Creation and the Flood
By Professor Andy McIntosh
Cardinal truths self-evident from Scripture
In 2016 there was considerable surprise when Foundations, the theological journal of Affinity (that used to be called the British Evangelical Council), published a paper by John James entitled “The Age of the Earth: A Plea for Geo-Chronological Non-Dogmatism” – issue 71, Article 3, Autumn 2016, pages 39-51. This can be obtained at http://www.affinity.org.uk/foundations-issues/issue-71-article-3-the-age-of-the-earth-a-plea-for-geo-chronological-non-dogmatism
A further article appeared by Dr. Stephen Lloyd (No.72, Article 5, Spring 2017, pages 76-99) that is an excellent, measured and considered response to John James’ paper. I recommend all those who regularly take the Bible League Quarterly to read Dr. Lloyd’s excellent reply which can be obtained at http://www.affinity.org.uk/foundations-issues/issue-72-article-5-chronological-creationism
So why this article? Simply because this raises issues as to what one would consider the cardinal truths of Biblical Christianity when it comes to origins. What is required at the very least to define a position as “evangelical” when it comes to Origins – in the spirit of what Dr. Lloyd Jones gave in a lecture in 1971 and is written in a transcription of that lecture in the book “What is an evangelical?” (Banner of Truth, 1992).
What follows then, is what I suggest are four cardinal truths which need to be adhered to if we are going to say that a Biblical viewpoint is being expressed. Please note that this is not a statement of the young earth creation position (which the author holds and has made clear in his books Genesis for Today, Day One, 5th edition 2014, and the commentary on Genesis 1-11, Day One, 2016). Rather this is a statement of what are the cardinal doctrines, the direct and immediately deducible teachings of Scripture concerning origins, which are prima facie from the straightforward reading of the text.
Another way of stating this would be to say that if we take Scripture as its own interpreter, then there are clear statements on Origins which those who accept Scripture as the final authority cannot deny and thus must be taken as given in any further discussion of the issue of Creation, age of the earth, length of Creation week and so on. It is these four cardinal truths which I would suggest that Affinity should have held to, and not even allowed any discussion of alternatives based on secular geology (as in the case of James’ article). As an evangelical organisation which was founded to assert and state clearly evangelical thinking, there was no room for discussion/ questioning of the Biblical Creation position as asserted by James. Such an article should not have even been published by Affinity and there would have been no need for an excellent article by Stephen Lloyd in response, if Affinity had kept to the four readily-provable points which are outlined here:
1) Creation was by the spoken word of God and in particular Christ
Genesis 1 repeatedly has the phrase “And God said.” Hebrews 11:3 shows that creation was indeed by the Word of God. Colossians 1:16 and John 1:1-3 teach clearly that the Agent of Creation is pre-eminently Christ, the Son of God. The Trinity is undoubtedly involved as Genesis 1:1,2 states “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” and the plurality of the Godhead is there, for God says in Geneses 1:26 “Let us make man in our image.” Christ (Hebrews 1:3) is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of His person” so we know from Colossians 1:14-22 that Christ is the preeminent Agent (Colossians 1:18) in Creation.
Now we consider the works of the same Agent, Christ, 2000 years ago. Careful exposition of Christ’s miracles shows that He showed the same creative power in His abundant miracles here on earth, by His voice. So, raising Lazarus (John 11), raising the impotent man (Mark 2), calming the lake (Mark 4), healing at a distance (John 4), and many other miracles, all show that Christ commands (sometimes into existence ex nihilo, as with the man born blind in John 9) by His spoken Word. The implication is straightforward. That is what was happening in Genesis – an immediate response to Christ’s Word. Even the inanimate wind and the waves must immediately obey the voice of Christ (Mark 4).
And this will happen also when Christ returns in judgment (John 5:26-29) – the whole world, but particularly the graves of all mankind, will respond to the authoritative voice of God. Psalm 29 is all about the power of the voice of the Lord; verse 4 states “The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.”
