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Days of Creation - Response and Rejoinder

A Brief Response
Phil Roberts

Editor's Note: The following article by Phil Roberts is in response to the material written by Daniel H. King, appearing in the December 2001 issue of Watchman Magazine. To view the initial material, click here. To read Daniel King's rejoinder to this response, click here.

In a recent series of articles published in this venue, Dan King asserts that I have rejected the literal-day approach to Genesis 1 in favor of the day-age approach. This is not true. I have a long history (including my classes this year) of presenting the various interpretations of the days of Genesis 1 and noting that I accept the literal-day approach as the most natural reading of the text, though I would not argue that it is the only possible interpretation.

I would also add here that I do not necessarily consider a brother unworthy of fellowship for considering or even accepting an alternative interpretation, as long as he respects the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. Devout conservatives, totally opposed to the theory of evolution, have, for many years, noted difficulties in the literal-day interpretation of Genesis 1, difficulties which have led them to suggest alternatives. And while I have not found any one of those alternatives convincing (gap-theory, day-age, etc.), I cannot in good conscience simply ignore the questions they raise. In this position, I stand in the tradition of a long line of brethren, including such men as David Lipscomb, W. W. Otey, and the editors of Truth Magazine in the early 1970s. Of course, these men are not my authority, but their commitment to the authority of scripture is well known.

Dan King makes his assertions in a series of five articles in which he believes that he is reviewing and refuting a lecture I recently made in series of private classes arranged by Harry Pickup, Jr. In fact, Dan is reviewing only what he imagines I said. Dan was invited, even urged, to come to these classes as one of the principal teachers and to deal with the interpretation of Genesis 1, but he did not. When Dan heard through one of the class members that I was evaluating his arguments about gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 in one of the classes, he requested copies of the material I had used. I sent him copies of all the overheads and handouts that I had presented in that class, noting that they were not prepared with the idea of publication or general distribution in mind. These were the only written materials I had; there was no outline or transcript of the class as a whole to send.

The overheads and handouts showed how the principles of interpretation Dan must accept to find gaps in Genesis 5 and 11 could be applied to the days of Genesis 1 as well. In the class, I reasoned that it is inconsistent to argue for gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 in order to harmonize Biblical chronology with secular history (as Dan does) and then to characterize someone as a false teacher for applying the same basic principles of interpretation to the days of Genesis 1.

From these overheads and handouts, and without the context of the class itself, Dan assumed that I was taking the position that these principles must be applied in Genesis 1. In fact, I did not even present my own understanding of the days in the overheads and handouts. Indeed, I noted in the classes that I accepted the literal-day approach, but that I also wanted people to be able to see how Bible believers might argue for another approach, using hermeneutical principles that have been widely accepted by Bible believers (including Dan) in the interpretation of the genealogies.

Having made a cursory review of Dan’s lengthy articles, I am not convinced that he understands either the main thrust of the lecture or the particulars of many of the individual arguments or hermeneutical issues involved. All the criticisms regarding what I did or did not say in representing him lack foundation in fact, as Dan would have known had he been present. I actually agree with him on the interpretation of the genealogies, as I indicated in the class. Beyond this clarification, it does not seem expedient to respond to arguments made against a lecture that, at least as described in Dan’s articles, I did not give.

(December 7, 2001)

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