THE SPIRITS SWORD
Mt. Baker church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker Hwy· Bellingham, WA 98226
Volume IV, Number 29· September 24, 2000
Editor..................Joe R. Price
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In this issue:
What follows on page 2 is a recent e-mail exchange I had with a young Christian.
I am sharing this post and my reply for one simple reason: To demonstrate that the discussion over the days of creation in Genesis One is not an inconsequential argument over how to define the word "day" in Genesis One. Neither is it a dispute over the age of the earth. Nor can it be properly said that Florida College, per se, is the issue.
I was one of the original signers of "An Open Letter: The Creation Account & Florida College." I did so because it clearly and fairly states why this is a crucial matter:
"Those present at brother Jenkins' class were urged not to be 'dogmatic' about the issues involved and to accept brethren who came to differing conclusions. They were further urged not to concentrate so much on these matters and get busy trying to reach the lost. However, we would inquire of brother Jenkins why there was no rebuke of brethren for teaching that the Earth evolved over billions of years from the Big Bang rather than trying to reach the lost? The fact is that such teaching is fundamentally flawed and opposed to efforts to reach the lost. It is an abdication of the Bible ground affirming the miraculous and instantaneous creation of the physical world, and a denial of the fundamental principles of proper hermeneutics. If such teaching is encouraged or even tolerated at Florida College, it is our view that eventually we will have many more lost souls to reach, not less." ("An Open Letter: The Creation Account & Florida College," page 5)
The following post shows the nature of the attack being waged by some against the Bible and against faith in it as the understandable and infallible word of God. And, it shows how Christian young people can and are being influenced by such error. Truly, by defending the simple truth of God's word recorded in Genesis One we are trying to save the lost (and protect the saved)!
May we all trust the Bible as understandable, accurate and necessary to the salvation of souls. (2 Tim. 2:3-4; 3:16-17; Eph. 3:3-5; Gal. 1:6-10)
This post was received July 28, 2000:
hey Joe, this is ____________.
I went to Watchmanmag.com recently and read the Open Letter to Florida College concerning Genesis 1 teachings. I am confused about certain things about this issue. Its not so much the interpretation that Watchman Magazine holds concerning Genesis 1, as it is the belief that this issue is serious enough to warrant disfellowship. I do not see how this particular issue involves the question of fellowship with another. While I firmly believe that issues involving sin, salvation, the church etc must be defended at all costs (the Rom 14 issue is an example of this), Genesis 1 deals with none of these things. I sit in adult classes at my church and hear people disagree with all sorts of things in the Old Testament, but these people realize that disagreements in and of themselves do not mean perversions of the doctorine (sic) of Christ.
I suppose then that perhaps what is being condemned is the hearts of the individual who supports the views of Hill Roberts. Maybe that these people arrive at their conclusions, because they do not have enough faith in the biblical account, so they let science cloud their vision when they read Genesis 1. But I do not think that this can be applied to all people who do not hold to a literal 24 hour view of Genesis. Ancient Christian writers such as Augustine, Oregin, (sic) Basil, Thomas Aquinas and others all held that the Genesis days were not literal 24 hour periods. Certainly it cannot be said that they were defending modern scientific ideas by doing this. They simply arrived at this conclusion from their understanding of the Hebrew. In fact, I have read that most Jews throughout history and today in general do not hold to the 24 hour view, simply because in the Hebrew, Genesis 1 does not limit the context as such in the origional (sic) language. There are arguements (sic) against the 24 hour view that have nothing to do with science.
So, primarily, my main question is: why is the issue an issue that concerns disfellowship.
But also, I would like to explain what I have learned of one view that opposes the literal interpretation of Genesis 1.
Certainly, any sound Christian would teach that many things must be taken into account when reading Bible passages. Historical situations, the author, who the author was writing to, and the nature of the language used is something serious Bible students must always consider when reading texts. We must use common logical rules when reading the Bible to properly apply it. Historically, the book was written when the Israelites had just been liberated from 450 years of Egyptian bondage. In fact, many of the Israelites worshipped the same Gods as the Egyptians. The book of Genesis virtually destroys the pagan idols of Egypt. Ra does not rule the sun, God does. Osiris did not create the heavens, God did. One cannot read Genesis 1 without recognizing the fact that God is the source of all things, as opposed to dozens of dieties.
