Councils Attempt to Bring Calm
Throughout Christian history, there have been ideas and theories which the church has to address as unorthodox. Dr. Ross addresses a few of them in the first few pages of chapter 22.
Circumcision. The first century church had to deal with the sign of the old covenant with regards to the gentile Christians. Should gentile Christians be forced to observe the sign of the old covenant? To help answer this question, the Council at Jerusalem convened to make sure there was a resolution that honored the Lord. Later Paul addresses this in his epistles to the churches. The conclusion – “Therefore, the promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.”
Dr. Ross feels that the issue of the age of the earth is synonymous with the issue of circumcision:
The first-century church dealt with a problem roughly analogous to the dispute over the length of the Genesis creation days
While we can agree that Christians do have disagreement over the issue of the length of the creation days, this disagreement is not an issue of salvation. It is an issue of biblical interpretation and as has already been shown Dr. Ross has elevated the modern academic paradigm (which he calls the book of nature) as authoritative over the revealed and eternal word of God. Dr. Ross has exhibited the characteristics of a Christian, so I have no reason to doubt his regeneration. But his teaching regarding death, suffering, thorns, corruption, destruction being part of God’s “very good” creation because of his adherence to the Modern Academic Paradigm is harmful to biblical interpretation in this and future generations.
Dr. Ross next gives a short recap of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) of 1982 as they discussed the creation-day controversy. They listened to presentations from a biblical creationist and an old earther. When it was complete, the ICBI presented a statement that included the following affirmations
- We affirm that any preunderstandings which the interpreter brings to Scripture should be in harmony with scriptural teaching and subject to correction by it.
- We deny that Scripture should be required to fit alien preunderstandings, inconsistent with itself, such as naturalism, evolutionism, scientism, secular humanism, and relativism.
- We affirm that since God is the author of all truth, all truths, biblical and extra biblical, are consistent and coherent, and that the Bible speaks truth when it touches on matters pertaining to nature, history, or anything else. We further affirm that in some cases extra biblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations.
- We deny that extra biblical views ever disprove the teaching of Scripture or hold priority over it.
- We affirm the harmony of special with general revelation and therefore biblical teaching with the facts of nature.
- We deny that any genuine scientific facts are inconsistent with the true meaning of any passage of Scripture. We affirm that Genesis 1-11 is factual, as is the rest of the book. We deny that the teachings of Genesis 1-11 are mythical and that scientific hypotheses about earth history or the origin of human it may be invoked to overthrow what Scripture teaches about creation.
The statement from the ICBI has some merit and is generally acceptable. But as shown in the italics above, there are at least 2 phrases that could be misconstrued to accommodate any number of outside authorities over scripture.
The first “We further affirm that in some cases extra biblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations.”
What cases? Who gets to determine which cases are acceptable? Which interpretations of the extra biblical data?
You can see how there is a massive gap left for those who would like to bring their interpretation into biblical orthodoxy, and since old earthism has until the most recent of times not been included in orthodox thinking, Dr. Ross would very much like for his naturalistic interpretations to be included in orthodox teachings of Christianity. For today’s generation that has been saturated with the naturalistic assumption of billions of years, they might think the church has thought this since the beginning, but it is a very recent addition to modern thinking. Until Hugh Ross wrote his books, virtually all of the church most certainly did not think the universe was billions of years old. As confirmation, the Hebrew year from the date of creation is 5780. So, those who wrote the original text of scripture are in agreement with the biblical creation model that the world is about 6000 old.
The second, “the facts of nature” is a phrase that I have covered throughout this review that is based on a false assumption. It leaves open the question – What is a fact outside of interpretation? Whose interpretation of the “fact” is considered the right one?
Dr. Ross finishes this chapter with the claim that his debate in 2009 with biblical astronomer, Danny Faulker was a win for old earthism. He claimed that 13 astronomers (who are all confirmed old earthers) agreed that the earth is old. It would be the same as if an Armenian and a Calvinist had a debate on which view of soteriology is correct. If the judging panel was 13 Calvinists, they would all determine that the winner was the Calvinist. If the same debate were to have been done in front of 13 biblical creation astronomers, Hugh Ross’s views would have been demonstrated to be impotent in just the same way.
As biblical creationists, we can praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.