God is good. We can see this from several texts in the Psalms and in the gospel of Mark.
Psalm 119:68 You are good and do good
Psalm 135:3 Praise the LORD, for He is good
Mark 10:17-18 A man ran up and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’
While this list is not comprehensive, we get a picture that one of the characteristics of God and the way that he acts is his Goodness. The English word from these passages that has been translated to be “good” is the Hebrew transliteration: towb.
This same word is used in Genesis 1 as God describes his new creation. After the first, third, the fourth, and the fifth days, God describes his creation as ‘towb’ or good. Genesis 1:29-31 says, “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it- I give every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning the sixth day.” In fact, since God called his creation “good” twice on days 3 and 6, there is a total of seven “good” descriptors of his creation. As seven is seen throughout scripture as the perfect number, God is bringing extra emphasis on the goodness of his creation. Creation wasn’t just “good” in a trivial sense, it was made to reflect God’s goodness and glory (Psalm 19:1).
We know that later on in chapter 3 of Genesis, it describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God’s one command. Sin caused pain, thorns, and death to pervert God’s “very good” creation. Romans 8 confirms this when it says, “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Sin perverted God’s “very good” creation. And God revealed that the curse of sin included death, pain, thorns, and creation being in bondage to decay.
When archaeologists dig down into the layers of earth, what do they find? Fossils of billions of dead things. Fossils of dinosaurs and other animals that had terrible diseases like cancer are found. Some fossils show teeth marks of predators in layers that evolutionists date as having been buried millions and millions of years before mankind walked the earth. Even fossilized thorns have been found in layers that evolutionists date as being 400 million years old.
But there are Christian teachers out there, who are trying to harmonize clear teaching of scripture with billions of years of bloodshed, suffering, and death. Is this what the Psalmist would relay as a character quality of the Almighty? But that’s exactly what Hugh Ross, the Rossians, and John Walton would have us believe. To make this work, they have to re-define the Hebrew word “towb” to mean potential or ordered.
It is no small thing to attribute billions of years of cancer, bloodshed, pain, and death with the perfect character of the Almighty. Yet, when Walton and Ross redefine the same word “towb”, which is used to describe God’s character, as inclusive of death, one has to question their understanding of scripture.
Lastly, Isaiah 11:6-9 describes a time when God will restore his perfect creation. God revealed to Isaiah that there will come a time when predatory behavior, harm, and destruction will be a thing of the past. But Ross and Walton would say that predatory behavior, harmfulness, and destruction was a part of creation prior to Adam’s sin. Their interpretation of scripture has serious problems that affect the gospel. If death and destruction and harm were part of God’s very good creation, then why did Jesus have to die a horrific physical death on the cross? Romans 8:21 “Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay.”
Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
We can trust the Good God Almighty about what he has revealed about the past, and we can trust him about the good He plans for the future. Praise Him!!!
I’ve only gotten half-way through reading this article, but I couldn’t wait any longer to post a link to Jason Lisle’s response to Critics #3.
For years now, the invasion of Christendom has been spearheaded by attacking the Bible. So much so, that now, even committed believers like Hugh Ross cannot see their own indoctrination to materialistic philosophies.
In Dr. Lisle’s article, he engages with a critic, who accommodates secular teachings into his interpretation of scripture. Dr. Lisle uses hermenuetics, logic, and science to re-calibrate the critic’s flawed thinking. If you’ve ever wanted to read dialogue on how to engage a Rossian with solid scripture and sound logic, then you will enjoy reading.
Sadly, the church in America has gotten a little too cozy with the government of the USA. There’s too much “rah-rah; kick ’em in the jaw!” when it comes to bombing Muslim extremists or assassinating Bin Laden. The church has been fine supporting and giving more power to the government.
What will happen
if when the government adds Christians to the terrorist bucket?
Now, the SPLC is not the government, but the government has been using the SPLC’s lists of hate groups to build their strategies. The SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to their extremist list back in 2015. There is a strong desire by those in power and those with “the microphone” to marginalize Jesus and his Word.
All of that to say that being an outspoken disciple of Jesus is becoming and will become more unpopular. All the more reason for us as Christians to stay grounded in the Word because our hope and our citizenship is not in this world (Phil 3:20.) Since we recognize Jesus as King, we must continually be reminded that our King’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). The kingdoms of this world have fallen and will continue to fall, but Jesus’ kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and it is for this kingdom that we should endeavor to serve. There is a battle, but our enemy is not abortion or liberalism or agendas or the Gaystapo. Those seem like ripe targets as Christians, and I’ve struggled with battling those physical targets. Ephesians 6:
For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
So let yourself be filled with righteousness, truth, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.
