Post Modernism and Epistemic ignorance

I was reading the responses to a woman who wrote an article on post-modern relativism. The idea behind its “true for you but not for me” is itself a self defeating argument and is symptomatic of erroneous thinking by folks who hold that view. Now, its really just a conversation-ender so no uncomfortable awkwardness arises from disagreement. But for those who want to wrangle about the issue it tends to point at the moral argument for God. But, as some would have it, their claim that no moral absolutes exist are defended vehemently and they argue for that position. Whats really interesting is that to argue for one position or the other demands a right and wrong, a right and wrong logic or conclusion. In short, for the relativist to make his case he must use the absolutists tools to make the case. If it were true that the world ran on relativism, one would not need to argue to begin with because right or wrong would never arise as a necessity to coherent thinking and doing. This is where relativism is betrayed by his adherents. They argue for non-absolutes with an unsaid absolute paradigm that there are no absolutes. confusing?

The question arises; why defend a position that is intrinsically relative? Because to be right and logical is a characteristic of good reasoning which demands absolutes. So, how does this correlate to moral absolutes? Simple; right and wrong, good and evil exist because they are not mental constructs; nor are they ethical conclusions based on consensus. Murder, theft, lying, adultery, coveting are always wrong and they eventually emerge in every known culture. Even if the ethics of the Nazis held to the murder of Jews, the rest of the world recognized that such murder is reprehensible and immoral. Lying, the willful deception committed by one person to deceive another is always wrong where there is harm to another. Im discounting magic tricks Therefore contracts are made to stipulate conditions so that the chances of deception or mistakes are minimized. These are recognized the world over and have been recognized since the beginning of mans existence.

The question arises; where did these morals originate? The scriptures claim that God created them. He created them in two forms, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the revelation of Gods word to his chosen people. The first deals with mans knowledge of good and evil as he acts in a rebellious autonomy alienated from God by wicked works and evil thoughts. The second by specific truths revealed by God on who God is, what man is, and how man may serve both God and man acceptably. No matter which direction man may go, he cannot escape the origination of good or evil as defined by God.

Nature or materialism cannot supply ethics or morals for the thinking man. Materialism has no way of producing the dilemma of “should I lie or should I not?” It cannot provide even the hint of a concept of “who is the true God”? Nor can it provide the slightest insight into logic or mathematics. There are no abstractions contained within a materialist world. Man is forced to take for an absolute that the transcendent exists, that other beings exist outside of himself whether he agreeably acknowledges them or not. It is because of this epistimological mountain the Atheist and Skeptic must remain in the valley of irrationality. They must deny what everyone else knows and need not prove. Because of that, denial of moral absolutes requires suppressing what is understood among all men and claiming that morality is just a human construct incapable of extending beyond the consensus of like minded individuals.

The history of the world has shown situational-morality to be a monstrous lie and the avenue to genocides, murders and national catastrophe. Immorality may have its day in the sun, but its remembrance is held in infamy.

via Marvin Torgeson – I was reading the responses to a woman who wrote….


William Lane Craig’s intellectually dishonest attack on biblical creationists


7362-william-lane-craigWilliam Lane Craig

I am a huge fan of William Lane Craig, I too agree with Jonathan’s evaluation of his apologetic prowess and his immense capability to debate and show the strength of the Christian position for faith and belief in God. I also believe Dr. Craig has missed it when it comes to Genesis. I offer this article written by Jonathan Sarfati as a rebuttal, not only to Dr. Craig’s views but to Old Earth Creationism in general.


Published: 17 September 2013 (GMT+10)

William Lane Craig (1949– ) is a well-known Christian apologist, with earned doctorates in both philosophy and New Testament studies. He has written over 30 books, and is a very skilled debater, with one atheist admitting:

As far as I can tell, he has won nearly all his debates with atheists. … I’m not the only one who thinks Craig has won nearly all his debates. For some atheists, it is rather maddening. … Craig is a skilled debater, an encyclopedia of facts and quotes, and a careful rhetorician. If you make a logical mistake, Craig knows exactly how to skewer you for it (and for this, I respect him). … This is especially embarrassing for atheists because Craig’s arguments and debates are easily available, and he uses the same arguments all the time. So it should be easy for atheists to prepare for a debate with Craig.1

Much of his material is very useful, and I’ve cited his work plenty of times, e.g. in:

However, the big bang has long been a part of his argument for a beginning. But this is fraught with biblical and scientific problems (see The mind of God and the ‘big bang’). Indeed, many secular cosmologists are abandoning the big bang because of all the fudge factors needed to prop it up. So what will happen to a large part of Craig’s apologetic armoury? (See Secular scientists blast the big bang: What now for naïve apologetics?)

Thus it is no surprise that he endorses the error-prone big-bang-adoring progressive creationist Hugh Ross as “evangelicalism’s most important scientific apologist. … I enthusiastically support his work.” However, this was in an article where Craig sharply criticizes Ross for his heterodox view of the Triune Godhead and Christ as both fully human and fully God, arguing that Ross borders on the kenotic heresy (see The Kenotic Heresy and Genesis compromise).2

Hostility to biblical timescale

For much of his long apologetics career, his aversion to the biblical timescale has merely been implicit—logically entailed by his embrace of long-age ideas. However, more recently Craig has taken to explicit attacks on ‘young-earth creationists’. In an interview, he said:

… 50% of evangelical pastors think that the world is less than 10,000 years old. … that is just hugely embarrassing.—William Lane Craig

Yes, I’ve seen a comparable statistic that says that over 50% of evangelical pastors think that the world is less than 10,000 years old. Now when you think about that, Kevin, that is just hugely embarrassing. That over half of our ministers really believe that the universe is only around 10,000 years old. This is just scientifically, it’s nonsense, and yet this is the view that the majority of our pastors hold. It’s really quite shocking when you think about it.3,4

Craig’s view necessarily entails that animal death, suffering, and carnivory existed long before Adam’s sin, and he has defended this view explicitly.5 Dr Catchpoole wrote a fine overview on this issue, showing Craig’s fallacy (‘Billions of years’ makes Christians dumb (and atheists loud): A brilliant way to muzzle Christians: Get them to believe in long ages), so I won’t dwell on this here.

Craig vs creation days

Craig recently gave a series of talks where he attacked the biblical creationist view on the days of Genesis 1.6 In this article’s title, I indicated that this attack was “intellectually dishonest”, and I will explain that now. Any honest attack on a particular view should address the strongest claims for this view, which in turn demands that the critic should address the leading works defending this view. However, it becomes abundantly clear that Craig lacks the slightest familiarity with the leading creationist works on the issue (see recommended material, top right, for those from CMI). This is especially glaring when he attributes to young earth creationists a view that neither I nor anyone else in CMI has ever defended, and don’t know of any YEC who has; rather, this is a common view among old-earth compromisers! This will be demonstrated in the responses to his main points below:


WLC: Now similarly, so-called Young Earth Creationism takes the aim of Genesis 1 to communicate scientific information about creation.

JS: More accurately, we regard it as teaching accurate history. E.g. from ‘But Genesis is not a science textbook’:

Actually, Genesis is about history more than science (of course it touches upon, and is highly relevant to, aspects of anthropology, biology, geology, etc.). Normal (operational) science that puts men on the moon and cures diseases is based on repeatable observations in the present. Genesis claims to be an eyewitness account about the past, which can’t be repeated. In particular, Genesis is an account of world history from creation to the beginning of the Messianic people, Israel.

WLC: Young Earth Creationism [takes] take the account to be accurate, not to be obsolete anymore.

JS: Indeed we do. A major reason is that the Hebrew text teaches it, and another important reason is that Jesus, the Apostles, and the New Testament in general takes it this way.

WLC: God created the world in 6 consecutive 24-hour days about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.

JS: For many years now, major creationist organizations have taught that it’s about 6,000 years ago. See Biblical chronogenealogies (2003) and How does the Bible teach 6,000 years? (and response to questions about this article).

WLC: This interpretation takes the text in a prima facie way, that is to say, at face value. It takes the text literally in what it says, or at least as far as they can.

JS: As we have explained before:

We would usually call this hermeneutic “plain”, “historical-grammatical” or “originalist” rather than “literal”, i.e. what the text meant (and conveyed) to the original readers.33 This means there is an objectively right way to interpret this.

However, Craig’s comment could be defensible if we can take the wider sense of the word ‘literal’. Medieval and patristic interpreters used the term ‘literal’ to mean the grammatical-historical meaning, which could include a figurative meaning if that’s what the text taught. Thus to them, the ‘literal’ meaning of the ‘the windows of the heavens were opened’ (Genesis 7:11) would include its metaphorical usage for a massive rainfall. Rather, the ‘literal’ meaning was contrasted with a spiritualized or mystical meaning not grounded in the text.7,8 One example is allegorizing the Song of Solomon as referring primarily to Christ and the Church, whereas the text itself is romantic love poetry between Solomon and Shulamit (the Hebrew feminine form of Solomon, i.e. Mrs Solomon).9 Another example comes from the great Reformer and Bible translator William Tyndale (1494–1536):

Thou shalt understand, therefore, that the scripture hath but one sense, which is but the literal sense. And that literal sense is the root and ground of all, and the anchor that never faileth, whereunto if thou cleave, thou canst never err or go out of the way. And if thou leave the literal sense, thou canst not but go out of the way. Nevertheless, the scripture uses proverbs, similitudes, riddles, or allegories, as all other speeches do; but that which the proverb, similitude, riddle or allegory signifieth, is ever the literal sense, which thou must seek out diligently.10

But now, ‘literal’ often means ‘woodenly literalistic’, denying any figurative language even when the text teaches it.

WLC: Even Young Earth Creationists are not totally literalists. For example, some aspects of the narrative are not taken literally, such as the creation of the sun on the fourth day in Genesis 1.

JS: Actually, we do indeed take the creation of the sun on the fourth day literally. It shouldn’t have been too hard to verify this, e.g. How could the days of Genesis 1 be literal if the Sun wasn’t created until the fourth day?

Very typically, Young Earthers will not embrace the view that there was plant life and life on earth prior to God’s creation of the sun. Rather, the creation of the sun on the fourth day is interpreted to mean something like the sun appeared on that day. That it came out from behind the thick cloud canopy that had been enveloping the earth.

Since Craig asserts that this is ‘very typically’ the view of YECs, he should have had no trouble in producing one example of this. But this is most definitely not a typical YEC view. It is in fact the view of Hugh Ross—the one he commended as “evangelicalism’s most important scientific apologist”, remember? Ross argues that the planets including the earth started with opaque atmospheres, that dissipated only on the fourth ‘day’ (age), allowing the luminaries to become visible from the earth’s surface.11 Thus Craig should have been aware that this view was held by one on his own side.

