YEC / OEC – what are the Differences? Element 1 – YEC and OEC Views of Bible Interpretation

Christians who believe in the literal view of creation are required to believe that the sun revolves around the earth because the Bible states “From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the LORD’s name is to be praised (Psalm 113:3).”   This verse clearly shows that the Bible can be wrong on scientific issues!”

The above statement is a good example of a “Strawman argument”.  The person who presents a “strawman argument” purposely misrepresents their opponent’s view and then ridicules it.   The Calendar-Day view of creation is also called the Literal View of creation.  However, this does not mean that Christians who hold a literal view of creation take each verse of the Bible literally.  Consider the word of Jesus at the last supper: “… Take eat this is my body (Matthew 26:26)” and “…Drink ye all of it: For this is my blood of the new testament… (Matthew 26:27).”  Roman Catholics take these verses literally – the communion elements become flesh and blood; protestants do not.

A better term the way that protestants have traditionally interpreted the Bible is the “Plain Reading of Scripture.”  A plain reading of Scripture is based on the “Perspicuity of Scripture.”  The perspicuity of Scripture is rooted in God’s covenantal promise that believers are to be a kingdom of priests (I Peter 2:9, Isaiah 61:6, Exodus 19:6); a priest knows God and His word.  All believers have the privilege of knowing God from the least to the greatest (Jeremiah 31:34).

The plain reading of Scripture allows the use literary devices.  However, any literary device used must be easily understandable to an average person.  Easily understandable literary devices include metaphors, anthropomorphisms and relative motion. The wording “From the “rising of the sun to the going down of the same… (Psalm 113:3)” is not considered a conflict between science and the Bible for those hold to a plain reading of scripture.

A plain reading of scripture recognizes that some portions of scripture are poetic. It also recognizes that poetry in Hebrew has a very different structure from poetry in English.  A plain reading of Scripture recognizes that significant portions of Scripture, including Genesis Chapter 1, are highly structured.  Structured writing used to clarify, increase understanding, and preclude misunderstanding.   Structured writing is found in contracts, legal descriptions of property, and other legal documents.

Research:

Research is basic step in developing knowledge about any subject.  Two elements of research are:1) building a glossary of subject related terms, and 2) using quotations from reliable sources.

Definitions:

This discussion of Bible Interpretation uses two important definitions: 1) Perspicuity and 2) plain reading.  These are defined below:

  • Perspicuity: Perspicuity basically means that a person of average intelligence can understand the Bible.  Article 7., Chapter 1 – Of the Holy Scripture, of the Westminster Confession of faith was excerpted from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church website (www. opc.org) on 4/4/2015:

“All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.”

  • Plain Reading: Basically, with a plain reading, meanings are to be assigned the ordinary meaning of words.  The following was excerpted from Wikipedia on 3/1/15:

“The plain meaning rule dictates that statutes are to be interpreted using the ordinary meaning of the language of the statute. In other words, a statute is to be read word for word and is to be interpreted according to the ordinary meaning of the language, unless a statute explicitly defines some of its terms otherwise or unless the result would be cruel or absurd. Ordinary words are given their ordinary meaning, technical terms are given their technical meaning, and local, cultural terms are recognized as applicable

Quotations:

The PCA Report is a reliable source for quotations.  In the PCA Report, supporters of various views of creation listed what they considered the strengths and weaknesses of their view.  Supporters of the Calendar- Day Interpretation listed eight strengths of this view.  Four of these eight strengths relate to Bible interpretation.  These are listed below:

  • Language: The following was excerpted from the PCA Report:

 “The Calendar-Day view is the obvious, first-impression reading of Genesis 1-3, in which each of the words is given its most common, plain meaning.  This is the meaning that the author has gone to great lengths to convey.[38]  It is undoubtedly the meaning that the unsophisticated (by today’s standards) initial audience would have understood the account to have.  The view is neither difficult to explain nor to justify because of its simple and straightforward relationship to the text.  This fact is vitally important, for it means that the average believer today can read the Word of God and understand it without the benefit of some higher level of learning reserved only to the scholars.  Thus this view best preserves the perspicuity of Scripture (WCF I.7; Psalm 119:130).

  • Fourth Commandment: The following was excerpted from the PCA Report:

“The Calendar-Day view provides the basis for the theological logic of and is confirmed by the Fourth Commandment as recorded in Exodus 20:11, in which the seven-day cycle of work and rest is affirmed.  “The Sabbath was made for man,” said our Lord Jesus (Mark 2:27).” Many passages of Scripture are direct quotations from god. But the ten commandments are the only portion of Scripture personally transcribed by God – into stone.

