Puritan Gems

Monday, July 07, 2008

Poll: What role should science play in interpreting Scripture?

“To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalms 19:1)

There is an interesting post on the Creation controversy regarding the age of the earth on the Omnipotent Grace Blog. Although I'm a presuppositionalist, I am sympathetic toward Old Earth Creationism, due to the enormous body of evidence provided by God’s own handiwork. It is a view that is obviously controversial to the vast majority of those who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. Consider the words of John MacArthur:

"...clearly from the words of Scripture, God created the universe in six literal days. And Christian leaders can't deny that that's what it says cause that's what it says. You can translate it any way you want, it all comes out...the word yom means day and you have six of them.

But they believe somehow that scientists have proved that the age of the earth must be billions and billions and billions of years old. So they believe you've got to go back to Genesis and fix it. And in so doing they have allowed the authority of the Bible to be undermined, right? It's serious stuff."
("Creation: Believe it or Not--Part 2")

Young-earthers like MacArthur are to be commended for their high view of Scripture. At the same time, however, the scientific evidence for an old earth and an old universe are overwhelming. (The 1992 Cosmic Background Explorer pretty much sealed the deal). Should science, as flawed as it may be, ever to be considered when interpreting Scripture?

There are many who adamantly declare "no". MacArthur writes, "I'm never going to get caught in the trap of trying to prove to you that Genesis is true by science. I'm just going to proclaim to you what Genesis says and let science bow its knee to that explanation." ("Creation: Believe it or Not--Part 2")

Fair enough. Science certainly has no place to rest outside of a theistic worldview, and Scripture itself is the only ultimate truth. But Scripture itself declares, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). Theologians have historically agreed that there exists a "natural revelation" of God's existence in addition to Scripture, though such a knowledge merely renders us to be "without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

I would have to ask MacArthur and others who share his view if they believe in geocentricism. If not, on what basis would it be rejected, since a straightforward interpretation of Scripture would certainly support it? MacArthur gives us a clue to his answer when he quotes Edward Young on the "more poetical accounts of creation, such as Psalm 104":

"Genesis is not poetry. There are more poetical accounts of creation in the Bible, such as Psalm 104, certain chapters of Job, and they differ completely from the first chapter of Genesis. Hebrew poetry has certain characteristics and they are not found in the first chapter of Genesis." ("God: Creator and Redeemer")

To clarify, we "old-earthers" do not necessarily treat Genesis 1 as poetry; we just aren’t convinced that the days of creation were 24 hours days. In any case, while I fully agree that Psalm 104 is poetic, I must ask again how MacArthur and Young arrived at this conclusion. Are they not, in fact, using science to interpret Psalm 104:5?

To put their view into historical perspective, consider the following statement, written by Wilhelmus a'Brakel in 1700.

"The truth is that God states in many places in His Word that the sun is in motion, her circuit resulting in both day and night, and that the world remains both motionless and stationary. Nowhere does God speak to the contrary, ... Since God states it to be so, it is truth and we are to embrace it as truth. Is not God the Creator, maintainer, and gover­nor of all things, who is much better acquainted with His own work than is man with his limited and darkened understanding? Should men not subject their judgment to the very sayings of God? Or should one attempt to bend and twist the clear declarations of God in such a way that they agree with our erroneous thinking? Whatever God declares, also concerning things in the realm of nature, is true. God says that the world is motionless and stationary, being circled by the sun, and thus it is a certain and incontrovertible truth." (Wilhelmus a'Brakel, The Christian's Reasonable Service. pp. 64-66)

a'Brakel was certainly a learned man for his day, and like today’s young earth creationists, sought to be faithful to the Scriptures. However, those who would actually hold to a'Brakel's geocentrism today are very few in number. Certainly, modern astronomy has affected our interpretation of Psalm 104:5. Should it not affect Genesis 1 as well?
Should God's natural revelation have any role in interpreting
Scripture (Please be gracious to opposing views)?

No. Scripture is the ultimate truth, and all science must succumb
to the plainest meaning of the Scriptures.

Yes. Since Creation is itself a revelation of God, it is proper use
this revelation to seek a deeper understanding of Scripture.

Depends. Genesis 1 and Psalm 104 should be treated differently.
(Please explain the difference.)

Free polls from

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Satan's Slaves

He welcomes them to hell
(From Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")

"The prince of this world." John 16:11.

The devil has a kingdom. His throne is set up in the hearts of men. Satan does not care for their purses--but their hearts! Satan's empire is very large. Most people in the world pay tribute to him. His kingdom has two characters:

1. Satan's kingdom is a kingdom of IMPIETY.
Nothing but sin goes on in his kingdom. Murder and heresy, lust and treachery, oppression and division--are the constant trade driven in his dominions. He is called "the unclean spirit." Nothing else but iniquity is propagated in his kingdom.

2. Satan's kingdom is a kingdom of SLAVERY.
He makes all his subjects--slaves. The sinner is held captive under the grim tyranny of the devil!
Satan is a tyrant--and a worse tyrant than any other!

Other tyrants do but rule over the body: but Satan rules over the soul! He rides his captives--as we ride upon horses. Other tyrants have some pity on their slaves. Though they make them work in the galleys; yet they give them food, and let them have their hours for rest. But Satan is a merciless tyrant--who gives his slaves poison instead of food, and hurtful lusts to feed on! 1 Timothy 6:9. Nor will he let his slaves have any rest--he wearies them out to do his drudgery. "They weary themselves to commit iniquity." Jeremiah 9:5. When men have served him to their utmost strength--he welcomes them to hell with fire and brimstone! Thus he is the worst of tyrants.

Men are willing slaves to Satan! They will fight and die for him! Therefore he is not only called "the prince of this world," but "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), to show what power he has over men's souls.

O let us pray that "they may come to their senses and escape the Devil's trap, having been captured by him to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:26.