Friday, June 4, 2010

Piper on Genesis 1-2

Piper's three key points:

1) We should teach without any qualification that God created the universe and everything in it. It wasn't always here. It didn't spontaneously emerge from a big bang alone, however God did it. God did it. That's clear, and everybody who believes the Word should preach that.

2) Secondly, I think we should preach that he made it good. There was no sin in it, when he first made it.

3) Thirdly, I think we should preach that he created Adam and Eve directly, that he made them of the dust of the ground, and he took out of man a woman. I think we should teach that. I know there are people who don't, who think it's all imagery for evolution or whatever.

And we should teach that man had his beginning not millions of years ago but within the scope of the biblical genealogies. Those genealogies are tight at about 6,000 years and loose at maybe 10 or 15,000. So I think we should honor those genealogies and not say that you can play fast and loose with the origin of man.

That's not the age of the earth issue there. That's the origin of what is a human being, when did that human being come into existence. I think we should say he came into existence by God's direct action and that it wasn't millions of years ago. That was within the scope of these genealogies.

Now, when it comes to the more controversial issues of how to construe Genesis 1-2 about how God did it and how long it took him to do it, there I'm totally sympathetic with a pastor who is going to lay his view down, having studied it, and is going to say to his people, "Here is my understanding of those chapters. These six days can't be anything other than six literal days, and so that's how long God took to do it. And this universe is about 10 or 15,000 years old. Though it looks old, that's the way God made it. He made it to look old," or something like that.

Or he might take another view that these days are ages.

Or he might take Sailhamer's view, which is where I feel at home. His view is that what's going on here is that all of creation happened to prepare the land for man.

In verse 1, "In the beginning he made the heavens and the earth," he makes everything. And then you go day by day and he's preparing the land. He's not bringing new things into existence; he's preparing the land and causing things to grow and separating out water and earth. And then, when it's all set and prepared, he creates and puts man there.


Anonymous said...
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mathematician said...

Anybody who preaches that the earth is only 6,000 years old has lost me almost the moment he has opened his mouth.

Christians cannot live in a box, trying to rubbish the physical sciences, and then expect people to come flocking through church doors.

Todd Pruitt said...


Piper does not insist on a young earth. He does believe that the Biblical record indicates that mankind is less than 10,000 years old.

I think it is very important that those in the sciences have a humble attitude toward their work. Scientific theories change quite rapidly. Remember that lemur fossil last year that was going to finally unlock the secret of human origins? Turns out it was, well, a lemur.

Todd Pruitt said...

One more thing. The church does not exist to have people "flocking through their doors." Of course many churches operate as if popularity is the ultimate "end."

But the church is called to be faithful to proclaim God's Word which will never be popular among the masses. It certainly was not in the days of the prophets, Jesus, or the apostles.

If you wish to appeal to scientists then the church needs to stop proclaiming an inspired Scripture, a virgin birth, the incarnation, the substitutionary atonement, and the resurrection.

The price of acceptance among the scientific elite is simply too high.

Mike said...

agree with you Todd on this...religion is based on is based on observation and reason (faulty as that may be).

We people try to take a scientific approach to explaning issues of faith (e.g. the "Coke can analogy") they are doomed from the start. People who have these science v. faith debates (Hitchens, Dawkins, McGrath, Collins, etc.) will always want to debate on their own turf...once you crossover to the other side, you lose...because you move away from the fundamentals of your POV.

Harley A. said...
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Harley A. said...
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Todd Pruitt said...


I must agree with Harley. The faith / reason dichotomy is a false one. To say that faith is by nature completely unexplainable is simply false. I would not be a Christian if I found it devoid of reason or logical coherance. It's not that faith is limited to human reason. But God has acted in space and time and therefore Christianity is verifiable. Jesus walked the earth, he rose from the dead, the tomb is empty.

Mike said...

I see your point...but I would argue that faith is only reasonable to a point...if our faith were totally reasonable/rational no one would believe.

Harley A. said...

You might have a point to some degree, there. We are also moral beings. The Bible describes a carnal (sinful) nature and a renewed (regenerate) moral nature, the latter being a work of grace by God in a man’s heart. It doesn’t bypass or end-run our reason, though. I’d say it informs it and continues to do so throughout our lives. I still see reason in full function but perhaps better informed. There is sufficient evidence to reason your way to faith, but the unregenerate man will not do it because his reason is not acting properly with the information. He is acting on lies and not truth, so he will reason his way to bad conclusions.

Mike said...

I find this an interesting discussion. I was thinking about this issue in the context of a Pilgrim's Progress analogy. I think Reason has to be a constant companion on the road to Understanding, otherwise we would not take it...however it will abandon us at the swamp of Doubt that we all face. It cannot carry us across that mire.

Harley A. said...

It is a good discussion –and an important one, I think. In the end, the Dawkins’ of the world must have faith that reason itself is valid and that our senses are to be trusted, etc. This cannot be reasoned – it would be circular. It’s why the natural endgame of rationalism is skepticism when the philosopher realizes this and then rejects everything altogether as an unknowable mess. Which, of course, is a rational conclusion stating you cannot come to rational conclusions. That’s a neat trick. We didn’t invent this in the 1700’s. Paul got it – he’d witnessed the ruins of degenerated Greek thought. He alludes to the vanity and futility of the thinking that existed in his day.

Mike said...

True Harley...we all have to start somewhere. If everything is distrusted, we go nowhere. It is the presuppositions of the "somewhere" where folks diverge into different worldviews.