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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Why I'm Not a Dispensationalist - Eph 2 and Rom 11

Dispensationalism is a large and somewhat scary sounding theological term that may be unfamiliar to many, or at least not well understood. Ironically, I have found that many people who have been brought up in Dispensational churches or hold to theological positions that are broadly dispensational do not even really understand the system or its history. The article is not meant to give a detail or even summary view of Dispensationalism, it’s various iterations, its questionable historical pedigree within the church, or the numerous issues that many would have with the system. That is, this article is not going to be a comprehensive interaction with Dispensationalism and issues related to its peculiar, and often inconsistent hermeneutical method, its ecclesiastical commitment to a strong discontinuity between the peoples of God in the Old and New Covenants, and its rather creative eschatological commitments. I’m not even here going to compare Covenant Theology with Dispensationalism to contrast the two. There are numerous works that do this, and I will list many resources at the end of this article. Instead, I’m going to give simply give my reflections on two passages that make it nearly impossible for me to accept Dispensationalism.
Often, when advocates of Dispensationalism (or some variety of it) present a summary of the system, they will give a rather innocuous and vague statement about it. In essence, they claim, Dispensationalism is simply the view that we can divide up redemptive history into different periods. Traditionally they divide Biblical history into seven different epochs, or dispensations (hence the name) in which God works differently with his people and with the world. We can think of God’s relationship to Adam and Eve before the fall (Dispensation of Innocence) and after the fall (Dispensation of Conscience) and then from the flood to Abraham (Dispensation of Government) and then Abraham to Moses (Dispensation of Promise). So, the unsuspecting lay person hearing this for the same time, may simply think that Dispensationalism is a simple artificial taxonomy of the Biblical timeline. While I do not think most Dispensationalists intend this to be misleading, it is a very watered down presentation of the theology, and like most things, the devil is in the details. For Dispensationalism is not merely a taxonomy - that would be to declaw the system. Dispensationalism holds that God actually changes the way he relates to people in these eras, with the main difference being that between the Old Testament believers (Israel) and the New Testament believers (the Church) which begins at Pentecost. While Progressive Dispensationalism has begun to adapt the system to move away from some of its implications, this would mean that the promises of the Old Testament (and the gospels up to Pentecost in Acts) are actually for Israel, and only by secondary extrapolations, for the church. This means that much of Jesus’ teaching was not for the church, but for Israel. This is why the system, when compared to Covenant theology, has been called a system of discontinuity.
It is because of this hard ontological distinction between the church and Israel that drive much of the conclusions of the system – it is why the church must be raptured before the tribulation – so God can re-establish his program with Israel to fulfill his promises to her about the temple and the land and the David king on the throne of a reconquered Israel; it is why there is a literal millennium during which Christ reigns as that king; it is why the gospel first goes to Jews, then to gentiles. Here I will stick to those large, seemingly essential components of Dispensationalism, but if you want to see the extremes that this distinction can lead some to, please see the resources list – but at the root of it all, seems to be the distinction between Israel and the Church.
For those of us with reservations (or flat out concerns) about Dispensational theology, it is this discontinuity between the two peoples of God, Israel and the Church, that is inherent to Dispensationalism, that most of our criticism is focused on. For some, they see the “literal hermeneutic” as the root cause for this view; for others, they try to dismantle it by attacking the notion of a secret pretribulational rapture of the church (think Left Behind); and still for others they think it’s view of the millennium is the way to go about critiquing it; but for all of us, these are all different roads in to critique what we believe is the real problem with the system – the hard ontological distinction between God’s people in the Old Testament and God’s people in the New Testament, between Israel and the church.
And so here, in this article, I am not going to engage with a critique of the hermeneutical commitment of Dispensationalists to what is called a “literal hermeneutic,” though I could. I am not going to engage in the many passages that they use to try and support a secret rapture of the church before a literal 7 year tribulation, though I could. I’m not going to refute their readings of the various passages dealing with the nature of the millennial reign of Christ, though I could. I’m not even going to review or engage their view of the difference between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God which is essential to their overall dispensationalistic scheme, though I could. Here, I am going to simply look at two passages that I think are categorically in opposition to Dispensationalism’s hard ontological discontinuity between Israel and the church. They are Ephesians 2:11-22 and Romans 11:17-24. While there are, in my estimation, many other passages that could also rebut the hard distinction between Israel and the church, and while much more could be said even about these two passages, I will attempt here to briefly show why these two passages make it theologically impossible for one to affirm Dispensationalism.

