I plan to write on Memorial Day tomorrow, so tonight, I’m going to do a side-topic based on a comment left by someone who read an old blog of mine. It is going to be on the way of handling Scripture and this has been on my mind a lot after being in discussions with friends on Genesis 1-3.
I’m going to state clearly that I affirm inerrancy. I don’t believe the Bible contradicts itself. However, I do believe some interpretations are wrong. I had also listened to a program on the John Ankerberg show debating the age of the Earth and I had liked how Walter Kaiser said the Bible tells us. It says “In the beginning God.” When asked how old the Earth is, he said we go to the book of nature then and find out.
I liked that, and I realize I have many friends who are YEC. If you can read Genesis that way and interpret it that way and interpret nature accordingly, go for it. Right now, I also agree with the poster that the Bible is not meant to be scientific textbook. I believe it’s true in all propositions it supports, but I don’t think it’s to be read as a modern 21st century American would.
As I thought about this, I considered that one of the great problems we have is that we forget the Bible is a piece of literature. My roommate is a good reminder of this. He studied English in college and he knows how writers write. I know when he reads literature, he sees some things that I don’t because of his training with that. He talks about the style. I’m more interested in the content. I don’t wish to imply he has no interest in content. He does. He just sees some things that I don’t.
When we read the first three chapters of Genesis, I think we’re forgetting that the Israelites probably weren’t wondering how long it took God. They were more interested in that God did it and Moses expresed that the way he did for a reason. Now it could be he meant the days to be 24 hours. I don’t think so, but it could be. It could be he meant the days to be long periods of time. It could be that it’s meant to be chronological, but it could be that it’s written more in the style of the framework hypothesis where poetry is going on.
I’m open to many views. My stance is that I believe based on the testimony of Christ that the text is reliable and true and I should seek the best way to interpret it. Am I reading it with a mindset that is scientific or with one that is more like the Israelite would? Truth be told, I have a hard time appreciating literature. When I read something, it is difficult to focus on what I am reading and really pay attention as my mind is bouncing in a thousand different places.
Now some might think I’m talking about allegorizing everything. No. I’m talking about reading the text in accordance with its genre. I tend to be very conservative in how I interpret the text. I wish to do it as much justice as possible and my concern with the first few chapters is we spend so much time debating how long it took when I really don’t think that was God’s intention in giving us the text. Make sure this is the first thing you get out of creation. “GOD DID IT!”
Maybe to end much of the conflict, what we need to do is return to an appreciation of literature. It’ll be difficult, and I need to also, but I think it’ll help us greatly.