Remember that history is written by the victors and we know that the victory has already been won. So, it will be unpopular and it will get tougher to be a disciple of Jesus, but that should not dissuade us from being lights in a dark world.
UPDATE: Now the courts are making it a standard practice to punish those who express quiet thanks to God in a public place.
little younger brother pointed me to your show a couple of years ago, and I’ve been listening ever since. I really appreciate the friendly format of the show. Every guest is treated with sincerity and the “debates” are free from personal attacks. Thanks for putting on a great show.
So, I just listened to your latest Unbelievable podcast with Phil Copan. He handled a tough position of answering critical questions with dexterity. It did seem however that the atheist caller, Andrew, got the best of Phil when Phil was unable to answer the major flaw of old earthism. We could all hear the relief in Andrew’s voice when he knew he would not have to contend with a Christian who consistently and faithfully interpreted the Bible. When Andrew pointed out that since Phil believes in billions of years that there would have to have been terrible suffering and destruction prior to the sin of mankind, Phil could only deflect the question. His defense was to say that the atheist was in no position to judge evil, and this is true: atheism cannot account for evil in their worldview. But as a Christian, he did not present a positive and compelling case for believing that the suffering and bloodshed was a beautiful part of God’s “Very good” creation. His only defense was a very poetic passage in Psalm 104, that he mistakenly believes was part of the pre-fall world. A proper exegesis would show that this passage poetically deals with both creation, flood, and post-flood times.
As I have listened to your show, almost every Christian guest that you have capitulates to the atheist’s origins story of billions of years. But there is no reason to give up Biblical authority to accommodate the atheist’s origins story. Biblical authority is at stake here.
Here is a short list of contradictions that are introduced into biblical interpretations when one accepts the atheist’s origins story of billions of years:
- Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The earth was not formed billions of years after the beginning.
- Genesis 1:29-30 “everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food.” Animals were created as vegetarian. No predatory behavior until after the fall.
- Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Because of God, we recognize goodness, and death/suffering/bloodshed is not part of this goodness. God chose to represent the death of his Beloved for thousands of years by having his people sacrifice an animal. But if animals had been callously dying for billions of years, why would the Almighty symbolize the cruel death of his son with something as common as animal death?
- Genesis 3:18 “It (the ground) will produce thorns and thistles for you” If thorns are a result of the fall of mankind, why are there fossilized thorns that evolutionists claim are millions of years old?
- Genesis 3:20 “Adam named his wife Eve because she would become the mother of all the living.” Phil and other old earthers disregard this passage by claiming that Adam and Eve could have been a representative couple within a large clan of hominids. All of humanity has to be a descendant of Adam and Eve for these Biblical passages like Gen 3:20 and Romans 5 to make sense theologically.
- Genesis 6-9 Global flood. There is so much here that gets missed when old earthers disregard scripture to preach a local flood.
- Exodus 20:9,11 “Six days you shall labor and do your work…For in 6 days the LORD made the heavens and the earth” It wasn’t billions of years or eras.
- Isaiah 66:25 “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox…they will neither harm nor destroy” This passage is pretty clear that predatory behavior is harmful/destructive and is not part of God’s intention.
- Mark 10:6 “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female.” Jesus was teaching that mankind was created at the beginning of creation and not billions of years after the beginning…or must you question whether the Creator knows about modern cosmology?
It would be nice to hear Christians defend God’s word without having to capitulate to the atheist’s primary tool for hammering at Christian foundations…the Word of God. And it is a shame that some Christians have rationalized the marginalization of scripture to accommodate modern political correctness in science, culture, and relationships.
We can trust God’s revelation about the past; therefore He is trustworthy about the future! Praise the Creator!!!
This past week, I ran across a great blog article about how to handle disagreements among Christians. It is very much what I have been learning in my Ephesians class about maintaining Christian unity. Christians should be united in love.
So, how do we handle it when, according to the best of our knowledge, someone is teaching against God’s Word? Hugh Ross is an astrophysicist and Christian teacher, who advocates old earthism. So, the writer, Bruce, of the blog post that I mentioned above asked me to present some of the things that Hugh Ross teaches that are exegetically inaccurate.
A quick note on exegesis. Where interpretation is needed in scripture, scripture should be used as the principal interpreting tool. If there are other scriptures that can be used to aid in the interpretation, then that scripture should be used to help guide the interpretation.
- Death before sin – Ross teaches that death, disease, and bloodshed have been present among God’s creation for millions of years prior to Adam’s sin.
- Genesis 3 – Death is a result of Adam’s sin
- Romans 5 – Man brought death into the world
- Romans 8 – The sin of mankind brought a bondage of decay to all of creation such that creation would groan as it awaits liberation from its frustration.