Ephesians 2:11-22 (NASB) 11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

In this passage, Paul makes one of the clearest statements on the relationship of the gentiles who have come to faith in Christ to the Jews and to Israel herself. We must keep in mind the intracovenantal nature of Israel that Paul has laid out between visible and invisible Israel – ethnic Israel and spiritual Israel. That is those that are part of the covenant community, circumcised into the promises, and those who have ratified that faith unto themselves and are circumcised of heart. Paul makes this principle clear in passages like Rom. 2:28-29 and 9:6-7. In our present passage, Paul reminds the gentiles of their prior relationship to Israel, prior to their new life in Christ. When they were separated from Christ, prior to their conversions, Paul marks them out as being:

-          Excluded from the commonwealth of Israel
-          Strangers to the covenants of promise
-          Having no hope
-          Without God in the world

For Paul, pagan gentiles (those who have not been regenerated in Christ) are ontologically separated from Israel and her God, and thus have no rights to the promises and benefits of the covenant, leaving them without any hope. It is only when they come into Christ and are covered in his blood, that they are “brought near.” What does it mean to be brought near? If previously they were far from God because they were excluded from Israel, they are “brought near” in the blood – this overcomes the prior state of exclusion into a new state of embrace.
In order to maintain space, let me simply summarize v14-18 as Paul saying that in Christ, the walls of division have been torn down and that God was doing something to build both Jew and Gentile into one body – a unity between the two in Christ. But what does this look like? Are Jews plucked from Israel and Gentiles plucked from the nation and both brought together into this new third thing known as the church? Paul tells us starting in v19.
Now that the gentiles have been “brought near” in Christ, and have equal access to God via the Spirit, Paul tells us the features of their new state. The gentiles are now:

-          No longer strangers and aliens (foreigners)
-          Fellow citizens with the saints
-          Members of God’s household
-          A temple built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the corner stone
-          That temple is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit

Notice that Paul here is not saying that the Jews and the Gentiles both leave their homes and come into a new land to become a new third thing. Rather, the Gentiles who were far off, are now brought near. The gentiles who were excluded from the commonwealth, are now fellow citizens. They were strangers to the covenants of promise, but are now no longer strangers and aliens (foreigners). The picture here is that the gentiles, even if they were Jewish proselytes, would have to worship in another court, separated by high walls, apart from the common worship of the people of God, are now fully included. They used to be strangers, aliens, foreigners to Israel and her promises, but now they are no longer so – they are now fellow citizens. These are not ecclesiastical terms – these are civic terms. Indeed, it is the commonwealth that they were previously estranged from.
                It is not as though God took an American, and a Canadian and moved them into a land to make them into a new country – Canmerica. Rather, the Canadian who was always only a foreigner and stranger to America, even if granted resident alien status, was still not fully included, is now adopted as a full son of the King, or the president to keep the analogy. What is completely missing here is the notion that the regenerate gentiles concert to have membership in this new group – the Gentile Church – which stands in distinction between God’s old testament people of promise – Israel. It is precisely the covenants of promise given to Israel, which the gentiles were strangers to but are no longer. In Gal 3, Paul tells us that the blessing of the promise to Abraham was promised to his seed, not seeds, and that that promise is Christ. In a very real sense, the New Covenant just is the fulfillment of the promise of the Abrahamic covenant. To be in Christ, to be a child of faith in the promise, just is to be a child of Abraham – regardless of if one is a Jew or a gentile.
                There are volumes more that can be said about this passage and it’s nuances, but it seems to me that the core metaphysic of the passage is not the creation of the church for the gentiles, but the inclusion of the gentiles in the already existing people of God, the people of promise, the Israel of God and her covenants and promises. The make an hard ontological distinction between the church and Israel, such that there are promises to Israel that are not for the church, or there are covenant blessings that are for Israel and not for the gentile believer, such that the church must even be removed from the earth so that God can continue his work with Israel, appears to me to build back up the exact wall of separation that Paul says was removed. It puts the gentiles not just in the outer courts of the temple, but in a completely different temple all together. In one sense, Dispensationalism builds a wall that is even higher and more impenetrable than what existed prior to Christ because before gentiles were at least able to be partial included with God’s people and temple. Granted they now have full and direct access to God via Christ and so the benefits are surely immeasurably great, I would not want to accuse Dispensationalists of seeing gentiles as second class citizens of heaven. But in this world, in this dispensation of grace, they are not rubbing shoulders with God’s people of promise the Jews; they are not in the same temple. They are ontologically separated and will even be removed from the world before they ever share in the same covenants and promises. I simply see no way to reconcile Paul’s teaching in Eph. 2 and Dispensationalism ontological distinction between Israel as the people of God and the church.

