Creation Confusion.

CreationAfter posting an article by Tim Challies on my Facebook page I have received a number of messages about the comments that were being posted in response.  Most of the messages were genuine questions of confusion, so I will attempt to answer some of them here from those who gave permission.  

“Are you YEC or OEC and Why?”

For the record I am YEC “Young Earth Creationist.” I read Genesis literally. The why is for another post….sorry 🙂

I have been following the comments (on the Facebook page post) about creation. How can a Christian believe anything but  literal 6 day creation?

I don’t know.  🙂  (Ok that is a cop out.  Keep reading.)

What is the reasoning that one would use to believe such things like old age earth? Is this Reformed? 

There are 4 main theories that are used to explain the creation account.  The Gap Theory, the Day-age theory, the Framework Hypothesis and Literal 6 Day Creation.  In Reformed circles the 2 main theories are the Literal 6 Day Creation and the Framework Hypothesis. In the Canadian Reformed Churches there is a rift occurring between the two groups as this debate heats up.  Read a bit of the public correspondence here: Canadian Reformed Creation Debate Timeline.  Please read the blogs of Dr. John Byl, Reformed Academic, Pastor Jim Witteveen, Pastor Wes Bredenhof and others for more information on this topic.

Are these “old earth creation” people really Christians? 

I have a difficult time with the OEC view. I feel there are some dangers in the hermeneutics that must be done to avoid a literal reading of Genesis creation account…but I also have some Christian friends who disagree with me on this.  And these people I consider true Christians…brothers and sisters in Christ – even in my own congregation.   That does not mean I won’t take a stand.  But again…the debate is not for this post.

 I tried to read Rev. Bedard’s book (In Six Days God Created)  and I tried to read Reformed Academics Blog, but all that got me was more confused. Can you explain the framework view of creation?  

I am going to defer to RC Sproul…Why reinvent the wheel? It is far easier to copy/paste than to think at 10pm after a Thanksgiving dinner 🙂  Hopefully this is easier to understand. Please note this is just an explanation of the Framewrok Hypothesis, not an endorsement of it:

The framework hypothesis, was originally developed by the Dutch scholar Nicholas Ridderbos. He argued that the literary form of the book’s first few chapters differs from that of its later chapters. Certain basic characteristics found in poetry are missing from historical narrative, and certain characteristics found in historical narrative are missing from poetry. For example, the book of Exodus, with its account of the Jewish captivity in Egypt, has genealogies, family names, real historical places, and an unmetered literary style (i.e., lacking a particular rhythm), making it clearly prose and historical narrative. After the account of the exodus, the book’s author inserts the song of Miriam, which is in metered rhythm and is therefore clearly poetry. The literary structure before the song manifests all the characteristics of historical narrative, as does the structure following the poem.

Therefore, it is usually not difficult to distinguish between poetry and historical narrative in the Old Testament. But the opening chapters of Genesis, according to Ridderbos, exhibit a strange combination of literary forms. On the one hand is a discussion of the creation of a man and a woman who are given names that thereafter appear in genealogical accounts. In Hebrew literature this clearly signals historicity. The Garden of Eden is said to be set among four rivers, two of which we know were real rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. The style of writing is not metered or rhythmic, as Hebrew poetry normally is. All this indicates that the opening chapters of Genesis are historical narrative.

There are some anomalies, however. We find trees in this garden with strange names: “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and “the tree of life” (Gen 2:9). Had they been apple or pear trees, there would have been no problem. But what does a tree of life look like? Is the author of Genesis telling us that a real tree was off limits, giving it a metaphorical meaning as the tree of life? We are also introduced to a serpent who speaks. Because of these two features, some have argued that the literary structure of the opening chapters of Genesis was self consciously and intentionally mythological, or at least filled with legend and saga.

Ridderbos contended that the beginning chapters of Genesis are a mixture of historical narrative and poetry, with part of the poetic structure being the repeated refrain, “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen 1:5), and so on. Ridderbos concluded that Genesis gives us not a historical narrative of the when or the how of divine creation, but a drama in seven acts. The first act ends with the statement, “So the evening and the morning were the first day.” The author of Genesis, then, is trying to show that God’s work of creation took place in seven distinct stages, which incidentally fit remarkably well into the stages identified by the modern theories of cosmic evolution.

Therefore, the framework hypothesis allows one to step into a Big Bang cosmology while maintaining the credibility and inspiration of Genesis 1-2. This is not history, but drama. The days are simply artistic literary devices to create a framework for a lengthy period of development.

