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.

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