                Romans 11:17-24 (NASB) 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

Once again, whole commentaries could be written on Paul’s comments here in this passage, their context in Romans 11, the broader intercontextuality in Romans 9-11, and even more broadly all of Romans or even Pauline theology generally. However, for the purposes of this article, I want to make one rather simple metaphysical observation that drives the theology here. I am not going to go into all the ways that this passage could relate to Dispensationalism, the future of national Israel and other such issues. The one simple and I think almost incurably obvious observation is this: there is only one olive tree.
Notice that there is one tree of promise – there is the tree that is nourished by the rich root, and the Israelites who are not circumcised of heart are cut off from that olive tree. It is that olive tree that the gentile Christians are grafted onto – they are grafted onto the one tree. To put it in terms of the passage we saw previously, for really this passage is just an image of what Paul had didactically taught in Eph. 2, the gentiles were separated from the olive tree of Israel but in the blood of Christ they are brought near; they were foreign branches, strangers to the root, but they have now been grafted on.
Ask yourself what it would do to the theology of Paul and his teaching in Rom 11, to say that these wild branches, who had been grafted on in Christ, must then later be removed from the life giving root while God continues his plan with the original tree! That there are promises in the sap of the root that are for the original branches but that the new branches do not have access to in Christ. The ecclesiastical view of Dispensationalism seems to me to be out of accord with the teaching of Paul in both Romans and Ephesians.
Here, I readily admit that this is not an indepth treatment of the intricacies of either passage and if one of my readers is a Dispensationalist who would like to try to take me to task for missing something that they think is relevant to radically alter the clear and obvious meaning of these passages, I am open to discussing it with them. Please send me your questions. However, at this time, I see no way to read into these passages an ontological distinction between a gentile church and the nation of Israel and it seems to me that such a program would do exegetical violence to the theological tapestry of Paul and the entirety of the scriptures.

-          Podcast Series: Theology Simply Profound

Saturday, October 27, 2018

FREED BYTE: Deut 22:28-29: A Manual for Marrying a Rapist?

If you've spoken with atheists for any amount of time, you've likely heard this objection against the Bible - God is a moral monster because the Bible commands a rape victim to marry her rapist! 

Well is that what the text says? Not even close. In this Freed Byte episode, we take a look at this passage and respond to the challenge. 

Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

YEC Arguments - TurretinFan Strikes Back

TurretinFan (TF) has taken up the mantle for YEC’s of trying to respond to some of my work on Genesis 1. While he does not respond to my actual thesis paper or episodes dealing with my positive view, he does try to respond to my article where I give rejoinders to some common arguments put forth by YEC’s. I have a great deal of respect for TF (so no comments here should be read with any level of hostility or animosity), but in this instance, his comments were often assumptive, superficial, or just seemed to be a restatement of the exact objection I was responding to and did not really deal with my comments. Like I did with my responses to Steve Schramm who also gave responses to these articles, I will give the list of objections and then comment on TF’s remarks.