- I Corinthians 15 – Man brought death into the world. The final enemy to be defeated is death
- Genesis 1 – When God had finished his creative work, he declared his creation “very good.” Ross claims that Adam’s sin caused only human death and that animal death has been happening for millions of years. If animal death is “very good” as Ross claims, then why would Almighty God demand that the picture of the death of his Son be represented by the death of an animal without blemish? The unjust death of the Son of God on a cruel cross was represented for thousands of years by the sacrifice of a lamb. According to Ross, lambs must not have value since they have been dying upon their emergence (Ross does not teach evolution) and that Adam’s sin had no effect on the bloodshed that has existed for millions of years.
- Genesis 1:29-30 – God clearly intended man and animals to be vegetarian. Prior to the sin of Adam and Eve, man and animals ate plants, and yet Ross teaches that predatory behavior existed for millions of years prior to the curse of sin.
- The Days of creation are not literal days – Redefining the biblical account, Ross teaches the same cosmic evolution as Dawkins, De Grasse, Bill Nye, and Stephen Hawkings: Big Bang Cosmology. Ross does not teach that the cosmos emerged from gravitational disturbances like Hawkings. Ross does teach that God began the universe by his great power, but after God created the universe, Ross teaches that the forces of the universe constructed stars, galaxies, and planets over billions of years. Ross claims that the Bible teaches the big bang cosmology by explaining expansion when God stretched out the heavens.
- Genesis 1 – The Hebrew word for day is “yom.” This word can be used similar to our English word for day in that it can mean 24 hour day or a period of time. Never have we found a usage of the word “yom” that means billions of years. Context is key, and in this context, the days are clearly limited to 24 hour periods. Each day is given an ordinal (the 1st day, the second day, the third day…) Each day is also bounded by evening and morning in a typical way that we understand 24-hour days to work. This is counter to what Ross teaches.
- There are Hebrew words for long periods of time, but none of them are used in this context. The only Hebrew word used in this passage is the word that means 24 hour day.
- Genesis 1:14-20 – Ross claims that the cosmos emerged from the big bang prior to the creation of earth, plants, fish and birds. This is opposite what the Bible teaches. He claims that the Hebrew word for day, “yom” is flexible enough to mean millions of years. Yet in Gen 1:14-20 the word day is being wildly stretched by Ross to mean both 24 hours (Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day (yom) from the night) and billions of years (and there was evening and there was morning – the fourth day (yom)). Is the word for day (yom) really so flexible to mean both 24 hours and billions of years in the same paragraph? This is a radical misinterpretation of the text that is counter to author’s intent.
- Exodus 20:11 – The Hebrews were told to work and rest in the same pattern as God performed his creative work. “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the seas, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” The Hebrews were not commanded to work for six eras (billions of years) and then rest for an era as Ross would teach.
- Exodus 31:17 – This is further confirmation of the six day pattern that God established for his chosen people. It’s not just a pattern of ratios as Ross might ascribe. If it were just a pattern of ratios, God could have used a different word like he does in Daniel 9. It is clearly a pattern of days as the scripture reiterates.
- Mark 10:6 – Jesus declared that God created man and woman at the beginning of creation. According to atheists and Ross, the timeline of the universe is billions of years and mankind has only been present at the very end of this timeline. Jesus declared the opposite in his teaching to the Pharisees.
- Luke 11:49-51 – Jesus again declares that the beginning of the world was not billions of years prior to the creation of mankind. “Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel…”
- The Flood of Genesis 6-9 was a local flood – Ross says that the flood of Noah’s day was “universal.” What he means when he teaches this is that the flood was universal to Noah’s perspective…not global. Ross gets his radical interpretation from his understanding of Psalm 104:6. He assumes that the poetic context of Psalms 104 is ONLY about the creation week. Should we really use poetic accounts to re-interpret historical accounts? Poor exegesis.
- Genesis 6 and 7 – There are 20 superlatives (all, only, every, entire, everything…) describing the extent of the flood. To say that the flood is local, Ross has to bring his own interpretation to the text rather than letting the text speak for itself.
- Genesis 7:17-20 – “The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.” The only mountains mentioned in the Genesis text are the mountains of Ararat. We know that the highest point in the mountains of Ararat is almost 17,000 feet high and if the ONLY mountains mentioned in the text were completely covered as said in verse 19, then we know that at a minimum the water level had to be at least 17,000 feet high. There is no basin in the middle east that can contain water levels over 17,000 feet high. So, to say that there was a local flood in the Mesopotamian basin that covered the mountains of Ararat but was not global is biased to the point of re-interpreting scripture for one’s own radical view.
