PMT-2016-020 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
As I have been noting in this series: creation and consummation are theologically-linked in Scripture. Therefore, a proper view of creation is significant for the eschatological argument for postmillennialism. Simply put: if you do not begin right, you will not end right. Therefore, when I present a full argument for postmillennialism, I begin with creation.
Not only am I a postmillennialist, but I am also a Six-day Creationist, hence a non-evolutionist.
In this series I am defending Six-day Creation against the Framework Hypothesis by demonstrating the Framework’s errors. This hypothesis is as a major evangelical opponent of Six-day Creation, and not surprisingly, is held mainly by amillennialists.
I am drawing the material for this series from my recently released book, As It Is Written: The Genesis Account: Literal or Literary? In that book you will find a thorough analysis of the issues that I can only summarize here. In the previous article I highlighted the triad of days argument which gives the “Framework” Hypothesis its name: the triad presents the framework that Moses used for presenting the fact of creation. In this article I will present a second major argument for this theistic-evolutionary interpretation of Genesis 1–2.
The providence argument
In Genesis 2:5 we read:
“Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground.”
In 1957 Old Testament theologian Meredith Kline developed this verse into an argument supporting the Framework Hypothesis. He holds that this verse establishes God’s mode of operation during the creation week which shows that he used slow providence rather than instantaneous miracle.
He Shall Have Dominion
(paperback by Kenneth Gentry)
A classic, thorough explanation and defense of postmillennialism (600+ pages). Complete with several chapters answering specific objections.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Kline argues that this verse speaks of “day” three of creation when God created plant life. He sees this verse as suggesting that the plants had to gradually sprout and slowly grow with the application of water — just as they do today. This would take time, much more time than the few hours of the third “day” of creation. And this shows that God used providence rather than miracle in creation week. Kline emphaticalliy declares that this is “conclusive exegetical evidence . . . that prevents anyone who follows the analogy of Scripture from supposing that Genesis 1 teaches a creation in the space of six solar days.”
The providence error
Unfortunately, this argument will not hold water, you might say. I would note that Kline misses the point of Moses’ statement.
Kline himself admits that this is a new view. In fact, it is an understanding of Gen 2:5 and creation that had escaped 3500 years of Jewish exegesis and 2000 years of Christian exegesis. Not only so, but the majority of contemporary Genesis commentators do not adopt it — even when they hold to theistic-evolution (as most of them do).
Rather than indicating slow providence as God’s creation method, this verse serves contextually to anticipate the main point of the creation narrative: the creation and testing of God’s moral creature, man. That is, it anticipates Adam’s temptation and fall. Let me explain.
Gen 2:5 is focusing on the garden in Eden, not the world at large. Significantly, God’s name appropriately changes from Elohim (“the strong one”) as the Creator of the entire universe throughout Gen. 1 to Yhwh in Gen. 2 because this is his personal, relational, covenant name. Not only so, but Gen 2 is highlighting Day 6 (the day of man’s creation), not Day 3.
As It Is Written: The Genesis Account Literal or Literary?
Book by Ken Gentry
Presents the exegetical evidence for Six-day Creation and against the Framework Hypothesis.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Furthermore, Gen 2:4 shows that the actions in Gen 2:5ff are the results of God’s creative work in Gen 1:1–2:3. Gen 2:4 reads: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.” The phrase “this is the account” in Hebrew is toledoth. This “account” continues until the next toledoth statement at Gen 5:1 (which gives the “result” of Adam: his offspring). Therefore, this section covers Adam’s creation, testing, and fall which result from God’s creating Adam.
Consequently, Gen 2:5 anticipates the fall which impacts the rest of this section. In Gen 2:5 we read of the “shrub of the field” and the “plant of the field,” while in Gen 2:7 we read of Adam’s formation from “dust.” These are reported in such a way as to point ahead to their reappearance in God’s curse for Adam’s sin. How so?
In Gen 3:17-19 we read:
“Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the field, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The “plants of the field” in Gen 2:5 reappear in the exact phraseology in the curse section, whereas the “thorns and thistles” are a subset of the “shrub of the field.” And of course, the dust of Adam’s destruction reflects the dust of his composition.
Therefore, Gen 2 is focusing on the creation of man by the covenant God, and man’s moral testing at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16–17), which results in his fall (Gen 3:1–7). Gen 2:5 has nothing to do with ordinary providence, but with an extraordinary test; a test which results in the fall of man that dominates the whole rest of Scripture.
In this regard, we must note that Gen 2:3 concludes the general survey of creation week (and should really be in Gen 1) while Gen 2:4 introduces the “account” or results or offspring of God’s original creation: man’s fall. It is explaining what happened to God’s “very good” creation, since creation is no longer “very good.”
In my next article I will highlight the last of the three main foundation stones for the Framework Hypothesis. Hopefully that article will not be too slow in coming, if you know what I mean!
Click on the following images for more information on these studies: