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.
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
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CHAPTER II THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST TO THE OLD TESTAMENT
BY WILLIAM CAVEN, D. D., LL. D., LATE PRINCIPAL OF KNOX COLLEGE, TORONTO, CANADA
Both Jews and Christians receive the Old Testament as containing a revelation from God, while the latter regard it as standing in close and vital relationship to the New Testament. Everything connected with the Old Testament has, of recent years, been subjected to the closest scrutiny—the authorship of its several books, the time when they were written, their style, their historical value, their religious and ethical teachings. Apart from the veneration with which we regard the Old Testament writings on their own account, the intimate connection which they have with the Christian Scriptures necessarily gives us the deepest interest in the conclusions which may be reached by Old Testament criticism. For us the New Testament Dispensation presupposes and grows out of the Mosaic, so the books of the New Testament touch those of the Old at every point: In vetere testamento novum latet, et in novo vetus patet. (In the Old Testament the New is concealed, and in the New the Old is revealed.)
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In recent years, Evangelicalism has seen a number of challenges to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture. Chief among these have been new insights into the cultural and historical background of the Old Testament provided by newly found ancient near eastern sources (ANE for short). A recent turmoil was raised by a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary named Peter Enns who published a controversial book, Inspiration and Incarnation. Eventually he was deemed to have violated the Westminster Confession of Faith in his views and was removed from his teaching post at Westminster.
In scholarly journals, G.K. Beale responded to Enns’ book and open questioning of the popular understanding of biblical inerrancy. Enns and Beale responded back and forth to each other in a series of journal articles, which in a slightly emended form make up the first four chapters of this book. I’m glad that G.K. Beale chose to put the discussion into a book for a wider evangelical audience. He has done us all a great favor. His book, The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority addresses the issue of inerrancy and ANE studies head on and offers a confessionally faithful model of approaching ANE parallels to Scripture.