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The Problem of Modern Christians and Evolution

the problem for most Christians today is generated by a specific challenge, namely that of biological evolution and related theories. I believe that there are deeper problems than merely the problem of Genesis. If we take the theory of evolution as established and modify our interpretation of Genesis accordingly, then we introduce a problem for the doctrine of Scripture. It is nonsense to speak of the unique and total authority of Scripture at the same time as we change our interpretation of Scripture to accord with theories drawn from outside Scripture.
Weeks, N. (1978). The Hermeneutical Problem of . Themelios, 4(1), 13.
there are important elements in the early chapters of Genesis with no real counterpart in contemporary thought.
Weeks, N. (1978). The Hermeneutical Problem of . Themelios, 4(1), 15.

One should not try to project a late idea back into biblical times in order to explain the Bible. In its rejection of polytheism biblical cosmology is of necessity radically different to its surroundings. It is not popular cosmology.

The basic question is whether our interpretation of the Bible is to be determined by the Bible itself or by some other authority. Once science has been set up as an autonomous authority it inevitably tends to determine the way in which we interpret the Bible.

Themelios: Volume 4, No. 1, January/September 1978 2. Interpreting Scripture by Scripture

the positions discussed tend to introduce a rule for the exegesis of Scripture which is not drawn from Scripture itself. If this is allowed then Scripture is no longer its own interpreter.

Themelios: Volume 4, No. 1, January/September 1978 2. Interpreting Scripture by Scripture

Peter’s argument in 2 Peter 3:5–7 does not shrink from reliance upon some of the details of the Genesis narrative. Other examples of biblical references back to Genesis (e.g., Ex. 20:11; Mt. 19:4; Rom. 5:12–19; 1 Tim. 2:13, 14), to be considered in more detail below, show a similar reference to specific details. Scripture itself gives no warrant for the oft-repeated claim that the details cannot be pressed and is not embarrassed to refer to specific details such as creation in seven days (Ex. 20:11) and creation of woman from the man (1 Tim. 2:13, 14)

among evangelicals anyway there is a willingness to accept the historicity of the patriarchal narratives. However, the patriarchal narratives are structured history in the same way as the earlier chapters of Genesis. They fit within a framework created by the heading ‘These are the generations of …’ (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12, 19, etc.). There are clear instances of parallel structure. Thus the experiences of Isaac parallel those of Abraham. Both have barren wives (15:2; 16:1; 25:21). Both lie concerning their wives (20:2; 26:7). Both face famine in the promised land (12:10; 26:1). Both make a covenant with the Philistines (21:22–34; 26:26–33).

If one looks carefully at these structured histories one sees that the structure is theological. Abraham and Isaac both face barrenness and famine because they both experience the trial of faith in being forced to believe the promise of God contrary to the physical situation (, ; ). The structure that underlies the parallelism of is that of covenant vassal and suzerain. On days 1–3 the environment or vassal was created and on days 4–6 the appropriate creature or suzerain to live and rule in that environment. This notion of covenant head and vassal underlies also the story of the fall in that on the fall of the suzerain the vassal is placed in rebellion against its lord (3:17–19). Further the idea of covenant structures the whole of history into old and new covenant each under their respective heads (; ). For the historian who proceeds on antitheistic assumptions such a theological history must be rejected. He must assign all such histories to the category of theological subjectivism. A theologically structured history presupposes a God who actively shapes history so that it conforms to his plan. A liberal exegete who denies the existence of such a God must dismiss as true history all biblical accounts which see theological patterns in history. The evangelical has no basis for such an a priori dismissal of structured history. The fact that displays a structure in no way prejudices its claim to historicity
Weeks, N. (1978). The Hermeneutical Problem of . Themelios, 4(1), 17–18.
Themelios: Volume 4, No. 1, January/September 1978 Scriptural Interpretations of the Genesis Account

there is a need to return to interpreting Scripture by Scripture and not by hypothesis.

Themelios: Volume 4, No. 1, January/September 1978 Scriptural Interpretations of the Genesis Account

Exodus 20:8–11 is significant in that it gives us a clear answer to the debated question about whether the ‘days’ of Genesis are to be taken literally. The commandment loses completely its cogency if they are not taken literally.

This passage is also important in giving a proper direction to our thought. It is often said that the creation is described in seven days because this is the pattern of labour to which the Hebrews were accustomed. The text however says the very reverse. The Hebrews are to become accustomed to a seven-day week because that is the pattern that has been set by God. Rather than God being made to conform to an already established human pattern, man must conform to the pattern that has been set by God. The point is an important one as it is crucial to the distinction between true and false religion

The real problem is that we as Christians have in a double sense lost our historical perspective. We have forgotten that the church has always been under pressure to allegorize Genesis so that it may conform with Plotinus or Aristotle or some other human philosophy. We have treated the problem as though it were a modern one, as though we alone have had to face the onerous task of holding to a view of cosmic and human origins which is out of sympathy with the philosophical premises of our culture. The second sense in which we have lost our historical perspective is that we have forgotten that until our Lord returns we face strife and conflict in this world. We have sought to avoid that conflict in the intellectual realms. We have accepted the claim of humanistic thought that its scholarship is religiously neutral when the Bible teaches us that no man is religiously neutral. Man either seeks to suppress the truth in unrighteousness or to live all his life to the glory of God. In that total warfare scholarship is no mutually declared truce.
Weeks, N. (1978). The Hermeneutical Problem of . Themelios, 4(1), 19.
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