  • Special Revelation Based: The following was excerpted from the PCA Report:

“The Calendar-Day view stands on the basis of special revelation, rather than being indebted to or dependent upon any particular ancient or modern scientific worldview, whether it be that of uniformitarian geology, Darwinian evolution, Big Bang cosmology, or even creation science.  A theology wed to the science of one age is a widow in the next.[41]

  • Use of the Word Day: The following was excerpted from the PCA Report:

 “The Genesis 1 account builds in a logical manner from the inanimate to the animate, finally climaxing with man as the focus of creation.  The use of ordinals with yôm, which is always an indication of sequence, reinforces this development.  Elsewhere in the Bible, every use of the ordinal with yôm correlates with its normal-day meaning, nor has any contrary example been found in extra-biblical writings.”

Summary of the YEC view of Bible Interpretation: YEC Bible interpretation has been held since creation. It is based on God’s covenantal promise that humankind, from the least to the greatest, have the privilege of knowing Him through His word (Jeremiah 31:34). God communicated clearly and plainly – Humankind uses the terms perspicuity and plain reading to describe this communication. The YEC view of Genesis Chapter One is illustrated by the PCA Report.  Strengths of the Calendar-Day Interpretation include:

  • Language – plain reading and perspicuity
  • The Fourth Commandment
  • Special Revelation Based – it is independent of outside influences
  • Correct use of the word “day”

Summary of the OEC views of Bible Interpretation:

The OEC views of Bible interpretation are based on responses to the conclusions of the scientific consensus.  OEC interpretations originated in the 1830’s from a perceived need to reconcile the Bible to the then new science of uniformitarian geology.  These views were the Day Age Interpretation and the Ruin-Restoration Interpretation. (Gap Theory).

The Day Age Interpretation is based on the word “day” in Genesis 1 being interpreted as a long period of time rather than a day of ordinary length.  This interpretation of the word “day” does not follow the correct usage demanded by structure and context.  The Day Age view was popular from the 1830’s into the later 20th century; but is no longer as popular as it once was.  Today this view is championed by Dr. Hugh Ross of the Reasons to Believe ministry.

The Ruin-Restoration (Gap Theory) Interpretation creates a gap of long duration between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. This view is based on a very unusual interpretation of the first two verses of Genesis.  This interpretation finds little favor today.  The Ruin Restoration view was popular from the 1830’s into the middle of the 20th century.

The Analogical Day Interpretation of creation is less well known but is held by some in the PCA.  The Analogical Day view originated in Holland in the late 1800’s and was championed in the 1990’s by Dr. C. John Collins, a PCA ordained seminary professor. The view has elements of similarities to the Day Age Interpretation and uses complex literary devices that are not easily understood by the average person.

The Framework Interpretation of creation first appeared in Holland in the 1930’s.  It became known in the U.S. in the mid-1950’s and was championed by Dr. Meredith Kline (1922-2008) an OPC ordained seminary professor. The Framework Interpretation is based on themes of creation rather than actual events and chronology. The Framework Interpretation is based on a very unusual interpretation of a single passage of Scripture – Genesis 2:5.   The interpretation and uses complex literary devices which are not easily understandable to the average person. In the PCA Report, representatives who held the Framework view emphasizes that this view “…denies all evolutionary origins and evolutionary philosophy as contradictory to the teaching of scripture.”  However, Kline states that the Framework Interpretation “…does not discountenance the theory of the evolutionary origin of man…” (footnote # 47 in a 1996 paper titled Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmology).  This made the Framework Interpretation was the first view of creation to explicitly accept evolution.

Today, evangelicals who believe in Theistic Evolution / Evolutionary Creation may reference the Analogical Day Interpretation and the Framework Interpretation, but some seem to prefer a more general approach.

In Summary:

The YEC view of Bible Interpretation has existed from creation itself.  Itis based on a plain reading of Scripture.  This plain reading is rooted in the perspicuity of scripture and God’s covenantal promise that allows all believers to know Him through His special revelation.  The YEC view of Bible interpretation does not change with the views of the scientific consensus.

In contrast, the OEC view of Bible Interpretation is based on a perceived need of some make the Bible conform to the scientific consensus of the times.  This means that new Interpretations of creation must need to be developed continually.  Since the 1830’s, OEC interpretations have departed further and further from the perspicuity and a plain reading of Scripture.

Homework:

In our next post, we will look at YEC and OEC views of revelation.  Your homework is as follows:

  1. Begin your glossary of creation discussion terms. Establish definitions for these terms: Plain Reading, Perspicuity, Theistic Evolution / Evolutionary Creation).
  2. Read about the Day-Age, Analogical Day, and Framework Interpretations in the PCA Report.
  3. List two examples of structured writing in scripture.
  4. Start a creation notebook in a three-ring binder.

 

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