In the April, 1999 issue of Watchman Magazine, this writer penned an article on The Primeval Chronology wherein we reviewed an essay under the same title by Dr. William Henry Green of Princeton University, which appeared originally in the journal Bibliotheca Sacra in April of 1890 (more recently reprinted in Classical Evangelical Essays in OT Interpretation, edited by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Baker: 1980). The general topic of discussion was the question of what the age of the earth actually might be, especially in relation to Archbishop Usshers date of 4004 BC (or his alternative date of 4138 BC). We asked, What is the foundation of a chronology of this sort? It is the assertion that the chronologies of Genesis 5 and 11 do not allow more than a few thousand years from Adam to Abraham (p. 1).
This being the assumption which underlies Usshers date, in that brief article we set out to discuss the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 under the guidance of Greens helpful dissertation. At the time the material was not viewed as particularly controversial or even important, because most everyone assumed that the points made in it were fairly simple and non-threatening, and especially so since everyone seemed to agree on that which was the basic thrust of the material. Certainly, no one raised public objection to that article at the time. And I received no correspondence taking issue with that study. This is so, I believe, because in my experience as a preacher and teacher of the Word, I have yet to encounter anyone who seriously entertains the propriety of Archbishop Usshers chronology. This does not mean that they do not exist, it just means I have not run into them yet. I am sure they are out there! But they are rare, of that I am certain from my own experience.
In the same issue of Watchman, brother Mark Mayberry published an excellent piece on the Age of the Earth: Are There Biblical Parameters? We urge the reader to review both our article and that of brother Mayberry before proceeding, for they certainly complement one another and give the reader some sense of what this issue is all about. Whereas we only intended briefly to summarize Greens thoughts and try to make some sense of them in terms of the Biblical text as well as to interlace the archaeological and historical data, Mark covers the subject in much greater depth and applies his remarks to the work of Hill Roberts and the Lord I Believe Seminar. This writer intended only to emphasize the fact that the essential character of the genealogies of Genesis as genealogical records as such, rather than something else altogether, does not offer any consolation to those who attempt to read millions or even billions of years into the Genesis account.
We therefore concluded our article with the following remarks:
"His (Greens) paper closes with the following statement: 'On these various grounds we conclude that the Scriptures furnish no data for a chronological computation prior to the life of Abraham; and that the Mosaic records do not fix and were not intended to fix the precise date either of the Flood or of the Creation of the world.'
"Noted proponents of a recent creation, such as John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris, have felt the strength of Green's arguments and the evidence from archaeology, revising the date of creation back to around 10,000 BC or so. This writer is also convinced of the rectitude of Dr. Green's careful research. It is not without good reason that his work is considered by conservative Biblical scholars as the "final word" on the matter.
"However, it is a giant leap indeed to move from accepting the fact that the genealogies of Genesis and of the Old Testament in general represent only major names in a much longer line of familial succession to believing that millions or even billions of years are explained away by these gaps. In the first place, the gaps in the genealogical records are representative only of the period of human history which such genealogical reckonings address. What took place before the occupation of the planet by human beings (as per the theory which states that long ages passed before the appearance of man) must be explained on some other basis. The fact that gaps frequently occur in human genealogies, which were never intended as absolute chronologies in the first place, does not prove that gaps occurred in the creation week. One must look for proof of such long periods of time in the text of Genesis 1 and 2, not in the gaps in the genealogies, or in the spaces between the verses! (p. 3)
In our essay we did not give a date for the origin of man, this world or the universe, since we did not and do not believe that the Bible gives anything specific on that matter. The foregoing general concluding remarks were the closest thing to anything of that sort, and the reader may judge for himself as to our conclusions and the reasoning behind it. We are certainly not dogmatic about the Morris-Whitcomb conclusions to which we made allusion in the material, but do at present consider them the most logical of those approaches which have been set before the public. They seem best to fit the biblical text and, it so happens, also coincide pretty closely with a good deal of archaeological and historical data as well.
