Tag Archives: Scripture

How Long Did God Take to Create?

I have been listening to a lot of debates recently between Christians on old earth vs. young earth creationists, and I wanted to get some thoughts out and hopefully some feedback as well.

Much of the debate seems to stem around the Hebrew word “Yom,” which has multiple meanings, one of them being a 24 hour day, another being an age or extended period of time. Each takes a different meaning of the word in Genesis and other places where creation is spoken of. I find that the argument favors the young earthers here: whenever the word “yom” is used in conjunction with a numeral(first day, second day, etc.) it means literal 24 hour day. Even more so when it is in context of evening and morning. One old earther tried to point out the oddity of the order here: evening to morning? Well, that was a failed argument, given that a Jewish day does indeed follow that order.

But on the other hand, the science is pretty much completely on the side of old earthers. The universe, by all appearance, is about 13.7 billion years old. The earth is much younger, s=but still much older than the 6-10 thousand years young earthers claim. There are so many problems that a young earther has to overcome in order for the view to even be scientifically possible, like the speed of light, carbon dating, etc. The speed of light being the important one. They either have to say that the speed of light has changed since creation began, or that it travels faster to earth than away from it. These are their only options to try to explain why the universe appears to be so vast in size, since we measure astronomical space in light years, which is where the age of the universe is derived from. But neither of the two options have any real weight.

So where do we go from here? Is the Bible wrong? Do we have to give up inerrancy?

My answer is simple: We go where we always go, to God. Here’s one of the fascinating things about how God works, He’s truly marvelous. Like when David writes his psalms, or Isaiah prophecies about Israel. They had their original intended purposes. But then Jesus comes, and all of the sudden, what they said in one context now is fulfilled in another. Clearly God changes the interpretation of the Bible through History. If there is no Jesus, these things still have meaning, just not the meaning they have for us. Think of Passover, animal sacrifice for atonement, they all made sense in the day, but make sense in a much different way today. What am I getting at?

If we look at Genesis and how “yom” is used, we would be write to interpret it as it was intended, which is most likely as a literal 24 hour day. But given what we know now, it seems to mean something different. In fact, now, there is a pattern. One debater that I heard, despite arguing that the intended meaning was to be age, made this point: God is still in rest in regards to Creation. We no longer see major works of creation. But herein lies the rub: We will one day again. There is going to be a New Creation, a time when God will stop resting, and create once again. I like this. But the Jews did not have this concept nearly as defined as we do now.

Some will argue that this is reading what we know back into Scripture… Indeed, it is. But guess what, Paul did too. And so did Mark. And Matthew. And Luke. And the early church fathers. And so do we. Again, the psalms that David wrote were not intended by David to be prophetic. But that’s certainly how we take them now. Isaiah, in many of his prophecies, did not intent to prophecy about Jesus, but rather Israel. Many of hos prophecies have dual fulfillments. Yet we do not say that this is unacceptable and deny that this is the correct interpretation of the words. In the same way, we can use this line of logic when we look at the Creation story. The author was ill-informed compared to how we are today when it came to time, days, creation, space, nature, etc. He was describing things as he could in his day(pun intended). But looking back, God had another intention, and God’s intentions always win out.

So here’s my conclusion: Young earthers are right. The word “yom” was probably intended to mean 24 hour day by the earthly author. The old earthers are right. The word “yom” today should be correctly read as age, because that is the way God, the heavenly author of the Bible, intended it. Unfortunately, some of the people on either side will bicker about this angrily, looking down upon the other side. Neither will want to change their stance, neither will want to admit defeat, even if that means coming to an agreement. Neither are completely wrong. Both are right in some sense. If only they could come together to realize that they need to combine what they are both right about, and admit that how they were going about things was wrong.

This debate will probably never end. But in my eyes its pointless. Either way, God created ex nihilo with a purpose. How, why, when is not a big deal. But if we want to make it a deal at all, it seems to me that since God gave us the ability to use science and reason, that we should use them, looking at the evidence openly(since it doesn’t matter either way), and coming to a conclusion. It seems that as Christians, sometimes we hold the Bible as a scientific textbook when it was not intended to be that. We want our science to match our interpretation, rather than the other way around.


On the other side of the road…

I recently listened to a sermon on the Good Samaritan… something we talk about far too often it may seem, something we all think we know about. It’s typically told in order for us to see that everybody we come across is a “neighbor” and what it means to be a good Christian is to help out those in need, no matter who they are or their relation to us. And that’s not a bad message. But this focuses solely on what the Good Samaritan did, and I think, after hearing this particular sermon, that there is more to the story.

No, I’m not saying don’t walk alone on dangerous roads because you might get jumped, though that is true. Rather, it’s much more general. Something I had never thought about were the people who passed the man in need of help. They were good people too, well-respected people with important things to do. Not just that, but if they helped this man, they probably could not do their important things since they would be ritually unclean, and performing rituals was their job. You see, we had a priest and a Levite. Men of the temple. They had Godly business to attend to. It wasn’t as though they merely didn’t want to help, maybe they did but had other obligations. And not just selfish obligations, but stuff that served God…

A friend needs to talk, but we have prior obligations, it would be rude to ditch the other thing for your friend, though, since that came first. And a true friend would understand this and not want to interrupt your prior event. You have a softball game Saturday night, a playoff game, and someone from church asks if you can teach a class because they won’t be able to be there. If you don’t go to the game, your team will have to forfeit because they won’t have enough players. You have to politely, yet regretfully, decline because your team is counting on you.

