Monday, February 02, 2015

Perfect Preservation of Scripture and Young Earth Creationism

For awhile an issue has existed between what is now called "old earth creation" and "new earth creation."  New earth creation takes Genesis literally and old earth creation allegorizes it.  This bubbled to the surface again with a defense of old earth creation from Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition blog.  Many have answered Taylor, one being Ken Ham on the Answers in Genesis site.

In the midst of his answering Taylor, Ham writes:

I am prepared to go out on a limb, on the basis of my experience in the biblical creation apologetics ministry and of all I’ve read over the past 40+ years, to say this. When Christian leaders today are rejecting a dogmatic stand on six literal, 24-hour days of creation and a young earth, if you search their writings or question them, you will find that ultimately their thinking is being controlled by the belief in an old earth/universe (billions of years). Even though some try to claim that is not so but that they are just looking at what the Bible says, if you ask the right questions, I assert, you will find this strong influence is there. You simply do not get the idea of millions or billions of years from Scripture—it comes from outside of Scripture. The belief in millions and billions of years has so permeated the world, and has permeated the church, especially Christian academia.

And thus I am saying the age of the earth/universe comes down to an authority issue.

What I want to do is to take Ham's paragraph and replace some words to show you that the issue of young earth creationism is the same as the issue of perfect preservation.  Here goes:

I am prepared to go out on a limb, on the basis of my experience in the biblical preservation of scripture apologetics ministry and of all I’ve read over the past 40+ years, to say this. When Christian leaders today are rejecting a dogmatic stand on the perfect preservation of scripture, if you search their writings or question them, you will find that ultimately their thinking is being controlled by the belief in the science of textual criticism. Even though some try to claim that is not so but that they are just looking at what the Bible says, if you ask the right questions, I assert, you will find this strong influence is there. You simply do not get the idea of the science of textual criticism from Scripture—it comes from outside of Scripture. The belief in multiple Bibles that has so permeated the world, and has permeated the church, especially Christian academia.

And thus I am saying the issue of the preservation of scripture comes down to an authority issue.

To believe young earth creation requires faith in God's Word.  To believe perfect preservation requires faith in God's Word.

The two issues are identical in this way.  Both old earth creationism and less than perfect preservation of scripture (multiple versionism, the science of textual criticism, eclectic text) are faithless.  They both arise from doubt.


6 comments:

Jeff Voegtlin said...

A few years back, I read a book from Ken Ham about loosing the younger generation, and I saw then exactly the same as you point out here: Every argument for Biblical Creation is also true of Perfect Preservation.

Jim Camp said...

Here Here!!!
Well said.

Mark Schabert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Schabert said...

I completely agree with this connection. In fact, what is being done in both of the items is that an individual desires to elevate "evidence" (or the lack thereof) above Scriptural truth. And what is shown is that the individual is really an evidentualist rather than a fideist. Unfortunately they usually see no problem with this. Other classic areas that this is seen is in the areas of Baptist-like churches existing in all generations since the time of Christ and geocentricity.

Dave Barnhart said...

Taking a "devil's advocate" position on this, let me postulate a non-Christian being given an NIV Bible, reads it, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, accepts Christ. Now he reads the scriptures and reads about the preservation of God's word. What is there to tell him that the scriptures he is reading aren't actually preserved (at least in the sense you mean it)? He will have to go outside the Bible he has to do that. Otherwise, if he just accepts it on faith, then that will apply to what he has in his hands. Is that then false faith? If so, how will he know it?

I think it's one thing to have faith about Creation, because we get that from the scriptures and from God's Holy Spirit working through his Word. However, when you are talking about what is in the scriptures you first have to know that the scriptures themselves are reliable, which I believe we get from the testimony of the writers of scripture, God's miraculous signs at the time the scriptures were written, and the eyewitness accounts from those alive at the time, i.e. inspiration and general preservation. If preservation in the sense you believe it is so important, then what do you do about a whole culture whose only Bible is taken from the manuscripts you believe are corrupt? Unless you believe that no one reading those can be saved and have faith, there is no way for them using only the scriptures they have to take their scriptures and then correctly believe that they are actually not using the scriptures.

So while I see that these concepts might be somewhat analogous, the analogy is certainly not perfect.

James Bronsveld said...

"What is there to tell him that the scriptures he is reading aren't actually preserved (at least in the sense you mean it)?"

The footnotes in his NIV (and in most CT translations) would very quickly contradict the idea of perfect preservation that appears in the Scriptures. So he wouldn't actually need to go outside his Bible to see that it's corrupt: in most cases, the editors of his CT translation would assure him of the corruption of the text.

The point of the post, if I'm reading it correctly, is that the idea of preservation as it appears in the Scriptures is not the preservation taught by the MVO advocates. In similar fashion, old earth creationism (whether theistic evolution, day-age, gap, etc.) interprets Scriptural declarations according to popular scientific theories, rather than the other way around.

You mention the potential for an entire culture to have a translation of the Scriptures based on a corrupt text. What does a man who cannot read, let alone have a copy of the Scriptures in his tribal dialect or language, do? He must do the same thing the Ethiopian Eunuch had to do (with a copy of the Scriptures before him): rely on a preacher to teach him (cf. Romans 10). The fact that there are greater resources and efforts put into translating the CT into newer languages than the Received Text doesn't give the CT authority or diminish the need for churches to be involved in translating the Received Text into new languages.

Obviously, in coming to the conclusions above, I have to begin with Biblical declarations about the preservation of jots and tittles and work out my argumentation from there, which was, I believe, part of the point of Bro. Brandenburg's post.