You are on page 1of 123

Holding Fast to Creation

David W. Hall

The Covenant Foundation

Oak Ridge, Tennessee


The Covenant Foundation 190 Manhattan Ave. Oak Ridge, TN 37830 (
All Rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast. Includes Bibliographical References ISBN: 0-9650367-8-2 First Edition 2000 Printed in the United States of America


Table of Contents
Chapter 1: An Unwilling Contestant Chapter 2: Holding Fast the Great Concession of Faith: Science, Apologetics, and Orthodoxy Chapter 3: The Patristics on Creation Chapter 4: Calvin and the Reformers Chapter 5: The Westminster Divines
Chapter 6: Enlightenment Versus Revelation:

1 9 23 45 71 113 121 129 159 195 213

Second edition 2001

A study in contrasts Chapter 7: Can it Happen in a Conservative Church? Chapter 8: A Biblical Theology of Creation Chapter 9: The Recent Debate Chapter 10: Intramural Debates Chapter 11: What I Have Learned




Chapter 1

An Unwilling Contestant

This is a narrative of one Christians pilgrimage that led him to oppose his own very conservative church in what had unwittingly become one of their sacred cows. This story is largely autobiographical, and I will leave it to the reader to decide if it is typical, thus bearing value for others. If it is typical it is worthwhile; if not, it at least exhibits a record of sources and a data-base that should benefit others in similar situations. My Pilgrimage: From ICR-ism to Null-Set Dogmatism to Classic Creation Let me rehearse three positions on the topic that I have personally held at various stages, for I did not always hold with vigor the position I now do. (1) I grew up in the Bible-belt and heardas much as a college student listensInstitute of Creation Research (ICR) talks. Prior to college, I thought the biblical position on creation was clear. It seemed to me that one could only endorse the young earth view and hold to six literal days for creation. That was, after all, what the Bible clearly stated. However, like many college students of my generation, I subsequently heard confessional orthodoxy exclusively from the secular communitythey were monolithically committed to a very old earth and millions of years for creationif they embraced creation at all. The bulk

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION of information I received prior to attending seminary, thus, was one form of evolutionary thought or other. Over time, that eroded biblical instincts. (2) Pre-Seminary and Seminary: I received my theological training at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. I received an excellent theological education from that fine school in the late 1970s. I had been a philosophy student, and I spent three months in Switzerland studying at Francis Schaeffers LAbri prior to attending seminary. LAbri taught me to question. Dr. Schaeffer also taught us to think presuppositionally and to engage in a variety of critiques of secular theory. Not only did we take issue with modern philosophy from a distinctively and radically biblical point of view, but we were also encouraged to critique the foundations of secular science, art, literature, law, politicsthe whole of cultureunafraid to employ a distinctively Christian method and reach radically biblical conclusions. In the process, we learned that many moderns, including evangelicals, were occasionally tempted to follow the shifting winds of modernity, and that the older voices were, not always but frequently, more orthodox. At LAbri I heard my first withering critique of evolutionary cosmology from Dr. Charles Thaxton. His critique of evolutionary paradigms, supported by Fran Schaeffer and extending through LAbri to thousands of other students, led budding apologists to sport a hermeneutic of suspicion toward evolutionary cosmology and related accommodations like a badge of honor. Suffice it to say that Fran Schaeffers work and LAbri did not encourage students to go wobbly, as Mrs. Thatcher used to say, on the subject of evolution. Those stalwart soldiers supported no easy truce. While at seminary, I studied with some of the finest Old Testament (OT) scholars and experts in apologetics. They taught us, as Schaeffer had, to be wary of the creeping secularism often embedded in evolutionary tracts. One scholar in particular, Dr. R. Laird Harris, taught me much (in many other areas of OT studies, too), and I felt that he prepared us very well to carry on apologetic discussions in this area. (3) By the time I had completed my seminary work, Dr. Harris and others sealed my rejection of any macro-evolutionary paradigm. Still after graduation, I was agnostic on many other issues such as the age of the universe, the length of days, how much of Genesis 1 was poetic, and whether the special revelation of Genesis should be conformed to the prevailing observations of natural science. I completed my theological training and other graduate philosophical work by being dogmatically

DAVID W. HALL committed to a null set: I was, on apologetic and philosophical grounds, dogmatically opposed to macro-evolutionary cosmology, while believing that I also had an obligation to be agnostic on all the specific questions of the nexusprimarily, as it was argued, due to a pre-existing difference of opinion on this subject within our Reformed theological community. While there was a short history of difference within our modern communion, I was also led to believe that it had always been that way, and that one might as well accept diversity of opinion on this locus. Being a dogmatist about an empty set also allowed us to puff out our chests and boast of brave orthodoxy, a type which sounded like a clarion call in the abstract, but upon each particularsince it confessed very littlepermitted our view to be as elastic and malleable as the next scientific best seller. I remained a functional agnostic in dogmaticians clothing until the fusion of two other trends. First, I moved to a highly scientific community in 1984, and after ministering there for a decade, I was startled to discover that most (not all, fortunately) practicing scientists were about as philosophically sophisticated as most (not all) NFL players. Sure there are a few Carl Sagans and Stephen Hawkings, but most laboratory scientists in our community ardently refused to interact with theoretical issues. They are practicing positivists, whether they used that term or not. I discovered that many scientists not only had not thought through certain presuppositional or philosophical issues; indeed, they were loathe to. Most of us would repudiate such as an unprincipled approach. It would be unacceptable for good theologians to do likewise. Still, it is amazing to note how reverentially some uninformed theologians treat functioning positivists even in the face of this cold reality. Living in a very scientific community served to remind me that we should respect all good scholarship; however, the derived theology of each and every scientist should not be on par with clear biblical teaching, no matter what the level of expertise or recognition of the scientist. Like all theologians (who are not necessarily expert in every unrelated academic field), scientists are fallible, too. They and their work should not be elevated to sacred bovine status merely because they are scientists. The second intersection that changed my opinion was when I observed a recurring mendacity of theological argumentation among nonclassical views on creation-related matters. I, along with many others, have found myself almost irresistibly drivenan unwilling participant to be suretoward the classical position when those who so dogmatically

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION propound modern twists at the same time have so little comraderie with the long history of theology, or the quality of their textual support is impoverished, or they are unwilling to compare their method on this issue to other similar issues. That troubled me, and over a long period of time that gradually caused me to change, clarify, or calcify my view. What follows is a story, then, of my evolution. And I tell it because I believe it is fairly typical, not atypical. It may not be Everyman, but it is a Lot of Men. Indeed, many more over the next decades may have the same experience that some of us have. The third time horizon in my pilgrimage occurred in 1997 as I sat on a judicial commission on a creation case that eventually arose to my denominations General Assembly level. Several years ago a minister friend called me and asked me this pointed question: What, if anything, did the Westminster Divines write concerning their views on the length of creation days? Our denomination holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith, which was composed in London from 1643 to 1648. I answered that to my knowledge they had not commented whatsoever on the subject. That is what I had been taught, and that is what many nineteenth century commentators asserted (See Alexander Mitchell below.). Both of us ministers, I am sure, thought there was no compelling evidence for any position. That only shows how wrong and uninformed our agnostic position had beenmaybe for a century. Had I known what I have found since then, I would have bet that pastor some baseball tickets that those authors definitely held the classical position. Indeed, based on an earlier offer to reward with baseball tickets written quotations refuting our documentation, I have not had to surrender any tickets yet for a germane citation from a Westminster Divine who held to long ages for creation. I have only found indications of a 24-hour view from our grandparents in the faith. Some may wish to reject their opinion or profess new information, but I personally believe that until it is proven that they were defective in view or method, or until better exegetical cases are made, it is as treacherous to reject their counsel or disenfranchise them on this issue as it is on most other cardinal subjects. When I answered my pastor friend in early 1997 that there was no evidence, save Alexander Mitchells unsupportable, post-Darwin comment, little did I realize how wrong I was. Many of us have been wrong. I have been pushed toward the historic view, largely against my will, by a confluence of two things: (1) spurious claims that many prior exegetes

DAVID W. HALL held to long ages or indefinite positions; and (2) the clear testimony of our fathers in the faith that they did hold a definite position. What an amazing study it has been! Finally, even those who hold to other positions are joining to acknowledge that numerous Westminster Divines explicitly affirmed their understanding of creations days as 24 hours with none expressing written support for other views. That is as surprising as it is compelling. History of the recent controversy, and how I became interested in the Confession and Creation I initially heard Dr. Hugh Ross, an astronomer who is a Christian apologist, in 1991. He had been invited to Oak Ridge, TN, a very scientific city and the site of one of our nations five national laboratories. Even though I appreciate his sincere Christian convictions and motivations, I disagreed with him on apologetic method and several particulars, but I thought other agreements were possible. Many from our community were quite taken with him, so I tried to support a joint apologetic effort and tried to mind my manners. He made two assertions, which I had heard often in Seminary and in the PCA (the Presbyterian Church in America, my denomination that Francis Schaeffer belonged to), so I took those to be ineluctably true: a) That the Hebrew word for day, yom, was elastic in meaning; thus the universe could be billions of years old, since day did not have to mean day. b) That this hermeneutic was far from new, many (or the majority of) previous Christians holding to such expansionistic meanings. Ross claimed that a veritable Whos Who of ChristendomAugustine, Calvin, virtually every patristic known, and the best modern thinkersall held to a large, long period of creation. Darwin would, in fact, be quite comfortable with all of these chums. That claim stuck in my mind as possibly anachronistic. As I would discover, many claims had been proffered in this debate; and many of the claims lofted by evangelicals were, upon inspection, quite unfounded. In fact, there are nearly as many retractions in this debate as there are claims. This topics history of retraction is an introduction to a plethora of urban legendsattributions that are widely spread and accepted but not

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION founded in primary materials. What follows is the evolution of mythology within our Presbyterian tradition since 1800. It is also a primer on sources and appeals within our tradition that have been tried and found wanting in their attempt to provide support for modern views. My eyes were opened on this subject by reading Hugh Ross and Howard Van Till (a professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids), who made various claims about the views of Augustine. At first, their assertions were perfectly tailored for my null-set dogmatism, but eventually I found that I must face an unavoidable task: If I were to depend on Augustine, I would have to read his own words and not take the word of others. Eventually reading the sources led me to view Augustine very differently from the urban legends about him. Howard Van Till, among others, argues that one could find shade under St. Augustines branches to hold to long periods of creation. Seeking to collapse continuing creation under the umbrella of providence, Van Till would have us believe that Calvin and Augustine were cosmological hipsters, writing far ahead of their time, who allowed for evolutionary constructs. Unfortunately, B. B. Warfield and the Hodges had uttered similar things earlier. It was perfectly fine with me, if we held these views, and indeed there was some comfort in knowing that our elder brother from Hippo had blazed the trail for modernity. Unfortunately, Augustine did not blaze the trail that somewho merely consult the secondary sourcesthink. Nonetheless, I went about my business in the early 1990s and refused to research the matter until a few years later. During that time, I also began to note that the more history I read the more it seemed that many of our forebears were conveniently misrepresented, especially when modern theologians wished to draft some ancient theologian to hide behind for a modern crusade, whether he was compatible with that particular modernism or not. Avoidance of embarrassment by the academy can be another powerful drive to reach preconceived conclusions. At about that time, I had two other unpleasant personal epiphanies: (1) Within my own conservative denomination, a movement was afoot which attempted, protestations to the contrary nothwithstanding, to revise and introduce a new confessional matrix. (2) I discovered that the oft-bandied phrase Semper Reformanda was frequently modernism in ecclesiastical drag. Revisionism has proven to be an equal opportunity disease, one that can afflict conservatives as well as liberals. A few years back, I attended

DAVID W. HALL a conference sponsored by select leaders of a conservative denomination in which that group of evangelicals was implicitly trying to redefine itself. Amidst this conservative group, I was surprised that its leaders would so readily invoke the Semper Reformandum (the Latin for always or continually being reformed) mantra. Having come out of a liberal denomination, as a young man whenever I heard that phrase, I had learned to reach for my wallet to protect what little cash we had left before being totally plundered by theological liberals. In most cases, the phrase continually reforming (besides being a poor Latin translation, rendered in the active voice instead of the passive gerundive; it should be continually being reformed) signaled an attempt to move away from received truth. Of course, we realize that the past contains error and that no tradition is infallible. However, seldom has a church body been improved by the continually updating wing. More often than not, the alterations have been departures from the best expressions of orthodoxy. Hence, I developed an instinctive distrust for the continually faddishness of the Semper wing.1 Thus, I am surprised whenever I hear conservatives invoke that particular cabal. Of equal interest, at the same conference, not a single speaker showed the desired balance by stressing or citing the first part of the rubric: Reformatus est (Having been reformed). If one simply must be a Semper Reformandum advocate, then the least one could do to avoid unadulterated revisionism is to cite the first half of the motto (Having been reformed) as emphatically as his calls for updating. Isnt that what the Reformers did? Actually, I am not sure they were so balanced. From my reading of Calvin and others, I cannot locate their cheers for Semper Reformandum; they seemed to think that the church could be simply reformed to the eternal truths of the Word of God and gave little countenance to modernization dynamics. In fact, I cannot find anywhere that they used the Semper phrase. Most likely that is merely one of those vacuums in my theological education, but someone may eventually demonstrate where Calvin advocated the Semper Reformandum.2 It is abundantly clear that he called for Reformatus est, but I cannot put my finger on a call for Semper Reformandum by Calvin. Nor Luther. Nor Turretin. I cannot locate it in the writings of the great

Some of this is taken from my article, Semper Reinventus at 2 Note: We made a cash offer to reward such citation over four years ago, and the reward lies unclaimed still.

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. I see no charge to be always hip in the great Confessions. I cannot unearth this phrase or its paraphrase in Scottish or American Presbyterianism of the eighteenth century. I do not find it in Hodge, Bavinck, Wollebius, Ames, Perkins, Boston, Watson, etc. Possibly I am just reading the wrong volumes. Or could it be that the Semper aspect is to theology what unconditional positive regard is to psychology: an invention of modernism to justify the de facto revisionism? I wonder. As we rummage through church history and identify where certain viruses first occur, their moment of evolutionary appearance may be as instructive as their discovery. The Church of Jesus Christ needs as much as anything else to grow into conformity to Christ. However, conformity to Christ is not to be confused with conformity to revised ideas or modern ethoi. If, as we suspect, the Semper Reformandum addition is of relatively recent origin, and that surrounded by definite modernizing impulses, then perhaps our instinctive flinching from such vocabulary is warranted after all. Could it be that I was taught correctly in earlier years when I was taught that Semper Reformandum was an inherently liberalizing phrase? B. B. Warfield once warned: But let us equally loudly assert that progressive orthodoxy and retrogressive heterodoxy can scarcely be convertible terms. However, even Warfield did not always practice what he preached in that regard. 3 In 1994-1995, I began reading Howard Van Tills claims about Calvin and Augustine. In the late 1980s Howard Van Till of Calvin College had begun to write, claiming that the theological drift of moderns, oddly parallel to that of some conservative denominations, was really the same as the old faith. One thing Ive learned: Beware of those who claim that radical, unheard of ideas are really the same as the old ideas. This is not much of a change, may be the original lie of the revolutionary. Van Till and others claimed that Calvin and Augustine were antithetical to young earth views and recent creation and that they were quite compatible with the latest cosmology, whatever it might be. The next chapter tells part of the story of how that is not so.


Chapter 2

Holding Fast the Great Concession of Faith: Science, Apologetics, and Orthodoxy

A recent book by Mark Noll confirms that Warfield held to pro-evolution views. What may not always be as clearly stated, though, is that this tradition is not identical to the catholic tradition before the 1830s. Warfield, an excellent and heroic theologian in many ways, broke with the classical consensus on this burning question of his day.

In 1995, I presented a paper containing my initial research to the Evangelical Theological Society, the largest guild of evangelical theologians on this continent. That study was limited and reported my findings only up to the Reformation period. However, my interest had been piqued. I was nearly ready to do a little research but not too much. Like most others, why get interested, why not perpetuate the received tradition of ones admired teachers, unless personally threatened? Nonetheless, I did decide to examine the Ross-Van Till claims regarding Calvin and Augustine. The research resulted in my 1995 essay, Holding Fast to the Great Concession of Faith: Science, Apologetics, and Orthodoxy, an essay primarily on science and apologetic method. I was aware that one of the most contentious arenas for apologetics in the past century had been the creation-evolution debate. Of late, some of the hostility seems to be diminishing as it has become fashionable to argue that there should be little debate because the ancients were amazingly anticipatory of modern notions. This harmonic convergence, how-

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION ever, appears to be simple revisionism. A central argument of this essay4 is that neither science nor apologetics is strengthened by ill-founded revisions of earlier Christian thought. Rather than deal exclusively with the historical dimensions, I also intended to employ this essay as a case study of the interaction of science and apologetic method. One might even view this study as an application of the scientific method (hypothesis, experimentation, conclusion) to these theories: Pre-Darwinian theologians customarily admitted the possibility of a long period for creation. The best apologetic method conforms itself to the science of the day. What follows is a testing of these hypotheses to see if they are capable of falsification. It is frequently claimed, for example, that (1) evangelicals need not hold out for a short sequence of creation insofar as earlier fathers, and (2) earlier biblical interpreters did not. Professor John A. McIntyre has warned against what he calls Christian amnesia, which allegedly forgets the earlier commentators on creation: [Some] Christians have introduced a modern, naive 24-hour interpretation for days in Genesis, disagreeing with the classical, sophisticated analysis of these days by Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin. . . . How can Christian scholars today ignore so completely the great Christian scholars of the past?5 Is it correct, I honestly wondered, that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and the frothy current of orthodox expounders of creation held to a view that has immense semantic elasticity6? To isolate the matter, if those who lived before Darwinthus providing a control group uninfluenced by that type of evolutionary thoughtbelieved in long periods of continuous creation or progressive creation, or if they believed in a developmental gradualism that did not demand a special creation, then indeed, perhaps
This essay (also contained in my 1997 The Arrogance of the Modern) is adapted with permission from Premise, vol. 4, no. 1 (Feb. 1997; 5 John A. McIntyre, The Misuse of Science, unpublished manuscript, 1993, 24. 6 This phrase is taken from an excellent summary, How Old is the Earth: Anthropomorphic Days in Genesis 1:1-2:3 by C. John Collins, Presbuterion (Fall 1994), vol. xx, no. 2, 110. In that essay, Collins also suggests that to label as the path to compromise the thought of the likes of Charles Hodge, William Shedd, E. J. Young, and Francis Schaeffer is to cast reproach on them. However, it is also possible to retain high regard for men like these in general (as I do), while disagreeing with some particulars in their thinking. Our respect for fathers in the faith does not mandate that they be held as infallible (as Collins certainly recognizes), nor that their conclusions be granted immunity from revision. Rather, as this essay intends, high respect for their work can best be maintained by honest criticisms of their weak points.

DAVID W. HALL later Christians, too, are justified in jettisoning creatio simul et ex nihilo. As one examines these questions, openness and humility are fitting. In our search of ancient interpretations of the creation narratives, we desire to avoid haughty or provincial approaches which insist that ones own tradition or generation is superior to all past generations and interpretations. We do not wish to arrogantly disqualify earlier Christians from the discussion simply because of their moment in history. We seek to follow their path as a historical question arises that must be answered humbly even if it calls into question now-dominant theories: Did earlier Christians hold to instantaneous creation ex nihilo, or did they allow for lengthy evolutionary gradualism? The modern hypotheses for creation by developmental and gradual means over long periods of time seem foreign to earlier evangelicals. Even if an idiosyncratic or ambiguous reference may be unearthed in some writers (often capable of alternative explanation), an altogether compelling case to view ancient evangelicals as compatible with a framework hypothesis still remains to be made.7 If one wishes to make the case against short periods of creation, he will likely have to move closer to the present than the Reformation to find company. Yet, this mistake has become fairly common. Older antagonists such as Andrew Dickson White claimed that Augustine (a major focus of this essay) revolted against the conception of an actual creation of the universe by the hands and fingers of a Supreme Being.8 White also put into Augustines mouth a belief in the pre-existence of matter, and asserted that Calvin opposed the idea of an instantaneous creation, accusing those who hold such view of basely insult[ing] the Creator, [and] expect a judge who will annihilate them. He even attributed to Augustine the lead in the purported medieval revolt away from literalism and this due to Augustines reliance on Scripture as more authoritative than human ingenuity.9
C. John Collins (op. cit., 110), agrees that the framework hypothesis as set forth by M. G. Kline is ruled out on exegetical grounds (op. cit., 116, n. 29). Moreover, he confirms that much of the argumentation for long days based on idiomatic considerations in Gen. 2:4 give[s] us no information on the range of meanings of yom outside this bound form and that the day-age theorists have not been able to say by what criteria we may discern an extended sense of yom as age, or what contextual clues seem to tip us off. This seems to be a fatal weakness. 8 Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1896), 49. 9 Ibid., 72-73.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION More recently, Hugh Ross has suggested: Many of the early church fathers and other biblical scholars interpreted the creation days of Genesis 1 as long periods of time. The list includes . . . Irenaeus . . . Origen . . . Basil . . . Augustine, and later Aquinas to name a few.10 Ross includes an argument for long days of creation11 and mistakenly blames fundamentalism for the genesis of creationism. However, the best that Ross, White, and others can do in their presentation of Augustines and Calvins views is to demonstrate that symbolic language is appreciated in earlier commentaries.12 It is a reach, nevertheless, to infer a repudiation of traditional (pre-Darwinian) creationism from these authors use of a symbolic hermeneutic.13 Furthermore, despite Henry Morriss interpretation that Augustines doctrine of seed principles sounds like a modern theistic evolutionist,14 it would take far more to transform Augustine into a theistic evolutionist than these claims if one considers the totality of his writing. Morris even generously concedes that Augustine grants continuous creation in De Trinitate.15 Did Augustine stand out from his day and hold to views of creation that are more akin to twentieth-century views? Can one really agree with Henry Morris that, The end result of the teachings of Augustine, Aquinas, and other well-intentioned theologians was an undermining of biblical authority?16 It seems that Augustine can speak for himself and should be consulted prior to
Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, 2nd edition (Orange, CA: Promise Publishers, 1991), 141. For support, particularly of Augustines view, Ross cites the following: The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Books four and five; The Confessions, Book XIII, chaps. 4852 (a mistake); The City of God, Book XI, chaps. 7-8, 30-31. 11 Ibid., 146-158. Cf. also Hugh Ross, Creation and Time (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1994), 45-71. 12 It is not necessary to assert that biblical narratives on creation intend to be literal in every aspect. Non-literal or symbolic hermeneutical conclusions are different from the positive assertion that earlier exegetes maintained notions compatible with quite modern theories. 13 Collins is helpful to note the distinction between allegory and anthropomorphism (op. cit., 120, note 48). While it might be sustained that ancient evangelicals used an anthropomorphic interpretation in numerous places, that is not necessarily the same as pleading that they lobbied for long days in this instance. 14 Henry Morris, The Long War Against God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989), 203. 15 A search of De Trinitate (especially III, 9, 16) did not confirm this claim. Moreover, Augustines The Literal Meaning of Genesis makes it clear (Cf. 4:11-12, 5:3) that the rest of God demonstrates that God completed the work of creation after the sixth day. 16 Morris, op. cit., 205.

DAVID W. HALL accepting revisionary studies. Is either science or apologetics enhanced by re-imagining earlier theologians to be so tony as to conform to late twentieth-century views of continuous creation, which putatively developed over billions of years? In what follows, I dispute the claim that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and others erected theories compatible with a 16-18 billion year old cosmos, an apologetic revision of epic proportions. The strategic revision is clarified by contrasting the exegesis of two eras: (1) pre-Darwinian theology, and (2) post-Darwinian theology.17 The bulk of this essay examines the frequent assertion that the orthodox strain of beliefs on creation has always allowed wide latitude in this loci, rendering the ancients virtually indistinguishable from moderns. It was, after all, the same Andrew White above who, despite his wish to the contrary, admitted that Calvin had a strict interpretation of Genesis, and that down to a period almost within living memory [1896], it was held, virtually always, everywhere, and by all, that the universe, as we now see it, was created literally and directly by the voice or hands of the Almighty, or by bothout of nothingin an instant or in six days . . .18 Even opponents find it difficult to mangle this testimony, although with the effect of cumulative misrepresentations by evangelicals that confusion is becoming more frequent. Testing the Hypothesis with Pre-Darwinists A representative survey of pre-Darwinian theologians disproves that the ancients uniformly endorsed long periods of creation, non-momentary creation, or original cosmological developmentpurported citations notwithstanding. Many of the claims alleged to support a dubious pointwhen set in their proper contextallow an alternative interpretation and do not necessarily buttress the more modern schemes. Such revisionary citations are often based on inaccurate quotations, or are contradictory to the larger context, or are idiosyncratic (not necessarily typical of mainstream orthodoxy). One of the first Christian theologians to comment on this matter was Theophilus of Antioch who wrote the following in 181 AD: On the
17 In another essay, I have examined leaders from reformed evangelicalism in the nineteenth century, Cf. my Angels Unaware: The Ascendancy of Science over Orthodoxy in Nineteenth-Century Reformed Orthodoxy. 18 Andrew White, op. cit., 60.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION fourth day the luminaries came into existence. Since God has foreknowledge, he understood the nonsense of the foolish philosophers who were going to say that the things produced on earth come from the stars, so that they might set God aside. In order therefore that the truth might be demonstrated, plants and seeds came into existence before the stars. For what comes into existence later cannot cause what is prior to it.19 Theophilus also believed that the world was 5,698 years old at his time. Later, Basil (329-379) would concur. His position on the length of the creation days is seen in his exposition of Genesis 1:5: And there was evening and morning, one day. Why did he say one and not first? . . . He said one because he was defining the measure of day and night . . . since the twenty-four hours fill up the interval of one day. (On the Hexameron, 2.8; see full posting of Basil at: For confirmation of Basil, Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, later commented, asserting that the creation days should be measured as follows: from Sunne to Sunne is counted a day. (Lectures Preached in St. Pauls Church, London, 1657), 661). Later, Andrews would affirm: [T]herefore we say a day hath twenty four hours . . this was a day by itself, as the other six days were by themselves. (662) Citing Basil, Andrews commented that the word yom had a meaning for our natural use that we should esteem twenty four hours one day . . . The first day is an example to the dayes after. (663) Note Calvin had already stated his agreement with Basil and Ambrose. Concurring with Basil (and other church fathers), Wolfgang Musculus, a contemporary of Calvin, also referred to Chrysostom who agreed in his Fourth Homily on Genesis: Morning, however, is the end of the night and the completion of the day. Musculus believed that the orthodox church was of one opinion, largely lacking in dissent; he cites Lombard as agreeing with him and the Hebrew chronology. Musculus consistently interpreted the days as natural days: For natural days are comprised of these partsevening and morningin order that we may rightly [understand] the three day period (triduum) as having ceased in the space of three nights and days.20 Ambrose of Milan (339-397) was another early theologian to expliAnte-Nicene Fathers, Robertson and Donaldson, ed, Vol. 2, 100; Theophilus to Autolycus, Book 2:15. 20 The Latin is: ut recte triduum, trium dieru ac notium spacio ceseatur . . .

DAVID W. HALL cate a mature view of creation. In his Hexameron, he admitted that even in his day some believed that matter is considered to have given the power of creation to all things.21 His view, however, was: The language is simple: God created heaven and earth. He created what was not, not what was.22 Regarding the creation of the cosmos by divine Word, he added later: When the word light is used, it is not intended to mean merely the preparation for performance; rather, it is the splendor of the operation itself in action. . . . He did not speak in order that action should follow; rather, that action was completed with the Word [followed by a reference to Ps. 148:5].23 While there is no suggestion that the days were long, Ambrose affirmed that by Gods command on the fifth day, the waters immediately poured forth their offspring. The rivers were in labor. The lakes produced their quota of life. The sea itself began to bear all manner of reptiles and to send forth according to its kind whatever was there created. . . . Dolphins frolicked in the waves. Shell-fish clung to the rocks. Oysters adhered to the depths and the seaurchins waxed strong.24 He apparently believed that multiple species were created instantaneously rather than by gradual development: The whale, as well as the frog, came into existence at the same time by the same creative power. Without effort does God produce the greatest things. He is not averse to creating the least.25 Elsewhere, Ambrose affirmed, God created day and night at the same time. Since that time, day and night continue their daily succession and renewal.26 In his fullest discussion of the lengths of the creation days, Ambrose commented:
The beginning of the day rests on Gods word: Be light made, and light was made. The end of day is the evening. Now, the succeeding day follows after the termination of night. The thought of God is clear. First He called light day and next He called darkness night. In notable fashion has Scripture spoken of a day, not the first day. Because a second, then a third day, and finally the remaining days were
The Fathers of the Church: St. Ambrose, Hexameron, Paradise, Cain and Abel, John J. Savage, trans. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1961), vol. 42, 3. Ambrose also believed in the Mosaic authorship of Genesis (p. 5 et passim) and that the work of creation should not be confused with the eternality of God (p. 4). 22 Hexameron, 34. 23 Hexameron, 38-39. 24 Hexameron, 160. 25 Hexameron, 163. 26 Hexameron, 72.




to follow, a first day could have been mentioned, following in this way the natural order. But Scripture established a law that twenty-four hours, including both day and night, should be given the name of day only, as if one were to say the length of one day is twenty-four hours in extent.27

DAVID W. HALL I suggested above, should be given when we asked concerning any creatureWho made it? How? and Why?the answers are: God; by the word; and because it is good. (Bk. 11, ch. 23) In Faith and the Creed, Augustine stated: If they admit that the world was made by an omnipotent God they must admit that he made what he has made out of nothing. If he were omnipotent there could be nothing of which he was not the Creator. Even if he did make something out of something else, as he made man out of clay, he did not make it out of something which he had not himself made. For he made the earth out of nothing, and clay comes from the earth. . . . we must by no means believe that the matter out of which the world was made, however formless or invisible, could have existed as it was by itself, as if it were co-eternal and coeval with God.29 Contrary to the claims by moderns frantically searching for backing, Augustines statements in The Confessions do not lend support to viewing him as a precursor of evolutionary theory. At various places he affirmed: this earth was invisible and without order . . . before you formed this unformed matter and fashioned it into kinds, there was no separate being, no color, no shape, no body, no spirit. (XII, 3);30 Lord, you made the world out of formless matter . . . Let it be made, and so it was made. (XII, 8); all these visible things were made and set in order during those various days . . . (XII, 17). At a trenchant summation in The Confessions, Augustine said, True it is that you, from whom are all things, have made not only created and formed being, but also whatsoever is capable of being created and formed. (XII, 19) Later he argued: Why should we not understand, with Truth teaching us, that also formless matter, which Scripture calls earth invisible and unformed . . . was made by God out of nothing, and therefore is not co-eternal with him . . . ? (XII, 22) A long age of development or progressive creation is not, contrary to the claims of Ross and Van Till, compatible with these sentiments. He went so far as to pray for patience when dealing with those who oppose Moses intent because they are proud and have not known Moses meaning, but love their own, not because it is true, but because it is their own. (XII, 25) He accused those who would distort the meaning of Moses of rash judgment; not insight but pride.
Augustine: Earlier Writings, John H. S. Burleigh, ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press 1953), 354. 30 Citations taken from John K. Ryan, ed. The Confessions of St. Augustine (New York: Doubleday, 1959).

The earliest full treatise on creation ends with these sentiments: But now we seem to have reached the end of our discourse, since the sixth day is completed and the sum total of the work of the world has been concluded. . . . we should now make our contribution of silence, since God has rested from the work of the world. . . . He the Creator rested.28 Was Augustine a Closet Evolutionist? Before I survey other patristics, in view of such clarity, a fair question is: Will Augustine (354-430) later differentiate his position from Ambroses? Does Augustine distance himself from the Hexameron to advocate an immense period of creation? At least on the surface, Augustine did not seem aware of being contrary to Ambrose. Augustines view of creation is not always opaque. In his Enchiridion, he stated that the Christian believes that the cause of all created things, whether in heaven or on earth, whether visible or invisible, is nothing other than the goodness of the Creator, who is the one true God. . . . By this Trinity, supremely and equally and immutably good, were all things created. (chap. 3). A similar affirmation is given in The City of God, while arguing for the consubstantiality of the Son: . . . the only-begotten Son who is the wisdom by which all things were created. (Bk. 11, ch. 24) In The City of God, Augustine affirms: There is no creator higher than God (Bk. 11, ch. 21); nothing can exist apart from creation by God (Bk. 11, ch. 23); [mans] natural being is created from nothing (Bk. 12, ch. 6); But only a nature created out of nothing could have been distorted by a fault. (Bk. 14, ch. 13; cf. also Bk. 14, ch. 11). Augustine had no hesitancy employing the ex nihilo terminology, and even accepts a chronology that seldom accompanies an evolutionary view: From Adam to the flood there were 2,262 years according to the calculation data in our versions of the Scripture. (Bk. 15, ch. 20) He concluded with a summary: But to return to the three answers which, as
27 28

Hexameron, 42-43. Hexameron, 282-283.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Augustine repeatedly affirmed that God made heaven and earth in the beginning (XIII, 2): Out of nothing have they been made by you, not out of yourself, not out of anything not your own, or which previously existed, but out of concreated matter, that is, out of matter simultaneously created by you, since without any intervening time you gave form to its formlessness . . . you made the matter entirely out of nothing. (XIII, 33) Despite the claim that Augustine manifested a striking anticipation of some modern evolutionary doctrines,31 such claim is at best a classic case of conforming the ancient to the modernwhether the revisionary shoe fits comfortably or not. Augustine should also be remembered for asserting that God would not be omnipotent, if he were unable to create anything good, unless he were assisted by that matter which he had not created. (VII, 5) The following should be factored into revisionary claims about Augustines view of creation: What was your engine for doing this mighty work? You did not work as does the human artist, who transforms one body into another . . . You made the artists body; you, the soul that gives orders to his members; you, the matter out of which he fashions things . . . All these praise you, the creator of all things . . . You did not hold in your hand anything out of which to make heaven and earth . . . You spoke, therefore, and these things were made, and in your Word you made them. (XI, 5). This robust view of creation embraces special creation ex nihilo simul et verbe. Gradualismabsent some super-imposed presuppositionis not obvious in these early writings, which are, of late, so misrepresented. In The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Augustinethe alleged adherent to the framework hypothesiscommented: Hence it seems that this work of God was done in the space of a day, at the end of which evening came on, which is the beginning of night. Moreover, when the night was spent, a full day was completed, and the morning belonged to a second day, in which God then performed another work.32 In light of this and many other comments, Augustines sensitivity to symbolism ought not be transformed into a cosmology which fits with a 16 billion year old cosmos apart from numerous, explicit, and consistent iterations.
31 32

DAVID W. HALL It is true that Augustines discussion of certain topics is somewhat bizarre and difficult to interpret.33 For example, he averred that the Sabbath had been annulled,34 that the seventh day kept recurring to make up months and years and ages, (4:14), and that the sixth day symbolized completeness because it is the first number which is the sum of its parts. Despite these eccentricities, he theorized: The more likely explanation, therefore, is this: these seven days of our time, although like the seven days of creation in name and in numbering, follow one another in succession and mark off the division of time, but those first six days occurred in a form unfamiliar to us . . .35 (4:14) However, lest one think that Augustine was arguing for an expanded period of creation so as to permit lengthy development, he also argued that the entire creation happened in only one day: Perhaps we should say that God created only one day, so that by its recurrence many periods called days would pass by. . . . All creation, then, was finished by the sixfold recurrence of this day, whose evening and morning we may interpret as explained above.36 (4:20, 26) Augustine believed: Thus, in all the days of creation there is one day, and it is not to be taken in the sense of our day, which we reckon by the course of the sun; but it must have another meaning, applicable to the three days mentioned before the creation of the heavenly bodies. This special meaning of day must not be maintained just for the first three days . . . But we must keep the same meaning even to the sixth and seventh days.37 (4:26) He continued to explain: That day in the account of creation, or those days that are numbered according to its recurrence, are beyond the experience and knowledge of us mortal earthbound men.38 (4:27) Still, he did not want to be confused with figurative or allegorical interpretations,39 (4:28) and he believed that, the whole of creation was finished in six days.40 (4:14) He suggested that as angels beheld the creation, there were no
33 Aquinas admitted that Augustine differs from other expositors and in Augustines interpretation: angelic knowledge is appropriately called day. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1921), Q. 74, art. 2, 268. 34 St. Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, John Hammond Taylor, trans. (New York: Newman Press, 1962), vol. 1, 119. 35 Ibid., 125. 36 Ibid., 128, 133. 37 Ibid., 134. 38 Ibid., 135. 39 Ibid., 135. 40 Ibid., 125.

The Confessions of St. Augustine, op. cit., 415. The Literal Meaning of Genesis in Ancient Christian Writers: The Works of the Fathers in Translation, Johannes Quasten, Walter J. Burghardt, and Thomas Comerford Lawler, eds. (Ramsey, NJ: Paulist Press, 1982), vol. 1, 29.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION intervals of time, i. e., that time stood still41 (4:29-30; cf. also 2:8); however, there was order of sequence. Augustine argued that the firmament, the waters, plants, trees, heavenly bodies, and all living creatures were made simultaneously. (4:33) So far was he from advocating a gradual evolution that he said: Perhaps we ought not to think of the creatures at the moment they were produced as subject to the processes of nature which we now observe in them, but rather as under the wonderful and unutterable power of the Wisdom of God . . . For this power of Divine Wisdom does not reach by stages or arrive by steps. It was just as easy, then, for God to create everything as it is for Wisdom to exercise this mighty power. . . . Creation, therefore, did not take place slowly in order that a slow development might be implanted in those things that are slow by nature; nor were the ages established at the plodding pace at which they now pass.42 (4:33) That Augustine is incompatible with modern notions is seen from his comment: [B]ut there was no passage of time when they [creatures] received these laws at creation. Otherwise, if we think that, when they were first created by the Word of God, there were the processes of nature with the normal duration of days that we know, those creatures that shoot forth roots and clothe the earth would need not one day but many to germinate beneath the ground, and then a certain number of days, according to their natures, to come forth from the ground; and the creation of vegetation, which Scripture places on one day, namely the third, would have been a gradual process.43 (4:33) Augustine believed that there was no before or after in the moment of creation: It follows, therefore, that he, who created all things together, simultaneously created these six days, or seven, or rather the one day six or seven times repeated.44 (4:33) One can conclude the following about Augustines views:
(1) they were directed toward a certain set of ideas of his day; (2) his argumentation should be set in that context and not snatched from that setting to argue for later ideas that are incompatible; (3) his views of creation seem rather unique and idiosyncratic in the history of theology; i. e., few, if any, theologians approached the Genesis
41 42

narratives as creatively as did Augustine (For example, his concern for the angelic observation of creation is rather unparalleled.); (4) he did not wish to be interpreted as using the allegorical method; his intent was to be as literal as possible; (5) he recognized that the day of creation was a non-normal day; (6) he maintained that it was not a solar day, insofar as at least three days occurred prior to the creation of the sun; (7) he did not believe that creation took a long period of development, but to the contrary; (8) Augustine believed that all of creation occurred simultaneously, at one instant. (9) He also believed that Jesus saying in John 5 (My Father is still working) applied only to governance, not of creating any new nature.45 Thus, it is difficult to sustain the argument that Augustine believed in continuous creation. (10) Augustine believed that Adam was made from the slime of the earth and the woman from the side of her husband.46 (6:5)

Ernan McMullin confirms that Augustine concurred with the Alexandrine fathers who believed that creation was in a single moment; he clearly did not believe that creation days were indefinitely long periods of time: In fact, he insisted that the creative action whereby all things came to be was instantaneous; the six days refer (he suggests) to stages in the angelic knowledge of creation. In properly temporal terms the days reduce to an indivisible instant, so that all the kinds of things mentioned in Genesis were really made simultaneously.47 Nor did Augustine hold that one species could arise out of another. At best, when debaters try to convert Augustine into a theistic evolutionist who held to long unspecified days and continuous creation, they can be understood as presuppositionally selective in their choice of quotations; for even their choicest of citations do not prove their point, nor do other statements within the corpus prove compatible with such anachronisms. Even if the benefit of the doubt is given to interpretations which conform Augustine to the modern, other pre-Darwinian supporters of such interpretations are few and far betweencertainly neither the analogy of faith nor the majority position of Christendom prior to 1800.
45 46

Ibid., 136-137. Ibid., 141. Italics added. 43 Ibid., 142. 44 Ibid., 142.

Ibid., 117. Ibid., 183. 47 Ernan McMullin, Evolution and Creation (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985), 11-12, 15.





Chapter 3

The Patristics on Creation

After finding these earlier misrepresentations to be sorely lacking, I wanted to revisit the patristics (early church fathers) all the more. Our Calvin Institute has collected many of the commentaries of the early church fathers that are purported to support a long creation period. Acquaintance with the sources alleged shows the opposite, however, of what many moderns claim about them. More texts will be added and posted as they are identified as relevant, but at present we may safely assert this: the patristics were incompatible with post-Darwinian revisions. All references to the web-posting reproduced below are taken from the best collection of patristic sources, the Ante-Nicene Fathers; or the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.48 To optimally facilitate the reader drawing his own conclusions and to minimize our own biases, we have presented as much of the original text as practical. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho CHAP. LXXX. The Opinion of Justin with Regard to the Reign of a Thousand Years. Several Catholics Reject it. And Trypho to this replied, I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But

All references are to the Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 1995) edition.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies? Then I answered, I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise. Moreover, I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish. But that you may know that I do not say this before you alone, I shall draw up a statement, so far as I can, of all the arguments which have passed between us; in which I shall record myself as admitting the very same things which I admit to you. For I choose to follow not men or mens doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genistae, Meristae, Gallilaens, Hellenists, Pharisees, Baptist, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him. But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare. (Vol. 1., 239.) CHAP. LXXXI. He endeavors to Prove this Opinion from Isaiah and the Apocalypse. For Isaiah spake thus concerning this space of a thousand years: For there shall be the new heaven and the new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, or come into their heart; but they shall find joy

DAVID W. HALL and gladness in it, which things I create. For, Behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and My people a joy; and I shall rejoice over Jerusalem, and be glad over My people. And the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, or the voice of crying. And there shall be no more there a person of immature years, or an old man who shall not fulfill his days. For the young man shall be an hundred years old; but the sinner who dies an hundred years old, he shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and shall themselves inhabit them; and they shall plant vines, and shall themselves eat the produce of them, and drink the wine. They shall not build, and others inhabit; they shall not plant, and others eat. For according to the days of the tree of life shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound. Mine elect shall not toil fruitlessly, or beget children to be cursed; for they shall be a seed righteous and blessed by the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will hear; while they are still speaking, I shall say, What is it? Then shall the wolves and the lambs feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent [shall eat] earth as bread. They shall not hurt or maltreat each other on the holy mountain, saith the Lord. Now we have understood that the expression used among these words, According to the days of the tree [of life] shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound, obscurely predicts a thousand years. For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, The day of the Lord is as a thousand years, is connected with this subject. And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place. Just as our Lord also said, They shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to the angels, the children of the God of the resurrection. (Vol. 1, 239-240). Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2. Thus, then, in the day that they did eat, in the same did they die, and became deaths debtors, since it was one day of the creation. For it is said, There was made in the evening, and there was made in the morning, one day. Now in this same day that they did eat, in that also did

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION they die. But according to the cycle and progress of the days, after which one is termed first, another second, and another third, if anybody seeks diligently to learn upon what day out of the seven it was that Adam died, he will find it by examining the dispensation of the Lord. For by summing up in Himself the whole human race from the beginning to the end, He has also summed up its death. From this it is clear that the Lord suffered death, in obedience to His Father, upon that day on which Adam died while he disobeyed God. Now he died on the same day in which he did eat. For God said, In that day on which ye shall eat of it, ye shall die by death. The Lord, therefore, recapitulating in Himself this day, underwent His sufferings upon the day preceding the Sabbath, that is, the sixth day of the creation, on which day man was created; thus granting him a second creation by means of His passion, which is that [creation] out of death. And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since a day of the Lord is as a thousand years, he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin. Whether, therefore, with respect to disobedience, which is death; whether [we consider] that, on account of that, they were delivered over to death, and made debtors to it; whether with respect to [the fact that on] one and the same day on which they ate they also died (for it is one day of the creation); whether [we regard this point], that, with respect to this cycle of days, they died on the day in which they did also eat, that it, the day of the preparation, which is termed the pure supper, that is, the sixth day of the feast, which the Lord also exhibited when He suffered on that day; or whether [we reflect] that he (Adam) did not overstep the thousand years, but died within their limit,it follows that, in regard to all these significations, God is indeed true. For they died who tasted of the tree; and the serpent is proved a liar and a murderer, as the Lord said of him: For he is a murderer from the beginning, and the truth is not in him. (Vol. 1, 551-552). Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata or Miscellanies

DAVID W. HALL Primal Day, our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of light, in which, all things are viewed and possessed. From this day the first wisdom and knowledge illuminate us. For the light of trutha light true, casting no shadow, is the Spirit of God indivisibly divided to all, who are sanctified by faith, holding the place of a luminary, in order to the knowledge of real existences. By following Him, therefore, through our whole life, we become impassible; and this is to rest. Wherefore Solomon also says, that before heaven, and earth, and all existences, Wisdom had arisen in the Almighty; the participation of whichthat which is by power, I mean, not that by essenceteaches a man to know by apprehension things divine and human. Having reached this point, we must mention these things by the way; since the discourse has turned on the seventh and the eighth. For the eighth may possibly turn out to be properly the seventh, and the seventh manifestly the sixth, and the latter properly the Sabbath, and the seventh a day of work. For the creation of the world was concluded in six days. For the motion of the sun from solstice to solstice is completed in six monthsin the course of which, at one time the leaves fall, and at another plants bud and seeds come to maturity. And they say that the embryo is perfected exactly in the sixth month, that is, in one hundred and eighty days in addition to the two and a half, as Polybus the physician relates in his book On the Eighth Month, and Aristotle the philosopher in his book On Nature. Hence the Pythagoreans, as I think, reckon six the perfect number, from the creation of the world, according to the prophet . . . from its being the middle of the even numbers, that is, of ten and two. For it is manifestly at an equal distance from both. And as marriage generates from male and female, so six is generated from the odd number three, which is called the masculine number, and the even number two, which is considered the feminine. For twice three are six. Such, again, is the number of the most general motions, according to which all origination takes placeup, down, to the right, to the left, forward, backward. Rightly, then, they reckon the number seven motherless and childless, interpreting the Sabbath, and figuratively expressing the nature of the rest, in which they neither marry nor are given in marriage any more. For neither by taking from one number and adding to another of those within ten is seven produced; nor when added to any number within the ten does it make up any of them.

The Fourth Commandment

And the fourth word is that which intimates that the world was created by God, and that He gave us the seventh day as a rest, on account of the trouble that there is in life. For God is incapable of weariness, and suffering, and want. But we who bear flesh need rest. The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a restabstraction from illspreparing for the

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION And they called eight a cube, counting the fixed sphere along with the seven revolving ones, by which is produced the great year, as a kind of period of recompense of what has been promised. Thus the Lord, who ascended the mountain, the fourth, becomes the sixth, and is illuminated all round with spiritual light, by laying bare the power proceeding from Him, as far as those selected to see were able to behold it, by the Seventh, the Voice, proclaimed to be the Son of God; in order that they, persuaded respecting Him, might have rest; while He by His birth, which was indicated by the sixth conspicuously marked, becoming the eighth, might appear to be God in a body of flesh, by displaying His power, being numbered indeed as a man, but being concealed as to who He was. For six is reckoned in the order of numbers, but the succession of the letters acknowledges the character which is not written. In this case, in the numbers themselves, each unit is preserved in its order up to seven and eight. But in the number of the characters, Zeta becomes six and Eta seven. And the character having somehow slipped into writing, should we follow it out thus, the seven became six, and the eight seven. Wherefore also man is said to have been made on the sixth day, who became faithful to Him who is the sign (to episemo), so as straightway to receive the rest of the Lords inheritance. Some such thing also is indicated by the sixth hour in the scheme of salvation, in which man was perfected. Further, of the eight, the intermediates are seven; and of the seven, the intervals are shown to be six. For that is another ground, in which seven glorifies eight, and the heavens declare to the heavens the glory of God. The sensible types of these, then, are the sounds we pronounce. Thus the Lord Himself is called Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, by whom all things were made, and without whom not even one thing was made. Gods resting is not, then, as some conceive, that God ceased from doing. For, being good, if He should ever cease from doing good, then would He cease from being God, which it is sacrilege even to say. The resting is, therefore, the ordering that the order of created things should be preserved inviolate, and that each of the creatures should cease from the ancient disorder. For the creations on the different days followed in a most important succession; so that all things brought into existence might have honour from priority, created together in thought, but not being of equal worth. Nor was the creation of each signified by the voice, inasmuch as the creative work is said to have made them at once. For something must needs have been named first. Wherefore those

DAVID W. HALL For something must needs have been named first. Wherefore those things were announced first, from which came those that were second, all things being originated together from one essence by one power. For the will of God was one, in one identity. And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist. And now the whole world of creatures born alive, and things that grow, revolves in sevens. The first-born princes of the angels, who have the greatest power, are seven. The mathematicians also say that the planets, which perform their course around the earth, are seven; by which the Chaldeans think that all which concerns mortal life is effected through sympathy, in consequence of which they also undertake to tell things respecting the future. And of the fixed stars, the Pleiades are seven. And the Bears, by the help of which agriculture and navigation are carried through, consist of seven stars. And in periods of seven days the moon undergoes its changes. In the first week she becomes half moon; in the second, full moon; and in the third, in her wane, again half moon; and in the fourth she disappears. Further, as Seleucus the mathematician lays down, she has seven phases. First, from being invisible she becomes crescentshaped, then half moon, then gibbous and full; and in her wane again gibbous, and in like manner half moon and crescent-shaped. On a seven-stringed lyre we shall sing new hymns, writes a poet of note, teaching us that the ancient lyre was seven-toned. The organs of the senses situated on our face are also seventwo eyes, two passages of hearing, two nostrils, and the seventh the mouth. And that the changes in the periods of life take place by sevens, the Elegies of Solon teach thus:
The child, while still an infant, in seven years, Produces and puts forth its fence of teeth; And when God seven years more completes, He shows of pubertys approach the signs; And in the third, the beard on growing cheek With down oerspreads the bloom of changing skin; And in the fourth septenniad, at his best In strength, of manliness he shows the signs; And in the fifth, of marriage, now mature, And of posterity, the man bethinks; Nor does he yet desire vain works to see. The seventh and eighth septenniads see him now 29


In mind and speech mature, till fifty years; And in the ninth he still has vigour left, But strength and body are for virtue great Less than of yore; when, seven years more, God brings To end, then not too soon ma he submit to die.

DAVID W. HALL struct to the knowledge of the truth, know the beginning and the end of the world, respecting which we will now speak in the end of our work, since we have explained respecting the beginning in the second book. Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed, and that when this number is completed the consummation must take place, and the condition of human affairs be remodeled for the better, the proof of which must first be related, that the matter itself may be plain. God completed the world and this admirable work of nature in the space of six days (italics added), as is contained in the secrets of Holy Scripture, and consecrated the seventh day, on which He had rested from His works. But this is the Sabbath-day, which in the language of the Hebrews received its name from the number, whence the seventh is the legitimate and complete number. For there are seven days, by the revolutions of which in order the circles of years are made up; and there are seven stars which do not set, and seven luminaries which are called planets, whose differing and unequal movements are believed to cause the varieties of circumstances and times. Therefore, since all the works of God were completed in six days, the world must continue in its present state through six ages, that is, six thousand years. For the great day of God is limited by a circle of a thousand years, as the prophet shows, who says, In Thy sight, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day. And as God laboured during those six days in creating such great works, so His religion and truth must labour during these six thousand years, while wickedness prevails and bears rule. And again, since God, having finished His works, rested the seventh day and blessed it, at the end of the six thousandth year all wickedness must be abolished from the earth, and righteousness reign for a thousand years; and there must be tranquility and rest from the labours which the world now has long endured. But how that will come to pass I will explain in its order. We have often said that lesser things and things of small importance are figures and previous shadowings forth of great things; as this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great day to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits. In the same manner also the fashioning of the earthly man held forth to the future the formation of the heavenly people. For as, when all things were completed which were contrived for the use of man, last of all, on the sixth day, He made man also, and introduced him into this

Again, in diseases the seventh day is that of the crisis; and the fourteenth, in which nature struggles against the causes of the diseases. And a myriad such instances are adduced by Hermippus of Berytus, in his book On the Number Seven, regarding it as holy. And the blessed David delivers clearly to those who know the mystic account of seven and eight, praising thus: Our years were exercised like a spider. The days of our years in them are seventy years; but if in strength, eighty years. And that will be to reign. That, then, we may be taught that the world was originated, and not suppose that God made it in time, prophecy adds: This is the book of the generation: also of the things in them, when they were created in the day that God made heaven and earth. For the expression when they were created intimates an indefinite and dateless production. But the expression in the day that God made, that is, in and by which God made all things, and without which not even one thing was made, points out the activity exerted by the Son. As David says, This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice in it; that is, in consequence of the knowledge imparted by Him, let us celebrate the divine festival; for the Word that throws light on things hidden, and by whom each created thing came into life and being, is called day. And, in fine, the Decalogue, by the letter Iota, signifies the blessed name, presenting Jesus, who is the Word. (Vol. 2, 512-514) Lactantius, The Divine Institutes Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed; and in this they perhaps followed the Chaldeans, who, as Cicero has related in his first book respecting divination, foolishly say that they possess comprised in their memorials four hundred and seventy thousand years; in which mater, because they thought that they could not be convicted, they believed that they were at liberty to speak falsely. But we, whom the Holy Scriptures in30

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION world as into a home now carefully prepared; so now on the great sixth day the true man is being formed by the word of God, that is, a holy people is fashioned for righteousness by the doctrine and precepts of God. And as then a mortal and imperfect man was formed from the earth, that he might live a thousand years in this world; so now from this earthly age is formed a perfect man, that being quickened by God, he may bear rule in this same world through a thousand years. But in what manner the consummation will take place, and what end awaits the affairs of men, if any one shall examine the divine writings he will ascertain. But the voices also of prophets of the world, agreeing with the heavenly, announce the end and overthrow of all things after a short time, describing as it were the last old age of the wearied and wasting world. But the things which are said by prophets and seers to be about to happen before that last ending comes upon the world, I will subjoin, being collected and accumulated from all quarters. (Vol. 7, 211-212) Lactantius, On The Creation Of The World To me, as I meditate and consider in my mind concerning the creation of this world in which we are kept enclosed, even such is the rapidity of that creation; as is contained in the book of Moses, which he wrote about its creation, and which is called Genesis. God produced that entire mass for the adornment of His majesty in six days; on the seventh to which He consecrated it . . . with a blessing. For this reason, therefore, because in the septenary number of days both heavenly and earthly things are ordered, in place of the beginning I will consider of this seventh day after the principle of all matters pertaining to the number of seven; and as far as I shall be able, I will endeavour to portray the day of the divine power to that consummation. In the beginning God made the light, and divided it in the exact measure of twelve hours by day and by night, for this reason, doubtless, that day might bring over the night as an occasion of rest for mens labours; that, again, day might overcome, and thus that labour might be refreshed with this alternate change of rest, and that repose again might be tempered by the exercise of day. On the fourth day He made two lights in the heaven, the greater and the lesser, that the one might rule over the day, the other over the night,the lights of the sun and moon; and He placed the rest of the stars in the heaven, that they might shine upon the

DAVID W. HALL earth, and by their positions distinguish the seasons, and years, and months, and days, and hours. Now is manifested the reason of the truth why the fourth day is called the Tetras, why we fast even to the ninth hour, or even to the evening, or why there should be a passing over even to the next day. Therefore this world of ours is composed of four elementsfire, water, heaven, earth. These four elements, therefore, form the quaternion of times or seasons. The sun, also, and the moon constitute throughout the space of the year four seasonsof spring, summer, autumn, winter; and these seasons make a quaternion. And to proceed further still from that principle, lo, there are four living creatures before Gods throne, four Gospels, four rivers flowing in paradise; four generations of people from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Christ the Lord, the Son of God; and four living creatures, viz., a man, a calf, a lion, an eagle; and four rivers, the Pison, the Gihon, the Tigris, and the Euphrates. The man Christ Jesus, the originator of these things whereof we have above spoken, was taken prisoner by wicked hands, by a quaternion of soldiers. Therefore on account of His captivity by a quaternion, on account of the majesty of His works,that the seasons also, wholesome to humanity, joyful for the harvests, tranquil for the tempests, may roll on,therefore we make the fourth day a station or a supernumerary fast. On the fifth day the land and water brought forth their progenies. On the sixth day the things that were wanting were created; and thus God raised up man from the soil, as lord of all the things which He created upon the earth and the water. Yet He created angels and archangels before He created man, placing spiritual beings before earthly ones. For light was made before sky and the earth. This sixth day is called parasceve, that is to say, the preparation of the kingdom. For He perfected Adam, whom He made after His image and likeness. But for this reason He completed His works before He created angels and fashioned man, lest perchance they should falsely assert that they had been His helpers. On this day also, on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God, or a fast. On the seventh day He rested from all His works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lords day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews, which Christ Himself, the Lord of the Sabbath, says by His proph33


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION ets that His soul hateth; which Sabbath He in His body abolished, although, nevertheless, He had formerly Himself commanded Moses that circumcision should not pass over the eighth day, which day very frequently happens on the Sabbath, as we read written in the Gospel. Moses, foreseeing the hardness of that people, on the Sabbath raised up his hands, therefore, and thus figuratively fastened himself to a cross. And in the battle they were sought for by the foreigners on the Sabbathday, that they might be taken captive, and, as if by the very strictness of the law, might be fashioned to the avoidance of its teaching. And thus in the sixth Psalm for the eighth day, David asks the Lord that He would not rebuke him in His anger, nor judge him in His fury; for this is indeed the eighth day of that future judgment, which will pass beyond the order of the sevenfold arrangement. Jesus [ed., Joshua] also, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses, himself broke the Sabbath-day; for on the Sabbath-day he commanded the children of Israel to go round the walls of the city of Jericho with trumpets, and declare war against the aliens. Matthias also, prince of Judah, broke the Sabbath; for he slew the prefect of Antiochus the king of Syria on the Sabbath, and subdued the foreigners by pursuing them. And in Matthew we read, that it is written Isaiah also and the rest of his colleagues broke the Sabbaththat true and just Sabbath should be observed in the seventh millenary of years. Wherefore to those seven days the Lord attributed to each a thousand years; for thus went the warning: In Thine eyes, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day. Therefore in the eyes of the Lord each thousand of years is ordained, for I find that the Lords eyes are seven. Wherefore, as I have narrated, that true Sabbath will be in the seventh millenary of years, when Christ with His elect shall reign. Moreover, the seven heavens agree with those days; for thus we are warned: By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the powers of them by the spirit of His mouth. There are seven spirits. Their names are the spirits which abode on the Christ of God, as was intimated in Isaiah the prophet: And there rests upon Him the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of wisdom and of piety, and the spirit of Gods fear hath filled Him. Therefore the highest heaven is the heaven of wisdom; the second, of understanding; the third, of counsel; the fourth, of might; the fifth, of knowledge; the sixth, of piety; the seventh, of Gods fear. From this, therefore, the thunders bellow, the lightnings are kindled, the fires are heaped together; fiery darts appear, stars gleam, the anxiety caused by the dreadful comet is aroused. Sometimes it hap34

DAVID W. HALL pens that the sun and moon approach one another, and cause those more than frightful appearances, radiating with light in the field of their aspect. But the author of the whole creation is Jesus. His name is the Word; for thus His Father says: My heart hath emitted a good word. John the evangelist thus says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made that was made. Therefore, first, was made the creation; secondly, man, the lord of the human race, as says the apostle. Therefore this Word, when it made light, is called Wisdom; when it made the sky, Understanding; when it made land and sea, Counsel; when it made sun and moon and other bright things, Power; when it calls forth land and sea, Knowledge; when it formed man, Piety; when it blesses and sanctifies man, it has the name of Gods fear. Behold the seven horns of the Lamb, the seven eyes of Godthe seven eyes are the seven spirits of the Lamb; seven torches burning before the throne of God seven golden candlesticks, seven young sheep, the seven women in Isaiah, the seven churches in Paul, seven deacons, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven seals to the book, seven periods of seven days with which Pentecost is completed, the seven weeks in Daniel, also the forty-three weeks in Daniel; with Noah, seven of all clean things in the ark; seven revenges of Cain, seven years for a debt to be acquitted, the lamp with seven orifices, seven pillars of wisdom in the house of Solomon. Now, therefore, you may see that it is being told you of the unerring glory of God in providence; yet, as far as my small capacity shall be able, I will endeavour to set it forth. That He might re-create that Adam by means of the week, and bring aid to His entire creation, was accomplished by the nativity of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Who, then, that is taught in the law of God, who that is filled with the Holy Spirit, does not see in his heart, that on the same day on which the dragon seduced Eve, the angel Gabriel brought the glad tidings to the Virgin Mary; that on the same day the Holy Spirit overflowed the Virgin Mary, on which He made light; that on that day He was incarnate in flesh, in which He made the land and water; that on the same day He was put to the breast, on which He made the stars; that on the same day He was circumcised, on which the land and water brought forth their offspring; that on the same day He was incarnated, on which He formed man out of the ground; that on the same day Christ was born, on which He formed man;

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION that on that day He suffered, on which Adam fell; that on the same day He rose again from the dead, on which He created light? He, moreover, consummates His humanity in the number seven: of His nativity, His infancy, His boyhood, His youth, His young manhood, His mature age, His death. I have also set forth His humanity to the Jews in these manners: since He is hungry, is thirsty; since He gave food and drink; since He walks, and retired; since He slept upon a pillow; since, moreover, He walks upon the stormy seas with His feet, He commands the winds, He cures the sick and restores the lame, He raises the blind by His speech, see ye that He declares Himself to them to be the Lord. The day, as I have above related, is divided into two parts by the number twelveby the twelve hours of day and night; and by these hours too, months, and years, and seasons, and ages are computed. Therefore, doubtless, there are appointed also twelve angels of the day and twelve angels of the night, in accordance, to wit, with the number of hours. For these are the twenty-four witnesses of the days and nights which sit before the throne of God, having golden crowns on their heads, whom the Apocalypse of John the apostle and evangelist calls elders, for the reason that they are older both than the other angels and than men. (Vol. 7, 341-343) Basil, The Hexameron Gen. 1:8. And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. Since the birth of the sun, the light that it diffuses in the air, when shining on our hemisphere, is day; and the shadow produced by its disappearance is night. But at that time it was not after the movement of the sun, but following this primitive light spread abroad in the air or withdrawn in a measure determined by God, that day came and was followed by night. And the evening and the morning were for first day. Evening is then the boundary common to day and night; and in the same way morning constitutes the approach of night to day. It was to give day the privileges of seniority that Scripture put the end of the first day before that of the first night, because night follows day: for, before the creation of light, the world was not in night, but in darkness. It is the opposite of day which was called night, and it did not receive its name until after day. Thus were created the evening and the morning. Scripture means the space of a day and a night, but calls them both under the name of the

DAVID W. HALL more important: a custom which you will find throughout Scripture. Everywhere the measure of time is counted by days, without mention of nights. The days of our years, says the Psalmist. Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, said Jacob, and elsewhere all the days of my life. Thus under the form of history the law is laid down for what is to follow. And the evening and the morning were one day. Why does Scripture say one day not the first day? Before speaking to us of the second, the third, and the fourth days, would it not have been more natural to call that one the first which began the series? If it therefore says one day, it is from a wish to determine the measure of day and night, and to combine the time that they contain. Now twenty-four hours fill up the space of one daywe mean of a day and of a night; and if, at the time of the solstices, they have not both an equal length, the time marked by Scripture does not the less circumscribe their duration. It is as though it said: twenty-four hours measure the space of a day, or that, in reality a day is the time that the heavens starting from one point take to return there. Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun, evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never exceeds the space of one day. But must we believe in a mysterious reason for this? God who made the nature of time measured it out and determined it by intervals of days; and, wishing to give it a week as a measure, he ordered the week to revolve from period to period upon itself, to count the movement of time, forming the week of one day revolving seven times upon itself: a proper circle begins and ends with itself. Such is also the character of eternity, to revolve upon itself and to end nowhere. If then the beginning of time is called one day rather than the first day, it is because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity. It was, in reality, fit and natural to call one the day whose character is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all the others. If Scripture speaks to us of many ages, saying everywhere, age of age, and ages of ages, we do not see it enumerate them as first, second, and third. It follows that we are hereby shown not so much limits, ends and succession of ages, as distinctions between various states and modes of action. The day of the Lord, Scripture says, is great and very terrible, and elsewhere Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord: to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not light. A day of darkness for those who are worthy of darkness. No; this day without evening, without succession,

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION and without end is not unknown to Scripture, and it is the day that the Psalmist calls the eighth day, because it is outside this time of weeks. Thus whether you call it day, or whether you call it eternity, you express the same idea. Give this state the name of day; there are not several, but only one. If you call it eternity still it is unique and not manifold. Thus it is in order that you may carry your thoughts forward towards a future life, that Scripture marks by the word one the day which is the type of eternity, the first fruits of days, the contemporary of light, the holy Lords day, honoured by the Resurrection of our Lord. And the evening and the morning were one day. (Vol. 8, 64-65) Methodius The Banquet of the Ten Virgins; or Concerning Chastity, Discourse 1 (Marcella); Chapter 1: The Difficulty and Excellence of Virginity: The Study of Doctrine Necessary for Virgins . . . Discourse 2 (Theophila); Chapter 1: Marriage Not Abolished by the Commendation of Virginity: . . . Let us begin with Genesis, that we may give its place of antiquity and supremacy to this scripture. Now the sentence and ordinance of God respecting the begetting of children is confessedly being fulfilled to this day, the Creator still fashioning man. For this is quite manifest, that God, like a painter, is at this very time working at the world, as the Lord also taught, My Father worketh hitherto. But when the rivers shall cease to flow and fall into the reservoir of the sea, and the light shall be perfectly separated from the darkness,for the separation is still going on,and the dry land shall henceforth cease to bring forth its fruits with creeping things and four-footed beasts, and the predestined number of men shall be fulfilled; then from henceforth shall men abstain from the generation of children. But at present man must cooperate in the forming of the image of God, while the world exists and is still being formed; for it is said, Increase and multiply. And we must not be offended at the ordinance of the Creator, from which, moreover, we ourselves have our being. For the casting of seed into the furrows of the matrix is the beginning of the generation of men, so that bone taken from bone, and flesh from flesh, by an invisible power, are fashioned into another man. And in this way we must consider that the saying is fulfilled, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. . . . Chap. 2: Generation Something akin to the First Formation of Eden from the side and nature of Adam, the Creator of men in ordinary generation.

DAVID W. HALL Wherefore, if God still forms man, shall we not be guilty of audacity if we think of the generation of children as something offensive, which the Almighty Himself is not ashamed to make use of in working with His undefiled hands. . . . [Note: Hugh Ross claims that this text supports an old universe. Perhaps, it was something in Discourse 2 that Ross was trying to cite, with respect to creation not being complete (and therefore taking a lot longer than 6 days). It is also very clear from the context that Methodius had something different in mind than Ross meant if this is in fact what Ross was citing. Of at least as much interest, one might also consult the following from the same work:] Discourse 7 (Procilla); Chapter 5: The Sixty Queens: Why Sixty, and Why Queens; The Excellence of the Saints of the First Age. In addition to these matters, there is this also to be considered, so that nothing may escape us of things which are necessary, why He said that the queens were sixty, and the concubines eighty, and the virgins so numerous as not to be counted from their multitude, but the spouse one. And first let us speak of the sixty. I imagine that He named under the sixty queens, those who had pleased God from the first-made man in succession to Noah, for this reason, since these had no need of precepts and laws for their salvation, the creation of the world in six days being still recent. For they remembered that in six days God formed the creation, and those things which were made in paradise; and how man, receiving a command not to touch the tree of knowledge, ran aground, the author of evil having led him astray. Thence he gave the symbolical name of sixty queens to those souls who, from the creation of the world, in succession chose God as the object of their love, and were almost, so to speak, the offspring of the first age, and neighbors of the great six days work, from their having been born, as I said, immediately after the six days. For these had great honor, being associated with the angels, and often seeing God manifested visibly, and not in a dream. For consider what confidence Seth had towards God, and Abel, and Enos, and Enoch, and Methuselah, and Noah, the first lovers of righteousness, and the first of the first-born children who are written in heaven, being thought worthy of the kingdom, as a kind of first-fruits of the plants for salvation, coming out as early fruit to God. And so much may suffice concerning these.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Discourse 8 (Thekla): Chapter 11: The Woman with the Male Child in the Wilderness the Church; The Wilderness belongs to Virgins and Saints; The Perfection of Numbers and Mysteries; The Equality and Perfection of the Number Six; The Number Six Related to Christ; From this Number, too, the Creation and Harmony of the World Completed [last paragraph only] . . . it is evident that the creation of the world was accomplished in har-mony with this number, God having made heaven and earth, and the things which are in them, in six days; the word of creative power containing the number six, in accordance with which the Trinity is the maker of bodies. For length, and breadth, and depth make up a body. And the number six is composed of triangles. On these subjects, however, there is not sufficient time at present to enlarge with accuracy, for fear of letting the main subject slip, in considering that which is secondary. Discourse 9 (Tusiane); Chapter 1: Chastity the Chief Ornament of the True Tabernacle; Seven Days Appointed to the Jews for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles; What they Signify; The Sum of this Septenary Uncertain; Not clear to any one when the Consummation of the World Will be; Even Now the Fabric of the World Completed [paragraphs 3-4] Here the Jews, fluttering about the bare letter of Scripture, like drones about the leaves of herbs, but not about flowers and fruits as the bee, fully believe that these words and ordinances were spoken concerning such a tabernacle as they erect; as if God delighted in those trivial adornments which they, preparing, fabricate from trees, not perceiving the wealth of good things to come; whereas these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble creation, the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation. For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the Lord, which signifies that, when this world shall be terminated at the seventh thousand years, when God shall have completed the world, He shall rejoice in us.

DAVID W. HALL For now to this time all things are created by His all-sufficient will and inconceivable power; the earth still yielding its fruits, and the waters being gathered together in their receptacles; and the light still severed from darkness, and the allotted number of men not yet being complete; and the sun arising to rule the day, and the moon the night; and four-footed creatures, and beasts, and creeping things arising from the earth, and winged creatures, and creatures that swim, from the water. Then, when the appointed times shall have been accomplished, and God shall have ceased to form this creation, in the seventh month, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord, of which the things said in Leviticus are symbols and figures, which things, carefully investigating, we should consider the naked truth itself, for He saith, A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words Of the wise, and their dark sayings. Methodius: Extracts from the Work On Things Created. VIII. The saint says that the Book of Job is by Moses. He says, concerning the words, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, that one will not err who says that the Beginning is Wisdom. For Wisdom is said by one of the Divine band to speak in this manner concerning herself: The Lord created me the beginning of His ways for His works: of old He laid my formulation. It was fitting and more seemly that all things which came into existence, should be more recent than Wisdom, since they existed through her. Now consider whether the saying: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God; whether these statements be not in agreement with those. For we must say that the Beginning, out of which the most upright Word came forth, is the Father and Maker of all things, in whom it was. And the words, The same was in the beginning with God, seem to indicate the position of authority of the Word, which He had with the Father before the world came into existence; beginning signifying His power. And so, after the peculiar unbeginning beginning, who is the Father, He is the beginning of other things, by whom all things are made. IX. He says that Origen, after having fabled many things concerning the eternity of the universe, adds this also: Nor yet from Adam, as some say, did man, previously not existing, first take his existence and come

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION into the world. Nor again did the world begin to be made six days before the creation of Adam. But if any one should prefer to differ in these points, let him first say, whether a period of time be not easily reckoned from the creation of the world, according to the Book of Moses, to those who so receive it, the voice of prophecy here proclaiming: Thou art God from everlasting, and world without end. . . . For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday: seeing that is past as a watch in the night. For when a thousand years are reckoned as one day in the sight of God, and from the creation of the world to His rest is six days, so also to our time, six days are defined, as those say who are clever arithmeticians. Therefore, they say that an age of six thousand years extends from Adam to our time. For they say that the judgment will come on the seventh day, that is in the seventh thousand years. Therefore, all the days from our time to that which was in the beginning, in which God created the heaven and the earth, are computed to be thirteen days; before which God, because he had as yet created nothing according to their folly, is stripped of His name of Father and Almighty. But if there are thirteen days in the sight of God from the creation of the world, how can Wisdom say, in the Book of the Son of Sirach: Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity? This is what Origen says seriously, and mark how he trifles. ********** From this study of the patristics, it becomes obvious that the modern revisionists cannot find true support in these ancient writings. Nor did the early medieval theologians hold to the creative views suggested by some today. Augustine, Anselm, Lombard, and Aquinas are frequently alleged to have supported long days. John Collins confirms, however, that: Augustine and Anselm do not actually discuss the length of the creation days. . . . Certainly Augustine and Anselm cannot be called as witnesses in favor of a day-age theory.49 Augustine having been discussed above, Anselm rarely drawn upon for this issue, and Lombard noted below,50 suffice it to say that neither did Aquinas consistently nor explicitly hold to long days.51 Aquinas (1224-1274) believed: The words one day are used when day is first instituted, to denote that one day is made up of
Collins, op. cit., 113-114. Shedds citation of Lombard (Dogmatic Theology, 475) likely should be surrendered in light of the recent study and conclusions of Marcia Colish (infra). 51 Collins admits that Hugh Rosss claim that Aquinas held to long days is mistaken, even though in other ways Aquinas did follow Augustine (op. cit., 125-126).
50 49

DAVID W. HALL twenty-four hours.52 Moreover, he commented elsewhere: But it [cosmos] was not made from something; otherwise the matter of the world would have preceded the world . . . Therefore, it must be said that the world was made from nothing.53 Later, one of the greatest medieval theologians, Peter Lombard, continued the analogy of faith on the subject of creation. Lombard, along with other contemporaries, recognized creation ex nihilo, Adam and Eves special creation, and affirmed that the Catholic faith believes that there was one principle, one cause of all things, namely God.54 Moreover, Lombard affirmed the essentially hexameral plan of creation, taking a clear position that God: creates the angels and the unformed matter simul and ex nihilo. Then, in the work of six days, he produces individual creatures out of the unformed matter . . . The days referred to in Genesis are to be understood literally as lasting twenty-four hours.55 If one retains a proper understanding of the philosophical audiences and contexts of the great theologians prior to the Reformation, one discovers that a majority of orthodox commentators did not explicitly hold to long days, gradual development, or an old earth as is frequently claimed.56 The first part of the hypothesis (Pre-Darwin evangelicals before the Reformation held to views of creation compatible with post-Darwinian constructions.) is decisively falsified. The next chapter tests the same hypothesis during and after the Reformation.
52 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1921), Q. 74, art. 3, 274. 53 St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., Q. 46, art. 2, 248-249. 54 Marcia Colish, Peter Lombard (Leyden: E. J. Brill, 1994), vol. 1, 330-331. 55 Ibid., 337, 340-341. Marcia Colish, a leading historian of medieval theology summarizes Lombards ideas as follows: According to Peter, God and God alone is the cause of creation ex nihilo. He rejects the idea of exemplary causes, however understood, along with preexistent matter. Further, he sees God as such as doing the whole work of creation . . . God cannot be equated with the forces of nature he creates . . . In all these respects, God transcends the world he creates. (Ibid.) 56 In an appendix, David Kelsey collects a number of earlier opinions on the subject. Cf. his The Doctrine of Creation from Nothing, Ernan McMullin ed., Evolution and Creation (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985), 192-195. He cites, among others, Anselm as affirming creation ex nihilo; the Fourth Lateran Council (1215): Firmly we . . . confess . . . the true God . . . who by his own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing . . .; and The Council of Florence (1441): God . . . is the creator of all things visible and invisible, who, when he wished, out of his goodness created all creatures, spiritual as well as corporal; good, indeed . . . since they were from nothing . . .





Chapter 4

Calvin and the Reformers

One of the claims that forced my attention to this matter was the assertion (e. g., by Howard Van Till) that Calvin held to notions that were quite compatible with the discoveries of modern science. I found that to be as equally untrue as the distorted record of the patristics on this subject. John Calvin (1509-1564) had a quite consistent view of creation, speaking of it as a mirror through which the invisible God makes himself visible. He was quick to affirm: God, by speaking, was Creator of the universe.57 Moreover, Calvin agreed: Indeed, the testimony of Moses in the history of creation is very clear that God created out of formless matter.58 Rather than advocating continuous creation as a reconciling motif, Calvin noted that, we are drawn away from all fictions to the one God who distributed his work into six days that we might not find it irksome to occupy our whole life in contemplating it.59 He repeatedly and consistently referred to Moses as a sure witness and herald of the one

57 John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, J. T. McNeill, ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 1.13.7. Citations to The Institutes are from this McNeill edition and are referenced by book, chapter, and section, e. g., 1.5.5 refers to Book 1, chapter 5, section 5. 58 The Institutes, 1.13.14. 59 The Institutes, 1.14.2.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION God, the Creator.60 Calvin also wrote: [C]reation is not inpouring, but the beginning of essence out of nothing.61 In his major discussion of creation, Calvin began by stating agreement with earlier orthodox treatments of this subject by Basil and Ambrose (see above). Summarizing the first history of the creation of the universe, as it has been set forth briefly by Moses, Calvin noted:
From this history we shall learn that God by the power of his Word and Spirit created heaven and earth out of nothing; that thereupon he brought forth living beings and inanimate things of every kind, that in a wonderful series he distinguished an innumerable variety of things, that he endowed each kind with its own nature, assigned functions, appointed places and stations.62

DAVID W. HALL Commenting on the fifth day of creation, Calvin observed that even Gods shaping of new life from that which does exist is praiseworthy: Therefore, there is in this respect a miracle as great as if God had begun to create out of nothing those things which he commanded to proceed from the earth. And he does not take his material from the earth, because he needed it, but that he might the better combine the separate parts of the world with the universe itself.65 Calvin did not preclude that God created out of existing elements; rather he was constrained to praise God for any and every mode of creation. However, praise for creation out of something in no way was intended to denigrate creation ex nihilo. Calvin commented on Hebrews 11:3: For they who have faith do not entertain a slight opinion as to God being the Creator of the world, but they have a deep conviction fixed in their minds and behold the true God. And further, they understand the power of his word, not only as manifested instantaneously in creating the world, but also as put forth continually in its preservation.66 On this passage, he had noted earlier that even infidels acknowledge creation.67 On Isaiah 40:22, Calvin observed: Formerly he spoke of the creation of the world, but now he comes to the continual government of it; for God did not only for a single moment exert his power for creating the world, but he manifests his power not less efficaciously in preserving it. And this is worthy of observation; for our minds would be little impressed by knowing that God is the creator of the world, if his hand were not continually stretched out for upholding it in existence. Once again, in context, it is seen that Calvinfar from minimizing momentary creationextolled it; but also urged upon the sanctified mind the importance of continually knowing God and his governance. Interestingly, had Calvin wanted to lobby for long days, two ideal verses presented themselves: Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8. Oddly, while commenting on both of them, Calvin refrained from injecting the idea that the first days of creation could be as long as millennia. The exegesis, which has become so common, was avoided by earlier exegetes. These verses were not interpreted to satisfy certain scientific theories; rather they were interpreted simply to mean that God is above time. All in all,
Ibid., 90. John Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 264-265. 67 Ibid.
66 65

The aim of his discussion was practical knowledge, i. e., to have the believer not merely know the truths about creation but also to be led to praise of the Creator. God is so powerful that, far from six days being too short a span of time to create all the beauty around us, Calvin averred: For it is not without significance that he divided the making of the universe into six days, even though it would have been no more difficult for him to have completed in one moment the whole work together in all its details than to arrive at its completion gradually by a progression of this sort.63 In fine, The Institutes do not proffer a doctrine of progressive or theistic evolution nor creation from already existing matter. Calvins view may be confirmed from a perusal of key verses from his Commentaries. On Genesis 1:1, the Genevan reformer expounded:
When God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth, the earth was empty and waste. He moreover teaches by the word created, that what before did not exist was not made . . . Therefore his meaning is, that the world was made out of nothing. Hence the folly of those is refuted who imagine that unformed matter existed from eternity; and who gather nothing else from the narration of Moses than that the world was furnished with new ornaments, and received a form of which it was before destitute.64
60 61

Ibid. The Institutes, 1.15.5. 62 The Institutes, 1.14.20. 63 The Institutes, 1.14.22. 64 John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 1:70.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Calvin presents a rather consistent view on this subject, and it is antithetical to the modern attempts to recraft it after their own image.68 Martin Luthers view is largely uncontested, so explicit is it.69 Numerous other citations could be assembled, but interestingly Luther is rarely misappropriated. It deserves to be stated, however, that the frequent omission of reference to Luther (and others) illustrates the selectivity of sources drawn upon. A search for the mainstream of orthodox interpretation on this subject should not omit Luther, even if he mitigates the propositions ardently maintained by modern revisionists. These claims that ancient Christians believed in anything less than a strong view of special creation are akin to other revisionist efforts. Upon scrutiny, the claim is found to be indefensible, relatively recent, and more a function of accommodating ideology than historical accuracy. If the scientific method (hypothesis, experimentation, conclusion) is applied to the hypothesis: Pre-Darwinian theologians admitted the possibility of a long period for creation, then such hypothesis is falsified by these experiments. Prior to Darwin, evangelicals did not recognize creation as occurring apart from the direct involvement of God intervening in space and time to initiate the cosmos. Robert Bishop concurs: Neither the original audience of that book [Genesis] nor anyone else until about two hundred years ago would have understood a geological era to be a meaningful concept.70 There is scant evidence, if any, that prior to the nineteenth century any view of creation that accorded with macro-evolution was anything but aberrant.71
His disciple, Theodore Beza, also affirmed that Hebrews 11:3 taught creation ex nihilo. Moreover, Beza explained: Mundum conditum ex nihilo: nemo potest compraehendere, quod ex eo quod non est fiat id quod est. (The world is formed ex nihilo. We are not able to comprehend how from this which is not made, is that which is [made].) Cf. Theodore de Beze, Cours Sur les Epitres aux Romains et aux Hebreaux (1564-1566) in Travaux dHumanism et Renaissance (Geneva: Librarie Droz, 1988), vol. 226, 311. Further, in his Confession de Foi du Chretien (1558), Beza affirmed that God the Father has created all out of nothing (2.2), and We believe that he has not only created the visible world, the heaven and the earth and all that they contain, but also invisible spirits. (2.3; Cf. the English translation, The Christian Faith by James Clark (East Sussex: Christian Focus Ministries Trust, 1992), 3. 69 Cf. e.g., Martin Luther, Luthers Works, vol. 17 (Concordia: St. Louis, 1972), 29, 118. 70 Robert C. Bishop, Science and Theology: A Methodological Comparison in Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, vol. v, no. 1/2 (1993), 155. 71 Similarly, C. S. Lewis noted that many ancient scientists knew many of the concepts that are considered quite modern. However, a historical discrimination often occurs, as Lewis noted: Here is a simple historical falsehood. Ptolemy (Almagest, bk. I, ch. v)

DAVID W. HALL The point deserves stating: Apologists ought be leery of surrendering aspects of historic orthodoxy if for no other reason than yielding obeisance to current scientific theories. A vigilant apologetic, one based on sound principles, will not be so culture-accommodating. It will be less trusting of the human mind unaided by revelation and more suspect of the noetic effects of sin. It will also be an apologetic that guards against strategic concessions, especially those which claim to reinterpret history. This earlier apologetic was less accommodationistic than the postDarwinian one.72 Perhaps we should let the scientist, Isaac Newton, have
knew just as well as Eddington that the earth was infinitesimal in comparison with the whole content of space. There is not question here of knowledge having grown until the frame of archaic thought is no longer able to contain it. The real question is why the spatial insignificance of the earth, after being known for centuries, should suddenly in the last century have become an argument against Christianity. I do not know why this has happened; but I am sure it does not mark an increased clarity of thought, for the argument from size is, in my opinion, very feeble. C. S. Lewis, Dogma and the Universe, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 39. Cf. also, 74, 99. 72 John Collins, who has presented one of the more-researched and balanced studies of these issues, argues that William Shedd was more tolerant in this area. However, in keeping with my thesis, it must be noted that Shedds claims were made nearly 30 years after Darwin and a century after modern geological dating; thus indirectly supporting my central claim. While still holding high regard for Shedd in many loci, it appears that he fell in with Hodge and Warfield in committing this apologetic mistake. Collinss reference to John Macphersons 1882 work is answered similarly. Collins raises challenging testimony to my thesis by his reference to William Ames (op. cit., 114). Collins suggests that Ames was certainly not under pressure from modernism to allow for six days, with intervening spaces between the days. However, an amplified translation of Ames Medulla Theologica I, 8. 28 from the Latin edition (1634) is: Creation [creatio] of these parts [harum partium, various parts of the creation; cf. I, 8, 27] of the world, however [autem signifies the connection to the previous paragraph], was not done simultaneously and in one moment [contra Augustine], but was accomplished through parts, each in its turn, succeeding in six days, with [normal] intervention [between each day]. Robert Bailey, a Latin instructor from Yazoo City, MS has kindly provided an accurate translation from Ames original: However, the creation of these parts of the world did not occur at the same time and in one moment, but it was accomplished through parts, succeeding themselves in the space of six intervening days. Macphersons commentary on The Westminster Confession of Faith (1882) refracts Ames to support that the active creative periods were six natural days, with indefinite intervals between them. However, it seems that this addition of indefinite is Macphersons redaction, not so much a direct citation from Ames. Moreover, when section 28 is compared with the previous paragraph, it seems clear that the reference is not to creation en toto, but to the creation of various parts (partes, partium) of the cosmos. Thus, what Ames asserted was thatcontrary to Augustinethe entire cosmos was not created simul & uno momento (simultaneously and in one moment); rather, the various parts were



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION the final word on whether or not the days in Genesis 1 were fictitious. His view in 1681 may be gleaned from his comment: methinks one of the Ten Commandments given by God in Mount Sinai, pressed by divers of the prophets, observed by our Savior, his Apostles, and first Christians for 300 years . . . should not be grounded on a fiction.73 After consulting Calvins Institutes and Commentaries, Calvin, Luther, and Augustine could be summarized as follows: Intended to be literal; Employed a normal hermeneutic (except Augustine, who was just plain odd in sections); Concluded that the universe was less than 6,000 years old; Held to literal days; Did not modify their interpretation to fit science of the day. This tradition continued uninterrupted until fairly modern times. From Calvin to Westminster A century before and after the Westminster Assembly, various Reformed theologians74 addressed questions that are often presented today as if they are insuperable barriers to embracing the classic interpretation of the creation narratives. This apparent insuperability is most likely attributable to contemporary theologians being unacquainted with how well our exegetical forefathers already dealt with objections that became more pertinent after modern scientific revolutions. The following questions are

DAVID W. HALL frequently seen as pressingnot to mention as necessitating exegetical revision because of supposed difficultiesand will be reviewed below: 1. Did Reformed theologians address the issue of light being created on the first day with the sun not created until the 4th day? 2. Did they posit ordinary providence or mediate agencies as the primary means of creation? 3. Did they define what they meant by day? 4. Did any of them provide for long periods of creation? 5. Did they proffer a consistent chronology? 6. Is there enough textual information to support an orthodoxy of interpretation for this period? 7. Did the Reformed interpreters intend or suggest that their articulated views were merely personal views among other equally legitimate exegeses? In several studies, the massive, uniform, and clear testimony (both explicit and implicit) by Westminster Divines has been assembled on related issues (cf. Meeting 16431648, of course, it is hardly conceivable that they created an exegetical consensus ex nihilo. Informed historians realize that the Westminster Divines floated in the middle of a stream of interpretation; they certainly did not live in a hermeneutical vacuum. Exegetes, including Calvin and the other magisterial reformers, preceded the Westminster Divines by a century; meanwhile, other Reformed interpreters persisted in offering classical interpretations of Genesis One for at least a century after the Westminster Assembly concluded. Since earlier studies have focused mainly on what the Divines themselves wrote in other essays, this discussion will provide some of the broader context for this and other studies. We shall continue to test our hypothesis and see if these seventeenthcentury divines foisted new interpretations on the church, or if they agreed with or disagreed with those who wrote a century before and after them. Accordingly, the data below presents the commentary of leading orthodox reformed theologians from 1540-1740. The Major Protestant Reformers, 1540-1590 The position of Martin Luther is abundantly clear as previous studies indicate. In a recent article, containing some disputable findings, Robert

created each in turn, succeeding in six days, with [normal] intervention [between each day]. Ames claim is little more than a reaffirmation of Ambroses (traditional) view. Further, insofar as Ames was not commonly understood as holding to long periods of creation (nor was that the majority view of the other testimony above), more than Macphersons redaction is needed to prove that Ames had such a modern view. Collins appendix is honest but not exhaustive. The references to Josephus and Irenaeus (as claimed by Hugh Ross) only show that they believed in a young earth. Collins appendix, however, contains no reference to Basil (also claimed by Hugh Ross), Ambrose, or Luther. Anselm, Aquinas, and Calvin are represented fairly. 73 H. S. Thayer, ed. Newtons Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his Writings (New York: Hafner Publishing Company, 1953), 64-65. 74 Portions of this section are taken from my History Answering Present Objections: Exegesis of the Days of Creation a Century Before and After Westminster, 1540-1740, posted at and co-authored with Mark A. Herzer and Wesley A. Baker.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Letham agrees that Luther (certainly not the first commentator to adopt this view) without ambiguity adopts the interpretation that the days of creation are of twenty-four hours duration, at the same time arguing that the earth is only six thousand years old.75 Bishop Hugh Latimer (1485?-1555) expressed what he believed was held by many in the Christian world of his time. His comments assume many particular aspects of a literal view of creation. In a sermon preached in Lincolnshire (1552), he admonished his hearers with these sobering words: How can we be so foolish to set so much by this world, knowing that it shall endure but a little while? For we know by scripture, and all learned men affirm the same, that the world was made to endure six thousand years. Now, of these six thousand be passed already five thousand five hundred and fifty-two, and yet this time which is left shall be shortened for the elects sake, as Christ himself witnesseth. (The Works of Hugh Latimer, I:20; italics added). He argues exactly the same way in another sermon a week later. We are again admonished to consider our ways because the world was ordained of God to endure, as scripture and all learned men agree, six thousand years: now of this number are gone five thousand five hundred fifty-two, so that there is left only four hundred and fifty lacking two: and this but a little time . . . (I:52). Though the helpful mathematical subtraction must have arrested his hearers, we must still hear something else he was saying: he obviously believed in a literal chronological computation of the creation account. The ease with which he moved on from his premise (the age of the earth) to admonishment is startling. But there is another observation that cannot be overlooked. He says that all learned men agree. Of his contemporaries, he would know better than we. Subsequent to Calvin, moreover, an impressive train of Genevans left answers on the continent to many of the questions posed above. The fact that answers are given should, as much as anything else, convince modern participants in these debates that these questions entertained are neither unanswerable nor novel. The questions of our daythought to be body blocks at the knees of classic creation viewsupon examination

DAVID W. HALL have already been heard, considered, answered, and dismissed by earlier fleet racers with adroit stiff-arms. The 1562 Annotations from the Geneva Bible were one of the most authoritative sets of commentary on related issues. On Genesis 1:3, while Calvin was still living and at the zenith of his international prestige, Genevan annotatorscertainly representative of many others associated with the Protestant Romeleft one of the earliest English interpretations of the creation narratives: The light was made before either sunne or moone was created; therefore we must not attribute that to the creatures that are Gods instruments which only appertaineth to God. Evidently, Calvin and his colleagues at that early date realized that the sun was not created until the fourth day and that, in and of itself, such fact was no insurmountable exegetical issue. Notwithstanding, they still affirmed that light was created prior to the sun, and that sunlight which only occurred on the fourth day should not be confused with this earlier non-solar light, nor should that creaturely/created light of the fourth day be attributed to that light on Day One which only appertaineth to God. The question, which some propose today as bearing such inherent difficulty for moderns, was not only not viewed as challenging by earlier Reformed commentators; it was positively answered by these interpretations that distinguished between normal light flowing from the sun (following the 4th ordinary day) and that light which proceeded from a miraculous source in days 1-3. The days were not considered different in degree; the light was different from what we observeand in a fashion that ruled out providence as the only force in the early days of creation. The miraculous was embraced by earlier Genevans, who also commented on Genesis 1:8: So that we see it is the only [exclusively] power of Gods Worde that maketh the earth fruteful, which is naturally barren. (p. 4) If ever a Study Bibles notes were widespread and orthodox, these annotations in the Genevan Bible were archetypical. Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563). On Calvins esteem of Musculus, one only need consult Calvins own testimony in the preface to his Commentary on the Psalms, where he singles out Martin Luther and Wolfgang Musculus for praise. That Musculus continued to serve as an authority for the Westminster Divines is seen from this: a century later, Westminster Divine Goodwin cited Musculus as an authority in one of the debates (on excommunication, May 13, 1644 in Lightfoot). In other words, Musculus thoughts influenced in some measure the Divines; if not significantly, his writings were definitely before the Assem53

Cf. Westminster Theological Journal, Spring 1999, vol. 61, no. 1. Cf. also footnote #28 on Luther in Joseph Pipa and David Hall, eds., Did God Create in Six Days? (Greenville, SC/ Oak Ridge, TN: The Southern Presbyterian Press/ The Covenant Foundation., 1999), 28. In his article in the Westminster Theological Journal (Spring 2000), William S. Barker confirms that Luther and Calvin both repudiated Augustine.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION bly. (. . . so did Mr. Goodwin out of Cartwright upon the Rhemists, and out of Musculus and Aretius . . .; Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, 276). Musculus wrote one of the most influential treatises on Genesis, numbering almost 800 octavo pages. In his 1554, In Genesim Moses Commentarii Plenissimi (1554, rpr. Basle, 1600), while commenting on the fourth day of creation, he wrote:
There were days before the sun, just as also there was night before the moon and stars. . . . At that time the days had an inexplicable light, with no observable sign of their stage, or even of their midpoint, which are governed (with regard to our experience) by the suns course, as it is ordered and noted [by us]. Therefore it is rightly attributed to the sun because I do not say that it constitutes, but rather that it orders and arranges the day. However, I have not been inconsistent with the point in this place, understanding the work not as artificial but as natural days: and not only of the sun, but also of the moon and the stars. . . . In the space of a year there are twelve revolutions of the moon: i. e., twelve months are completed. And a solar year is when the sun returns to the end of its own circuit whence it began.76

DAVID W. HALL lus commented that the reckoning of time for the Hebrews was from the beginning hour (horae) not the end but the beginning of the first hour. He also referred to Chrysostom who agreed in his Fourth Homily on Genesis: Morning, however, is the end of the night and the completion of the day. Musculus apparently thought the orthodox church was of the same opinion, calling no dissenting voices, and adding that of Lombard who also confirmed that morning is not the first of the day. Musculus consistently interprets the days as natural days: For natural days are comprised of these partsevening and morningin order that we may rightly [understand] the three day period (triduum) as having ceased in the space of three nights and days.77 He further adds that the whole world was created by the sixth day (sex diebus): Thus the days are numbered (dies numerantur) as time is (tempus est). (12) The days are, he wrote, in tempora and Just as the entire world was constituted in the revolution of 6 days (sex dierum revolutionibus), so it continues. Musculus massive commentary, certainly a theological paradigm of its day, does not seem to distinguish between the length or quality of the days, as if the fourth day began a new or different chronology. Each day, he thought, was reduced to diurnal (evening) which began (inchoate) to be morning. Evening and morning should be understood just as in Psalm 55 (I cried out to the Lord . . . evening and morning). Musculus saw no reason to interpose an artificially long period in the creation days, commenting: Just as a natural day, not night, is called a day, so evening and morning shall flow as long as light fills this space of night and day.78 Musculus, long before modern theories, was aware of light prior to solar light; he also admitted that the quality of time before the creation is not comprehended simplistically (26). Still, he and most of his contemporaries logically inferred that creation was autumnal (26), and that the first year of creation was comprised of 12 months time (12 mensium temporibus), just as years and days were interpreted as in tempora. He knew that any difficulty presented by observation was ultimately resolvable by this simple proposition: Sol non est origo lucis (29); the sun is not the origin of light.

On Genesis opening verse, Musculus opined that God created primo die, or on the first day. On Genesis 1:3, answering the query why the phrase morning and evening is employed, Musculus noted that the evening is not the end, but the beginning of the diei naturalis, the natural day. Shortly thereafter, he would clarify that the vesperam (evening) is the ordinary part of the day in which evening precedes and morning follows. (p. 9) He also argued that in Leviticus 23 Moses linked an evening to the sabbath, as one day of seven. For that reason, he explained, the Jews reckoned their time with evening being the beginning of the natural day (principium diei naturalis). Musculus agreed with Basil who numbered the hours not as counting the mode a termino ad que, but as a termini a quo. Concurring with Basil (and other church fathers), MuscuThe relevant original is: lucem inarticulatam, ac nullis observabilibus indiciis graduum, horarum, ac meridiei, quae per cursum Solis ad usus nostros adminstrantur, digestam ac signatam. Recte ergo soli tributur, quod diem non dico constituat, sed ordinet ac disponat. Non repugnarim autem, signis hoc loco non artificiales, sed naturales dies: & non solis duntaxat, sed & lunae ac stellarum opus intelligat. . . . Anni spacium duodenario lunae cursu: hoc est 12 mensibut absoluitur. Et solaris annus est, quado sol ad terminu unde coepit, circuitu suo reverititur. (p. 26) Emphasis added.

77 78

The Latin is: ut recte triduum, trium dieru ac notium spacio ceseatur . . . The Latin is: quatumuis in illo noctis spacium diurna luce fit prolixius. (13)



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Peter Martyr (1499-1562), one of the most powerful Reformers both on the continent and in Great Britain, left his views written; speculation, therefore, is not necessary to hear his voice. In a 1543 work, Martyr wrote: The evening and morning were made the first days of the gathering together and spreading forth of light before the bringing forth of the sunne.79 He also testified, When we speak of the creation of things, we bring not forth one thing out of another after Aristotles manner, but we affirm all natures, as well as bodies without bodie [angels, demons], to be created of nothing by the word of God.80 Of value to the modern interpreter, Martyr dismissed two recent notions: (1) He affirmed that the first days, complete with evening and morning, were ordinary days, prior to the creation of the sunne; and (2) He rejected creation as necessarily employing either Aristotles specific forces or using any force other than the word of God. Martyrs view is substantially the same as Usshers later comment on fiat creation, to wit: How and in what manner did God create all things? By no means or instruments, (which he needeth not as man doth) but by his powerfull word, that is, by his only will, calling those things that are not as though they were, Heb. 11.3. Rom. 4.17. Ps. 148.5. (Ussher, Summe and Substance, 94) Martyr, far from lacking enlightenment, proceeded to speak to concerns centuries ahead of rival theories. Martyr noted: For God, to the intent he would manifest both his power and his mercy, created of nothing an infinit sort of man in the whole nature of things. Rather than depending on ordinary providence alone or primarily, earlier orthodox theologians like Martyr believed the following: The keeping back of waters from joining the earth, we attribute not to the stars, but to the word of God, as also the power whereby plants and herbs are brought out of the earth. . . . Albeit it is said, Let the waters or earth bring forth this or that, yet the creation of all things must be attributed to God alone.81 In light of this clarity and historical context, it is stunning to read a recent interpretation of Martyrs views from Robert Letham,82 a scholar
Peter Martyr, The Propositions of D. Peter Martyr, disputed openlie in the Common Schooles at Strasbourgh, contained in Peter Martyrs Works (1543; rpr. London, 1558, trans. by Anthony Marten), 144. 80 Ibid., 144. 81 Ibid., 144. 82 Cf. his In the Space of Six Days: The Days of Creation from Origin to the Westminster Assembly, Westminster Theological Journal 61/2, 149-174.

DAVID W. HALL we respect, who claims: The Theses for Debate: Strassburg 1543-1547 . . . has a number of propositions for discussion on the first chapter of Genesis but none of them relate to our question. This underlines the fact that, despite the obvious differences of interpretation, it was not a matter of debate at the timestill less an issue of controversy. In fact, Martyr did debate these issues, and his debate did relate directly to the dating and chronology of Genesis. Neither was he merely recognizing a plurality of possible opinions, but debating for truth against falsehood. The reason for the lack of controversy was the strong, virtually unanimous, consensual agreement that creation days were understood literally. Neither did Martyr propose these things in isolation. In his Commonplaces, part 3 (324), he anticipated a modern (and erroneous theory) when he wrote: Nor does Peter in that place they bring, will us to interpret that a thousand years in every place should be taken for one daye; he onlie intended most significantlie to declare the eternity of God . . . However, if at any time daies are to be taken for years, that is not permitted to our judgment but thereof we are admonished by the word of God, as it appeareth [e. g., in Daniel and elsewhere]. Martyr already anticipated objections to the strong view of creation and as an exemplar of orthodoxy dismissed the exegetical reversal of applying a Petrine passage in order to expand the length of the creation period. Over four centuries ago, the church recognized that reversal as an unsound hermeneutic. The burden of proof remains on those today who wish the church to adopt that unsound hermeneutic now. Moreover, on the fourth commandment, Martyr noted that of every seven daies, one must be reserved unto Godapparently thinking that the days of creation and the sabbath were the same kind of days as today (cf. Part 2, cap. 7, 374). Another contemporary of Calvin, the great jurist Francois Hotman, offered his opinion in a 1569 work, Consolatio Sacris Litteris. He opens with this, showing that the language of the Irish Articles and the Westminster Confession merely reflected the view received for some time by the orthodox: The world was created by God in the space of six days. (Mundum sex dierum spacio a Deo conditum fuisse. p. 1) Following that bold and clear affirmation is this:
[On the first day God created matter in general the chaos:] then finally the light. And it was therefore numbered as the first day. However, in the following five days He separated the parts of that mass 57



[and] thus arranged them. Now the second day he divided the heap of waters . . . . The third day followed in which God [created] the earths mass. . . . Then on the fourth day he created the heavenly sphere in which He arranged the sun, moon and the remainder of the starry host, from one of whose fixed direction He communicated the measure of its light, which He created on the first day, in order that from the running of their courses, the reckoning of years, months, and even days may be established. On the fifth day merely . . . . But now on the sixth day, for the first time [we have] the beasts walking [on the earth].83

DAVID W. HALL Bullingers first sermon in the First Decade, however, makes an important point to underscore the historical reliability of the Word of God. Moses was able, therefore, to write a true and certain history, from the beginning of the world even until his own time. This true and certain history actually contained a chronology that only fits with a literal hermeneutic. Bullinger wrote, Moses therefore contained in the five books, called the five books of Moses, an history from the beginning of the world, even unto his own death, by the space of two thousand four hundred and eighty-eight years: in which he declared most largely the revelation of the word of God made unto men . . . (47, emphasis added) This is not all that Bullinger affirms. He is as specific as Ussher, adding up all the biblical persons listed in the Genesis genealogy. The time, according to him, added up to sixteen hundred and fifty-six years of the world before the deluge. (40) Bullinger painstakingly chronicled their ages to show how Moses received a reliable testimony of the events of creation. Then in summary fashion, he stated: And from the beginning of the world to the birth of Moses are fully complete two thousand three hundred and sixty-eight years of the world. And whosoever shall diligently reckon the years, not in vain set down by Moses in Genesis and Exodus, he shall find this account to be true and right. (42) Bullinger not only says more than most are willing to confirm today, but he also does it in the very first sermon of the Decades.85 Robert Lethams recent claim, thus, that Bullinger had very little to say on this question may seem true in the abstract but can only be sustained if the entire Reformation context is ignored, especially when we see how uniform most of these commentators were. William Perkins (see below), far closer to Bullinger than most of us, thought that Bullinger was on record as believing the same paradigm that he himself maintained. Was Perkins also wrong, or did Bullinger have a clearly expressed view? Lethams assertion should be evaluated in light of Bullingers The Decades (First Decade, Sermon vii; Cambridge, 1849). Similarly, Lethams conclusion (that There is no evidence that Vermigli understands the days of Genesis 1 as of twenty-four hours.) is probably best construed as selectively ignoring the wide-range of Martyrs comment, lest it be considered mistaken altogether. Notwithstanding, we can

It is clear from this that Hotmanhardly to be imagined as differing from Calvin, Martyr, Musculus, and othersthought the days were sequential, ordinary, and calculated as we count normal days today. Henry Bullinger was Ulrich Zwinglis successor in Zurich. Viewed as more moderate in temperament than the fiery Zwingli, Bullinger, in time, proved to be one of the most influential Reformers. In a sermon that received wide circulation, not only on the continent but in Great Britain as well, Bullinger affirmed the following: But how great power he showed in the making of all these things, it is evident by this, that he spoke the word and they were made; he commanded and they were created which if thou bring into parts, and severally examine what he made in those six days, in what order, with what beauty . . . and finally how almost with no labor at all, he brought them all forth, as it is written by Moses in the first of Genesis, thou shalt be compelled to be amazed at the goodwill and power of God.84 The phrases almost with no labor and the amazement produced by the goodwill and power of God again underscore that ordinary providence was not viewed as the main engine of creation by earlier exegetes; nor were long periods required. Moreover, in a sermon from the Second Decade (p. 258), Bullinger treated the sabbath as a normal day.

83 The original is: . . . operis materiam, quum nonnulli chaos dixere: tum deinde lucem. Isque propterea dies primus numeratus est. Quinque autem in sequentibus diebus molis illius partes secrevit or dineque disposuit. Nam die secundo congeriem aquarum ita distinxit . . . secutus est dies tertius que Deus terra molem . . . Iam quarto die coeleste orbem creavit in quo Solem, Lunam, reliquaque Sydera omnia disposuit, quoru uni cuique certum eius lucis modum impertiuit qua primo die creavat, ut ex coruratis cursibus, annorum, mesium, ac dierum ratio constaret. Die quinto mere . . . At sexto die primum bestiast tum gradientes . . . 84 Henry Bullinger, The Decades, First Decade, Sermon vii (Cambridge, 1849), 126.

Even the editors of The Parker Society edition of The Decades concur with our finding, viz: Bullinger followed the vulgar Jewish chronology, upon which the arrangements of Scaliger, Petavius, and Usher were afterwards founded. [42, n. 1]



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION agree with Letham on this point: the Westminster Divines did read and agreed with Bullinger and orthodox predecessors. It is merely the case that whenever they spoke, the Reformed consensus confirmed the classic view of creation days and disputed notions that are more akin to various modernisms. Among the first-generation Reformed theologians, these classical interpretations prevailed at least until the time of the Westminster Assembly. Far from this survey being only selective in its testimony, indeed, one is hard pressed to find any exception to this rule, either in Geneva, the Palatinate, Zurich, Holland, or England. One certainly has difficulty finding exponents of Day-Age or the Framework theory from 1540 to 1740, an oddity demanding explanation in light of the frequent claims that the Reformers and the Divines were so diverse on this complex of issues. Continental Reformed Theologians, 1590-1690 Zacharias Ursinus Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, (orig. 1616, rpr. Columbus: Scott and Bascom Printers, 1852) summarized that According to the common reckoning, it is now, counting from this 1616 of Christ, 5534 years since the creation of the world. Melancthon estimated the age at 5579 years, Luther estimated 5576, Those of Geneva estimated 5559 years. Ursinus, in 1616, would have to be totally repudiated in 30 years, if the Westminster Assembly held to a long or undefined period of creation. Ursinus summarized: These calculations harmonize sufficiently with each other in the larger numbers, although some year are either added or wanting in the smaller numbers. According to these four calculations, made by the most learned men of our time, (emphasis added) it will appear by comparing them together, that the world was created by God at least not much over 5559 or 5579 years. The world, therefore, was not created from everlasting, but had a beginning. (1450; emphasis mine) William Perkins (Works, I:143-4) adopts the same chronology and age of the universe, signaling his position. Later, on the fourth commandment, Ursinus commented: That by the example of himself resting on the seventh day, he might exhort men, as by a most effectual and constraining argument, to imitate him and so abstain on the seventh day, from the labors to which they were accustomed during the other six days of the week. (531, emphasis added to show the basis of comparison)

DAVID W. HALL Caspar Olevianus concurred that to God (in what may have been the literary pre-history of the Shorter Catechism Question #4), a being [essence] spiritual, eternal, infinite in omnipresence, knowledge, truth, goodness, purity, omnipotence, freedom, justice and mercy) peculiarly and properly, we count the existence of all things created.86 That and many such similar statements, if taken at face value, is incompatible with a view that attributes much of the creation to ordinary providence. The most luminous Genevan theologian at the time of the Westminster Assembly was John Diodati. In his Pious Annotations Upon the Holy Bible (London, 1643), the view held by Calvin which prevailed without interruption until (and after) the Westminster Assembly was articulated by Diodati several times. Commenting on Genesis 1:3, Diodati wrote: It is likely that the light was at first imprinted in some part of the heaven, whose turning made the first three days, and the fourth it was restrained into the body of the Sun, or of all the other stars; but in a different degree. On the next verse (v. 4), God, according to the Genevan view at the time of the Westminster Assembly, ordained the heaven to turne continually about; and that when the Hemisphere (cf. Lightfoot who also takes the hemispheric effect into account), wherein the light was imprinted was above the earth, it should then be day; and when it was under the earth, it should be night, which was the beginning of the vicissitude or the succession of day and night. Diodatis Annotationsone of the most authoritative works for a centuryalso explained the meaning of evening in Genesis 1 as that is night when the Jews begin their scheme of chronology reckoning days beginning at sun-down, contrary to the western calendar days. The meaning [of evening] is that in this first turning of the heaven, none but the aforesaid things were created. On Genesis 2:2, Diodatithe successor to Calvin and Bezacommented: He ceased to shew his vertue and power in creating of new kindes of creatures, yet ceased not in working of their preservation, sustenance, and increase by order of nature and in guiding them with his providence. Further, Diodati noted that God ended the worke of Creation on the seventh day . . . by this rest God would not proceed in infinitum in creating, so would he not leave anything imperfect which he intended to make.

86 Caspar Olevianus, Concerning the Substance of the Covenant of Grace (Geneva, 1585), 7


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION On Hebrews 11:3, Diodati wrote, That is to say the world [see Heb. 1:2, where he defined the world as all temporal things subject to the course, divisions, and successions of time] [was created by the Word] of nothing, by the onely omnipotency and will of God. And on Romans 4:17, Diodati explained, That is to say, by his Worde hee makes them to be . . . as he did in the creation of all things, and in the miraculous resurrections wrought by Christlet there be light, Lazarus come forth, etc. Attributing all of creation to the onely omnipotency and will of God rules out creation by ordinary providence alone or primarily. A report of the evidence would have to be extremely truncated to ignore the strong testimony of the 1619 Dutch Annotations upon the Whole Bible ordered by the Synod of Dordt. This commentary, admired by the Westminster Divines, observes the following (on Gen. 1:5): The meaning of these words [day/night] is that night and day had made up one natural day together, which with the Hebrews began with the evening and ended with the approach of the next evening, comprehending twenty four houres. Can objective research find similar weighty support for differing views? Johannes Polyander, writing between Dordt and Westminster, made clear that these views continued to dominate the theological landscape of the day. In 1624, Polyander defended this thesis: We know the creation of the world was produced from nothing except the virtue and omni-power of God (ex nihilo productionem sola Dei virtute omnipotente) as confirmed by the Scriptures and the apostles creed. (Herman Bavinck, ed., Synopsis Purioris Theologiae (1624, rpr. 1881), 83) Polyander thought that both the Scriptures and the creed called for creation to be understood as by divine fiat, without other natural processes. He continued to aver that the world was created ex nihilo and that God disposed all of creation in the space of six days [sex dierum spatio disposuit; note this is almost identical to both Calvins and Westminsters phraseology, showing that the language itself had near universal approbation] to show forth his immense glory and wisdom. Fellow theologian Andrew Thysius also confirmed that God rested from the work of creation on the seventh day, (185) indicating that the sabbath was certainly not considered a continuing day, as some creative modern interpreters suggest. Other post-Reformation giants affirmed this same consensus. Johan Osiander affirmed that creation was in sex dierum hexamero respect-

DAVID W. HALL ing plants, animals, and man (Locus V, xiii).87 Another Dutch contemporary of the Westminster Divines, John Henrici Heideggeri, affirmed similar conclusions. In his Chronologia Sacra Patriarchum, his first entry was this: Adam was created on the 6th day (die sexto) of the world around autumn, the day corresponding to our last day of October (die, ultimo Octobris nostri respondented). That time is dated year 1 in his chronology with others following in sequence.88 Heidegger also iterates that the creation of the world was in autumno and states elsewhere that Moses intended to refer to Year One. Heidegger was so serious about the chronology that he also discussed whether October 26th could have been the first day of creation, if October 31st was the creation of Adam on the morning of the sixth sequential and normal day (Exercitu Quarta, xv, 84). Moreover, the Reformation consensus did not shy away from dating this creation to 3,983 years before Christs birthas Perkins and many others did. Heidegger even suggests that Adam was created in horam tertium eius diei, (in our third hour). Citing other earlier authors, he concurred with this maxim of Ibn-Sora: The third hour, the first creation, the sixth hour the fall, and the ninth (hour) expelled from Paradise. While Heidegger understood that such chronology may have been little more than an illuminating tradition, what is important for our study is to note that he and others viewed the hours of the sixth day as real-time like oursnot a fictitious or misleading literary device. Later Heidegger affirms that this sixth day was distributed into 12 hours (in horas duodecim) of light and darkness (84). He always treats the time markers as real time beginning with the question, In what time of year was Adam created? (Exercitu Quarta, xv, 84). Shortly thereafter, Leonard Rysenius completed the postReformation consensus. He, too, believed that creation occurred at the autumnal equinox. (Leonard Ryyssen, Summa Theologia, DidacticoElencticae (Bern, 1703), 169.) That these views extended well into the eighteenth century is seen from the fact that Rysenius argued that although God was able (potuisset) to create all creatures in a moment, he willed (voluit) to create them in six days (sex dierum). References to periods, eras, epochs, or any time frame other than a normal day are extremely difficult to locate, leaving innovative exegetes to explain scripJohan Osiander, Orthodox Animadversions (Tubingen, 1693), 301. John Henrici Heideggeri, Historia Sacra Patriarchum, Exercitationes Selectae (1668; rpr. Tigurinie, 1729), 547 of Part III.
88 87



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION tural (not scientific) grounds for their departures. Moreover, Rysenius explained that among the reasons to reject the previous Augustinian interpretation of creation unico momento was this crucial exegetical fact: That interpretation contradicted the simple and historical rendering of Moses narrative, which called the days days. Earlier exegetes did address the questions raised today, and they rejected most of the eisegetical answers speculated by modernity. So far was the Reformed consensus from thinking that ordinary providence was the chief mechanism of creation that Rysenius asked if all creatures were created ex nihilo, answering affirmatively: Omnia creata sunt sex diebus. (170) Earlier exegetes, apart from scientific revolutions, saw no need to posit, nor scriptural exegesis to suggest, that creatures needed a long evolutionary span to exist. The power of Gods Word was sufficient. No reputable Reformed theologian between Calvin and a hundred and fifty years after Westminster (1540-1690) attempted to argue any of the following modern theories: (1) gap theory, (2) Day-age theory; or (3) framework theory. Indeed, these gigantic figures from a halcyon day of theology posed the queries below and provided orthodox answers already propounded by Basil, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Lombard and others: 1) Did Reformed Theologians address the issue of the sun only being created on the fourth day? Yes; and they affirmed that light in days 1-3 was of non-solar origin in order to keep men from worshiping the creation as a source of light. Moreover, they did not believe that days 1-3 required noncalendar days. 2) Did they posit ordinary providence or mediate agencies as the means of creation? No; they uniformly taught that the power of Gods Word was the only power that animated all of creation. They saw no need to posit forces, processes, or length of days longer than natural days to provide for Gods miraculous creation. They rested their exegesis on miracle, not on post-creational providence. 3) Did they define what they meant by day? Yes; many of these theologians used the phrase in tempora, or specified that days and nights had 12 hours, or they frequently used the dative of time to signify that they meant real, not figurative, hours. They were not ambiguous as some wish to represent.

DAVID W. HALL 4) Did any of them provide for long periods of creation? Not one has been found. 5) Did they proffer a chronology that was consistent? Many of these spoke of creation as in the autumn, and most provided dates of years that can only comport with a literal view. The foregoing study also answers another important question that is frequently asked: Can the likes of Ames, Perkins, Lightfoot and others who provided the immediate context for Westminster formulations be understood as ambiguous or latitudinarian on this issue, especially in light of the massive textual support now available? History answers that query in the negative, once again disproving the hypothesis of modernity. British Reformed Theologians, 1600-1650 William Ames. The Puritan giant, William Ames, for over a century and due to a mistake in scholarship, was thought to lend credence to cosmological constructions that were compatible with evolutionary schemes. Of weight and interest to this issue, William Ames, who is an appropriate authority for reformed orthodoxyliving a short time before the Westminster Assemblydenied the Augustinian scheme and certainly was a dominant influence on the Divines. He helped pave the way for the Westminster consensus. As another example of the effort to find support where there is none, John Macpherson (1882) claimed that William Ames held to long intervening ages between the creation days. Although this mis-statement of fact has been widely and uncritically repeated, it provides no foundation for the desideratum when Ames himself is consulted. Indeed, it would be nicesimply in the name of honest scholarshipto see some scholar who holds to a day-age or framework view have the courage to begin a Free Willie Ames movement to disassociate that Puritan exemplar from views that he did not own. The Eusden translation (cf. table below) is valid while the Macpherson interpretation is incorrect. Sex dierum is in the genitive case, which expresses possession. Interstitiis is an ablative of time within which. The Latin sex dierum interstitiis literally says within intervals of six days, not [during] six days with indefinite intervals between them.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION The table below shows how Macpherson misappropriated Ames on the subject. 89 Correct Trans.
Eusden: The creation of these parts of the world did not occur at one and the same moment, but was accomplished part by part in the space of six days. Bailey: However, the creation of these parts of the world did not occur at the same time and in one moment, but it was accomplished through parts, succeeding themselves in the space of six intervening days. Amplified: Creation [creatio] of these parts [harum partium, various parts of the creation; cf. I, 8, 27] of the world, however [autem signifies the connection to the previous paragraph], was not done simultaneously and in one moment [contra Augustine], but was accomplished through parts, each in its turn, succeeding in six days, with [normal] intervention [between each day].

DAVID W. HALL While it certainly is true that Ames was not under modernistic pressure, the fatal flaw in appeals to him is that he did not actually write what Macpherson alleged. Moreover, when section 28 of Ames Marrow is compared with the previous paragraph, it seems clear that the reference is not to creation en toto but to the creation of various parts (partes, partium) of the cosmos. Thus, what Ames asserted was thatcontrary to Augustinethe entire cosmos was not created simul & uno momento (simultaneously and in one moment); rather, the various parts were created each in turn, succeeding in six days, with [normal] intervention [between each day]. If Ames is understood as opposing the Augustine/Alexandrine view that all six days of creation occurred in a singular instant, then Ames claim is little more than a reaffirmation of Ambroses (traditional) view. Further, insofar as Ames was not commonly understood as holding to long periods of creation (nor was that the view of the other testimony above), more than Macphersons redaction is needed to prove that Ames had such a modern view. Ames actually agrees with the Divines on this subject, rather than opposing them. William Perkins. William Perkins should be allowed to speak for himself, rather than being snatched out of context. In his fullest comment on the subject, he wrote: The sixth shall be touching the time of the beginning of the world, which is between five thousand and sixe thousand yeares a goe. For Moses hath set downe exactly the computation of time from the making of the world to his owne daies: and the Prophets after him haue with diligence set down the continuance of the same to the very birth of Christ. . . . Some say there bee 3929 from the creation to Christs birth as Beroaldus: some 3952 as Hierome and Bede: some 3960 as Luther and Io. Lucidus: some 3963 as Melancton in his Chronicle, and Functius: some 3970. As Bullinger and Tremelius: some towardes 4000. as Buntingus . . . (An Exposition of the Creede, I:143). [This obviously shows that they all took the days literally.] Then arguing against instantaneous creation (contra Augustine), Perkins wrote: Seventhly, some may aske in what space of time did God make the world? I answer, God could haue made the world, and all things in it in one moment: but hee began and finished the whole worke in sixe distinct daies. (I:143) As to why God took these days to make the creation, Perkins argued: in sixe distinct daies, to teach us, what woderfull power & liberty he had ouer al his creatures: for he made the light when there was neither Sun nor Moone, nor Stars; to shew, that in giuing light to the world, he is not bound to the Sun, to any creature, or to any means: for the light was

Original Latin
creatio autem harum partium mundi non fuit, simul & uno momento, sed peragebatur per partes, sibi invicem sex dierum interstitiis succendentes. creatio autem harum partium mundi non fuit, simul & uno momento, sed peragebatur per partes, sibi invicem sex dierum interstitiis succendentes.

Erroneous Macpherson Trans

Macphersons commentary on The Westminster Confession of Faith (1882) refracts Ames to support

that the active creative periods were six natural days, with indefinite intervals between them.

creatio autem harum partium mundi non fuit, simul & uno momento, sed peragebatur per partes, sibi invicem sex dierum interstitiis succendentes.

However, it seems that this addition of indefinite is Macphersons redaction, not so much a direct citation from Ames. Moreover, when section 28 is compared with the previous paragraph, it seems clear that the reference is not to creation en toto, but to the creation of various parts (partes, partium) of the cosmos.

Grover Gunn thoroughly repudiated that attempt to revise Ames in his recent monograph. See


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION made the first day: but the Sunne, the Moone, and the Stars were not created before the fourth day. Perkins, in his context, along with his chronology and the way his disciples understood him, assuredly provides no support for any of the modern views. He was a literalist like Ussher, Ames, Lightfoot and the Westminster Divines. Other British Reformed Theologians, 1620-1660 Henry Ainsworth (in his Annotations on the Pentateuch and Psalms), a close predecessor to the Divines, showed the consensual view of the day: Both large days, of 24 hours, from sun-setting to sun-setting; and strict, of 12 hours, from sun-rising to sun-setting, as is observed before on ver. 5, a special use whereof is shown in Psal. civ. 19-23. (6) On v. 5, he argues for which is with us the space of twenty-four hours. Prior to Ussher, most others defined the creation days in similar fashion. Gervase Babington (1550-1610), Bishop of Worchester, commented on Genesis 1:7 that God created not in one moment, but in six dayes space (Non uno momento, sed sex dierum spatio), thereby exhibiting an early use of in the space of six days to refer to actual days. (The Workes of Gervase Babington, London, 1622, 6) Later Babington noted that God rested on the seventh day, following six daies creating. (9) There was certainly no hint of expansive period of creation at that time. Another precursor to the Westminster Assembly was Andrew Willet (1562-1621). In his Hexapla in Genesis (London, 1632), Willet discussed whether the world was made in six days or instantaneously. He argued that the Mosaic account must be taken plainly: For if the world was made at once, how can it be true, that it was made in six days? Augustine other-where holdeth the contrary, that the world was not made in one day, but in order . . . This text indicates that the generation prior to the Westminster Assembly consistently denied the Augustinian interpretation. Another contemporary of the Westminster Assembly, John Richardson (1580-1654), Bishop of Ardagh, had a hand in these 1645 Annotations. His later (1655) supplement to those additions was endorsed by Ussher and Westminster Divine Thomas Gataker. Richardson, with the blessings of at least one leading Divine (Gataker), wrote in his Annotations on Genesis that the creation days were natural days consisting of 24 houres. Furthermore, he commented: The Evening, which is the beginning of the Night, and the Morning, which is the beginning of

DAVID W. HALL the Day, are called the first day, largely taken, the Day natural of 24 houres. Later on Genesis 1:5, Richardson wrote that the days time was one of normal Jewish reckoning, as the beginning of the natural day of twenty four hours was reckoned from the Creation . . . the Point Material is, That it must comprehend twenty four hours. Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, asserted that the creation days should be measured as follows: from Sunne to Sunne is counted a day. (Lectures Preached in St. Pauls Church, London, 1657), 661). Later, Andrews would affirm: [T]herefore we say a day hath twenty four hours . . this was a day by itself, as the other six days were by themselves. (662) Citing Basil, Andrews commented that the word yom had a meaning for our natural use that we should esteem twenty four hours one day . . . The first day is an example to the dayes after. (663) Later theologians who repudiated Augustines eccentric position continued this and only this tradition until the mid-eighteenth century. The only debate about the pervasiveness of this classic creation view is when it began to be challenged or when its eclipse started, certainly long after Calvin and Westminster. It seems abundantly clear that Reformed exegetes rather uniformly rejected Augustinianism, following Peter Lombard and Aquinas, and definitely maintained a consensus of interpreting the Genesis day as a normal day before, during, and after the Reformation. The hoped-for ambiguity (often purported but not sustainable) among commentators the century before Westminster simply is not present, at least among Reformed orthodoxy. The Westminster Divines had a uniform, not multiform, approach in the mid-seventeenth century; before proof-less assertions that the Westminster Divines embraced massive agnosticism, indifferentism, or pluralism on the length of days can be taken seriously, multiple texts indicating the Divines stunning anticipation of modern broadmindedness will have to be buttressed with, alas, actual and compelling textual instantiation. Furthermore, this tradition, and a quite exclusive one at that, continued at least until 1740, and other studies will discuss and seek to identify a more precise departure point, most likely in the 1800-1860 eranot accidentally, in our view, related to the widespread popularization of hostile scientific theories, not the least of which was proffered by Darwin.




Chapter 5

The Westminster Divines

The Westminster Divines and the long stretch of church history prior to the nineteenth century did have a fixed view on the length of creation days. This historical fact is often obscured by either biased presuppositions or a research vacuum. Despite the prevalent claim from some quarters (actually relatively recent, primarily since the 1800s) that the confessional words in the space of six days really could mean up to 16 billion years, when primary writings by the Divines are consulted, it becomes very difficult to maintain that the Divines were more chic than heretofore imagined. Contrary to the theological mythology of the past 150 years, the leading Westminster Divines did leave explicit testimony, in writing, repeatedly, and uniformly on this subject. A review of their own writings only permits embarrassment for those who assert that they expressed no view on this subject. First, in order to follow the trail, good theological detectives may have to weed out many of the urban legends that have been recently and industriously sown. We have been told that there is little or no record of what the original Divines intended. That is not true, unless one limits his research to a very narrow set of documentary evidence. We have also been led to believe that English Bibles use the phrase, in the space of six days, to paraphrase biblical teaching. We cannot find one. We have been told that many puritans, like William Ames, allowed for long peri70 71

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION ods of creation. That, too, is a myth. The view of Augustine has been distorted, and we are supposed to believe that Augustine was an early day Carl Sagana myth that only a committed revisionist would believe. I was taught all of these by fine evangelical scholars. From the record of history and from the Scriptures, however, these claims simply do not sustain the case that the language of the earlier confessions, and this one in particular, is unclear. The Westminster standards consciously asserted a truth claim by their words: in the space of six days. That language had specific meaning when it was asserted, and it still means what it says today. Persons may disagree with the Confessions assertions and doubtless other issues must be addressed, but its meaning is verifiable and unambiguous. The urban legends I have mentioned above have, however, become fairly entrenched and widely taught in academic classrooms for a century. Much of this, at least in reformed circles, hides behind the authority of recent reformed heroes. It is also mythical that we are obliged to follow leading theologians when they were wrong. I am happy to acknowledge the debt we owe to Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield in many theological areas. They were great home run hitters of their day, the Babe Ruth and Mark McGwire of their respective days. But even great hitters hit foul balls occasionally, and in the matter of the span of the creation week, they were afield. Even good men err, and the Reformed tradition has consistently affirmed that it prefers real history to following the traditions of the elders, even if the elders are Hodge, Shedd, or Warfield. What was the View of the Westminster Assembly Divines on Creation Days? Reaching the conclusions I do below has not been swift or without correction. As iron sharpens iron, so hard criticism has helpfully refined my thesis that ultimately rises or falls depending on its concurrence or nonconcurrence with truth. In July 1998, I originally presented to our churchs annual meeting a finding that featured at least 7 Westminster Divines who were explicit on the length of creation days. That study quickly became the subject of some controversy and was subsequently exposed to rigorous criticism. That criticism has only refined, corrected, and strengthened my original postulation.

DAVID W. HALL Below is my updated argument, limited to Westminster Divines only (not including the numerous other contemporaries as did the earlier study), and defending how quantitatively and qualitatively compelling the view remains that their original intent was only in favor of understanding normal days for the confessional phrase in the space of six days. Indeed, the body of evidence supporting this view is growing. Moderns may differ with their views, but it is no longer credible that their original intent is unclear. Following numerous challenges, interactions, and comments (Thanks especially to the constructive criticisms of my former teacher Dr. William S. Barker) subsequent to my July 1998 publication of my findings, below I offer my latest findings on this subject. The following members or participants in the proceedings of the Westminster Assembly left a record of their views on this subject.90 Since the progress of discussion will no longer focus on if the Divines expressed a view, but how much weight should be given to respective testimony, I will classify the Divines as explicit voting members, explicit non-voting members, implicit voting members, and implicit non-voting members. Scholars may evaluate how much relative weight should be assigned to these various groups and how much weight should be assigned to non-contemporaries. Notwithstanding, my original claim that more than 10 Divines either explicitly or implicitly left record of their preference on this matter appears to be holding up. It may even grow in quantity as more research comes to light. Explicit Voting Members 1. John Lightfoot (5 works, only counted as one); the number of sources, including a sermon, should not be minimized in a fair search for original intent. Lightfoot affirms most succinctly in his Works: and in four and twenty hours it was accomplished. (2:334) One is on the weakest of historical ground to claim that Lightfoot condoned long creational periods. It is frequently and erroneously claimed that none of the Westminster Divines or contemporaries left clues about their view on this controverted subject. Leading advocates of the post-1800 position argue that if it had been important the Divines would have clumsily injected 24
90 Of all the other Westminster Divines I surveyed, many did not leave written commentary on the subject, but I have found none who contradicted the normal-day view.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION hour into the confession or catechisms; consequently, some argue, the Divines had no fixed view on this issue. Such argument, however, only indicates that they have not consulted other original works by the Divines that clearly indicate their understandingthe only one at the timeof the phrase in the space of six days. It was Lightfoot who advocated the same scheme as Ussher (earlier, in 1642), attended the Assembly, was quite eager to propagate that scheme, and whose temper and debating skills place the burden of proof exclusively on the shoulders of those who hold other views to indicate that he possibly would have kept quiet had the WCF been so crafted as to permit long geologic periods of creation. Lightfoot, like Ussher and many others living long before 1800, did not dream of the interpretations that are suggested by modern exponents. The Divines explicitly wrote to the contrary. Lightfoot is so specific as to affirm that the heavens moved in darkness twelve hours before God commanded the creation of light,91 and he also maintained that all six creation days were 24 hour days and natural days (334-335). Of the second day, he claimed, and in four and twenty hours it was accomplished. (334) To clarify the intent of Ames, Lightfoot stated that Moses presented the seven days, or the first week of the world, altogether without interposition; (336). The leading Hebraist of his day treated, as did Ussher, each of the creation days as natural days and as of limited duration (337). Rather than imagining a long period of evolution, Lightfoot commented (on Gen. 1:9) that the earth instantly brought forth trees and plans in their several kinds. (334) In at least three other works, Lightfoot stated the same opinions. In his Chronicle of the Times, his understanding of 24 hour days is clear from the following: Twelve hours was there universal darkness through all the world; and then was light created in the upper horizon, and there it enlightened twelve hours more. (Works, 2:71) Similarly, in his Rules for a Student of the Holy Scriptures, he affirmed that day and night were each twelve hours, And in four and twenty hours the command is accomplished. (Works, 2:10-11) In his De Creatione, the OT expert of the Westminster Assembly wrote that the days were natural days, consisting of 24 hours.92
91 The Whole Works of the Rev. John Lightfoot, D.D., (rpr. J. R. Pitman, ed., London, 1822), vol. 2, 333. Volume and page numbers throughout this section are to this edition. 92 See the Appendix below (originally posted at, which contains a modern translation of De Creatione by The Rev. Wesley Baker.

DAVID W. HALL Lightfoot also (cf. vol. 7 of his Works) directly attacks the Augustinian view and explains why it took six days in a sermon entitled, The Sabbath Hallowed. He alludes to a crude form of evolution or some philosophical parallel, when he wrote, for example: All Israel hears more divinity and philosophy in these few words, In six days, the Lord made heaven and earth, and rested the seventh day, &c, than all the great wisdom and philosophy of the heathen was able to spell out in a thousand years. Some of them were so wide from knowing that the world was made by God, that they thought it was never made at all, but was eternal, and never had beginning. Others, that it was a god itself, and made itself. Others, that it grew together at haphazard of atoms, or motes flying up and down, which, at last, met and conjoined in this fabric of the world, which we behold. So blind is sinful man to the knowledge of his Creator, if he have no better eyes and light to look after him by, than his own. Israel hath a divine light here held out before them, whereby they see and learn in these few words, That the world was not eternal, but had a beginning; and that it was made; and that it made not itself, but was made by God; that it was not jumbled together by haphazard of I know not what, and I know not how, but that God made it in six days.[7:368] This illustrates how many views were before the Divines for consideration (Had they had any instances of framework theory before them, it would have been interesting to see their analysis of that exegesis.) and which view alone was considered orthodox. Lightfoot also asks, And what needed he take six days, that could have done all in a moment? His answer is that God set the pattern for our time: He, by his own proceeding and acting, would set the clock of time, and measure out days, and a week, by which all time is measured.[7:372] An additional comment by Lightfoot further clarifies: So that look at the first day of the creation, God made heaven and earth in a moment. The heaven, as soon as created, moved, and the wheel of time began to go: and thus, for twelve hours, there was universal darkness. This is called the evening, meaning night. Then God said, Let there be light; and light arose in the east, and, in twelve hours more, was carried over the hemisphere: and this is called, morning, or day. And the evening and morning made the first natural day; twelve hours, darkness,and twelve, light. [7:373] Lightfoots argument only makes sense if we assume his contention that the days of creation were 24 hours. He argued that Adam fell the day he was created. As a practical point, he asserted: Redemption was wrought on the sixth day, as the fall had been on the sixth day. . . . About


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION the third hour, the hour afterward of sacrifice and prayer, it is very probable Adam was created . . . About the sixth hour, or high noon, Adam most probably fell, as being the time of eating . . . And John tells you, chap. xix.14, that, about the sixth hour, he was condemned, and led away to be crucified . . . Such harmony may be found betwixt the day and hours, of the one and of the other: the latter helping to prove and clear, that Adam fell and the sixth day, the day on which he was created, and continued not in honour all night. (7:377) Also note how intimately the Sabbath is related to 24-hour creation days. Then I pray, why should Moses speak of Gods sanctifying the sabbath, when he is speaking of the first week of the world,if he meant not, that the seventh day of that week was sanctified? And what sense were it to read the command thus, For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, &c, and rested the seventh; therefore, two thousand five hundred and thirteen years after [emphasis added], he blessed the seventh and hallowed it? But read it, as it lies before you, He rested the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath-day and hallowed it;and must it not needs mean, he blessed that seventh day, that he rested, and sanctified it, and so the seventh successively in following generations? (7:385) For Lightfoot, a regular first normal week of the world is indispensable to our understanding of the Sabbath. The force of the Sabbath lies in the archetype week found in creation. **********************************************************

DAVID W. HALL deserving of our wonderif [you consider its] order and all-sided beautyif, in short, [you consider its] perfection, it is in every way excellent) reveals that which is the greatness, wisdom and goodness of him who brought it forth. II. When the history of the Church was written, it was first necessary to inquire when she had her beginning. Now it happens that she is discovered to have had her own beginning, just as the life of the world, at the same time with it, enduring to its [i. e., creations] end. III. It was appropriate that divine justice, in planting and transplanting peoples, and in either establishing or eradicating nations, not be portrayed through human blasphemy (a variety of all these have been produced as examples in Church history), [but rather it is] to be understood from the worlds first origin, that the earth is the Lords, who made it, and that it has been lawful [for him] to do as he pleases for himself among those who are his own. IV. In short, the beginning of the world points out its purpose, so that, looking back to the beginning, we may be taught by God himself, who has his own origin, to look for and expect his purpose. And that, from creation we may be able to infer the resurrection; if indeed he, who created us from nothing (even us, since we are something) is able to arouse us. II. WORKS OF THE FIRST DAY Heaven and Earth The Omnipotent Trinity, from all eternity dwelling in and with himself, foreseeing that it would be good to share himself with [his] creatures, in the beginning of all things created the heaven and the earth, the center and periphery at one and the same time, out of nothing. The heavens were created perfect, with respect to their own substance, form, and order; the earth however, in the first moment of its creation, was lacking its own beauty, adornment, and perfection; and indeed the waters were covering all the way up to the peaks of the mountains; and in that immense void, between the convexity of the surface waters and the concavity of the heavenly waters, there was darkness. The heavens, moreover, from that instant in which they were created, were being moved by the Spirit of God in orbit, around the lower globe of earth and waters.

Appendix A: On Creation by John Lightfoot Translated by The Rev. Wesley Baker

Pastor of the Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Learned, MS I. Why, in Holy Scripture, Mention of Creation is made before other Things. I. The first step in getting acquainted with God is through creation; and that which is known about God [in this way] is primarily his eternal power and divinity (Rom 1.20). Hence, the Holy Scriptures rightly begin, with the history of creation, in order that, from then on they may make his power clear; and throughout the whole of that history they use that name which declares his divinity. His name Elohim (though it is plural in form, in construction it is singular of number, and indicates by signification, Power) instructs us in the mystery of Divinity and his eternal power. And creation itself (which, if you consider [its] nature, is


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Clouds The clouds were created at the same instant as the heavens, full with water, which, when suspended in their concavity, were being moved together with them. By these clouds, are not to be understood those, which owe their own origin to vapor, whose motions we observe everyday in strong agitations; but those which are called rushing waters, the sea, and the windows of heaven, and which were opened to bring about the just annihilation of the human race in the universal flood. We believe, however, that these had been founded at the same instant as the heavens, supporting this by two reasons. 1. Because, in the enumeration of the works of the second day, there is mention of the waters above the expanse, and there were some below the expanse. 2. Because, David says that God founded his dwelling place upon the waters (Ps 104.3), indicating that these clouds were founded as heaven itself. Whence it is gathered by the distinction of these two extraordinary parts of the world, that for the waters above the expanse, heaven is to be understood, and for those that were under the expanse, earth is to be understood. Angels Together with the heavens, it is rightly supposed that Angels were created as their inhabitants and residents, intelligent beings that are able to have communion with God. 1. In fact, God himself declared that the morning stars and the sons of God, by which excellent name these creatures are invoked, sang and even cried out, at the time when the foundation stone of the earth was laid. 2. David, in the same place [mentioned] above (Ps 104.2-4), places Angels by rank, even as the first in the in the whole of heaven. Of the creation of Angels there is no mention in the writings of Moses, partly because he himself had been commissioned to handle only visible things; partly, that they not be induced, from superstition, on account of the disposition of the time in which they were created, to believe that they who were only spectators of creation, were actors themselves and his efficient causes. Lux After the heavens had been moved in darkness for twelve hours, God said, Let there be light, and there was light evidently in that hemi78

DAVID W. HALL sphere in which afterwards the Garden of Eden would be planted (for it was in respect of this that this history was written); and that [hemisphere] now shined for twelve hours, gradually descending with the movement of the heavens to the other hemisphere, opposite Eden, which likewise shined for twelve hours, whence in that part of the world, the first natural day, had its own course, consisting of twenty-four hours. For indeed 1. that the world was made at the time of the equinox is not doubted by any, though by some it is held in doubt whether that equinox will have been vernal or autumnal; whichever was the case, however, at that time, days and nights were equal, consisting of twelve hours [each]: and the night was prior to the day (quite often, in fact, it is repeated that the evening and the morning made the day), whence, without an argument it is easily shown that the whole world was hidden in darkness for 12 hours before any part of it was rejoicing in the light, although they could give fuller confirmation to this opinion. 2. The first three days, which were illumined, not by the sun, but by light alone, necessarily ought to conform to the same manner and measure, similar in interval and period of light, because the following days were understood by reference to them, by which alone it was given [us] to understand; for otherwise, we are not able to designate a precise week, whether [it is] six, or by including the Sabbath, seven days. Only after the foundation was completed were the days having light and darkness for equal periods, and it is necessarily to be supposed that in the [first] three days there was the same mode of proceeding. Moreover, it is certain that the sun, having barely been established at the same time, illumined the other hemisphere, even as it is now the same way. From which, similarly, it is necessarily to be supposed that, by the same way of proceding, the earth had been illumined in the [first] three days; for otherwise, Moses had inconveniently enumerated the days as if they were uniform, and the sun just now made, had introduced [something] extraordinary, a change in the creation, if another kind of day had been followed, than [that which] before was holding place. ********************************************************** Lightfoot stated publicly (certainly superior in weight to unproven private opinions that have no evidence) that, That the world was made at equinox, all grant,93but differ at which, whether about the eleventh of March, or twelfth of September; to me in September, without all doubt.
93 The all grant is emphasized to call attention to the virtually universal agreement on this topic at the time by the Divines. Lightfoot considered this undisputed.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION All things were created in their ripeness and maturity; apples ripe, and ready to eat, as is too sadly plain in Adam and Eves eating the forbidden fruit. . . . So that look at the first day of the creation, God made heaven and earth in a moment. The heaven, as soon as created, moved, and the wheel of time began to go; and thus, for twelve hours, there was universal darkness. This is called the evening, meaning night. Then God said, Let there be light, and light arose in the east, and, in twelve hours more, was carried over the hemisphere; and this is called, morning, or day. And the evening and morning made the first natural day; twelve hours, darkness,and twelve, light. It is correct that the Divines did not attempt to settle the matter of which (if any) equinox marked creation; but they did nail down one issue with the words: in the space of six days. While Lightfoot advocated a different form of government than the Divines, few question his ability as an OT scholar or the fact that his views on the subject of creation were compatible with other Divines. In the past, it was frequently and erroneously claimed that few, if any, of the Westminster Divines revealed their view on the meaning of day. Their supposed agnosticism, however, is quickly corrected if one consults some of their many commentaries on related passages. If the issue is original intent, that may be supplied by many contemporaneous sources, both explicit and implicit. 2. John White (Commentary on Genesis 1-3): Here, where it [yom] is distinguished from the Night, it is taken for a Civil day, that is, that part of 24 houres which is Light; but in the latter end of the verse, it signifies a Natural day, consisting of 24 houres, and includes the night too. White also wrote, By the Evening, we must here understand the whole night, or space between the shutting in of the light, and the dawning of the next day. . . . In the same manner runs the computation of Times, among the Hebrews to this day. (op. cit., 32) Whites use of the term space and his reference to God is here represented to us, in the Creation of the world, proceeding by leisure, and taking the time of Six dayes to perform that . . . indicates that the Westminster Divines had a definite meaning for the phrase in the space of that was not merely a summary for large, undefined periods of time. 3. John Ley (Annotations): This first day consisting of twenty foure howres and the Sabbath (being as large a day as any of the rest, and so containing twenty foure howres is measured from even to even. Elsewhere, he wrote: the word Day is taken for the natural day consisting of twenty foure howres, which is measured most usually from the

DAVID W. HALL Sun-rising to the Sun-rising; or from the Sun-setting to the Sun-setting. Ley noted that such sense was also used in Exodus 12:29, Numbers 3:13 and 8:17. Referring to other literal 24-hour periods, the view of the Divines is hardly invisible. Ley and the other Divines of the Annotations also followed Ussher in other matters of chronology (Cf. on Gen. 2:4). 4. George Walker. I thank Dr. Will Barker for informing me (in correspondence) about another support that I had not discovered. Dr. Barker says, Another Westminster Divine, George Walker, argued in his God Made Visible in His Works, or A Treatise of the External Works of God (London, 1641, 44-47) that it had to be on the vernal equinox. 5. William Twisse (first Moderator of the Assembly): The Westminster Assemblys Prolocutor and most revered theologian, William Twisse, along with most other Divines adopted Usshers chronology by referring to creation as after the expiration of 2500 years [ed., before Moses] . . . (Of the Morality of the Fourth Commandment {London, 1641}, 196; also 198). The chief theologian of the Assembly, William Twisse, both followed the Ussher chronology and also endorsed a short creation period. In Twisses Of the Morality of the Fourth Commandment (London, 1641), he asserted that Adam fell on the seventh day, following a 24 hour sixth day: . . . and surely Adams naming of them cost him no study; and undoubtedly all this was done before noon, and space enough allowed for the Devils conference with Eve . . . (51; italics added). Even if one differs with other parts of these original formulations, it is clear that the generation of the Divines did have a definite and presumed view of the meaning of in the space of six days. 6. Simeon Ashe: John Balls Short Treatise containing all the principle grounds of Christian Religion (London, 1650, 1670, 65-66), prefaced and endorsed by Westminster Divine Simeon Ashe also confirms, to wit: What is creation? That whereby God made all things of nothing in six days (with the scripture reference to Ex. 20:11) . . . How was the first matter created? It was made simply of nothing in time (Heb. 11:3). A careful reading of this leads to only one logical conclusion. However, Simeon Ashes view is corroborated in his endorsement of the following in The Good Old Way (or Perkins Improved): A Plain Exposition and Sound Application (London, 1653, 26): Principle I, Member 3, Q 5; When was the world created? It is betwixt five and six thousand years since the world was created. If it be asked at what time of year, the most judicious answer [is] in the spring time (italics added); if

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION in what time, in the space of six daies (Gen. 1:31 compared with 2:1 and Ex. 20:11). 7. Thomas Gataker endorsed John Richardsons Annotations; Richardson, with the explicit blessing of Gataker, wrote in his Annotations on Genesis that the creation days were natural days consisting of 24 houres. Furthermore, he commented: The Evening, which is the beginning of the Night, and the Morning, which is the beginning of the Day, are called the first day, largely taken, the Day natural of 24 houres. Later on Genesis 1:5, Richardson wrote that the days time was one of normal Jewish reckoning, as the beginning of the natural day of twenty four hours was reckoned from the Creation . . . the Point Material is, That it must comprehend twenty four hours.) Gataker not only endorsed this in the preface, but also confirmed the same view in a second source, his own Catechism. 8. Daniel Featley (1582-1645), Clavis Mystica: A Key Opening Divers Difficult and Mysterious Texts of Holy Scripture (London: Printed for Nicolas Bourne, 1636).94 In his sermon on Deuteronomy 32:29 (Sermon XXII), Featley started with these words:
Enoch lived by just computation so many yeeres as there are dayes in the yeere, viz. 365. and he was the seventh man from Adam, and dyed in anno Sabbathico, the Sabbathick yeere, and thereby became a lively Embleme both of this life, and the life to come. For the labours of this life are governed by the course of the Sunne, which is finished in that period of time; and the rest of the life to come is evidently prefigured in the Sabbath. It is farther written of him in the holy Records of eternity, that he walked with God, and was therefore translated that hee should not see death, to teach us, that they who walke with God all the dayes of their life as he did, shall come into no condemnation, but immediately passe from death to life, from death temporall to life eternall, which was not obscurely disciphered unto us in the narration of the seventh dayes creation. After the mention of every day in the weeke, and the worke thereof, wee reade, so the evening and the morning were the first day, and so the second, and the rest: but after the relation of the seventh dayes creation, on which God rested and blessed and sanctified it, the former clause is quite omitted. It is not added as in the rest, so the morning and
94 After my initial research, I was given invaluable assistance by the Rev. Wesley Baker and Dr. Mark Herzer. With their additional research, a paper with Mark Herzer and Wesley Baker is web posted at: The findings for Featley, Selden, Baillie, Caryl, and Rutherford below were contributed by Dr. Herzer.

the evening were the seventh day; because in Heaven, whereof the Sabbath was a type, there is no morning and evening, much lesse night; but as it were perpetuall high-noon. For the Lambe is the light thereof, and this Lambe is the Sunne of righteousnesse, which never riseth nor setteth, but keepth still in the midst of the Empyreall Heaven and Throne of God: as on the contrary, in Hell there is nothing but continuall midnight and everlasting darknesse. (280-281)

Featley implied that each of the six creation days were normal (24hour) days. He is not denying that there is no mention of morning and evening on the seventh normal day, but rather he argues that the omission had a theological purpose behind it. He even rested creation upon a Christological analogy: . . . wherein our blessed Saviour made sixe steps to the Crosse, and having in sixe dayes accomplished the workes of mans redemption as his Father in the like number of dayes had finished the workes of creation, the seventh day kept his Sabbaths rest in the grave. (857) Probably the most surprising discovery, however, occurs in Featleys devotional piece, Ancilla Pietatis (London: Printed for Thomas Dring, 1675). Regarded as the most popular manual of private devotion in its day (DNB, VI, 1141), it underwent up to nine editions.95 One would hardly suspect that issues of creation would be broached in such a popular devotional piece, yet we will see that Featleys common doctrine of the creation account served as a guide, in large measure, to the whole structure of his work. Featley gives daily directions to ones reading, meditation and prayer. This is one of the sections for the week. On Wednesday, it is entitled, Wednesday Devotion, being the fourth day from the Creation. (156) On this fourth day, we are told what God the Father did: The Work of creation on this day. (156) He lists Genesis 1:14-19 as the support, reference, and reading. For the morning meditation, the Christian is to meditate on the Creation of the two great lights. (157) In that mornings prayer, the believer is to acknowledge God who created the glorious Lamps and Heaven, the Sun and Moon to light him, the one in the day, the other in night, and both to measure his time, to direct his husbandry, to recreat [sic] him in his travels, to ripen his fruits, and encrease his store (165). The same method for Thursday (and other days) is found, e. g., Thursdayes Devotion, being the fifth Day from the Crea95

Page numbers in parentheses are to this 9th edition.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION tion . . . The work of Creation on this Day. (179, Gen. 1:20-23 is cited) The prayer, again rooted in the creation account, thanks God who this day commandest the fowls to flye through the Air (189). Featley encouraged the saints to thank God for each day as an ordinary, calendar day, which had its corresponding history in the normal day of creation. Normal day creation chronology, therefore, was not an auxiliary issue; it had pious and practical implications. The saints of God were encouraged to recall the specific creation day and bless his Maker for it. Such a directive would have had no significance if normal days in the creation account were not in view. 9. Robert Baillie (1602-1662), Operis Historici et Chronologici Libri Duo; In quibus Historia Sacra and Profane compendiose deducitur ex ipsis fontibus, creatione Mundi ad Contantinum Magnum, . . . Amstelodami: Apud Joannem a Someren, 1668) (. . . from the creation of the world to Constantine the Great). The chapter headings are of particular interest. Baillie, a leading Scottish Divine, addressed the following specific topics:
Chapter 1: Concerning the things which happened from the creation to the flood; Chapter 2: Containing questions and doubts about the previous chapter; In what season of the year was the world created? Were the years of Moses equal to ours? Were the fathers following an ancient chronology? Is the chronology of the Hebrew text vindicated against the errors of the Greek interpretation concerning the years of the patriarchy before the flood?96

DAVID W. HALL ral day in Autumn. Quae anni tempestate mundus sit creatus. Secundo Quaeritur, quo anni tempore mundus creatus sit? Respondeo, est in confesso Solem & Lunam creata in stata aliqua & sixa parte Zodiaci, host est, vel in uno aequinoctiroum seu Verno seu Autumnali, vel in uno Solstitiorum seu hyberno seu aestivo: quanquam in circulo & motibus Palnetarum circularibus nullum vere sit principium nec finis, nec medium, nec quidquam statum and fixum, sed quod auna ratione concipitur principium, altera medium, altera finis dicis potest: tamen relatione ad certas terrae partes & incolas, praedictae quatuor Zodiaci partes recte notantur ad varios usus in humana vita ut statae & fixae . Primo, Tempus quo arbores onerantur fructibus est Autumnus: at tempore quo creabatur Mundus, arbores onerabantur fructibus, ut ex historia lapsus in paradiso statim a creatione patet. (5) Translation: The Second Question: in which time of the year was the world created? I reply and it is my profession that the Sun and the Moon were somehow created in determinate positions and according to the six parts of the Zodiac, that is, at one equinox or the other, the Spring or the Fall equinox, at one solstice or the other, winter or summer. Although the planets were moving circularly in many orbits, truly their origin was not at the end or the middle of those orbits, but they were determined and fixed [by God]. But these were conceived by understanding [or appearance] as having been manifest from other beginnings, middles, and ending [points of orbit]. However, [as viewed] in relation to certain parts and inhabitants of the earth, they appeared as prearranged according to the four parts of the Zodiac, straightly aligned as determined and fixed for various uses in human life . . . The first time was Autumn when the trees were bearing fruit; but the time when the world was created the trees were bearing fruit, so that from the history of the Fall in paradise as determined from creation is well known (patet). One of the leading Scottish Divines certainly thought this matter to be clear, fixed, literal, and well known. 10. John Selden (1584-1654), Theanthropos: or, God made Man, A Tract proving the nativity of our Saviour to be on the 25. of December. (London: Printed by J. G. for Nathaniel Brooks, 1661). Reputed to be one of the most learned men in the Assembly and a leader of the Erastian party, John Selden sought to prove that Christ was born on December 25th in one of his small tracts (like most Anglicans of the day, he believed in Holy Days). As a prominent layman (one of thirty at the Assembly), he did not necessarily argue for this on the floor, but in this tract

Baillie affirmed: We view the world and all its parts as created from nothing in time in the space of six days (visum in tempore mundum omnesque mundi partes, spatio sex dierum, ex nihilo creare.) (2) Creation at the vernal equinox is addressed in the second question, clearly exhibiting the Scotsmans view that creation occurred on a natuCaput I: De rebus gestis a Creatione ad Diluvium (1-5); Caput II: Continens quaestiones & dubia ad caput superius.; QUAESTIO II: Quae anni tempestate mundus sit creatus.; QUAESTIO III: An Mosis anni fuerint nostris pares? QUAESTIO IV: An Patres in Chronologia antiqua sequendi? Addenda ad Quaestionem IV: Vindicatur Chronologia textus Hebraici contra Graeci Interpretis errores in annis Patriarcharum ante fluvium.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION (after the Assembly), he argued for the traditional date of Christmas. Various dates for the year of Christs birth were weighed; they were 4711, 4549, 4550, 4710, etc. He refers to this dating as commonly received at the time (Theanthropos, 57). Burroughs and Goodwin further utilize this manner of computing time, namely, the year when Christ was born from the day of creation. It was commonly or vulgarly received by the Divines, whereas no mention is ever made to the Day-Age or Framework theories. We suspect Seldens De Anno Civili et Calendarios Veteris Ecclesiae seu Reipublicae Judaicae (1644) might say something more specific (we have not yet secured a copy). Selden, in another book (Uxor Hebraica, 1646), has shown that the Jews dated significant legal documents and events from the date of creation (. . . years from the creation of the world (147), and . . . year from Creation (421). He seems to be quoting Jewish authorities approvingly; these references necessarily support only one dating of creation, i. e., the normal way of dating, employing natural days. 11. Joseph Caryl (1602?-1673) Joseph Caryl, in the largest commentary on the book of Job from the period, made some illuminating comments regarding creation. Among the topics touched upon in his commentary on Job, creation does not escape his perceptive analysis. One of the first things Caryl addresses is the issue of dating Job himself. In a side note, Caryl cited a leading authority on Jobs date: An. 2230 from the Creation, 574 years after the Flood; 282 years after Abraham. (2) In response, he stated that he cannot be as accurate, not because the chronological method was inappropriate but because locating Jobs historical context was difficult. However, he concluded: We may safely say, that Job lived between the times of Abraham, and Moses; and nearer Moses then [sic] Abraham. (3) Caryl wished to determine on which day the Morning Star was created. To this he said that their Creation is comprehended in the works of the first day, under those general words (Gen. I.1) In the beginning God created the Heavens, and the Earth; the Heavens contained all the Stars in their materiality, though not yet formally produced . . (1907). Though this suggested much, it will make more sense from some of the references following. In dealing with Job 38:12 , Caryl referred to a verse in Genesis in which God commanded the first morning (Gen. 1.5). (1926) He explained the theological point of the first morning by stating what God was in effect saying: There was a morning before thy [that is, mans]

DAVID W. HALL days; and since thy days many have continued and come forth daily; yet not at thy command, but at mine. As I brought forth the light in the first day of the Creation, so the fourth day I Created the Sun, into which I gathered the light, and at whose rising the morning shews it self. (1927) Similarly, As surely there is no Creature wherein we may see and contemplate more of God than in the light, which he made the first day, and now commandeth to make the morning day by day. (1930) In this last reference, he equated the first day of creation with normal (Jobs contemporary) days. More importantly, Caryl argued that the morning and evening in Job 4:20 were normal days and appealed to Genesis 1:5 to prove his point: the morning and the evening are the parts of a natural day, Gen. 1. 5. Or the two terms of a civil day, and there include and take in the full compass of the day. (349) The importance of this reference is his Genesis citation. Normal or natural day was founded on Gen. 1:5 for this Assembly Divine. There are various references to the creation account scattered throughout his commentary. Before we list them, let us note what sort of literary genre Genesis possessed for Joseph Caryl. The Genesis account was a holy story (955), which contained the History of Creation (1929), because there is history in Genesis (1802). Caryl commented, Tis God who hath made those great lights, the Sun to rule the day, and the Moon and Stars to rule the night (Gen. 1.16). The day would be night to us, if God had not prepared the Sun (for though these were three days before the Sun was made, yet now is the Sun which makes the day) and the night would be nothing but darkness to us, if God had not prepared the Moon and the Siars (sic). (1931) Creation was a work end[ing] in six days, he wrote, but Providence is a work that never ends . . . (1795) Creation was not a house huddled and clapt up together, without skill or art, though it was made with a word speaking in six days, yet it was made with infinite wisdom . . . (1893) Further, he wrote: We understand the Work of Creation, yet not by the strength of natural reason, but through faith . . . (1893) and before God perfected the creation, all was a confused heap without form and void. But that rude indigested matter was drawn forth in the several works of the six-days Creation, into a most beautiful form and order (1358; cf. 1361). 12. Samuel Rutherford, in Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himselfe (London: J. D. for Andrew Crooke, 1647) wrote: Our Saviour, who promiseth soule-rest to others, cannot have soule-rest himselfe: his

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION soule is now on a wheele sore tossed, and all the creatures are upon a wheele, and in motion; there is not a creature since Adam sinned, sleepeth sound. Wearinesse and motion is laid on Moon and Sunne, and all creatures on this side of the Moon. Seas ebbe and flow, and thats trouble; winds blow, rivers move, heavens and stars these five thousand yeares, except one time, have not had sixe minutes rest; living creatures walk apace toward death . . . and Kings cannot have beds to rest in. The six dayes Creation hath been travelling and shouting for paine, and the Child is not born yet, Rom. 8.22. (12) Rutherford also wrote: Angels elect and chosen, never lost their birth-right of creation, as Men and Devils have done; they were created as the Lilies or Roses, which no doubt, had more sweetnesse of beauty and smell, before the sin of man made them vanity-sick, Ro.8.20. but they kept their robes of innocency, their cloth of gold above five thousand yeares, without one spark of dirt, or change of colour, for they never sinned; innocencie and freedome from sinne, hath much of God. Adam (as many think) kept not his garments cleane one day. (185; italics added) We can draw two important conclusions about Rutherford. The first is the most obvious, i. e., Rutherford dated his own life in relation to the birth of creation, just like every other contemporary Puritan we have found. This is so clear that little more needs to be said regarding the Puritan way of dating. However, two other phrases and thoughts are suggested by the references above. Rutherford refers to the six dayes Creation in contrast or in comparison to the 5,000 years. Whichever way we wish to interpret it, he viewed these as normal days as much as the five thousand years are normal years. The six-day creation has been suffering for five thousand yearsthat seems to be the point behind his statement. This suggests a literal or normal day creation. Also, the other reference to Adams sin is very significant. Rutherford is suggesting that perhaps Adam fell on the sixth day (now, whether he himself held to this view or not is insignificant) to underscore how quickly he fell. Lightfoot himself held to this view. Redemption was wrought on the sixth day, as the fall had been on the sixth day. . . . About the third hour, the hour afterward of sacrifice and prayer, it is very probable Adam was created . . . About the sixth hour, or high noon, Adam most probably fell, as being the time of eating . . . And John tells you, chap. xix.14, that, about the sixth hour, he was condemned, and led away to be crucified . . . Such harmony may be found betwixt the day and

DAVID W. HALL hours, of the one and of the other: the latter helping to prove and clear, that Adam fell on the sixth day, the day on which he was created,and continued not in honour all night. (Works, 7:377) Samuel Rutherford does not deny Lightfoots computation involved in such a theoryit is only suggestive of his practical point, namely, Adam fell quite quickly according to these Puritans. Rutherford was not offended by the suggestion that someone actually thought Adam fell on the sixth day of creation. 13. John Wallis, Westminster Divine (1616-1703) affirmed in A defense of the Christian Sabbath. Part the second: being rejoinder to Mr. Bampfields reply to Doctor Walliss discourse concerning the Christian Sabbath (Oxford: 1694, 45): Yet I shall allow you (though it be not Written) that there was on the seventh day (taking in the whole 24 hours) Darkness as well as light. Wallis, an eminent mathematician followed Herbert Palmers catechetical form as follows: Q 9: What is the work of creation? Is it Gods making all things of nothing in the space of six days? Yes. Or was there somewhat which God made not, of which other things were made? No. Doth God make all things by the word of his power, without the use of instruments? Yes. (John Wallis, A Brief and Easie Explanation of the Shorter Catechism, London, 1657, 6) Wallis use of the phrases in the space of six days coupled with without the use of instruments make it clear that he did not hold to a long geologic period of creation. 14. Daniel Cawdrey wrote on the topic, specifying that the fourth commandment required a whole day, [in Sabbatum Redivivum:Or the Christian Sabbath Vindicated Part 2, (London, 1652, page 188): Therefore a whole day is to be observed. If any man shall say, the commandment was ceremonial; we answer, if it were granted for other particulars, (which yet we have, and do deny,) yet not in this: For no man can shew how the time of 24 hours, can be in any respect mystical, or ceremonial; but rather according to the natural division of time in the very creation, The evening and the morning were the first and second day, etc. . . . But to this exception, we have many things to except: First, we do not understand, why he should say, The Jews were prescribed a natural day, not properly, but equivocally so called: seeing a natural day doth properly consist of 24 hours, and did so even in the first ordering, and distinguishing of time in the Creation. This further confirms our earlier claim that Herbert Palmer (see below) held the same view

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION since he coauthored the first part of Sabbatum Redivivum with Cawdrey but died leaving parts 2 through 4 for Cawdrey to do. Explicit Non-Voting Members 15. James Ussher: In The Westminster Assembly and its Work (Cherry Hill, NJ: Mack Publishing, 1972), Warfield sets out columns showing the close parallels of thought and expression between James Ussher and the WCF. Warfield includes both a reference to the use of the space of . . . as well as showing Usshers chronology that does not allow for geologic ages, when he records Usshers comment: Why may not men want the Scriptures now, as they did at the first from the creation until the time of Moses, for the space of 2513 years? (op. cit, 179) This chronology becomes the signature of a certain view, the only view adopted by Reformed orthodoxy between 1540-1740. The 1615 Irish Articles of Religion, which Warfield claims as a primary source for WCF I, confessed: In the beginning of time, when no creature had any being, God by his word alone, in the space of six days, created all things, and afterwards, by his providence, doth continue, propagate, and order them according to his own will. [Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, (Baker, 1983) vol. 3, 529] This phrase did not mean long ages, and Usshers chronology fit quite well with the theological tradition a century before and after his writing. In his Sum and Substance of Christian Religion (rpr. 1841, Hastings Robinson, ed., London), Ussher affirmed a young earth and argued that one of the reasons for this was To convince all heathen, that either thought that the world was without beginning, or that it began millions of years before it did. (118). And though, asserted Ussher, [God] could have perfected all the creatures at once and in a moment [ed., contra Augustine]; yet he was six days and six night in creating the world. (118) Another reason that Ussher cited was That we might observe, that many of the creatures were made before those which are ordinarily their causes; and thereby learn, that the Lord is not bound to any creature, or to any means; thus the sun was not created before the fourth day, and yet days, which now are caused by the rising of the sun, were before that. (118) In his The Annals of the Old Testament from the Beginning of the World (from the 1650 Latin edition), James Ussher listed the creation days not only as 24-hour units, but as successive calendar days, the first