1.       OEC’s are intimidated by secular scientists and so they reject what they know the text says.
TF’s first comment is simply that peer pressure is real – the desire to fit in is a real thing, and, so he claims, it is one of the reason that people are tempted by OEC models. Not only is this simply an assertion, but the psychology of belief is so far outside of the realm of expertise of TF or myself, (and of most who comment on these debates) that I don’t really see any utility to it. Could we not also just arbitrarily say that the desire to fit into the church culture that people are raised in also drives people to believe in YEC? The genetic fallacy is a fallacy for a reason. But we can say more beyond pointing out that infantile nature of such objections as logically fallacious.
The main issue besides it’s blatant logically fallacious nature, is that it ignores the reason that people give for accepting OEC: that they become convinced of it, or at least convinced that it is the consensus of science broadly across ideological lines. This is the same reason many will believe in countless scientific views of astronomy and cosmology and physics – I wonder if TF has done in depth study for himself of the chemical composition of red dwarf stars, the Kuyper belt, heliocentrism, anatomy, etc. or if he takes a kind of reasonable belief in the consensus view. As long as we do not hold the scientific community to a kind of infallibility, I see no problem with holding reasonable beliefs in the tentative conclusions of scientists just like we do in numerous other fields that we are not specialists ourselves in. For many, the simply find YEC a poor handling of the text, and then they have major doubts about the “science” done by Creation science, (often you do not need to be a good well trained scientist to see some major problems with it), and they see a general consensus by geologists, cosmologists, physicists, etc. that spans ideological lines (naturalists, theists, Christians, etc.). This is not some intimidation by “secular” science (again, I have no idea what that term even means in its broad use), but rather is how we form and hold reasonable beliefs on a whole host of areas.
TF then criticized my statement that we should ask where the evidence is pointing because, he claims, that “natural science can only provide a natural explanation.” This is partly true. In some kinds of experimental science, only natural explanations can be provided. This is simply not the case in historical or theorhetical science, and in fact, ironically, Creationists and apologists will often make this very argument – arguments like the cosmological argument, fine tuning, specified complexity and a whole host of others will argue that the evidences given to us by science, are best explained by some non-natural or intentional/intelligent causal agent. TF will likely respond that those are philosophy, and that is all well and good since I never claimed that we will discover God in a vat or a test tube. But rather, what the evidence is best explained by. TF says, “Scientists can be baffled and unable to provide an explanation, but science cannot say, ‘that was supernatural.’” I would simply say that that is not true and many scientists have made just such that statement. From the earliest days of science, the founders believed that their findings pointed to the Creator God and many scientists today believe the same. Here TF, would need to do much more spade work on the kind of explanations that are available to scientists and philosophers of science today.
Finally, TF seems to argue that we should be skeptical of science because of what he calls the “failures of science,” such as a stationary sun. Hopefully I can make the following statement without being accused of sympathy for atheism (not everything they say is false) but we know that certain scientific theories held by previous generations were false, precisely because of advances in science. So while scientific theories are always provisional and open to reinterpretation, overhaul, or complete abandonment, it seems wildly ironic to attempt to jettison the very discipline used to gather the information which overthrew the false notions. Such a view of science proposed by TF simply seems inadequate to me. Science was also wrong for a long time about what caused disease, so does TF think we should reject or be highly skeptical of germ theory and medicine because we were wrong in the past? Even though advances in the science of medicine is precisely what overthrew previous false notions and came up with better ones?

