God’s Sabbath Rest and YEC Claims

In an earlier post, we looked at Genesis 2:1-4 and saw how the description of God’s rest agrees best with other Scripture when it is interpreted as “repose” — a picture of ceasing work and being refreshed. This became clear when considering the immediate Sabbath context of the passage, as well as both Scripture passages that refer to the creation timeframe. However, that analysis was a little abstract and, at least for me, didn’t really convey how a reader of that time might have interpreted the text. In this essay, we’ll try to bring those details together in a way that paints a better picture, and then take a look at how something that’s really quite clear in Scripture can be so misrepresented in YEC writings. Continue reading

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Our Very Good Creation

Imagine looking out at a beautiful vista overlooking a vast forest, or contemplating the endless expanse of water at the ocean’s edge. Or recall a time you stood enraptured by the starry host at night, or gazed in fascination at the intricacies of a flower. Perhaps your bent is science, and you’ve marveled at the beauty of the Standard Model, or been astounded at the biochemical complexities of life. How do these things make you feel? How would you summarize them?

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 Continue reading

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Reading Genesis with the Mind of Christ

Debate over the creation time frame largely boils down to how one interprets Genesis 1. For those who interpret it as a literal description of physical events, the answer is clearly that creation occurred in a six day period. Others see it as figurative, describing spiritual things. For them, it says nothing about the natural timeframe, so we are left with science to provide the answer. But how do we choose an interpretation in the first place? Paul had some wise words that can be applied to interpreting Scripture with the proper mindset: Continue reading

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Context of Biblical References to Six Days, Part 1: Exodus 20:11 and the Ten Commandments

MCC-31231_thmIn an earlier post, we looked at the nature of the two six-day creation references in Exodus (Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17). They both relate it to the establishment of the Sabbath, but they differ in specific Hebrew words used and the mention of additional details. We found that they both pointed to an anthropomorphism in Genesis 2:1-3, as does that text itself. This obviously figurative element in the creation account supports a figurative interpretation for the whole thing.

However, when we looked at the two Exodus passages, we took them out of context. Would our conclusions change if the contexts were considered? I don’t think so, and in this and some future posts, we’ll take a look at what the contexts of Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17 tell us about interpreting those passages. I think it will become apparent that the context not only supports a figurative interpretation, it even suggests a perspective for Genesis 1 as figurative that is consistent with other Scripture. We’ll also see how such a perspective would have made it easy for ancient Israelites to miss the figurative nature and establish a long-standing tradition that is strongly defended today.

We’ll start by looking at the Ten Commandments as immediate context for Exodus 20:11. Following that, we’ll include the rest of the Law, of which the Ten Commandments are the centerpiece. Lastly, we’ll look at the context of Exodus 31:17 — instructions regarding construction and operation the tabernacle. In looking at these contexts, we’ll see that other Scripture teaches us how these Exodus passages present physical pictures that echo unseen spiritual realities. Seeing the Genesis references embedded in such contexts, it becomes even more apparent how the narrative is best seen as a figurative divine oracle. Continue reading

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A Reflection: Our Place in Creation

This is at Erratic Rock State Natural Site. Clicking on the image will take you to an interactive panorama of the view.

This is a virtual reality photograph. Click on the image to open it, then click and drag to look around.

This is the view from Erratic Rock State Natural Site near McMinnville, Oregon. The large rock in the foreground originated in the northern Rocky Mountains, nowhere near this spot. It is the only rock of its type outside Canada, and was transported here during a massive Ice Age flood around 15 thousand years ago. Titanic floods washed down eastern Washington, scoured their way through the gorge, then filled the valley with water. The water was filled with debris including icebergs from the flood’s origin, some of which carried boulders. As the ice melted and the waters receded, this boulder remained, a silent testimony to the power and extent of the flood. The view from this point helps us appreciate the scale of the flood. As you look out over the valley, try to imagine the vast scale of this catastrophic event, the amount of water needed to fill the valley before you, the forces powerful enough transport a 90-ton boulder across hundreds of miles. Continue reading

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Is There a Plain Sense Reading of Genesis 1?

While discussing the creation narrative with someone recently, they made reference to taking the plain sense of Genesis 1-3 and, based on a popular saying, stated that one should take the plain sense as the intended meaning whenever it makes common sense. However, there seem to be several items in the creation narrative for which the plain sense meaning does not make common sense. Amazingly, rather than seeking a different sense as the popular saying would suggest, people often choose to add to or modify the Scripture, forcing it to make common sense. Here are some examples of such items. Continue reading

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