Tag Archives: John Walton

Seeing Evolution Through New Covenant Eyes

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of conducting a 90-minute radio show with New Covenant Eyes Church (Ft. Meyers, Florida) staff Alan Bondar and Bob Lucas.  (It can also be downloaded directly.)  Since New Covenant Eyes Church is a thoroughly preterist congregation, the opportunity was absolutely well-timed considering I had that weekend just revamped my Creation of an Evolutionist blog into its current format with the intention of discussing my journey from premillennial eschatology to preterism.

It was an eye-opening experience for me because I was interacting with some of my preterist brethren who hadn’t yet been exposed to the concept of evolutionary creationism.  In fact, the congregation is much more familiar with covenant creation, as detailed in the book Beyond Creation Science:  New Covenant Creation from Genesis to Revelation by Timothy P. Martin and Jeffrey L. Vaughn (Whitehall, Montana: Apocalyptic Vision Press, 2007), a publication with which I was involved quite intimately during my transition away from young-earth creationism. (Instead of being theistic evolutionists, Martin and Vaughn are merely old-earth creationists and, taking cues from 19th-century biblical scholar Milton Terry, propose that Genesis 1 is apocalyptic literature that finds its primary prophetic fulfillment in the book of Revelation.  According to covenant creation, Genesis 1 is not an ancient Hebrew account of material creation that uses mythological language, as I believe, but rather a purely literary account, with anchors in what is thought to be actual human history, of God’s original covenant with man, filled with symbolism intended to find one-for-one correspondence with various elements in the New Covenant instituted by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry.)

I must admit, it is a challenge to explain to someone why it is that I, as an evolutionary creationist, believe Genesis 1 to be a material creation account (vice purely functional/teleological a la John Walton) at the same time that I reject the foundational, pre-modern scientific cosmology that pervades the Hebrew account.  The “secret” to my approach, as I explained in a pre-broadcast discussion with Alan, is the fine balance of intellectually rejecting Genesis 1’s ancient Hebrew cosmology and respecting the literary genre in which Genesis 1 was written and the ancient Near Eastern worldview with which the account is infused.  With this literary appreciation in hand, it becomes an academic exercise in separating the infinitely more valuable theological message of Genesis 1 and the fallible literary vessel in which the theology finds itself.  We are, in essence, to avoid keeping new wine (theology) in old wine skins (ancient cultural paradigm) for too long, or else the wine skin may burst and you find yourself spending valuable time and money trying to remove the wine stains from the plush carpet that is our faith.  It is better, then, to store new wine (theology) in new wine skins (modern cosmology), to adopt new techniques of applying our theology within modern scientific paradigms, and allowing our theology to expand and reform along with new scientific discoveries, all the while keeping Jesus Christ at the center.

As a result of this interview, I’ve decided to create a new Q&A page that will address what I believe Genesis 1-3 to be teaching.  Therefore, I invite my readers (both old and new) to submit questions about Genesis 1-3 for inclusion into a permanent Q&A page, answers for which I will provide over the course of time.  Even if you agree with my approach to Genesis 1, I still invite you to submit questions that you struggled to answer during your own scientifico-theological journey.

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Filed under ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogony, eschatology, evolutionary creationism, preterism, protology

Dr. John Walton & Genesis 1

Instead of summarizing Dr. John Walton’s treatment of Genesis 1, I figured I’d post Walton’s own hour-long online presentation. If no one has the patience to watch this outstanding flash presentation, let me know and I’ll sum up some of his best take-aways . . .

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Filed under ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogony, protology

My Evolving Views on Creationism

Several years ago, I introduced my children to the world of dinosaurs through BBC’s fabulous Walking with DinosaursDVD series. I enjoyed watching their jaws drop as the computer animators brought the extinct animals “back to life,” but I cringed every time the concept of evolution was mentioned, or whenever “XXX million years ago” popped up on the screen. The only reason I allowed those things to be viewed was that I felt I owed my children the benefit of grappling with the same questions I had as a child. It would surely do no good to shelter them from the creation/evolution controversy; I would better serve my children by exposing them to all sides of the issue, thus allowing them to work things out for themselves.During the course of my life as a Christian, I prided myself in looking at every theological issue from as many points of view as possible. I knew that an honest assessment of the facts would require me to know the opposition’s point of view thoroughly and represent it as faithfully as I could. Strangely enough, that approach would make me realize how easy it is to misinterpret Scripture, especially when I (or the opposition) failed to utilize the historico-grammatical method of interpretation and honor the historical and cultural contexts in which the Bible was written.

Using the historico-grammatical method of interpretation in the past, I had tackled the subjects of soteriology and eschatology with vigor, firmly grounding myself in Reformed and preteristic theology after agonizing paradigm shifts. For some reason, however, I was not quite ready to apply the same methodology to the debate over origins and the proper interpretation of Genesis 1. My unwillingness to explore these topics began to crumble as a close friend and I began meeting on a semi-regular basis to discuss all sorts of theological issues. Having considerable respect for my friend’s intelligence and knowing him to be a devout follower of Christ, I figured that questioning my YEC position would probably do me some good.

Approximately one year ago, I began reading David Snoke’s A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, which presented a strong scriptural defense of an old earth. I was still unconvinced, however, of Snoke’s method of explaining the six days of creation as anything other than six, 24-hour days, especially considering the use of the phrase “there was evening and there was morning—the nth day.” At the same time, I was asked to critique and copy-edit Tim Martin and Dr. Jeff Vaughn’s Beyond Creation Science (see cover above). Martin and Vaughn’s arguments began to reinforce those of Snoke’s. It wasn’t long before I went for the “90% solution” and accepted the scientific evidence for an old universe. Still, the proper method of understanding Genesis 1 eluded me. I knew that the historico-grammatical method would prove to be the key, but I didn’t know where to look for resources that used this method faithfully.

Perhaps it was God’s hand that I had just purchased Dr. John H. Walton’s NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, which, coincidentally, my good friend had also purchased. After several conversations on the origins debate, we decided to read the book together. What I read in those first few chapters blew me away. I had discovered the key to resolving (in my own mind) the YEC/OEC controversy!

More on this book’s impact in my next post . . .

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Filed under hermeneutics, old-earth creationism, protology