Not until recently was anything said which might suggest that anyone saw a problem with our material on this subject. Even now we doubt seriously whether anyone actually takes issue with what we wrote. But some material has come to our attention which questions (makes quibbles over) several points which we enumerated in the article, and we deem it important to address those questions. Much like the assaults made last year on me regarding material written in the early eighties on Isaiah 7:14, these attacks are obviously intended to discredit myself and those others who signed the Open Letter to Florida College regarding the Creation Days controversy.
Also, those who make these spurious arguments obviously hope to change the subject and take the pressure off Hill Roberts, Shane Scott and those who are their defenders, and focus attention upon us and what they consider to be our inconsistencies. Let the reader remember, however, that even if it could be proven that we are inconsistent on some point(s), this still would not provide justification for their willingness to treat the Genesis account of creation in the fashion with which they handle it. There is no room for billions of years in the account of Genesis one! The narrative does not allow for the Big Bang and a process of uniformitarian change of the earth and the universe through millions or billions of years to prepare the earth for life. God did this in the first three days of the creation week (Genesis 1:1-10). That is what the Bible says. They know it and we know it! The stellar evolution which is being argued for by Hill Roberts and others is not taught in the Bible! It is a compromise with godless evolution, and since God is seen as the Prime Mover in the slow process which they envision, it must also be described as theistic evolution.
I do not consider that those materials which we are about to review constitute a serious attempt at refutation of my work on the geneologies, for if it were actually possible to refute it, I believe that would have been done at the time it first appeared. Moreover, I am convinced that our opponents would have jumped at the chance to formulate a written repudiation of my article, and that has not yet seen the light of day. See if you can find it in any of the journals circulating among our brethren!
Rather than an article of review published in the papers, this response comes in the form of an outline presentation from a seminar held at Florida College this summer. The college did not endorse or sponsor the event, but it was held on the campus. It was sponsored by brother Harry Pickup, Jr., and this writer was invited to attend, but was not able to do so because of work considerations. The seminar was not open to the general public, only preachers and others who were invited could hear or participate in the discussions. It ought to be noted, however, that brethren Buddy Payne (academic dean of the college) and Dan Petty (head of the Bible department) were present at the gathering. Tape recorders were not permitted. Furthermore, since I could not be present, there may have been some who thought the arguments leveled at our positions were unanswerable. For their sakes and for the sake of anyone else whom the Roberts brothers may attempt to influence, I offer these remarks.
Phil Roberts himself provided the written materials to me at my request, so there is no question as to the genuineness of the source materials, or whether the quotations represent the views of Phil Roberts. I say this, because I am sure that some brethren who are well acquainted with Phil may doubt whether he advanced such arguments. I assure you that he did. But I also confess that I was quite shocked that Phil Roberts would make some of the arguments which he did in this series of presentations.
At that event Brother Hill Roberts and his brother Phil, teacher in the Bible department at Florida College, appeared on the program to defend Hills views and critique the arguments of his opponents. As the centerpiece of his presentations, Phil Roberts put forth a lengthy review of my article on the genealogies of Genesis in Watchman Magazine, hoping to demonstrate inconsistency in my approach to the biblical materials. Some of what Phil wrote consisted of biblical information with which I have no quarrel; therefore, I shall have nothing to say about it. Since I was not there for the oral presentation, and since a taped copy or written transcript was not available, I cannot tell much about the tone or tenor, and cannot hope to know what was said extemporaneously. The notes are generally in outline form, and it is not my intention to publish them or make them available for general distribution. If Phil wishes to do that he may do so at a later date, in whole or in part. So, please do not call or write requesting that I make copies for you. Call or write Phil Roberts to make your request.
From FC Bible Faculty
It is important for us to consider a few of the major points made by Phil Roberts, because he certainly represents what at least one member of the Bible department at Florida College is saying on this matter. Additionally, it is significant that a member of the Bible department at the school is actively defending the errors of brother Hill Roberts. That also is certainly worth noting. When the controversy about the days of Genesis one first erupted, it was intimated by members of the faculty that they did not know about his views, and some of them probably did not. But now there is absolutely no excuse for anyone making a defense of him or of his positions unless they share those views. We have dealt with Hills proclivities on the pages of this magazine in earlier issues, offering citations and references from Hills own writings, and we find it shocking that the school is willing to permit its faculty members to offer public defense of such doctrinal stances.
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