I am sure that you have heard the contriversy (sic) over the word "yom" (day). The word in Hebrew is a general term which means any length of time. The exact length is determined by the context in which the word is used. The context is said to be 24 hours, because the days are structured by evenings and mornings. Evening and morning are dictated by the appearance of the sun and moon in our view of the sky. But this time structure, if literal, is somewhat confusing, since it is used even before the sun and moon are supposedly created. In Daniel 8:26, we have an example of this very phrase (evening and morning) being used. Gabriel, in interpreting Daniel's vision, states "And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future." I have read that in the Hebrew, the phrase is singular, not plural...as in "evening and morning", making it synonymous with Genesis 1's usage. But in Daniel, Gabriel was refering (sic) to a very long period of time when using the term "evening and morning". I have read that this term is a Semetic (sic) phrase which is found often in literature to mean a definate (sic) period of time, not necessarily 24 hours. So its questionable whether context supports the idea that "yom" means 24 hours in Genesis 1, since "evening and morning" are no clear indication of time. Also, in Genesis 2:4, it states "This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." It states here that the heavens and the earth were created in "the day", yet Genesis 1 claims that they were created in 6 days. It is said that this shows the ambiguity of the word "yom" and its application. Also, it uses the word "history" or "generations"......generations is certainly not commonly applied to 6 days. Finally, there is evidence that this account has the nature of poetry. One example that I will mention is that each of the days, when layed (sic) out, compliment another day to create a rounded literative (sic) structure. Day one (creation of light) compliments Day four (creation of sun and moon). Day two (dividing of the waters) compliments Day 5 (creation of sea creatures). Day 3 (plants) compliments Day 6 (animals, and humans).
One of the main points used to defend the literal interpretation is that the Hebrew week was patterned after Genesis 1, therefore Genesis 1 must be a literal week. I do not see how this is a necessary conclusion. I think it is an assumption. The analogy is made that God worked 6 days, rested, and so we should do the same. Analogies between two things do not corrolate (sic) on every level, only on the level they were intended to correlate in the example. To say that a literal 24 hour creation view, coupled with Exodus 20:8-11 is evidence AGAINST a non-literal creation view, is to say that Exodus 20:8-11 cannot be understood with the non-literal view in mind. This is not true. God created the world in 6 "yoms" (periods of time), and rested on the 7th...therefore we shall pattern our weeks of our years in the same way. Jesus died an rose from the dead in three days, just as we are buried in water, and raised to walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4) In Hebrews 4:1-10, the writer makes an analogy between God's rest, and states that God is still in this rest. Literal creationists recognize this as an analogy, therefore they do not demand that this passage dictate that the seventh day is literally still occuring (sic). If this is so, then why can't non-literal creationists view Exodus 20:8-11 as an analogy, pattering their week with God's creation "week"? To me, citing Exodus 20 to support the literal creation view is almost an explination (sic), not an argument (sic). If the literal creation view is correct, then Exodus 20 draws an analogy with regard to those literal days. If the creation days are not literal, then Exodus 20 draws an anology (sic) between those 6 periods of time, and the 24 hour week that the Hebrews lived in.
My point in doing this is not to show that this view is right...but to show that by context alone, it does not appear to me that this issue is as clear cut as others believe it to be. There are other interpretations, based on context, that oppose the 24 hour view.
Perhaps there is an answer to what I have suggested above. If so, I would be interested in hearing the other side.
But regardless of which view is best supported by the context, it still remains an unanswered question for me as to why this is an issue of fellowship. I know people who take odd views of Romans 9, and to me its seems they totally ignore the context of what Paul is speaking of. He is speaking of the nation of Israel as a whole, and their rejection of Christ...he is not talking about God's dealings with individual people. But regardless, whatever views someone may have about the chapter, I am not under the impression that I can disfellowship or make an issue about it. Yet I would deem Romans 9 as more of an issue for me to disfellowship over than Genesis 1. Romans 9 deals with concepts regarding the gospel and salvation...whereas Genesis 1 is an Old Testament book that has virtually nothing to do with sin, Christ, the church etc. I also feel its abundantly clear that Revelation's main message concerns the destruction of Jerusalem, and the avenging of the apostles and prophets...but others would disagree with me. They do so based on context, and their interpretation of it. And a misunderstanding of Revelation has nothing to do with whether one is sound in the gospel of Christ, and I am sure you agree.
Thanks for reading this incredibly long letter. I just have some questions about whats (sic) going on in the brotherhood that I need some clarification on. And ________ suggested that I asked you about it. Hope to hear from you soon.
(My reply begins in next week's bulletin. -JRP)
SENTENCE SERMONSYou cannot go in the wrong direction and arrive at the right destination.
Money will buy most everything a person wants, except some things.
To stand for what is right, a person must be cautious about what he falls for.
Opportunity does not batter the door off its hinges when it knocks.
Instead of magnifying our problem, we should count our blessings.
-(THE INSTRUCTOR, March 2000)
The Spirit's Sword is a weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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