2.      If you just take the plain meaning of the text, it clearly means 6 literal solar days. 

In this section, I gave a list of problems with a literal diachronic reading of Genesis 1 that have led many of use to reject such a view (and this does not include my other work giving positive reasons and evidences for holding to a literary polemical temple text view). TF goes through these but honestly gives some of the same flawed responses common to YEC polemics elsewhere. Let’s look through these in order:
-          Light before the sun. TF gives Biblical examples where God’s glory illuminates the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23) and Moses’ face radiates after illumination by the glory of God. The main problem here is that Gen 1 says that God creates the light – he speaks it into existence. So not only does TF give an option (God’s own glory) that does not fit the account of Gen 1, he also ignores the major problem that the criticism is getting at. Day 4 tells us that the sun and the mon are made specifically for the purpose of marking out days and nights. Their function just was to make the 24 hour day. So if that was the purpose and function of the sun and the moon, to mark out 24 hour days by their light, then what light was created in Day 1 to do that same task? So TF may say, “this is a trivial and absurd objection,” but it seems only because he completely misses the mark on it.
-          This leads to the second problem. Why create this unknown light on Day 1 with the same function of the luminaries on Day 4, call it good like he does the rest of creation, only to scrap it 3 days later and replace it with the sun? TF says that this is an “impertinent question” because it ask a “why” question of God. I doubt TF would give such a response to other why questions – why does God love the elect in Christ, why does he call a people to himself, why does he judge people to hell, etc. Asking a “why” question is not de facto impertinent. He then tries to answer it but his answer is weird. He says, “the sun was created to rule the day, while the moon was created to rule the night. In essence, these could be viewed as delegations of God’s own power.” I would debate the final clause depending on what he meant by it (if he means as evidence of his power then sure, but as delegates seems to jump headlong back into the very pagan notions of a deified cosmos that I think Genesis 1 is precisely rebutting), but ultimately his answer isn’t an answer to the question. Saying what the sun and the moon are to rule over does not answer the question about creating some abstract light on day 1 with the same function of the sun, call it good like he does the rest of creation, only to scrap it and replace it 3 days later. So TF’s answer isn’t an answer.
-          TF then says that we can have days without having a tool to measure them – like how we can have distance without having a ruler. Well yes and no. We do not have an “inch” without having a standard inch. Such a distance exists in virtue of the standard measurement of an inch existing as an inch – TF here is forgetting (or isn’t aware of, or for some unstated reason rejects (the functional ontology of the ANE people. We have a 24 hour day because we have a solar day. We in the modern era know that the earth rotates on its access at a specific speed and makes a full rotation approximately every 24 hours. The ancients did not know this. This text would be completely undiscernible to them if not for the sun and the moon to mark out days and nights. We must always remember, the text of the Bible, in God’s providence, while written for the benefit of the modern church, is not written to the modern church. We are reading ancient mail. There was no concept of rotation of the earth – it stool still and fixed, unmovable, with the celestial bodies orbiting us in the firmament. To imagine that the author of Genesis (who TF and I both likely agree was Moses, or in the Moses circle) meant the axial rotation of the earth strains at credulity. And, if TF wants to ever make the perspicuity objection, it would seem utterly bizarre to argue that the text is perspicuous to us today but that it would have been opaque and foreign to the original author who was writing it.
-          Finally there is the issue of the order of the plants between Gen 1 and Gen 2. Here TF seems to adopt the common YEC view that Gen 2 is referring specifically to cultivated plants, or at least, the plants in the garden. He seems to think that the plants of earth grew before man in Gen 1, and then that we should read Gen 2 that there were no cultivated plants, so God watered the earth with a mist, before creating man. TF does not really develop this but just quotes the surrounding verses as if simply stating them resolves the problem (like none of us who make the objection has ever read them?) There are two problems with this. Frist, the term for “field” here simply does not exclusively refer to cultivated or agricultural plants. The same term is used of the home of animals (שָׂדֶה , sadeh) can mean a cultivated field (Hosea 12:12) but typically this does not mean something like farm, like we would think of, but rather something like a domestic or owned field which bears food (Deut 32:13). However, the term is often used for the home of wild beasts (Ps. 8:8; 50:11; 80:14; 104:11; Isa. 56:9; Joel 2:22) or even as the opposite land to that of a mountain (Jer. 18:14) or as opposed to a sea (Ps. 96:12). The idea most common to this is that it is an wide open field, sometimes even with the notion that it is not frequented by people (Gen. 24:63, 65). A simple word study of the term would suffice to show that one cannot simply assume that just because it says field that it must mean domesticated and cultivated ground. It can mean that, but there is nothing in the context that makes it mean that.
This leads us to the second response. Notice that God does not create the garden (i.e. the only place we could confidently call a specifically cultivated land) until 2:8 after he creates man in 2:7. So the plants of the field being watered in 2:5 likely could not be the cultivated plants in 2:8.
So TF’ response here is not only undeveloped, but also inadequate to the task.

