During this time period, the record of the pre-reformation and post reformation church is established. This period was marked by an understanding in the Christian world that truth was from the Bible. Disagreements about creation were centered in the Bible not science.
In Part 2, a basic timeline will be presented. This will be followed with some quotations from the PCA Report concerning this period. The information from the PCA Report will be followed by references contributions to this time period contained in the book, Refuting Compromise … by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati.
90-700: This is considered the period of the Church Fathers.
1400-1700: This is a time frame of the renaissance. This is the bridge period between the middle ages and modern history.
1571: Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic priest and monk posts 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, Germany and the reformation begins.
1615: Mark the date of the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church’s controversy with Galileo Galilie (1564-1642) concerning heliocentric (planets revolve around the sun) view of the solar system.
1633: The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) is adopted, Article IV references creation and states that God created the earth in six days. One of the signers was John Lightfoot.
1642: John Lightfoot publishes his chronology of history which places the date of creation at 3960 B.C.
1650 – Bishop James Usher publishes his chronology of history which places the date of creation at 4004 B.C.
1681 – 1696: The book the Genesis Flood lists three influential geology books that cite the Genesis flood as the source of fossils. These books are: A Sacred Theory of the Earth by Thomas Bruner (1681); An Essay Toward a Natural Theory of the Earth by John Woodward (1693); and A New Theory of the Earth by William Winston (1696). These are the early references to flood geology.
Quotations from the PCA Report:
The PCA Report covers the period prior to the reformation well. The committee examined the works of about 130 authors who wrote prior to the Westminster Assembly. Some quotations from the PCA Report are as follow:
“Out of all of this literature it is possible to distinguish two general schools of thought on the nature of the six days. One class of interpreters tends to interpret the days figuratively or allegorically (e.g., Origen and Augustine), while another class interprets the days as normal calendar days (e.g., Basil, Ambrose, Bede and Calvin). From the early church, however, the views of Origen, Basil, Augustine and Bede seem to have had the greatest influence on later thinking. While they vary in their interpretation of the days, all recognize the difficulty presented by the creation of the sun on the fourth day.”
“In the 16th century the Protestant Reformers mainly wanted to distance themselves from fanciful allegorizations of the days of creation—which is how they regarded Augustine’s solution to the problem of the nature of the days. “
“Before we move on to review the history of the interpretation of the Genesis days to the present, it seems appropriate to draw some conclusions from the first half of our study. First, it is apparent that there existed in the church prior to the Reformation two broad tendencies in the interpretation of the Genesis days: one more figurative, the other more literal—the Calendar Day view. Second, the Calendar Day view was advocated in both the eastern and western parts of the church (Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose and Bede), as was the figurative view (Origen, John Scotus Erigena and Augustine). Third, the Calendar Day view appears to be the majority view amongst influential commentators. Certainly, it is the only view held by contemporary Reformed theologians that is explicitly articulated in early Christianity. Fourth, the issue of the length of the creation days was apparently not taken up in any ecclesiastical council and never became a part of any of the early ecumenical creedal statements. Fifth, the Reformers explicitly rejected the Augustinian figurative or allegorical approach to the Genesis days on hermeneutical grounds. Sixth, the Westminster Assembly codified this rejection, following Calvin, Perkins and Ussher, in the Westminster Confession. Seventh, there is no primary evidence of diversity within the Westminster Assembly on the specific issue of whether the creation days are to be interpreted as calendar days or figurative days. Such primary witnesses as we have either say nothing (the majority) or else specify that the days are calendar days.”
“As we look at views of the creation days after Westminster, we find little if any difference over the matter within the Reformed community until the nineteenth century.”
Contributions from Refuting Compromise….:
Dr. Jonathan Sarfai in his outstanding book, Refuting Compromise… tabulates the views of the church fathers as well as others such as Josephus concerning creation and the flood.
Table 3.1 (page 121) tabulates the views of 25 church fathers on creation. Nine held a literal view of creation; four held a figurative view and the views of 12 were unclear.
Table 3.2 (page 121) tabulates the views of six church fathers place the date of creation in the range of 5,288 to 10,000+/- BC.
Table 8.1 (page 244) tabulates the views of eight church fathers on the extent of the flood. All considered it a global rather than local event.
Summary, Part 2 of the Creation Discussion:
This part of the creation discussion is the longest it lasted approximately 1700 years from 90 A.D. to 1800 A.D. This portion of the timeline may be considered the establishment of a consensus of the view of creation by the Christian church in general. This portion of the timeline may be considered the establishment of a consensus of the view of creation by the Presbyterian Church in particular.