Conclusion on point (1): Creation was by the spoken Word of God and in particular the voice of Christ, the Son of God.
2) Adam was not made from any pre-existing living creatures
Man is made in the image of God and is different from the animals (Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 11:7). But more particularly, Adam is made literally from dust. Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
How do we know he was made literally from dust? Because in Genesis 3:19 it states, “till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” The phrase “out of the dust” cannot be a euphemism for Adam being descended from a long line of ape-like creatures, since the Lord goes on to say, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” In that we all experience decay and dissolution (“unto dust”), there is no alternative but to accept that the text in Genesis 2:7 and 3:19 is teaching that Adam was made from dust in the first place and not a pre-existing creature.
We also know that Adam and Eve were made at the beginning of creation, with Adam not being made from living creatures before him. The sentence “he which made them at the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4) has direct consequences, for it immediately implies that Adam was made in the beginning, not after a long process of evolution.
Pertinent also is that Paul confirms that Woman was not made from dust as Adam was, but from part of Adam. She was built from Adam’s flesh and had not been born from a pre-existing creature (Genesis 2; 1 Timothy 2:13–15). She was made from Adam.
Conclusion on point (2): There can be no evolutionary development of man, or indeed woman, from pre-existing life-forms. The Bible does not allow for this.
3) There was no death before the Fall of Man
This is a crucial doctrine. God made everything good in Creation before the Fall. There are seven statements of the word “good” in Genesis 1 with a categorical closing statement in Genesis 1:31 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” There was no suffering world before this. There was no sense of a world groaning under a curse.
It was Adam who brought suffering and death upon the whole human race; there was no death beforehand (Romans 5:17ff; 1 Corinthians 15:22ff). The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23), so consequently, a blood sacrifice is essential to atone for sin (Genesis 3:21; 4:4; Hebrews 9:22).
Supremely, Christ died as an atoning sacrifice specifically because death had been appointed the punishment for sin. (1 John 2:2, 1 Peter 2:24). The Gospel, our salvation (Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:14), is predicated upon the first man, Adam, bringing death into the world and the second Man, Christ, taking our place (1 Corinthians 15:45-47.
Conclusion on point (3): There was no death of pre-existing creatures leading up to Adam in a long line of ascendancy from life beforehand. The Bible does not allow for this.
4) The Flood was Global
The global nature of the Flood is readily proven conclusively from
• Genesis 7:19 “all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.”
• Genesis 9:15,16 “the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud …” The rainbow covenant cannot possibly be referring to a localised flood since then the covenant would have been broken many times over as many people have experienced local floods in many places over the centuries. Recently in the last 15 years, there have been major floods such as the tsunami which swept through the Indian Ocean on Dec 26th 2004, the tsunami off Sendai in Japan in March 2011 and the devastation caused by floods in Malawi (January and February 2015).
• If the Flood was not worldwide, then as Dr. Lloyd points out in the article in Foundations, No. 72, Article 5, Spring 2017, pages 76-99, there is a group of people who are not descended from Noah in the population today, and such that the commands given to Noah and his descendants in Genesis 9 do not apply. Yet the context of Genesis 9 is clearly implying that God is speaking to all in the new world, and that the head of the human race in the post-flood world is Noah.
• Just as the Second Coming of Christ will be universal, concerning all people, so the Flood was universal, concerning the whole world (Genesis 6–9; Luke 17:20–27; 2 Peter 3). Christ and the Apostle Peter connect the two events together.
Conclusion on point (4): There was a world wide Flood burying all air-breathing creatures, which means that this current world is not what God started with.
Two overall conclusions:
A) Genesis and the Bible as a whole knows of no process being used in Creation in Genesis other than by direct fiat, bringing into being all Creation by the spoken Word of Christ. Adam was made from dust with no precursor life-forms, there was no death before Adam, and a major worldwide catastrophe burying all-air breathing creatures followed later with a repopulation of the world from Noah’s descendants.