3.      Genesis is literal history and not allegory.
Here I argue that this typical statement is simply a false dichotomy. I’m somewhat confused by TF’s response since he seems to agree with me that this is a false dichotomy. He gives several examples where historical accounts can be told in various genres and for different purposes. I would agree with this. But here TF likely grants more than he means to. The issue here is that the typical YEC presupposes that the genre of literature is a historical narrative. If TF is conceding that it is not historical narrative then he would then need to argue exactly why we should read it as literal diachronic history. If he is not conceding that, then he would need to argue why we should read it as a literal historical narrative. So as of right now, I’ll leave TF to update his own response to this point because I am simply not clear what point he is trying to take here.

4.      Jesus took Genesis literally and so should we.
Here TF attempts to say that there is good reason to think that Gen 1 through the law code that begins midway through Exodus is historical narrative. His reason for this is that Jesus takes the historical people and places as historical. This hardly proves that it should be the genre of historical narrative. We know that Deborah’s song and Moses’ song were about historical events, but should we think that their songs (poetry) were actual historical narrative because the people and places were historical? Obviously not.
This response also has a kind of all or nothing feel to it. It ignores the literary features in Gen 1:1-2:4 specifically that make many of say that that portion of Genesis likely isn’t historical narrative. To make the argument that TF makes is to say that because the rest of the bulk of Genesis and Exodus is historical narrative (it isn’t in fact – there are several other genres throughout) that the first section of Genesis must be also. Well even if I agreed that the rest of Genesis is historical narrative (prophetic, parable, and poems aside), it does not follow that Gen 1 is. I agree that Adam and Eve and Abraham were real people and Sodom and Gomorrah were real places. I am in absolute agreement with Jesus here – I could echo his exact statements. It’s them a non sequitur to say that this shows Gen 1 is historical narrative also.
Here I would simply say that I think TF is not quite grasping the problems with saying that Mark 10 proves that Jesus held to a young earth. Simply saying, “from the beginning” here does not tell us how long ago that was – merely that from the beginning of humanity, God made them male and female. There are no time markers here. And if one tries to push it too far, then they would contradict themselves because it would not be literally “from the beginning” but rather from a week after the beginning, that it happened. The salient point seems to be that from Adam and Eve, God made humanity as male and female.
Here TF takes an exception to my statement that the creation week would be the most important thing never taught in scripture, by simply begging the question that it is taught in Gen 1. He then makes passing reference to the statement in Ex 20:11. Which is the next objection.

5.      Moses bases the Sabbath as the 7th day on the 7 literal day structure of Genesis 1. 
I made a statement that Moses wrote Ex. 20 and TF, correctly, points out that it is retelling what God wrote on tablets. Fair enough. But so what? Moses also wasn’t there to see Gen 1 and was writing God’s word under inspiration. It seems we could make a large number of poor exegetical inferences if we try to press who the author of a text was between the human the divine. This would break our doctrine of inspiration in two.
TF then simply begs the question that the days of Ex. 20 were conventional days. Unless he is merely speaking of the labor days of the Israelites, this is precisely what is being asked. Now, I may make TF’s head spin in reminding him that I absolutely think that the days mentioned in Gen 1, are meant to be understood as solar days. I think the author was clearly building the narrative around solar days. I just don’t think that is enough to make us read the text as a modern astronomy text book. The days, I think, are being used analogically as a framework by which the narrative is hung to polemicize Egyptian polytheism and present God as the creator and singular sovereign of his celestial temple. This is why I disagree with Day-Age proponents who try to read millions of years into Genesis 1. I think both kinds of interpretations of the text are simply anachronistic mishandlings.
So with that, I don’t particularly care if the days of Gen 1 and Ex. 20 are meant to convey solar days. I think what is more likely of importance is the 7 fold paradigm of 6+1 (a ubiquitous structure of cultic significance throughout the ANE). This is why we see Moses base the Sabbath years and Jubilee years on the same paradigm just as easily.
TF also takes the highly unusual position that the 7th day was a regular solar day. Most YEC’s that I know do not adopt such a view (though some do) because not only is the 7th day missing all of the features that they argue show a solar day (morning and evening formulae primarily) but the author of Hebrews seems to think that God is still enjoying his Sabbath rest (Heb. 4), as does Jesus who seems to make just such an argument to demonstrate why he too can heal on the Sabbath (Jn 5:17). This is an incidental point, but to hold such a view opens TF to problems on other texts while he tries to maintain a consistency of Gen 1.

6.      Yom plus “morning and evening” in the Hebrew always refers to a literal solar day.
TF doesn’t comment here much except that he doesn’t like such arguments, though he simply asserts that the “underlying point of the argument is correct, namely that the fact that verse specifies what kind of day we are talking about.” As I have said, I don’t have much of a problem with the use of solar days as an analogue, but here I’m simply pointing out that poor attempt by YEC’s to make an exegetical case for a Historical Narrative. TF did not really address that issue. And remember, this is about arguments used by YEC’s to argue that Gen 1 must be read as literal history. Why can TF not simply admit these are bad arguments to that effect, not supported by the text or Hebrew grammar itself?

7.       Yom plus an ordinal or cardinal number in the Hebrew always refers to a literal solar day.
One again, TF says he doesn’t really like these kinds of arguments but says that he would say that yom+ordinal/cardinal usually means a normal day. Again, fair enough and I don’t mind the analogical day in Gen 1 either. But he then says that the burden of proof is on the non-literal folk to prove that it’s not. I would say that is simply false. The burden would fall on all exegetes to properly handle the text and so anyone who wants to advance of view of what is in reference carries a burden. We know countless terms in the Bible have a normal meaning and a rare meaning. This is the task of any exegete and we cannot simply pawn it off to views that we disagree with to prove our unproven assumptions wrong. And once again, why can TF not simply admit these are bad arguments to that effect, not supported by the text or Hebrew grammar itself?

8. We see the use of the waw-consecutive construction in the Hebrew which is how Hebrew marks out historical narrative and thus we should take Genesis 1 as literal history. 
         Here, TF simply says that he doesn’t like those kinds of these arguments that uses supposed grammatical rules and makes no other comments. But once again, why can TF not simply admit these are bad arguments to that effect, not supported by the text or Hebrew grammar itself?

All in all, I don’t think that TF really was able to show any problems with any of my comments in the article and did nothing to advance the cause of YEC against what myself and many others (even YECs) find to be formidable objections to the YEC position on Genesis 1.

Aside: I have been impressed by many YEC’s who have come around to seeing Genesis 1 as a literary polemic presenting a temple text, and who agree with me that this says nothing about the age of earth. Many have expressed their gratitude for helping them to better understand the text and resolve so many of the tensions and unanswered questions that they had. They still believe that the earth is young based on what they believe about what science shows us, but they have been able to move beyond the rigid literalism that caused them so many exegetical and hermeneutical fits. As I have always said, I’m not actually objecting to any certain view of the age of the earth, nor am I advancing one. My position has always been a marked agnosticism on that issue. Rather, I’ve been trying to handle what I think the text does teach and respond to some of the views of Genesis 1 and other relevant passages that I think are problematic.

For more of my work on Genesis 1, please see my collected works here: