Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 3)

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Originally published in Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ) 2013. Used by permission. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

The 6,000-year-earth position may be questioned on the grounds of logical, hermeneutical, text-critical, and intertextual tensions. Anomalies in the biblical story line and extrabiblical historical records provide additional evidence.

Anomalies in the Biblical Story Line

The life story of Noah seems oddly truncated and his death out of place if there are no gaps in Genesis 11. When we come to the end of the ninth chapter of Genesis, we find the standard epitaph, “then Noah died.” But if the chronogenealogist is correct, Noah did not die until Abraham was 58 years old.1 Of course, it is possible to suggest that Noah had moved away and was quite forgotten by the time Abraham was on the scene, but the finality of Genesis 9:29 seems quite out of sequence if Noah didn’t die until the end of chapter 11. A natural reading of the early chapters of Genesis strongly suggests that the Noah story ended a long time before the Abraham story began.

Similarly, when Abraham entered into the land of promise, he entered into a land of well-established cities and local governments (Gen 15:19–21),2 not a land of fellow-pioneers migrating in the aftermath of the recent Babel incident (which by the chronogenealogist’s reckoning might have taken place as recently as 27 years earlier).3 One cannot escape the hermeneutical “feel” that the story speaks of greater antiquity than this. Read more about Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 3)

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Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6,000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 2)

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Originally published in Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ) 2013. Used by permission. Read Part 1.

The 6000-year-earth position may be questioned on several grounds, some more substantial than others. I would like to suggest, though, that while all of the arguments developed below are load-bearing, the intertextual-exegetical arguments take pride of place in the ensuing material.

Logical Tensions

The 6000-year-old-earth model rests, at least in part, on a slippery slope argument: “Conceding a few extra centuries today means that the camel’s nose is in the tent, resulting inevitably in the acceptance of billions of years tomorrow.” Before proceeding, I cordially concede that slippery slope arguments are sometimes dismissed too readily for their logical fallacy. While in their most unqualified form slippery slope arguments are fallacious, it does not follow that it is wrong to sound the alarm about slippery slopes—some slopes, after all, are a bit precarious. But apart from demonstration and quantification, slippery slope arguments tend to degenerate quickly into arguments ad hysteria. The hypothesis that modest departure from a 6000-year-old earth position points necessarily to uniformitarianism and theological compromise may be true. But without some sort of evidence (e.g., syllogistic, historical, or statistical demonstration), the hypothesis is nothing more than pure speculation, or worse, slander. In point of fact, there are a great many exceptions to this slippery slope argument.

Hermeneutical Tensions

Proponents of 6000-year-earthism uniformly argue that the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 represent a unique sub-genre of genealogy not observable in the balance of Scripture.1 While all are forced to admit that some of the biblical genealogies feature (1) demonstrable gaps, (2) a flexible use of the term begat, and (3) abridgement for the purpose of symmetry, such features are argued to be absent in the chronogenealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. In these two genealogies (and these genealogies only) the fastidious use of numbers leaves no room for gaps; instead, Moses’s attention to these numbers prove that he intended to inform his readers of the exact age of the earth. Note, however, several tensions with this conclusion: Read more about Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6,000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 2)

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Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6,000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 1)

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Originally published in Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ) 2013. Used by permission.

The young-earth creationist community is in the midst of an identity crisis relative to the age of the earth. Some within the community aggressively defend a strict 6,000-year-old creation and chafe even at minimal deviation on this point. For these, a rigid terminus a quo for the age of the universe is the simplest and best arbiter for establishing one’s young-earth creationist credentials. Conceding even a slightly older universe is for this group equal to (1) discarding or at the very least compromising biblical inerrancy1 and (2) granting philosophical independence to the sciences, whether astronomy, geology, biology, or archeology.2

This rigidity has not always existed in the young-earth community. John Whitcomb, patriarch of young-earth creationism and co-author of the groundbreaking work The Genesis Flood, defended a span of 3,000 to 5,000 years between the Flood and Abraham, offering a probable date for the original creation of between 6,700 B.C. and 8,700 B.C.3 Read more about Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6,000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 1)

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Different on Purpose

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This outline continues a series preached in 2002. However, since my original outline for 1 Peter 1:13-16 is missing, the following is new.

Introduction

What do you say to people who are suffering? More to the point for us, what do believers say to believers who are suffering?

It’s fascinating to me what Peter communicates to the suffering believers who were the original audience for the epistle we call 1 Peter. Though their suffering was apparently of the persecution variety, Peter puts his message in terms that speak to the heart-need of the Christian experiencing any kind of serious difficulty.

What the suffering saint needs to hear is what we find in this epistle—and what we find is a bit surprising. Peter reminds the believers of who they are in this world (displaced but God-beloved strangers) and who they are in Christ (reborn heirs of a salvation so great even angels wish they knew more about it).

But then Peter burdens these struggling recipients of grace with a solemn three-fold responsibility. He commends them to firmly embrace something, to reject something, and to pursue something. To look at it another way, the Scriptures here command us to think differently, desire differently, and do differently.

Note the word “therefore” at the beginning of 1:13. The responsibilities that follow are being revealed because of the privileges already revealed in the preceding verses. Read more about Different on Purpose

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Book Review - Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative

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Image of Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative
by Sam Storms
Mentor 2013
Hardcover 592

One of the topics I have always enjoyed is systematic theology, but for many years I avoided eschatology (end times). I avoided it because I was confused. It was not that I thought (with many other Christians) that eschatology did not matter, I was just scared of it. In seminary I realized I had to turn my attention to the subject and began to study it seriously. It is wrongheaded for a Christian to think that eschatology does not matter and just claim the mantra, “In the end Christ comes back and wins and that’s all that maters!” This was not the view of the writers of Scripture or Jesus and it should not be the view of any Christian who takes the Bible seriously. If we want to understand God, Christ, Scripture and our “so great salvation” more, we need to devote ourselves to the understanding of eschatology. The Bible is pointing not only to someone (Christ) but also somewhere –- the future coming kingdom of Christ.

Sam Storms’ background

There are a lot of books defending the various end times positions. Most people hold to the eschatological view point they were taught by their parents, teachers or church when they were younger. Systems of belief are hard to change and when it comes to Christian theology, eschatology is among the hardest. But it does happen and it happened to well regarded pastor and author Sam Storms. In 1977 Storms graduated with his Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary which has been the flagship seminary for premillennial dispensational theology for decades. He was taught by some of the greatest dispensational theologians such as Walvoord, Ryrie and Pentecost. Read more about Book Review - Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative

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An Overview of Sunday School Publishers

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From Faith Pulpit, Fall 2013. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

In this article I overview twelve of the major curriculum publishers, especially Baptist publishers, that Faith Pulpit readers might be aware of, have questions about, or consider choosing for their church ministries. The websites linked to each publishing house are the basis for this overview. Visit these websites to find the scope and sequence of each curriculum.

Answers Bible Curriculum

Answers Bible Curriculum (ABC) is produced by Answers in Genesis (AiG) of Petersburg, Kentucky. AiG introduced this curriculum to churches in the summer of 2012. It is an interdenominational, uniform curriculum on a three-year cycle of lessons. ABC has a special apologetic focus on equipping students to defend the truth of Scripture, especially the book of Genesis. The AiG doctrinal statement is strong on creation issues (including marriage) and holds to a Biblical position on God, the Scripture, Jesus Christ, and salvation. It does not deal with such matters as church polity or eschatology. The publisher leaves those areas up to the church using the materials. AiG also produces VBS materials and other creation-related resources for use in churches, schools, and homes. Read more about An Overview of Sunday School Publishers

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Choosing Sunday School Curriculum

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From Faith Pulpit, Fall 2013. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Sunday School curriculum market is changing. In the past two years one publisher has left the field and another has entered it. Some of the established publishers are making changes. Such changes make it important to step back and examine the whole field of Sunday School curriculum.

Why Is Curriculum So Important?

Before we examine the question of choosing curriculum, let’s consider why a church’s Sunday School curriculum is such an important matter in the first place. Does it really make a difference? I believe it does because the curriculum resources a church chooses for its Sunday School greatly influence the direction of the church. Why is that so? Because a church’s Sunday School curriculum reaches almost every person in the church on a weekly basis.1 No other curriculum used in church reaches as many people. If a church chooses a strong, Biblically-based Sunday School curriculum, that’s the way the church will go. If the church chooses a broader curriculum, the church will go in a different direction. Sunday School curriculum, therefore, is a major factor in the direction of a church. Read more about Choosing Sunday School Curriculum

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They Also Serve

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These are busy days for our little family—days filled with scout meetings, schoolwork, doctor’s appointments, and ministry. I’m also in the final months of a book project; so on top of it all, I find myself experiencing a curious strain of nesting syndrome. My mind is a whirl of spreadsheets and marketing concepts, of deadlines and trying to merge multiple callings into one. I’m learning and relearning how to be mother and wife and lover and writer and daughter and teacher and friend.

And most of the time, I feel like I’m failing on all counts.

Every morning, I wake up with more on my “to do” list than is humanly possible, and every night I go bed having proven it. But instead of simply acknowledging my limitations, I regularly feel discouraged and overwhelmed. In fact, I have been feeling this way so often that I finally had to face a harsh reality. I am a prime candidate to join that particular type of support group that meets in musty church basements. I need to draw my chair up into the circle and when it’s my turn, bravely stand and say, “Hello, my name is Hannah and I have a messiah complex.” Read more about They Also Serve

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