However, in my book Refuting Compromise (RC), I answered this view. If Craig had performed even the most minimal research, he would have known that this view was one we reject:

This is not only fanciful science but bad exegesis of Hebrew. The word ‘asah means ‘make’ throughout Genesis 1, and is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘create’ (bara’)—e.g. in Genesis 1:26–27. It is pure desperation to apply a different meaning to the same word in the same grammatical construction in the same passage, just to fit in with atheistic evolutionary ideas like the big bang. If God hadmeant ‘appeared’, then He presumably would have used the Hebrew word for appear (ra’ah), as He did when He said that the dry land ‘appeared’ as the waters gathered in one place on Day 3 (Genesis 1:9).

Craig gets the next thing right:

WLC: Clearly, Genesis 1–3 are intended to be historical at some level. For example, Adam and Eve are presented as the first human couple, the origins of the human race. They are treated as historical individuals who actually lived. They’re not just symbols of mankind. They’re actual people who are connected to other people in Genesis like Abraham and his descendants by genealogies that linked Adam and Eve to indisputable historical persons. It’s clear that Adam and Eve are not just symbolic figures in this narrative. The author does think of them as real historical persons who have descendants that eventually lead to Abraham and the people of Israel.

Many compromisers, including Craig, exhibit a curious blind spot in this area: human death before the fall. That is, according to dating methods accepted by long-agers, there are undoubted human fossils ‘older’ than any possible date for Adam.

JS: However, many compromisers, including Craig as well as John Lennox for example (also addressed in the Catchpoole article), exhibit a curious blind spot in this area: human death before the fall. That is, according to dating methods accepted by long-agers, there are undoubted human fossils ‘older’ than any possible date for Adam. For example, Homo sapiens fossils with evidence of intelligent cultural activity12,13 have been ‘dated’ at 160,000 years old.14 Also, two partial skulls of Homo sapiens unearthed in 1967 near the Omo River in south-western Ethiopia have been radiometrically re-dated to about 195,000 years old.15,16 This is a real problem to reconcile with biblical chronology, because the text of the chronogenealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 doesn’t allow for gaps (see Biblical chronogenealogies).

But suppose for the moment that we allow gaps, how many missing generations would be needed? To stretch Adam back from about 4,000 BC to 193,000 BC would mean adding 189,000 years to the biblical timeline. Even if we allow the long generation times in Genesis 5, with an average age of fatherhood of 156 years, this would require over 1,200 missing generations.

One must wonder how a genealogy could miss out all these without any trace. And since many of the names that are mentioned include no trace of any deeds or sayings by them, why would the writer bother to mention these when so many others had been omitted?

In fact, there are huge numbers of human fossils ‘dated’—by methods that Lennox and Craig implicitly must accept—long before any biblical date of Adam. And many of these humans are victims of sinful violence such as murder and cannibalism, and many others had diseases.17Once again, they must have died after the Fall, which should undermine trust in any ‘dating’ system that places them before about 4,000 BC. But this would undermine Craig’s whole case for millions of years.

Craig goes downhill from here from the previous section:

WLC: On the other hand, the Genesis narrative is also undoubtedly, I think, meant to be symbolic and metaphorical in certain respects. For example, the name Adam in Hebrew just means man. In the beginning, God created man. And Eve means the mother of all living.

JS: This is not too bad yet. In Genesis 1:26–28, God says, “Let us make man”. ‘Man’ is here the Hebrew word ‘ādām אדם, and here means ‘mankind’. The next verse makes it clear that both sexes are included here. Of course, most English readers are far more familiar with the same word as the proper name for the first man: Adam. But there are also many places where Adam is clearly treated as an individual, not as a metaphor for humanity. For example, Adam had relations with his wife (Genesis 4:1), fathered three named sons and other sons and daughters, and lived for 930 years (Genesis 5). In the New Testament, Paul states that Adam is “the first man” in contrast to Christ, “the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).18 In Romans 5, Paul contrasts two heads of humanity: Adam and Christ.”19

However, it should not be surprising that the individual first man Adam had the name he did. What could be a better name for the progenitor of all humanity than one signifying just that? The ESV rightly translates the Hebrew word without the definite article as the name Adam, while when it refers to a single person with the article, it’s ‘the man’.

WLC: Adam and Eve are not just historical individuals like Janice and Jim. This is man and the mother of all living human beings. They represent humanity before God. They are symbolic, I think, and metaphorical for humanity.

JS: In one sense, Adam did represent humanity—but he did so as an individual man. This latter must not be undermined.

Gustave Doré, 1866.


WLC: In the creation story, as it continues in Genesis 2, we have clearly metaphorical or perhaps anthropomorphic descriptions of God. God is depicted in human terms. For example, God is depicted as walking in the garden and looking for Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are hiding from God and God calls out, “Where are you?” He’s looking for them in the garden.

JS: Is this a problem? This is not the only theophany, or visible manifestation of God, in the Bible. John Milton’s famous epic poem Paradise Lost depicts this as the pre-incarnate Christ. Before sin, Adam and Eve enjoyed a fellowship with God that they lost with sin. The same applies to their descendants, who won’t enjoy such a level of fellowship with God until the New Heaven and New Earth (for the descendants redeemed in Christ, “the last Adam”).

WLC: Or, again, when God creates man, it says that he fashions him out of the dust of the earth and breathes into his nostrils the breath of life. Clearly, this isn’t intended to mean that God literally bent down and performed CPR on Adam through his nose. Rather, this is using literary and metaphorical devices for describing his creation of humanity.

JS: This account is still a historical account: God first made Adam from non-living substance. Only after God breathed on him did he become alive. H.C. Leupold’s famous commentary on Genesis says:

The verb employed here accords more with the “Yahweh” character of God; yatsarmeans to ‘mold’ or ‘form’. It is the word that specifically describes the activity of the potter (Je 18:2 ff). The idea to be emphasized is that with the particular care and personal attention that a potter gives to his task God gives tokens of His interest in man, His creature, by molding him as He does. No crude material notions of God need to be associated with this verb. Let them misunderstand who insist that they must! Nor can it justly be claimed that an author who previously spoke of this work as a ‘creating’ and ‘making’ must be so limited and circumscribed in point of style as to be utterly unable to describe such a work of the Almighty from any other point of view and say He ‘formed’. Such an author must have an exceedingly cramped and wooden style. …

But more, a far more prominent distinguishing mark characterizes man’s creation: God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” A personal, vitalizing act of the Creator imparts life to man—an honour bestowed upon none of the lesser creatures. This breathing on God’s part must, as Keil rightly reminds us, be understood θεοπρεπώς [theoprepōs], i.e. in a manner befitting God. Nor can we for a moment hold that air or human breath was what God breathed into man’s nostrils. It was His own vital breath. …. Much as we may be inclined to claim that the distinctive element in man’s creation is the “breath of life” breathed into his nostrils, this is a supposition that cannot be maintained. For the expression involved, nishmath chayyîm, is practically the same as that used in 7:22 with reference to all life that perished in the flood, the only exception being that the phrase is altered to “the breath of the spirit of life” (nishmath rûch chayyîm). Not this breath itself but the manner of its impartation indicates man’s dignity.20

This is yet another huge problem for any attempt to reconcile molecules-to-man evolution with Scripture. Theistic evolution teaches that man evolved from living creatures. But in Genesis, man was made from non-living matter, with no suggestion that the ‘dust’ is intended as a metaphor for something living. Nonetheless, a common theistic evolutionary dodge is to regard ‘dust’ as a metaphor for the ape-like ancestors from which man allegedly evolved. But consider Genesis 3:19, where God judged Adam:

If the theistic evolutionists were right, then it logically follows that upon death we should become an ape-like ancestor. This is a reductio ad absurdumof the theistic evolutionary dodge. It shows once again that ‘solving’ one problem with eisegetical pretzelizing of the text creates far more problems than it ‘solves’.

… till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

If the theistic evolutionists were right, then it logically follows that upon death we should become an ape-like ancestor. This is a reductio ad absurdum of the theistic evolutionary dodge. It shows once again that ‘solving’ one problem with eisegetical pretzelizing of the text creates far more problems than it ‘solves’.

Also, Eve was formed from Adam’s rib, again not from ape-like creatures. That is why she could be the “mother of all living”—all the rest of humanity are descended from Eve, who was herself a sort of descendant of Adam. So Paul could explain to the Athenians that all humanity comes from one man (Acts 17:26).

WLC: In fact, the whole narrative in Genesis 1 is an incredibly carefully crafted piece of Hebrew literature. It really is unique. There is nothing like this in Hebrew literature elsewhere. Scholars generally agreed that it is not poetry. It’s not a Hebrew poem, nor is it a hymn exactly. Though, it seems to have strophe or verses. But it’s not just straight forward prose either.

This chapter is a highly stylized piece of writing that is constructed with certain parallels running all through it, for example “And God said,” “And God made,” “And it was so.” You find this structure repeated over and over again through the chapter. It is a very carefully stylistically constructed passage that exhibits an enormous amount of literary polish.

JS: Indeed so. Craig is right that it is not poetry. It is a structured Hebrew narrative:

  1. Command: ‘And God said, “Let there be … ‘
  2. Fulfilment: ‘And it was so.’
  3. Assessment: ‘God saw that it was good.’
  4. Closure of the day: ‘There was evening, there was morning, Day X.’

That is, God’s commands were fulfilled and even assessed within each 24-hour day. Attempts to avoid the clear historical time frame of Genesis destroy the connection between God’s commands and the response of His creation to His commands, making Genesis inconsistent with the rest of Scripture, and with His revelation in Christ, the ‘exact representation of God’ (Hebrews 1:3)—see also Why is CMI so dogmatic on 24-hour creation days?

WLC: The fact is that yom exhibits the same sort of latitude that the English word ‘day’ does. It can be used to describe a 24-hour period of time, but it can be used more broadly as well. Like when we say, “In Lincoln’s day, there were no automobiles yet” Obviously there, you are not referring to a 24-hour period. Yom, in Hebrew, exhibits exactly that same sort of latitude.

JS: Of course, we have long said the same thing. See for example our article ‘In my father’s day’: To determine whether ‘day’ means a long period of time, the hours of daylight, or a 24-hour period, you need to look at the context.

WLC: Also, the very phrase that is used in Genesis 1 for the first day, yom ehad or “day one”, is also used elsewhere in scripture in a nonliteral sense.

