Hypothesis (4)

Today I share another excerpt from this article by Dr. Robert McCabe and Tim Chaffey which criticizes the Framework Hypothesis. In this excerpt the authors defend the traditional interpretation of Genesis 1 as actual history against an attack made by advocates of the Framework Hypothesis. One advocate of the Framework Hypothesis, as you will see, claims this is “the most decisive argument against the traditional interpretation.” By refuting this “most decisive argument” McCabe and Chaffey deal a devastating blow to the Framework Hypothesis.

Ordinary Providence

Meredith Kline called the ordinary providence argument "the most decisive argument against the traditional interpretation." According to Kline, Genesis 2:5–6 describes the earth on the third "day" of creation. He believed that the reason there were not any plants of the field or herbs of the field was because God had not caused it to rain yet. He saw this as evidence that God was not creating via miraculous means but through the same natural processes we observe today. He wrote:

Embedded in Gen. 2:5 (ff). is the principle that the modus operandi of the divine providence was the same during the creation period as that of ordinary providence at the present time. It is not to be demonstrated that those who adopt the traditional approaches cannot successfully integrate this revelation with Genesis 1 as they interpret it. In contradiction to Gen. 2:5, the twenty-four-hour day theory must presuppose that God employed other than the ordinary secondary means in executing his works of providence. To take just one example, it was the work of the 'third day' that the waters should be gathered together into seas and that the dry land should appear and be covered with vegetation (Gen. 1:9-13). All this according to the theory in question transpired within twenty-four hours. But continents just emerged from under the sea do not become thirsty land as fast as that by the ordinary process of evaporation. And yet according to the principle revealed in Gen. 2:5 the process of evaporation at that time was the ordinary one.

Once again, there are numerous problems with Kline's argument. First, Genesis 2:5–6 does not refer to the third day, but to the sixth day just prior to the creation of man. These verses use two specific Hebrew terms to refer to the "plant of the field" (siah hassadeh) and "herb of the field" (eseb hassadeh). These Hebrew terms are different than the ones used on the third day when God made the "grass," the "herb that yields seed," and the "tree that yields fruit" (Genesis 1:11-12). Ironically, Futato, who also promoted this view, describes the "plant of the field" as the wild shrubs of the steppe, which contain thorns and thistles, and the "herb of the field" as cultivated grain. It should be fairly obvious why the thorny plants and cultivated grains did not exist yet. Man had not been created yet to till the ground and he had not sinned yet bringing about the Curse on the earth of which thorny plants were one of the results (Genesis 3:18).

Second, the concept of ordinary providence, as promoted by Framework advocates, is no different than uniformitarianism. This unbiblical philosophy undergirds every old-earth view. Essentially, it states that the way things occur in the world today is the way they have always happened. Since scientists do not observe miracles today, then they have never happened. As such, slow and gradual processes must be used to explain the events of the past. The Apostle Peter warned that men holding this philosophy would come and use it to deny the Creation, the Flood, and to mock Christ's return (2 Peter 3:3–6).

Third, God demonstrates His power to man in at least two ways. Through ordinary providence, God upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Since this is the "natural" order of things, men often fail to credit God for preserving His creation. Through miracles, God temporarily suspends or overrides the "natural" order of things to perform His work. When this occurs, it is immediately clear that something extraordinary has occurred. We may call this the "Principle of Immediacy."

A classic example of this is found when Jesus said to the recently-deceased daughter of Jairus, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." Mark states, "Immediately the girl arose and walked" (Mark 5:42–43). The reason immediacy is so important is that if Jesus spoke these words and the girl rose a few days later, few would attribute the incredible turn of events to Jesus. The same is true in Mark 10:52 when a blind man "immediately" received his sight when Jesus healed him. Once again, if the blind man did not receive his sight immediately, but slowly gained sight over the next few years, many would fail to attribute the miracle to Jesus.

Psalm 33:8–9 makes some interesting statements regarding Creation that are highly relevant to this discussion. "Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." When God brought something into existence during the Creation week, "He spoke, and it was done." There is no indication of a lengthy process of time in which creation unfolded through some developmental process. Contrary to Kline's statement, God did not create via ordinary providence during the Creation week.

There are two particular Old Testament miracles that must be cited here. Exodus 14:21–22 reveals that when God parted the Red Sea, the Israelites were able to cross on "dry ground." Joshua 3 describes the entrance of the Israelites into the Promised Land and the crossing of the Jordan River. Verse 15 describes how the water immediately stopped as the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the water. Verse 17 states that these priests "stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan." Since God miraculously caused the land to appear on the third day, perhaps a continent freshly emerged from the sea could indeed be "thirsty ground."

Finally, there is a logical flaw in this argument. If God used millions of years of ordinary providence to bring the land from the ocean and to grow vegetation on the land, then why wasn't there any rain for that amount of time? After all, if God merely used natural processes, then the hydrologic cycle must have been in full swing at the time too. The ordinary providence argument contradicts itself at this point.


Debunking the Framework Hypothesis (3)

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."


Debunking the Framework Hypothesis (2)

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 


Formation of the World

(Items Created)


Filling of the World

(Items Created)


darkness, light


heavenly light-bearers


heavens, water


Birds of the air, water animals


seas, land, vegetation


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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