- Genesis 9 – God promised never to flood the earth again like he did in the days of Noah. If Ross’s teaching of localized flood is true, how does that make God’s promise look? There have been countless devastating local floods since Noah’s day, but there has never been another global flood.
- Psalm 104:6 – Ross teaches that this poetic text is only about the creation week, so that waters could not cover the earth again during the flood. But the language of Psalm 104:6-9 has language that is closely tied to Noah’s account in Genesis 8 and 9 where God rebukes the waters back to the ocean basins. You can see later on in the passage of Psalm 104 that the lions roar for their prey, so this is clearly after the Fall (which is after the creation week) since God says, “to all the beasts of the earth… I give every green plants for food.” Predatory behavior is a post-fall result of the curse, so Psalm 104:6 cannot restrict the flood to local Mesopotamian basin. So, Ross’s assumption that Psalm 104 is only about the creation week is demonstrably wrong.
- Isaiah 54:9 – “To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.” The Hebrew word for earth is the same word for earth as in Genesis 1:1. If we use scripture as our guide to determine the depth and breadth of the flood, the way that Genesis uses the word “earth” is not in a regional manner…it is global.
- Genesis 6 – If it was a local flood, why did Noah have to spend over 100 years building a big boat? In 100 years, he could have moved anywhere on earth he wanted to avoid the localized storm. It only makes sense if the flood were global.
- 1 Peter 3:21 – The worldwide covering of the earth by water symbolizes baptism. If the flood was a local flood, does baptism just need to be partial covering of water? The symbolism of Jesus’ death (which was complete) and the complete covering of the earth by water, is strongly recognized in the complete submersion by water in baptism. Ross would have to disagree with this or create another “epicycle” to accommodate his teachings.
If it is so important that Christians remain united, why should we “create” controversy by identifying someone specifically for teaching differently? If someone claims to be a teacher of God’s Word, we should expect them to remain consistent with their exegesis. With Ross, we have found that many words have to be re-defined to fit his old earthism.
- Day = billions of years
- Literal = figurative
- Universal = small localized
- All = some
- Very Good = billions of years of death, disease, bloodshed
- Beginning of creation = billions of years after creation
So, it is the plasticity with which Ross interprets scripture that necessitates a scriptural rebuke. With interpretations like his, we get liberal churches ordaining gay ministers and other ignoring scriptures that do not fit their pre-conceived notions of political correctness. So, I invite Dr. Ross and those who have followed his teachings to return to unity in the teachings of the Bible.
With the exception of bringing in the scientifically verified height of the highest point in the mountains of Ararat, all of these points show problems with Ross’s biblical exegesis. There are also bountiful scientific evidences that corroborate the teachings of scripture and are in opposition to Ross’s teachings. Ross likes to say that nature is the 67th book of the Bible, and while this is wildly inaccurate, creation does verify the teachings of scripture and bring glory to God (Romans 1).
Since we can trust God’s revealed Word about the past, we can trust him with our future.
EXTRA CREDIT: Do a little thought experiment with me.
If God intended to reveal something like what Ross teaches about creation and the flood, I can think of thousands of revisions that would make it more clearly stated that the earth is billions of years old, that animals have suffered and died for millions of years, and there was a small flood in the middle east.
But how would you change the Bible to show that God intended to reveal that his creative works took 6 literal days about 6000 years ago and that he judged the entire world with a flood?
So, I’ll be teaching a new class at our church starting tomorrow called the 8 C’s of History. For some of you, the title will look vaguely familiar as I took the general idea from Answers in Genesis and expanded on it. They developed a curriculum called the 7 C’s of History. I’ve not read their curriculum, but it spurred the idea for my class. “The 7 and 8 C’s of History” confirm how the significant themes of the Bible are historically accurate. Their seven C’s are:
For the purpose of my class, I added “Covenant” between Confusion and Christ…I mean, for Heaven’s sake! That’s almost 2200 years of time that God was working with his chosen people in the form of the Covenant. So, Answers In Genesis SHOULD have included “Covenant” as one of their C’s, but maybe they were on a budget.
It should be noted that I’m not getting any money from this endeavor, and I am giving credit for the general idea to AIG ministries. Ultimately, it is God who receives the glory and it is because of Him that we live and breath and have our being. All of the pictures in the slideshow are linked images and suitably credited. So, no lawsuits please!
I’ve created Google Slide presentations that I will post here for people to keep up. Feel free to share the links or use the material to spread the Good News of God’s redemptive plan as revealed in his word!
Here is a timeline that I constructed as supplemental material for the class. Enjoy!