01 June, 2006

It Depends On What Your Definition of 'Is' Is.

When does day mean day, and how is one to respond when a church tells you different? I have been thinking a lot about the 'framework' theology debate since a friend of mine has decided to join the OPC ? Any thoughts on whether that should be a standard of the church or should it be classified as 'things indifferent'? Personally, I believe that Presbyterians have a confessional stance on the debate thus binding them to 6 literal days. Any thoughts?


Gavin said...

I will disclaim my comment by saying that I will be away all weekend celebrating my birthday with my family, and so I am neither interested nor able to engage in a lengthy discussion on the issue, and am merely throwing my opinion out there as one member of the Church.

To say it simply, I am not a "literal young earth creationist". In fact, I would consider myself in the "evolutionary theist" viewpoint, although I am upset that many of these people are essentially deists, so there is no label for what I hold to. If this makes my comments useless and my profession of Faith meaningless, so be it; I will let that be your judgement. As to why I would depart in such a radical way from orthodoxy, I am not a scientist, a biologist, an archeologist, or any "ist" except an organist and Calvinist. This said, I have to accept what I hear from experts. I have never seen cells, when I was in science class in school I just couldn't see them in the microscopes, yet I trust those who tell me they exist. If someone wants to tell me that life on the Earth is the product of long and slow mutation, I do not have the scientific knowledge to question that.

It is my view that this does not affect how I see scripture. My stance is this: God created and I'm too stupid to figure out how. I can't argue with the scientists, and what little I know about science leads me to distrust the "answers in Genesis" people and other scientists who are convinced that carbon dating is wholly unreliable. That said, what is Genesis 1 but that God created all that is? What is Genesis 2 but that God is provident? What is Genesis 3 but a statement of the whole doctrine of the Heidelberg Catechism, namely that we are sinners in need of God's promised redemption. Any theologian, scientist, or layman who rejects the clear teaching of scripture here is clearly out of the bounds of Christian teaching, but how can I help but make observations based on fossils and vestigal parts and such, so far as it relates to science? I am by no means one to say that all things were not made in six days, but rather that what we ought to learn from the Scriptures is God's creative power.

And as for between different YECs, and as you quote the old Bill Clinton joke, "What is your definition of is?", I should point out the dangers of such a polemic. Having once been Catholic, I've asked many a protestant "how can Jesus be more clear than This is My Body?" Lutherans now say the same to me, and I do have to admit that they are taking the words for EXACTLY as they say. However, we as Reformed folk know that Jesus did not mean that He had substantiated into the bread, but rather feeds us in the Sacrament. Nor when we talk to old folks and they say "in my day..." do we assume that they were given their own holiday or that things existed as they describe them as a single day. For a third example, Calvin would probably say the same things to you, Isn't scripture clear when it says that the earth is the center of creation?

Again, I must apologize for what may seem to be "liberal anti-Christian ravings" even from someone who counts himself as Reformed as Van Til and Calvin. Since I am turning 21, it's certainly likely that at sometime I may come to see the scriptural Creation record as historically accurate despite evidence to the contrary, but for now I must admit that I know nothing of genetics, biology, or any science, but only the doctrine taught to me in the Word of God.

Lydia said...

I don't think any attack on Scripture should be consider "things indifferent." Let me quote Herman Hanko:

"The men who defend the Framework Hypothesis do not want Genesis 1 or Genesis 2 to be taken literally. I consider that idea, apart from the difficulty in understanding the Framework Hypothesis, to be a deliberate and calculated assault on the sacred Scriptures."

And more:
"The Framework Hypothesis, as well as any other view that refuses to take Genesis 1 literally, is an assault on Scripture’s authority because it is a sell-out to modern unbelieving science."

lloyd said...

Is God trying to trick or deceive us about how He created all things? I'd much rather trust the plain reading of scripture, then give weight to the arguments of scientist that are attempting to suppress the knowledge of God. Besides, were they there advising God on how to create anything?

Ntrjctn said...

What are the grounds that would make one say the Westminster standards are 6 literal days?

If the arguement is over what the Scriptures say concerning this, the word literal is in question, that is to say what does the Text of Scripture say to this matter?