These scenarios are have quite a bit in common. These aren’t just excuses, these are real reasons, legitimate. We are torn, but in the end stick with the plan. Deviating would be too risky, and it would disappoint too many people.

But yet these are the things that Jesus was criticizing, right? He was showing how Godly people, who were trying to be Godly, had their priorities messed up. We aren’t told what this Samaritan was doing, or where he was heading. I wish we were, because I have a feeling he had somewhere important to be too. And he put that on hold, and attended to this man.

How often have we done this? I wish I could say more. I am guilty of it, and I’m sure you are too at some time or another. We have things that we think are important, and yet Jesus is telling us that we have our priorities messed up.

We are walking on the other side of the road.

Part of this is about avoiding the issue to begin with. When we see something that will be trying or difficult, we often make our way around it, trying to pay it as little attention as possible as not to force us to actually make a decision. That way, we don’t feel bad, and can rationalize that we just didn’t see it or it was out of the way. This seems to me to be what the priest and Levite did. They recognized something that was going to call them to act, to make a decision, yet they avoided it, but for God’s sake.

I think there are 3 points being made here. The first is direct, and that is that everybody is our neighbor, since that was the original question that was to be answered. But I think there was a point to the people and situation that we often miss not being in the culture. Anybody listening would have known that the priest and Levite were on their way to the temple. They had duties to fulfill that the people counted on. So Jesus was flipping this on it’s head. It seems clear that this is a point since Jesus makes it other places as well. People are more important than “godliness.” I’ve heard something similar before, “business is not godliness.” People are more important than doing “things,” even if “important.” People are what God is after anyways, not a clean church, not a great sermon, not an well-said prayer. These things mean nothing if not intended to bring people to God.

The preacher emphasized this. He called us not to “walk on the other side of the road.” Calling us not to avoid stuff if at all possible, and to rationalize our actions.

How often do you walk on the other side of the road? At work? At school? Even at home? Can you say that you have dropped what you were doing, though seemingly important, to help someone in need?

If yes, keep up the good work. If no, work on it. It’s important. People matter more to God than anything else, it should be the same for us as well.

Left on the Dock, how NOT to interpret the Bible

So most people know about the Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye. Even my dad was a big fan. It’s just disappointing that such a non-biblically backed idea, like the rapture, would become so popular and mainstream. There is so little biblical evidence for the rapture, and the “evidence” that is often used is based on taking things out of context and giving them a new interpretation(though I won’t go into that in this post, but hopefully another one soon),which is ALWAYS wrong.

This leads me into the topic of this post, reading the Bible.

I enjoy some of Greg Koukl’s work, and recently his essay on never reading a Bible verse. The title is catchy. It seems un-Christian-like. But he goes on to explain that both critics and proponents of certain views take verses by themselves, which leads to them being taken out of context, and getting wrong ideas. A new idea in the evangelical sphere is to read the Bible and allow the Holy Spirit to call up a personal interpretation for what you are reading. And this is where I am left on the dock. They have set sail into this dangerous, misguided style of interpretation that leads only to confusion and ruin, while I am left standing on the dock trying to tie up as many ships as I can, trying to keep people from making this grave mistake.

The authors of the Bible had a specific purpose for writing what they wrote. It is supposed to be personal, and affect your personally, but while the effect may be different from person to person, the meaning NEVER changes. There was an original intent, and it needs to be preserved. This destructive path that these ships are sailing towards is often liberalism. This is where doctrine becomes wishy-washy, loses the Christian essentials, and allows for personal interpretation of sacred texts. Now this is a fine line in a way. In no way do I espouse, nor should you, the idea that lay people should not be able to read the Bible and ponder on it themselves, for, when done correctly, this is extremely fruitful. This is the route that some have gone, saying that only priests or ministers or those who are “qualified” can interpret scripture. This leads to grave results as well, like people being prohibited from rational thought, and basically being brainwashed (how about some of them JW’s).

So what can we learn from this? Read a passage in its entirety. No one would start right in the middle of a page in the 10th chapter of a 30 chapter book and expect to have an idea about what is going on. And we should not approach the Bible in this manner either. If Jesus is talking in some end times language, what prompted this talk? Was there a question, or two, that he is answering? When Paul is speaking of the dead rising, why is he addressing this issue, since he is writing letters to a church, and he is addressing worries and issues that church has. How should a prophecy be interpreted? What is the context? Context is oh so important, and losing it causes everything else to become worthless.

I think that if Christians all approached the Bible in this manner, there would be far less disagreements, far less controversy, and a lot more love and encouragement in the Church. So the next time you see/hear someone taking a verse by itself, ask them how it is being used and what point it was meant to address, and you could have a very fruitful discussion on your hands.