B) Errors denying these cardinal truths must be recognised and opposed, since they represent the main Biblical teachings concerning the Creation of the world, man, and the catastrophe that is clearly taught as occurring in the early centuries of this world.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones summarised the issues well when he stated at a lecture in 1971 on the theme “What is an Evangelical?” (Banner of Truth, 1992) the following:
We must believe the whole Bible. We must believe the history of the Bible as well as its didactic teaching. Failure here is always an indication of a departure from the true evangelical position. Today there are men who say, ‘Oh yes, we believe in the Bible and its authority in all matters of religion, but of course, we don’t go to the Bible for science.’ …. They are saying there are, as it were, two great authorities and two means of revelation: one of them is Scripture and the other is nature. These they say are complementary…. so you go to the Scriptures for matters concerning the soul, but you do not go to them to seek God’s other revelation of Himself in nature. For that you go to science …. We have got to contest [this] very strongly …. We must assert that we believe in the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis and all other Biblical history …
C) The implications then of these four cardinal truths are firstly theological. Points (1) – (3) particularly show that creation is essentially an instantaneous act of God, and in fact by Christ Himself, and that death experienced by Adam’s race was not part of the original created order. Secondly there is a geological and anthropological implication from point (4). A worldwide flood with humans starting again from Noah and his family means that one is not surprised to see evidence of worldwide devastation in the rocks and fossils. This point (4) shows that this world now is not to be regarded as the world that God originally made. Furthermore that all peoples descended from Noah’s family in this world now has a direct impact on our Gospel witness to a needy world suffering as a result of the Fall of Man.
It is important to realise that as this stands, this article does not deal explicitly with the age of the earth but it does show that even with the minimal and easily-verifiable statements from Genesis and the New Testament, there is no room for any idea of an evolutionary development of Adam and Eve, and that it is abundantly clear that Scriptural doctrines concerning salvation are inherently connected with the statements on Creation. Why Christ had to suffer both physical and spiritual death on the Cross is connected with the death that Adam brought into man’s experience at the Fall, as taught in 1 Corinthians 15:22. The emphasis on the power of Christ’s spoken word all the way through the Gospels reflects back on the enormous power of that same voice in Creation and points forward to the power of that same voice at the end of the world when Christ shall return in judgment. If we pull at the authority of Genesis 1-3, we undermine the centrality and authority of Christ Himself.
APPENDIX – the Young Earth Position
Evidently with all the four cardinal points established in the main article, this sets the scene for understanding the other truths which follow from a careful reading of God’s Word. That the days of Genesis 1 are 6 X 24 hour periods is established from the repetition of “evening and morning” with the Hebrew word “yom” which always means that one is dealing with an ordinary solar day. The use of a number with the word “yom” – first day, second day and so on also indicates that one is referring to an ordinary week of days. That there are no gaps in the days of Creation is made plain by Exodus 20:11 where reference is made to the ordinary week and the Sabbath rest command with the reason “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.” The whole point is to show the importance of the weekly Sabbath rest, so there can be no doubt that the Lord is connecting this to a week of seven ordinary days.
That the genealogies Genesis 5 and 11 are to be taken as a record of history is borne out by the reference to these same names in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3. Even if one was to argue that the names were not recording a father-son relationship, the reference to the years before the descendant was born, and how many years beyond the birth the ancestor lived, precludes the addition of hundreds of further years and gaps being inserted. Jude 14 refers to Enoch being the seventh from Adam and confirms that Genesis 5 is to be regarded historically, and Genesis 11 is written on the same style. It is clear that a six literal day Creation of the order of two thousand years before Abraham is being laid out in these early chapters of Genesis.