Would messing with the sense of the word day (yom[?]) have implications to how one interprets the sabbath commandments? What would they be? 6 days (whatever day means however long) thou shalt labor but the 7th is sabbath to the Lord your God? If one was to deal with the grounds of the commandment itself, i.e. for 6 days thou shalt labor being based on that GOd labored for 6 days Himself then rested on the 7th, and those days lengths are called into question, How could it not be of logical necessity that the same advocates of such a position do the same to the commandment as far as men are concerned?

Question? said...

What is specifically meant by framework hypothesis here?

Nate said...

Here is the Westminster Confession of Faith on Creation:

Of Creation.
I. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create or make of nothing the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.

II. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Besides this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

Nate said...


Here is a critique of framework. The idea is that each 'day' actually represents an 'age'. The basic defense is that the Hebrew word for 'day' is different here than other places in the OT.

Andrew Duggan said...

There is more to the framework than just ages for days. In fact, some if not many framework adherents would decry the idea of ages for days. The focus is on the pattern. According to the framework, there are really only three sections in creation: days one and four, two and five and three and six. Day one/four is light and darkness related activities, day two/five is water/sky related activities and day three/six is land related activities.

The trouble for anything other than a six normal length (about 24 hour) day creation is Exodus 20:8-11 (esp 11), as pointed out by ntrjctn.

WLC 120 and WSC 62 demonstrate that Westminster had no other understanding of the length of days during creation than normal-length (24 hour).

The trouble with Modern Presbyterians is they want to believe whatever they feel like, but still claim Westminster. The OPC is such a fun place. They like to talk about creation, they like to talk about the regulative principle of worship, but that part in the WCF XXI where it talks about using psalms isn't really for them unless they play word games. So why should one be surprised when they play word games (framework hypothesis) regarding that part about creation being in 6 days?

Chad Van Dixhoorn who is publishing the minutes and papers of the Westminster Assembly was asked during the “questions from the floor” portion of his ordination exam (Feb 2006 stated meeting of the Philadelphia Presbytery OPC) what did the Westminster Divines mean by psalms in WCF XX1:V? He replied there was a long and and short answer, and when asked about the short answer, it was they meant just the Psalms. The follow up question was along the lines of could they have meant to include anything else, his answer was no, just Psalms, at which point the presbyter doing the asking sort of just said "Oh", and sat down. (Yes, I was an eye witness to the exchange).

That was helpful as if the plain meaning of the WCF XX1 was not enough. However, the OPC still practices otherwise and still claims Westminster. Those who love their uninspired songs in worship, can't really say anything to those who want the word "day" in Genesis 1, WCF IV, WLC 120 and WSC 62 to mean something else than day, because they want the same charity for their redefinition of psalm in WCF XX1.

Its really been a big factor in the American Presbyterianism for a long time. Gary North for all his problems, at least named his book about the fall of the PCUSA correctly. Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church.

Like their PCUSA forefathers, ministers in the OPC all cross their fingers when taking their ordination vows, and they like their fathers are reaping what they sow.

Isn't it shocking that even though the Church has the Word of God (Jesus Christ) revealed to them, (Heb 1:1,2) that they still can't just love God and keep his commandments (John 14:15)? Why should Christ put up with us in his Church any more, why should he visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children past the fourth generation? For all the great wisdom of the contemporary Presbyterian, we are no better than the Jews of Isaiah's day. Does this not apply to us?

Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. (Isa 1:5,6)

Isn't that just what we see? Presbyterians revolt more and more. Wholesale sellouts on Worship, Creation and now Justification all the while with more and more earnest pleas for charity for their error.

Except we repent we shall likewise perish.

Again from the gospel of Isaiah:

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. (Isaiah 1:16-19).

Unless the contemporary Presbyterian heeds Isaiah's advice individually and corporately, I think that Isaiah 1:20 will apply: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 1:20)

Unless we repent and turn from our sin and misery to Christ in faith, trusting in him and his righteousness and not our own, and put on the white robes of his good works, and love him and be obedient to him, we shall be devoured. He will fight against us with the Sword of his mouth, (Rev 2:16) and we will be devoured by it.

... for why will ye die O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the Lord GOD: wherefore turn and live. (Ezekiel 18:31b-32)

Ntrjctn said...

Then one would want to know what is said in the Westminster standards concerning the sabbath...

karl said...

Lloyd: right on. It is also important to study the creation of the world in the focus of Christology (John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1). As for 6 days, why did He take that LONG???