JS: Actually, this phrase is very strong evidence for literal days in Genesis 1. Andrew Steinmann, Associate Professor of Theology and Hebrew at Concordia University, Illinois , explains:

The answer may lie in the use of the terms “night”, “day”, “evening”, and “morning”. Gen 1:5 begins the cycle of the day. With the creation of light it is now possible to have a cycle of light and darkness, which God labels “day” and “night”. Evening is the transition from light/day to darkness/night. Morning is the transition from darkness/night to light/day. Having an evening and a morning amounts to having one full day. Hence the following equation is what Gen 1:5 expresses: Evening + morning = one day.

Therefore, by using a most unusual grammatical construction, Genesis 1 is defining what a day is. This is especially needed in this verse, since “day” is used in two senses in this one verse. Its first appearance means the time during a daily cycle that is illuminated by daylight (as opposed to night). The second used means something different, a time period that encompasses both the time of daylight and the time of darkness.

It would appear as if the text is very carefully crafted so an alert reader cannot read it as ‘the first day’. Instead, by omission of the article it must be read as ‘one day’, thereby defining a day as something akin to a twenty-four hour solar period with light and darkness and transitions between day and night, even though there is no sun until the fourth day.21,22

WLC: For example, this phrase is used in Zechariah 14:7 to refer to the day of the Lord. Zechariah 14:7 refers to the day of the Lord that is to say, God’s judgment upon Israel which is clearly not meant to be just a 24-hour period of time. So the language in Genesis 1 should not be pressed to indicate literal 24-hour days.

JS: Another very weak argument. Kulikovsky explains about Zechariah 14:7:

The ‘day’ in question is surely the same as that mentioned in verses 14, and 6, and it is clear from verse 5 that on ‘that day’ the Lord will come. In other words, it describes a specific time at which a space-time event occurs in the future. How can the coming of the Lord take a long period of time? It is an event: at one moment on that day, He will be absent—in the next moment He will have returned. Therefore the ‘unique day’ in Zechariah 14:7 does indeed refer to a literal 24-hour day.23

WLC: On behalf of those who do interpret it literally, I think one of the best proof texts for interpreting yom as literal in Genesis 1 actually isn’t in the book of Genesis. It’s in the book of Exodus. If you look at Exodus 20:9–11, the author is reflecting back on the Genesis narrative.

He is looking back on this seven day creation week and reflecting on it. In Exodus 20:9–11 he says this:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. In it, you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Here the passage says that in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them. Defenders of the literal interpretation will say that this shows that Genesis 1 is intended to refer to a literal week of six consecutive 24-hour days.

JS: Indeed we do. But Craig tries to explain it away:

WLC: But I think that this interpretation may be pressing the passage in Exodus a little too hard. What the Exodus passage is talking about clearly is the pattern that is set down in Genesis, namely, the pattern of God’s laboring for six days creating the world and then resting on the seventh day.

That pattern is the same that Israel should observe in its literal work week. Israel should work for six literal days and then rest on the seventh day. But that doesn’t mean to say that because the pattern is the same, that therefore, the periods of time or the days described in Genesis 1 are therefore exactly the same length as our ordinary calendar days. Look at how the Sabbath commandment is repeated in Exodus 31: [18:45] 12–17. …

JS: In RC, I wrote:

The clearest of all [evidences for 24-hour Creation days] is the Fourth Commandment, which, in both Exodus 20:8–11 and 31:17, has the causal explanation ‘For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the Earth … but he rested on the seventh day’. The word ‘for’ (Hebrew kî כי, also having the sense ‘because’) at the beginning of this expression is a causal explanation, showing that the Creation Week is the very basis of the working week. In these passages, it’s explicit that the Creation Days were the same as those of the human work week. There is no point even trying to understand the Bible if a word in the same passage and same grammatical context can switch meanings, without any hint in the text itself.

Craig continues with his eisegetical pretzelizing:

WLC: Notice that in this passage, it refers to the seventh day as the day of God’s Sabbath rest. It says, “On the seventh day, God ceased from labor and was refreshed by this day.” But when you read Genesis 1, the seventh day is clearly not a 24-hour period of time. It, unlike the other days, does not come to an end with evening and morning.

So “the seventh day is clearly not a 24-hour period of time”—not even something tentative such as “might not be”, mind you. This would have been news to most of the Church Fathers, medieval theologians, and Reformers. For example, the leading theologian and apologist of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274):

The words ‘one day’ are used when day is first instituted, to denote that one day is made up of twenty-four hours.—Thomas Aquinas

The words ‘one day’ are used when day is first instituted, to denote that one day is made up of twenty-four hours. Hence, by mentioning ‘one’, the measure of a natural day is fixed. Another reason may be to signify that a day is completed by the return of the sun to the point from which it commenced its course. And yet another, because at the completion of a week of seven days, the first day returns which is one with the eighth day. The three reasons assigned above are those given by Basil (Hom. 2[8] in Hexaem).24

More recently, Steinmann pointed out:

Likewise, the seventh day is referred to as הַשְּׁבִיעִי [hashəvî’î] (Gen 2:3), with lack of an article on יום[yôm]. This, also, the author is implying, was a regular solar day. Yet it was a special day, because God had finished his work of creation.25

Also, systematic theologian Dr Doug Kelly responded to this sort of argument as follows—and since this is a favourite of Craig’s hero Hugh Ross, I cited this in RC:

To say the least, this places a great deal of theological weight on a very narrow and thin exegetical bridge! Is it not more concordant with the patent sense of the context of Genesis 2 (and Exodus 20) to infer that because the Sabbath differed in quality (though not—from anything we can learn out of the text itself—in quantity), a slightly different concluding formula was appended to indicate a qualitative difference (six days involved work; one day involved rest)? The formula employed to show the termination of that first sabbath: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made” (Gen. 2:2) seems just as definite as that of “and the evening and the morning were the first day.”26

WLC: God is still in the day of his Sabbath rest. God is still in the period of no longer being active in creating new things.

JS: As I pointed out in RC:

If someone says on Monday that he rested on Saturday and is still resting, it in no way implies that Saturday lasted until Monday.27

WLC: If the seventh day, though it is referred to as a day and is the model for Israel’s literal Sabbath day, isn’t to be taken literally as we know, then why should the other days also be taken literally as 24-hour periods of time?

JS: Surely, if Craig is using the absence of evening and morning as proof that the 7th day is not 24-hours, then we have an answer to his question: that the other days do end with evening and morning!

WLC: Sometimes those who defend the literal interpretation of six consecutive 24-hour days will point out that when an ordinal number is used with the word yom as in second day, third day, and fourth day, then it always refers to a literal 24-hour day. When you use an ordinal number like second, third, fourth, fifth with yom, then it’s always referring to a literal 24-hour day. … They will say that the use of the ordinal number with yom indicates that it’s a 24-hour period of time. However, I don’t find this to be a convincing argument at all.

First of all, there is no grammatical rule in Hebrew that says that yom followed by an ordinal number has to refer to a 24-hour period of time. Even if it were the case that nowhere else in Hebrew literature that we have extant do we find yom followed by an ordinal number not referring to a 24-hour day, that could just be an accident of the Hebrew literature that happens to have survived.

JS: Of course, we could get into the debate about whether grammatical rules are prescriptive, as Craig evidently believes, or descriptive—describing the way the language is used. Indeed, it is true that day with a numeric does mean an ordinary day in Hebrew. See for example the carefully documented study The days of Creation: A semantic approach.

Also, Craig’s excuse is really special pleading. In RC, I responded to a similar claim:

Long-agers Bradley and Olsen claim that all exegetical bets such as the number/day connection are off, because Creation is the oneexception to the rule:

There is no other place in the Old Testament where the intent is to describe events that involve multiple and/or sequential, indefinite periods of time. If the intent of Genesis 1 is to describe creation as occurring in six, indefinite time periods, it is a unique Old Testament event being recorded. Other descriptions where yôm refers to an indefinite time period are all for a single time period. Thus, the absence of the use of yamîm for other than regular days and the use of ordinals only before regular days elsewhere in the Old Testament cannot be given an unequivocal exegetical significance in view of the uniqueness of the events being described in Genesis 1 (i.e, sequential, indefinite time periods).28

This is classic question-begging—they assume that the authors’ intent was to describe sequential indefinite periods of time, yet this is what needs to be demonstrated. And claims of exceptions require exceptionally strong reasoning! Secondly, as we have pointed out, we are perfectly aware that there are some occasions where yôm can mean an indefinite period of time. This is so only when it is modified by a preposition such as be (e.g. as we have shown with Genesis 2:4 [see below]). However, none of the instances in Genesis 1 are modified in this way.

WLC: Secondly, in any case, the claim is simply false. It is false. We do have passages where yom is used with an ordinal number to refer to a non-literal day. One such passage would be Hosea 6:2. In Hosea 6:2, it says, “He will revive us after two days. He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before him.” Here the days are not meant to be 24-hour periods of time. It is talking about God’s judgment upon Israel. He’s rent Israel. He has judged Israel. But on the third day, he will raise us up.

The third day is symbolic of the day of God’s deliverance and healing and restoration of Israel after it’s having been wounded and rent by the Lord’s judgment. It’s simply false that yom used with an ordinal number always refers to a 24-hour period of time. InHosea 6:2, it is clearly not referring to a literal 24-hour period of time.

JS: From RC, yet again:

The old-Earth creationist Alan Hayward, whom Ross praises for ‘sound theology’ despite being a unitarian,29 so denying the Deity of Christ as is clearly taught in the New Testament (e.g. John 1:1–145:18Titus 2:13), claimed that this passage “is at least one exception that shatters the so-called rule.”30 Not surprisingly, Ross accepts and repeats this argument (C&T:47).

However, this verse is set in a very specific sort of poetic synonymous parallelism. It is a common Semitic device, which takes the form X//X+1, i.e. one number followed by the next one, but where the numbers are not meant to be taken literally because they refer to the same thing in different ways.31 Other OT examples that illustrate the synonymity are:

Job 5:19: ‘From six calamities he will rescue you, from seven no harm will befall you.’

Prov. 6:16: ‘There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:’

Prov. 30:15: ‘There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, “Enough!”

Prov. 30:18: ‘There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand.’

Amos 1:3: ‘This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath…”

Hosea 6:2 is likewise this specific Semitic figure of speech, so must be interpreted accordingly. So the use of ‘two days’ and ‘three days’ are not intended to give literal numbers, but to communicate that the restoration of Israel mentioned in the previous verse will happen quickly and surely. This applies regardless of eschatological views about when this takes place.

Therefore, these instances must refer to normal days, or maybe even shorter periods, as opposed to long periods, otherwise the device would lose its meaning, i.e. the restoration would not be quick and sure if the days were long periods of time.

So Hayward and Ross are wrong to use this verse with a special grammatical structure to try to overturn the hundreds of crystal-clear examples of yôm used with a number.