DAVID W. HALL being October 23, 4004 BC. One need only compare Ussher with Heidegger (above) to realize that these questions are neither new nor are the orthodox answers idiosyncratic. While it is true that Ussher was appointed to the Assembly by Parliament but did not attend since he withdrew shortly thereafter to teach at Oxford in 1643, in light of his stature, a father to the Divines, their departure from his position on creation would certainly have been considered a defection during their day. To expect that they privately held to long periods of creation is conjecture without documentation, especially when it is recalled that such a defection would be noticed in the confession. If only half of the above are correct, until written citations can be produced that fairly indicate some Westminster Divine held to a long-age view, it is only fair that adherents to that position admit that they do so without earlier company and contrary to the earlier Westminster position. Later company may arrive, but we are still searching for any of the Divines, much less more than we have cited (which would be needed to establish a majority view), who held to a long geologic age for creation. That view still looks like a relatively recent modern invention, regardless of numerous adherents in our own century. Whether our studies have amassed eight, twelve or fifteen incontrovertible witnesses to original intent, or 19 or 24, the amazing fact is that historians must finally agree on the original intent of the Westminster Divines about the nature of creation days, until others present primary and incontrovertible testimony from additional Divines to the contrary. Mere speculation or assertion without evidence will not be credible until primary documentation is actually provided. Until that time, an unbiased person would recognize any attempt to espouse the view that the Divines held to a long day or framework hypothesis as little more than an unsubstantiated prejudice, anachronism, or dependence on faulty secondary and tertiary materials. Implicit or at least not Silent, Voting Members 16. Stephen Marshall in The Christian Sabbath Vindicated (London, 1645)which was endorsed by Assembly leaders Charles Herle, Daniel Cawdrey, and Herbert Palmertied a regular Sabbath day to the days of creation: . . . it was in Time determined together, as the seventh day from the Creation, together with one Day of seven (Gen. 2). (248) Later,


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Marshall also tied the meaning of the Sabbath to a revolution of our sun. 17. Charles Herle (Second Moderator). See item 16 above. 18. Herbert Palmer. See items 14 and 16 above. 19. William Gouge corroborates this view. In his The Sabbaths Sanctification (London, 1641, 2), Gouge catechized: Of how many houres doth the Sabbath day consist? Of foure and twenty (Gen. 2:3). The Sabbath is called the seventh day; so as it is a seventh part of the week; therefore so many houres as make up every of the other days (italics added) which are four and twenty must be accounted to this day. Earlier in his 1635 A Short Catechism, Wherein are briefly handled the Fundamental Principles of Christian Religion, Gouge adopted the same terminology as Ussher, Perkins, and Ames, viz., How did God create all things? By his Word, of nothing, in six days, very good. To avoid the obvious qualification of the clarifying clause in six days, some recent theologians seek to argue that this phrase has no meaning. Of course, if that were the case, Gouge and others would have simply omitted such unless interpreters wish equally to permit the ignoring of the clauses By his Word, or of nothing. The consistent presence of this phrase in the literature must be faced. Also in his 1635 A Short Catechism, he asked: How did God make all things? A: By his Word, of nothing, in six dayes, very good. (cf. Also Ball, 69). Moreover, in his commentary on Hebrews, Gouge opined: in the first chapter of Genesis, it is expressly declared what particular creatures God made in every of the six days. We are not to think that there was any such need of Gods taking up so much time as he did in creating the world, as if he could not have done it in a shorter time . . . yea, he could have made all in one moment. Two reasons may be given of Gods taking up six days in making the world. One, that by a due consideration of every days work, we might the better discern the difference of every creature, one from another; and the dependence of one upon another. For the creatures first made were for the use of such as followed after them. The other, that God might be a pattern to children of men throughout all ages, how to spend their time, namely, by working six days in every week, and resting the seventh.97 Later Gouge clarified his view (reflecting Usshers influence) on Hebrews 4:5: Thus in the beginning of the world there was mention

DAVID W. HALL made of a rest, which was the rest of the Sabbath day; but now again, above three thousand years after that, mention is made of another rest. (305) 20. Thomas Goodwin (The Works of Thomas Goodwin, 1:520) signaled his commitment to a very literal reading, agreeing with the views of Usher, Lightfoot, Ames, Perkins, and Twisse, viz.: And, my brethren, what is the reason that we Christians begin to reckon our time from Christ? We do not reckon from the creation; we do not say five thousand and five hundred and so many years, as it is since the creation; but we say one thousand six hundred, &c. as reckoning from Christ, for then our new world began. As an Independent at the Assembly, he indicates that agreement among Erastians (Lightfoot and Ussher), Independents (Goodwin) and Presbyterians (all others below) made this item one of the most consensual within the Assembly. It would be odd, then, to argue that with so much hearty concurrence across ecclesiastical lines, these Divines did not intend to enunciate a doctrinal standard, the contrary of which was also rejected. That strong burden of proof would require massive primary documentation to indicate that the Divines were offering a range of options for orthodoxy or pluralistic items, each of which was mutually correct. 21. John Arrowsmith, a leading Cambridge theologian at the Assembly, indicated his position by the following: . . . the Sun and Mans body had a mediate creation, as being produced ex non-ente tali: from such things as of themselves could not have cause such effects, but by virtue of Gods creative Word.98 It is illogical, however, to count his view in light of the above as anything other than the common view of the other Divines above.99
John Arrowsmith, A Chain of Principles or An Orderly Concatenation of Theological Aphorisms and Exercitations (Cambridge, 1659), 366. 99 Since the presentation of my revision on March 10, 1999, the following (thanks to the work of Drs. Mark Herzer and Kathy Thiessen) have been identified as adherents to the 24-hour day view from within the reformed tradition, though not members of the Westminster Assembly: (1) Jonathan Edwards (A History of the Work of Redemption) The particular wonderful events by which the work of creation was carried on filled up six days, but the great dispensations by which the work of redemption is carried on, are so many, that they fill up six or seven thousand years at least, as we have reason to conclude from the word of God. (2) The dating method above is a signature of holding to 24-hour days, as further evidenced by Richard Baxter (The Practical Works of Richard Baxter [IV: 87]), The Catechising of FamiliesQ. 7. When did he make all things? A. It is not yet six thousand years since he made this world, even as much as belongs to us to

William Gouge, Commentary on Hebrews [rpr. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1980], 303.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION 22. Jeremiah Burroughes, a leading Divine, maintained the same view as Ussher, Perkins, and Lightfoot, i. e., For he [Christ] was prophecied of for 4000 years before he came into the world, and in a mighty dark way, as now this first prophecie of Christ. The seed of the woman shall break the serpents head, what could they understand of this, and yet under this prophecie was the whole gospel prophecied . . .100 Implicit non-Voting Members 23. Adoniram Byfield, one of the recording clerks at Westminster, wrote: First, that the world had a beginning and was not eternal. Secondly, that this world and the things therein was made by God. Thirdly, that all was made of nothing. Fourthly, that God made all things by his Word onely. Fifthly, that all things in their creation were made good. Upon what reason should this scribes contribution to original intent be minimized? Moreover, the use of onely in the fourth affirmation rules out creation over a long period of time by all natural or by some natural
know. Q. 8. How long was God making this world? A. It pleased him to make it the work of six days; and he consecrated the seventh day, a sabbath, for the commemoration of it, and for the solemn worshipping him as our Creator. For more of the mounting evidence, cf. (3) Samuel Willard (1640-1707; a later American Puritan), A Compleat Body of Divinity, Sermon 35 (1690)The Scripture History runs us up the highest of any; and indeed it begins with the Beginning, and that comes considerably short of Six Thousand Years.; (4) Thomas Manton, Works (XIII:431-432)Here is another question. . . . whether the making of the world in six days be only for our understanding, or whether it be so really and indeed; whether all things were not created in the twinkling of an eye by Gods will and pleasure; or whether it were done by distinct days, as the history in Genesis seems to intimate? Mantons answer: Though God could make all things in a moment, yet we must not reason from Gods power to Gods will, nor instruct him how to bring forth his work . . . But to confirm you in the history of Moses, it is plain that God made the world in that order; there are these apparent reasons for it[1.] If God made the world all at once, how could Moses with truth put down such a distinct commendation of every days work? [2.] Moses wrote historically, therefore his words must be properly understood. (5) Henry Ainsworth (in his Annotations on the Pentateuch and Psalms), a close predecessor to the Divines, showed the consensual view of the day: Both large days, of 24 hours, from sun-setting to sun-setting; and strict, of 12 hours, from sun-rising to sun-setting, as is observed before on ver. 5, a special use whereof is shown in Psal. civ. 19-23. (p. 6) On v. 5, he argues for which is with us the space of twenty-four hours. I am equally glad to reiterate my thanks for the help that Mr. Christopher Coldwell of Dallas, TX gave in assisting with documentation in many places. 100 Jeremiah Burroughes, Jerusalems Glory Breaking forth into the World . . . [Printed for Giles Calvert, 1675] 40-41.

DAVID W. HALL processes. One may disagree with that view, but it seems clear what the view is. As a methodological canon, it would be most novel to hold that simply because one was a clerk therefore he could not also write on subjects and be considered reflective of the original intent of some Assembly at which he was recording. No standard work on the Assembly (e. g., Reid, Beveridge, or Mitchell) suggests the scribes were inaccurate reflections of the work of the Assembly. Any single clerks voice, of course, would not be authoritative alone; nor would it be indubitable if it offered contrary testimony due to absence. However, if it agreed with all other contemporaneous testimony, and was uncontradicted, no reasonable basis exists to exclude it as part of the original intent. Before dismissing the voices of Ussher, Wallis, and Byfield, historians will need to document that methodological criterion from other similar fair research.101 Summary: There still exists, even after considerable research on the matter, no credible instance of a Divine holding to a long age of creation or the Framework Hypothesis. Zero. On the other hand, at least 23 Westminster Divines who were either present, commissioned to serve, or recording the actual proceedings of the Assembly testifiedexplicitly or implicitlyto their belief in 24 hour days, a fairly short period between creation and Christs birth, and a rejection of Augustines position. A jesuitical disqualification of a scribe, or a distant Divine, or even the disqualification of other Divines who did leave a paper trail on this question, at most drops the score to 14-0 or 12-0 or 8-0, depending on criteria or personal zeal. The important thing is that this matter is established by multiple witnesses and there is no evidence, despite vigorous and well-manned searches to the contrary. It is not unreasonable or unfair to expect those taking the long geologic period view to present greater evidence than we have in order for us to take their historical claim seriously.

One more important point should be maintained: the question is not to ascertain the Augustinian view, which was, as admitted by all sides, decidedly rejected by the Assembly. For example, the Westminster standards would disagree with Augustinian sacramentology as well. Thus to attempt to connect an Augustinian-Reformed tradition of sacramentology would be to create a hybrid which is not identical to our confessional standards. Analogously on the matter of creation, Augustines view should not be confused with nor is it the pertinent matter for this study. Although it may be of interest to many, it only serves to shift the issue assigned and create logical conflicts.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION In addition to those 23 (above), two additional Divines stamped their approval on Vincents The Shorter Catechism Explained From Scripture, and his wording in the space of six days TIME cannot be interpreted in any way other than in reference to actual chronology. Thomas Vincents 1674 commentary is particularly weighty, having been published while many of the Divines were still living. The Shorter Catechism Explained From Scripture (1674, rpr. Banner of Truth, 1980), moreover was endorsed by two additional Westminster Divines: Edmund Calamy and Thomas Case. A key word is often overlooked in Vincents explanation: his addition of time as a qualifier supplements the customary in six days phrase which was adopted by the confession. Vincent wrote:
Q. 4. In what time did God create all things? A. God created all things in the space of six days. He could have created all things together in a moment; but he took six days time (NB the qualifier time as well as the context makes it clear that ordinary days were intended) to work in, and rested on the seventh day, that we might the better apprehend the order of the creation, and that we might imitate him in working but six days of the week [not Age], and in resting on the seventh.

DAVID W. HALL After my first round of research, the score was 18-0 or 15-0 or 9-0 or 8-0; at best, it is 25-0 (and rising, thanks to the additional finds of George Walker, Thomas Goodwin, Jeremiah Burroughes, and John Arrowsmith; others will likely be added to this list in the future). Statements of mere bias, speculation, or those depending on comments on unrelated subjects cannot be equated with the findings of primary material on the question of original intent. Moreover, of the other Divines who wrote catechisms, none of them supported a long geologic age of creation. Further, the other contemporaneous theologians add to the cumulative weight that, until disproven, simply disallows the best scholarship, with so much evidence, to say either that the Divines view is unknown or merely probable. It is compelling. Will other overwhelming, unrefuted evidence be produced? Thus far the historical conclusion remains clear, sufficient, unrefuted, and not merely probable. To differ with that view may still be possible, but in candor, it should be admitted as an exception (as for other confessional loci) and promulgated only if not disruptive to the church. Though some refuse to admit the mounting evidence for original intent, fair-minded scholarship will view the above and other citations as presenting a massive case for the original intent of the Westminster Divines on this subject. Even if every one is not mechanically explicit, fair readings of these authors above can lead to only one conclusion: The Westminster Divines to the man endorsed the same view, i. e., that the days of creation were normal, calendar days. None has been found to the contrary. Mutations Next in sequence, some theologians under duress from the onslaught of scientism sought refuge in the purported writings of John Colet. It is extremely difficult to produce pre-Westminster theologians who held to a long age for creation. About the only major theologians appealed to (other than a misunderstanding of Augustine or Philo, not exactly an exemplar for the reformed community) as possibly holding expansive views prior to the Westminster era are: John Colet (alleged by Alexander Mitchell) and William Ames (fabricated by John Macpherson). If these are the best candidates for influence-wielders over the Westminster Divines, the case is considerably weaker than most proponents imagine.

Thereafter, Vincent devotes a question to what was created on each day, giving no indication that he, or the other Westminster Divines who endorsed this, envisioned a concept that developed hundreds of years later. Therefore, I believe it is only fair to include Westminster Divines Edmund Calamy (#24) and Thomas Case (#25) as indicating their view by the qualifier of time following in the space of six days. It is not the case, at the very least, that they were silent. Can a fair study honestly report that there is no indication or contrary indication for these two additional Divines? At the very least, these implicit testimonies should be weighted more than later secondary sources, even if propagated by some of our latter-day reformed heroes. Original voices, in other words, in this historical matter are deemed more reliablewhether explicit or implicitthan non-contemporaneous voices. Any claim that the Westminster Divines had some other view must be reconciled to this fact of history and cannot stand except as mere speculation or anachronistic hypothesis. This heavy burden is still unproven.

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Rather than explicitly arguing for an expansive period of creation, John Colet merely parrots Augustine both in Platonism and in suggesting that the entire universe was created in a single and undivided instant of time.102 Colet emphasizes that God created all things at once (4, not over a long geologic period), that the universe was created in eternity . . . that admits of no subdivision (4-5), There arose at once a clear formation of all things, and of the whole universe (6), and in good Platonic terms that creation was a proof of the union of form and matter, taking place in one undivided instant, namely, in eternity (6) which led to the bizarre interpretation, to wit: That is to say, the time and measure of the whole creation is eternity; in which every time is one undivided time: every day is one day. (6) With such pantheistic tones, it is no wonder that the Westminster Divines did not follow or reference Colet who seemed more concerned to reconcile dark matter with the undivided measure of eternity (8) than to reconcile doctrine to the Hebrew texts. Colet hardly believed in the perspicuity of Scripture ([T]he Mosaic records can be understood by no one (4), and frequently denigrated the original audience as uninstructed people (8), a foolish multitude (9), homely (9), An ill-instructed people (14), country people . . . who observe nothing beyond the heavens above them (14), and homely and uncultivated (28). His claim that Moses made a grave blunder (25) in presenting the creation account goes far beyond legitimate criticism and calls into question the ability of God to insure his own revelation. The perspicuity of Scripture also suffers at the hands of those who require a hitherto imagined and extraordinary literary ability. Claims to interpret anthropomorphically are one thing; but Colets claim is that the Scriptures were virtually inscrutable to the original audience, who were so uneducated as to be beyond communication from the Divine. While arguing for instantaneous creation (13; also all things were begotten at once, 16, and the universe was briefly comprehended under the first day, 26), Colet also interpreted the second day to refer to eternal time (13). Other bizarre notions, stemming no doubt from Platonism, include references to Gnostic emanations, for example: [T]he earth emanated from God before the stars had their birth in heaven; be102

DAVID W. HALL cause a previous emanation must needs be finished, before a second is begun. (18) Even while following Augustines misinterpretation of the apocryphal Ecclesiasticus 18:1 (For it is unworthy of God, and utterly unbecoming, to suppose that he made first one thing and then another, as if he could not have made all things at once, in a single instant, 27), he still concludes that the intent of the creation narratives is to support a day of rest: . . . to the intent that they should put an end to their daily occupations every six days, and spend the seventh in an exalted contemplation of God. This was the chief motive for that sixfold division of events; namely, the introduction therefrom, authoritatively and with the sanction of religion, of a distinction and order of days. (24) Certainly Colet followed Augustine in a non-literal approach, but he was so far from calling for expansive geologic creation that one cannot even find a passage in this incomplete fragment (Ibid., v-vi) (also in different hand from Colets Exposition of Romans) that discusses that topic. Hence, Alexander Mitchells suggestion that the Westminster Divines may have been acquainted with Colets discussion mistakenly assumes that Colet is a character witness for their case, when all along: (1) It is not certain that this work was even in circulation prior to 1876; (2) It is not certain that Colet was the author of the mss. which is abruptly cut off and bound together with another work in the original (Note: J. H. Lupton in his introduction to this work informs that a memo from Archbishop Parker associates the mss. with Cuthbert Tonstall, Bishop of Durham (vii); (3) There is no reference to any of the Divines esteeming this work, regardless of authorship, as a model to emulate; (4) Even if the above could be demonstrated, there is no passage in Colet that vaguely posits a long period of creation, for (5) Alexander Mitchells claim notwithstanding, all Colet does is follow Augustine, with an even more generous portion of eccentric Platonism, and asserts creation in a single moment explicitly not over a long period of time, but in a nano-second. It would be imprudent in the extreme to alter confessional understandings only upon the hope that contemporaries should depend on Mitchells citation,103 which depends on Colet, which is a misappropriation of Augustine who is not the confessional authority on

The source for the citations in parentheses in this section is: Joannis Coleti Opuscula Quaedam Theologica, Letters to Radulphus on the Mosaic Account of the Creation, trans. and introduced by J. H. Lupton (London: George Bell and Sons, 1876), 5.

Cf. J. Ligon Duncans analysis of Mitchell that is more accurate than Mitchells speculations about the Westminster Divines in his Animadversions on Alex Mitchells View of the Westminster Assembly and the Days of Creation, Premise, vol. 5, no. 3 (July 1998) at:



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION tion of Augustine who is not the confessional authority on this issue when the Westminster Divines clearly did not follow Colet. Colet was an ardent Platonist and according to leading scholars, his Letters to Radulphus on the Mosaic Account of Creation the primary proof of that.104 Moreover, all that epistle indicates, contrary to the presumption of modern attempts, is that Colet followed Augustine in believing in instantaneous creation (not the same as the modern claim that long periods of time led to creation.) Miles clarifies (contrary to the thrust of the revisionists invalid inference): However, the Dean [Colet] concedes that the Mosaic days do signify a causal sequence, during which there was simultaneous emanation of angels, heaven, earth, the inhabitants of heaven (i. e., stars and planets), fish-inhabitants of earth, and animals, in that order. That is the view of Augustine, not an advocacy for longdays. It is clear from the context that Colet was advocating little more than what Augustine had advocated, except in an inferior way. Recall also that John Colet is not recognized as an authority in the reformed tradition.105 All that Colets Letters to Radulphus shows is that some continued to hold to the Augustinian tradition. However, the Assembly in its use of in the space of employed a term that self-consciously rejected Augustines eccentric formulation. Certainly Augustine was revered by these Puritan divines, who would have given him the benefit of the doubt. Thus, when his view was repudiated by them and their contemporaries, it awaits documentation to prove that they held to such a liberal view, either in private or based on their writings. The record of Puritan giant, William Ames, for over a century has been distorted and due to faulty scholarship was presented as lending credence to cosmological constructions that were compatible with evolutionary schemes. Of weight and interest to this issue, William Ames, who is an appropriate authority for reformed orthodoxyliving a century after Colet, and a short time before the Westminster Assemblydenied this very Augustinian scheme, and certainly was a more dominant influ104 105

DAVID W. HALL ence on the Divines than Colet. It is difficult to find a single reference to Colet by the Divines, but Calvin, Ames, Beza, and others who repudiated the Augustinian view are frequently cited by the Divines. The testimony of the Divines is actually quite clear. The following, in one form or another, stated their concurrence with the meaning of day as of 24 hour duration, while none of the Divines have been produced who believed the contrary! Reformed Theologians A Century After Westminster, 1650-1740 Shortly later, John Owen, Thomas Vincent, Thomas Manton, Thomas Watson, Francis Turretin, and many others confirmed the same view and similar repudiations of the Augustinian view. Thomas Wylies Catechism (ca. 1640, in Mitchell, op. cit., p 244) also counters Augustine, replacing instead an affirmation of limited duration: Q: How many dayes was the Lord in the work of creation? A: Though all might have been ended at one instant, yet it cost the Lord six dayes for our capacitie. John Owen commented on Hebrews 11:3: All the things we now behold in their order, glory, and beauty were made by the power of God out of that chaos, or confused mass of substance, which was itself fire made and produced out of nothing, having no cause but the efficiency of divine power. (216 of 1985 abridgement by Kregel.] Francis Turretin, writing a generation after Westminster was quick to note: Augustine thought that creation took place not during an interval of six days, but in a single moment. (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, (1679-1685, rpr. James T. Dennison, Jr. ed. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), 444) He then rejected the Augustinian view, and sided with Ussher: Nor does the sacred history written by Moses cover any more than six thousand years. . .. Greek history scarcely contains the history of two thousand years. (438) Turretin went so far as to commend Ussher and others for specifying that creation happened in autumn, not spring. (442) Fishers Commentary on Catechism (ca 1750) The Shorter Catechism Explained affirms:
Q. 8. Could he not have created all things in a moment of time? A. Yes: but he saw it more for his own glory, and the good of man-

Leland Miles, John Colet and the Platonic Tradition (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1961),


Colet also stumbled into other Platonic errors, even denying that God is omnipotent. (Miles, op. cit, 65) Miles summarizes: It is astounding that he could absorb such a dose of pagan philosophy and still remain so much within the boundaries of Christian dogma. (Miles, op. cit, 65)




kind, to set them an example of working six days, and resting the seventh.

DAVID W. HALL ity of datings for the creation week. It means to emphasize limitation of duration. It means what it says, as our elders and church members have believed for years. The Confessions language, even after all the scouring of the record, is still significantly different from Scripture. Innovative interpreters since the 1830s have yet to produce evidence (beside mere assertion) that the Westminster standards parrot an English version; nor have they produced a Divine or a majority of Divines who wrote advocating a long creation day. This embarrassing lack persists despite the existence of hundreds of available tomes on this subject, including commentaries on Genesis 1, Systematic Theology treatises, confessions, and writings from individual theologians. Numerous shelves of documentary evidence have been consultedand we congratulate others who have searched the record looking for a long period of creation prior to Darwinand all that may be produced is: an obscure 5th century historian, Procopius (whose cite by Mitchell cannot be located by this researcher and whose tracks in the history of theology are such that few of our theologians quote him on a wide range of subjects), a misunderstanding of Augustine (who was both implicitly rejected by Calvinistic divines on this subject and who actually proves our point, not the other), Ameswho is mistranslated, an invisible appeal to the private thoughts of the Westminster Divines, and certain scholars after Darwin. William Beveridge (1637-1708) was a Calvinistic Bishop and a pious High Churchman. Living shortly after the Westminster Assembly, he was a noted preacher who revived Calvinist piety in the Anglican church; he was also the noted author of Private Thoughts on Religion. Regarding the first day, he said, so the light which was first made had the same motions, making day where it shone, and night in all other places till it rose upon them: and this it did as the sun now doth in twenty-four hours; so that the evening, when this light sat in any place, and the morning, when it rose again, was the first natural day, of the same length as ours now are. (The Works of the Right Rev. William Beveridge, D. D., 9 Vols. (Printed for James Duncan and G. & W. B. Whittaker, 1824), vol. III, 482. Thomas Ridgeley (1667-1734), the author of the most comprehensive commentary on the Larger Catechism, made several important points. He addressed how God created (by the Word of Gods Power) and why (for his glory) in a section entitled The Work of the Six Days of Creation (1:331-336). In this section, he explained what was created

Writing slightly later than Turretin, Thomas Boston continued the reformed repudiation of Augustinianism on this point (again miming the space of phrase). Boston wrote:
VII. Our next business is to shew in what space of time the world was created. It was not done in a moment [as Augustine], but in the space of six days, as is clear from the narrative of Moses. It was as easy for God to have done it in one moment as in six days. But this method he took, that we might have that wisdom, goodness, and power that appeared in the work, distinctly before our eyes, and be stirred up to a particular and distinct consideration of these works, for commemoration of which a seventh day [24 hours] is appointed a sabbath of rest. (The Complete Works of Thomas Boston (repr. Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publisher, 1980) p. 173.]

Later, Boston reiterates contra Augustine and Colet that although God did not make all things in one moment, still in the space of these six days the angels were created; (173). He then proceeds to enumerate what was done on each day, assuredly not envisioning more than 24 hours for those days. Agreeing with Ussher over Augustine, Boston echoes the consensus of his day: It is probable that the world was created in autumn, that season of the year in which generally things are brought to perfection . . . (174) Ussher, not Augustine, dominated the seventeenth-century divines, both before and after the Westminster Assembly. Moreover, the King James Version (1611) shows no hints of Augustinian or Coletian influence. This version, reflective of the consensus of the day, used the space to indicate definite time in Dt. 2:14, Rev. 2:21, Ez. 9:8, Acts 5:34, Acts 15:33, Acts 5:7, Rev. 8:1, Gen. 29:14; Lev. 25:8, Acts 19:8 and elsewhere. However, it never uses the phrase in the space of in the creation narratives or subsequent references. Had the editors from King James court wished to use that phrasing, they could have, but these Elizabethan wordsmiths were careful to follow Scripture. The phrase, in the space of is not in Scripture. It is in the Westminster Confession. It has meaning, it is not redundant or purposeless (especially recurring in both catechisms and the confession), and it means to signify a time factor. The confessions wording does not include a plural102

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION on each day and how the angels and light were created on the first day though not collected into the sun and fixed stars until the fourth (1:333). 1. He discussed the theory of instant creation (the Augustinian notion) and forcefully disagreed with it. There is even a section entitled, Creation not Eternal (1:326-330) wherein he said that we have in scripture of the time that the world has continued, which is no more than between five or six thousand years. (1:328) Ridgeley, however, not only argued against instantaneous creation but also mentions that Augustine believed that the world was six thousand years old and not four thousand four hundred (1:327, we may take occasion to vindicate the account we have in scripture, concerning the worlds having been created between five and six thousand years since, . . .). He cited the City of God, XII:10 (this higher number had to do with the LXX [T.R. said] since they did not understand Hebrew). Ridgeley held that 5611 years had elapsed from creation to the taking of Rome by the Goths. He said, in fact, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed. (XII:10; cf. XII:12). Whatever use he made of Augustine, it was not to elongate the length of time needed for creation.106 2. He also, like Scottish member of the Westminster Assembly, Robert Baillie, inquired into what time or season of the year all things were created? (1:336) and concluded that it was at Autumn. Ezekiel Hopkins (1633-1689), Bishop of Derry. The quote below is taken from his works. Addressing the question of when the Sabbath was instituted, Hopkins wrote: he rested precisely on the Seventh Day after the creation; therefore, that very Seventh Day did God sanctify, and made it the beginning of all ensuing Sabbaths. So that you see the Sabbath is but one day younger than man; ordained for him, in the state of his uprightness and innocence . . . And, although we find no more mention of the Sabbath, until Moses had conducted the Children of Israel into the Wilderness, which was about two thousand four hundred and fifty years after the creation; yet it is not to be supposed, that, among the peo106

DAVID W. HALL ple of God, who were very careful, as in observing the Law of God themselves, so in delivering it likewise to their posterity, that the observation of this Law or of this Day utterly failed, but was continued among those that feared God, till it was again invigorated with new authority by the promulgation of it from Mount Sinai. (1:366-7) Previously, he dated the actual time of the delivery of the Ten Commandments: The TIME, according to the best computation of chronology, was about two thousand four hundred and sixty years after the Creation of the World . . . (237) Not only does he argue for the age of the earth, he also specifically says that the Sabbath was one day younger than man. From that last statement, we can see that he viewed each creation day as twenty-four hours. Francis Roberts (1609-1675), Clavis Bibliorum (London: H. L. for George Calvert, 1665). Francis Roberts was apparently a close friend of Robert Baillie whom Baillie used to rouse public support for his policies (see Robert Paul, The Assembly of the Lord, 505). Roberts himself wrote something regarding the creation account. The worlds creation is Described here . . . according to Gods orderly proceedings in six distinct daies-work (7). Also, like all the other Divines of his times, he firmly dates the entire history recorded in Genesis from the date of creation: This History of Genesis is evidently an History of 2368 years continuance (6). George Hughes (1603-1667) In his An Analytical Exposition of the Whole First Book of Moses, called Genesis . . . [London, 1672], Hughes wrote: The issue of all in the constitution of the first Day, one Day, to the letter. But read first: Evening and Morning are taken synecdochically for all the darkness and all the light, which maketh a natural Day, . . . The Time of light, or that which is said to consist of twelve houres is the civil Day. . . Simon Patrick (1626-1707), Bishop of Ely, was a young contemporary of the Westminster Divines. Ordained as a Presbyterian, he later became an Anglican. He was privately ordained by the famous Dr. Joseph Hall. He was also influenced by the Cambridge Platonist, John Smith. Patrick was a voluminous writer and wrote much on the Old Testament. From his commentary on Genesis (Patrick, Lowth, Arnald, and Whitby, A Commentary Upon the Old and New Testaments, with the Apocrypha, 7 vols. (London: Printed for Samuel Bagster, in the Strand, 1809), vol. 1.), we read the following (from his 1694 Preface to his commentary): There have been those who have taken the liberty to say, That it is im105

The notes to the 1855 edition (reproduced by Still Waters Revival Books) apologize for Ridgeleys maintenance of six literal days. Thomas Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism [Previously titled, A Body of Divinity], 2 Vols. (1855; rpt. USA: Still Water Revival Books, 1993). However, when it was first published in 1731, no one suggested it as deviant. This provides more confirmation that the sea-change occurred between 1731 and 1855.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION possible to give any tolerable account of the creation of the world, in six days; of the situation of Paradise; the fall of our first parents, by the seduction of a serpent, &c. But, I hope, I have made it appear, there is no ground for such presumptuous words: but very good reason to believe every thing that Moses hath related: without forsaking the literal sense, and betaking ourselves to, I know not what, allegorical interpretations. (Preface, ii; italics added) In dealing with Genesis, he gave a popular devotional commentary on each verse. Regarding Genesis 1:4, he said, And God divided the light from the darkness. Appointed that they should constantly succeed one another; as we see they do now, that this light is embodied in the sun; and as they did then, by the circular motion of this first light of fire, round about the Chaos, in the space of twenty-four hours: which made it day to those parts where it shined; and night, where it did not. (5) Regarding 1:5, he had this to say: And the evening and the morning were the first day. In the Hebrew language, evening and morning signify a whole day; which the motion of this light made, if we conceive it to have been formed about noon, and to have gone around the forementioned heap of matter in twenty-four hours. After quoting Maimonides, he concluded, Thus God made all things at the first, which did not appear together; but in the space of six days, were formed and put in order one after another: light being the work of the first day. Here, in the space of days is the traditional twenty-four hour days (as seen from his comment above on Gen. 1:4). In explaining how Moses received the creation information, Patrick said that the amount of history covered in Genesis was 2369 years. The truth of all which it was not difficult for Moses to know, because it came down to his time through but a very few hands. For from Adam to Noah, there was one Man (Methuselah) who lived so long as to see them both. And so it was from Noah to Abraham: Shem conversed with both. As Isaac did with Abraham and Joseph: From whom these things might easily be conveyed to Moses, by Abram; who lived long enough with Joseph. (3) In all, he followed twenty-four hour creation days. John Trapp (1601-1669), A Commentary or Exposition Upon the Books of the Old and New Testaments, 5 Vols. (London: Printed by T. R. and E. M. for Thomas Newberry, MDCLVII). John Trapp, the popular and learned Bible commentator who received the rectory of Welfrod in Gloucestershire and Warwickshire from the Assembly of Divines in 1646 also had taken the covenant of 1643 (DNB). In his commentary

DAVID W. HALL on the Penteteuch (in reference to tohu wabohu), Trapp stated, The Lord afterward did form it . . . in three days laying the parts of the world, and in other three days adorning them. (Works, 1:3) Other interesting comments are found in the other volumes of his works. In the second volume, Trapp suggested how Job was able to know, He hath compassed the waters with bounds (Job 26:10). And this either he had from Moses, Gen. i. 10, or, if he lived before Moses, as it is most likely he did, he had it, as he had many other things, by tradition from the fathers (2:323). Again, this is only suggestive of the fact that Trapp computed the ages of the Genesis genealogy, just like all the other divines we have already noted. He gets more specific, though. In volume four, in his treatise on Theologia Theologiae: The True Treasure, Trapp actually dated someone from the creation of the world (just like the consensus of the 1540-1740 period). He dated Ezra about three thousand and six hundred years after the creation, and before any chronicles of the world now extant in the world (4:683). Selden, a Westminster Commissioner, has maintained that dating from the creation of the world was the commonly received method. Here, we notice Trapp giving evidence to Seldens comment. John Howe (1630-1705) believed that the genealogies in the early chapters of Genesis were to be literally accepted. For Howe, this enabled the creation account and various other ancient events to come down to Moses. [John Howe, The Works of the Rev. John Howe (London: Frederick Westly and A. H. Davis, 1836), 1079, 1169.] Though not as explicit as the other divines on the matter of creation, there is still an unmistakable perspective and method in his view of creation. Scripture informs us of the order in which things were produced, which no reason could ever have informed us of, or found out. He lists what was formed in each day. And then, on the sixth day, he makes man, and bring him forth into this orderly and so well prepared world. (1169) Everything was sequential and literal for John Howe. He believed that both creations antiquity and literal account in Genesis gave Christianity credibility. This may appear to be specious reasoning for some of us but it nonetheless shows the perspective of his time. From the creation account, we understand within what limits of time, and we understand in what order, this work of creation was performed, by faith. Reason could never have informed us of either of these. The limits of time this work was done, that is, that all was absolved within the space of six days: no reason could ever have informed us of that. (Though much reason has been

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION used to deny it.) There is that curious phrase again, within the space of six days. This phrase, as he explains each day of creation, refers to our normal days. We must accept these limits of time because we receive it by faith in the divine revelation. (1169) John Swan, Speculum Mundi (3rd ed., 1665) changed his mind from his previous opinion that the world was created in the Autumn, later embracing the view that the sun was created on the 27th of April. In either option, the tenacity of literalism is noted for a century after Westminster. An Open Challenge Here is our open challenge: Can those who claim that modern views, such as Day-Age or Framework, produce a catalogue of Reformed divines between 1540 and 1740 who held to their views near as weighty as this one? To support their assertions that this question has a long history requires them to bring forth proof or drop their claims, and admit that the departure date for modern interpretations was much closer to 1850, a date that will probably require some explanation. My friends who hold the expansive view deny that they are following early nineteenth-century science, but they fail to produce examples of pre-nineteenth-century exegesis that advocates their view. That odd historical fact is deserving of explanation before new orthodoxies are enshrined. The question may reasonably be put this way: What from the scriptural text changed in the 1830-1859 period (and afterwards) to overturn the godly interpretation from all centuries prior to the Darwinian upheaval? One could write 1830-1859 in the middle of a page, and then in a left-column, list these as not holding a 24-hour view: A patristic heretic (the advocates of novelty may defend Philo if they wish), a fifth century obscure historian (if his cite can be located), cross-out Augustine, Ames, and the Westminster Assembly Divines, and Coletfor the entire history of theology prior to 1800, and ask: Are we obligated to follow that tradition, if it is one, and change our Confession and perhaps mislead our children and flocks? Or should we not at least list on the right-hand column: Ambrose, Augustine rightly understood, Basil, Chrysostom, Aquinas, Lombard, Calvin, Luther, Beza, Turretin, all confessions prior to the 20th century, and the likes of Twisse, Herle, Arrowsmith, Owen, Boston, Watson, Manton, Fisher, and the majority of Christendom.

DAVID W. HALL In all sincere respect, even though my fellow debaters claim the likes of Hodge, Warfield, and moderns, we feel safer standing with Luther, Calvin, Ambrose, the Westminster Divines, Turretin, and the long history of the church. Moreover, the simple reason why so little testimony is found and why such paucity itself has prevented the academic elite from convincing us is because it is not there, except in the most unusual cases (for, Lightfoot, Selden, and other Westminster Assembly Divines were likely aware of earlier teaching; they merely chose to reject it). If held at all, it was very seldom until recently. Arianism and Arminianism can deduce far more textual support than these new theories and their hybrids. The issue for scholarship is not, nor ever should be: Can some obscure theologian, or a few, or those only subsequent to a certain philosophical revolution determine the confession and morals of the church? Theologians can always cites sources. The issue is: From an honest study of Scripture and the history of interpretation, did our forefathersunless we brave the opinion that we are instinctively smarter than they, or we possess more insight by living in some scientific eraunderstand the Word of God to teach an expansive, undefined age of creation? Or do the Catechisms teacheven to the embarrassment of the modern age that is witnessing the demise of one of its own most favored theoriesyes, God did just as he said! And we can depend on his wordold and young alike, hermeneutical sophisticate and simple believerto mean what it says. We believe Gods Word is clear, and that no idea-revolutions have convinced us to the contrary. We will not follow Charles Hodge in this regard and with the utmost alacrity change our views if the winds of science suggest to the contrary. We would not want to tie the church to a flat-world theory, or to Newtonian mechanics, pre-Copernican cosmology, or even the optical theory of 200 years ago. Neither do we wish our church, at a future anniversary, to be reviewed as having followed a flawed nineteenth-century fad, driven mainly by a secular discipline, instead of leading. We have a grand opportunity to stand and lead, to be a train engine instead of a caboose. Reformed denominations can lead instead of follow other evangelical groups, which have suffered the theological equivalent of Chinese water torture for over a century. It is now clear that the Westminster Divines did have a view on this subject: They repudiated Augustine and held to a 24-hour day view. That

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION will not come as a shock to many, except to those who have studiously hoped to see other meanings for the words in the space of six days. Whatever ones final conclusions, in order to defend a particular position, with so much historical and textual material available, one either needs a portfolio of defensible citations to represent the earlier views we still await the discovery of a bevy of explicit day-age or framework commentaries from the 1540-1740 periodor else one needs to admit that insufficient textual material exists to support ones position, especially in view of the way texts and authors have been incautiously misappropriated in much of this debate. Indeed, one wonders when a retraction or errata list will be forthcoming from all those interested in truth who have made so many alleged sightings of modernistic views from past Reformed orthodoxy. Robert Bishops conclusion remains convincing, i. e., that no one until about two hundred years ago would have understood a geological era to be a meaningful concept.107 The Westminster Confession108 and other Reformation confessions surely considered no such option. It is implausible, then, to argue as some do, perhaps as a last resort, that the Divines did not intend their statements to rule out any other views or that they did not wish to enunciate a normative standard of orthodoxy on this subject. No study has conclusively proven that the Divines were as sympathetic to pluralism or as latitudinarian as many today might reflexively suggest. If the Divines thought a subject was unimportant or that a text was open to multiple interpretations, they said so and avoided being dogmatic about adiaphora. The fact that there is such massive commentary on these Genesis 1 issues, in a day long before scientific revolutions, confirms that they were, shall we utter it, dogmatic on these points. One may differ today, but they seemed rather clear, dogmatic, and consensual on this matter. It would be extremely difficult to prove that they intended to support confessional pluralism on this subject based on their writings. And we best restrict our conclusions about their
Robert C. Bishop, Science and Theology: A Methodological Comparison in Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, vol. v, no. 1/2 (1993), 155. 108 The only reference close (but not on point) is: From the Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, (Mitchell and Struthers, 216), the following was settled at Sess. 615, April 6, 1646: Resolved upon the Q., These words, consisting of 24 hours, shall be waived in this place. The Divines, however, were discussing changes to of the sabbath daynot the subject of creation and length of those first days. Why they entertained the wording or rejected it is not recorded.

DAVID W. HALL intent to their own record that exhibits a virtually monolithic and concerted voice rather than impose our own speculations. The question that begs itselfand that is answerableis this: Did the Westminster Divines or Calvin differ with, reject or repudiate these pre-existing consensual ideas? If so, where did they express their revolt against such clear opinion? We remain unable to locate any evidence from a century before or after Westminster that remotely suggests our fathers in the faith thought the Genesis narratives could be interpreted as occurring in more than six ordinary days and by the special operation of Gods miraculous fiat. It seems that only the unsupported wish of revisionary scholarship continues to hope to find such evolutionary-tainted exegesis. Modern advocates who wish to show that framework hypotheses or long-day views have longevity on their side will also need to explain away some of the following, who wrote at or after the rise of modern science: Samuel Davies, in his 1756 The Mediatorial Kingdom and Glories of Jesus Christ, stated that the space between the creation and the flood was about 1600 years, indicating that he adopted the scheme of Ussher/Calvin/Ames/Perkins/Lightfoot/Westminster Assembly. Jedidiah Morse, one of Americas first geographers adopted Usshers chronology in his 1796 American Universal Geography, dating the creation of the world and Adam and Eve to 4004 before Christ.109 John Adams, certainly a progressive in his day, affirmed as late as 1813 that the common notion was that God six thousand years ago benevolently created the universe. C. Spurgeon in 1885 still thought that Gods omniscience not only recalled all the transactions of this world, but of all the worlds in the universenot only the events of the six thousand years which have passed since the earth was created, but of a duration without beginning. (Treasury of David, vol. 7, 238, commenting on Ps. 139:6) Andrew Dickson White in 1896 claimed: that Calvin had a strict interpretation of Genesis, and that down to a period almost within living memory [1896], it was held, virtually always, everywhere,


James H. Smylie, Americas Political Covenants, the Bible, and Calvinists, Journal of Presbyterian History 75:3 (Fall 1997), 154.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION and by all, that the universe, as we now see it, was created literally and directly by the voice or hands of the Almighty, or by bothout of nothingin an instant or in six days . . .110 Thus, with the nineteenth century commentary of A. A. Hodge, and the 1855 gloss by Ridgeleys editor, it appears that the change in point of views occurred after Adams comment (1813), and some avant garde theologians were assimilating such views by the 1850s, while many friend (Spurgeon) and foe (White) alikewere not aware of the cuttingedge switch within orthodoxy. It is almost as if someone changed the theory and forgot to mention it to these and most others above. Rather than presenting compelling information supporting modern views or refuting evidence of the classical hermeneutic, it seems that the more one studies this issue two things become clearer: (1) Prior to nineteenth-century scientific revolutions, orthodox theology had answers for the questions posed today; and (2) changes in exegesis followed and reacted to secular scientific theories after 1800. Should those post-1800 theories be correct, indeed, the entire church may need to alter its theology; and it might be candid to explain that the alterations are arising from scientific theories, not the history of biblical interpretation. If, however, those scientific theories are not correct, it may be imprudent to change orthodoxy for no more enduring reasons than at present.


Chapter 6

Enlightenment Versus Revelation: A study in contrasts

Most modern American evangelicals have tremendous respect and admiration for nineteenth-century stalwarts such as Charles Hodge and Benjamin B. Warfield. Yet, indebted as one may be, it is nonetheless curious to review one glaring weak link: they seemed oblivious to the danger of apologetic revision in the area of evolution. As intentionally orthodox as these were, still, they seem to have adopted aspects of secular scientific methodology rather uncritically. It appears that these angels were unaware of the inherent dangers of accommodation at this juncture. Theodore Bozeman perceptively concluded an earlier work:
It may be questioned whether religious leaders at any previous point in the nations past had achieved a more unabashed union of gospel and culture than this. Doubtless if the Old School could have foreseen Darwin or the triumph of a physics of forces undermining the older


Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1896), 60.




empiricism they would not have been so eager either to canonize Bacon or to embrace scientific endeavor as a natural patron of belief.111

DAVID W. HALL 1856 review: If science should succeed in demonstrating that the earth is millions of years old, then we will with the utmost alacrity believe that the days of creation were periods of indefinite duration.117 Although Hodge was at times able to resist the strong pull of certain scientific theories, still he exhibited a lofty [c]onfidence in the harmony of religion and science . . . [which led] to some extent, [to] the independence of science and religion. Wells perceptively remarks: Although Hodge died without conceding that evolution could be reconciled with the Bible, his theology contained the seeds for such a reconciliation.118 Another more potent criticism is contained in the criticism by Abraham Kuyper (a later contemporary of Hodge) who was greatly respected by the Princeton theologians. Abraham Kuyper implicitly and explicitly accused Hodge of conceding too much to the realm of autonomous fact. Kuyper at one point said, There is, to be sure, a theological illusion abroad . . . which conveys the impression that, with the Holy Scripture in hand, one can independently construct his theology from this principium.119 In this criticism, Kuyper was likely thinking of Hodge and others who championed scientific orthodoxy based on their presupposition of the finality of facticity. Elsewhere, Kuyper criticized Hodge by name. He faulted Hodge for his combination of facts and truths which overthrows his own system. Kuyper said that Hodge demanded that the theologian be the one to authenticate these truths. Further, Kuyper accused Hodge of succumbing to the temptation of placing Theology formally in line with the other sciences.120 Continuing his critique, the Dutch theologian said: The authentication of his facts brought him logically back again under the power of naturalistic science. And though as a man of faith he bravely resisted this, his demonstration lacked logical necessity . . . the entire subsequent development of theological study has actually substituted an utterly different object, has cut the historic tie that binds it to original theology, and has accomplished little else than the union of the sub-divisions of psychology and of historic ethnology into a new department of science, which does not lead to the knowledge of God, but
117 118

Indeed, for Bozeman: It is revealing that [other] prominent Old Schoolers . . . were now willing to suggest that if an indisputable result of thorough induction manifestly contradicted an existing doctrine of the church, the theologian must reconsider his interpretation of Gods word, and see if he has not misunderstood it. In view of the firm biblical literalism and the unbending confessionalism to which the Old School was committed, this was a substantial concession.112 Science could at least theoretically have preeminence over Scriptureat least as an intermediate hermeneutic. Hodge and other evangelicals had a different attitude toward science than did another evangelical apologist, Abraham Kuyper.113 In fact, Kuyper rebuked Hodge for conceding on this apologetic point. That some of Hodges contemporary evangelicals were troubled by his concessions may be an apologetic point well worth reviewing. Abraham Kuyper: An Apologetic Contrast and Earlier Critic Jonathan Wells observes that as early as 1863 Hodge was indeed accused of Remaining open to the possibility that Scripture would have to be reinterpreted in light of scientific evidence.114 Further, the New York Observer accused Hodge of being guilty of letting Science lead the way and the Bible followed.115 On several occasions Hodge had to defend himself from his contemporaries that he was not guilty of subordinating Scripture to science. Thus, in at least this one instance, other contemporaries suspected that Hodge could be persuaded by scientific evidence to modify his interpretation of Scripture, and that he served to reconcile Scripture with established scientific facts.116 That Hodge was contouring the Bible to the findings of science is seen from his comment in an

Theodore Bozeman, Protestants in an Age of Science (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), 174. 112 Ibid., 118. 113 Cf. my Angels Unaware: The Ascendancy of Science over Orthodoxy in Nineteenth Century Reformed Orthodoxy in Timothy Phillips, supra. 114 Jonathan Wells, Charles Hodge on the Bible and Science, Journal of Presbyterian History, Fall 1988, vol. 66, no. 3, 161. 115 Ibid., 160. 116 Ibid., 161.

Ibid., 160. Ibid., 158, 163. 119 Abraham Kuyper, Principles of Sacred Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 574. 120 Ibid, 318.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION aims at the knowledge of religion as a phenomenon in the life of humanity.121 Kuyper protested every appearance of neutrality, which is after all bound to be dishonest at heart. In contrast to Hodge, Kuyper maintained that there could be no neutrality toward the scientific datuman early form of presuppositional apologetics. Ahead of his time, Kuyper was keen to note that even the knowing observer was not isolated from the stream of history in which he moves, nor is this observer able to make an all-sided and complete exhibition of the object of his investigation.122 Whatever the root cause, Kuypers apologetic approach to science was starkly different from that of Hodge. Kuyper consistently stressed the inescapability of the religious presupposition: There is, therefore, no perception or observation possible, unless there is a receptivity for the object in our human consciousness, which enables our consciousness to grasp it after its nature and form.123 Thus he would not allow evidence alone to speak by itself. Kuyper spelled out the inherently presuppositional nature of science: All prosecution of science which starts out from naturalistic premises denies the subjective fact of palingenesis, as well as the objective fact of a special revelation, which immediately corresponds to this.124 Kuyper warned that not only is science affected by sin, but further science will be reduced if it does not acknowledge the effect of sin on its own varied behavior. He warned that sin exercises a mighty dominion upon the whole content of our consciousness . . . what used to be called ones lifeand-world-view, by which the fundamental lines lie marked out in our consciousness.125 Affirming the noetic effects of sin, he cautioned: If, then, we make a mistake, or a single inaccurate move, how can it fail but communicate itself disastrously to our entire scientific study? He further warned, that every scientific reproduction of the knowledge of God must fail, as long as this sense remains weakened and this impulse falsified in its direction . . . it will not do to omit the fact of sin from your theory of knowledge. . .126 Kuyper said, sin modifies so largely all those data with which you have to deal in the intellectual domain and in
121 122

DAVID W. HALL the building-up of your science. Ignorance wrought by sin is the most difficult obstacle in the way of all true science.127 So persuasive was the spread of sin that Kuyper must maintain, it cannot be denied that a false representation of the real has made its way into almost every department of life . . . His was a superior apologetic in this instance; it estimated the observers role as well as sheer evidence. B. B. Warfield shortly thereafter plowed the same furrow. In a 1915 work entitled Calvins Doctrine of Creation, even Warfield is found defending one of the claims of modern science. One must marvel at Warfields hermeneutical gymnastics as he tried to make Calvin into a proto-evolutionist. Warfield was to the point of saying: Calvin doubtless had no theory of evolution; but he teaches a doctrine of evolution. He had no objection and so teaching it, cut to preserve the creative act . . .128 Warfield even speculated that had certain preconditions come about Calvin would have been a precursor of the modern evolutionary theorist.129 In a footnote rebutting Herman Bavinck, Warfield concluded: Calvin accordingly very naturally thought along the lines of a theistic evolutionism.130 If one consults Calvins Institutes or other Calvinalia, the possibility that Calvin might have been an evolutionist is quite remote. It is a distinct irony that such stalwarts and defenders of orthodoxy as Hodge and Warfield were unwittingly part of the problem instead of part of the solution. That myopia reveals a structural deficiency in their apologetic, certainly not their character. Perhaps this study will illuminate some of the warning signs of apologetic defect and revisionism. We might do well to be a little more leery of an epistemology that seeks conformity to modernity. A naivete regarding scientific totalitarianism is beneficial neither for the progress of science or apologetics. The point is that often as believers grapple with the epistemology of modernism they veer more toward true accommodation than true apologetics. In order to avoid this apologetic misstep in the future, one must have a better apologetic methodologyone that is more resistant to the winds of modernity and its stepchild, revisionism.
127 128

Ibid., 319. Ibid., 49-50. 123 Ibid., 71. 124 Ibid., 224. 125 Ibid., 109. 126 Ibid., 113.

Ibid., 114. Mark Noll, ed., The Princeton Theology, 1812-1921 (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1983), 298. 129 Idem. 130 Idem.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Perhaps the insufficiency of hand-to-hand combat in apologetics has been underestimated. Indeed, a purely evidentialistic approach will never bring about conclusive proof. One weakness of this method is the virtually naive acceptance of current cosmological theories. The preference for the inflationary version of the big bang theory may still concede too much priority to current-but-ever-changing theory. Would that the apologists rigorous evidentialism not be forgotten when they examine these latest cosmologies, lest they fall into an uneasy alliance with contemporaneity. Evidentialists would do well to recall that these latest cosmologies may one day be disproven as well. The adopted evidentialistic posture guarantees that outmoded theories be discarded upon discovery of evidential novelty. Yet, along with that is also the canonization of the latest in empirical findings. Sadly, the evidentialist approach proves to be a two-edged sword. While it cuts the prior errors of cosmology, the blade swings back and eviscerates other accounts as Scripture regrettably becomes submitted to the newer evidences of the latest fads in cosmology, which themselves may be based on high proportions of theory and little observation. A Plea for a More Cautious Reconstruction and a Humbler Apologetic The recent dating of the universe at 7.3 billion years131 means that some foundational premise of the cosmology that Hugh Ross, for example, follows is faulty. With recent estimates trending toward a younger cosmos, theories are not given up easily. At the latest date-setting, one commentator noted that astronomers could be fooled, into believing that the universe got to its present size in less time than it really took. The effect is akin to measuring the average speed of a race-walker without realizing that she sprinted when no one was looking.132 Would the evidentialist at some point serve the cause better by admitting that the evidence does not exist apart from a theory? Apparently, the theory itself is foundational. In light of this evidentialistic flaw, two erroneous claims should be recognized as specious: (1) Ancient evangelicals did not propagate views compatible with theistic evolution or modern mutants of it; and (2) Some post-Darwinian evangelicalseven though stalwarts in many other areasconceded at some points; but they should not necessarily be
131 132

DAVID W. HALL imitated. Thus, no norm from either period compels concession to modern claims, if respect for our earlier siblings is a criterion. The proposed presuppositional apologetic also yields two other areas of benefit: (1) In evidentialism, the noetic effects of sin are understated, but should not be minimized. Remembering the biblical teaching on the fallenness of the will and the darkness of the heart (Eph. 4:17-19; 5:8), one should suspect that the majority of non-Christians will not easily affirm revealed truths based on mere evidences. Theoretically (and in practice) the set of excuses to deny biblically interpreted truths can be infinite, thus sheltering the unbeliever from ever conclusively and logically being convinced. One should not underestimate the fallen creativity that is capable of spawning a seemingly infinite number of substitutions for God (Rom. 1:21-25) rather than simply accepting and submitting to the only living God. (2) It is unwise to concede to unbelieving notions, which is not the role of apologetics anyway. This study has sought to show how it is also unfruitful. The earlier apologists did not concede at these points. We have no obligation from a fair reading of history to concede to revisionist views of creation. Good science and good theology should be compatible. However, inaccurate history, theological revisionism, and inferior apologetics seldom advance the discussions. Both science and apologetics will be strengthened by more cautious and respectful treatments of the history of ideas and evidence. Neither science nor apologetics will proceed as well if they are more infatuated with the idea-fads of modernity than with the well-worn paths of truth. When certain scientific theories which were once treated with immunity from criticism do finally tumble from the weight of their own errors, one wonders if certain thinkers who are blindfolded to the past (not to mention the present) will still defend erroneous philosophical platforms. A small modicum of historical research can, at least, diminish the bandwagons peer pressure that expects everyone who is modern to affirm the dogmatic errors of inaccurate theories. Evidentialism hardly assists that cause, while the Kuyperian model above does. Of course, simply holding to the earlier orthodox interpretations could have spared much travail, too. After these preliminary studies I, thus, rejected the claims of modern evangelicalism and resolved to be suspicious when similar claims were made. Little did I expect that to happen in my own conservative denomination, but two years later that happened.

