Dec 05

Creation without Compromise, by Donald Crowe ??

This is the second book that I’m reading on creation from a literal 6-day perspective. The book actually started out quite well, and after several chapters, was thinking that this was going to be a 4 or 5 star text. Unfortunately, Donald allowed the text to lapse into various quibbles without defending his stance, as I’ll explain. There is one vital strength to the book which I must not delay to mention. Donald is seriously concerned about maintaining Scripture as our only solid reference point for our thinking. He is concerned about maintaining Scripture as infallible, and the only orientation for our worldview, to which I would agree. He is concerned that we  not read anything into Scripture but that we allow it to speak to us, since it represents God speaking to man. Again, no problem with me.

Donald Crowe is a professor of biblical languages at two very small schools of higher education, belonging to a very small  presbyterian denomination which broke off from main stream presbyterianism, over doctrinal distinctives which were felt to be more vital than Christian unity or other Christian virtues. Several of those distinctives include a sworn allegiance to presuppositional apologetics, post-millenial eschatology, theonomy, and strict adherence to the Westminster confession.

Donald provides a history of evolution/formation of the universe from the Greek and Roman thinkers through the enlightenment. He pauses to defend the chronology of time as offered by Bishop Ussher, placing the moment of creation at about 4000 B.C. He lapses into some minor discussions of the flood, defending a universal flood. He then explores the life and thinking of Charles Darwin, showing how it was necessary for him to reject the Christianity of his youth in order to develop his fantastic account of natural selection. Donald then lapses into a vitriolic attack on Hodge and Warfield at Princeton, while placing Dabney between them as the only true preserver of the truth of creation. At last, 2/3 of the way through the book, one comes to the moment of truth—the exegesis of Genesis 1. Unfortunately, it was limited to 29 pages, and then, mostly quotes are from other texts, such as Kelly’s book on creation, and the overused text from E.J. Young about Genesis 1 not being poetry. The next chapter, consisting of 41 pages, attempts to detail the consequences of a evolutionary worldview. Sadly, this is where I realized I was wasting my time reading the book. I become weary whenever an author discusses Hitler and the Nazis as the best example of the end result of any sort of non-Christian worldview; it is way, way, way overused. Evolution came from England, and Donald could have more easily discussed the evils of Churchill as a man who will burn in the same low rung of hell as Hitler, Stalin and a few other notables of the twentieth century.

Donald loves the term “eisegesis of desperation” which he uses on anybody who disagrees with his interpretation of Scripture. Donald might be accused of übergesis, a word which I coin to mean “to not look at the Scripture at all, but over it”. Donald’s übergesis of Genesis 1 quotes everybody else, but fails to give us arguments based on his own exegesis, all the while quoting his favorite phrase from the Westminster Confession (which he must have memorized before #1 “What is the chief end of man?”) about allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. Let me remark on a few examples (of which there are many) where Donald goes astray. On p. 220, he quotes Berthoud, who asks why we would consider it difficult for the creator of the universe to not be able to do it in 6 days?The question gets you nowhere, since we all believe that God could have done it any way that he wished. Donald must explain why God couldn’t have done it instantaneously! Just before this quote, Donald übergeses a quote from James Jordan, who “… does show how it is possible to discover several chiastic literary structures [in Gen 1] without rejecting the historical narrative of six calendar days”. So what? How does that diminish a framework hypothesis? I could go on, but, so many of his “exegetical” statements were taken from Kelley and others, that I have discussed elsewhere.

I read this book hoping it to be a clear Scriptural argument for a young-earth literal 6 consecutive 24-hr creation. It was more like reading Henry Morris, whose writings first persuaded me against an absolute insistence on a young-earth interpretation. I have appreciated Donald’s willingness to give creation an entirely Scriptural defense, yet he failed in that regard. Perhaps the Scriptural text is simply NOT clear enough? We might look at Moses interpreting himself in Ps. 90:1,2 “…before the mountains were brought forth or ever you had formed the earth or the world, from everlasting to everlasting…” leaves a picture painted by Moses of the antiquity and prolonged process of creating the world. Ps. 104 leaves one the same impression. Even though these verses are poetry, they are also, just like Gen. 1, true truth, true history that must not be übergesed into insignificance as to what they say. Or, take God interpreting God in Job 38 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? ..Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? … who determined its measurements-surely you know! Or who who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together?” Why didn’t Donald inform God that the morning stars had to wait until day 4? When God speaks, I dare not explain way his statements as simple poetry that can’t be taken literally!

We live with a creational tension that is best described by optical metaphors. When we look at God’s creation, we get a virtual (apparent) image of age, which is probably different from the real image (or age) of when the earth was actually made. The difference will be especially true if God created with apparent age, or if there were factors before the flood which have since caused things to appear older. There is simply no way that science will give us an exact answer as to the age of the earth, but  a complete reading of the whole counsel of God in the entirety of Scripture neither will give us a perfect answer as to the exact age of the universe. I don’t need a perfect answer. We should not do as Donald has done, and use a young earth creation scheme as a proof of orthodoxy.

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One Response to “Creation without Compromise”

  1. Uncle Dennis says:

    Although there is much that can be said about the desperation of 6-day creationism, I’ll confine my comments to what I see as one of the more egregious incursions of paganism into biblical creation doctrine, brought in by young-earth creationism (YECism). It is introduced by

    “… Berthoud, who asks why we would consider it difficult for the creator of the universe to not be able to do it in 6 days?The question gets you nowhere, since we all believe that God could have done it any way that he wished. Donald must explain why God couldn’t have done it instantaneously!”

    In paganism, the gods act without any rhyme or reason and consequently, the natural order cannot be rationally understood. There is no integrity or logical structure to it – no logos. This kind of thinking shows up in Christian theology as what I call “magic wand” creation doctrine. People who hold to this way of thinking will say: God can do anything! Yet he does not, for if he did, he would have no discernible character. In contrast, the Psalms and other parts of the Bible revel in God’s faithfulness and covenantal reliability and predictability. If the fickle character of the gods is not found in him, why should we expect to find it in his creative activity?

    While there are events in the creation that are not understood, I believe on the basis of the revealed character of God that there is some underlying coherence and rational consistency in God’s doing of them. Magic wand Christianity, along with paganism, does not believe there needs to be nor is there any underlying Logos to God’s relationship to the creation. God merely waves his wand like a pagan god whenever some act needs to occur and there it is! YECism can consequently spin unconstrained notions about creation and take them seriously because they have not themselves taken seriously God’s character as revealed in his upholding habits of the creation, which are the interest of science. This intentional negligence causes them fail to constrain their theologizing to be in conformity with God’s revelation of himself in the creation. People who ignore God when he speaks through nature, which is subject to human scrutiny, are apt to ignore him also when he speaks through scripture, instead preferring their conceits on how God must have created the universe and baptizing them with übergesis.

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