The Universe: Is It Young or Old?

It has been pointed out to me that God, being God, could have used evolution and billions of years to create the universe and all that is in it. That is true; and with what God could have done, I have no argument. The problem with this logic is that we a priori conclude that God did indeed use billions of years to create the universe and all that is in it. That conclusion is reached because we look at the world and the sky assuming that the secular presuppositions are correct. Or we throw up our hands and say, "It really doesn't matter." The question of what God could have done is the wrong question. The good question here is, "What does God tells us He did concerning creation in His Word?"

Let me put that thought on hold for just a moment.

Words are important in Scripture. So much so that there are divisions between people on the basis of what a word means or does not mean. One example is in the area of eschatology where a contextual understanding of the phrase "little season" makes a big difference in our approach to end times theology. Here we apply the rules of context. Is this section apocryphal or poetic or historic narrative? The answer makes all the difference in our understanding.

An even bigger issue for LCMS Lutherans concerning words and context is the defense of the doctrine of the Real Presence.

On the basis of the understanding of one word, people are included and excluded from our fellowship. And this word is the word "is." "This is My body." Even though it makes sense, humanly speaking, that bread is not Jesus' body, we confess that this isn't symbolic and it doesn't simply represent Jesus' body. We teach that it is His body. And yet, in my ministry I am surrounded by people who mock me, make fun of me, and call me a heretic (indeed they have), because I believe that Jesus is "in, with, and under the bread and the wine." And that on the basis of the meaning of a word; "is." In fact, let me paraphrase Martin Chemnitz. He says that if the meaning of a word is in doubt, it is appropriate to apply the simplest meaning of the word. In that case, "is" is "is."

Over the past 150 years or more, theologians have worked hard at suggesting that a day in Genesis one is not really a day. Every possible Hebraic qualifier (there are four) tells us that "day" in Genesis means 24 hours in clear language. When this same grammar is used in the remainder of the Old Testament the meaning of "day" is not questioned. It is only questioned in Genesis one. Grammatically, there is more reason to embrace a six 24 hour solar day creation week than to subscribe to the doctrine of the real presence. I will not budge on the doctrine of the Real Presence. That I accept by faith. So I ask, (and this is the apologetic that I used many years ago to finally set millions of years aside and trust the Word presuppositionally), "Why would one who confesses that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but that Jesus, being fully God and fully man, paid the price for my sin and the sin of the whole world in a supernatural act on a cross, have any problem with six day creation?"

Notwithstanding profound evidentiary material that contradicts evolutionary models, and there is much to consider, I am saying, with this point, let's be consistent in our hermeneutical practice! Either a day is a day or it is not. Either the bread is the body in the Eucharist or it is not.

It is interesting to me that the choice before us is not unlike that which has faced the church throughout history, indeed our own Synod. Does Scripture interpret Scripture or does Man interpret Scripture? There is a world of difference.

One Christian who believes in millions of years finally said that we cannot deny what Moses meant in Genesis but it cannot be true because of the overwhelming evidence for long ages. Here is what Pattle Pun said. “It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of the Genesis record, without regard to all of the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created heaven and earth in six solar days, . . .” There is no question that Pattle Pun has embraced man interpreting the Word. Parenthetically, scientific hermeneutical considerations are less than overwhelming.

Concerning Genesis 1-11. This section of the Word is without question, historic narrative. It is not poetic. It is not apocryphal. As I pointed out in "Out of Nothing," Dr. Boyd makes this conclusion following a statistical analysis of chapters one and two of Genesis. The study showed that there is a better than 99% chance that this is historic narrative. In other words, the Scripture says what it means and means what it says notwithstanding the hypothesis and conjecture suggested by men.

Jesus points out that this struggle will occur in many areas of faith when He says, "Greeks look for wisdom and Jews look for signs but you have Moses and the prophets." (If that is too cryptic, "You have the Word of God.")

Having begun developing a presuppositional position, the door is still open for a discussion of evidence.

So, take your pick: Carbon dating, magnetic field of the earth, lunar recession, spiral galaxies, comets, tectonics, Big Bang issues, ocean salinity, poly strata fossils, loss of information on a microbiological level, Helium Ions, radio halos, fission tracks, the speed of light, anti-matter, bio-genesis, mathematical possibilities, irreducible complexity of organic matter, the development of language and laughter, one race-not many (human beings are all related to each other). . . Each of these areas and many more can all be researched and have been addressed by men and women who are far more qualified than me to address particulars.

I certainly do understand the struggle. I have friends and family who have had to wrestle with these things. My own wife once believed in millions of years. But coming to the conclusion that the Word is the Word, and that we can trust Scripture, resulted in a peace and confidence in the promises of Christ in every area of the Gospel. It also strengthened our relationship. It strengthened our witness. It also created an urgency to communicate the matter of the reliability of God's Word. The Gospel itself is counter-intuitive to man's reason. Anything less than that which the Word tells us is counterfeit.

In ministry it is true that doctrinal conviction, passion, and intensity does not translate well in our missionality. People are easily offended by style. My approach to individuals who are "broken reeds and smoldering wicks" must be gentle, patient, and respectful, yet it must be certain. Content is finally the issue. Making room for false premises in matters pertaining to Truth only leads to the tearing down of faith and not the building up of such. If I am a fool in this, then so be it.

With humility, I offer this for your prayerful consideration.