Newsweek, Nov. 7, 1994, 55. Ibid.




Chapter 7

Can it Happen in a Conservative Church?

Before I embark on this discussion, let me summarize the typical neoCalvinistic presentation circa 1995 as follows. Augustine was not a literalist (even though his chief commentary was The Literal Meaning of Genesis). Augustine was more interested in Greek philosophy than scriptural categories. Calvin only furthered the non-literal readings of Genesis. Calvin believed in continuous creation or providence. Calvin himself held to indefinite lengths for creation days. All good Calvinists, except a few rabid Fundies, had followed this. See Hodge, Warfield, and Bavinck to confirm this. Certainly Hodge said that If science should succeed in demonstrating that the earth is millions of years old, then we will with the utmost alacrity believe that the days of creation were periods of indefinite duration.133 And Warfield, at the onset of the twentieth century, opined

Charles Hodge, Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, 28 (1856), 162.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION that Calvin employed an interpretation that accommodated theistic evolution. So, it is true that some staunchly Reformed theologians after 1850 began to alter their exegesis of Genesis. That is absolutely true. But is it wise, correct, or worthy of imitation? Meanwhile, I discovered that even some very conservative denominations were off-guard on this matter of vital importance. The denomination in which I serve may be an example worth studying. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) was formed in 1973 as an evangelical alternative within American Presbyterianism. Although small, it was viewed by those within and without as a thoroughly conservative and traditionalist bastion. However, following the received tradition from the past century, many founders of the PCA declared dtente on many of the specifics of creation. This conservative church prided itself in being opposed to any attacks on the historicity of Genesis, but at its own 25th anniversary in 1998, it approved a dangerous precedent that undermined a sound interpretation of either the Genesis texts or its historic confession, originally adopted in the 1640s at Westminster. Below is my brief account of what happened. In 1997-98, I listened to a Standing Judicial Commission case on the issue. The PCAs Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) is a 24member body created in 1989 to dispose of complaints and appeals from within the denomination. I served on it from its inception in 1989 until 2000. In 1997, a complaint arose from a pastor and a church in New Jersey, alleging that the presbytery (the regional body of oversight, based on Acts 15) erred in allowing a view broader than Scripture and Confession (See early chapters of this volume for the historical background and original wording of the section of the Confession in question). The complainants had a simple disagreement: that the presbytery was not following the explicit or literal language of the Bible and the Westminster standards on the days of creation. The New Jersey Presbytery, instead of following a literal reading of the historic Confession, sought to interpose its own set of Affirmations and Denials as the standard. The effect of this was to include a wide range of views on creation days and other matters, not even ruling out certain views of biological evolution. The attempt of the presbytery was to avoid the confines of the clear language of the Confession (which serves as part of the constitution of the PCA) and substitute its own more

DAVID W. HALL modern practice. Unfortunately, the substance of this deviation permitted no compromise: one either had to side with the original intent of Westminster (and I believe Scripture, too) or one had to seek to revise and enlarge the meaning of the constitution. Thus, the complainant, Dr. Robert Cameron, asked for relief from the SJC, thinking that the PCA would stand by its confession of faith. He asked the SJC to overturn the presbyterys decision to adopt these broader Affirmations and Denials, restoring the constitutional standard. After being tried in the lower courts and by a sub-committee of the SJC, the case arrived for a plenary hearing by the entire 24-member body in Atlanta in March, 1998. At that hearing, the SJC, adopting a specious rationale and sided with the presbytery and the broadening view, instead of with the complainant and the original intent of the constitution. The SJC of the PCA sought refuge in this argument (while also seeking cover behind many of the misrepresented theologians in the first 100 pages of this book): they asserted that the WCF really did not have definite meaning on this. They meant that the Confession was never clear, that the original Westminster Divines intended to be broad and unspecific on this question, and that any minister was free to interpret the days of Genesis however he wished, as long as he also claimed to believe in the historicity of Adam and Eve and the Genesis narratives. Some of us felt that to do so was to abandon the clear teaching of Scripture and the historic buttress of the confession on impoverished bases. Eight of the 24 judicial commissioners united to object, thus requiring the case to be referred (under special rules) to the entire General Assembly in the summer of 1998. Most of us who dissented had reached three conclusions on this case: (1) The Bible itself should not necessarily be interpreted to fit all the scientific conclusions that seem to be crumbling; (2) The Church, prior to about 1800, certainly did not board the modern train of revisionism. When ancient commentaries were consulted, they exhibited a rather literal and consensual view. (3) Our Confession would have been radically contra mundum had it, in its own time, been either agnostic or modern on the length of creation days. For three reasons, several of us thought this battle had to be waged. Even though reluctant combatants, we could not dismiss the following vexing issues:

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION (1) For respect to history, we simply did not agree that our Westminsterian grandfathers were quite as chic as implied by the modern position. Thus in order to be honest to history, we had to conclude that the WCF intended a definite meaning when it spoke of in the space of six days. (2) For confessional/ecclesiastical integrity, if the meaning of these phrases could not be comprehended we were in trouble when it came to interpreting any other clear language. [See Parable of Virgin Birth in Appendix B below] (3) For apologetic reasons, we suspected that most of these concessions were, at heart, accommodations to secular thought of the past two centuries. These three reasons compelled us to oppose the majority of our own SJC. The leaders of that SJC argued that many of their own teachers had allowed latitude on this, they had heard that many within even the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (another conservative denomination) were practically liberal on this, and dont forget those cites by Warfield and Hodge. Add to them, Schaeffer and Machen. Of course, many of the names cited as supportive of revisionism would be proven to be selectively quoted, at best, or misrepresented when compared to their total corpus. After March of 1998, those of us who were compelled by our consciences set our course to dispute this matter publicly. We then began to broaden our search from Augustine-Calvin to move into the seventeenth century and focus on the Westminster Divines. Researched in February-April, 1998 for SJC; then in Great Britain. Many people have assisted me over the years in this research program. I want to acknowledge them and their contributions. First, Christopher Coldwell, the publisher of Naphtali Press in Dallas, Texas, was very helpful in uncovering additional support for the views of the Westminster Divines. Second, I discovered a key lynchpin in John Lightfoot. However, the Rev. Wesley Baker was an inestimable help as he translated Lightfoots De Creatione (Appendix A above) and assisted me with other Latin translations throughout. Third, I re-studied the writings of Archbishop James Ussher and the Irish Articles. As I did so, I found a very clear and established channel of scholarship. Fourth, I received excellent help from two professors of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi: Drs.

DAVID W. HALL Ligon Duncan and Duncan Rankin. In addition, I also benefited from the constant admonitions and encouragement from Dale Peacock, an attorney in Monroe, Louisiana, to keep my brief for General Assembly short and non-technical. Fifth, my presentation was road-tested before several professors at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in late May, 1998. I shared a draft presentation with Professors Joseph Pipa, Morton Smith, Benjamin Shaw, and George Knightat least one of whom thought this was on shaky ground because it was so new. Sixth, we drafted our minority report, with at least 10 Divines who were explicit or implicit. We knew the other side had 0, but we honestly expected them to unearth a few by the time of General Assembly. We are still surprised that brothers will make such bold assertions with so little original support. Seventh, thanks to a fine Elder in our congregation, Mark Buckner, we prepared video slides with pizzazz for the General Assembly, which would hear our case on July 1, 1998. Eighth, in the providence of God, I was headed to Ireland for a month of ministry and research. I was able to use libraries in Dublin, Edinburgh, and the newly-dedicated British Library in London to add to the testimony of the Westminster Divines that I had already collected here. I also discovered that those great libraries contained no refutation of the hypothesis that the Westminster Divines held to 24-hour days. (Note, any good theology, like good science, should look for refutation and be subjected to intense criticism before going public.) By the time of the 1998 General Assembly in St. Louis, we had nearly 20 witnesses, if the countings were fair. Some scholars would later try to whittle away at our evidence, but it was compelling. We then presented the material to the 1998 GA and lost by an approximate 3-2 margin. Political, social, and emotional factors account for that vote in the face of such overwhelming documentation. In response, a study committee was erected, split itself, crashed-and-burned, and then the 2000 General Assembly in Tampa avoided orthodoxy and embraced latitudinarianism on this issue by the narrowest of margins. Considering that we must overturn a century and a half of repeated errors, I believe that we are making some progress, winning the debates, and should correct this in the futureperhaps on a case-by-case basis.

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION The growing testimony to the original intent of the confession is rejected now, only by non-historical considerations, if at all. That is improvement. In the meantime, I am glad to say that the following attempts to provide support for revisionistic schemes by appealing to ancients should be pronounced Dead On Arrival. In other words, the following fires/myths have been put out, as not confirming the modern view.134 Basil Ambrose Augustine Chrysostom Anselm Aquinas Luther Calvin Beza Protestant Exegetes and Confessions from 1540-1600 Westminster Divines Ames (per Macpherson, cited by Collins) John Colet (per Alexander Mitchell, himself ably refuted by Ligon Duncan) Thomas Browne (per Will Barker; see below) William Perkins, who some still try to cite even though Dr. Joseph Pipa has definitively disproven this from his familiarity with Perkins. Calvinists from 1650-1750. These are all dead-ends, dont go theres in the argument. Should one attempt to invoke these in a future debate, he will only risk embarrassment or lack of scholarly credibility. The question in view is almost like Spurgeons claim about church history and Arminianism. He challenged students to go back and search the ancients, and one will find that most of the great theologians held to predestination. To not do so means to reject all the greats, and be left with . . . Finney.
134 See our web sites, and, for moreparticularly those mis-cited by Hugh Ross in The Genesis Debate.

DAVID W. HALL The following moderns have also been misappropriated in the rush to find cover for revisionary views: Francis Schaeffer, who was deferential to many but certainly not sympathetic to evolution; O. T. Allis, Professor at Westminster Seminary, who was not dogmatic on this issue but who also issued some strong cautionary statements about conceding too much to modern secularism; J. Gresham Machen, who wrote very little on this subject, but is infrequently seen as a progressive on many theological subjects; Abraham Kuyper, who wrote an article on evolution, castigating it as a philosophical notion; Herman Bavinck, who wrote a lengthy treatise on creation, but in general upheld orthodox notions; Scotsman Thomas Chalmers, who did, in fact, deviate from reformed orthodoxy and went along with modernizers. However, Chalmers did this at a point of early theological development, and it is questionable if he should be followed in all his theories. Indeed, about the only folks who held to this clever revisionso ardently sown in our seminarieswere Americans and other modernists after 1800, especially in the twentieth century. Many of the staples for that argumentation have now been generally approved. True, some academic and ecclesiastical centers will not admit such disproof (they do have traditions to uphold, too, we should respect), but more dispassionate scholarship will certainly recognize this. Also young students and church members who value truth and biblical fidelity will continue to embrace the truth. When the view began to change away from the classic toward the modern may be seen from the table below, which lists the earliest departures from historic orthodoxy from within our own particular tradition. 1820s Thomas Chalmers formulates his theory; rare for the day. 1855 The editor for Thomas Ridgeleys Commentary on the Larger Catechism (John M. Wilson) indicates disagreement with Ridgeleys position in footnotes. 1856 Charles Hodge comments: If science should succeed in demonstrating that the earth is millions of years old, then we will with the utmost alacrity believe that the days of creation were periods of indefinite duration.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION 1869 A. A. Hodges commentary on the WCF indicates flexibility on the length of days. 1870s James Woodrow controversy, 1861-1888. 1872 Alexander Mitchells study on the Westminster Assembly posits that the Divines left no commentary on the subject; he also speculated that Colet and others might support modern views. 1878 J. Macpherson wrongly interprets Ames to support the growing heterodoxy. Thus, the crucial hinge of change occurred between 1830 and 1880. By the late nineteenth century, the theological landscape had thus shifted, allowing Warfield, Shedd, and others to claim that Calvin and the ancients had actually anticipated much of modern evolutionary thought. With such stalwarts boarding the modernist train in this areaoddity though it was, in view of their persistent rejection of certain areas of progressive thoughtcover was provided for the weakening evangelical tradition of the twentieth century. Rather quickly that evangelical tradition moved toward a hermeneutic that sided with secular claims. The result was that several newer paradigms of interpretation became approved, and many fine evangelicals seldom heard the classic view, finding themselves instructed only by one side of the argument. Accordingly, when those classic interpretations were revived, they appeared (to those who had seldom heard them defended ably) to be new and threatening. Some feared that older, fine men would be ejected from the denomination, which was never part of our effort or hope. We merely sought to see sound interpretations of Scripture and Confession maintained. We quickly learned that not only were historic studies on the original intent of the authors of our confession needed, but we also needed to set forth a comprehensive and sound exegetical defense of the classic view of creation. Although many of our distant forefathers had provided such interpretation centuries earlier, our closer cousins seemed unaware that a defense of the classic view of creation days could be made solely on biblical and exegetical grounds. Some of us would also put our hands to that plow and not turn back. The biblical theology that follows is a necessary part of the scientific revolution. Now that abundant anomalies had been identified, it was necessary to set forth a positive and coherent biblical theology of creation.


Chapter 8

A Biblical Theology of Creation

Since coherent presentations of pro-creation theology have been somewhat rare for the past 150 years, one of the challenges to our perspective is to re-present a consistent biblical theology for our position. It should also answer the legitimate questions posed. In The Genesis Debate (CruXpress, 2000), Dr. J. Ligon Duncan and I sought to provide the reading public with a brief on this subject. Below is much of what we found as we traced the theme of creation, specifically focusing on the interpretation of days from Genesis to Revelation. The Pentateuch and Normal Creation Days The Pentateuchas divine historypicks up where the creation narratives leave off by assuming that the creation days were normal solar days. As with Genesis 1-2, the rest of the Pentateuchindeed, the rest of Scriptureaffirms creation by the unmediated Word of God, as opposed to the use of natural providence over long periods of time. At no time does the rest of the Pentateuch even hint at anything other than creation in six, 24-hour days.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Genesis Genesis 5:1 summarizes the earlier narratives and asserts, When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female . . . And when they were created, he called them man (vv. 1-2). This passage does not suggest that creation occurred over millions of years; rather, like Genesis 1-2, it teaches that God created humans and does not refer to any other extra-divine agency involved in creation. Nowhere does the Genesis record itself suggest or clarify that the creation days were long or that creation came about in any method other than directly from God.135 Elsewhere in Genesis, whether overtly or covertly, creation is consistently treated as Gods direct activity, without necessarily injecting or depending on other forces or agencies. Before the Flood, Gods stated intent was to eliminate from the earth men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air (6:8). This passage is similar to the description of the works of God during creation, even though it describes events centuries later; this similarity reveals an understanding that the creatures of God just prior to the Flood136 were created by the same process as those created during the week of creation described in Genesis 1. In Genesis 6:8, the language of Scripture clearly reveals that God will eliminate those whom I have created from the face of the earth. Had God wished to imply or hint at developmental processes employed over a long period of time as the mode of creation, he certainly could have revealed this fact and been thus understood by OT people. However, even in the face of pressure to conform the certain words of Scripture to the less certain theories of an age, the reality is that none of
Louis Berkhof, among others, indicated that the Hebrew word for create (bara) only referred to creational activity out of nothing (Systematic Theology [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1941], 132-33). Other Hebrew phrases could mean form or develop, but bara was reserved for creation instead of shaping. Berkhof also affirms the universality of the churchs interpretation of normal days until recent times, and that The Reformers . . . regarded the days of creation as six literal days (Ibid., 127). Cf. also Calvins commentary on Genesis 1; Robert L. Dabney (Lectures in Systematic Theology, [Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985 [1871]), 247-49) and Francis Turretin (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, James T. Dennison, Jr. ed. [Phillipsburg, PA: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1992 [1679-85], vol. 1, 431) for similar discussions. 136 Interestingly, interpretations of the Flood, in contrast to creation, rarely seek to treat those days (e.g., Gen. 8:10) in a non-literal fashion. It seems that for the sake of consistency, interpretations of Noah waiting seven more days might extend to long eras in order to reconcile Scripture to geology, but we are not aware of such interpretations.

DAVID W. HALL the Genesis texts, short of hermeneutical re-engineering, actually teach that God created either slowly or over a lengthy period of time. Instead, every verse omits any such claim, each one affirming prima facie that God simply created and is powerful enough to do so quickly and without assistance from other forces. Even those outside of Israel praised God as creator. Melchizedek, a non-Israeli priest of God Most High, worshipped with Abram and blessed God as the Creator of heaven and earth (14:19). Shortly thereafter, in response, Abram tells of a covenantal oath that he swore in the name of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth (14:22). Those who hold to figurative views, at a minimum, must prove that either Melchizedeks audience of the nineteenth century BC (or the readers in Moses time), or that any other OT interpreters understood this description as anything other than a reference to God as Creator who created all things over the space of six normal days, just as Genesis 1 provides. Nowhere does Holy Writ correct or elongate that understanding; nor did exegetes in the main until after the ascent of certain secular theories. Exodus Exodus harkens back to the Genesis creation account, without expanding the creational period. The history of commenting on the fourth commandment in Exodus 20 and elsewhere corroborates yet again that the OT understood the creation days as normal days. When the fourth commandment enjoins Gods people six days you shall labor and do all your work (Ex. 20: 9), it does not suggest that those days are anything other than 24-hour days. God gave no modifiers or extenuating qualifiers in the text to indicate that anything other than a normal day is in view. The commandment certainly does not require labor for six thousand years or six million years prior to sabbath observance. Both the original audience and an unbroken stream of interpreters prior to the nineteenth century have correctly understood the commandment to refer to normal days. A leading OT scholar of an earlier day, in a Sermon on Exodus 20:11, called the six days natural days, a term that, at the time, meant 24-hour days. John Lightfoot asked and answered as follows:
But let us consider of the second thing, as it tends to the end of this command, the setting forth the reason of the institution of the sabbath; that he created all things in six days. And what needed he take six 131



days, that could have done all in a moment? He had as little need to take time for his work, as he had of the world, he being Lord of all. What reason can we give? But that he, by his own proceeding and acting would set the clock of time, and measure out days, and a week, by which all time is measured,by his own standard, evening and morning, to make a natural day, i.e., day and night; and seven natural days to make a week; six days of labour, the seventh for rest . . . That the world was made at equinox, all grant,137but differ at which, whether about the eleventh of March, or twelfth of September; to me in September, without all doubt. All things were created in their ripeness and maturity; apples ripe, and ready to eat, as is too sadly plain in Adam and Eves eating the forbidden fruit. . . . So that look at the first day of the creation, God made heaven and earth in a moment. The heaven, as soon as created, moved, and the wheel of time began to go; and thus, for twelve hours, there was universal darkness. This is called the evening (night). Then God said, Let there be light, and light arose in the east, and, in twelve hours more, was carried over the hemisphere; and this is called, morning, or day. And the evening and morning made the first natural day; twelve hours, darkness,and twelve, light.138

DAVID W. HALL scribed by the finger of God (v. 18). The divine inscription on these tablets does not contain misleading or ambiguous information. To the contrary, when God spoke and wrote to an audience in approximately 1400 BC, saying that the sabbath was to be a lasting sign, he meant exactly what he said when he communicated: For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested (v. 17). The clear intent is that God created in six days, and desired to be understood for perpetuity as having so done. Any contrary understanding must be based on hermeneutical theories foreign to conventional rules of interpreting Scripture. The scriptural evidence itself is clear. Deuteronomy The Pentateuchal testimony is rounded out with two references from Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 4:32, Moses challenged his listeners to compare the true God to false religions. Amidst this particular comparison, his listeners in the fourteenth century BC were reminded of the length of the creation days as they were told that from the day God created man on the earth, nothing so astounding had happened. Note that the text does not speak of the age, aeon, or era that God created man on the earth, but of day of mans creation. Later, Deuteronomy 32:6 contains lyrics that praise God as your father, your creator who made you and formed you. The Hebrew words and audience demanded no other theories of interpretation besides the normal meaning of creation. There is no evidence that Israelite worshipers injected or permitted vastly different explanations for these words. Old Testament Poetic Literature and Normal Creation Days Old Testament poetic literature and worship also reinforce the fact that the days of creation were normal solar days. Job The Book of Job refers numerous times to unmediated creation. When the Lord begins to rebuke Job (Job 38-41), he first corrects Job by pointing to his powerful creation. God asked Job where he was when I laid the earths foundation . . . Who marked off its dimensions? . . . Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone. . . . The point is not only to show Job his

The chief theologian of the Westminster Assembly, William Twisse concurred with Lightfoot and Archbishop James Ussher to endorse a short creation period, when he asserted that Adam fell on the seventh day, following a 24-hour sixth day: . . . and surely Adams naming of them cost him no study; and undoubtedly all this was done before noon, and space enough allowed for the Devils conference with Eve . . . .139 Even if one differs with other parts of these original formulations, clearly generations of Puritan forefathers had a definite and presumed view of the meaning of six days. What is so certain that has changed? When the sabbath commandment is reiterated in Exodus 31:12-18, it takes on heightened importance, given that the tablets of stone were in-

Lightfoots claim that all grant this scheme is highly significant, indicating that at the height of British Puritanism, this matter was settled, and settled decisively in favor of the classic view. Augustine, who was far from advocating a long creation period, had been repudiated. This consensus held until the scientific revolutions of the 19th century. 138 The Whole Works of the Rev. John Lightfoot, D.D., J. R. Pitman, ed. (London, England: Printed by J. F. Dove, 1822), vol. 11. 139 William Twisse, Of the Morality of the Fourth Commandment (London, England: 1641), 51.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION smallness in comparison to God but also to reveal Gods creative activity as praiseworthy because it is an unassisted work among the Trinity (opera ad intra dei). An attribute of God may be diminished if this passage is made to permit a long period of evolutionary unfolding. Moreover, when God grills Job about shutting up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb . . . when I fixed its limits for it and set its doors and bars in place (38:8-10), the very nature of seas and their boundaries seem to defy gradual development or a long span of creation. Instead, Job teaches creation of the cosmos (including a morning with a dawn much like the morning and evening of Genesis 1; cf. Job 38:12 with Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19) as occurring dramatically, without mediation, and in a short period of time. Short of injecting an extrabiblical cosmology, there is no notion within the text itself to suggest a long period of evolutionary beginnings. Job 38:19 even parallels the Genesis accounts by discussing light, which may have an abode in other than solar sources. Celestial constellations were known and catalogued as early as 2000 BC, with Job ascribing praise to God for creating them. Indeed, much of this section, which predates Moses composition of Genesis, was neither written in response to later deities, nor suggests that God used slow ordinary providence to effect creation. Psalms The Psalter also contains many praises of Gods mighty and immediate creation. Beginning with Psalm 8, God is praised as majestic for creating the earth. He set his glory in heavens (Ps. 8:2); he did not slowly develop his glory in the heavens. As David considers the heavens and the celestial bodies, he describes them as having been set in place by God, his Creator. His praise might be significantly less, if it was only praise for God, the Starter of Creation, who subsequently and deistically retired to permit normal forces to finish the creation process. David viewed all the created life (8:6-8) that was made on days 5-6 as having been created by Gods Word (not impersonal forces); thus is Gods majesty ascribed. In Psalm 19, the heavens declare Gods glory. Had they evolved from earlier forms or matter, it might have been appropriate to express some praise for those forces. Interestingly, no praise occurs in the Psalter for a process of creation; only for a powerful Creator who created by unmediated creation. David believed that this testimony to Gods creation bore a universal testimony (19:2).

DAVID W. HALL A little later, David joins Jobs earlier testimony to praise God for founding and establishing his creation of the world and all its component parts (24:2).140 Rather than the parts of creation competing with each other, as some forms of the framework interpretation imply, here in the OT canon, God founds and establishes the world and all therein, without implying the use of intermediate agencies. Psalm 33 contains bold statements about Gods creational activity. The word of the Lord that is right and true (33:4) is also the word that is the agent by which the heavens were made. Consistent with the OT message, the psalmist does not praise any agencies, except the Word of God. The same psalm clarified: For he spoke and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm (33:9). This Hebrew parallelism reiterates the same concept twice, each time using the Waw-consecutive. Nothing occurs between Gods speaking/commanding and the coming into existence of creation/its standing firm. The completed creation seems to be in view. Thus, Psalm 33 affirms that Gods completed creation is accomplished as quickly as words are spoken or commands are tersely given. There is no hint of long intervening ages, or of interposed agents: By the word of the Lord the heavens were made. Psalm 136:5-6 affirms the same unmediated creation by God whose love endures forever. The Temple worshippers would greet the One who by his understanding made the heavens with the refrain his love endures forever, just as they would respond to who spread out the earth upon the waters with the same refrain, his love endures forever. Furthermore, the great lights of Day Four (Gen. 1:16), with the sun governing the day and the moon and stars governing the night, were also tokens of his enduring love. Nowhere are these tokens of Gods enduring love explicitly described as coming about in any fashion other than by his understanding or by his unmediated Word. That teaching is only suggested when extra-biblical theories are imposed on the texts, for the texts themselves suggest no such thing. All of these created objects are to praise God (Ps. 148), for God set them in place for ever and ever. Scripture does not teach that they evolved in place forever and ever, or over long periods of time.

Psalm 89:12 affirms that God created the north and the south, no small feat. Creation of such poles appears to be instantaneous, not gradual. Similarly, toward the end of the OT, Amos affirms Gods creation as effortless (Amos 4:13). We find it difficult to conceive of the formation of mountains or the creation of the wind as necessitating or comporting with long evolutionary unfolding.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Psalm 148:5 affirms Gods creation in a short span of time, taking as long as it takes for Deity to speak. Amidst the lyrical praise of Israel, God is praised as follows: For he commanded and they [heavens, angels, celestial lights, vv. 1-4] were created. Thus, with regularity ancient Israel and those who have sung Psalms for centuries have affirmed that God created the things represented as created in Genesis 1 by mere command. Such musical repetition may partially account for the longevity of the interpretation of Gods creation as having occurred on normal days. Indeed, to sing Psalm 148 with a different meaning requires hermeneutical gymnastics that ancients were loathe to performespecially in the context of unfeigned worship. Proverbs Proverbs 3:19 echoes similar themes, when it says that the earths foundations were made by God who employed his own understanding and wisdom to set the heavens in place. Personified wisdom is praised for setting the heavens in place (Prov. 8:27) and settling the mountains into their places (25), but no long periods or natural processes are extolled.141 Thus far in the progress of revelation, we cannot legitimately interpret any OT passage to support mediated creation (i. e., creation that depends on normal providence and secondary agents). Instead, the consistent OT view is that creation is unmediated by the Word of his power. Old Testament Prophecy and Normal Creation Days The prophecies of the Old Testament teach nothing but normal creation days. This fact is true in both the major and minor prophets. The Major Prophets Isaiah repeatedly affirms direct and quick creation by Gods Word, not by normal providence. The concentrated section from Isaiah 40-45 contains no less than 10 distinct affirmations of Gods creation. None of them suggests long days. God created all things, including the heavenly lights (Isa. 40:26); he is the Creator of the ends of the earth (40:28); and there is no reference to his creation as having occurred by provi141

DAVID W. HALL dence or evolutionary unfolding. According to the Holy Spirits revelation to an 8th century BC audience that had no reason to expect God to create over long ages, Isaiah revealed God as the one who created heavens and stretched them out . . . who gives breath to its people (42:5). God is not only the creator of Jacob and Israel (43:1), but is revealed as the One who created for his own glory (43:7). This same God is the One who created the heavens and the rain (45:8), mankind (45:12), and stretched out the heavens . . . [and] marshaled their starry hosts (45:12). The recent suggestion that such creation took place over long periods of time is foreign to these early texts. If Gods people are capable of understanding them only after Darwin, then all who came before either were deceived into believing day meant a normal solar day or were hopelessly uninformed by the God who purports to reveal himself in these verses. It remains for adherents of the figurative views to explain how and why these texts refer to creation days longer than 24 hours. God is also the Creator, not developer, of breath (57:16), and subsequent to Isaiahs day, he would create the new heavens and earth (65:17-18). Again, these verses contain no hint that creation was anything other than quick, instantaneous, declarative (by Gods speaking), and independent of gradually unfolding naturalistic processes. Jeremiah, in one instance, also alluded to the fact that God created by speaking creation into existence. Following the announcement of his internal covenant, Jeremiah describes God himself as: he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and the stars to shine by night . . . (Jer. 31:35). Gods decrees and the celestial lights shine in what can only refer to a short span of creation. Jeremiah also affirmed that God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding (10:12). Ezekiel 28:13 also refers to Eden, as a historic garden of God. In that context, Ezekiel refers to precious stones that were prepared the day you were created (Ez. 28:13). He does not refer to a long span of creation, but to a day. Later, he reiterates that the spiritual character in these verses is created on a day, not an age (Ez. 28:15). The Minor Prophets The prophet Amos associated the God who forms the mountains as the same who creates the wind and who also without lengthy ages turns dawn to darkness (Amos 4:13).

In desperation, some have sought to enlist Athanasius to support long ages, based on his comments on Personified Wisdom in Proverbs 8. Rather than affirming long days, all Athanasius asserted was that wisdom existed before his deeds of old (Prov. 8:22), hardly a support for day-age views.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Late into the OT period, Nehemiah affirmed that God made the heavens and all their starry host . . . and all that is in them (Neh. 9:6), never mentioning intermediaries or lengthy processes. Malachi affirms that God is the Father of all humans by creation: Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us (Mal. 2:10)? There is no hint that God created by any means other than special, divine fiat. Such being the case, no need for framework or day-age interpretations ever existed for the original audience of Holy Writ. Those interpretations have only arisen as certain scientific theories dominated the landscape. Summary. The OT Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets manifest a consistent view of creation: the authors give no evidence or awareness of creation occurring over long periods of time, as many modern contemporaries are prone to suspect. Unless intra-scriptural evidence must be reinterpreted, the only justifications for re-exegeting these passages are extra-scriptural. The reconsiderations of cosmology by contemporaries occurs only in or after the nineteenth century and never occurred to interpreters unenlightened by modern secular theories. Christ, the Gospels, and Normal Creation Days So far, we have seen that the entire OT reveals a consistent view of creation, without any evidence that it occurred over long periods of time. The same basic cosmological outlook, of course, continues in the NT. In his Prologue, John speaks of the Logos as present in the beginning with the Father. Through (dative of means) this Logos not through nature nor awaiting assistance from either naturalistic evolutionary process or divine providenceall things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made (John 1:3). John does not seek to explain away divine fiat; rather, he continues the OT teaching and assumes creation ex nihilo. If creation was by Gods Word (instead of by secondary agencies), and if creation was revealed in the OT as having occurred in normal solar days (instead of various modern interpretations unknown before the nineteenth century), then the NT itself, beginning with the Gospels, must correct this understanding to have us believe otherwise. The Gospels, however, do not require, let alone hint, that we need to revise the OT view of the process, agency, extent, or span of creation. Nor does the rest of the NT. At every mention, the NT corroborates rather than corrects the OT understanding of crea138

DAVID W. HALL tion as by God, from nothing, in the space of six days as we know them, and all very good. Christ himself places his imprimatur on the hermeneutic of continuity. He approves the normal understanding of the creation of male and female at the beginning (Mt. 19:4). Our Lord nowhere tries to anticipate evolutionary theory in his words; nor does he stretch syntax to make room for such, even though, as the omniscient God of the universe, he foresaw nineteenth and twentieth century developments. Modern interpreters face a rather daunting challenge to show exactly where Jesus ever sought to correct the normal understanding of the process and duration of creation. In both Mark 10:6 and 13:19, Jesus concurred with Mosaic interpretations of creation; he never expressed any disagreement with, or sought to clarify, Moses intent regarding any aspect of creation. On one occasion, Jesus even spoke of Gods creation of the world in the context of days (Mark 13:19). In other words, he had the perfect opportunity to revise the Mosaic understanding of days had he wished to do so. Jesus, however, never parted company with Moses or the rest of the OT testimony on creation. The Epistles, the Apocalpyse, and Normal Creation Days The Epistles and the Apocalypse introduce no theory other than normal creation days. To suggest other theories would require that we impose extra-biblical theories on the text of Scripture itself. Acts 17:24 affirms that God made the world and everything in it. Romans 1:20 continues the NT thread of interpretation, which ascribes praise to God as Creator (cf. also Rom. 1:25). He is nowhere depicted as Developer, Grand-Watchmaker, or First Cause alone. Romans 4:17 contains another stunning affirmation of Gods creation ex nihilo. While describing the miraculous conception that God performed for Abraham and Sarah (which is not attributed to natural processes), this text also describes God as the One who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are. The history of orthodox interpretation has recognized that this text subtly, but powerfully, acknowledges that God is the Creator who calls things into existence when they do not exist.142

Numerous commentators apply this verse as a text supporting ex nihilo and unmediated creation. Among them are William Hendriksen, who interpreted this verse as applying during the week of creation.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:9, joins this chorus. In that verse, he affirms that man was created, and that Adam was created prior to Eve.143 Second Corinthians 4:6 compares the unmediated impartation of Gods light to our hearts in redemption to his powerful, unmediated creation of light out of darkness at creation; neither implies nor requires agency or extent of time more than a normal creation day. In Ephesians 3:9, Paul affirms that God created all things, without attempting to modify, clarify, or correct the Mosaic creation account. In addition, Colossians 1:16-17 depicts Jesus as the firstborn over all creation and as the means by which (by him in Greek) all things were created (Col. 1:16). Whether in heaven (which is certainly not subject to evolutionary development) or on earth, whether visible or invisible, all things were created by him and for him. Credit for the totality of the created order is attributed to God (1 Tim. 4:3-4), and the normal Mosaic understanding of the sabbath and creation days is endorsed by the NT (Heb. 4:3-4). Furthermore, Hebrews 11:3 equates faith with a particular view of creation.144 Since without this faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), believers are required to come up to the divine expectations set forth in that verse. Specifically, faithfulness to God requires us to understand that the universe was formed at Gods command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. This understanding comports exactly with what Moses taught in Genesis 1-2 and with what is taught throughout the rest of Scripture. There is no scriptural reason to believe anything other than the fact that the days of creation were 24 hours long. Only extra-biblical hermeneutical considerations lead to any other conclusion. Hebrews 11:3 affirms at least three things: (1) The universe is not self-existent or self-developed; it was formed (passive voice) by an Agency outside of itself; (2) The means or mechanism by which this non-self-existent universe was created was Gods command, not natural process, evolutionary development, or even deistically guided providence; and (3) This created universe that came about from Gods unmediated command consists of things that were created ex nihilo, rather than molded or evolved from pre-existing substances.

DAVID W. HALL According to Hebrews 11:3, this is a doctrine that is known by faith, and it is essential. Moreover, the author does not indicate in the slightest that he is revising earlier Mosaic testimony, but speaks of this doctrine in connection with numerous other OT passages (mostly from Genesis) that were understood by normal rules of grammar and vocabulary. It is not the Revealer who requires ex post facto hermeneutical and linguistic rules that would confound the original audience. For centuries, Hebrews 11:3 was understood to corroborate the same teachings about creation held by Jesus and Moses.145 Nowhere do the NT epistles seek to alter the normal understandings of the agency, mechanism, or span of creationall propositions that must be proven, if we are to follow modern revisionists. Second Peter 3:5 further confirms that long ago by Gods Word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water. This passage proclaims that the cosmos was created by Gods Word (not by other processes nor unfolded by indirect means). Moreover, a later verse also indicates that the very same miraculous Word preserves the cosmos (2 Pet. 3:7). In neither case does Peter attribute the effect or event to normal providence, but to divine power. The NT concludes with several powerful testimonies to the received teachings on creation. Revelation 4 contains affirmation hymns about the doctrine of creation, without venturing to correct Mosaic nuances or intents. Amidst the attributes of holiness, worthiness, and omniscience, God is also praised as Creator. Evidently, that is an essential part of his being. Gods work as Creator is specifically singled out for praise. Not only is he the originator of creation, but by his will all things were created and have their existence. Gods creation, therefore, extends to all areas. Creation is not something that is important only in Genesis; it con-

Elsewhere, the historicity of Adam and Eve, as normally understood, is taught in Acts 17:36; Rom. 5:12-14; 1 Cor. 15:22; 1 Tim. 2:12-14; and Jude 14. 144 John Owen commented on Hebrews 11:3: All the things we now behold in their order, glory, and beauty were made by the power of God out of that chaos, or confused mass of substance, which was itself fire made and produced out of nothing, having no cause but the efficiency of divine power.

John Calvins disciple, Theodore Beza, also affirmed that Hebrews 11:3 taught creation ex nihilo. Beza explained: The world is formed ex nihilo. We are not able to comprehend how from this which is not made, is that which is [made]. Cf. Theodore de Beze, Cours Sur les Epitres aux Romains et aux Hebreaux (1564-1566) in Travaux dHumanism et Renaissance (Geneva, Switzerland: Librarie Droz, 1988), vol. 226, 311. Further, in his Confession de Foi du Chretien (1558), Beza affirmed that God the Father has created all out of nothing (2.2), and We believe that he has not only created the visible world, the heaven and the earth and all that they contain, but also invisible spirits (2.3; cf. The Christian Faith by James Clark [East Sussex, England: Christian Focus Ministries Trust, 1992], 3). Puritan leader, William Perkins, taught similarly in his lengthy Commentary on Hebrews 11 (Boston, MA: Pilgrim Press, 1992).




HOLDING FAST TO CREATION tinues to be important as long as there is song, and it is not differentiated in this section from other attributes of God. The song also praises God for his character, for his intrinsic worthiness. He is worthy to receive glory, honor, and power. Some of this worthiness, no doubt, is tied to his role as Creator. God is praised in song as the Creator, indeed, a specific kind of Creatorthe One who created all things by his will. It is not by processes or time or chemical sparks that God created but by his will. All things owe their existence to God, the Creator.146 Nowhere does the NT alter or reinterpret the Genesis narratives in any fashion other than as received and by using normal vocabulary. The uniform testimony of Scripture attests to divine creation out of nothing by Gods Word in the space of six days. There is simply no contrary evidence within the canonical Scriptures. It requires the imposition of extrabiblical concepts to reinterpret the texts in other fashions. That drive to be reconciled to fluctuating secular theories, unfortunately, is what has animated most departures from these classic interpretations; for the Scriptures themselves do not call for such re-imagining, nor did such reimagining occur to interpreters prior to a certain worldview shift. Before advocates of long days will be perceived as having presented a compelling case, they will have to address two key hermeneutical questions with more persuasive answers than given until now: Why do the OT and NT fail to allude to long days or slow, developmental creation, if that were the case? Where in Scripture, in other words, is the affirmative statement that the days of creation refer to anything other than normal solar days? Why did no interpreters discover long days or slow, developmental creation until after certain scientific revolutions? If these interpretations are contrary to the history of exegesis, how can Christians be so convinced that these interpretations are not other illustrations of conforming Christ to culture?

DAVID W. HALL Objections Answered Having established what the Scriptures teach about the days of creation and presented the cloud of witnesses through the centuries, we now conclude by briefly responding to several common objections. The Creation of the Luminaries on Day 4 If the sun and moon did not appear until the fourth day, how could there be a literal evening and morning during the first three days? One simple solution to this objection is to understand that God, the Creator, may employ non-solar sources of light before creating the sun. Since God is light and in him is no darkness, he certainly does not depend on the sun for light. Light could well have emanated from non-solar sources prior to the creation of the sun and moon. Consistent with this response, the final chapters of Scripture present a future time during which light will come from non-solar sources (Rev. 21:23; 22:5). Both of these eschatological texts provide the analogy for protological texts to teach that light is not confined to the sun. To interpret the creation narrative in a manner that makes the created sun absolute is to permit an aspect of creation to rival the Creator. Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656 AD) addressed this concern by affirming the earlier tradition:
Thou madest the sun; madest the light without the sun, before the sun, that so light might depend upon thee, and not upon thy creature. Thy power will not be limited to means. It was easy to thee to make an heaven without sun, light without an heaven, day without a sun, time without a day. It is good reason thou shouldst be the Lord of thine own works. . . . One day we shall have light again without the sun: . . . Now this light, which for three days was thus dispersed through the whole heavens, it pleased thee, at last, to gather and unite into one body of the sun. The whole heaven was our sun, before the sun was created.147


Further, the phrase before the foundation/creation of the earth occurs in numerous contexts (Mt. 13:35, 25;34; Jn. 17:24; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8, 17:8), all without any affirmation that the foundation/creation was evolutionary, gradual, or lengthy.

Joseph Hall, Contemplations on the Historical Passages of the Old and New Testaments (London, England, 1854 [orig. 1661]), 2. Similarly, John Diodati understood: It is likely that the light was at first imprinted in some part of the heaven, whose revolution distinguished the first three days, and the fourth it was restrained into the body of the Sun, or of all the other Stars, but in a different degree (Pious and Learned Annotations upon the Holy Bible [London, England: 1651]).



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION If the only remaining challenge is how God could do something so different from our normal observation and expectations, the answer is that it was a miracle in a week saturated with the miraculous. Admittedly, what happened was quite different from our normal experience or observation, but our normal experience or observation is not the standard. On Genesis 1:3, Calvin commented that the presence of light before the sun, far from being problematic, was actually a cause for praising God:
To nothing are we more prone than to tie down the power of God to those instruments the agency of which he employs. The sun and moon supply us with light: And, according to our notions we so include this power to give light in them, that if they were taken away from the world, it would seem impossible for any light to remain. Therefore the Lord, by the very order of the creation, bears witness that he holds in his hand the light, which he is able to impart to us without the sun and moon. Further, it is certain from the context, that the light was so created as to be interchanged with darkness. But it may be asked, whether light and darkness succeeded each other in turn through the whole circuit of the world; or whether the darkness occupied one half of the circle, while light shone in the other. There is, however, no doubt that the order of their succession was alternate, but whether it was everywhere day at the same time, and everywhere night also, I would rather leave undecided; nor is it very necessary to be known.148

DAVID W. HALL tion begins atypically, as compared to our own experience. Thus, to impose what we denominate as normalcy on the text is to distort the text itself. Frequently, those who approach the texts confuse the normal operation of providence after creations completion with distinct acts of creation, which, because they are by nature miraculous, did not operate under normal providence. The Events of Day 6 How could all of the events described in Genesis 2:5-25 have occurred on Day 6? Most orthodox interpreters of Scripture respond to the critic of Scripture who wishes to find contradiction within Genesis 1 and 2, by explaining that following the overview of the seven creation days (Gen. 1:12:4), Genesis 2:5-25 recapitulates and focuses on a single daythe sixth day of creation. Indeed, the only other interpretive option is to assume contradiction within the biblical narratives. But the question before us presents no real problem, especially if we assume the miraculous. This interpretation is not new. Twisse reflected the earlier consensus by endorsing a short creation period, when he asserted that Adam fell on the seventh day, following a 24-hour sixth day: . . . and surely Adams naming of them cost him no study; and undoubtedly all this was done before noon, and space enough allowed for the
(Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1993 [1681]), vol. 1, 197). He embraced the language we use; namely, . . . that this is an immediate act, in which no cause, not even one that is instrumental . . . has any place (Ibid., 198). He cites Rabbinical tradition favorably, that creation was immediately, and without any concatenation of causes (Ibid.). Others from within the orthodox rabbinical school agree. Rabbi Y. Chesner wrote as follows: Judaism has always reckoned a 24 day, as written in the Torah in Genesis: And there was evening and there was morning, one day, i.e. the evening [meaning night which starts in the evening] and morning [meaning day which starts in the morning] together constitute one day [of 24 hours]. The same goes for the other five days of the creation, as by all of them we find this expression: And there was evening and there was morning. The Talmud also reckons a 24-hour day. All the accepted commentaries on the Torah understand the creation days as a normal day of 24 hours. There are some modern thinkers who wish to explain them as eons of time or similar, in order to fit the story of the creation with modern scientific opinion, but this is not the accepted position. For further reading see Selected Writings by Rav Shimon Schwab chaps. 52, 55. Rabbi Yaakov Spivak confirmed: The medieval scholar and kabbalist Nachmanides (The Ramban) held to a literal interpretation as to the time of Creationhe believed that it took place in six, twenty-four hour days.

Natural Providence and Plant Growth If we take the words of Genesis 1:12 and 2:9 in their plain sense, dont they present us with instances of plants growing gradually over a period of time? This objection is not well-founded. We are not compelled to take the words in the sense of what we observe after creation. If the events described were supernatural, then obviously, the text does not refer to the natural process of growth. As construed for thousands of years,149 creaJohn Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol. 1, 76-77. Orthodox rabbinical commentaries, for example, lend sparse support for interpreting day as anything other than a normal day. On the specific question of plant growth, Diodati clarifies the earlier consensus (commenting on Genesis 1:5: The meaning is that the first plants were immediately brought forth by God; the order of nature being as yet not established . . . (Pious and Learned Annotations upon the Holy Bible). Moreover, Herman Witsius repeatedly affirms creation by Gods Word alone by a mere command and volition, devoid of other intermediaries (Sacred Dissertation on the Apostles Creed
149 148



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Devils conference with Eve . . . .150 Even if one differs with other parts of these original formulations or considers this view old-fashioned, earlier commentators clearly had a definite and presumed view of the meaning of six days. This supposed difficulty was no real challenge, unless those who voice it wish to deny the miraculous or impose a contradiction on Scripture. Again, the problem is hardly noticed prior to Darwin. The Use of Day in Genesis 1 and 2 Isnt the Hebrew word for day used in at least three different ways in Genesis 1:1-2:4? Shouldnt we be cautious when we interpret day? This objection begs the question, as we demonstrate below in our answer to the next objection. Proponents of longer creation days, in fact, have no necessary reasonapart from assuming their unproven conclusionsto understand ym in Genesis 1:1-2:4 as anything other than a normal day. Besides, this objection is factually mistaken since, at most, ym bears one other nuance (not a different meaning) when it refers to the fraction of a normal day that is characterized by light (1:5, 14, 16, 18). One should simply interpret day/light in the same fashion as he interprets night/darkness in the same verse (1:10 is another parallel). Moreover, were we to take day in 1:14 in other than its literal sense, consistency also would require us to bracket as non-literal the terms seasons and years, which, in the context, is non-sensical. The bottom line is that those who voice this objection have no reason, other than cosmological assumptions, for construing ym to mean anything other than a normal solar day, the way that passage was understood by audiences from the time of Moses to Jesus. Moreover, millennia of interpreters have understood the seventh day in Genesis 2:1-3 as of the same duration as day in Genesis 1. Differences between Genesis 1 and 2 Why are the events in Genesis 2 mentioned in a different literary order than those in Genesis 1? This objection is related to the objection directly above. Briefly put, there is no inherent discrepancy between Genesis 1 and 2, unless it is imposed on the texts. We offer the following reading of the two chapters, without any contradiction:
150 William Twisse, Of the Morality of the Fourth Commandment (London: England, 1641), 51.

DAVID W. HALL Genesis 1:1-2 provides an overview of the pre-creation state, devoid of internal suggestion that time references need a special set of definitions. Genesis 1:3-5 describes in ordinary terms the creation of light (not necessarily solar) on the first day, which is framed by an evening and a morning in the Hebrew chronology of the day. Genesis 1:6-8 describes in ordinary terms the creation of an expanse and the seas on the second day, which is framed by an evening and a morning according to the normal Hebrew reckoning of the day. Genesis 1:9-13 describes in ordinary terms the creation of land masses and vegetation (which would reproduce after their kind) on the third day, which is framed by a normal Hebrew evening and a morning. Genesis 1:10-19 describes in ordinary terms the creation of celestial bodies on the fourth day, which is framed by a normal Hebrew evening and a morning. Genesis 1:20-24 describes the creation of sea and air animals (which would reproduce after their kind) on the fifth day, framed by a normal Hebrew evening and a morning. Genesis 1:25-31 describes in ordinary terms the creation of land animals (which would reproduce after their kind) and humans on the sixth day, which is framed by a normal Hebrew evening and a morning. The placement of humankind following animal life in Genesis 1:25-31 preserves the literary accent on the uniqueness of man as the crown of Gods creation. The phrase Then God said in Genesis 1:26 need not be interpreted as strictly sequential. All of the events of the sixth day of creation are pointing toward, and are subservient to, the creation of mankind. Thus, we see the emphasis that the created work of that day is very good (1:31), as distinguished from good. Genesis 1:3-2:4 provides an overview of creation. Genesis 2:1-4 describes in ordinary terms Gods rest on the seventh day. Since there is no additional creation, the frame using the normal Hebrew chronology of evening and morning is not needed. The creation overview is completed. Genesis 2:5-25 does not return to Day 1 or Day 5, but according to verse 7, attends only to the formation of man from the dust of the ground. Like a zoom lens, these verses neither contradict nor provide a sequential description of Genesis 1:25-2:4. Rather, Genesis 2:5-25 de147


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION votes itself to one fraction of the creation, the sixth day, and more specifically to the creation and role of humans among the other creations of God. Genesis 2:8-14 provides pre-fall historical details about the Garden and where it was located. Genesis 2:15-17 contains the original covenant between God and Adam, and Genesis 2:18-25 describes Adams relation to other animals and the first woman. Unless some philosophy is imposed on the texts, the texts indicate that many pregnant events took place on this sixth day, but there is no internal teaching of Scripture to suggest that the sixth day allowed for evolution or took place over millennia. While this text may call for faith, surely such faith is better than passing human theories. Thus, Genesis 1-2 may be interpreted, and it has been for centuries, in a harmonious fashion. Only of late and under duress from hostile cosmologies have harmonies been viewed as problematic. One wonders if exegetes are on as solid ground as they expect if they depart from centuries of pious insight merely to flock to the changing landscape of scientific theories that may be fading. Reliability of Ancient Interpretations Shouldnt modern interpreters be favored over ancient interpreters? We do not think that modern interpreters have a monopoly on knowledge; neither are we convinced that contemporary theologians are decidedly superior to their predecessors. While some may presuppose that modernity is superior, they need to prove, not merely accept, this unquestioned article of faith. We may differ with our fathers in the faith, but to do so requires good reason and more than imitation of scientific fads. We would hate to see an interpretative effort presupposeapart from compelling proofthat modern biases and studies are automatically superior to those studies and biases of the church in early, Medieval, Reformation, and Puritan days. Neither is it necessarily prudent to disenfranchise all commentators prior to 1800, as if they were theological dunderheads. Moreover, it remains methodologically unproven that todays ministers and theologians are inherently more capable or perceptive than the likes of Athanasius, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Twisse, Ussher, and others.151 Our belief in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church pre151

DAVID W. HALL cludes us from assuming that recent conclusions are automatically advances in doctrine. For example, simply because a modern theologian presents a coherent case explaining the creation narratives differently than the long history of orthodoxy on the subject, it does not logically follow that he has presented the only coherent case. Often, knowledgeable theologians can weave an interesting tale or create an ingenious explanation (never before suspected) of a text that conforms more closely to the scientific theories of the day. However, that interesting explanation may not be necessary, and it may not endure as the shifting sands of science recede.152 If current theologians, in fact, present studies that exhibit superior exegetical merit, we would join any reasonable person in weighing that merit. This process, however, implies that the believing community will also evaluate which studies and findings are most consistent with biblical teaching. If modern theologians can disprove the interpretation of the earlier biblical commentators and show where their predecessors are in error, based on biblical interpretation, not scientific eisegesis, then we can afford to be open-minded. To merely claim that our fathers in the faith were hopelessly prescientific is inadequate. We find that in many respects, our fathers in the faith demonstrate superior piety and clarity of thought. We must prove them to be deficient in this area before this objection can withstand scrutiny. Briefly put, we should not presuppose that we know more, simply because we live and have been educated under post-Darwinian paradigms. If those scientific paradigms are correct, then we could benefit
no information on the range of meanings of ym outside this bound form and that the day-age theorists have not been able to say by what criteria we may discern an extended sense of ym as age, or what contextual clues seem to tip us off. This seems to be a fatal weakness. 152 With the rapidity of scientific revolutions in the information age, it is not difficult to imagine textbooks a century from now (perhaps the rough equivalent of a millennium of previous theological literature) documenting how quickly some segments of the evangelical community were to alter their interpretation in the face of secular constructs. Unless one sees twentieth century cosmologies (which have assumed evolutionary dogma) as immune from revision or more certain than the history of biblical interpretation, we more cautiously expect that evolutionary cosmologies will pass away sooner than biblical teaching rightly understood. Some caution about the possibility of future embarrassment after the collapse of regnant scientific paradigms should temper ones interpretation or willingness to jump on a particular bandwagon.

