Exodus 20 and Genesis 1 and our early Christian church pastors' support for 6 days of creation and <6000 year age of the earth

trueseek1's picture

On a discussion board with atheists, I am noticing how so many Christians are uncertain about the Word of God in regards to our creation by God. It's surprising that the one time that some Orthodox, Catholic and protestants can agree on something, it has to be a 'new' interpretation of God's Word.

Exodus 20:1-20 seems clear enough about 6 days of creation with most reasonable assumption that our prophet and saint Moses knew how to count days and nights and was writing under the inspiration of our eyewitness, GOD. The context is the 10 commandments of God and the words are

"There are 6 days a man shall work, and on the 7th day he shall rest, ...because God created the Heavens and the Earth, the sea and all that is in them in 6 days, and on the 7th day He rested".

We have guidance from Church pastors of many early Church who confirmed God's Word in understanding of 6 literal days and a young earth:

For example: Saint Basil the Great on his "six days" homily clearly showing us the Church's trusted support of 24 hour day creation "...twenty-four hours measure the space of a day, or that, in reality a day is the time that the heavens starting from one point take to return there. Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun, evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never exceeds the space of one day...").

Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Hippolytus or Rome, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Augustine of Hippo, clearly spoke of an earth that is under 5600 years old. Those Church fathers were mocked by "scientific philosophers" of their time who taught a long age earth theory as well, but they never compromised their faith in God's eyewitness account.

One review I found http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v16/i3/orthodoxy.asp confirmed what the early church taught. It was written about a book by an orthodox monk named Seraphim Rose and his easy conclusions of the study of our church fathers led him to also pass along the Biblical and historically true teachings that our earth is under 10,000 years old.

The book "Refuting Compromise" by an evangelical Australian PhD biochemist named Jonathan Sarfati, did a fantastic job of expanding of Father Rose's presentations of early church fathers and shows us how evangelicals like Hugh Ross and some Dallas seminary professors misrepresented so many trusted early church pastors in their support of very long age theories. But the book goes much further and looks at the Scientific evidences supporting a Biblical understanding of creation.

Recently, I'm noticing some more evangelical departing from Luther, Calvin and Wesley's teachings, and majority of Catholic scholars and a few Orthodox Bishops coming out against the early Church's faith in a young earth, as God's Word and his trusted pastors taught us. Might someone know how can some these days so easily thow our the early Church's faithful testimony of God's Creation, the 1st Adam and the 2nd, the 1st Eve and the 2nd Eve, the worldwide flood, and still remain faithful to the early Church's Biblical teachings?

Some authors even tried to paste their opposition as a "fundamentalist" corner argument, as if belief in the Bible belongs only to one corner, but if St. Basil, St. Ambrose, Augustine and almost all early church fathers support a correct biblical interpretation of an earth under 10,000 years old and Calvin, Luther, Melanchton, Wesley and Lightfoot support a similar interpretation, and church historical accounts in China, Persia, India, Greece, Syria, and Egypt support a "young" earth, how can anyone from any parts of God's body support a view that contradicts God's Word and these trusted Holy Spirit filled trusted pastors of our early Church and remain faithful to Orthodox doctrines?

humbly in His Service,
D.A.

jroberts's picture

Even if I threw out the

Even if I threw out the archaeology and the total lack of a king of nineveh, the conversion of Nineveh would still be completely not possible relative to the rest of the OT. If Nineveh really did repent and become followers of God, then what sense does the book of Nahum make? The story of Jonah cannot in its entirety be totally historically true because otherwise everything said in the rest of the prophets in relation to Nineveh would be longing for the destruction of Israel's coreligionists. Before the rise of the Babylonian empire, Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire and was not exactly popular among Israel and Judea; afterwards, it had no sovereignty as it was just part of the Babylonian/Chaldean and then Persian empires. How can Habakkuk ask God how long it will be before God destroys Nineveh (with the Chaldeans), how can Nahum celebrate Nineveh's destruction, how can Isaiah accuse Nineveh of idolatry if this really happened in history?

"Myth" was the wrong word on my part. "Parable" would've been better as it lacks the negative connotation. It tells us about God's mercy and love for all of his people and about the importance of heeding one's vocation. Everything that the parable tells us about God and man is true, even if nothing it tells us about Nineveh is true. Rejecting Jonah's historicity doesn't reflect rejecting the Bible; rather, it reflects taking the Bible seriously enough to realize that it can't disagree or be inconsistent. I would never say that what Jonah says isn't true, just only that it didn't happen as recounted in Jonah. That such a patently nonhistorical book is in the Scripture means we have to take its allegorical message that much more seriously -- why would the Holy Spirit direct the Fathers to include it in the canon if what it said about God and man and their relationship with each other wasn't really really important.

The thing about thinking with tradition is that it allows tradition to be incomplete. There are distinctions and issues at work in some of the Fathers which it would be ridiculous to read into earlier Fathers. For instance, nearly everyone before St. Athanasius took a more or less subordinationist theology. Athanasius sounds in places like Apollinaris, but it would be anachronistic, among other things, to accuse St. Athanasius of denying Christ's human soul. It simply wasn't an issue when he wrote On the Incarnation. Likewise, St. Cyril sometimes sounds a little like a monophysite, but it would be ridiculous to say he's a Eutychean. The possibility that the earth was very very old never occurred to anyone at all until fairly recently. The Fathers didn't take a stand on the earth's age because it wasn't an issue yet, just like monothelitism wasn't an issue for St. Cyril. The Fathers wrote a lot arguing that the world is created, that it is created by one creator, that it is created ex nihilo, through the Logos, etc., but at no point does anyone argue that the earth is 8,000 years old and not 3,000,000,000 for the same reason they didn't argue about whether or not Ohio State is going to go undefeated. Issues that were never resolved by the Fathers and Doctors because they were never issues can be discussed later, and it's possible that the conclusion arrived at later will sound different from what the previous Fathers said.

Also, the Fathers of the Church only wrote about issues that were directly important to the economy of salvation. At some point in time it occurs to people that there issues on which Christians in good faith can disagree. In the West, this is sometime in the 1200s, or maybe earlier, no doubt connected with the rise of the university. This idea becomes much more important in light of the Reformation and the modern ecumenical movement. So, there's a distinction between questions about which disagreement would mean schism, or heresy, or apostasy, or just grounds for a potentially interesting discussion. There are hierarchies of truths. Does believing God created the earth slowly a long time ago interfere with the economy of salvation? I don't see how. Does it go against Church teaching? Again, there was no Church teaching on the issue until after it became apparent, at least to the Catholic Church that the economy of salvation is not affected by the issue, much like we realized (after the fact) concerning the geocentric universe. Does it somehow affect recognition of episcopal authority and dinity? No, for the same reason as the last question.

In order for me to agree, you'll have to establish that earth's age as such is essential to the economy of salvation. Creation isn't the issue. How long ago creation happened is the issue. Or, you'd have to establish that the physical empirical evidence shows the earth to really be young.




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