WLC [in the following week’s lecture]: We saw in particular that it would be unwarranted to think that the word yom or day has to refer to a literal day. For example, in Genesis Chapter two and verse four, you have the word yom used in a clearly metaphorical way. In Genesis two-four, it says “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.”

Now in this passage, Genesis two-four, it refers to the entire creation week as the day in which the Lord made the heavens and the earth. Even in the very creation account itself we have the word yom used in a metaphorical sense to describe the entire creation week not just a 24-hour period of time.

In any case, showing that the word yom means a 24-hour day really doesn’t begin to address the question of whether or not a 24-hour day might be used as a metaphor for something else.

JS: Now Craig wrenches a word from one context to twist the same word used in a completely different context. As Hebrew scholar Robert McCabe explains:

In Genesis 2:4 יוֹם yôm is part of what I can call a grammatically bound construction. To communicate my point, I will provide a literal translation of 2:4: “in-the-day-of-making by the Lord God earth and heaven.” The five hyphenated words in this translation comprise this compound grammatical relationship. These five words involve three closely related words in the Hebrew text: an inseparable preposition (“in,” ) immediately attached to “day” (yôm) a construct, singular noun, and an infinitive construct (“making,” ‘āśôt). Elsewhere in the Bible, this compound bə yôm is often a Hebrew idiom for “when”, thus the verse means, “when the Lord God made the earth and heaven.32

Furthermore, as pointed out in RC:

There is also a parallel passage in Numbers 7:10–84. In verses 10 and 84, beyôm is used in relation to the whole 12 days of sacrifice at the dedication of the tabernacle. But in between these at verses 12, 18, 24, etc. we have yôm used with a number to refer to each of the 12 literal days.33

WLC: Even if it were true that the word yom means 24-hour period of time, that doesn’t even begin to address the literary question of whether or not a 24-hour day might not be used as a literary metaphor for something else. I don’t find the arguments on behalf of the literal interpretation compelling. …

JS: But unlike Craig, the vast majority of exegetes have found a literal interpretation compelling—until the rise of uniformitarian geology and capitulation of many conservative Bible commentators to this view. See How has Genesis 1–11 been understood throughout history? and Is Genesis poetry / figurative, a theological argument (polemic) and thus not history?

WLC: I want you to notice something very peculiar when it comes to the third day. If you have your Bible, take a look at Genesis chapter 1, verses 11 and 12. This is one of the most interesting features of this narrative.

Genesis chapter 1, verses 11 and 12 says, “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth, bearing fruit after their kind with their seed in them,’ and it was so.” The earth brought forth vegetation and fruit trees, etc., etc.

Notice it doesn’t simply say here, “And God said, ‘Let there be fruit trees and vegetation,’ and it was so,” a sort of miraculous creatio ex nihilo. No. What it says is, let the earth bring forth vegetation, and fruit trees bearing seed after their kind, and bearing fruit after their kind. Then it says the earth brought these things forth.

We all know how long it takes, for example, for an apple tree to grow up from a little shoot, become a sapling, then grow into a big tree and blossom and put forth flowers and then put out apples, finally.

JS: God, the creator of time, is hardly limited by time. A number of the Church Fathers thus believed that God caused instantaneous growth, e.g. Basil the Great (AD 329–379):

“Let the earth bring forth grass.” In a moment earth began by germination to obey the laws of the Creator, completed every stage of growth, and brought germs to perfection. …

At this command every copse was thickly planted; all the trees, fir, cedar, cypress, pine, rose to their greatest height, the shrubs were straightway clothed with thick foliage. The plants called crown-plants, roses, myrtles, laurels, did not exist; in one moment they came into being, each one with its distinctive peculiarities. Most marked differences separated them from other plants, and each one was distinguished by a character of its own. …

‘Let the earth bring forth.’ This short command was in a moment a vast nature, an elaborate system. Swifter than thought it produced the countless qualities of plants.—Basil the Great

“Let the earth bring forth.” This short command was in a moment a vast nature, an elaborate system. Swifter than thought it produced the countless qualities of plants. It is this command which, still at this day, is imposed on the earth, and in the course of each year displays all the strength of its power to produce herbs, seeds and trees. Like tops, which after the first impulse, continue their evolutions, turning upon themselves when once fixed in their centre; thus nature, receiving the impulse of this first command, follows without interruption the course of ages, until the consummation of all things.34

WLC: Finally, notice also the sixth day. This is the day that God creates Adam and Eve. When you read chapter 2 of Genesis, it makes it plausible that the author didn’t intend that sixth day to be just a 24-hour period of time. He goes on in chapter two to describe Adam’s activity on this day prior to Eve’s creation, naming all of the animals, for example.

Hundreds and thousands of animals that must have been known to the ancient Israelites, and in order to get acquainted with their habits, to realize that none of them is fit for him as a mate, that he is alone and unique in creation, and then having him fall asleep, and Eve finally being created, seems to envision a longer period of time.

JS: More tired old arguments, long ago answered by YECs:

First, Genesis 2:19 clearly states that God brought the animals to Adam. So there was no need to expend time finding and capturing them.

Second, as explained earlier, the number of kinds was much smaller than the number of today’s species.

Third, the list of animals that Adam had to name was far from exhaustive. Scripture explicitly states that Adam named all the ‘livestock’ (behemāh), the ‘birds of the air’ (‘oph hashāmayim) and all the ‘beasts of the field’ (chayyat hassādeh). There is no indication that Adam named the fish in the sea or any other marine organisms, nor did he name any of the insects or arachnids. So, like the Ark’s obligate passengers (see comments on Genesis 7), this involved only a small fraction of all the kinds of animals. Furthermore, the animals Adam had to name were even fewer—Genesis 2:20 omits ‘creeping things’ (remes, reptile), and the ‘beasts of the field’ are a subset of the ‘beasts of the earth’ of Genesis 1:24.

Combining both facts—that ‘kinds’ are broader than species, and that there was only a small subset of all kinds—there were probably only a few thousand animals involved at most. Even if we assume that Adam had to name as many as 2,500 kinds of animals, if he took five seconds per kind, and took a five-minute break every hour, he could have completed the task in well under four hours.35,36

When at last Eve is presented to Adam in chapter 2, verse 23, what does he say? “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” The word there, “at last,” is a word that connotes a period of time or a period of waiting.

For example, it’s the same word that’s used in the story of Jacob with Leah and Rachel, where Jacob “at last” is able to leave Laban after 14 years of working to win Leah and Rachel as his wives. Also, when Jacob finally sees his son, Joseph, and is ready to depart this life and to die, the same word is used. “At last” he is ready.

This phrase “at last” is used in Genesis elsewhere to indicate a long time of waiting. That again suggests that the author didn’t see what he said in Genesis 1 as being a description of a 24-hour period. For these and other various reasons, I think that one can legitimately approach Genesis one-three with greater flexibility than what the literal interpretation would imply. If this is right, that would mean that the creation account is not meant to be transpiring in 6 consecutive 24-hour days. …

JS: Another eisegetical fairy tale from the Rossite woods, once again addressed in RC:

Happa’am = ‘at last’?

Happa’am (הפעם) is merely pa’am (פעם) with the definite article added, so the ‘p’ is doubled. Although Ross claims this is ‘usually translated as “now at length”‘, this is simply not supported by major translations such as the KJV, NKJV, NIV or NASB. Nor is it supported by other parts of the Bible. Rather, the lexicons show that while pa’am has a variety of meanings, and is most often translated ‘time’, with the definite article it means ‘this time’.37 This is illustrated by passages Ross conveniently omits:

  • Judges 6:39—Gideon says to God, ‘may I speak once more … let me make a test once more’. Both times, ‘once more’ is the NASB translation of happa’am, but the second test is only 24 hours after his first test. The KJV has ‘but this once’.
  • Genesis 18:32—Abraham said to God, ‘I shall speak only this once’ (NASB); ‘I will speak yet but this once’ (KJV). Here, happa’am is translated ‘this once’, and it is used at the end of a short dialogue about the coming destruction of Sodom.

There is no basis for saying that this word carries with it the idea of a long period of time in Genesis 2.

WLC: Historically, it’s interesting to note that many of the church fathers and the rabbis down through history did not take Genesis 1 to refer to literal 24-hour days. People like Augustine and Origen and Justin Martyr, for example, and others of the church fathers took these to be not 24-hour periods of time.

JS: Actually, it’s very hard to find plausible candidates apart from Augustine, Origin, and a handful of others. That’s why their names keep coming up as if they were representative of the early Church views, when they were actually a small minority. And even they do not support the compromisers’ case.

As Patristics scholar Dr Benno Zuiddam has documented, Augustine was a young earth creationist—theistic evolutionists take this Church Father out of context. At one time, he wanted instantaneous days—the opposite of the long days that Craig’s hero Ross wants. But he came around to 24-hour days. CMI has long ago pointed out that Augustine strongly denounced ages longer than 6,000 years, while Origen was scathing of ages over 10,000 years.

Justin Martyr did not believe in long creation days. Rather, he was one of a number of early writers who believed that the six days of creation were a pattern for six thousand-year periods of history. This came from the widely misunderstood passage 2 Peter 3:8, which in turn citesPsalm 90:4, “one day is like a thousand years”—see the correct explanation for this; note that it is a simile not an equation. But it’s important to note that they didn’t say that the creation days were a thousand years long. They believed the world would only last for six thousand years from Creation before the return of Christ and the Millennium. In other words, each Day of Creation corresponded to (but was not equal to) one thousand years of subsequent Earth history, which culminated in the Millennium (the thousand-year reign of Christ) that paralleled the 7th Day (of rest), and the world as we know it would last no longer than seven thousand years. Long-ager Davis Young affirms:

[Some Church Fathers] did not believe that the creation had taken place over six millennia but that the totality of humanhistory would occupy six thousand years, a millennium of history for each of the six days of creation.—Long-ager Davis Young

But the interesting feature of this patristic view is that the equation of days and millennia was not applied to the creation week but rather to subsequent history. They did not believe that the creation had taken place over six millennia but that the totality of human history would occupy six thousand years, a millennium of history for each of the six days of creation.38

Here is what Justin Martyr actually said:

Now we have understood that the expression used among these words, “According to the days of the tree [of life] shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound” [Isaiah 65:22] obscurely predicts a thousand years. For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, “The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,” is connected with this subject. And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place. Just as our Lord also said, ‘They shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to the angels, the children of the God of the resurrection.’ [Luke 20:35f.] 39

So we see in this passage that Justin believed in a future literal millennium, which he had related to “The day of the Lord is as a thousand years.” But note that he never applied this thousand year period to the creation days. Justin also applied this simile to solve another problem—that Adam died on the same 24-hour day he ate the fruit (Genesis 2:17). Justin pointed out that Adam failed to live to 1,000 (he reached 930 (Genesis 5:5). However, this passage should not give old-earth compromisers an excuse, because the ‘day’ in Genesis 2:17 lacks both a numeric and the combination of evening and a morning.

The solution lies in the Hebrew, which uses forms of the same verb ‘to die’ (mût (מות)), together: môt’tāmût (תמות מות). It literally means ‘dying you shall die’, but the sense is the certainty, hence the translation ‘you shall surely die.’ Kulikovsky explains:

When the infinitive absolute precedes a finite verb of the same stem (as is the case here), it strengthens or intensifies the verbal idea by emphasizing “either the certainty (especially in the case of threats) or the forcibleness and completeness of an occurrence.”[40] In other words, the emphasis is on the certainty of their death rather than its precise timing or chronology.[41] This is demonstrated in 1 Kings 2:37–46: Shimei could not possibly have been executed “on the day” he exited his house since he was not killed until after he had travelled from Jerusalem to Gath, located his missing slaves, and travelled back to Jerusalem.42

Kulikovsky suggests an alternative understanding as well, that this phrase could be taken in the ingressive sense43—that is, a verbal form that designates the beginning of an action, state or event. In other words, the focus is on the beginning of the action of dying—i.e. God’s warning really means, ‘… for when you eat of it you will surely begin to die.’

Consider this analogy: if a branch is chopped off a tree and it falls onto hard concrete, one can say that it’s already dead, cut off from the source of life. But the process of physical death takes some time―the cells in the leaves will continue to photosynthesize for several days at least. Similarly, when Adam sinned, he immediately cut himself off from the Source of life, but the dying process took 930 years.44


Although Craig is an excellent apologist in many fields, he fails woefully to dent the strong case for biblical creation. It is even worse that he has failed to interact with the leading biblical creationist literature. This is like an atheist trotting out the juvenile “If God made the universe, then who made God” in a serious work, but failing to address the rejoinder that Craig specialized in with the Kalām argument: “Everythingwhich has a beginning has a cause.” Craig would do well to treat YECs with the respect he would demand of his atheist critics.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Muehlhauser, L., William Lane Craig’s Debates (Reviews),, 7 February 2009. Return to text.
  2. Craig, W.L., Hugh Ross’s extra-dimensional deity: a review article, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 42(2): 305–373, June 1999; Return to text.
  3. Craig, W.L., Young-earth Creationism is an embarrassment,, 23 January 2013. Return to text.
  4. Hallquist, C., William Lane Craig: Young-earth Creationism is an embarrassment, cited on the theologically liberal site, 17 February 2013. Return to text.
  5. William Lane Craig Q&A: Was there animal death before Adam?, drcraigvideos,, posted 15 August 2013. Return to text.
  6. Craig, W.L., Doctrine of Creation: Excursus on Creation and Evolution, Parts 2–3, ReasonableFaithOrg,, posted 12 July 2013. Return to text.
  7. Nemetz, A., Literalness and the Sensus Litteralis, Speculum (A Journal of Medieval Studies) 34(1):76–89, 1959 | doi:10.2307/2847979. Return to text.
  8. See also Cosner, L. and Sarfati, J. Non-Christian philosopher clears up myths about Augustine and the term ‘literal’, J. Creation, 27(2):9–10, 2013. Return to text.
  9. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., Biblical Lovemaking: A Study of the Song of Solomon, Ariel Ministries, 1983. Return to text.
  10. Cited in Packer, J.I., ‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God, pp. 101–114, Inter-Varsity Press, 1958. Return to text.
  11. Ross, H.N., The Genesis Question, pp. 26–27, Navpress, Colorado Springs, 1998. Return to text.
  12. D. Clark et al., Stratigraphic, chronological and behavioural contexts of Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia, Nature, 423(6941):747–752, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  13. C. Wieland and J. Sarfati, Ethiopian ‘earliest humans’ find: a severe blow to the beliefs of Hugh Ross and similar ‘progressive creationist’ compromise views,, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  14. Tim White et al., Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia, Nature, 423(6941):742–747, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  15. I. McDougall, F.H. Brown and J.G. Fleagle, Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia, Nature, 433(7027):733–736, 17 February 2005. Return to text.
  16. Wieland, C., Redating Leakey’s Ethiopian human finds: more problems for compromise,, 18 February 2005. Return to text.
  17. Lubenow, M., Pre-Adamites, sin, death and the human fossils, J. Creation, 12(2):222–232, 1998; Return to text.
  18. Cosner, L., Christ as the last Adam: Paul’s use of the Creation narrative in 1 Corinthians 15J. Creation, 23(3):70–75, 2009; to text.
  19. Cosner, L., Romans 5:12–21: Paul’s view of literal AdamJ. Creation, 22(2):105–107, 2008; Return to text.
  20. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis, book 1, Baker Book House, Michigan, 1942; Herbert Carl Leupold (1891–1972), a conservative Lutheran, was Professor of Old Testament Exegesis in the Capital University Seminary, Colombus, Ohio. Return to text.
  21. Steinmann, A., אחד as an ordinal number and the meaning of Genesis 1:5JETS 45(4):577–584, 2002; quote from pp. 583–584; italics in original, bold added.Return to text.
  22. Sarfati, J., The numbering pattern of Genesis: Does it mean the days are non-literal? J. Creation, 17(2):60–61, 2003;, based on Steinmann, ibidReturn to text.
  23. Kulikovsky, Creation, Fall, Restoration, p. 166, 2009 (see resources, top right). Return to text.
  24. Summa Theologiæ, Question 74. All the seven days in common. Return to text.
  25. Steinmann, Ref. 21. Return to text.
  26. Kelly, D., Creation and Change, p. 111; see resources, top right. Return to text.
  27. Anon (based on research by Mike Kruger), Is the seventh day an eternal day? Creation, 21(3):44–45, 1999. Return to text.
  28. Bradley, W. L. and Olsen, R. L., The Trustworthiness of Scripture in Areas Relating to Natural Science, in Radmacher, E.D. and Preus, R., Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984. Return to text.
  29. Hayward admitted this in a letter to creationist David C.C. Watson, who reported it in his review of Hayward’s book in Creation Research Society Quarterly,22(4):198–199, 1986. Return to text.
  30. Alan Hayward, Creation and Evolution, The Facts and the Fallacies, p. 164, London: Triangle, SPCK, 1985. Return to text.
  31. Roth, W.M.W., The Numerical saying x/x + 1 in the Old Testament, Vetus Testamentum, 12:300–311, 1962; Numerical Sayings in the Old Testament, A Form Critical Study, Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 13:6, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1965. Return to text.
  32. See also Graves, D., “ … when Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens, a proposal for the right translation of בְּיוֹם [bəyôm] in Genesis 2:4Journal of Creation, 23(3):119–122, 2009. Return to text.
  33. Actually, these verses have bayôm, where the ‘a’ represents the definite article, ‘the’, meaning ‘on the day [xth]’, unlike beyôm, which lacks the article.Return to text.
  34. Basil, Hexaëmeron 5:5,6,10; Return to text.
  35. Kulikovsky, A., How could Adam have named all the animals in a single day? Creation, 27(3):27, 2005; Return to text.
  36. Grigg, R., Naming the Animals: All in a day’s work for AdamCreation, 18(4):46–49, September–November 1996; Return to text.
  37. Kautzch, E., Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd edition, translated by Cowley, A.E., Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 404, 1910. Return to text.
  38. Young, Ref. 9, p. 20. Return to text.
  39. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 81. Return to text.
  40. Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd ed., trans. Cowley, A.E., Oxford University Press, Oxford 1910: 113n, citing Genesis 2:17 as a specific example. Return to text.
  41. Hamilton, V., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 172, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990. Return to text.
  42. Kulikovsky, Ref. 23, pp. 192–193. Return to text.
  43. Kulikovsky, Ref. 23, p. 193, n. 88. Return to text.
  44. Thanks to Peter Sparrow for this illustration. Return to text.

Speaking the truth in love and apologetics

Written by Dave Jenkins

Dave has become one of my favorite apologist with an excellent understanding of apologetics and gospel centered thinking.

The past decade or so has seen perhaps the greatest increase in information the world has ever known. The internet is loaded with good information and also information that isn’t helpful. Christians are thrust into this environment as we have been called by Jesus to be in the world, but not of the world. The Bible teaches Christians to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and to “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Ephesians 4:15, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

The idea of full Christian maturity is characterized in verse 14 from its negative aspect; in verse 15 positively. In striving to reach the goal and in advancing in that direction believers are goaded by the desire that they may no longer be like children in a tempest-tossed boat which they cannot manage.

Error is never overcome by mere negation. Over and against the deceitfulness of the errorists, the Ephesians should adhere to the truth that is practice integrity. And what ministry (Ephesians 4:12) can be more noble than that which, while resolutely opposing deceit, sets forth the truthfulness of life and lip over against it and does all this in the spirit of love?

There are two great enemies of a successful ministry, whether carried on among believers or among unbelievers. One is a departure from truth, compromise with the lie, whether in word or deeds. The other is a chilling indifference with respect to the hearts and lives, the troubles and trials of the people whom one is ostensibly trying to persuade. Paul has the real solution, the truth must be practiced in love (3:18; 4:2; 5:1-2), which was exactly what he was constantly doing (2 Cor. 2:4Gal. 4:16191 Thess. 2:7-12); and telling others to do (1 Tim. 4:111-13).

In fact, love must mark all of life. By means of such behavior we will impart a blessing not only to others but to ourselves also, for we will “grow up in all things into him who is the head, even Christ.”(Ephesians 4:15). We must grow up into union with Him. The same intimacy of conscious oneness with Christ is stressed in Romans 6:5, where the idea is expressed that believers are “grown together” with him. Such statements do not in any way obliterate the infinite distinction between Christ and Christians. They do not indicate identity but intimacy. The distinction between believers and their Lord is clearly enunciated here, for the latter is called the head, while the former are designated “the entire body.” What is meant by growing up in to Christ is interpreted by the apostle Paul in Phil. 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In other words in the words of Horatius Bonar, “So shall no part of day or night from sacredness be free, but all my life, in every step, be fellowship with thee.”

In addition to speaking the Truth in love, Christians are to speak and always be ready to give a defense of the faith (1st Peter 3:15) The Apostle Peter in 1st Peter 3:15 gives the basis for Apologetics, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Christians must consecrate Christ Jesus in their hearts. The heart is the central part of man’s existence, “for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). When the heart is controlled by Jesus Christ, the believer dedicates his entire life to Him. Then the Christian is safe from fear and is able to defend himself against his opponents.

Peter adapted this quotation from Isaiah 8:13, which says, “But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” In his day, Isaiah told the people not to fear the invading Assyrian armies but to revere God. In his epistle, Peter has the same encouraging message. However, he changes the wording by honoring Christ as the Lord Almighty, so that he is the Lord Christ. The position of the term Lord in the sentence creates two different translations: “sanctify the Lord Christ” or “sanctify Christ as Lord.” Although both versions make good sense the second translation is better because it imparts greater emphasis to the word Lord.

“Be prepared.” When Peter exhorts the readers to be ready to witness for the Lord at all times, does he mean that Christians should speak indiscriminately about their faith? No, not at all. Jesus says in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

Christians, then must be discreet, “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). They must know when and how far and to whom it is expedient to speak. Christians should respond to opportunities to speak boldly for the Lord Jesus Christ. When Peter tells the readers to be ready, he means that they not only should be willing but also should have the ability to speak for Christ. Therefore, they must know the teaching of the Bible and Christian doctrine so they are always ready to give an answer.

“Give an answer.” The admonition to “give an answer to everyone who asks you” is not limited to times when a Christian must take the stand in a courtroom. In some instances the Christian must defend himself against verbal attacks from hostile unbelievers. At other times he is asked to teach the gospel to a neighbor who shows genuine interest in understanding the Christian religion. The term everyone is inclusive and relates to all circumstances. When we revere Christ as Lord, we experience that “out of the overflow of the heart our mouth speaks’ (Matt. 12:34). Accordingly, our verbal expressions should be exemplary, and wholesome. We should demonstrate an ability to give an answer to everyone who asks us about our faith in Christ (Col. 4:6).

“Reason.” What does a Christian have? He has hope, says Peter. Although hope is one of the three Christian virtues (1 Cor. 13:13), faith and love seem to overshadow it. In sermons and discussions we often neglect to talk about hope. Nevertheless, in his epistle Peter mentions hope frequently. In the Greek, the verb occurs in 1:13 and 3:5, and the noun in 1:3, 21, and 3:15. What is the hope that a Christian possesses in his heart? Hope is patient, disciplined, confident waiting for and expectation of the Lord as our Savior. The write of Hebrews exhorts in Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

1st Peter 3:15b-16, “yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

“Yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Peter instructs the readers to exercise gentleness, and this he echoes with the words for Jesus (“I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt.. 11:29), whose example the believer should adopt.

When we sanctify Christ in our hearts, we should exercise gentleness and respect toward all men. In our behavior we exert ourselves to demonstrate gentleness toward persons who are spiritually weak (rom. 15:1-2). In our conduct we make every effort to show honor and respect toward God and toward those whom God has placed over us (2:13-17; Rom. 13:1-7). We strive to be living models of the example Christ has set.

“Having a good conscience.” Christians who have a clear conscience are readily motivated to show their respect and obedience to God. When as a prisoner in Jerusalem Paul defended himself before the Jewish Sanhedrin, he exclaimed in Acts 23:1, “And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” that is, before God he had done his missionary work in all sincerity and truth; his conscience was clear.

“Those who revile your good behavior.” To opponents of the Christina faith, a Christian who professes his faith in Christ has already provided sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. Moreover, numerous accusations can be leveled at an innocent Christian.

Notice the similarity with a preceding verse in this epistle. There Peter writes, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (2:12).

“May be put to shame.” When unbelievers maliciously direct falsehoods against Christians who seek to live by the example Christ has set, truth eventually triumphs. When the evidence shows that the conduct of Christians is blameless, the unbelievers themselves are put to shame by their own slander.

The writer of Hebrews tells the readers to leave behind the elementary doctrines about Christ and to move on to maturity (6:1). A Christian must be able to formulate his faith in elementary propositions so that when he/she is asked about his/her faith, he/she is able to speak about Christianity. He/she must be able to lead others to Christ and refute the charges of unbelievers. In evangelizing neighbors, a Christian should have the elementary qualifications to teach others the way of salvation. When hhe/she confronts the attacks of the humanist and the atheist, a Christian should have a basic working knowledge of the Scripture to be able to substantiate the phrase the Bible says. And when members of sects ring the doorbell, the well-informed Christian should become the teacher to lead these visitors to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Calvin on the Death of Infants

It is sometimes charged that Calvin taught the actual damnation of some of those who die in infancy. A careful examination of his writings, however, does not bear out that charge. He explicitly taught that some of the elect die in infancy and that they are saved as infants. He also taught that there were reprobate infants; for he held that reprobation as well as election was eternal, and that the non-elect come into this life reprobate. But nowhere did he teach that the reprobate die and are lost as infants. He of course rejected the Pelagian view which denied original sin and grounded the salvation of those who die in infancy on their supposed innocence and sinlessness. Calvin’s views in this respect have been quite thoroughly investigated by Dr. R. A. Webb and his findings are summarized in the following paragraph: “Calvin teaches that all the reprobate ‘procure’ — (that is his own word) — ‘procure’ their own destruction; and they procure their destruction by their own personal and conscious acts of ‘impiety,’ ‘wickedness,’ and ‘rebellion.’ Now reprobate infants, though guilty of original sin and under condemnation, cannot, while they are infants, thus ‘procure’ their own destruction by their personal acts of impiety, wickedness, and rebellion. They must, therefore, live to the years of moral responsibility in order to perpetrate the acts of impiety, wickedness and rebellion, which Calvin defines as the mode through which they procure their destruction. While, therefore, Calvin teaches that there are reprobate infants, and that these will be finally lost, he nowhere teaches that they will be lost as infants, and while they are infants; but, on the contrary, he declares that all the reprobate ‘procure’ their own destruction by personal acts of impiety, wickedness and rebellion. Consequently, his own reasoning compels him to hold (to be consistent with himself), that no reprobate child can die in infancy; but all such must live to the age of moral accountability, and translate original sin into actual sin.” 37

37. Calvin Memorial Addresses, p. 112.

To Summarize; what Calvin is saying is; all infants who die as infants are going to be saved because they are the elect of God. There are no non-elect infants that die as infants. Those children who group up to practice sin become guilty for actually sinning.  The non-elect show their sinful nature as we all do, but never come to the knowledge of repentance and the truth.

via Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: Calvin on the Death of Non-Elect Infants and the Age of Accountability.

Debate between Dr. Walter Martin and Atheist Madalyn Murray O’hair

This is a very dated debate, but it shows several things very clearly.

1. Mrs. O’hair would not agree to definition because she knew it would undermine here case

2. Mrs. O’hair would not agree to the common understanding of language because it would undermine her case.

3. Dr. Martin, attempted to set fair and genuine definitions and groundwork in order to create a meaningful conversation that would take them forward into knowledge and understanding of the Christian position vs the Atheist position.

4. Mrs. O’hair was simply argumentative and rude to Dr. Martin. She would not answer any question without side-tracking to a complaint about what Dr. Martin was doing.

There are very few debates that I’ve listened to on YouTube that don’t follow this same sort of digression. The better moderated ones allow for the speaker to get out his thoughts without interruption, but the arguments from the Atheist are never much better than Mrs. O’hair.

The late Dr. Walter Martin was one of my favorite bible theologians. He was famous for his counter-cult ministry and his preaching was exceptional. Dr. Martin was a tremendous apologist in a category all his own.


The Gospel of Grace offered to the Worst Sinners

This is an excerpt taken from John Bunyan’s Jerusalem sinners’ saved sermon. It is a rich mine of gospel instruction and anyone who reads it will come away blessed and adoring the Lord Jesus Christ more than before. I believe it is very good for apologist to have a rich understanding of the gospel and a deep insight into the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I offer this as a help to you as saints turning from sins and as a fellow sinner in need of Christ’s abundant grace himself.

To read the full Sermon please visit


The observation, you know, is this: Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the first place, to the biggest sinners, to the Jerusalem sinners: ‘Preach repentance, and remission of sins, in my name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’

The reasons of the point are:

First, Because the biggest sinners have most need thereof .

He that has most need, reason says, should be helped first. I mean, when a helping hand is offered, and now it is; for the gospel of the grace of God is sent to help the world (Act 16:9). But the biggest sinner has most need. Therefore, in reason, when mercy is sent down from heaven to men, the worst of men should have the first offer of it. ‘Begin at Jerusalem.’ This is the reason which the Lord Christ himself renders, why, in his lifetime, he left the best, and turned him to the worst; why he sat so loose from the righteous, and stuck so close to the wicked. ‘The whole,’ saith he, ‘have no need of the physician, but the sick. I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance’ (Mark 2:15-17).[7]

Above, you read that the scribes and Pharisees said to his disciples, ‘How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?’ Alas! they did not know the reason; but the Lord renders them one, and such an one as is both natural and cogent, saying, These have need, most need. Their great necessity requires that I should be most friendly, and show my grace first to them.

Not that the other were sinless, and so had no need of a Saviour; but the publicans and their companions were the biggest sinners; they were, as to view, worse than the scribes; and, therefore, in reason, should be helped first, because they had most need of a Saviour.

Men that are at the point to die, have more need of the physician than they that are but now and then troubled with a heart-fainting qualm. The publicans and sinners were, as it were, in the mouth of death; death was swallowing of them down:[8] and, therefore, the Lord Jesus receives them first; offers them mercy first. ‘The whole have no need of the physician, but the sick. I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.’ The sick, as I said, is the biggest sinner, whether he sees his disease or not. He is stained from head to foot, from heart to life and conversation. This man, in every man’s judgment, has the most need of mercy. There is nothing attends him from bed to board, and from board to bed again, but the visible characters, and obvious symptoms, of eternal damnation. This, therefore, is the man that has need, most need; and, therefore, in reason, should be helped in the first place. Thus it was with the people concerned in the text; they were the worst of sinners, Jerusalem sinners, sinners of the biggest size; and, therefore, such as had the greatest need; wherefore they must have mercy offered to them, before it be offered to anywhere else in the world. ‘Begin at Jerusalem,’ offer mercy first to a Jerusalem sinner. This man has most need, he is furthest from God, nearest to hell, and so one that has most need. This man’s sins are in number the most, in cry the loudest, in weight the heaviest, and, consequently, will sink him soonest; wherefore he has most need of mercy. This man is shut up in Satan’s hand, fastest bound in the cords of his sins: one that justice is whetting his sword to cut off; and, therefore, has most need, not only of mercy, but that it should be extended to him in the first place.

But a little further to show you the true nature of this reason, to wit, That Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the first place, to the biggest sinners.

First, Mercy ariseth from the bowels and compassion, from pity, and from a feeling of the condition of those in misery. ‘In his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them.’ And again, ‘The Lord is pitiful, very pitiful, and of tender mercy’ (Isa 63:9; James 5:11).

Now, where pity and compassion is, there is yearning of bowels; and where there is that, there is a readiness to help. And, I say again, the more deplorable and dreadful the condition is, the more directly doth bowels and compassion turn themselves to such, and offer help and deliverance. All this flows from our first scripture proof, I came to call them that have need; to call them first, while the rest look on and murmur.

‘How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?’ Ephraim was a revolter from God, a man that had given himself up to devilism; a company of men, the ten tribes that worshipped devils, while Judah kept with his God. But ‘how shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? [and yet thou art worse than they, nor has Samaria committed half thy sins (Eze 16:46-51)] Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together’ (Hosea 11:8).

But where do you find that ever the Lord did thus rowl [9] in his bowels for and after any self-righteous man? No, no; they are the publicans and harlots, idolaters and Jerusalem sinners, for whom his bowels thus yearn and tumble about within him: for, alas! poor worms, they have most need of mercy.

Had not the good Samaritan more compassion for that man that fell among thieves (though that fall was occasioned by his going from the place where they worshipped God, to Jericho, the cursed city), than we read he had for any other besides? His wine was for him, his oil was for him, his beast for him; his penny, his care, and his swaddling bands for him; for, alas! wretch, he had most need (Luke 10:30-35).

Zaccheus the publican, the chief of the publicans, one that had made himself the richer by wronging of others; the Lord at that time singled him out from all the rest of his brother publicans, and that in the face of many Pharisees, and proclaimed in the audience of them all, that that day salvation was come to his house (Luke 19:1-8).

The woman, also, that had been bound down by Satan for eighteen years together, his compassions putting him upon it, he loosed her, though those that stood by snarled at him for so doing (Luke 13:11-13).

And why the woman of Sarepta, and why Naaman the Syrian, rather than widows and lepers of Israel, but because their conditions were more deplorable; for that they were most forlorn, and furthest from help (Luke 4:25,27).

But I say, why all these, thus named? Why have we not a catalogue of some holy men that were so in their own eyes, and in the judgment of the world? Alas! if, at any time, any of them are mentioned, how seemingly coldly doth the record of scripture present them to us? Nicodemus, a night professor, and Simon the Pharisee, with his fifty pence, and their great ignorance of the methods of grace, we have now and then touched upon.

Mercy seems to be out of its proper channel when it deals with self- righteous men; but then it runs with a full stream when it extends itself to the biggest sinners. As God’s mercy is not regulated by man’s goodness, nor obtained by man’s worthiness, so not much set out by saving of any such. But more of this anon.

And here let me ask my reader a question: Suppose that, as thou art walking by some pond side, thou shouldst espy in it four or five children, all in danger of drowning, and one in more danger than all the rest; judge which has most need to be helped out first? I know thou wilt say, he that is nearest drowning. Why, this is the case; the bigger sinner, the nearer drowning; therefore, the bigger sinner, the more need of mercy; yea, of help, by mercy, in the first place. And to this our text agrees, when it saith, ‘Beginning at Jerusalem.’ Let the Jerusalem sinner, says Christ, have the first offer, the first invitation, the first tender of my grace and mercy; for he is the biggest sinner, and so has most need thereof.

Second , Christ Jesus would have mercy offered, in the first place, to the biggest sinners, because when they, any of them, receive it, it redounds most to the fame of his name .

Christ Jesus, as you may perceive, has put himself under the term of a physician, a doctor for curing of diseases; and you know that applause and fame are things that physicians much desire. That is it that helps them to patients; and that, also, that will help their patients to commit themselves to their skill, for cure, with the more confidence and repose of spirit. And the best way for a doctor or physician to get himself a name, is, in the first place, to take in hand, and cure, some such as all others have given up for lost and dead. Physicians get neither name nor fame by pricking of wheals,[10] or picking out thistles, or by laying of plasters to the scratch of a pin; every old woman can do this. But if they would have a name and a fame, if they will have it quickly, they must, as I said, do some great and desperate cures. Let them fetch one to life that was dead; let them recover one to his wits that was mad; let them make one that was born blind to see; or let them give ripe wits to a fool: these are notable cures, and he that can do thus, and if he doth thus first, he shall have the name and fame he desires; he may lie a-bed till noon.

Why, Christ Jesus forgiveth sins for a name, and so begets for himself a good report in the hearts of the children of men. And, therefore, in reason he must be willing, as, also, he did command, that his mercy should be offered first to the biggest sinners. I will forgive their sins, iniquities, and transgressions, says he, ‘And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour, before all the nations of the earth’ (Jer 33:8,9).

And hence it is, that, at his first appearing, he took upon him to do such mighty works; he got a fame thereby, he got a name thereby (Matt 4:23,24).

When Christ had cast the legion of devils out of the man of whom you read (Mark 5), he bid him go home to his friends, and tell it. ‘Go home,’ saith he, ‘to thy friends, and tell them how great things God hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee’ (Mark 5:19). Christ Jesus seeks a name, and desireth a fame in the world; and, therefore, or the better to obtain that, he commands that mercy should first be proffered to the biggest sinners; because, by the saving of one of them, he makes all men marvel. As it is said of the man last mentioned, whom Christ cured towards the beginning of his ministry. ‘And he departed,’ says the text, ‘and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him; and all men did marvel’ (Mark 5:20).

When John told Christ, that they saw one casting out devils in his name, and they forbade him, because he followed not with them, what is the answer of Christ? ‘Forbid him not; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me’ (Mark 9:39). No; they will rather cause his praise to be heard, and his name to be magnified, and so put glory on the head of Christ.

But we will follow, a little, our metaphor. Christ, as I said, has put himself under the term of a physician; consequently, he desireth that his fame, as to the salvation of sinners, may spread abroad, that the world may see what he can do. And to this end, has not only commanded that the biggest sinners should have the first offer of his mercy, but has, as physicians do,[11] put out his bills, and published his doings, that things may be read and talked of. Yea, he has, moreover, in these, his blessed bills, the holy scriptures I mean, inserted the very names of persons, the places of their abode, and the great cures that, by the means of his salvation, he has wrought upon them to this very end. Here is, Item , such an one, by my grace and redeeming blood, was made a monument of everlasting life; and such an one, by my perfect obedience, became an heir of glory. And then he produceth their names. Item , I saved Lot from the guilt and damnation that he had procured for himself by his incest. Item , I saved David from the vengeance that belonged to him for committing of adultery and murder. Here is, also, Solomon, Manasseh, Peter, Magdalene, and many others, made mention of in this book. Yea, here are their names, their sins, and their salvations recorded together, that you may read and know what a Saviour he is, and do him honour in the world. For why are these things thus recorded, but to show to sinners what he can do, to the praise and glory of his grace? And it is observable, as I said before, we have but very little of the salvation of little sinners mentioned in God’s book, because that would not have answered the design, to wit, to bring glory and fame to the name of the Son of God.

What should be the reason, think you, why Christ should so easily take a denial of the great ones that were the grandeur of the world, and struggle so hard for hedge-creepers[12] and highwaymen, as that parable seems to import he doth, but to show forth the riches of the glory of his grace, to his praise? (Luke 14). This, I say, is one reason, to be sure. They that had their grounds, their yoke of oxen, and their marriage joys, were invited to come; but they made the excuse, and that served the turn. But when he comes to deal with the worst, he saith to his servants, Go ye out and bring them in hither. ‘Go out quickly – and bring in hither the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind.’ And they did so. And he said again, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled’ (Luke 14:18,19,23). These poor, lame, maimed, blind, hedge-creepers, and highwaymen, must come in, must be forced in. These, if saved, will make his merit shine.

When Christ was crucified, and hanged up between the earth and heavens, there were two thieves crucified with him; and, behold, he lays hold of one of them, and will have him away with him to glory. Was not this a strange act, and a display of unthought-of grace? Were there none but thieves there, or were the rest of that company out of his reach? Could he not, think you, have stooped from the cross to the ground, and have laid hold on some honester man, if he would? Yes, doubtless. Oh! but then he would not have displayed his grace, nor so have pursued his own designs, namely, to get to himself a praise and a name; but now he has done it to purpose. For who that shall read this story, but must confess, that the Son of God is full of grace; for a proof of the riches thereof, he left behind him, when, upon the cross, he took the thief away with him to glory. Nor can this one act of his be buried; it will be talked of, to the end of the world, to his praise. ‘Men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts; and I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness – They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom’ (Psa 145:6-12).

When the Word of God came among the conjurors and those soothsayers, that you read of (Acts 19), and had prevailed with some of them to accept of the grace of Christ, the Holy Ghost records it with a boast, for that it would redound to his praise, saying, ‘Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men ; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the Word of God, and prevailed’ (Acts 19:19,20). It wrenched out of the clutches of Satan some of those of whom he thought himself most sure. ‘So mightily grew the Word of God.’ It grew mightily, it encroached upon the kingdom of the devil. It pursued him, and took the prey; it forced him to let go his hold! It brought away captive, as prisoners taken by force of arms, some of the most valiant of his army. It fetched back from, as it were, the confines of hell, some of those that were his most trusty, and that, with hell, had been at an agreement. It made them come and confess their deeds, and burn their books before all men. ‘So mightily grew the Word of God, and prevailed.’ Thus, therefore, you see why Christ will have offered mercy, in the first place, to the biggest sinners; they have most need thereof; and this is the most ready way to extol his name ‘that rideth upon the heavens’ to our help.

The use of apologetics in preaching and teaching the Gospel

I read this excellent article and I wanted to share it. It seems like many apologists online are forgetting the power of the gospel. They are excited to engage the world with apologetics but seemly minimize the gospel. Now, none of them would say so because to do that is to admit a direct dependence upon the flesh; nevertheless, these new apologist are inching away from scripture toward dependence upon intellectual acumen. This article is a blessing and I hope you find it to be a good instructive.

The use of apologetics in preaching and teaching the Gospel

By Dave Jenkins.

In part 1 we learned what it means to engage worldviews. In part 2 we learned about Paul’s use and methods in Apologetics, and today we conclude our series on Apologetics by learning about the use of Apologetics in preaching and teaching the Gospel.

I read this excellent article and I wanted to share it. It seems like many apologists online are forgetting the power of the gospel. They are excited to engage the world with apologetics but seemly minimize the gospel. Now, none of them would say so because to do that is to admit a direct dependence upon the flesh; nevertheless, these new apologist are inching away from scripture toward dependence upon intellectual acumen. This article is a blessing and I hope you find it to be a good instructive.