Collins (How Old is the Earth: Anthropomorphic Days in Genesis 1:1-2:3, p. 110), agrees that the framework hypothesis as set forth by M. G. Kline is ruled out on exegetical grounds (Ibid., 116, n. 29). Moreover, he confirms that much of the argumentation for long days based on idiomatic considerations in Genesis 2:4 give[s] us



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION from them. If they are erroneous at any point, however, then theological formulations based even incidentally upon them will collapse like a house of cards. Specifically, we are not sure that modern interpreters are superior in exegetical ability, or more sanitized from cultural bias than earlier theologians. Prove that modernity has fostered interpretation that is freer from bias or superior to ancient interpretation, and we will happily listen. But assumption is not the same as proof. Assuming something is so does not automatically make it so. Moreover, Solomons maxim that there is nothing new under the sun, seems to require a bias in favor of antiquity. We do not agree to assume any presupposition that elevates modern scholarship above the long history of the churchs interpretation, particularly on an issue that is primarily an exegetical one. In the face of the tidal wave of modernity, we must ask repeatedly, Why have our spiritual ancestors held strongly to views of sexuality, ethics, worship, or cosmology for hundreds of years, and what theory has changed to demand different interpretation of the inspired texts? Is a modern theory so certain as to require us to change? Modern secular theories are not so compelling as to require the church to alter its exegetical conclusions. We remain unwilling to assume accommodation, especially if those who make this assumption suggest that the churchs theology must fit with the worlds theorizing. Not only would that method be unfaithful to the authority of Scripture, but it also would fail to conform to what the best of secular science says about itself. The best of secular science is self-consciously provisional; its theories are only tentative, changing, and always subject to re-testing and reconceptualization. One of the more potent analyses of the progress of science has been provided in Thomas Kuhns The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. While this work itself is worthy of criticism, still most historians accept its central tenet. Kuhns thesis is that scientific worldviews (paradigms) are constantly formed, amended, and disregarded. He documents an ongoing process in which a revolution may occur in the paradigm of scientists (normally over a span of time, not instantaneously). When a sufficient number of anomalies are found and the paradigm cannot be amended to account for them, then eventually a new paradigm will form. While mid nineteenth-century Darwinian evolution was one such scientific revolution, it appears that soon it will be replaced by a superior paradigm. While we do not yet know what that forthcoming paradigm will be, the anomalies of mid nineteenth-century Darwinian evolutionary

DAVID W. HALL schemes are mounting, and a Kuhnian crisis appears imminenteven as that crisis is dogmatically resisted by adherents of fading evolutionary orthodoxies. It would be unseemly, to say the least, for evangelicals to defend an orthodoxy that even anti-theists have come to reject. Our interpretation above will be successful if it encourages other evangelicals not to board the train driven by a secular engine, just as the engineers themselves are disembarking. If evangelicals fine-tune their message to fit a waning scientific cosmology, just as secularists themselves are beginning to realize its indefensibility, we will not provide the best possible testimony to eternal truth to a lost generation. There is, in other words, good and sufficient reason to hold to the classic view. Those who wish to move us from the view of insightful fathers in the faith, must do a better jobnot only exegetically, but also theologically, historically, and practicallyto persuade us to depart from the truths understood by Moses and Jesus audiences. We would rather expect fluctuating theories to change. Scientific revolutions, after all, occur with regularity. Twentiethcentury science is changing, and twenty-first-century conclusions might make certain views, if tailored to fit a retrograde horizon, look foolishly out of touch in a few years. Because science, by its very nature, is provisional, the church must remain critical of theories that conform to science. Proven truth should prevail until those who question it can demonstrate, if ever, that their conclusions are based on superior exegesis. Thus, until assured exegetical results are repudiated by superior exegesis, the church should prefer continuity. The Relationship between Special and Natural Revelation What is the relationship of special revelation to natural revelation? Our case for the 24-hour view implies a corollary that we should make explicit: We should not grant natural revelation (which is always filtered by the interpreter) a status equal to, or greater than, special revelation as it has been interpreted by the community of the faithful and circumscribed by the analogy of faith. While there certainly is a light of natureand Protestant theology has embraced a range of understandings about the role of natural revelationthe evangelical tradition has not assigned the same epistemological authority to natural revelation as to special revelation rightly interpreted. When forced to choose between conflicting sources of authority, we join

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION the chorus begun by the apostle Paul: Let God be true, and every man a liar (Rom. 3:4). Conclusion Lest any be tempted to dismiss the classic interpretation we have summarized above as trivial or lacking in pragmatic value, we respond by pointing out that the One who inspired Scripture did not seem to agree. Ones view of creation affects many other areas. It affects principles of hermeneutics, cosmology, apologetic method, the nurture of the young, and the trustworthiness of Scriptures in both Old and New Testament. In short, because it is part of ones worldview, it affects every glance. Perhaps earlier theologians were more sensitive to this. James Ussher explained in detail why these creation questions were so important for both faith and practice. He affirmed the classic view and argued that one of the reasons he did so was To convince all heathen, that either thought that the world was without beginning, or that it began millions of years before it did.153 And though, asserted Ussher, [God] could have perfected all the creatures at once and in a moment [contra Augustine]; yet he was six days and six nights in creating the world.154 Another reason that Ussher cited was: That we might observe, that many of the creatures were made before those which are ordinarily their causes; and thereby learn, that the Lord is not bound to any creature, or to any means; thus the sun was not created before the fourth day, and yet days, which now are caused by the rising of the sun, were before that.155 Thus, Ussher saw great value in miraculous creation by divine fiat. His explanation of what else is at stake is still useful today. Neither Ussher nor his predecessors believed that God created mediately, using ordinary providence in the first week. Instead, God created immediately (not to be confused with in an instant), and he did not need any forces or agents outside of his Word to create. Herman Witsius subsequently explained that any view of creation which allowed natural processes excessive credit invariably would permit Job to answer Gods questions (Where were you ? . . .) or explain
153 James Ussher, Sum and Substance of Christian Religion, Hastings Robinson, ed. (London, England, 1841), 118. 154 Ibid. 155 Ibid.

DAVID W. HALL creation apart from the miraculous. That would be to boldly contradict the prophets and God himself; for since they expressly declare, that God stretcheth forth the heavens ALONE, they exclude every other cause of every sort; and since it is added that God spreadeth abroad the earth by HIMSELF, we are taught that this is an immediate act, in which no cause, not even one that is instrumental operates . . . .156 Witsius, perhaps with greater insight than modernity-biased contemporaries, had the perspective to observe that,
the act of creating is so peculiar to God that no creature can be admitted to any share in it . . . If, therefore, we imagine that God communicates this privilege to any creature, that at his (the creatures) command, a certain other thing may exist, that thing would either exist without any co-operation on the part of God for the effecting its existence . . . and would be wholly indebted for its existence to the fiat of the commanding creature; or it would exist in consequence of Gods willing and commanding in existence, in concert with the creature which is supposed to create. Now, each of these ideas is most dishonouring to God, and involves a manifest contradiction.157

We side with what the Scriptures teach about the days of creation. We side with rabbinic tradition. We side with apostolic teaching. We side with the consensus of the church fathers. We side with the Reformation and Puritan divines. We side with the uniform testimony of the church until recently. We can do no other. Future generations may scoff at the once-prevailing Darwinian paradigm of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and realize that the interpretations of Witsius, Ussher, and the other cloud of witnesses we have cited will long outlast the short half-life of interpretations held hostage to Darwinisms fling. Indeed, the heavens and the earth as we know them will eventually perish, but Gods Word will last forever. On the fourth commandment, Zacharias Ursinus commented similarly: That by the example of himself resting on the seventh day, he might exhort men, as by a most effectual and constraining argument, to imitate him and so abstain on the seventh day, from the labors to which they were accustomed during the other six days of the week.158 The consistent

Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertation on the Apostles Creed (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1993 [1681]), vol. 1, 198. 157 Ibid., 199-200.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION during the other six days of the week.158 The consistent literary presence of this phrase within six days amidst historical commentaries is a thorn in the flesh to those who wish that history was not so specific on this issue. A Guilty Plea Several friendly critics accuse our view above of the following: (1) taking the Scriptures at face value as any other non-specialists would; (2) holding to an old-fashioned perspective; (3) trusting special revelation as it has been interpreted by Gods people for centuries more than the fluctuating interpretations of the world for a short time; and (4) being suspicious of non-Christian thought.159

DAVID W. HALL It is true that we believe that Gods word is accurate. Below we will review three very good reasons for continuing to hold to the classical view: (1) historically, the view has only changed under duress; (2) to best hold to the perspicuity of Scripture and supernatural Christianity requires us to do so; and (3) to dislodge this classical view of creation, forces adjustments to other truths within the system of Christianity that further distorts the face of orthodoxy. First, a historical summary. We note the following as preliminaries: (1) the issue of creation has long been considered a fundamental Christian belief, one that distinguishes Christianity from other religions; (2) this particular doctrine has been subject to prolonged attack in our century, but continues to be critical for orthodoxy; and (3) although the history of belief on this subject is clear, some fine and notable theologians have held differing views on this subject. We also admit that some Christians have been too lax on this subject, and others have been too narrow. Below is a summary of the history of this doctrine. Gods Word is not only inerrant, but it is also clear to the learned and unlearned alike; thus, we affirm that when God reveals his mindon creation or any other matterthat he is quite capable of making his thoughts known in ordinary language that do not require extraordinary hermeneutical maneuvers for interpretation. Accordingly, we believe that when God revealed his creation as ex nihilo and by the power of his word, and when he surrounded the six days of creation with such phrases as the first day . . . the nth day and evening and morning?all phrases which should be understood in their normal sense by Hebrews in the second millennium BCthat God himself intended to convey that the work of his creation spanned six ordinary days, followed by a seventh and noncontinuous day which also spanned 24 hours like the other six days.

Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (Columbus, OH: Scott and Bascom Printers, 1852 [1616], 531), emphasis added to show the comparison. 159 Michael Bushell has written: The comparison between a 3,100 word Hebrew vocabulary and a 4,000,000 English vocabulary is very misleading. As a footnote points out, if we eliminate chemical and species names, and perhaps some other very specialized words, the English vocabulary is closer to 500,000. But even this is irrelevant. The vast majority of those words are not in common usage. The real issue is how does the Biblical English vocabulary compare to the Biblical Hebrew vocabulary, and the answer is that they are comparable. They presumably get their 3,100 figure by the number of entries in the TWOT lexicon. But that lexicon is arranged by lexical root. The number cited does not include derived forms, most of which function lexically as independent words. The actual vocabulary is much larger, perhaps several times larger. One might expect politicians to play these sorts of games with numbers, but theologians should be a little more circumspect. The authors claim that biblical Hebrew has no word other than ym to denote a long time span. This is simply not the case. This is precisely the meaning of the word olam . They state later in the article that Hebrew lexicons show that only in postbiblical writings did olam refer to a long age or epoch. The first occurrence of olam in the Old Testament is at Gen 3:22 (close to the Genesis creation account) where ol is translated forever. It means basically for a very long period of time and is rendered eivj to.n aivw/na in the LXX. The Greek word aivw/na means an age, or extended period of time, or eon. It is precisely what Ross and Archer have in mind in their interpretation and the LXX translators chose it to render the word olam. But even if we accept at face value what the authors say about the use of the term olam, their point is still not valid. The bottom line is that the basic meaning of ym is not that of a long period of time and when the Biblical writers want to convey the unambiguous idea of a long period of time using this word, they often combine it (cf. Ps. 21:4; [Heb. 21:5]; Ps. 91:16; Prov. 3:2, 16; Dt. 30:20.). If some want us to believe that Moses had no alternative to using the unadorned word to convey the idea of a long period of time, they are not correct.


The basic thrust of this section is the charge that young-earth creationists cannot account for the very large number of species that are currently observed without actually adopting what they deny, namely the development of new species via the process of evolution. It would have been helpful if the authors had reacted a little more with the literature on this issue. It has been addressed many times. The term species is not a Biblical one and the term kind (Heb. miyn) is certainly much broader. There is no reason why over relatively short time periods there could not be speciation within the Biblical kinds. No creationist that I know of denies this.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION We believe that an accurate study of OT texts does not support either the gap theory, the framework hypothesis, or the day-age view. Indeed, we find the OT creation texts to be interpreted as normal days, and no passage demands that Genesis 1-2 be re-engineered to yield other interpretations. The long history of rabbinical commentary, the very dating of time by the Hebrew calendar, and orthodox Jewish thought so understand these texts to embrace only days of ordinary length. The NT church and Scriptures offered no revisions of this view, and nowhere advocates framework or day-age views. We certainly believe that if the wording of Genesis 1-2 required clarification or modification away from the normal meaning of the Hebrew terms that God would not mislead us in the NT. The earliest post-canonical commentaries either advocated a 24-hour view of the days (e.g., Basil, Ambrose) or followed Augustine in a somewhat Platonic scheme. Augustines view, however, was that creation occurred instantaneously, and he nowhere enunciated a dayage view or a framework hypothesis. Until the Protestant Reformation, only two views were propagated: (1) the Augustinian view (followed by Anselm and John Colet) and (2) the literal 24-hour view (espoused by Aquinas, Lombard, and others). The magisterial Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Beza) adopted a uniform view, that of 24 hours, and overtly repudiated the Augustinian view. Prior to the Westminster Assembly, with only two extant views within biblical orthodoxy, leading Puritans (Ainsworth, Ames, Perkins) and others repudiated the Augustinian view. The Westminster Assembly Divines either felt no need to comment on the length of daysso clear was it establishedor if they commented, they uniformly (either explicitly or implicitly) adopted the 24-hour view. With 60-80 Divines normally attending sessions, at least 20 of the Divines who did comment in other published writings indicate that they only understood the creation days to be 24-hour days (or ordinary days), and none have been found who espoused a contrary view. Specifically, there were no Divines who wrote advocating a day-age view or a framework view. We continue to esteem them not only as confessional authors but as faithful exegetes. We

DAVID W. HALL deny that certain scientific theories are so certain as to compel us to reinterpret Scripture on this matter. Following the Westminster Assembly, the testimony of the American reformed tradition (e. g., J. Edwards; see extended footnote with references on 97 above) followed the tradition of Ussher/Perkins/Ames/the Westminster Divines on this question. No debate about this subject arises until after 1800, as the winds of various European views began to circulate. By the mid nineteenth century, certain leading evangelicals (C. Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and later Shedd and Warfield) began to conform their exegesis to the ascendant science of the day. We believe that this was a strategic and hermeneutical mistake, as well as a departure from the meaning of terms in Scripture and earlier confessions. However, leading theologians (Dabney, Thornwell, Girardeau) simultaneously resisted efforts to broaden the church on this point. Early in the twentieth century, numerous evangelicalsand some seminariesbecame overly concessive to a secular cosmology, departing from the historic view. Even the secular confidence in earlier cosmologies is declining in some areas. Therefore, our view shares the exegesis of the Westminster Divines that led them to affirm that God created all things in the space of six days by the word of his power. We also believe that this clear meaning of confessional language should be taught in our churches and pulpits; departures from it should be properly safeguarded.

From the above, it is likely clear by now that we reject the following contemporary notions: (1) that John 5:17 teaches a continuing seventh day of creation; (2) that death entered the cosmos before the fall; (3) that ordinary providence was primarily responsible for the creation; (4) that extraordinary literary ability must be ascribed to pre-1800 audiences; and (5) that Scripture is unclear in its use of evening and morning attached to the days of creation. While debate may be pursued between fine Christians and over a number of questions, Scripture and its historical interpretation is fairly clear. Discussions with others, particularly those who disagree, only confirms the soundness of this classic view of creation.




Chapter 9

The Recent Debate

Vestiges Resist Adaptation

I have found that even after the history is presented and corrected, however, there is still a mammoth resistance. Even after this information is laid out, many seem unwilling to follow the historical facts. One has to wonder where the Scriptures are so dogmatic as to compel one to reject the history of theology prior to the nineteenth century on this subject. Nonetheless, even among evangelicals who believe in sola scriptura, there is much debate. Some of my former teachersknown for their adherence to biblical inerrancy as much as for any other thingand many evangelicals who have not researched this subject have been content to rely on the conclusions of recent theologians. More frequently than we wish to admit, a type of Protestant traditionalism has crept in on this subject. As a result, many solid evangelicals seek to justify their position by noting that it agrees with the likes of Augustine, Hodge, and Warfield, or that some of their finest teachers from the prior generation failed to adhere to the prima facie language of Scripture in this regard.
158 159

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION A recent statement by an admired faculty illustrates virtually all the examples I have cited. For most of the twentieth century, Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia was associated with the strongest defense of the faith. However, on this particular issue, they sided with recent exemplars over the early Reformers and Puritan divines. In the summer of 1998, probably not unrelated to the ongoing judicial cases (see above) in conservative Presbyterian churches, this esteemed faculty hastily adopted a statement on the issue, and as is common with hasty efforts, a number of errors were contained. Thankfully, some of the errors from the original document have been corrected. Since the final product is available on the web, I refer the reader to the revised document (posted at: However, to indicate how some of the initial formulations uncritically accepted the traditionalism of previous scholars without checking all of the original sources, my criticism below interacts with both earlier drafts (text) and the final version (footnotes) to provide the reader with the fullest possible glimpse into these discussions. This Westminster faculty statement was originally adopted in June 1998, then revised on October 12, 1998over three months after I had presented and circulated a study showing what the Westminster Divines believed. In that earlier piece, my findings specifically refuted some of the key conclusions of the original Westminster Theological Seminary faculty statement, among them: (1) that Augustines view was condoned by the Westminster Confession; (2) that William Ames advocated long intervening spaces separated the creation days; (3) that John Colet was an exemplar the Divines followed on this subject; and (4) that the Divines were vague as to their opinion. Notwithstanding, this faculty concluded the following historically erroneous claims in their October 1998 draft160: As if Augustines view cannot be learned, i. e., that creation was instantaneous, the faculty affirmed: Augustine himself, as is well known, states in connection with the days of Genesis 1, What kind

DAVID W. HALL of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive. Yet Augustine is clear that the length of creation was a blink of an eye, certainly contradicting a day-age viewa conclusion that this faculty seems unwilling to draw. They avoided interpreting Anselm as his context insists, i. e., as following Augustine. When they admit The Reformers, it is true, seem to have generally interpreted the days as ordinary days of 24 hours in duration, still they fly in the face of the obvious wording of the Westminster Confession (and the Annotations by the Synod of Dordt)which were not creating pluralistic statements of faithwhen they try to persuade: Yet this position, consciously distanced from Augustines view, never seems to have been regarded as a test of orthodoxy in the reformed churches. If the confession is not a standard of orthodoxy for the reformed churchesespecially when it repudiates the views of Augustinewhat is its purpose? One wonders, What evidence to the contrary do they have to support their claim that the Divines did not regard statements in the confession as tests of orthodoxy? The methodological question is: Does one view the Confession as only presenting nebulous ranges of ideas or as affirming specific propositions thought to be derived from Scripture? When this leading faculty affirms, A striking illustration of the way in which biblical scholars wrestled with this issue is found in the work of John Colet, who, at the end of the fifteenth century, held to a position approximating to a day-age or even framework interpretation of the days of Genesis, they cannot have read Colet for themselves. It is clear from reading him (if he was the author of the work in question) that he followed Augustine at best, or was an eccentric Platonist at worst. Although Alexander Mitchell speculates support for long ages in his quixotic reference to Colet, sounder historians will not find such. See our treatment of this specious argument above. When this premier seminary refers to Others maintain that at this point the Standards are simply paraphrasing the language of Scripture and do not address the question of the length of the days, they might want to produce a single English version (or many) that does as they speculate in Genesis 1, i. e., what English version[s] uses the confessional wording in the space of six days in Genesis 1? Assertion without supportno matter how many have invoked the same


After reconsidering their earlier statement, the WTS faculty issued a slightly revised statement on March 1, 1999. While this statement may be an accurate description of what one faculty has held, unfortunately, the revised statement persists in repeating several erroneous or misleading claims. Obviously, my essay takes strong exception to their claim that to hold to the actual Westminsterian view disenfranchises any from reformed orthodoxy. It may be that statements like this third revision do more to disenfranchise nearly 3800 years of defenders of orthodoxy than anything conservatives have done.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION fallacyis not the method most want to embrace. Later the WTS statement is more honest than most in its pursuit to bury this inefficient argument as they aver: The words the space of, as the other view above recognizes, seem deliberately chosen as an interpretive or clarifying addition that functions both to affirm and to exclude or negate. They begrudingly admit: Though the framers of the Standards may have held personally to the 24 hour day view, that view is not the point of their confessional affirmation. Still, they persist in citing William Ames, as if he supported a longer view, and twisted the record in hopes of having it support their affirmation that the inclusion of the space of shows, intends not somehow to limit but rather to emphasize the duration of the creation days.161

DAVID W. HALL over, the only paragraph devoted to the Westminster view asserts, both contrary to the evidence and without documentation, as follows: Though the framers of the Standards may have held personally to the 24 hour day view . . . [followed by more subjective theorizing].163 A reactionary posture might better be avoided by including Will Barkers conclusion that at least five Divines left explicit testimony to the 24-hour view, with no dissents from sitting Divines yet located. It is also a mere assertion lacking in primary evidence to claim that the Divines phraseology intends not to somehow limit but rather, over against the instantaers weight Usshers Irish articles more heavily. Notwithstanding, Perkins affirmed the traditional view as six distinct days. His own works fail to support that he might have advocated long days for creation; to the contrary, he adopted a view almost identical to Usshers. (2) An appeal is made to the non-canonical Book of Jubilees (4:29-30), suggesting that Adams 930 year lifespan was 70 years shy of 1000 years because 1000 years are one day in the testimony of heaven. Note that, besides being apocalyptic and noninerrant, the context makes no claim about the length of creation daysinstead referring to actual chronological years; (3) Hermann Venema (d. 1787) opposed the view that Moses speaks not of ordinary days but of years and of centuries, indicating, as Barker suggests that such a view was held by some in his circles in the eighteenth century; (4) William Whiston, an Arian Mathematician, is claimed as regarding the days as years in a 1698 work (which, I believe, would be the initial known formulation of this view, making this both novel and in opposition to the views of Isaac Newton and the Westminster Assembly); and (5) John Milton and Thomas Browne, neither members of the Westminster Assembly, are reported as holding to the Augustinian instantaneous vieweven though both were known to exhibit considerable antipathy toward the Assembly. Barker notes that contemporaries of the Assembly rapidly critiqued the views of Browne, and he may be correct that belief in instantaneous creation was being fostered contemporaneously with the Westminster Assembly. Lacking, however, is any explanation for why the Westminster disciples would so rapidly critique Browne and Milton in the 1640s, only to allow William Whistons putative view to become an acceptable view a mere 50 years later. What remains unproven is: (1) that any of the Assembly members held to any view other than the 24-hour view, and (2) that any of the Assembly members held to either a long-age or framework view. As Dr. Barker has been helpful to remind me, in a study of the original intent, only those commissioned, sitting, and voting (none of the above meet this rigorous standard for original intent) should be considered indicative of the views of the Westminster Assembly; for there are far more other contemporaries (which some scholars disallow) who hold to a 24-hour view than to similar seventeenth century contemporaries who hold to a long-age, framework, or instantaneous view. 163 The March 1, 1999 revision, probably in an attempt to conform more closely to the cascading historical documentary trail, conflates several ideas in a single, not altogether clear sentence: Though the framers of the Standards for the most part held personally to the 24 hour day view, that view, to the exclusion of all others is not the point of their confessional affirmation. One wonders what the point is, since Augustine has already been clearly repudiated.

If the record were not clear, any of these speculations, traditions, or revisions might be acceptable. That may be why evangelicals earlier in this century failed to adopt the strongest view possible. However, with the abundance of modern evidence, to make claims that the Divines were vague requires one either to be unaware of the overwhelming explicit and implicit testimony to original intent (with no primary evidence contradicting), or uncharacteristically dependent on secondary material, or else reliant on faulty method to affirm something explicitly contrary to the original language and intent of the confession. Oddly missing from the statement is any extensive discussion of the view the Westminster Divines.162 That omission seems glaring. More161

The March 1, 1999 revision finally corrects one mis-impression about Ames. Yet even in this correction, the faculty simultaneously affirms that Calvin, Ames, and the authors of the Westminster standards with few exceptions [ed. none are cited], if any, undoubtedly understood the days to be ordinary days, while also embracing a stunning discontinuity in the next words, viz.: there is no ground for supposing that they intended to exclude any and all other views, in particular the view that the days may be longer. Such conclusion from the clear record of history is not strong evidence for this statements sense of continuity with the earlier history. The statement begs that a proof of original intent exceed this standard: more than demonstrating that the Divines, perhaps even to a man, held that the days were ordinary days. To demonstrate that of itself establishes nothing. With that, it appears that normal historical documentation is no longer the standard. Deconstruction of a level that is impossible to emulate would be required to explain away the clear intent. 162 In earlier communication with the premier historian of the faculty, Dr. William S. Barker (See the Open Letter below) asserts the following: (1) William Perkins may have had more direct influence on the Assembly than Ussher, although Warfield and oth-



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION neous creation view [ed., note, one cannot have Augustine both ways], to emphasize the duration of the creation days. I have not found evidence of that creative interpretation by the Divines themselves. Perhaps the faculty will reconsider and produce cites where the Divines themselves stated that as their intent, or clarify that this is the ex post facto interpretation only conjectured by the faculty.164 Indeed, the only affirmative testimony for the modern view comes from nineteenth and twentieth century theologians. Prior to that, the only choices were: Augustine or Westminster. While I appreciate the effort not to disenfranchise fine reformed folk, it seems that certain statements have the effect of disenfranchising approximately 3800 years (back to the time of Job) of understanding of the days of creation. To say the least, earlier Christians do not concur with the faculty statement that the matter of creation days is unclear. To the contrary, they seemed rather consistent. Neither is the long Jewish tradition mentioned in most statements. Orthodox rabbinical commentaries, for example, lend sparse support for interpreting day as anything other than a normal day. On the specific question of plant growth, John Diodati clarifies the earlier consensus (commenting on Genesis 1:5): The meaning is that the first plants were immediately brought forth by God; the order of nature being as yet not established. Moreover, Herman Witsius also cited Rabbinical tradition favorably, that creation was immediately, and without any concatenation of causes.165 Others from within the orthodox rabbinical school agree. Rabbi Y. Chesner wrote me in answer to my query on this subject as follows:

Judaism has always reckoned a 24 day, as written in the Torah in Genesis: And there was evening and there was morning, one day, i. e., the evening {meaning night which starts in the evening} and morning {meaning day which starts in the morning} together constitute one day {of 24 hours}. The same goes for the other five days of the creation, as by all of them we find this expression: And there was evening and there was morning. The Talmud also reckons a 24 hour day. All the accepted commentaries on the Torah understand the creation days as a normal day of 24 hours. There are some modern thinkers who wish to explain them as eons of time or similar, in order to fit the story of the creation with modern scientific opinion, but his is not the accepted position. For further reading see Selected Writings by Rav Shimon Schwab chapter 55 and also chapter 52.

Of course, this view may well be in continuity with the tradition of Westminster Theological Seminary, founded ca. 1930. However, it is hardly in continuity with the views of the Divines and centuries of earlier testimony. Moreover, the statement seems to view a discontinuity between the exegesis of Genesis 1 and that by the authors of the Standards, who so clearly expressed their own interpretations of Genesis 1 as meaning 24 hour days and occurring either at an autumnal or vernal equinox, when it asserts that the framers would be the first to insist upon settling that question [length of days] by the exegesis of Genesis 1. They did, and this recent statementwhile faithfully replicating the views of a post-1930 American faculty of one particular ecclesiastical traditionis at odds with the express writings of any Divines who addressed this subject. 165 Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertation on the Apostles Creed [rpr. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1993], 198.


Rabbi Yaakov Spivak also confirmed: The medieval scholar and kabbalist Nachmanides (The Ramban) held to a literal interpretation as to the time of Creationhe believed that it took place in six, twenty-four hour days. The extant Hebrew dating of years also indicates the received understanding of the long history of Hebrew rabbis on this question. If a study committee or faculty wishes to discount numerous endorsers of original intent, in all fairness before it represents to the church or its constituency that they were silent on the matter, the historical particulars, it seems to me, might at least be mentioned. Count them as implicit if wished, but their record is neither invisible nor mute. Implicit written testimony is at the very leastwhen consistent with all other evidence stronger than ex post facto speculation of motive without primary sourcing to support. At present, it is fair to report: All primary evidence to date points to the Divines holding to an ordinary or 24 hour day. Despite many claims, we have turned up [0] Westminster era Divines who explicitly held to a long day or framework view. The material point is clear: Despite all the research and the recent tradition, there is no primary evidence yet that a majority of Divines held to, supported, or exegeted Scripture to endorse long days or framework theories. When we see a greater number of Westminster Divines supporting long age or framework theories than the number of Divines who explicitly endorsed non-24 hour views, then the debate can begin. If the Divines were as willing to support expansive views as is purported, citationseither of their explicit exegesis advocating such or their stated design not to express a standard of orthodoxy for the reformed churches on this mattershould be easy to locate. Indeed, I have been surprised at


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION how slowly such evidence is surfacing. Although the burden of proof rightly rests on those who wish introduce new or specialized readings of a text, in this case, we have borne all the burden, and the other side despite the patrimony of Hodge, Warfield, Shedd, Mitchell, Macphersonhas made numerous incorrect claims or assertions, ranging from baseless to speculative. Thankfully, some seminary faculties are changing in response to these discoveries. Even Dr. Morton Smith has grown in his orthodoxy in this area, compared to his view over 40 years ago. That is a model to follow. The Evolution of Method or How Long Can Hybrids Be Sustained? One may wish to reject the good advice above, and side with questionable argumentation, but it becomes embarrassing when one has to repeatedly retract and end up empty. I leave several final questions for discussions in other forums: (1) What other issue do we treat in this fashion? (2) What is so wrong about the previous exegesis? Once it is admitted that the modern geologic views and framework theories deviate from the Westminster views, then we may begin a debate over which exegesis is superior, but first it needs to be proven how the earlier exegesis was defective, and on what enduring authority we deem it to be deficient. (3) Another very important and timely question lurks in the wings: Is recent tradition more important than truth? Hodge,166 Warfield, Shedd, and Schaeffer (and certain seminaries) may well comprise a modern Presbyterian tradition. But it is one carved after the crumbs of Darwinism and if a tradition, it is far different from the patristic, Reformation, and Westminster traditions. Geological and evolutionary teachings have had a definite impact on theological formulations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Even the best and purest of theologians are not immune from the effects of secular thinking. However, when secular theorizing drives the train, de166

DAVID W. HALL spite protestations to the contrary, we must evaluate the theologians who suggest innovation. We are aware of few theologianspast or present who are removed from a stream of science. Still, such impact of secular thought must be evaluated and checked. We are not convinced by the assumption of accommodation, i. e., that the churchs theology must fit with the worlds theorizing. Not only would that method be unfaithful to the authority of Scripture, but it would also fail to conform to what secular science says about itself. I remain unconvinced that contemporary theologians are decidedly superior to previous ones. One pastor ultimately granted the validity of my argument, but still unwilling to follow the Divines, he rejoined, Maybe well show that they were wrong on this. Perhaps some faculty will engage in that research or produce proof that the mid seventeenthcentury divines were far more chic than we have heretofore imagined. That presupposition that modernity is superior is a definite possibility. A church or individual, after studying certain issues, may indeed discover that they have disagreed all along with what our forefathers said. Dating back at least to the Reformation, Protestant churches have acknowledged the legitimacy of differing with tradition. And where tradition is wrong, it becomes the responsibility of those who seek to be true to the Scriptures to reform their tradition by correcting it. In this case, that may be one option: those who now see that the Westminster Divines did intend 24-hour days may wish to amend the Confession and Catechisms contrary to their original intent in order to make them conform to modern assumptions. That is an honest method, albeit regrettable from our perspective. Notwithstanding, we would hate to see an effort presupposeapart from compelling proofthat our modern biases and studies are automatically superior to those studies and biases of the 1640s. Specifically, it is methodologically unproven that our ministers and theologians are more capable than the likes of Calvin, Luther, Ames, Twisse, Ussher, and others. We find that in many respects, those Puritans were superiornot inferiorto modern piety and theology. It remains to be proven that they were deficient in this area. Conclusion: The doctrine of creation may be a mirror for moderns. It may be held up and used to reflect our image, which we often cannot see unless we have such a reflecting glass. We like to tell ourselves that we are not tainted by worldly theories, but the history of this question, par167

Still, even some of their contemporaries viewed them as succumbing to the academic peer pressure created by the introduction of the evolutionary paradigm. If that was in part what was happening, we are certainly justified in querying: Are modern secular theories so compelling as to require the church to alter its exegetical conclusions?


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION ticularly among evangelicals, seems to tell the opposite story: one of increasing conformity to the worlds philosophy. Moreover, this topic is a good test for method. As one differs with the ancient consensus on this issue, one is called on to defend that aberration. As we do so, we discover that we are forcedin order to defend this Trojan Horse167 of modernismto adopt or embrace methodological principles that we would hesitate to adopt on other similar issues. The doctrine of creation challenges us either to re-shape a particular doctrine to conform to modern substance or re-shape our method to conform to the substance of modern theory. Might it not be wiser, not to mention simpler and more defensible, to simply retain a sturdy theological method and established exegesis, if all we lose is companionship with the modern?

DAVID W. HALL In desperation, some have even sought to claim Dabney and Thornwell.168 Dabneys view, however, is clear. He said of Genesis: The narrative seems historical, and not symbolical; and hence the strong initial presumption is, that all its parts are to be taken in their obvious sense. It is, he continued, freely admitted that the word day is often used in the Greek Scriptures as well as the Hebrew (as in our common speech) for an epoch, a season, a time. But yet, this use is confessedly derivative. The natural day is its literal and primary meaning. Now, it is apprehended that in construing any document, while we are ready to adopt, at the demand of the context, the derived or tropical meaning, we revert to the primary one, when no such demand exists in the context.169 R. L. Dabney argues that this evidence alone should compel adoption of a literal-day view:
The sacred writer seems to shut us up to the literal interpretation, by describing the day as composed of its natural parts, morning and evening. . . . It is hard to see what a writer can mean, by naming evening and morning as making a first, or a second day; except that he meant us to understand that time which includes just one of each of these successive epochs:one beginning of night, and one beginning of day. These gentlemen cannot construe the expression at all. The plain reader has no trouble with it. When we have had one evening and one morning, we know we have just one civic day; for the intervening hours have made just that time.170

I am indebted to Terry Mortenson for the Trojan horse analogy. His dissertation (referenced below) is a helpful supplement to this work. Professor Terry Mortenson (Institute for Biblical and Theological Studies in Hungary) writes: As you recall, the Greeks conquered the city by offering a huge wooden horse to the citizens of Troy. It was naively received without knowing that the horse was full of soldiers in spite of some warnings not to do so. One of the Scriptural geologists I was privileged to study during my PhD said this about one of the prominent churchmen who was compromising with old-earth geological theory in the 1830's and thereby reinterpreting Genesis to make it fit an old earth. Rev. James Mellor Brown wrote in 1838, A doubt has, I believe, been already raised on the common parentage of the human race, among others by the Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford; but with this salvo, that he does not consider it as invalidating the doctrine of Original Sin. This affords another illustration of men who pull down the bulwark, but disclaim any intention of endangering the citadel. The Trojan Horse, drawn within the walls of the devoted city by friendly hands, is a standing emblem of men acting under the unsuspecting guidance of the Evil One. (James Mellor Brown, Reflections on Geology (London: James Nisbet, 1838), 24; also cited by T. J. Mortenson, British Scriptural Geologists in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, [PhD thesis, Coventry University, UK, 1996], 263-264.). About 200 years ago, the trojan horse, filled with the gap theory, the day-age theory, the local flood theory, the tranquil flood theory, the Genesis-is-a-myth theory, etc., poured into the holy city of God. Most of those reinterpretations of Genesis were proposed and popularized by evangelicals. In the 20th century more theories that cleverly evade the plain teaching of Genesis have been published by evangelicals who have been brainwashed, like the rest of us, into thinking that the geologists have proven that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that dinosaurs became extinct 70 million years before Adam was created. The early 19th century Scriptural geologists knew that it was far from proven that the earth was untold ages older than the Bible teaches.


The Westminster Confession and other historic creeds employ dogmatic language on this subject. Even after all the scouring of the record, the confessional phraseology significantly differs from Scripture.

Professor Duncan Rankin kindly shared the following reference with me, composed by J. B. Adger, one of Thornwells successors in the late nineteenth century: Twentyfive years ago, had I [James Woodrow] wanted the prevailing views of the church about geology, I would have gone to the Rev. Dr. Talmage, the honored president of a university in Georgia. He held the view that the world was only six thousand years old, and that the scriptures so taught. That was the churchs prevailing view then. When I came to Columbia, I found that the loved Thornwell held the same view, and so did his successor. James Woodrow, The Perkins Professor of Natural Science in Connection with Revelation at Columbia Theological Seminary (1861-1887), as recorded in J. B. Adger, My Life and Times, 511. 169 R. L. Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids [1878], 1972), 254-5. 170 R. L. Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids [1878], 1972), 255.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION My friends who hold the expansive view deny that they are following early nineteenth-century science, but they fail to produce many examples of pre-nineteenth-century exegesis advocating their view. That odd historical fact is as deserving of explanation as it is haunting for their case. The longer they offer exegetical or historical arguments that are illfounded or unsubstantiated, the more many are driven toward a view that is capable of weathering more ideological storms. In the end, the classic view may survive because: It is the fittest. Still the Only View Expressed by Westminster Divines on Creation Days: A Reasonable Request, Recent Research, and Responses to Challenges Below is an open letter that I sent to our denominational study committee in 2000 as they were preparing their report. I share it as a summary and to underscore the tenacity of argumentation on this topic. It is also, I hope, an example of civil discourse on a heated topic. An Open Letter to the PCA Creation Study Committee February 16, 2000 By now, Im sure the PCA Creation Study Committee tires of studying and receiving additional suggestions. In view of the great efforts you have given, I begin by extending my profound thanks to you all for your diligence, expertise, and willingness to serve in this difficult area. You do not have an easy job. You are also, no doubt, as aware of the diversity within the PCA on this issue as Standing Judicial Commission members became while adjudicating Case 97-5. We never reached consensus, reporting majority and minority reports to the Assembly, with the majority having a narrow 4-3 proportion among our body. You may have similar ratios, and so I wish to recommend an approach that may be helpful to encourage unity; indeed, the SJC might have preferred this option in hindsight. My request, which I think is reasonable, is that you consider dividing the major question, in part, i. e., distinguishing between what our fathers intended and what we may wish to practice. It is still a thorny issue to decide how to apply the confessional standards, and I would like to lodge this request with you. I hope that it is neither burdensome nor improper for me to make this request, respond to challenging issues, and present my latest research on the subject.

DAVID W. HALL My request is that, whatever you recommend about theological and hermeneutical interpretations of Genesis 1-3 (the first part of your assignment) or how the PCA might apply the relevant confessional portions to future matters, please answer the one question that is by now abundantly clear (and added from the floor by the GA itself), or else provide primary textual evidence that the Westminster Divines advocated other views promulgated today. I ask you, since it is part of your charge, either to confirm that the Divines held a particular view on the length of creation days; or if you have found from their own hands that they held to long ages or more poetic schemes, then please report those texts and sources as well. This request, about what the Divines advocated three and a half centuries ago, is certainly one part of your charge that you can answer. If the Divines held diverse views it should not be difficult to reproduce multiple instances of them advocating views other than 24-hour days. Whatever answer you give, there is still room within the church for good men to disagree, but lets not fail to report history accurately when it is discernible. When I first presented the primary source research to the Assembly in 1998, it was with due trepidation. The healthy doubt about ones own findings is enough to give pause to anyone. I attempted to share with our church the best research available on the subject and have asked for honest critique and correction. Some of the most helpful criticism has come from my former professor, who taught me to love church history, Dr. Will Barker.171 I wish to respond to his reply in the Spring 2000 issue of the Westminster Theological Journal below, but I want to announce to the Committee that I am prepared to surrender all the implicit, tacit, or unclear references to this matter. Agreeing with him, based on my previous research, instead of 21 instances of original intent, I will be happy to agree with him, for purposes of our churchs debate (if not for the scholarly matter), that there are at least seven explicit references from Divines to their view of creation as ordinary days. I also wish to add a few more with which I think Dr. Barker and others will concur (cf. above pp. 8288). I state this from the outset as a way of thanking Dr. Barker for refining and critiquing my thesis. That thesis itself, however, has not been refuted (only the degree of testimony supporting it), nor has another viewbased on primary sources from the Divinesbeen widely cor171

Dr. Barker, of course, received this letter first and sat on the committee.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION roborated. I merely have 7-9 explicit witnesses instead of the original 15 from my first published study ( I believe you can serve our church well and avoid an ugly contention and floor amendments at GA by leading our church to affirm some such incontrovertible point. What conclusions you or any draw for practice in the PCA, however, might be another matter. I still have not formed, for example, a hard and fast view on whether men who take an exception should teach their view. That, along with many other matters, may be subject to ongoing debate, but it really is clear and unrefuted that the original authors of our standards had but one view and repudiated several others in their succinct language. My suggestion is that the PCA handle differences with that clear original intent in a fashion similar to the way most presbyteries handle exceptions to the Sabbath or any other objection to the historic meaning of confessional phrases. I leave that to your wisdom, although you would perhaps find considerable diversity among some of the Divines on the meaning and extent of Sabbath observance (in which we grant exceptions with regularity), while there is no primary-sourced diversity among the Divines on the space of six days. It remains difficult for many of us to see logical consistency in granting exceptions for one clear divergence from the original intent and not for the other. Below, I will share briefly my latest research172 with (and supply supplemental materials to) the committee. 1. Where Will Barker and I agree (based on his forthcoming article in Westminster Theological Journal, spring 2000; page numbers referenced in parentheses are to his text, which he kindly shared with me. Copy included for the committee.) * I thoroughly agree with his description of Augustine (2-3) as holding to instantaneous creation, and also his notation that Calvin and Luther repudiated that Augustinian view. * I also concur with his finding (3) that Calvin, the Reformers, and the Divines explained Genesis 1, in part, by affirming that the sun was created on the fourth day. Indeed, Calvin did hold that view, as did most Puritans and the Divines, if they addressed this query. See the discussion of Musculus and Perkins below to see how persistent this view was a century before Westminster.

DAVID W. HALL * I appreciate Dr. Barkers full citation of Calvin (3-4), and note that Calvins terminology about alternating light and darkness approximates the teaching of Lightfoot (that some think anomalous) a century later. * I absolutely concur that Calvin agreed with Basil and Ambrose (4; Ambrose is explicit about 24-hour days, but both he and Basil clearly state that the sun is created only on the fourth day.), specifically referring to them both (cf. for more). I say Amen to that. * I agree that Perkins (4-5) and other Divines did not use the term solar day. They, too, followed Calvin and other European Reformers (see below) in thinkingfor a very good reasonthat the sun was created on the fourth day. The Divines in fact, contrary to straw man arguments, used another set of vocabulary altogether: they used ordinary or natural days, certainly aware of this issue. * I agree to speak in this context of seven (5) agreed to explicit witnesses to this subject to date, fully aware that few, if any, other confessional topics would rule out the other 14-15 implicit witnesses that we have discovered. Seven explicit witnesses are more than I dreamed of finding in the beginning, and I have two to five new ones to add to the list, which Im confident Dr. Barker will admit. (Note: I hope we also agree that whether it is 15-0, 9-0, 21-0, or 7-0, in view of our findings of multiple explicit witnesses, should the other views be unrepresented in fact, with none endorsing modern views under the same criteria suggested by Dr. Barker, that such finding should surely be reported to the church.) * Finally, I agree that the Westminster Assembly did not endorse all of the personal views of Lightfoot and others. The standards wisely do not seek to dogmatize about which time of the year creation occurred. However, as Lightfoot says, all concurred that the creation began at some equinox, thus implying that they thought creation (and the subsequent days) began on an ordinary day. The reason the Assembly did not have to further specify the length of days was that, in the words of Lightfoot who was there, all grant. They were virtually unanimous on this topic. So from our iron sharpening iron discussion, it appears that the views of Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Lightfoot, Ambrose, and Basil are now clarified, and even historians who disagree about other matters can clearly agree on what they intended. Moreover, I will not seek to introduce witnesses into this debate unless they meet the rigorous standards of (1) being present at the Assembly and (2) wrote using explicit terminol173

Even though some of this section repeats earlier conclusions, I have chosen to include the letter exactly as I sent it for historical purposes.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION ogy on the length of days or explicitly tied them to an equinox or some such other clear chronology. Dr. Barker is correct: only rigorous standards, and the disqualification of any not meeting those, must be determinative for our churchs answer to the query: What was the Divines original intent? Where I disagree with Dr. Barker. * I disagree with Dr. Barker when he avers that the issue is not whether any Divines held to other than 24-hour views, but whether the confessional language requires a view of six 24-hour days and nothing else. (2) I have to reaffirmshort of seeing massive primary material to the contrarythat the only other major view extant at the time of the Assembly (i. e., Augustines) was repudiated, thus leaving one and only one view. I have yet to see multiple instances of the Divines holding to the modern views of Day-Age or Framework. Are there any at all? Like many others on this issue, I still have an open mind, if primary sources can prove that any of the relatively recent views are advocated in commentaries, sermons, or treatises by the Divines. If the committee recognizes that the Assembly rejected Augustines views, and wishes to argue that they held other views beside the 24-hour view, our church should hear the evidence about which other views were actually maintained. The Divines, however, expressed only one view in any of their written materials that we have been able to find. Others outside of the Assembly (e. g., Browne, Colet) may have held to other views (albeit Augustines and not the modern varieties), but there is still a yawning chasm between the claim that the Divines might have held (or allowed) other views and proof of the hypothesis that they actually did. Most other students of Puritan history have a difficult time believing that the Divines were timid about affirming their views and only, as reactionaries, wished to deny Augustines view and not state anything positive on this topic. It seems imperative, thus, to disagree with Dr. Barkers formulation, lest the only other option be that we not take seriously what the original authors said and treat the Confession as a living document, replete with meanings that unfold or that are tailored to the flux of human theory. * I disagree that the work of Thomas Browne is pertinent. I ask that the same rigorous criteria of disqualification be applied to him as has been applied to the numerous Divines Ive cited previously. They, at least, were Westminster Divines; Browne was never a member of the Assembly, as an Anglican he was not perceived as speaking for the Assembly, he was never cited by Divines as an authority on this topic, and his book

DAVID W. HALL is on a different subject (whereas the relevant citations of Westminster Divines are on the subject of creation). Moreover, Brownes reinventing Augustines position was clearly repudiated by the Divines, Calvin, and the consensus of Reformed orthodoxy. I dont think we need to snatch a contemporary outside the Assembly, only to elevate his vague sayings (and rejected as Augustinian!) over other Divines. If equal treatment of our spiritual ancestors is a criterion for determining original intent, then surely an uncited Anglican, who was not a Divine, writing on a different subject, cannot be added for support of modern views unless we add those who were Reformed Divines, actually at the Assembly, who addressed the pertinent subject. * I also disagree with any inference that William Perkins position differs from the ordinary day view, and hope that his view will also be admitted in light of his most direct (and consistent) comment on the subject. Perkins wrote in a manner that eludes any view but the 24-hour view (alas, he would be a cause celebre for the Institution for Creation Research if touring today). Living shortly before the Westminster Assembly, Perkins should be allowed to speak for himself, especially when citing the agreement of many others, as follows: The sixth shall be touching the time of the beginning of the world, which is between five thousand and sixe thousand yeares a goe. For Moses hath set downe exactly the computation of time from the making of the world to his owne daies: and the Prophets after him haue with diligence set down the continuance of the same to the very birth of Christ. . . . Some say there bee 3929 from the creation to Christs birth as Beroaldus: some 3952 as Hierome and Bede: some 3960 as Luther and Io. Lucidus: some 3963 as Melancton in his Chronicle, and Functius: some 3970. As Bullinger and Tremelius: some towardes 4000. as Buntingus . . . (I:143). [This chronology obviously shows that they all took the days literally.] Then arguing against instantaneous creation (contra Augustine), Perkins wrote: Seventhly, some may aske in what space of time did God make the world? I answer, God could haue made the world, and all things in it one moment: but hee began and finished the whole worke in sixe distinct daies. (I:143) As to why God took these days to make the creation, Perkins argued: in sixe distinct daies, to teach us, what wonderfull power & liberty he had ouer al his creatures: for he made the light when there was neither Sun nor Moone, nor Stars; to shew, that in giuing light to the world, he is not bound to the Sun, to any creature, or to any means: for the light was made the first day: but

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION the Sunne, the Moone, and the Stars were not created before the fourth day. (An Exposition of the Creede, I:143; full quote, given originally in March 1999, occurs on Did God Create in Six Days?, Pipa and Hall, eds., 48-9) The full cite, the chronology entailed, and the context of this statement, as well as the way Perkins was understood by his contemporaries, makes clear what view he held. He also thought that the other authorities concurred with his view. * Im not sure if I should list it as a disagreement, but whether Archbishop James Ussher (5) was present at the Westminster Assembly or not, his views were not ambiguous nor was his influence insignificant. Ussher, following Calvin, held views which became embedded in the Irish Articles (1615), a creed that Warfield viewed as influential as any other for the Divines in other matters. Certainly, Dr. Barker does not intend to argue that Ussher did not hold to 24-hour days. Both Usshers chronology and his direct statements are too clear to dispute. He could be added, then, as the eighth witness we agree on, except he was not present (although he had been appointed by Parliament to sit). * I strongly disagree with the use of fictitious dialogues (7-8), even if attempting to illustrate, when there is so much nonfiction available and when the fiction goes contrary to the actual views stated by the original participants. I certainly hope (as illustrated below) that if imaginary dialogues are constructed they will not be deemed determinative for important matters and also that they should, at least, approximate the published views of the original authors. One could easily fabricate dialogues that explain away the virgin birth by such devices (although none on this committee would do so), since those exact terms do not occur in the Westminster Standards. At present, I know of no PCA elder who suggests the Divines did not hold to the virgin birth [ed., See Appendix B below] simply because that phrase is not contained in our symbols; nor do I hear PCA people argue, If you wish to change the confession, why dont you seek to amend by adding virgin birth to chapter 8 of the WCF? The point is: we no more need living dialogues, creatively shaped to each generation, than we need a living document hermeneutic of the constitution. The truth is that the Divines never engaged in such a dialogue like Dr. Barkers. Before, at, and after the Assembly, the Divines recommended only one view and intended, by their well crafted words, to repudiate rival views. They did not view themselves as pluralists, merely

DAVID W. HALL giving pious advice; from all we can tell, they thought they were commenting on and exegeting Gods normative Word. Again, I especially thank Dr. Barker for his time, rich expertise, and thoughtful critique, but I hope that the committees report will also benefit from some of these points Ive noted. Your refinement, I believe, strengthens the central thesis of my research, but you have yet to produce 7-9 explicit instances of different Divines holding any other view. As Ive indicated elsewhere, should such evidence that the Divines held to other than 24-hour views be provided, in the interests of fairness, Ill publish that as well. For the record, I am willing to publish Dr. Barkers recent paper on our web site, if given permission, and I also invite him or the Committee to respond to this latest response. To promote the free exchange of ideas, we will happily include all fine scholarship with our own published studies. It seems that such openness of discussionrather than avoiding fine research, even if challenging to a body or a publicationis clarifying and may yet produce some needed unity. 2. Is the evidence increasing or decreasing that the Westminster Divines had many germane comments and only one view on the length of days? It is increasing, and the body of their commentary on this subject is rapidly growing. We would hate to see our church go against that reality. When I first presented my research to the General Assembly two years ago, I had slightly over 10, direct or indirect, testimonies. Now there are twice that many, both explicit and implicit. Indeed, Dr. Barker has, as characteristic of his scholarly fairness, assisted me in finding others (e. g., George Walker). I confess, try as I might, I have been unable to find any evidence for the claim that the Divines either didnt intend what they wrote or that Divines entertained and/or advocated other views. I have read every original source I could locate in major European archives in Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Geneva, and elsewhere. Moreover, added to the names of Lightfoot, Ley, White, Walker, Twisse, Gouge, and Gataker (even not counting Ussher), I believe the following Westminster Divines should be added to the previous seven who clearly endorsed the same view: Scotsman Robert Baillie, John Selden, Daniel Featley, Samuel Rutherford, and Joseph Caryl. . . . (See Chapter 5 above for full citations). Upon a conservative count, at least nine witnesses of greater weight than the work of Thomas Browne are available. In my 1998 GA presentation, I never claimed that there were no Divines who advocated

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION framework or long-day views; merely that there were few and I hadnt found one. I sincerely expected some to be presented. After nearly two years, there are still none. No matter how diligently friendly critics work to reduce our list, the fact is that we have a large number, an increasing body of testimony, and the other views have not produced primary sources for their speculation that the Divines held other views than the ordinary day view. Surely, the church, therefore, should not be asked to approve any recommendation that does not take this historical fact into account. Plus, the testimony is growing in one direction only. 3) The question of the suns first appearing on the Fourth Day. I have addressed this at length in the paper posted at: I will extract only a few exemplars here. To understand how long the tradition of interpreting Basil and Ambrose remained intact, one could consider one of the most influential Reformation treatises on Genesis by Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563). In his 1554 In Genesim Moses Commentarii Plenissimi, while commenting on the fourth day of creation, he wrote:
There were days before the sun, just as also there was night before the moon and stars. . . . At that time the days had an inexplicable light, with no observable sign of their stage, or even of their midpoint, which are governed (with regard to our experience) by the suns course, as it is ordered and noted [by us]. Therefore it is rightly attributed to the sun because I do not say that it constitutes, but rather that it orders and arranges the day. However, I have not been inconsistent with the point in this place, understanding the work not as artificial but as natural days: and not only of the sun, but also of the moon and the stars. . . . In the space of a year there are twelve revolutions of the moon: i. e., twelve months are completed. And a solar year is when the sun returns to the end of its own circuit whence it began.

DAVID W. HALL Musculus further adds that the whole world was created by the sixth day: Thus the days are numbered (dies numerantur) as time is (tempus est). The days, he wrote, were in tempora, and Just as the entire world was constituted in the revolution of six days (sex dierum revolutionibus), so it continues. Musculus massive commentary, certainly a theological paradigm of its day, does not seem to distinguish between the length and quality of the days, as if the fourth day began a new or different chronology. Musculus saw no reason to interpose an artificially long period in the creation days, and long before modern theories, he was aware of light prior to solar light. This interpretation, acknowledged as Dr. Barker notes by Calvin and numerous other Puritans, was advocated for a reason long before our century. Musculus and others realized that any difficulty presented by observation was ultimately resolvable by this simple proposition: The sun is not the origin of light (Sol non est origo lucis). Other Reformers and Successors of the Reformers. All the major Reformers, including the towering biblical exegetes who succeeded CalvinBeza, Diodati, Polyander and the Puritansheld to the same interpretation we have espoused. In fact, the view held by Calvin prevailed without interruption until (and after) the Westminster Assembly (16431648) and was articulated by many. Other post-Reformation giants affirmed a similar consensus, such as Ursinus, Melancthon, Lightfoot, Baxter, and Perkins. We continue to ask our friends to answer this question: How did all of these godly commentators miss the point, and with such remarkable consistency? To answer that question, modern interpretations must not only put forward their hypotheses, but they also must show where and how this near-universal consensus was wrong and on such a grandiose scale. In short, how could so many get it so wrong for so long? Earlier commentators (to whom these recent schemes never quite occurred) did not seem as quick to experiment as commentators in modernity. Thus, the historical record indicts the modern views as innovations manufactured only after, or in response to, the wide acceptance of certain scientific revolutions. No creed or assembly entertained an alternative view until the nineteenth century, after the beginning of warfare between science and Christianity. Despite some modern interpreters not being able to embrace this demonstrable truth, i. e., that earlier believers held to such a strong view of creation with such definiteness, this fact is clear: Not only did our fathers

Concurring with Basil, other church fathers, and Lombard, Musculus commentary on the textthe fullest of the Reformation period (almost 800 octavo pages)noted that the reckoning of time for the Hebrews was from the beginning hour (horae). Musculus (who also referred to Chrysostoms Fourth Homily on Genesis as concurring with his view) apparently thought the orthodox church was of the same opinion, calling no dissenting voices, and adding that of Lombard, who also confirmed that morning is not the first of the day in Hebrew chronology.

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION in the faith have fixed views that the creation days were ordinary, but their view was so universal that they easily codified these views in creeds and confessions without objection. Earlier orthodoxy was so undisputed that they set these items in creeds and found little or no opposition to enshrining the views of Ussher (the Irish Articles), Calvin (the Westminster Confession), Luther, Perkins, and many others as creedal! It was simply unnecessary and unimaginable to add more language to their clear affirmations. These earlier commentators and their subsequent creeds were not merely concerned with the Who or what of creation. They went out of their way to affirm the when and the how as well. The burden rests on new interpretations to convince us that the how long, since God reveals it, is unimportant. 4) What did commentators a hundred years before the Assembly and a century after explain to the church on these matters? I will sum up the most recent study by myself, Mark Herzer, and Wesley Baker (see attached or web posted at: as follows. A survey of the leading continental Reformation and postReformation commentaries on Genesis supported only one view: the view that is classified as the 24-hour view. They were not ambiguous but consistent. There is nothing to indicate that the Westminster Divines departed from this earlier orthodox commentary; indeed, the succeeding century after the Assembly only confirmed the repudiation of Augustinianism and the embrace of ordinary days. There is no evidence that they departed from the Reformed exegesis of the preceding century. See for the full study. 5. Were the Patristics pluralistic on this subject or beyond tracing out? I have developed and published a set of relevant patristic commentary on this matter ( of the length of the days. From it, it is clear that Ambrose, Basil, Chrysostom and others cited were strongly and explicitly supportive of the ordinary day view. The only clear adherents of some other hypotheses were the heretics Origen and Philo, whose testimony should not be elevated above the orthodox. While Augustines view continued to have exponents until the Reformation (few after that), and while Calvin, Musculus, Perkins, Ames, and the Westminster Divines uniformly rejected that, there were simply no commentators prior to modern times who ever thought up ideas like day-age and framework.

DAVID W. HALL A study of history indicates that pre-1800 theologians were not pluralists and neither were they so creative as to see in Genesis 1 what some today think they see. Lacking compelling reasons from the text itself (not second order interpretations of the text) to read in some meaning other than the normal one, good exegesis preserves the normal meanings of words, especially remembering not to require the original audience or the uneducated to possess a literary sophistication that has only been ingeniously discovered in the past two centuriesand that only after considerable mental gymnastics have been performed, hoping to conform Scripture to science. The question that begs itself, and that is answerable, is this: Did Bible-believing theologians prior to 1800 differ with, reject, or repudiate the pre-existing consensus of the church regarding the days of creation? If so, where did they express their revolt against such clear opinion? Until the last 200 years, these modern ideas occurred to few Christiansthe Westminster Divines did not even mention such views. Moreover, average readers of Scripture, either in biblical periods or in later ages, have not seen the interpretations posited by these two views. We still cannot imagine peasants in third-world countries performing discourse analysis (or many others for that matter besides academic elites), nor do we think it realistic to imagine that pre-Christian Hebrews understood days to mean million-year long ages. Neither do we believe that Gods Word requires such extraordinary literary sophistication to read it aright. Virtually no one before the rise of modern science posited that creation occurred in anything longer than six ordinary days by the special operation of Gods miraculous fiat. Modern advocates who wish to show that framework hypotheses or long-day views have longevity on their side will also need to explain away most of Christendom. Rather than presenting compelling information supporting modern views or refuting evidence of the classical hermeneutic, it seems that the more one studies this issue, two things become clearer: (1) prior to nineteenth-century scientific revolutions, orthodox theology had answers for the questions posed today; and (2) changes in evangelical exegesis followed and reacted to secular scientific theories after 1800. Should those post-1800 theories be correct, the entire church may need to alter its theology, and it might be candid to explain that those alterations arise from scientific theories, not from the history of biblical interpretation. If, by contrast, those scientific theories are incorrect, as they are proving to be, it would be highly imprudent to make Scripture con181

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION form to them. I hope our Committee will lead the way, not follow, poor methodology. 6. Explanation of Westminster Assembly Session, #615. Dr. Barker raises the waiving of the phrase consisting of 24 hours (10) from session #615 of the Westminster Assembly, I suppose to argue that they intentionally wished to avoid affirming such. He then creates a fictional dialogue to support that. Below I offer a less fictitious dialogue including actual written comments, explaining why the phrase was likely deletedcontrary to having bearing on the creation issue. Since this is the only reference to the matter, actually The Assembly entered upon debate of the Sabbath, (Mitchell, Minutes, 215) it deserves to be interpreted correctly. (References for the quotes appear in:
John White: To clearly put to rest that Augustinian view which few have held since Calvins excellent interpretation, I move that we add the words consisting of 24 hours in the original to read God in his Word hath appointed one day in seven for a sabbath [clearly the subject at hand, not creation] to be kept holy unto Him, which [day] consisting of 24 hours from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last of the week, and . . . from the resurrection to the end of the world the first of the week. I strongly favor the 24 hour day view. John Ley: I object on aesthetic grounds. We should economize our words. Mr. Whites view is abundantly clear already, and there is not a man here, or in any of our churches, who believes otherwise. The confession is growing large as it is. We already have the phrase in the space of six days in the appropriate section on creation. It is not needed, though uncontested, here. And my own view, which is shared by the other members, contained in our Annotations is: the word Day is taken for the natural day consisting of twenty foure howres, which is measured most usually from the Sun-rising to the Sun-rising; or from the Sun-setting to the Sun-setting. John Lightfoot: I think, however, that it is wise to be as clear as possible. After all, all grant that creation occurred on an ordinary day, the only difference among us (and little at that) being over whether the first ordinary day was at the fall equinox or the spring one. I also submit to the will of this body, that we should not dogmatize about which equinox is the first day of creation. We should only dogmatize about what is clear in Scripture. It is clear that the phrase, And the evening and

morning refer to the first natural day; twelve hours, darkness,and twelve, light. William Gouge: Do any of our members have a different view than a day as a 24-hour view? I know of none. I agree with William Ames, John Calvin, Martin Luther, William Perkins, and the most reliable patristic authorities. If this is our view, why not make it explicit. As I have previously commented about the seventh day of creation, therefore so many houres as make up every of the other days which are four and twenty must be accounted to this day. This is precisely why we added the phrase in the space of, instead of leaving the possibly ambiguous six days. Our views should all confirm that we view the space of (spatio), with Calvin, as requiring a literal reading of Genesis One. Let us clarify wherever possible. Robert Baillie: The Scotsmen are of one opinion. God made the world by the power of his word, not by blind forces, and he did it by speaking. The God who changes water to wine, confounding human perception, has created all out of nothing. The only sound way of viewing the days, thus in view of his miraculous fiat, is to view them as natural days, or ordinary days, just like any others. Except the sun did not begin until the fourth day, so that humans would never think that any created body was more important than the Creator. I have even written that the first day of creation was in autumno, when the trees are bearing fruit. Thomas Gataker: Still, since, there are skeptics and unsound theologians outside of our circle, perhaps it is the path of wisdom to include the explicit definition of time. We could add the names of many other brothers, e. g., Simeon Ashe, Samuel Rutherford, Joseph Caryl, Daniel Featley, and John Selden to this view. Moderator William Twisse then rose to read a letter from James Ussher, who wrote: Brothers, no one has worked longer or harder on this subject than I. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the days are intended by God to mean ordinary days. I have published numerous articles not only on that but also on matters of chronology. There is no one in the world who has a more public or stronger commitment to the 24-hour view than I. Notwithstanding, I object to the inclusion of the phrase consisting of 24 hours being added to the present language describing the Sabbath. My reason is a simple one. While I could affirm that God appointed a natural, 24-hour day to be the Sabbath from the creation, I fear that to have that phrase equally apply to the period of the resurrection would needlessly confuse our people, requiring that they believe that Jesus was buried for 72 hours (3 literal days). As you know, our Lord was buried in the late afternoon on Good Friday (as the papists 183



call it), or at approximately 4:00 PM. Then by Sunday morning, he was risen before 7:00 AM. Those three days were not ordinary days. At most our Lord spent 40 literal hours buried, thus it is unwiseunless you have clarified nowhere elseto specify 24 hour days of the three day period between our Lords death and his resurrection. Should the proposed amendment merely apply to the creation (and not mention the resurrection), I should heartily endorse it. But it is not even your point to speak to creation days in this section; you are merely seeking to show the continuity of the Sabbath. We have already made our view clear by employing the exact language and meaning of the Irish Articles to affirm that God created in the space of (spatio) six daysa crystal clear statement that we intend the duration of creation days to span six ordinary days. We have made it clear that the creation days are normal, let us not confuse by insisting the 40 hours (the period of the Resurrection) be stretched into 72 hours. Let our yea be yea, and let our literal be literal. Moderator William Twisse: I was prepared to support the amendment before hearing this. I have even written that the 6th day of creation was so literal as to assert that Adam completed his activity by noon. Yet, after hearing from the esteemed scholar Ussher, I believe we should omit the phrase consisting of 24 hours from this section. We are abundantly clear already on chap. iv, and this section elaborates the Sabbath. Twisse: Any objections? Seeing none, we need not include the phrase to define the duration of the Sabbath. It will read: God in his Word hath appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy unto Him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last of the week, and . . . from the resurrection to the end of the world the first of the week. Any other questions about creation days should be referred to our clear language on chap. iv and the catechisms. There is no other view held by us; we have added spatio sex dierum (in contrast to the actual wording of Scripture) to show our intent and to make this doubly clear. Let us move now to discuss the pressing matter of arbitrary power and give our answers to Parliament.

DAVID W. HALL formers, the major post-Reformation commentaries, and the century of exegesis subsequent to them. Meanwhile, there is no evidence from Westminster Divines to the contrary. As Ive indicated, there are certainly many other issues, but this one is clear: The Divines did hold to the 24-hour view and they advocated no other. Should any assert that they did, they must show instances from their writings, not from those outside the Assembly nor from imaginary (although creative and well-meaning) dialogues. You can help the church, avoid division, and lead others by stating this clearly. My only request, now that Ive shared my latest research with you, is that you not go against the clear and growing record of history. I think that would be unacceptable to our church and unwise. It also appears to me that you are obligated only to report advice on this one topic [creation]; you are not encumbered with recommending an overarching position on confessional subscription per se. Nor should your advice be burdened with such. I urge you not to make your assignment more difficult than it was, by speaking to every conceivable issue related to subscription. Speaking only to this one narrow, assigned point and not over-reachingmay help the church as much as anything. Should any court wish to grant exceptions to the original intent of the Westminster Standards, similar to the way we charitably handle the Sabbath, paedocommunion, cessation of gifts, or other differences then I suggest that either we treat those with logical consistency (asking men to state the original intent and then submit reasons for their disagreement with what the words were intended to mean) or else that the Committee recommend some set of hermeneutic principles that interprets WCF IV, LC #15, SC#9 with a hermeneutic that may consistently be applied to all other portions of the confession. Indeed, to fail to do something like this at this juncture of our history would almost beg for criticism on the larger (and perhaps unresolvable) issue of subscription. To put it bluntly, to fail to report such clear language of original intent will likely cause confusion on many other issues and make many fine men with harmless exceptions suspect under a rubric of living document subscriptionism. To do so, in the face of overwhelming evidence for one position and underwhelming (if any) evidence for others, could cause harm. You have always served the church well. I do not wish to burden you, but I think you serve the church well by most accurately reporting what the Divines actually wrote. Then if you wish to recommend how

Of course, if one objects to my inclusion of an illustrative dialogue, I would surrender it as an argument if others do similarly. The one above, at least, has direct citations to support it in all but the final speech. Conclusion: It really is possible, I would say obligatory, to report to the Assembly what the authors of our confession wrote about the phrase in the space of six days. There is abundant testimony that their one view was in conformity to that held by the patristics, the magisterial Re184

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION the modern church should deal with the issue, then clearly recommend the best methods you know. That may mean splitting the question as I propose. Might you not consider some wording like the following: From our most current research, it appears that the original intent of the Westminster Divines was that the creation days were to be viewed as ordinary days. We have unearthed nothing in their writings to suggest that they themselves held to other views. Still, aware that good men may disagree, we recommend that courts of original jurisdiction deal charitably with men who are manifestly biblical and confessional in all other areas, even if they differ with this aspect of original intent. Until further research disproves this finding, the honest notation of an exception seems, at present, the most practical and candid way to do that on this issue. Thank you all for your work, and I shall continue to hold you up in prayer and esteem. Cordially, your fellow servant in Christ, Feb. 26, 2000 Dear Will,


David W. Hall P. S. Besides considering the peace you might bring to our church by a recommendation like I am suggesting, it might be worthwhile to consider how a strong position on this issue can assist the PCA in attracting more members and serving as a leader among other evangelical groups. Lets lead and not follow, unless were very sure that departing from the past is compellingly warranted. Then again, maybe pragmatic considerations about which view is more popular should not be considered. A Rejoinder and Further Response Shortly after I sent that letter, I received a letter from my friend and former teach, Dr. Will Barker. I still hope that he will consent to my request to post his letters sometime for two purposes: (1) to make the debate fair; and (2) to show that brothers may debate sharply but still civilly. Below is my part of the correspondence.173


Even though some of this section repeats earlier conclusions, I have chosen to include the letter exactly as I sent it for historical purposes.

I received your letter today, and I sense your frustration with me. It is becoming clear to me why you are frustrated. In an earlier letter, you expressed that you felt we were talking past each other. In an effort to ameliorate some of that, I will respond directly to what you have most recently written. This will, perhaps, at least keep us on topic. In the meantime, it would help me if you or the CSC committee could, at some time, address some questions from source material from the Westminster Divines. That failure to cite the writings of Divines who were present at the Assembly (on the subject of original intent), as much as anything, frustrates me and makes me feel that you are not responding to the issues I raise. Really, all Im trying to do is read as much of the Divines writings as possible and report those to you. I assure you that I know of no psychological, political, or dogmatic motive animating me in this seemingly quixotic quest. I am simply seeking to know the mind of the Divines on a subject. And it seems, at times, that nearly everyone except the Divines is heard from. So please indulge me as I tilt at a few more windmills. As always, my work is greatly strengthened by your criticism. I sincerely thank you for that and for the time you have spent with me. You have indeed spotted some areas where I shall have to proffer better argumentation. Im confident that by the time Assembly meets, I can provide a better study. I will immediately correct some of my faults. I also think we are making progress in this discussion. We may even reach greater agreement if we dont tune one another out. To indicate that I am listening to you as closely as I can, I list below the areas of (1) agreement/confession, (2) a few clarifications, and (3) some nagging questions that you might address sometime, which would perhaps convince me (and others) of the interpretation you place on the original intent. By listing the conditions that would convince us, it is true, we learn whether or not our minds are open. Should you have a similar list of research queries (noted, straw man questions, by nature, unanswerable, are not the desiderata.), I hope youll share those with me as well, and Ill do my best to speak directly to them. We can ask hard questions of one anothers research, cant we? Heres to neither giving up on learning from one another nor talking past one another continually.



(1) Mea culpae. I quickly admit to hastily compiling the two pieces I sent to you. Errors of haste are, however, quickly correctable, and I will incorporate the following into the versions I publish on the web (Ive sent the documents only to members of the CSC [with copy to Stated Clerk Roy Taylor]). So, Ill take the valid corrections youve noted, and again, I thank you. I hope my work will perhaps serve you as well as youve helped me. Re: Joseph CarylIts not a question of not reading carefully, its poor memory. In conversation with Mark Herzer, he asked if Caryl counted as a Divine in your view. I told him that I thought you had ruled him out. I was wrong. It was William Jenkins and James Janeway (if I recall) that you ruled out. Ill correct that. With that correction, may I now represent you as agreeing to the addition of Joseph Caryl to our list? Re: William Perkins, Ill plead guilty to not including the final 12 lines, but this does not in the least change his view or what I have cited. Do you believe that he is asserting a different view in the last 12 lines than what I have cited? Do you have textual evidence that the Divines viewed Perkins as (1) refuting Augustine, (2) embracing a literal view of Genesis, or (3) some combination of 1 and 2? I continue to think that he fit perfectly with Luther, Calvin, Ames, and Ussher. Please help us by supplying information about how the Divines viewed Perkins, rather than quibbling* over how many lines are cited. You would surely agree that my citation style is fulsome enough as it is. If youll supply the text you wish for me to add to Perkins, however, Ill have it up the next day. I doubt that will have much affect, but Ill be glad to fix that. Honestly, no intent to misrepresent. May I offer a final personal note: I have never attempted to mischaracterize your position. I really do understand (and can restate) your position. In sum, you believe that the Westminster Divines employed the phrase in the space of six days to rebut a lingering Augustinianism, which you think was popular in their day, based on (among other things) the reference to T. Brownes work. Other than that, you dont seem to think they nailed down any other definite conclusions on the length of creation days nor do you think the Divines excluded other views by the confessional language. If I am wrong on this last sentence, please correct me by telling me what else (unrelated to Augustinianism) they affirmed or denied about the length of days. I understand what you are saying, and it is plausible if removed from the historical context. Your view is creative (or maybe factual; could you 188

DAVID W. HALL refer me to Divines who wrote that all they were intending was to deny Augustinianism but leave all other options open?), but it fails to answer many other questions (below). Im afraid, thus far, your revision is an after-the-fact assertion lacking historical support. Thus, it must be evaluated in light of the hard questions below, and I should think youd want to defend your view by appealing directly to the Divines, not to those outside the Assembly nor living centuries later and influenced by potent scientific revolutions. Still, if I have misrepresented, I sincerely apologize and will rectify wherever possible. You have to know how much I respect you, and even when frustrated, I hope youll factor that into how you interpret my works and comments. Minor errors of technique are certainly present in my writing, but I really do try to respond to what you have said in letters, in print, and in the WTS Faculty statement.
(2) Clarifications.

Re: Solar days. The point (I dont think I missed it), if I can be allowed to state it myself, is this: The Reformers and the Westminster Divines seemed to treat Days 1-3 as ordinary days, complete with ordinary evening and morning. There is no hint that the length of those days (I thought that was what we were discussing) is longer than normal days. They just were pre-solar in measurement. It is a straw man to allege Days 1-3 were solar days, because they clearly were pre-solar, according to the exegesis from 1540-1640. To me, it is fascinating to see how their view also answers a question by preserving the Creator/creature distinction. They understood Days 1-3 to be ordinary (merely lacking the sun as a source of light, not affecting the measurement of time), and indicated no special elongation or literary quality. If I have missed that, would you please supply from writings by the Divines where they explicitly treated Days 1-3 as ages or frameworks or anything else? There is no disagreement (as I stated in the Open Letter) that the Divines did not intend to endorse all of Lightfoots scheme. Re: The Divines only remaining view by process of elimination of Augustine. We all agree that the Divines intended to bury the Augustinian/instantaneous view. Heres my reason for insisting that, thus, they embraced a literal, normal day view: There were no other views at the time left, except the literal view. Were there? Specifically, could you or

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION the CSC help our church by pointing us to texts by the Divines who endorsed:
(A) (B) (C) (D) (E) (F)

DAVID W. HALL most of the Divines, is my posted summary too far off? Or can you amend it to make it more accurate? 1. Did Reformed Theologians address the issue of the sun only being created on the 4th day? Yes; and they affirmed that light in days 1-3 was of non-solar origin in order to keep men from worshiping the creation as a source of light. Moreover, they did not believe that days 1-3 required non-calendar days. 2. Did they posit ordinary providence or mediate agencies as the means of creation? No; they uniformly taught that the power of Gods Word was the only power that animated all of creation. They saw no need to posit forces, processes, or length of days longer than natural days to provide for Gods miraculous creation. They rested their exegesis on miracle, not on post-creational providence. 3. Did they define what they meant by day? Yes; many of these theologians used the phrase in tempora, or specified that days and nights had 12 hours, or they frequently used the dative of time to signify that they meant real, not figurative, hours. They were not ambiguous as some wish to represent. 4. Did any of them provide for long periods of creation? Not one has been found. 5. Did they proffer a chronology that was consistent? Many of these spoke of creation as in the autumn, and most provided dates of years that can only comport with a literal view. Could the committee not report something like that? Or do you propose different answers for these questions, or do we agree? Maybe we are making progress, after all. Also, Ill check my notes later, but the Gataker text (from his Catechism) is from the British Library and the Gouge text from Trinity College, Dublin. As you know they dont allow on the spot photocopying, but asap Ill get you my notes if you wish.

The Gap View? The Day Age View? The Framework View? The Anthropomorphic View? Even the Augustinian View? Any other View?

I simply cannot find the Divines endorsing any other view than the literal one, held by Ussher, Twisse, Lightfoot, etc. That is why I argue that if Augustinianism (whether advocated by T. Browne outside the Assembly or [insert name of Westminster Divine] inside the Assembly) was refuted by the confessional language of the Divines (and their own writings), then what they did hold must be from the universe of possibility. What other view was left within the Assembly, once Augustines was definitively repudiated? Can you help me by speaking to this from writings by the Divines? This is more than a straw man argument, as you imply. Especially when moderns argue for views A-F above, if the Westminster Divines were ambiguous and we view them as permitting Im OK, Youre OK vaguery on this topic (length of days), then if we all conform regardless of position, you could at least demonstrate that some of the Divines held to views A-F above. Rather than a straw man argument, that is still the query that has left me holding baseball tickets! I have tried to speak to the issues you raised, perhaps if you have time to reply (later, I know), we can continue to grow in agreement. Im willing to limit our discussion to writings by the Divines on questions of original intent. Thats only fair. I do believe that we are making progress over where we were two years ago. At that time, some thought Augustine supported a long period for creation. Another advance from your letter is the following: I did not know that you agreed that there were no Westminster Divines advocating framework or developed [is that a typo or a nuanced view?] day-age views. If I had known that, I might have saved much time. May I quote you as such from henceforth? In view of that acknowledgment on your part and also in light of our agreement on Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and



(3) Queries that will keep us from talking past one another. I admit a similar frustration to you, so Ill pose the following questions about the Divines views and ask that, when you have time, you respond to these from their writings. I do so believing that no one is better able than you to research and relay what the Divines wrote and thought. A) Sure the Divines ruled out Augustinianism, but what view(s) did they affirm? Please supply cites of any/all views they affirmed, unless we are forced into the unhappy position of thinking these rather dogmatic men were agnostic on such a critical subject. If they were agnostic on this issue, could you help us by saying that clearly and supporting it from their texts? B) Do you have evidence from their own writings that all they intended, as you assert, to rule out was Augustinianism or Thomas Brownes view? C) Also, Ive wondered: Im not that familiar with Thomas Browne, and in my own research of the Assembly, I never knew he was so influential. Do you have cites by the Divines where they indicate his large influence in general or where they attribute confessional language as responding to his specific 1643 work? That would help persuade us about your view. Your rather bold claim (Six distinct spaces of time versus instantaneous creation was the issue, not whether the days were 24-hour days.) seems more like an assertion or a begging of the question than something that has been substantiated. D) What about our new finds of Baillie, Featley, Caryl and others? Which of those do you see as agnostic or as setting forth any view other than the literal view? Do you have other of their writings that contradict what we have cited, no matter how imperfect in form? If they did not hold the literal view, could you help explain what their view was? E) Could you list all the views of the Divines (with Augustines ruled out) that comport with those chronologies of less than 6,000 years for the cosmos? The reason I style that a signature (instead of making a bald assertion) is because I honestly cannot think of any other view, modern or ancient, that comports with that recurring strain. It is not a mere assertion without proof, but a use of logical inference. Please help me on this; Im open to instruction. Specifically, did any Divines offer different chronologies or could those published 192

DAVID W. HALL chronologies (including those by Musculus, Luther, and Perkins), fit with a Day-Age view? Or Framework? Perhaps you could locate an advocate from the 17th or 20th century who does so? F) Was there a broadening shift after the Westminster Assembly, or can you find W Divines who approximated, e. g., Bavincks view? Did any of them write similarly, or is that revisionism, even if from the pen of a fine Reformed brother. My point is that the Divines view is one thing, and post-1800 revisions are different. Listing even a fine man like Bavinck (or Warfield, Hodge, etc. who all live AFTER scientific revolutions) seems to underscore the very point Ive been attempting to make, i. e., ambiguity of the confession is only posited in the 19th century and later. How does Bavinck give the original intent of the Westminster Divines, apart from at least one citation of a Divine holding similarly? If the Divines always held such latitude on the length of days, please speak to us by showing where they held a multiplicity of views. Finally, is there any good reasonwhatever your conclusionsnot to report the Westminster Divines intent as fully as it can be known? I still ask you to share your fullest knowledge with our church. It seems to me that there is more effort put into minimizing or ruling out on a questionable technicality the writings of certain Divines than in presenting their answers to reasonable queries. You can help the church by reporting what the Divines wrote and said. Ill not quibble with that. If you avoid addressing that, regardless of however many other side issues are addressed or creative interpretations are given, many of us will feel you are neither listening to our honest questions nor speaking to us (but past us) if you do not report what the Divines actually held on this subject. That is not too much to ask of such fine scholars. Thank you for hearing me. Ive admitted my mistakes and will have them corrected before the CSC meets. I hope these clarifications help. Most of all, I wish someone would answer the queries above from the lips of the Divinesnot from those outside the Assembly, not by fictitious dialogues, not with assertions without support, not by attacking technical flaws in our own work (even with its admitted shortcomings), nor by wrongly assigning ill motive to those of us who ask hard questions. I simply remain committed to knowing the original intent of the Divines on this issue. Thats all, pure and simple. Can you help me?

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION I conclude by reaffirming my love for you and the entire committee (Im copying this to the Chairman in hopes that my queries and mea culpae may be made to the coming meeting). I also want to ask if I can post your letter I received on 2/27 (or any other pieces if you have them in your files). Regardless of outcome, I must return to the joyous work of preaching, and I invite you to be my guest at a Tampa Devilrays game while at Assembly. One condition, though: only sports spoken. God bless you richly.


Chapter 10

Intramural Debates
David W. Hall * When I say quibble it is because these are, to me, minor details which are peripheral to the query: What was the original intent? Im happy to correct these infelicities, but I also beg you to join us and add to the data base of what the Divines actually wrote. That is not quibbling. *********** From the correspondence and interactions above, one can see that the classic view is no trivial view. It well deserves reconsideration as the dominant view of Christendom that it once was. It is eminently defensible against attacks. When compared to the rival views, it looks stronger and more durable, while the otherswhen exposed to equitable criticismhave considerable weakness.

One of the final tests for a theory is to determine how well it withstands scrutiny and criticism from others. In this present debate, I have benefited from critiques from many. In June of 2000, I had an email exchange with an esteemed Ruling Elder from another presbytery, Dr. Robert Rogland of Tacoma, Washington. My pertinent comments are below, and the reader may infer his points from my responses.174 (1) First, it is gratifying and refreshingly honest to finally find someone who will admit that the Divines did not possibly envision the many alternative modern cosmologies that have cropped up since 1800. That may be a key step in returning to exegesis, which is the crucial thing anyway. When Bob Rogland admits that it is manifestly true that the Westminster Divines ruled out all existing views except the space of six days views that is a very large admission that I welcome. It seems that any honest and equitable treatment, once that is acknowledged, will take exception to their sense if a candidate is not in conformity with that. For example, the word abortion occurs nowhere in the standards, yet it is surely included under the LCs discussion of murder. For one to plead that a pro-choice position is not ruled out, simply because the

Even though some of this section repeats earlier conclusions, I have chosen to include the letter exactly as I sent it for historical purposes.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Westminster Divines never employed the word abortion is the kind of jesuitical distinction we all want to avoid, and which an honest reckoning of history (as Roglands and others) demands. Same with homosexuality under the 7th commandment and many other issues. (2) Second, he is also correct that views ranging from Day-Age to Anthro to framework are new, post-Westminster (actually post 1800 and post 1900, to put it in historical perspective), and are before us. I continue to believe that step one is to admit that they are new, relatively recent, and thus subject to exegetical scrutiny. The first step is to stop hiding behind who has believed what (Hodge, Warfield, Machen, Schaeffer, etc), and compare this issue to a much longer stretch of exegetical history. To do so leads to an obvious conclusion. Few orthodox exegetes prior to 1800 saw the days as anything but ordinary. No major theological tradition canonized that view. Those who creatively arrived at such exegeses only did so after larger philosophical and scientific revolutions. That fact should not be minimized, but should call us all to honestly reevaluate. Once that larger historical perspective is in place, then we can return to the paradigms of older exegesis. When we do so, we find that the Westminster Divines, the puritan greats, Calvin, Luther, Ames, Perkins, Ussherbasically everyoneexegeted the days roughly the same way: as ordinary, normal, or 24 hours. Isnt it passing odd that no one prior to 1800 came up with inventive exegeses on this issue? Surely that should be explained. And that is the real question: exegesis, not church history. However, we can avail ourselves to what our fathers taught to check our own criticality and honesty. Its not a bad test, i. e., to invoke the catholicity of the church in all ages. So if we can admit: (a) that these views (Anthro, Day-Age, Frame) are relatively new, and (b) that older exegetes were stunningly uniform in their understanding, then the burden of proof to adopt more modern views (an even stronger burden when the departure moment is identified as associated with scientific revolutions), is on the revisionists to conclusively demonstrate that their exegesis is superior. In my opinion and that of many others, it is not merely the issue of Can an alternative exegesis be proffered? but in light of (a) and (b), Which is the best and most durable exegesis of the days? That is the issue, pure and simple. Sadly, many in the PCA seem to prefer to debate history or tradition than the text. I share your frustration with that.

DAVID W. HALL (3) I totally agree with Mr. Rogland that the issue is: What does the Scripture say? And in light of the long train of faithful exegetes, we must have compelling (not merely alternative) rationales to adopt new meanings. Sometimes that happens, but it is a difficult case to prove that, in general, modern exegesis is qualitatively superior to ancient, medieval, and Reformation combined. When Mr. Rogland claims The fact that the newer views were propounded in the light of geology and astronomy should not be held as evidence for or against their agreement with Scripture, that may be true. On the other hand, in light of the past two centuries of accommodationism among evangelicals, surely no one would be considered cynical to be slightly suspicious if a brand new cosmology arrives on the scene, just about the time of a major scientific upheaval, esp. when the past history of exegesis has been so consensual. It seems that discernment can connect the dots. (4) I also agree with Mr. Rogland that if these new views are consistent with Scripture that the WCF should be amended to permit them. Call that mere honesty. That would be a candid and fair procedure which would require two very important things (Yes, Ill second his amendment to amend to say something like in the space of six days or an undefined period of time): (a) it would honor history by admitting that new views are departures from the exegesis of the past; and (b) it would require, if adopted, compelling proof based on exegesis from the adherents to the new views. Let that debate begin, for it really should. However, the amenders stand in the way of this very thing, and will not let it begin as long as they try to argue that the Divines were ambiguous on this question. I quite like the approach to have honest and exegetical debates to measure our confessions integrity. Moreover, if the adherents of new views are so convinced and convincing, they have nothing to fear by seeking amendment. Much could be gained. (5) I agree that Mr. Rogland was correct to take an exception to the clear meaning of the WCF. I, too, have voted for men who do that. Your pby. should continue to listen and be open to others on that basis, but it protects the constitution to do it in that regular fashion. Im equally sure that there is no doubt whatsoever of Mr. Roglands orthodoxy, having done that, while had he not and brothers found out later, it could have been divisive. For the peace of the church, it is helpful for us to go the

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION extra mile in candor! There is nothing to lose by that route, while much is to be gained. I also agree that this should not become a bone of contention (it has not in our considerably less stringent pby.), and that one sure way to avoid this is to go the extra mile (probably Mr. Roglands motive) to prevent such contentiousness. By doing so, then the pby. can evaluate: Does the candidate comport with Gen. 1? (6) Re the situation 20 years ago, perhaps two things have been learned over that period of time. Im sure no one in this debate wants to rule out growth in understanding; I dont. The two distinct areas of growth are: (1) increasing confidence that secular cosmologies have been wanting all the timewe now have more people distrusting various forms of evolution. As such, it is understandable that many of us would go back and re-examine related topics, this being one. (2) We have had a substantial addition to the knowledge data-base of what the Divines actually held on this subject. Both together reinforce the fact that the urban legends which many of us were taught simply are not supportable. So why not return to Scripture. Its almost like discovering that the Bible does not command total abstinence, having been brought up in a strict Southern Baptist home. All of those interpretations were never necessary. Plus, we need to allow for the PCA to grow. An analogy: I cut my apologetical teeth at LAbri. I thought Schaeffer was unassailable until I heard him critiqued by Dr. Reymond at Covenant Seminary. Over the past 20 years, I have become more consistently presuppositional, and have moved beyond Schaeffer in some areas. Havent many of us also become more appreciative of the Puritans over time? I will ALWAYS carry a great appreciation of him, however, it is not wrong (and he would not mind) to grow more consistent. Might we not do that (and retain respect for our teachers like Dr. Harris and other giants of the faith), and grow? Re the semper reformanda motto, I have yet to find that ideal articulated in early church history. It looks, alas, like a Johnnie come lately, and usually the second half of the maxim is emphasized to the exclusion of the first. See the attempt several years ago to form a new PCA Consensus.175

DAVID W. HALL Again, the issue is not what our tradition has received, but what does Scripture say. Another explanation for why this issue arose is as simple as this: Prior to recent times, no one energetically opposed the traditional views. Day-Age views were accepted, but with the onset of Framework zeal, many were aroused from their non-dogmatic slumbers. A huge burden, Im afraid, still rests on the shoulders of revisionists. They could do some things to strengthen their case, in my opinion. Instead of seeking to refute the compelling historical case we have demonstrated, it might be more helpful for those wishing to prove their case to address some or all (admittedly difficult) of the ff. questions: 1) Why did Day-Age, Framework, or Anthro exegesis, if so natural, seldom or never occur to orthodox exegetes prior to 1800? Surely advocates will admit that Augustine was not similar to the above, so where is the mass of earlier Christian exegesis that agrees with modern theories? 2) Why didnt the Westminster Divines adopt language that explicitly permitted ambiguity on the length of days in the WCF? I. e, they could have (a) left the space of six phrase out altogether, or (b) they could have written something like God created all things out of nothing, or (c) they could have strictly quoted scripture, e. g. in six days? To prove the other claims, the burden fairly rests upon demonstration that Westminster Divines approved any of these exegetical approaches, much less the associated conclusions. 3) Why cant an English version of the Bible be produced that uses the phrase in the space of if the WCF is merely paraphrasing (Note that earlier the claim was that the WCF was merely citing. That claim has now been modified in the face of falsification, and the modification is both weaker and also once the claim is for paraphrase instead of citation, then the WCF is not using the exact language of Scripture; instead, it is interpreting, even if by paraphrase), long the refuge of the Hodge type explanation. 4) Why dont children and other first time readers naturally adopt the sense of these 3 modern views? Let me also append a set of queries that I shared with the PCAs Creation Study Committee prior to their final meeting. Unfortunately, these are still unanswered and I believe bear answers before pledging agnosticism of this subject. [ed., what follows is found on pp. 156-159 above.]


See also my comments in chapter 1 above and ttp://


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION The Doctrine of Creation: A Test for Theological Method Whether or not the days of creation are interpreted strictly as 24-hour days is not the only important question often associated with the doctrine of creation. I, for one, would hate to see that narrow issue become the only litmus test for orthodoxy. The method one uses to arrive at an interpretation of the days in Genesis, however, may reveal far more about orthodoxy than previously expected. My research about what the Westminster Divines believed about the length of creation days has led me on an interesting methodological pilgrimage as well. In the process, I changed several views. What is more interesting to me as a theologian, however, is how interwoven several important questions of theological method are with this small area of biblical exegesis. What I mean is this: when a theologian takes a position on the days of creation, consciously or not, he is not only giving a particular interpretation of a verse (i. e., of Genesis 1), but he is also revealing much more about his theological method. In the end, those related issues may be as important as any singular hermeneutical conclusion. As I embarked on the study, I was asked, Just what did the Puritans and the Westminster Divines believe about the length of creation days? Did they have a position? I told one questioner that I was unaware of any place in the Assemblys Minutes of creedal statements where they addressed that question or took a firm position. As far as I was concerned at the time, it was a blank slate, and the Assembly members either wrote no reflections of their views or they were agnostic on the subject. I did not think clear evidence existed. I was wrong, and over the next year I found much from commentaries, sermons, Catechisms, and other theological treatises written by the Divines. Up to 20 members176 of the Westminster Assembly alluded to their views in other literature. Certainly it is the case that they did not spell their views out in greater detail within the Catechisms and Confessions, but that is most likely because there was no debate on the subject; it was non-controverted and needless to further define. The view of the Divines is abundantly clear as both friend and foe177 may now see.
176 177

DAVID W. HALL In a rational universe, the question of What was the Westminster Divines View of the Length of Creation Days? would be settled, and unanimity would exist. Notwithstanding, that is not the case. I had discovered a bovine of considerable sacredness. Since undertaking this research, I have been perplexed as to why others do not follow this as instinctively as the history about George Washington and Valley Forge. The record is quite full, the facts are clear, and there are none to the contrary. I can only conclude, therefore, that despite proving one aspect, those who do not wish to concur with the view that the history of exegesis preferred 24-hour days evidently must have other commitments or methodological considerations that prevent them from following the clear paper trail of history. This has given rise to several questions, which I address below, as an exercise in probing and developing sound theological method: Why, in the face of so much history, do some labor so diligently to dismiss, minimize, or distort the historical record on this question? Why do some elevate natural revelation to parity with special revelation? What hermeneutic is employed to justify interpretation of Genesis 1? Is tradition more important than truth? Should we value modern theories more than the apostolic church?

As I address each of these below, I will also argue that the doctrine of creation, and how we deal with it, both illumines the method embraced and also tests the method we employ. 1. History: The record of history is abundantly clear on this; yet, it is like extracting molars to convince some theologians to surrender an opinion that is in conflict with history. One has to question the resistance, especially when it is confronted with so much factual information. Why, I asked, would fine and godly theologians fight against history with such energy when the case was so clear. The answer tells us something about method. Moreover, I have been amazed at the level of historical distortion on this particular question. There are few modern theological issues that are more fraught with distortion or outright error than this particular nexus. It almost appeared that some theologians would clutch for any authority to

See my list at: Edward D. Morris wrote: But the language of the Confession, in the space of six days, must be interpreted literally, because this was the exact view pronounced by the Assembly.[Edward D. Morris, Theology of the Westminster Symbols, (Columbus, OH, 1900), 202.]


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION enlist him as a footnote against 24-hour dayseven if that was diametrically opposed to what the theologian actually wrote. I have been struck with layer upon layer of historical untruth. As a methodological consideration, I have wondered if adherents to long creational periods really wish to hold to such a high level of factual inaccuracy. For example, the work of Herman Witsius was once claimed as vague on this subject. Recently, in the attempt to find textual support that was not really there upon inspection, someone claimed Witsius as condoning of long creation days. Rather than being vague or supportive of broadening views, note the following about Witsius178: 1) Witsius repeatedly affirmed creation by Gods word alone (by mere command and volition- p. 197), devoid of other intermediaries. He embraced the language we use, to wit, . . . that this is an immediate act, in which no cause, not even one that is instrumental . . . has any place. (198). He cited Rabbinical tradition favorably, that creation was immediately, and without any concatenation of causes. (198) That rabbinical cite is very important! He was rather clear in excluding concurring causation (201) as the source of creation. 2) Of the view that creation could occur by motion or by natural concurrence without miracle, Witsius termed such: utterly detest[able] that bold tenet of the new Philosophy (195); Dangerous tendency . . . arrogant temerity (195) audacious . . . [deserving] reproof . . . derogatory to the miracle of creation . . . [which may] cause the true doctrine of creation of the world to be at last discarded with ridicule and disgrace. extremely derogatory to the dignity of the Supreme Being. (200); In sum, I utterly detest the denial of such creation (209). Witsius concluded that the act of creating is so peculiar to God that no creature can be admitted to any share in it. (199) 3) His view is that creation occurred in six days, not six moments (213), which epexegetes the only contested phrase (208). If context is permitted due weight, it becomes clear that Witsius was only debating whether the creation events each happened at 00:01 of each day, or were permitted to stretch out over the days, which were normal in length.

DAVID W. HALL 4) He also embraced the age of the universe as 6,000 years (207; note this is a mere page away from the purported proof citation), a view that cannot comport with long geologic ages. Moreover, agreeing with Lightfoot and Ussher, he endorsed an autumnal date for creation, one that presupposed actual days. On page 208, he supported creation of a grown-up universe (the maturity of every sort of fruit). These views are incompatible with long days of creation. Herman Witsius added that any view of creation which allowed natural processes too much credit would invariably permit Job to answer Gods questions (Where were you . . . etc) or explain creation apart from the miraculous. That would be to boldly contradict the prophets and God himself; for since they expressly declare, that God stretcheth forth the heavens ALONE, they exclude every other cause of every sort; and since it is added that God spreadeth abroad the earth by HIMSELF, we are taught that this is an immediate act, in which no cause, not even one that is instrumental operates . . .179 Witsius, perhaps with greater insight than modernity-biased contemporaries, had the perspective to observe that, the act of creating is so peculiar to God that no creature can be admitted to any share in it . . . If, therefore, we imagine that God communicates this privilege to any creature, that at his (the creatures) command, a certain other thing may exist, that thing would either exist without any co-operation on the part of God for the effecting its existence . . . and would be wholly indebted for its existence to the fiat of the commanding creature; or it would exist in consequence of Gods willing and commanding in existence, in concert with the creature which is supposed to create. Now, each of these ideas is most dishonouring to God, and involves a manifest contradiction.180 It is breathtaking to see so much distortion, so consistently plied. One cannot help but ask: Is history becoming propaganda? Why? If one has preconceptions that he will dogmatically support, even if contrary to the record of history, then such a priori dogma should be admitted as articles of faith that one will not surrender regardless of facticity. It would especially be difficult to defend if one held anti-biblical dogmas as a pri179


The source I refer to is Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertation on the Apostles Creed (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1993 [1681]), vol. 1.

Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertation on the Apostles Creed (rpr. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1993), 198. 180 Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertation on the Apostles Creed (rpr. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1993), 199-200.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION ori immune from correction. That would be a formula and method for creating heterodoxy. However, I found that even after the history is presented and corrected, there is still a mammoth resistance. Even after this information is laid out, many seem unwilling to follow the historical facts. One has to wonder, where the Scriptures are so dogmatic as to compel one to reject the history of theology prior to the nineteenth century on this subject. It is sad to watch other great men act as if this record either does not exist or does not matter. I am afraid that our recent denominational committees (and several seminary faculty committees; see above) have fallen into this trap. The result is that they are forced to fabricate very creative and ingenious theoriesthat somehow never dawned on the minds of any previous theologians. Most likely that is because, previous theologians were not trying to craft exegetical theories to fit the mold of extra-biblical considerations. If that conclusion seems brash, an easy refutation of it is to identify earlier exponents of the framework or other non-literal views. Had the history of this subject been vague or had it permitted agnosticism, fair-minded people would accept these as within the realm of the possible. However, with the record of history so clear and with the resistance so persistent, one wonders what kind of method is being employed that makes the clear record of history something that is to be avoided with such predictability. Yet, my denomination could not bring itself to affirm the clear history of words and their meanings on this issue. 2. What weight is given to natural revelation? And is similar weight given to natural revelation on other subjects? What accounts for any difference? In a conversation with another theologian following a presentation of some of my research, my colleague admitted that the history, indeed, lent credence to my thesis. However, he quickly added, we may know more now than earlier theologians. I nodded and asked him, What new information is there, and what is its source? He proceeded to quote the two books notion, i. e., that God has revealed himself to us in the Book of his Word and the Book of his World. I then asked him, If push comes to shove, which is superior? To that my friend said, they are both equal. That comment revealed another idea that is unexamined and not in keeping with the best of Protestant orthodoxy. If the conclusions of natural scientists are equal to the valid in204

DAVID W. HALL terpretations of Scripture, then epistemology, ethics (homosexuality is inherited like eye-color.), and many other Christian teachings can no longer claim superiority to the theoretical fads of the day. Such relationship between natural revelation and special revelation ought to be examined, at least, prior to adopting a premise that can gut Christian theology. The place of natural revelation (which is always filtered by a fallen interpreter) should not be equal to or greater than the interpretation of special revelation by the community of the faithful, circumscribed by the analogy of faith. While the Westminster Confession speaks of the light of nature and reformed theology has embraced a range of understandings about the role of natural revelation, we do not understand our tradition to be granting the same epistemological authority to natural revelation as to special revelation rightly interpreted. 3. What hermeneutic is employed to justify interpretation of Genesis 1? In light of the above, one wonders if opponents of the classical interpretation of creation days would set forth their hermeneutical method in clear propositions and let us examine if and to what degree the hermeneutical principles are valid. After some consideration, I doubt that the interpretive rules they have ingeniously contrived for Genesis 1 would be consistently applied throughout Scripture.181 It may prove to be a greater challenge to create a new hermeneutic than it is to fabricate a new cosmological theory. In light of the historical facts and the nineteenth century departure, mere humility would incite the hermeneutical innovators to refrain from mocking the classic views. The least we ask of our friends is that if they simply must adopt experimental, idiosyncratic, or untested interpretations of creation accounts, they should refrain from besmirching the good name of the millions who have taken and continue to take Genesis 1 at face value. The classical view of creation stands with classical biblical hermeneutics, and it is not a second-class view. Accordingly, believers in historic orthodoxy should be freed from those who try to bully them into believing otherwise. These new interpretations, in order to be considered along with the proven exegesis of the past, will need to proffer hermeneutical principles that will hold for the whole Bible just as they are suggested for Genesis

Some thoughtful Framework theorists, I am told, may even admit that one hermeneutic is used for Genesis 1-3 but not employed thereafter.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION 1. For example, one could easily imagine a pastor interpreting the 10 plagues of Exodus in some framework pattern, but the mere suggestion, even if by a well-known theologian, does not make the assertion true. Moreover, to be convincing, that same pastor would also have to offer a hermeneutic that could be used throughout the remainder of the Bible, or else be associated with special pleading. 4. Is tradition more important than truth? Hodge, Warfield, Shedd, and Schaeffer may comprise a modern presbyterian tradition. That in and of itself, however, does not compel one to perpetuate that tradition, especially if it were forged in a time of accommodation and the theories accommodated are collapsing. With the exception of Francis Schaeffer (who, from my experience, was far from wishy-washy or accommodating), it should be remembered that some of the contemporaries of Hodge and others viewed them as succumbing to the academic peer pressure created by the introduction of the evolutionary paradigm. If that was in part what was happening, we are certainly justified in querying: Are modern secular theories so compelling as to require the church to alter its exegetical conclusions? Geological and evolutionary teachings have had a profound influence on subsequent theologians. We are not blaming them, either. We merely question whether it is helpful or legitimate to take a small error and then continue to magnify it indefinitely Mid nineteenth-century theorizing about evolution was one of those massive ideological revolutions. It is also one that may not last forever, and theologians ought to be careful before boarding a bandwagon that has bent wheels. The progress of scientific observation is ongoing and ever-so theory-ladened. The sure truths of today may be gravely modified tomorrow. Twenty-first century science is sure to change, and new conclusions might make certain views, if tailored to fit a retrograde horizon, look foolishly out of touch in a few short years. The church, the Pillar and Ground of truth, must remain critical of theories that conform to secular reasoning when/if they depart from exegesis that has been accepted. The bias above favors proven truth, and places the burden of new formulation to demonstrate its superior exegetical conclusions. In view of progress of science, until assured exegetical results are repudiated by superior exegesis, the church should have a preference for continuity.

DAVID W. HALL 5. Should we value modern theories more than the apostolic church? I remain unconvinced that contemporary theologians are decidedly superior to previous ones. That presupposition that modernity is superior is a definite intellectual possibility. A church or individual, after studying certain issues, may indeed discover that they have disagreed all along with what our forefathers said. Dating back at least to the Reformation, Protestant churches have acknowledged the legitimacy of differing with tradition. And where tradition is wrong, it becomes the responsibility of those who seek to be true to the Scriptures to reform their tradition by correcting it. If our theologians wish to roll up their sleeves and perform better studiesstudies that exhibit superior exegesis and theological formulationwe would join any reasonable persons in asking for those. However, that implies that the believing community will then also evaluate which studies and findings are most consistent with biblical teaching. If our modern theologians can disprove the exegesis of the Westminster Divines and show where they were in error, based on biblical exegesis not scientific eisegesis, then we should be open-minded. It should not be presupposed that we know more, simply because we live and have been educated under post-Darwinian paradigms. If those scientific paradigms are correct, then we could benefit from them. If, however, at any point they are proven to be in error, then theological formulations based even incidentally upon them will collapse like a house of cards. This methodological rejection gives rise to a positive mode of proceeding. My methodological premisea fundamentally conservative onetherefore is: Preserve well-founded teachings of antiquity, until they are definitively repudiated by superior exegesis. We believe that such presupposition will both enhance dialogue and also prevent historical inaccuracies which can prove so crippling to unfounded studies. What about an obligation to continue other evangelical traditions of recent times? Can we possibly condemn earlier evangelicals like Hodge, Shedd, Warfield, and Scaheffer? There is no need to, unless they have been granted some form of Protestant infallibility. Neither am I convinced that earlier doctrinal formulations are unimprovable, particularly when secular theories collapse, communions mature, or heresy becomes more clearly focused. Nicea and Chalcedon refined and spoke to issues not previously resolved. These are good models of how the church made progressive

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION statements of doctrinal refinement as secular theory waned or heresy was illuminated. To resist this type of doctrinal advance merely in favor of weve never done this is to enshrine a standard incorrectly. Many of us remain unconvinced that merely because American Presbyterianism did not declare an opinion on every conceivable issue in their early years, that therefore no subsequent doctrinal advance or clarification can occur. Throughout church history, some orthodoxies were clarified under the intense heat of heresy. In those cases (e. g., the Ecumenical councils and Reformation creeds), the church made progressive steps in setting forth its beliefs. Most of us have experienced similar trajectories in our own individual lives, churches, and denominations. The biblical presumption is that sanctifications progress will even affect doctrinal and formal declarations of faith. Just as the formulation of the Trinity broke new ground (rightly so; not in concept, but in explicitness) in the face of error and refinement; just as the doctrine of justification was more clearly enunciated (rightly; not in concept, but in explicitness) at the Reformation; just as covenantal churches clarified their teaching when Dispensationalism was on the ascent (rightly so; not in concept, but in explicitness); and just as our belief in inerrancy is not an innovative belief, but an advancing clarification amidst error and a maturing evangelical movement, so we believe it is not impossible to further define what we truly believe, especially if error or secular theory is surrendering to a stronger doctrinal formulation. If we can progress in orthodoxy in some area above our fathers (Warfield and Schaeffer), wouldnt it gain their approval for the church to grow in its adherence to Gods trutheven if our fathers had a few things incorrect? They certainly would not require us to endow them with infallibility posthumously. My methodological premise therefore is: There can be, and normally should be, progress and refinement in doctrinal formulation. Confessional growth can occur as part of the believing communitys sanctification. The Irish Pacific Act of 1720 may be a good example as a precursor of confessional subscription; so is the American 1729 Adopting Act. In both of these cases, as Unitarianism was threatening, Bible-believers were forced to more clearly define what they believed vis--vis the impending challenge to orthodoxy. When challenged, the church responded with a more explicit (though not conceptually different) statement. Certain commitments were made explicit, and neither of these acts need be

DAVID W. HALL interpreted as creating a conceptually new approach so much as trying to hold fast to the faith. Doctrinal growth is allowed and positive. We need not reiterate the same ruts. Until someone can demonstrate to us that we cannot learn from its (and others) mistakes, or that we are not growing in our theological sanctification, it seems that one ought not be overly dogmatic to insist that we cannot clarify (as long as it does not involve substantial departure) our doctrinal commitments. Of course, this set of issues also raises an epistemological test: To what degree do we allow the world to shape our knowledge, especially if other orthodox Christians have studied the subject previously? A modicum of caution should prevail before we reject previous biblical interpretation, for the mote may be in the eye of modern interpreters, who may unconsciously be conforming to ideas that are alien to Scripture. It is a distinct irony that such stalwarts and defenders of orthodoxy as Hodge and Warfield were unwittingly part of the problem instead of part of the solution. That myopia reveals a structural deficiency in their apologetic. Perhaps this study will illuminate some of the warning signs of revisionism. We might do well to be a little more leery of an epistemology that seeks conformity to modernity. A naivete regarding scientific totalitarianism is beneficial neither for the progress of science or apologetics. The point is that often as believers grapple with the epistemology of modernism they veer more toward true accommodation than true apologetics. In order to avoid this apologetic mis-step in the future, one must have a better apologetic methodologyone that is more resistant to the winds of modernity and its stepchild, revisionism. Are there fine men who have held or do hold other views? Sure, and orthodoxy is systemic not atomistic. Thus, great care should be employed in making sure that we are not marching to the cadence of the world. The doctrine of creation may be a mirror for moderns. It may be held up and used to reflect our image, which we often cannot see unless we have such a glass. We like to tell ourselves that we are not tainted by worldly theories, but the history of this question, particularly among evangelicals, seems to tell the opposite story: one of increasing conformity to the worlds philosophy. Moreover, this locus is a good test for method: as one differs with the ancient consensus on this issue, one is called on to defend that aberration. In the process, we discover that we

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION are forced either to embrace methodological principles that we would hesitate to adopt on other similar issues or we follow the classic readings. The Evolution of Mythology: Classic Creation Survives as the Fittest Among its Critics and Revisers The work above displays four things that should by now be beyond dispute. 1. The long history of biblical interpretation, and specifically the Westminster Divines written comments, endorse only one of the major cosmological views considered today: They thought creation happened neither in an instant nor over a long period, but in the space of six normally understood days. Moderns living after certain scientific revolutions may wish to retreat from that history, or even change their views, but that historical record is abundantly clear. Amazingly, there is no primary evidence to date contradicting the historical fact that the Westminster Divines exclusively endorsed only one view, if they commented at all, in their published writings or commentaries. Since I have already published my findings, Ill not repeat those here; they are available in this volume. To summarize: There are up to 24 witnesses (the list is growing over time); there are at least 8 explicit testimonies for 24 hour daysand it is more likely that that number will increase than that other modern views will find superior support. For some academic mystery, these earlier voices were not collected as a pastiche of original intent until fairly recently. Above, I have discussed my own pilgrimage and also the attempts to revise the views of the Westminster Divines on this topic. A mendicant apologetic may, in the long run, do more to push people toward the classical positionwhen the history is consultedthan anything we could positively say. As the subtitle of this chapter suggests, when one ponders the considerable evolution of myth on this subject, serendipitously the classic view of creation becomes strengthened the more it is attacked by defective theories.182

DAVID W. HALL While our view like all others has weaknesses, we would rather face the future and the past in conformity with the long stream of historic exegesis than champion a position which finds exegetical shade only in post-1800 theology and exegesis. 2. Bible believers do differ. That descriptive fact, however, should not exclude normative development. We embrace our brothers hereand some like Dr. R. Laird Harris who can only be remembered as a father in the faith and one of the most godly men I have ever met, a candidate for a Divine should we ever have any colloquyas fellow-presbyters and as reliable brothers in Christ. Our attempts to avoid personal attacks or the scholarship of prejudice, however, does not mean that we may not sincerely differ with them (and they with us) on these important points. We understand that good men may differ, but we also understand that good men can and do learn from one another. We have learned from our friends who differ with us. 3. The scientific consensus is changing its mind. Scientific revolutions do come and go. Following rapid ascent, then dominance, there is also, of late, some descent within one of the most virile worldviews of our century. With the rise of several new theories, along with the slim observational line supporting anti-Biblical cosmologies, certain secular theories may be going the way of the dinosaur. When a sufficient number of problems within evolution are noted, that theory loses much of its force. The temptation to conform to it also lessens. Our view encourages other evangelicals not to board the train driven by a secular engine, just as the engineers themselves are disembarking. By that we mean to say that if evangelicals fine-tune their message to fit a waning scientific cosmology, just as secularists themselves are beginning to realize its indefensibility, we will not provide the best possible testimony to eternal truth. There is, in other words, good and sufficient reason to hold to the classic view. Those who wish to move us from the view of insightful grandparents in the faith, must do a better jobnot only exegetically, but also theologically, historically, and practicallyto persuade us to depart from the truths understood by Moses and Jesus audiences. We would rather expect the fluctuating theories of modernity to change.
toric Christendom that hold to either day-age or framework views prior to 1800once Augustines view is correctly comprehended. This paucity places modern adherents in a position of constantly having to defend themselves against charges that they indeed are departing from the old faith, with little new information other than fleeting theories.

