PMT 2017-096 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
The power of God and the clarity of his revelation are on trial in the courtroom of Reformed theological opinion. Despite the clarity of the statement on creation in the venerable Westminster Confession of Faith, some theologians attempt to re-interpret it to allow for evolution. In this three part series I will analyze one effort to this end.
Lee Irons has provided us with a Framework Interpretation response to David Hall’s important speech to the PCA General Assembly a few years back. In that speech Hall dealt with the Confessional meaning of creation “in the space of six days.” In his response titled “In the Space of Six Days: What Did the Divines Mean?”1 Irons mounts a vigorous assault on Hall’s historical research into the original meaning of the Confession of Faith’s statement.
Though Irons extends admirable academic courtesy to Hall’s diligent labor (Hall’s work is “an excellent service,” “useful,” a “good beginning,” “interesting,” and so forth), he is not very impressed with the results. In fact, he deems Hall’s extensive research largely unhelpful to the traditionalist viewpoint and, worse still, even counterproductive to it. He speaks of Hall’s “wrong conclusions,” exposes the “fatal flaw in Hall’s reasoning,” mentions his “methodologically unsound” procedure, and notes the “fallacy of Hall’s argument” as well as its “arbitrary” nature. In short, “Hall’s own evidence backfires.”
Irons’ assault is vigorous and unrelenting. But in the final analysis it serves to unmask the quiet desperation of the Framework Interpretation and illustrate its ultimate Confessional failure. What is worse, Irons’ argument provides a clear example for us of the dangerous hermeneutical engine driving the Framework Interpretation. As I shall show in this brief response, Irons’ paper suffers from dialectical tension, conceptual confusion, and methodological absurdity. This is fortunate, however, in that had he sustained a successful argument he would have undermined the whole purpose of creeds themselves by evacuating the meaning of creedal assertions.
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
Basically, Irons attempts two bold and important ventures in his paper: (1) He strives to demonstrate the Confession’s statement that God created the world “in the space of six days” is ambiguous. The Confession, he argues, merely parrots Scriptural language, thereby leaving the interpretation of the “six days” of Creation to the individual subscriber. (2) He further argues that historical exegesis of the Confession proves that this ambiguity is intentional. By this maneuver he attempts to open the door to the Framework Interpretation, while undercutting the literal six-day creation argument.
The Framework Interpretation would earn more respect among its opposers were its proponents to admit that the language of the Confession means what it actually says and then simply declare an exception at that point.
As we shall see, Irons fails both of his primary goals in his paper. In an effort to conserve space, I will proceed through his article in a seriatim fashion. But before I actually begin my response we must note the nature of the debate between the Framework Interpretation and the Six-Day Creation Interpretation.
The section of the Confession in dispute is found in chapter 4, paragraph 1:
“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.”
Here the Confession presents Presbyterian Framework theorists with an immediate and embarrassing problem. The almost universal and historical consensus recognizes the Confession’s statement “in the space of six days” as defining the timeframe of the original creative acts of God. The average English reader doubtlessly recognizes these words as setting temporal limits upon the original creative work of God. And herein is exposed the dangerous implications of the Framework Interpretation: Not only does the Framework view discount the temporal delimiters structuring the Genesis 1 record itself (“evening/morning,” solar function, ordinal prefixes, serial enumeration2 ), but it sets about refashioning the very simple and obvious language of our Confession.
Genesis and Creation (Set 1: Genesis 1).
An in-depth sermon series on the opening chapters of the Bible from a Six-day Creationist perspective. Offers many insights into the reason Moses wrote the Creation Account, insights little recognized by the average Christian. This is set 1, which covers Genesis 1.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
The Framework Interpretation would earn more respect among its opposers were its proponents to admit that the language of the Confession means what it actually says and then simply declare an exception at that point. But when we witness the attempt at re-interpreting the clear language before us, deep and serious concerns boil up. Where will this methodology lead? What elements within the Confession are safe from the re-interpretive hermeneutic? And for how long are they safe once this interpretive approach is unleashed?
To be continued….
Tagged: six day creation