In America Ridderbos’s work was widely disseminated by Meredith Kline, who for many years taught Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, then at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and then at Westminster Seminary California. Because Kline endorsed the framework hypothesis, many people, particularly in the Reformed community, have embraced it, provoking a serious crisis in some circles. Some Reformed pastors today hold to a literal six-day creation, while others hold to the framework hypothesis, and yet they otherwise hold to the same system of orthodox theology.

“Did you have a good thanksgiving?”

Yes I did! I hope you all had a wonderful (Canadian) Thanksgiving Weekend!  We are truly blessed in this country to freely worship our Lord!

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  1. janelle says:

    I believe that God created the world in 6 days. If I believed otherwise, I would be denying Gods sovereign power and ability to do what seems so impossible to man. He is my God, He can do anything. Who am I, to doubt what scripture clearly states,
    “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, th.” (Genesis 1:5 ESV)

  2. janelle says:

    Sorry the text didn’t fully paste “the first day.”

  3. Thanks for the opportunity to continue to engage this matter. You refer to confusion about “the creation account.” Let me suggest a few reasons for this confusion.

    1. There are several creation accounts in Scripture. Genesis 1, Genesis 2, Psalm 74:13-17, Psalm 104, Job 38-40, John 1. Each has a different structure, some have different sequences, all have their particular emphases and contexts (literary, historical, cultural, theological).

    2. Many in the evangelical community have been led to believe that the plain-sense meaning of Genesis 1 is the only acceptable understanding a non-compromising Christian may have. Extremely well-funded organizations have for the last few decades propagated such views, and these views have found their way into Canadian Reformed publications as well, perhaps more so in recent years, but already for a couple of decades.

    3. Many in the Canadian Reformed community are unaware of the history of our own denomination’s openness to alternative interpretations of Genesis 1. The assumption that Genesis 1 is all about sequence, timing, accuracy, and/or scientifically-verifiable geological and astronomical claims has been questioned by Augustine, Calvin, Kuyper, Bavinck, Schilder, Ohmann, Faber, DeJong. These last three were professors at our Canadian Reformed seminary, and they objected to desires to enshrine in our confessions claims that the world was created in six 24-hour ordinary days about 6000 years ago. They instead reminded people of the freedom of exegesis within Reformed theology. For an example, see .

    4. There is an assumption that everyone writing on “creation” falls into a specific category: OEC, YEC, Framework Hypothesis, Theistic Evolution, etc., and so to critique someone’s views one must first figure out which of these categories that writer is in, so then one knows everything about that writer’s views, and can identify where that school of thought “naturally” leads or identify some trusted critic of that idea. If someone simply points out problems in the concept of starlight being created before stars, or that there is an abundance of scientific evidence of an ancient earth and cosmos, this doesn’t need to make people confused about that person’s legitimate Christian belief. [FYI, I do not hold to any of the views mentioned above.]

    5. There is an assumption that every Christian must have a fully-complete easily-communicated package to explain everything about creation. Such a package already exists, thanks to the folks over at Answers in Genesis, so why doesn’t everyone just accept that? Perhaps it is somewhat unsettling to find out that things are not quite as simple as AiG claims it is, that there is not any scientific evidence for a young universe, that some of the tactics of that organization are flawed or even deceptive, that Reformed theology has not hitched its horse to that wagon. Now, some people are more comfortable with ambiguity and tension than others. But there are other areas of mystery that we have been able to live with: just think about the doctrine of the Trinity, God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, why God created a world with the possibility of a Fall. In these areas, we don’t expect people to have such a nicely wrapped up set of answers. Why should we be ready with a full package to reconcile everything we know about the world and the Word, especially given that we are learning more about the world and the Word all the time? Let us proceed in confidence in the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of the cosmos and of us, not in our neat and tidy interpretations of world and Word.

    I hope my tentative explanations for the confusion do not lead to more confusion. God bless you all today and every day in His service!

  4. Mike says:

    You lost me at. “Are these “old earth creation” people really Christians?”

    Wow! Creation Confusion is an understatement. Only the confusion isn’t about “yec” vs “oec”. It’s about people forgetting the central theme of the Bible, and the center of everything: Jesus.

  5. Walter says:

    One of the biggest implications of not taking the first few chapters of Genesis literally is what we do with Adam and Eve. Were they the first human beings created directly out of dust and a rib? ‘New’ teachings on Adam and Eve are now starting to surface in the church to defend OEC: they weren’t the first humans, they were the first humans but evolved from something, Adam was only made from dust like we are ‘made from dust’, Eve wasn’t really made from Adam’s rib it was only a dream Adam had, etc This is extremely dangerous and clearly contradicts the Bible as even the New Testament refers back to Adam and Eve numerous times.