Most likely, there will be additional testimonies forthcoming from antiquity, and the history of commentaries from the 1650-1800 period will support approximately the same thesis. There is abundant evidence, therefore, that a jumping off point is detectable, measurable, and located at definite era in time. Dr. Ligon Duncan and I have recently interacted with Hugh Ross, Meredith Kline, and others on this point. And we may report the following: we can identify few, if any, commentaries or formal statements within his-



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Scientific revolutions, after all, occur with regularity. Twentiethcentury science is changing and twenty-first-century conclusions might make certain views, if tailored to fit a retrograde horizon, look foolishly out of touch in a few short years. Until that provisionality of science is disproven, the church must remain critical of theories that conform to secular reasoning if they depart from exegesis that has been accepted. Our bias favors proven truth, and places the burden on new formulation to demonstrate its superior (not merely possible) exegetical conclusions. Therefore, in view of the progress of science, until assured exegetical results are repudiated by superior exegesis, the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15) should have a preference for continuity. 4. Believers may change their minds and grow. Some, particularly in our communion, appear to argue that the sentiments, written or unwritten, of a small group of men in 1973 may serve as a functional veto against any growth in doctrinal formulationeven if those 1973 states of mind contradict the much longer flow of biblical and confessional history. I rather think that we may make progress, and this present debate offers us the luxury of refining our theology in stronger terms, as a secular paradigm is leaking through the fingers of those who squeeze it so desperately. I for one, and I sense many around us, am as unwilling to enshrine our fathers with a Protestant type of infallibility as I am to reject centuries of the analogy of faith (analogia fides). What I mean in this present context is this: A commitment to honor our heritage does not imply that we can never grow in theological maturity. That is part of sanctification, even if some resist theological progress in certain areas. When asked about our relationship to evangelical traditions of recent times, or pointedly, Can we possibly condemn earlier evangelicals like Hodge, Shedd, Warfield, and Schaeffer? I admit no interest whatsoever in condemning them. We should benefit by all the good they taught, but not follow them in mistaken paths. Neither am I convinced that earlier doctrinal formulations are unimprovable, particularly when secular theories collapse, communions mature, or error becomes more clearly focused. If we can progress in orthodoxy in some area beyond our fathers (Warfield and Schaeffer), wouldnt it gain their approval for the church to grow in its adherence to Gods trutheven if our fathers had a few things incorrect? They certainly would not require us to endow them with infallibility posthumously.


Chapter 11

What I Have Learned

So, hasnt the original intent of these ancient confessions been settled? Yes, and if that were the sole issue, we could all move on to other more fruitful discussions. Unfortunately, that is not the only issue. Some exegetical matters in this debate may be legitimate, but many of the issues raised are not. Below is what I have learned in the process. What I have learned: Ten LessonsCertainly Not Commandments a. No matter how much evidence is presented, original intent may not be accepted if there are other overarching political concerns. Politics happens in the church. The church is not so perfected that its members and ministers are oblivious to or sanctified beyond political, factional, and regional concerns. Underlying many discussions on this topic are concerns like: Who will be empowered or unempowered if we hold to the classical view? Which, if any ministers or churches, will feel threatened if we part company with the more modern formulations? Which esteemed persons will be negatively impacted? Whose scholarship is threatened by new findings? These concerns for person, esteem,

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION and partisanship are not absent from this discussion, even if few wish to candidly admit that truth. Tradition is also difficult to hurdle. If a seminary decides to honor its past more than follow the clear train of new historical evidence, traditionalism is surely at work. Even the best of us have commitments to tradition that are less rational than any of us wish to acknowledge. Moreover, interests, ranging from caucus loyaltysometimes at its blindest in ecclesiastically justified situationsto local situations may color ones conclusions. And to state the obvious: Secular science is a powerful ideology. It casts, I am convinced, a far broader shadow in many discussions than many know. Along with that, we might be helped to review what happens when a dated paradigm is challenged. The defenders of the past paradigm and its exemplars, as Thomas Kuhns work details, are very quick to brand the new revolutionaries as heretics; but that, too, is temporary. Political concerns and opprobrium should be recognized, but they are not the determinative factors in the end. b. Often believers will argue in ways similar to unbelievers who are seeking to avoid an ineluctable point. I do notby any stretch of the imaginationthink that all Christians who disagree with me on this are apostate. What I do find interesting, however, is how often our argument style mimics that of unbelief. For example, many in the PCA argue that we cant know if the Westminster Divines intended to be dogmatic on this point. They didnt express that. However, when one brilliant colleague queried, But did they intend to dogmatize? I wonder what else we need to know to answer that, if we will but recall that the very products they were writing were catechisms and confessions, which they intended to teach the church for years to come. Of course, the clear conclusions of the confession were intended to state timeless truth! There is no shred of evidence that the Divines wanted to be pluralistic on this question. That is a far too modern and anachronistic reading of these fairly absolutistic Puritans. And when other scholars energetically spend more time discounting some of this historical record as not explicit enough than they spend in producing original historical studies from the original participants, that looks quite similar to the way secular people try to debunk the truth of Christianity. I am happy to report that none of these PCA disputants are anything less than excellent Christians, but I honestly confess that some

DAVID W. HALL of their argument styles and methods look very similar to the very tools used to attack, minimize, or undermine the historicity of the faith. It is troubling to see fine brothers use the tools of our adversaries. c. Frequently, if the comfort level becomes uncomfortable enough: evidentialists will look like presuppositionalists; and vice versa. I call this the Role Reversal of Desperate Argumentation. Some of my debating partners are probably not as Kuyperian in their apologetic method as I am. However, in an oddity that probably deserves explanation elsewhere, those who are customarily more reliant on the evidences, in this argument, appear to be presuppositionalists of the strongest kind. They hold to certain presuppositions, and regardless of the amount of evidence presented, no amount of documentation ever seems persuasive enough. In turn, I have resorted to massive documentation; and I am a wholehearted presuppositionalist of the Kuyperian stripe. I have presented text after text, documentation after documentation, and have tried to persuade any reasonable person that the evidence demands the verdict. Yet, my friends do not reach the same verdict, and in the process, it has become clear that theory may determine more than fact. Premises are far more important than most thinkeven in intramural debates among fellow believersand sometimes, we will not change our theology, even if mountains of evidence are present. Some, no matter how many studies, will not admit certain conclusions. That is a sobering reminder that the fallible human beings who perform the theological task are vested individuals, who have interests that are important to them and not surrendered easily. d. It is important to make sure of our research and be able to back up our claims. I have empathized with those who made claims that could not be defended. It is embarrassingand daring in a church that has as many well-educated ministers as ours doesto make bald assertions that cannot be supported. Of course, we all learn some humility when we make such claims and then fail to substantiate them. It is also important to make sure that our formulations of positions are accurate and to modify accordingly. I originally asserted that the modern view changed after 1854, only to learn that it was more like 1820. By simply re-stating with a little more accuracy, the thesis still

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION stands (albeit less sensational). However, it is not sensationalism that we are after but truth and accuracy. Anyone who has followed this debate should also be reminded to make sure to quote primary sourcesand one should always check those or perhaps not use them. Above I have shown how misguided it is to boldly cite Augustine, Perkins, Ames, Colet, and other theologians as if they are supportive of the modernizing views. If one consults the original sourcesincluding the patristicsthey simply do not support the recent views. For this reason, before we go public with our findings, we ought to seek good critics and listen to opponents. They may prevent future embarrassments. Then again, even some of the most esteemed public figures make similar mistakes. The recent presidential election provided a handy comparison. When super-lawyer David Boies argued Vice President Gores case before the Florida Supreme Court in late November of 2000, urging them to allow dimpled ballots to be counted based on a similar Illinois precedent, the Florida court did not check the earlier case for itself. It simply accepted (and hastily at that) Mr. Boies argument on his authority. However, on Thanksgiving morning, when everyone awoke, the Chicago Tribune accessed the case and found that the precedent was exactly opposite! Guess who had either not read the decision or presented it with crippling prejudice? Can Church judicatories act this way? Im afraid that they very often have and do act based on rumor, attributions that cannot be sustained, and authorities that may be misrepresented or contorted. This means that thinking Christians will check the sources and investigate the reasoning of even our finest thinkers. Another reminder of this is the Sokol Hoax, detailed in the recent book that documents how one physicist performed an experiment. In response to the allegations of two conservative scientists, who claimed that scholarly journals would only publish articles if they championed Political Correctness (PC), Professor Sokol decided to test their theory by submitting a paper full of PC jibberish. His hypothesis: by submitting a test paper that was not founded on legitimate citations, if enough PC mantras were included, the editorial board of Social Text would accept the paper, even though unsound and replete with flawed citations. Indeed, the paper was published, and Sokols hypothesisthat attributions

DAVID W. HALL are frequently not checked and faulty scholarship ensueswas corroborated. Has anyone counted the number of erroneous citations and misrepresentations in this recent debate? The past 150 years of claims about previous theologians is embarrassing when scrutinized. e. Truth will win out in the end. In light of all the distortion and invalid reasoning that we see, one might wonder if this is not a lost cause. However, I believe that great progress has been made in a relatively short time. I continue to think that truth will surface in the end. It is just that the way has to be paved first. This particular battle is trending in the right direction in conservative communities. Many are refusing to be bullied by those who combine impressive credentials with common fallacies. It has been, for some, a startling and refreshing discovery to learn that we do not need to be timid about holding to the robust orthodoxy which we truly believe in our hearts and teach to our children. As the worldly thought forms are weakening, Christians are emboldened to hold to the classic positions, which are far better fortified than earlier imagined. Plus in the battle for reputations; sometimes, it is better to lose a public debate and be correct later, than to look good at first, only to be debunked. It may also take time for people to change. That is perfectly normal. f. The interim, however, may be rocky. One should not expect 150 years of tradition to be reversed in a single bound. It is unrealistic to expect miracles to occur at a single General Assembly or presbytery meeting. Large groups do not move quickly; often it takes a generation of new teaching to correct past mistakes. Even the sanctified will sometimes cling to those past mistakes. The seminaries and educational institutions are important, too. If they are not accurate in what they are teaching (on this or any other matter), they need to be held accountable and corrected by good local churches and elders. Many present faculty members have been unintentionally marked in their peer community as ultra-conservatives. Sometimes, good men try so hard to avoid that label that . . . they succeed; and they often teach the next generation of ministers. A reactionary teaching among seminary faculties, or agendas to broaden the church away from

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION its historic moorings, mayas much as anythingstir up the church and cause much division or unrest. The rule of Ecclesiastical Reform may be: One must remain committed to large changes for at least a generation. Shorter time horizons lead to crushing frustration and can prompt schism or despair. Sometimes, those who are most disappointed with the churchs failure to embrace orthodoxy are so deeply frustrated because they expect quick solutions to problems, which have developed over decades. That is unrealistic and counter-productive to growth. g. Learn to present revolutionary ideas with winsomeness, humor, and appealeven while noting the logical weaknesses of opposing arguments. If those wishing to correct some doctrinal problem are too sour or arrogant, the cause is hurt. Frequently, those who are most mature in a particular doctrinal issue appear to be the most impatient and intolerant. That is probably due to a theological form of battle fatigue. Still, that hardened weariness can repulse others. Reform, by its very nature, since it involves change, requires us to be patient, considerate in debate, and circumspect. Those who are the strongest contenders also need to be the most humble and gracious. Accordingly, one should be careful not to draw every implication possible about an opposing error. Destructive ad absurdums should be kept to a minimum, and the more heated the debate the more necessary it becomes to remind ourselves and others of the virtues of our opponents. A fair use of humor and a modicum of grace reminds all listeners that these debaters are our brothers not our adversaries. Moreover, we must stick to principle, and it is normally dangerous to assume some internal motivation about ones debating partner if that is not stated. One should NOT go beyond the record and project conspiracy theories or infer motives. That is a standard that we do not enjoy when applied to us; so we should apply the Golden Rule and not ascribe motive to others, unless it is demonstrably present. h. Finally, like the bumper sticker says: Distrust Modernity, or is it Resist Authority. The habit of questioning, Is it so? Is it really? is probably needed as much as anything. For example, a recent Nashville study reported that one out of five of all teenage girls had been raped. We know quite a few

DAVID W. HALL people in Nashville, and somehow I seriously doubt that 20% of teenage girls have been raped. That is not to deny that many have had sex and regretted it; nor is it to maintain that too many have been raped, whatever the number is. But before one builds on that truth, it probably should be established with more certainty and empirical studies. The same is true with many claims that emanate from less than stellar theological research. All too frequently, people copy the urban legends they have heard without investigating. And in this present debate, much of the debate would have been enhanced if listeners had asked speakers and professors for the documentation that supports their claims. i. Even great theologians can err, and, more frequently, even great theologians can repeat errors if they have not checked the original sources. Similar to the paragraphs above, even the best of our theologians have erred. Hodge, Warfield, and others were manifestly wrong to claim that Calvin supported a type of theistic evolution. The misrepresentations of Calvin, by now, are commonplace. J. T. McNeill and Ford Lewis Battles, among others, have given rise to a cottage industry that views Calvin as broadly compatible with natural law theory. Although that claim and similar claims may be displayed in the footnotes compiled by an esteemed editor, that mere assertion does not make it to be so. Similarly, simply because Calvin invoked certain unbelieving authors in no way is equivalent to his embrace of their pagan philosophy. Better scholarship will not only cite sources correctly but will also interpret texts within their contexts more accurately. j. Others may like your research more than your friends. This is the consolation prize: God is bigger than the PCA, the OPC, or any other denomination. There are thousands of fine believers who will rally to biblical truth. It magnetically attracts. If your own local group doesnt, there are certainly others, and we should remain faithful to truth regardless of its popularity. The great theologians we have referenced above are models for us in this: they concerned themselves more with obtaining the smile of God than the pleasure of man. God can still work to reform his church. Our job is to study the Scriptures and not cavalierly jettison good exegesis, even if proffered by others long ago, who may not be todays hipsters.

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Moreover, we must learn to be a little critical. We need to learn to recognize human tradition even among our evangelical brothers. And it is not sufficient to try to reform the PCA back to 1973 or 1955 or 1933; we frequently must go back much farther. All the time, we need to try to hold in esteem others who disagree with us. However, as the parable below indicates, certain battles are so important that we cannot fail to use all the moral tools available. If the paragraphs in the WCF that so clearly champion classic creation are not rightly interpreted, is there any logical reason to think that others doctrines will not be under assault before long? Appendix B: A Parable on Method Below is a reductio ad absurdum to illustrate what would happen if we argued about the Virgin Birth of Christ as some do about the WCFs wording on creation. ********** The Westminster Divines were clearly aware of rival theories on the virgin birth. Indeed, according to the Scotsman Alexander MCrie Macpherson, who thinks he remembers reading a sermon somewhere at some time (citation surely forthcoming), the Divines consciously chose to allow for diversity on this matteras on virtually every other matternot nailing down what is called the virgin birth (mainly by the IVBRthe Institute for Virgin Birth Researcha fundamentalist group that created this distinctive in the 20th century). Presbyterian churches, therefore, need not maintain that particular doctrinal formulation. The Confession itself only says that Christ was conceived (not born) in the womb of the virgin. (WCF 8:2) Philo, Arius, Socinius, Yomammus, and Procopius held that one could be conceived in the womb of a virgin, without that necessarily being a virgin birth. After the rise of naturalistic science, Podge and Battlefield agreed that one could gerrymander the doctrines so as not to create biological impossibilities. Interestingly, the Larger Catechism will not even employ the term virgin birth. It merely affirms that Christ experienced humiliation in his conception and birth (WLC #46; prudently, no reference is made to Mary) and he was made of a woman of low estate. (WLC #47) Later, the Catechisms avoid hinting at original intent as well. The Shorter Catechism only uses the wording being conceived by the power

DAVID W. HALL of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary. (SC #22) Had the Divines wished to specify more fully, they would have used the phrase virgin birth which occurs nowhere in the standards. If theonomists, wife-beaters, communists, racists, polluters, judicial activists, and other assorted innovators wish to add that phrase to the confession, they must use the process of amendment to insert it. Further, the Divines indicate their diversity on this subject, when they merely use the wording born . . . in a low condition (SC #27) instead of virgin birth. Had they wanted to maintain this doctrine, they would have, but they nowhere used that wording. Since they were aware of other views, this lack of specificity means they were ambiguous on the subject and that any interpretation is possible. Thus, the Westminster Confession contains no teaching of the virgin birth. One may be ordained without taking an exception to that as long as he affirms the framework of such or some vague metaphorical association of virgin birth. (Note, the same may be done for the atonement and other once important doctrines, as long as we keep the church as broad as possible. See Mt. 7:13 as interpreted by recent General Assemblies.) Despite the recent claims that over 20 Divines indicated, in one form or another, what they meant by this phrase, that record of intent is not as persuasive as first indicated. Of the 20 Divines, three were left handed, seven were born in May, two were members of Parliament, and of the 8 remaining citations, 3 were by scribes of the Assembly who are hereby disqualified (because they were actually present for the entire discussion but disagree with our preconception), two are dismissed (because we dont like what they wrote), and the remaining testimony is countered by that great, unbiased scholar Alexander Mitchell who wrote: The Latin, Non est virginus conceptus vere corpus divinitatem (The virgin birth is not truly [part of] the body of divinity), held by Augustine, Ames, William Perkins, and Francis Schaeffer makes it clear that the Confession has no meaning at all. (The Westminster Assembly: Its Work and NonStandards [Edinburgh: 1884]) Thus, not only is it un-necessary to hold to that old view, moreover we have no proof that it ever was the view; neither can we know diddlysquat about any of the words of the confession. George Orwell, Chairman September 1999 ********************

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION Appendix C: Our Churchs Most Recent (2001) Decision The 2001 General Assembly of the PCA addressed 4 different overtures on creation and the taking of exceptions. The Bills and Overtures Committee of Commissioners (hereafter B&O C of Cs) combined three similar overtures and answered, That Overtures 7 from Calvary Presbytery, 20 from New River Presbytery, and 23 from Mississippi Valley Presbytery dealing with exceptions to the length of creation days be answered in the negative. Carried. The ground stated was: It is the prerogative of the lower courts to determine if a mans view is an exception to the standards. Of course, that is what overtures 7, 20, and 23 all called for, too. Each of those overtures encouraged anyone who differed with the clear and original intent of the Westminster standards to state his exception, present himself humbly to the court of original jurisdiction, and bound those courts to decide with charity and impartiality whether the exception struck at the vitals or not. In a well-crafted minority report (presented by RE Mark Buckner), the minority urged the Assembly instead as follows: Whereas, the Presbyterian Church in America is a confessional church based upon the Scriptures and certain doctrinal statements as interpreted in the Westminster Standards; and Whereas, the Scriptures in Genesis 1, Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17 teach that God created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them in six days; and Whereas by faith we understand that the universe was formed at Gods command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible (Heb. 11:3); and Whereas, our Confession of Faith states that God created the universe in the space of six days (WCF 4:1; WLC 15, 120; WSC 9, 58-59); and Whereas, the 28th General Assembly affirmed that a diversity of views on creation days . . . is acceptable thus, in essence, invalidating any definitive creedal statement; and Whereas, many in the denomination interpret the decision of the 28th GA as removing the right of the courts of original jurisdiction to de222

DAVID W. HALL termine the acceptability of a mans particular view, as long as his view is one of those numerous addressed in the Report of the Creation Study Committee; and Whereas, the words in the space of six days are reasonably and normally interpreted to mean six consecutive days of normal duration and any alleged ambiguity to the words in the space of six days is clarified by the growing historical and scholarly evidence that demonstrates the intent of the Westminster Assembly to define the space of six days as days of normal duration; and Whereas, integrity compels a man to make known his particular views to the courts of original jurisdiction, especially when such views differ from our Confessional Standards; and Whereas, the courts of original jurisdiction ought to examine a man and to determine whether his particular views are consistent with or differ from our Confession Standards: Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the 29th GA of the PCA acknowledge with charity toward all our members, and with integrity regarding our Confessional Standards, that the Westminster Standards phrase in the space of six days means that the six days of creation were days of normal duration with evening and morning; and Be It Further Resolved, that, for the peace of the church, any man who holds a view which may differ with the above meaning of the phrase in the space of six days shall inform the court of original jurisdiction of such view for its consideration and determination; and Be It Finally Resolved, that courts of original jurisdiction make all determinations on the acceptability of a man and his views with care, charity, honesty, and impartiality. After a short debate, which alleged fear of calamity and a restriction of office that is neither envisioned nor specified in the minority proposal, the Assembly voted ca. 60-40 against the minority report and to uphold the generic prerogative of the lower courts to determine if a mans view is an exception to the standards. Still no Westminster Divine has been found who held to other than a normal-day view, and the minority report upheld the best interpretation at present, while freeing us from defending a provincial tradition. While

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION basing its practice on the views of the past 150 years may be a valid and rational construction for the PCA, that is but a partial history of the issue similar to basing ones life on one chapter of a work when there is much more. After all, the Westminster Divines were not such bad exegetes. Certainly we may construct a variety of contrived and novel alternatives (e. g., gap theory, a 1+2+3+1 Framework theory advocated by an esteemed friend of mine, or even a 3+3+3+1 framework of the 10 Plagues of Exodus), but absent external pressure, there was little internal (or exegetical) compulsion to manufacture these complex schemes until the past 150 years. It would also be severely problematic to apply the present forms of avoidance to doctrines like the Virgin Birth (see Appendix B at: or Limited Atonement. I sincerely believe that we can improve our view without excising fine men, while protecting our confessional fidelity. The minority report would have helped toward that end, instead of following a pluralistic hermeneutic. It is for the peace of the church that the minority report was urged, and it could have helped end the controversy. Few of us, after all, wish to make careers out of debating this one issue. Moreover, a careful reading of the minority report should ease fears that anyone would be disenfranchised. That is neither the intent nor proper interpretation of that. Neither would it stifle free inquiry. To make peace with the past, by agreeing with the clear intent of the Westminster authors, may be the first step toward peace with the future. Had we passed the minority report we could avoid endless quarrels, for it is the best interpretation of original intent and nowhere does this contradict Scripture. Maybe it is not true that pluralism leads to nihilism, but pluralism is no answer to this key issueit is merely a surrender to certain forces. In the end, the adoption of the recommendation to allow the lower courts the prerogative to determine exceptions was neither a step forward or backward. Furthermore, prior to the 29th GA, the Stated Clerk had given the following (clarifying) advice (which was recorded by the Assembly) about the standing of the previous years Creation Study Committee (CSC). It was to have the same status as other Ad Interim committee reports (e. g., Charismatic gifts, Freemasonry). The CSC report did not amend constitution; that could only come from due process stipulated in BCO 26.

DAVID W. HALL The CSC report was to be given due and serious consideration by other courts (as per BCO 14-7). Any related overtures, if and when adopted, would have the same status as other GA decisions (see 14-7). Before final adoption, the CCB also offered this statement of its intent: It is the purview of the lower courts to determine the suitability of men applying for reception/ordination with regard to the mens views on the matters raised in in thesi statements, subject always to the proper review and/or judicial process. Thus, the PCA seemed to wish to confine even the previous years action by protecting the prerogatives of the courts of original jurisdictions rather than seeking to issue a final judgment on all opinions. A separate proposal, Overture 30 from North Georgia Presbytery (to grant liberty of opinion on this matter and to allow great weight to natural revelation), was then answered in the negative, on the grounds: 1) It is the responsibility of the lower courts to examine and determine if a mans views are in accord with the constitution, not the man himself, nor the General Assembly, except in cases of judicial process. 2) Using general revelation to determine doctrine is contrary to WCF 1.6. In the meantime, the PCA presbyteries below practice some form of the minority report above: Louisiana, Grace, Mississippi Valley, Westminster, Calvary, Northern Great Lakes, Ascension, and James River. Answering Recent Critics In the past three years, several outstanding Christians have risen to dispute our arguments above. While we can never answer all critics, certain friendly critics seem especially deserving of answer.183 Dr. John Fesko is the latest to offer criticism of my work on the divines.184 In The Days of Creation and Confession Subscription in the OPC,185 John V. Fesko is one of the latest to lend his hand to argue that the Westminster Divines should not be interpreted as meaning what their

The following critics have been addressed on the pages above: (a) Dr. William S. Barker, see pp. 171-178, 182-194; (b) Dr. Robert Letham, see pp. 56-60; (c) Dr. Robert Rogland, see pp. 195-199. 184 As we have historically, if permitted, we will post this and other criticisms of our own positions on our website ( to ensure accuracy and to encourage good debate. 185 Privately published, 2000; page references to this unpublished paper. This paper, like many of the other critiques of our position, shows that the hermeneutic used to interpret the confession is as importantperhaps even more wide-rangingas this issue itself.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION plain words signify on the length of creation days. In the main, he seeks to avoid their clear affirmation by equating the inner intents and evolving practices of certain later, adopting bodies with the objective meaning of the original authors. Dr. Fesko seeks to determine the import of the Confession on the phrase in the space of six days, and what way the confession has been adopted in the OPC (2). Accordingly, he endows the functional practice of one particular, modern communion with a status that is nearly equivalent to, or perhaps greater than, the original confession. While we have become accustomed to watching judicial activists perform similar moves on secular constitutional documents, and while many of us have observed those same dynamics in churches that recently trended liberal, it is doubtful that PCA adherents will desire to canonize that method as a norm for confessional interpretation. Although I am confident that the author does not intend to perpetuate a living document interpretation of an ecclesiastical constitution, his discussion fails to adequately preclude such on this or any other doctrinal issue. When Fesko discusses our research, he begins by attempting to cast our arguments in balder form than we have. He is determined (probably so as to provide a foil for his later attempt to transform Lightfoot into something other than a literalist) to cast us as 24-hour literalists. While that is frequently the phraseology chosen by all those Westminster Divines who commented on that subject, they were equally pleased to use the terms ordinary day, natural day, or normal day to capture the same concept. What they meant was a day like we experience now. For some reason, early on (2, 3) Fesko repeatedly recasts our claim that the divines favored only normal days as requiring every divine to use the exact vocabulary of 24 hours186 or be considered contrary to the normal day view. I remain content, however, to permit the earlier authors to use a variety of phrasingsindeed sometimes they themselves chose 24 houres, while at other times, they preferred ordinary day, natural day, or normal daywithout thinking that they contradict themselves merely by using multiple phrases for the same concept. Perhaps this is a distinction that we did not draw explicitly enough at the time, or perhaps it escaped Feskos attention to detail, but it certainly does not sustain his argument that because Lightfoot referenced a beginning day of 36 hours, therefore, the Westminster divines were pluralistic on this subject.

DAVID W. HALL Lightfoots reference to the 36-hour first day is his own idiosyncratic view, in which he clearly attempts to reconcile the first day WITH his other 24-hour day comments. To do so, and it works only in a 24-hour perspective, he wrestled with an issue that most moderns do not even consider, i. e., how the revolutions of the sun would have to work under such literal framework. Moreover, historians (even Will Barker agrees on this) do not seriously attribute to Lightfoot anything other than a normal day view (perhaps better phrasing of the position), especially in light of his other explicit statements. For his fullest view, consult his Appendix A above (or Unless there is new textual information on Lightfoot, it is hard to view him as anything other than a 24-hour exponentat least, that is what he does on days 2-7. However one interprets Lightfoot, I am aware of no studies or commentaries that cast him as an opponent to the 24-hour day view, merely because of his own writings. Neither, apparently, did he sense the need to posit any other explanations. Lightfoot, like Augustine, had some eccentric views. However, except for the few that felt the need to follow him, his 36-hour construction never persuaded the majority. Early on in our study, in order to respect his work, but also to preserve what the other Divines taught, we settled on using some of their other phrasing. In fact, my 2000 substitute motion and the 2001 B&O committee recommended using ordinary day or Natural day or Calendar day (originally suggested to me by Prof. W. Duncan Rankin), or normal day. The divines felt just as comfortable and as explicit using these terms. The wording, evening and morning, coupled with those captures the view. Lightfoot, I think, was drivenmuch like the Institute of Creation Research folks areto be literal in every aspect. That, more than anything, is why he created the construction he did. Like most, I do not think his construction is necessary. Neither do I think Lightfoot represents a non-literal approach; if anything, he is excessively literal. Erring in that direction hardly supports constructions like Day-Age, Anthropomorphic Days, or Framework views. Or put it this way, omit Lightfoot entirely as one of our witnesses, and our case is equally as compelling. It depends, in no way, on Lightfoot alone. Moreover, Fesko has moved into the realm of creative fiction (as the habit seems to require when moving away from the original intent) when he admits that his argument about Lightfoot is circumstantial at best (16) and Perhaps others held the same opinion (when

See See Pipa and Hall, infra., 41, for our own wording.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION no others are cited). Certainly ones conjectures about what might have been should not be equal to the clear record of what is. Furthermore, Feskos suggestion that the Assembly of Divines should have responded to Lightfoots idiosyncratic views (17) unless they followed each one, ignores this central fact: the confession addresses neither the season of creation (many at the time believed it was autumn; some spring) nor other particulars, while the plain, historical sense of in the space of six days was included as a clarifying advance over some formulations. Were the Westminster Divines as Imprecise or Flexible as Moderns Wish? However, the two major flaws in Feskos arguments are the two points he seeks to establish. First, he seeks to argue that the original authors embraced a type of Im OK, Youre OK diversity of views in the pursuit of adopting the confession as a consensus document that permitted many opposing views. Second, he elevates the inner state of mind of later practitioners to the level of original intent. Below, I comment on both. Fesko initially attempts to argue that if one finds evidence that there were four-point Calvinists at the assembly then that would prove that the original intent of the confession allows for Amyraldianism. (3) That method, besides being illogical or a weak formulation for historical proof, is then stretched to apply to several cases briefly addressed below. I would like to note two things about Dr. Feskos methodology in this regard. First, the Westminster standards have seldom been accused of, nor normally understood as permissive toward, Amyraldianism. To the contrary, the virile Calvinismextending from Calvins own Genevan disciple (Beza) through William Perkins, including the Canons of Dordt and leading up to the election of the leading Supralapsarian of Britain (William Twisse) as the moderator of the Westminster Assemblyhardly can be interpreted as four-point Calvinism. Even if Fesko cites an isolated text here or there (we have not as yet examined these sources in their contexts), in view of the total corpus of the Westminster authors, it is quite difficult to sustain an assertion that the confession or the majority of Westminster authors countenanced four-point Calvinism as equally orthodox with five-point Calvinism. Certainly, Dr. Fesko does not wish to argue that it was all the same to them. Moreover, seldom, if ever, did the seventeenth-century contemporaries interpret the Westminster Confession either as soft on Amyraldianism or as exhibiting a plural228

DAVID W. HALL istic approach, seeking minimally to find accord merely within generic Calvinism. Latter day interpreters, to be sure, frequently resort to such arguments, often because of their own drooping practices, but that was neither the stated intent of the Westminster Assembly nor the reputation assigned to them by their contemporaries. Second, Dr. Fesko mistakenly miscasts this issue as if the Assembly had been equally divided on this (and most of the other examples below). His analysis fails to recognize a crucial point: certainly, unanimity was not always present among the appointed divines, but after debate there were majority and minority positions, much like modern assemblies. For example, simply because there are a few paedocommunionists in a church, if that is contrary both to the explicit doctrinal statement and to the practice of the churchs history, the mere presence of a minority does not logically mean that all views are treated equal, with no truth or falsehood. Again, it may be quite modern to strive for diversity and pluralism, but it remains unproven that the Westminster divines routinely approached doctrinal matters in that relativistic fashion, quotes on different topics even by esteemed later commentators notwithstanding. Until Dr. Fesko does a more precise job of distinguishing the majoritys adopted conclusions from the unsuccessful attempts of minority views to persuade the Assembly during debates, his attempted argument is fatally flawed. On the matter at hand, not only was the normal day view the only one expressed by any known text by a Westminster Divine, but there is simplyand stillno other view written or advocated by the original participants! Not only was the classical view on the days of creation the majority view, but Fesko (along with others who seek to avoid the clear record of history) fails to appreciate this fact: when the Westminster Divines repudiated Augustines view,187 there were simply no other exegetical options of the day to rival the normal day view. By thus nullifying Augustine, they were left with one alternative (not many): the normal day view. The logic, unless that is ruled out, is simple: If either A or B (A v B) If not A then B. (~A B) Unless these Divines are interpreted as willfully agnostic on a topic, while at the same time intentionally polemical (i. e., to repudiate Augus187

Thus, if that is a historians (correct) conclusion, it would be wrong then to turn around and associate the divines with Augustines view.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION tinianismhardly a posture compatible with viewing this topic as adiaphoric in general), then later readers will not fail to understand their position. By ruling outperhaps here, too, we have been too subtle in not making this more explicit in our own argumentsthe vestiges of a failed Augustinianism on this topic, the divines, if they chose to address the topic at all, were left with and championed only one view: the normal day view that was so established at the time. Dr. Fesko then proceeds on this methodological mirage to reference several areas where modern practice in some communions routinely differs with the original intent of the Westminster Confession. Sad to say, but his argument repeats this central contention: if a particular (albeit small but faithful) communion claims to hold to the confession, but does not believe all its particulars, that particular communions practice is as important in ascertaining the original intent as the writings of the original authors. The mere stating of his argument in that fashion reveals its penchant toward relativizing the historic meanings. Fesko then highlights examples (in apologetics, eschatology, Christs atonement, theonomy, and soteriology), which he thinks establish that the confession should be interpreted as much by the practice of churches three centuries later as by the plain meanings of terms and the original commentaries by those authors. He seeks to prove that with Halls methodology, we see that the confession is open to Amyraldianism because not only is there support from the four Westminster divines but the confession does not explicitly reject Amyraldianism. (5) A serious defect of Feskos argument is that he (along with others who seek to argue that the Divines were benign albeit strikingly prescient pluralists) fails to recognize two things from the original historical context: (1) often the Divines would write for particular contexts, and to take selective writings from Calamy, Seaman, Marshall, Vines, and others and revisionistically place them in the Amyraldian camp (4) can be sustained only in view of all their writings, plus confirmation by the contemporaries of the day that they were somehow soft on Amyraldianism; and (2) it fatally suffers from not recognizing the difference between the majority opinion and minority views not approved. Dr. Fesko might have been helped by consulting parallel studies on ecclesiology,188 which

DAVID W. HALL demonstrate that some participants at the Assembly were Erastians and some were Independents, but only Presbyterianism was codified in the ecclesiological articles of the confession. Again, the mere presence of dissenting voices, under the best historical reconstruction, is not equivalent to recognizing pluralism in the mid 1600s. Fesko claims the following as examples of how modern communions should not be guided by original intent: Since the Confession (1:1, 1:6, 21:1) gives greater weight to the light of nature than Van Tils apologetic method (which I certainly view as an improvement), an OPC candidate should request an exception to that part of the WCF, if he is to preserve the original intent.189 I also agree that the Confession itself does not mandate any particular apologetic method for orthodoxy. Furthermore, in light of Cornelius Van Tils dominant presence in the formative period of the OPC, one can understand why apologetics may be more valued by the OPC than by other denominations. However, this argument is perhaps germane only to the OPC. There is scant reference to other American Presbyterian denominations seeking to require that the WCF be squared with Van Tilian thought. When Fesko claims regarding this individual topic that a strict reading of the confession would demand that anyone not in agreement with these conclusions would be required to take an exception to the confession, if we use Halls methodology, (7) a more accurate statement would be: a strict reading of the confession would demand that anyone not in agreement with these conclusions would be required to take an exception to the confession, if we use Feskos OPC methodology. For most others, a simple comparison of the WCF language on the light of nature with Calvins writings makes it clear, that if properly understood, the confession certainly does not overweight natural revelation. Fesko claims that Gataker, Twisse, and Vines lobbied for the Assembly to adopt their wording (Christs whole obedience and satisfaction being by God imputed to us) in chapter 11 of the WCF. However, the final product only adopted this: by imputing the

See my The Original Intent of Westminster as clarified by the Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici (1646), x-xxxviii, contained in David W. Hall, ed., The Divine Right of Church Government (Dallas, TX: Naphtali Press, 1995).

I would offer a cautionary word about Feskos footnote #10 (p. 6) to urge him to clarify that the mere use of first mover vocabulary does not imply that William Twisse was a disciple of Aristotle. Turretin, e. g., and others frequently speak of material causes, formal causes, and instrumental causes without being properly classified as Aristotelian.



HOLDING FAST TO CREATION obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them. Fesko apparently thinks that this is a deficiency in the confession (8) that might permit a presbytery to approve a candidate who denied Christs active obedience as a ground for justification. Hardly; but again, it should be noted that this fear occurred to no contemporaries of Twisse (from the written record). More importantly, this attempted argument fails to observe the distinction between an affirmation that is contrary to another claim as opposed to one that simply does not explicitly address all desired modern concerns. Fesko eventually acknowledges this point, when he concludes: Once again, Murrays affirmation is acceptable according to the confession, but not demanded by it. (9) While the Westminster divines may not affirm all the particular concerns of the OPC (whether from their esteemed fathers, John Murray, Cornelius Van Til, or J. Gresham Machen), the OPC tradition should be recognized as one twentiethcentury tradition that is not always exactly equivalent to the views stated by mid-seventeenth century British Puritans. Two additional things should be noted about Feskos argument on this matter: (1) Few historians argue that Twisse held a view of Christs atonement that is actually at odds with the final wording of the Confession; and (2) the OPC insistence on the active obedience of Christ is probably as attributable to the fine (but extra-confessional) writings of Machen and Murray as anything. It might be simpler, if they wish to canonize those as orthodoxies to simply amend their confession to say so. Feskos reliance on Shedds claim that the WCF exhibits an infralapsarian order190 is debatable. In view of the earlier historical contextnot to mention the strong writings by Twisse and others on this topicit is odd to assert that the WCF demands an infralapsarian view. Some critics of Calvinism have claimed precisely the opposite, i. e., that the WCF demands a supralapsarian view, but few read the history of the earlier period as demanding an infralapsarian view, especially when contrary to some of the leading theologians who were present. True, those leading theologians may not have dominated on every issue, but it is unproven that their consciences were violated by the majority views adopted.

DAVID W. HALL As to theonomy, Fesko is certainly correct that modern reconstructionists differ with the explicit wording of WCF 19, which recognizes the temporality of aspects of the Jewish civil law. Fesko is correct that according to Halls methodology theonomists, at least those of Bahnsens stripe, would have to take an exception to the confession. (12) Indeed, in this area, like in creation matters, there might be less strife in presbyteries if this candor were consistently practiced. Rather than my method opening the door to a host of theological problems, Fesko has demonstrated no demise of ministry or theology related to our approach. On the contrary, our method merely requires candor, submission to the brothers, and precision. Those, we continue to believe, are virtues and will help the church rather than harming her. In sum, I fail to see any harm in taking exceptions to these places, if necessary, in order to preserve the original intent. It still seems preferable to preserve an objective standard, even if it requires some effort on our part, than to destroy an objective norm by deconstructing its clear expressions. I hardly see the church served by a misleading reckoning with her own statement of belief, which may be amended if she wishes. Is the determination of the Animus Imponentis Preferred over Original Intent? Feskos second concern is as miscast as his first. He states that the mind of the church is as important (preferred as he entitles the section) as the original writings. En route, he misunderstands Charles Hodge on this point. Hodge is cited as recognizing two principles that all honest men use to interpret creeds or oaths (13). Those two are first, the plain, historical meaning of the words; and secondly, the animus imponentis, that is (Note: this is Hodges own epexegesis) the intention of the party imposing the oath. Unfortunately, Fesko continues a train of recent apologists who misunderstand Hodges sound principlesboth of them! Hodges first principle, which has so often been ignored in recent ecclesiastical discussions, is that words have plain, historical meaning. This fact, that the Westminster Divines meant what they wrote with in the space of six days, should settle the argument altogether. Indeed, until the need for modern revisions, the Divines were taken at face value on this topic. Only when moderns learned that they were at odds with their

Although I have not seen it, Dr. Feskos doctoral dissertation on this subject, I am told, is a very fine and able contribution to the scholarship on this topic and period.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION forefathers did moderns seek to find ambiguity in the plain, historical meaning of the confession. There is, in other words, an explicit, plain sense of words. Original intent is only needed for corroboration if that plain sense is not clear. Hodge was far from adopting the living document view when he stated these two hermeneutical principles. Even when Fesko seeks to protect himself from a reader-response theory of confession subscription (13), at best, he expands the living document view to a corporate living document view, rejecting only the right of a solitary individual to reinterpret the confession. Communities can reinterpret contrary to original intent. In addition, he fails to see how our view prevents this: our view prevents this by first accepting the plain, historical sense of the words, which incidentally seems to be what most of our Ruling Elders (and non-seminary mentored readers) do. Had Fesko and others paid more attention to and rightly understood Hodges first principle our argument would have been further established. Hodges second principle is also misunderstood by Fesko. Hodge does not use the animus imponentis standard to mean a church may inject its own, evolving meaning of original terms. What Hodge meant was to consider (as he stated it himself) the intention of the party imposing the oath. That secondary factor of ascertaining the intention of the party imposing the oath can be learned from long since deceased fathers only by reviewing their own writingsexactly as I attempt. When one does that, he can find only one view on the days of creation among the Westminster Divines. Sad for moderns, but there were not a multiplicity of views advocated in the writings of these Divines. On the issue at hand, Fesko is left with the Divines both (a) intent on rejecting Augustine but then (b) trying to make them agnostic or adiaphoric at the same time. While it is not disputed that they used their wording specifically to refute the idea of an instantaneous creation, which was first promulgated by Augustine, (15), it has hardly been proven (merely the question begged) that the original intent of the WCF 4:1 was only to repudiate instantaneous creation, while creating a null set for any other affirmations. Three other minor responses to Fesko are in order. First, in reference to his discussion about the Divines reinterpreting the descensus clause in the Apostles creed, I would refer him simply to admit that the Apostles Creed formulation was defective on this point as recognized by many, both before and after Westminster (See, e. g., Calvin, modern papers by R. Otto and W. Grudem, and my sermon, if desired). This is hardly a suf234

DAVID W. HALL ficient argument that the Westminster Divines practiced the kind of animus imponentis standard that is tantamount to an evolving document view. Second, his reference to the Divines refusal to define the Sabbath as a 24-hour day in the Minutes is answered on pp. 182-184 above. Third, the appeal to Lightfoot as contrary (or as internally inconsistent with his own writings) to the 24-hour view is desperate (cf. 226-8 above). Fesko is also on surprisingly weak analytical ground when he argues that if only 19% of the total participants held to the normal day view, then that is not even close to a simple majority and we know next to nothing about many of the divines. (17). The simple explanation for this is that not all Divines addressed this (or any other single) topic, but of those that did, the virtually uniform testimony is in favor of normal or ordinary days. Put it this way: the fact that only 19% of a particular Assembly explicitly expressed a view, especially when 0% advocate any other view, only underscores the original consensus on this view. To state it modestly, the 19% who did comment likely expressed the view of nearly 100% of the participants. To put it in a more challenging mode: at least one out of five members have been discovered who held an explicit view. Can Fesko and others find 20% who held to a different view? If so, then perhaps season tickets, instead of individual game tickets, should be awarded for proof that 20-25 Westminster Divines wrote either explicitly rejecting the normal day views or advocating some other view. We hate to keep reiterating, but all fictional claims aside, we still await textual evidence that there were 20-25 modernists in the Jerusalem Chamber. When Fesko concludes his essay by claiming that it is a consensus document that permits pluralism and asks, who is to say that all 109 of the divines would have rejected the framework or Day-Age views (22), not only is he admitting the legitimacy of our previous documentation as unrefuted, but he is also issuing no more than an appeal to fiction instead of fact. Simply produce a fifth of the Westminster Assembly who held to either of those views, and our argument is shattered! We remain interested enough in the truth in this regard to submit our own theory to falsification; other arguments do not always seem ready to admit of any case of falsification, regardless of how much historical documentation is produced. Instead, they seem to grant revisionary immunity to their arguments in the face of the onslaught of evidence. Finally, even if Machen and others in the OPC did not contest this matter in their day, for whatever good reasons, that does not require us to ignore Hodges two rightly understood criteria for constitutional interpre235

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION tation: (1) the plain explicit meaning of terms; and (2) the original testimony of the Westminster authors, which are unrefuted by other Westminster Divines on this subject. Even should the OPC adopt John Muethers confidence in the brethren approach to confessional subscription,191 at best, that explains the practice of one particular, American, modern tradition. That is not necessarily the same as the original, Puritan plain sense of the words. We simply cannot equate (much less elevate or prefer) our often sub-standard practices to those of our earlier fathers in the faith. That is a revisionism too drastic, not only in this particular case but also as a methodological principle in general.192 Machen, Young, Allis,193 Morton Smith (but for honesty, please free this mans reputation by allowing his stated repentance on this issue to be accepted), and many others may have held latitudinarian views on this subject prior to the publishing of fuller research on the original intent of the Westminster Divines on this topic. But for reasons of honesty, we ought not elevate their dated viewseven though their persons and ministries are greatly esteemed by usto contradict, discount, or relativize the clear, historical sense of the Westminster Divines on this topic, particularly when there is no contrary view advocated by other Westminster Divines and abundant documentation of what they really intended. Again, one may wish to be a premillennialist and take exception to the confession, or one may wish to require Van Tilianism and take exception to the confession, or one may wish to advocate theonomy and admit differences with the confession, or others may wish to view Sabbath practices differently than the original authors did. But that modern persons difference is not the same as the original explicit wording or the meaning as supported by research into the Divines intent. One simply ought to admit those differences and humbly request an exception, which in all these areas should be granted. However, history has to be mangled

DAVID W. HALL to conflate the disparate views and either treat earlier exegetes as synonymous or disfigure the Puritans into precursors to pluralism. Once again, those who differ with the plain meaning of these Westminster affirmations, even though scholars in their own right and fine ministers, have failed to change the record: the Westminster Divines did hold to a definite view, and differences with that are still differences. No amount of fiction, special pleading, hypotheticals, or rationalization will change that. Moreover, if the same method is applied to other confessional matters, Dr. Feskos approach does not adequately protect the church from an outbreak of pluralism and inconsistency in many other areas of doctrinal truth and integrity. Our doctrine simply will not last if these kinds of ever-evolving reinterpretations persist. Moreover, Scripture, our ultimate standard, is equally clear on this. Exulting in Creation Without Winking or Nodding The Bible teaches that God created all things out of nothing by his Word in six evening-and-morning days; and it was all good. Moderns and ancients, rich and poor, male and female, bookish and Bubba alike are meant to exult in that radical but clear concept. Moreover, as one consults interpretations held by earlier believers, two things become clear. First, from the inception of Gods revelation until the 1800s, the universal Christian consensus about Genesis 1-2 was that Gods creationmajestic and breathtakingly involveddid not require a long developmental period. Second, shortly after 1800, novel ideas surfaced to challenge that historic agreement, and thereafter many Christians retreated to creation schemes of lesser majesty. Consequently, we now find Christians winking or compulsively fingering bunny-eared quotation marks around the word day; others go even farther and nod to secularists as more expert on creation than Moses himself. Sadly, many fine people have prematurely surrendered an important aspect of the revealed faith, customarily hoping to avoid offending unbelievers pointlessly. Creation according to Genesis, however, may be a doctrine that is inherently and unavoidably offensive to the natural mind. Perhaps it is better simply to take God at his Word than to nod to secular cosmologies or wink while redefining biblical terms to fit more comfortably with our ages run-away scientism. Equally catastrophic is that a surrender to secularism, even if animated by believers good intentions, has additional costs. Among the

Of course, Muethers argument may, over the next decades, only reinforce OSullivans Law (which hypothesizes that a group which is not explicitly conservative may eventually trend liberal), and in the OPCs case, it may prove to be trending broader in several areas. Furthermore, Muethers argument does not address another possibility: the OPC never had to adopt a clearer practice or statement of subscription in its first generation, because it was not an issue: it was largely unheard of in the OPC, prior to the 1970s, to depart from confessional truths. 192 For another response to Fesko see J. Ligon Duncans A Reply to Concerns and Objections, posted at: 193 These first three were stridently opposed to some of the notions suggested today, especially the framework hypothesis of their day.


HOLDING FAST TO CREATION ministry surcharges are that we must: disenfranchise most Christians who lived before 1850; reinterpret earlier confessions absurdly; wink while singing scriptural words; leave children less prepared to defend the faith; preach vaguely or inscrutably on this subject; and diminish miracles. Most tragic in this Re-inventing Creation process is the loss of confidence in either the Scriptures clarity or sufficiency. For, if the Genesis texts do not mean what they say, then many other texts are eventually doubted. Abraham Lincoln got one thing correct, when he recommended: When you are lost in life, do as you would if lost in a forest. Retrace your steps. It might help many Christians exit this morass if we re-set our minds with a short review. Maybe, just maybe, our godly forefathers, who were unbiased by evolutionary concerns, interpreted the Genesis texts better than most moderns. The first revelation about creation contains no hint that the days were anything other than normal, sequential days with alternating night and day. Latter-day readers may read meanings in, but the Hebrew language itself neither demands nor suggests that days were aeons, which admittedly could have been expressed by different wording. The chronology of creation even assumes the normal Hebrew reckoning, extending from their first part of the day, evening (sunset), through the night into the morning. It is exceedingly difficult to imagine agrarian Hebrew audiences in the Second Millennium BC seeing intricate triads and highly figurative poetry or winking at the word day as if it meant ages. For centuries, Hebrew Temple worship recited the Genesis narratives (thus, partially explaining the perennial outlook of believers), and even to Christs Incarnation, no known example of framework views, day-age theories, or any of the other modern brands exists. The Hebrew calendar, still dated 5761, remains a potent witness to this fact: the earliest chronologies took those Genesis texts rather literally. Jesus himself never tried to reinterpret these passages otherwise. He embraced all of the OT personalities, including Adam, Cain, Abel, and Noah as real historic people with no winking. The rest of the New Testament affirms the following: God created matter from things that are not (Rom. 4:17); Material and immaterial things were directly created by Christ (Col. 1:16),

DAVID W. HALL Believing in creation takes faith (Heb. 11:3), and God created by his powerful word, not requiring lengthy processes for assistance. The church agreed on these biblical truths for centuries, until the weakened Western church began to accommodate modern mindsets. Even some of our evangelical heroes (Charles Hodge, who pledged to change his view on Genesis with the utmost alacrity if the ages were proven lengthy, and Benjamin Warfield, who reconstructed Calvin as a theistic evolutionist) unwittingly were children of their age. Until the nineteenth-century fault-line, however, the following Christians united (were they all misguided?) to affirm that God created ex nihilo by his Word (not by evolutionary processes), and that the sum total of world history was far shorter than billions of years: Basil, Ambrose, Augustine, Anselm, Lombard, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Perkins, Ames, Ussher, Edwards, and even one of Americas first geographers, Jedidiah Morse, whose 1796 American Universal Geography dated the creation of Adam and Eve at 4004 BC. Until the late 1800s, exemplars like Charles Spurgeon still referred to the universe as the events of the six thousand years which have passed since the earth was created. So, even if we inherit the recent viewwhich has itself become a tradition in some academic quartersas gospel, if one consults the Scriptures themselves and most godly commentary before 1850, it becomes obvious that earlier Christians did not find framework eisegesis or day-age views in Scripture until some elite told them, retold them, and retold them again that Genesis should not be interpreted literally. Still today, when new Christians or people uninitiated into our Western scientific club read the opening chapters of Genesis, they think the same thing the early church did: God created in six ordinary days, and the miracle is all the greater for the shortness of timeall without winking. To contextualize historically, the view that day equaled millions of years first arose when Jazz was ascending to the musical stage, while the framework view only became popular after the Beatles! In contrast, the literal view of Genesis prevailed during Haydns symphonies, Bachs fugues, the Scottish Covenanters Psalm-singing, and even back to Gregorian chants and the Hebrew Psalter of Solomons Temple. Isnt it odd that virtually no one saw these new interpretations until after certain nineteenth-century scientific revolutions? The earliest Christian thinkers did not wink when it came to this subject. They exulted, boldly proclaiming that the all-powerful God made everything by his own miraculous speaking and without other

HOLDING FAST TO CREATION means. Neither did early Christians nod to secular trends and conform their interpretations to the science of the period. Do we really know better? The church in all ages confesses that God knows more than even the smartest men. Until far better, not to mention simpler, interpretations are given, we should cling to scriptural revelation and not repudiate every earlier Christian as hopelessly nave. No one should underestimate sins centrifugal pull on the churchs theology. The world forcefully tugs on Gods saints to accommodate it and its ideas; thus it might be better to be vigilant rather than accommodating. For possibly, evangelicals may board a train headed for nowhere, while worldly scientists disembark, acknowledging the mounting problems with Darwinism and all its cousins. Moreover, if day is not day in Genesis 1, the church is helpless to answer the following: (1) How do we know if the rest of Genesis 1 is anything other than poetry, if evening and morning or it was so are not actually true? (2) Why do the Old and New Testaments fail to allude (or do they misguide?) to long days, or slow, developmental creation? (3) Why did other godly interpreters not discover long days, frameworks, or slow, developmental creation until after certain scientific changes? (4) How can we begin counting history, if the Sabbath was not a 24hour day like the other six? Merely noting that some Christians have held more modern views does not prove the case any more than the citation of some present-day Christians who advocate other wrong notions. Maybe the various compromises on this issue should be viewed analogously to another area of Christian practice: Simply because some Christians approve of the civil state taking care of welfare neither makes that biblical nor wise. Do other believers hold different views on baptism, church order, predestination, the atonement, the trinity, and Christs deity? Sure, they do; but the mere fact that some hold differing opinions does not mean that there is no truth or that all opinions are correct. What determines what is true is Gods speaking, not the variety of mans reasoning, as if diversity of opinion could trump Gods revelation. The more I have studied this issue, the more it appears that the classical view will survive because it is the fittest. The others just do not hold

DAVID W. HALL water. The old truths, not bedazzled by the spell of scientism, will likely sustain Gods people longer than the short half-life of interpretations held hostage to Darwins fling. After all the ink dries, there are only two major interpretive options (not three or four): conformist or non-conformist. The newer, conformist views need to be reminded of what Romans 12:2 says: Be not conformed to this world. The second, older view needs to be emboldened and rise to tomorrows challenges. Moreover, it is time that believers ceased being bullied by experts; our classical view of creation is not a second-class view. It is the one that has been held by the orthodox for years . . . and for good reason! We do not wish to perpetuate the downgrade that the church has experienced over the past century by its inordinate conformity to the world. Instead, we maintain a heavily miraculous creation and call on secular thought to conform to that truth rather than diluting the faith. We may not be courageous enough to imagine somehow that scientists will finally tender their affection after we have sacrificed much of our virtue on secular naturalisms altar. Still, lost sinners will probably be more impressed with the majestic God of creation than with the barely noticeable deity of modern accommodationism. Many theologians have forgotten this: The Genesis texts are and always have been clear and knowable for all kinds of people; so has the creedal position of the church in all ages. The dire consequences of succumbing to secularism in this area are equally clear. It is time to remember and exult in the affirmation of Revelation 4: You are worthy, our Lord and God . . . for you created all things and by your will they were created. The heavenly hosts neither wink nor nod when they glory in those truths. Neither should we. Holding fast to creation, thus, seems more pleasing to God than a continual changing of interpretations of Genesis.