Another important event recorded is the dispersion of the races at Babel in Genesis 11 coupled with the table of the nations in Genesis 10. This has immediate bearing on the origin of languages and people groups that even today show a distant memory sometimes in place names and cultures and even in language. One of the best examples of language is the older Chinese written script where the hieroglyphics have symbols connected with Genesis. So, for instance, the symbol for the verb “to talk” is made of the symbol for “dust,” the symbol for “mouth” and the symbol for “alive.” That symbol for “to talk” and the symbol for “walk” gives the symbol for “to create” – these and many more examples are discussed further in the book The Discovery of Genesis by C.H. Kang and Ethel R. Nelson, Concordia, 1979 and Faith of our Fathers – God in Ancient China by Chan Kei Thong and Charlene Fu, (China Publishing Group Orient Publishing Centre, Shanghai, 2006).
The presence of death in the world coming after the Fall of Man is made clear from Genesis 3:19 “… dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” but it is also evident that because everything is described as being “good” in Genesis 1, and in particular Genesis 1:31 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good,”, that the death and suffering throughout the animal world is also a result of the curse on the ground of Genesis 3. That is why in Genesis 1:30 it speaks of “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat.” The life here spoken of is “nephesh” life which distinguishes this from plant life which animals and men were allowed to eat. This shows that plant life is not the same as animal life. Death of animals was also not known before the Fall and this is consistent with Romans 8:22 “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” There is coming a day when there will eventually be a lifting of the curse which has brought such a “groaning” on the whole world.
Death for humans is taught in Genesis to be two-fold. Genesis 2:17 states “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Adam was told he would experience death immediately. Some have said this cannot mean physical death because he did not die immediately. But there is a double aspect to death. Death is separation. Adam immediately experienced spiritual death but the physical decay process also began culminating in the death physically of Adam 900 odd years later when his body was separated from his spirit. Spiritual separation from God was immediate in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned as Genesis 3:9 shows : “… the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” The omniscient God of the Universe knew where Adam was, but calls to Adam and indeed the whole of the human race to own up to their separation from God. Ephesians 2:5 states “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” So we are born dead, that is separated from God. Revelation 2:11, 20:6,14 and 21:8 speak explicitly of two deaths, the second of which is the final separation of man from God in Gehenna for eternity. On the Cross, Christ cries in Matthew 27:46 “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and experiences once only (and never again) the price for sin of separation from His Father. He experiences the second death, and He takes the price for our sin. He cries (John 19:30) victoriously “It is finished!” from the Cross as He has gloriously dealt with our sins.
What is important to realise is that Christ does not then get off the Cross by calling legions of angels to carry Him into Heaven, much as He was well able to do this. He does not do this because the price for sin in Genesis 2:17 includes physical death. Christ cries the last saying on the Cross (Luke 23:46) “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” He now also experiences physical death as he causes His spirit to depart from His body (John 19:30) which it explicitly states in Psalm 16:10 and quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:27) never decomposed in the tomb. There is a theology of God, soul made in God’s image, sin, death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:22) intertwined with the marvellous redemption purchased by Christ on the Cross, which further emphasises that our salvation is taught in Scripture from a foundational understanding of the first chapters of Genesis.
Clearly, such a definitive position is not easy for believers to take, particularly those who are in academic positions in biology, geology and anthropology. It runs counter to the worldview of the secularist who maintains strongly the evolutionary worldview of his strong belief of ancient ages of rocks and a long prehistory before man appears. That is why much of the apologetic emphasis is needed in the evangelical church to show that the science of design, of biology, genetics, geology, and anthropology are actually entirely consistent with the true Biblical timescale. The main issue in the church is that she should be governed by Scripture, and if one takes the Bible as one’s final authority, it inevitably leads to the understanding that Scripture certainly teaches a recent Creation in six ordinary solar days, followed by a worldwide flood. More on this position can be read in the books by the author: Genesis for Today, Day One, 5th edition 2014, and the commentary on Genesis 1-11, Day One, 2016. The evidence in the science has been brought together in another book just published: Wonders of Creation – Design in a fallen world, co-authored with Professor Stuart Burgess and Brian Edwards, and published by Day One, 2017.