Church history is the narrative of God’s dealing with his covenantal people in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Many passages of scripture are narratives of actual historic events; these narratives begin with Genesis 1:1. The Calendar-Day view of creation has been the majority view of God’s covenantal people since creation. There have been other views expressed within the church. However, other views of creation did not begin to obtain significant acceptance until around 1830.
The Significance of History in the Bible
The format of the Bible is basically that of a historical narrative. The books of the Bible are generally arranged in a linear sequence.
The Bible demonstrates that God’s people take history seriously. They are to remember events and to learn from them (I Corinthians 10:11&12). Within the Bible there are numerous references to historical events previously described, examples include:
- Ps 78: The author references Gods dealing with His people from Jacob through the exodus.
- Acts 7: Stephen’s references Hebrew history from Abraham to Christ.
The Bible also contains information in a manner of an archive. Examples of Scripture as a achieve include:
- “…These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 1:1 – 2:4).”
- “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that god created man, in the likeness of God made he him; (Genesis 5:3)”
- “These are the generations of Noah: … (Genesis 6:9.”
- “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were born after the flood. (Genesis 10:1)”
- “Now these are the generations of Terah: … (Genesis 11:27).”
- “And these are the generations of Isaac, … (Genesis 25:19).”
- I Chronicles Chapter 1 through 9 is listing of people beginning with Adam through Noah, the sons of Noah, and continuing through the sons of each head of the tribes.
- “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac… (Matthew 1:1 & 2).”
- “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being, (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli…son of David…son of Juda…son of Jacob…son of Isaac…son of Abraham…son of Shem…son of Noe…son of Adam…son of God (Luke 3:23-38).
In summary, God presents His dealing with humankind in a linear way. In addition, God provides archives of important records such as genealogies. God’s people are instructed to remember their history and to learn from their mistakes.
Develop a Personal Biblical Timeline of the Creation Discussion
Students of creation are encouraged to develop their own timeline of the creation discussion. Timelines are a basic element of research. After a timeline is developed, it may be used again and again.
Timelines represent an orderly sequence of events. God is a God of order and this attribute is evidenced throughout the Bible. Start a timeline of the creation discussion with creation and go from there. The student should then add significant events to the timeline until it extends to the present.
Timelines should be developed from reliable sources. The Bible is the most reliable source for timeline information. The PCA Report is a very good source for timeline information in in the church age. The history of the creation discussion contained in the PCA Report was arrived at by a consensus of those who represent different views of creation. Wikipedia is a good source of dates and events; however, the interpretation of events is secular. Materials from advocacy groups within the creation discussion can be helpful. However, there can be misrepresentations.
Through Church history, scholars have used the Bible to establish a date of creation. Important elements in this task include the genealogies from Genesis through Chronicles, references to the 400 years in Egypt, references to the 400 years of the judges, and ties to secular history. The scholars produced creation dates in the range of 4,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C. This range of dates does not accommodate evolution (one million plus years), uniformitarian geology (4 billion years), or the Big Bang (14 billion years).
Significant Periods in the Creation Discussion Timeline
The creation discussion timeline may be broken into several periods as follows:
- From creation to the closure of cannon: This is God’s record of creation. No alternate view to the literal view of creation is presented by the authors of the Bible.
- From the close of cannon to the reformation: Most of the church fathers support the literal view of creation. A notable exception was Augustine who believed in creation period of one day. The reformers supported the literal vies of creation and one of the signers of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Lightfoot, developed his own time line of history and date of creation – 3960 BC. The Roman Catholic church held to a literal view of creation until the mid-1950’s.
- After the reformation: In the protestant church, the Day-Age, and the Ruin-Restoration Interpretation (Gap-Theory) started to develop a following in the 1830’s.
- After Darwin: Evolution began became established in the mainline protestant churches in the later 1800’s. Evolution became established in evangelical churches and colleges through the efforts of the American Scientific Affiliation by the 1950’s. The Roman Catholic church accepted evolution in the mid-1950’s.
- In the late 1950’s, the Framework interpretation began to become popular in evangelical circles due to the influence of Meredith Kline, an OPC ordained seminary professor. The Framework Interpretation was the first interpretation of Genesis to accept evolution (1).
Summary of the YEC View of Church History:
The YEC view of church history is well documented. It is based on Biblical timelines, reliable denominational studies, and reliable secular materials. The YEC view of church history is easily understood.
OEC View of Church History:
The OEC view of church history is based on an attempts to: 1) discredit the timeline input found in the Bible; 2) discredit the traditional view of church history and; 3) efforts to transform historic minority positions into majority positions. For years OEC representatives have insisted that there are gaps in the biblical genealogies. However, gaps (if any) appear to be meaningless when 14 billion years needs to be inserted. The traditional events of church history and historic positions of the church are hard to discredit; since they are well documented.
- The YEC view of church history is based on timelines that understandable to the average person.
- In contrast, the OEC view of church history is very challenging. The narrative of the Bible must either be totally dismissed or reinterpreted to accommodate timeframes demanded by uniformitarian geology, evolution and the Big Bang.
- Summarize your understanding of the creation discussion and church history.
- Continue to develop your timeline of the creation discussion. Use the PCA repot to bring your timeline up to the presence.
- In our next post, we will look at YEC and OEC views of science. Become familiar with terms like scientific method, experimental science, forensic science, scientific community, and scientific consensus.
- Meredith Kline (1922-2008) authored a paper titled “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony” it was published by the American Scientific Affiliation. In footnote number 47, Kline includes the statement: “In this article I have advocated an interpretation of biblical Scripture is open to a very old universe and, in that respect, does not discountenance the theory of an evolutionary origin of man. “