Debunking the Framework Hypothesis (5)
Reformed Free Publishing Association
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.