The use of apologetics in preaching and teaching the Gospel

Dr. Mohler President of The Southern Baptist Theology defines apologetics as the task of setting forth the truth claims of Christianity and arguing for the unique truthfulness of the Christian faith- must inform every preacher’s understanding of his task in a postmodern age.[i]

Acts 17:16-34 serves as a model of Great Commission proclamation matched to an apologetic argument-an argument in defense of Christian truth. In that passage Paul is standing at the center of apologetic ministry in the first century- Athens. Athens was the most intellectually sophisticated culture in the ancient world, but its glory was retreating. Even though Rome held political and military preeminence, Athens stood supreme in terms of cultural and intellectual influence. The centerpiece of Paul’s visit to Athens is his message to the court of philosophers at the Areopagus, also known as Mars Hill. Several principles as it relates to preaching and apologetics become evident in considering Acts 17:16-34.

First, Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture begins in a provoked spirit (Acts 17:16). Paul observed the spiritual confusion of the Athenians and was overcome with concern. The sight of a city full of idols seized him with grief, and that grief turned to gospel proclamation. Paul records that Paul experienced paroxysmos, a paroxysm, at the sight of such spiritual confusion. Athens was intellectually sophisticated- the arena where the ancient world’s most famous philosophers had debated. This was the city of Pericles, Plato, and Socrates, but Paul was not impressed with the faded glory of this city. He saw men and women in need of a Savior.

This text reminds us that the proper view of Christian apologetics begins in spiritual concern, not in intellectual snobbery of scorn. Christians preach Christ not because Christianity is merely a superior philosophy or worldview, nor because we have been smart enough to embrace the gospel, but because we have met the Savior, we have been claimed by the gospel, and we have been transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Christians preaching is not a matter of intellectual pride but of spiritual concern. A dying world languishes in spiritual confusion.

America is a nation filled with idols of self-realization, material comfort, psychological salvation, sexual ecstasy, ambition, power and success. New Age spiritualties in a quest for personal fulfillment and self-transcendence. The ancient paganisms of nature worship have emerged once again, along with esoteric and occult practices. Journalist Walter Truett Anderson observes, Never before has any civilization made available to its populace such a smorgasbord of realities. Never before has a communications system like the contemporary mass media made information about religion-all religions-available to so many people. Never has a society allowed its people to become consumers of belief, and allowed belief-all beliefs- to become merchandise.[ii]

America has become too acculturated, too blind, and too unimpressed with the paganism and idolatries all around us. As Christians, we betray a comfort level that Paul would see as scandalous. Instead of this, Christians should be gripped by the realization that millions of men and women are slaves to the idols of our age, and learn to have the courage to confront the idols all around them.

Second, Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture is focused on gospel proclamation (Acts 17:17). Moved by the city full of idols, Paul went to the synagogue and to the marketplace each day, presenting the claims of Christ and reasoning with both Jews and Gentiles. The goal of apologetic preaching is not to win an argument but to win souls to Christ. Apologetics separated from evangelism is unknown in the New Testament, and is foreign to the model offered by the apostle Paul. The great missionary Paul was about the business of preaching the gospel, presenting the claims of Christ, and calling for men and women to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

For many evangelicals the study of apologetics is reduced to philosophical structures and rational arguments. This is not Paul’s method. Paul is not merely concerned with the justification of truth claims, but for the justification of sinners. Every true theologian is an evangelist, and every true evangelist is a theologian. The Gospel possesses content and presents truth claims that demand the preachers keenest arguments and boldest proclamation. The Gospel is to be received. Paul moved by the sight of idols preached Christ and called for belief.

Third, Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture assumes a context of spiritual confusion (Acts 17:18-21). Paul’s gospel proclamation brought confusion to the Athenian intellectuals. The Epicureans, the forerunners of modern secularists, and the Stoics, committed to pantheistic rationalism accused Paul of teaching nonsense.

To the Athenians- and to the modern secular America- the preaching of the authentic gospel sounds strange. The Athenians said, “You are bringing some strange thing to our ears.” The Christian preacher hears the same thing today. In postmodern American, the Christian gospel is strange in its whole and in its parts. Most Americans assume themselves to be good and decent persons, and are amused at the notions that they are sinners against God. Grace is alien concept in American culture. Sin is almost outlawed as a category, substitutionary atonement sounds unfair, and God in human flesh is too much to take. Yet that is what Christians preach.

The Athenians and their tourists loved to spend their time telling or hearing something new- but what Paul preached was too much. Americans today are just like the Athenians. Consumers of meaning just as much as they are of cars and clothing, Americans will test-drive new spiritualties and try on a whole series of lifestyles. To many, the gospel is just too strange, too countercultural, too propositional, and too exclusive. To contend for the gospel and biblical morality in this culture is to run the risk of being cited for “hate speech.” The Christian must assume a context of spiritual confusion, and this is often now a hostile confusion. The Gospel sounds not only strange but threatening to the local deities.

Fourth, Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture is directed to a spiritual hunger (Acts 17:22-23). Paul’s observation convinced him that the Athenians were a religious people. A deficit of religiosity was not the problem. Judging from the statue Paul noticed, the Athenians seemed to be fearful lest they miss any new philosophy or neglect any unknown deity.

American culture is increasingly secularist. The past century has seen the agenda of secularism accomplished in the courts, in the schools, in the marketplace, and in the media. Yet Americas are among the most religious people in the world. The emptiness of the secular wasteland haunts most postmodern persons. They long for something more. Many people declare themselves to live by scientific rationality, and yet they read the astrology charts, believe in alien abductions, line up to see bleeding statues, and talk about past lives. In America, even some atheists say they believe in miracles. Sociologist Robert Wunthnow suggests that Americans are particularly fascinated with miraculous manifestations of the sacred because they are uncertain whether the sacred has really gone away.[iii]

Paul had taken account of the plentiful idols and houses of worship found in Athens. He even noted they were hedging their bets, lest they offend some deity who had not made themselves known. Paul seized the opportunity. Brought before the court at the Areopagus, he referred to the altar he had seen that was dedicated to an unknown god.

The example of Paul here ought to establish a pattern for Christian preaching in a postmodern age. Christians must seek constantly to turn spiritual hunger toward the true food of the gospel of Christ. God had placed that hunger within lost persons they might desire Christ. Christians bear the stewardship of proclaiming the gospel, and therefore we must muster the courage to confront confused postmodernists with the reality of their spiritual ignorance. Paul never allowed this ignorance to become an excuse, but there can be no doubt that it is a reality. Americans, too, are feeding on a false diet of superstition and myths. The hunger is a place to start. Our challenge is to preach Christ as the only answer to that hunger.

Fifth, Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture begins with the fundamental issue of God’s nature, character, power and authority (Acts 17:24-28). Interestingly, Paul does not begin with Christ and the cross but with the knowledge of God in creation. The do who created the world is not looking for Corinthian columns and the Parthenon, Paul argued. The Lord does not dwell in temples made with human hands. The Lord is the author of life itself, and He needs nothing from us. Furthermore, The Lord had made humanity and is Lord over all nations. The Lord sovereignly determines their times and boundaries. The Athenians were partly right, said Paul, quoting their poets. All human beings are God’s children, but not in the sense the Athenians believed. In proclaiming God as the Creator, Ruler, and Sustainer of all things and all peoples, Paul was making a claim that far surpassed the claims of the Hellenistic deities.

Paul established his preaching of Christ upon the larger foundation of the knowledge of the God of the Bible, Maker of heaven and earth. Every preacher of the Gospel must structure their proclamation of the gospel in this postmodern culture just as Paul did. People must first understand God the Creator before they will understand God the Redeemer.

John Calvin organized his systematic theology around what he called the duplex cognito Domini, the twofold knowledge of God. The preacher must start with the knowledge of God as Creator, but this is not sufficient to save.  John Calvin notes that it is one thing to feel that God our Maker supports us by his power, governs us by his providence, nourishes us by his goodness, and attends us with all sorts of blessings, and another thing to embrace the reconciliation offered us in Christ. Seeing people come to faith in Christ the Redeemer begins with seeing them come to grips with the fact that God is their Maker.[iv]

Sixth, Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture confronts error (Acts 17:29). Preaching, apologetics, and polemics are all related. Error must be confronted, heresy must be opposed, and false teachings must be corrected. Paul was bold to correct the Athenians with a firm injunction: Preachers ought never to not think false thoughts about God. The Athenians made idols out of marble and precious metals. Paul rebuked this practice and proclaimed that the Divine Nature is not like gold or silver or stone. Furthermore, God is not “an image formed by the art and thought of man.”

False theologies abound no less in the postmodern marketplace of ideas. Americans have revived old heresies and invented new ones. Mormons believe that God is a celestial being with a sex partner. The ecological mystics believe that the world is God- the so called Gai Hypothesis. New Age devotees believe that God is infinite empowerment. Our culture is filled with images of gods formed by art and the thought of man. Our confrontation must be bold and biblical. We have no right to make God in our image.

Seventh, Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture affirms the totality of God’s saving purpose (Acts 17:30-31). Paul brought his presentation of the gospel to a climatic conclusion by calling for repentance and warning of the judgment that is to come. He proclaimed Christ as the appointed Savior who will judge the world and whose identity has been clearly revealed by the fact that God has raised him from the dead.

It is not enough to preach Christ without calling for belief and repentance. It is not enough to promise the blessings of heaven without warning of the threat of hell. It is not enough to preach salvation without pointing to judgment.


Authentic Christian preaching both declares and defends the whole gospel. The center of the Christians proclamation is Jesus Christ the Savior, who was crucified for sinners, was raised by the power of God, is coming again in glory and in judgment, and is even now sitting and ruling at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Christians must defend the truths of Christ’s deity, the virgin birth, the historicity of the miracles, the truth of the incarnation, the reality of His substitutionary death, and the assurance of His bodily resurrection. Yet Christians dare not stop at these affirmations, for we must place the person and work of Christ within the context of God’s eternal purpose to save a people for His own glory and to exalt himself among the nations. The task of preaching in this postmodern context is comprehensive, even as it is driven by the desire to see sinners turn to Christ in faith.

The postmodern world has no need of half evangelists preaching a half gospel to the half converted, and leading a halfhearted church. What is needed is a generation of bold and courageous preacher-apologists for the twenty-first century- men who will be witnesses to the whole world of the power of the gospel and who will proclaim the whole counsel of God.

[i] R. Albert Mohler, He is not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World (Chicago: Moody, 2008), 123-124.

[ii] Walter Truett Anderson, Reality Isn’t What It Used to Be (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1990), 188.

[iii] Robert Wuthnow: After Heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2005), 139.

[iv] John Calvin, Institutes, McNeill and Battles, vol. 1, 40.

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