An article is receiving wide distribution lately which concerns some “scientific” proof of the accuracy ofJoshua 10:8. Under the title “The Space Program and the Bible,” the article reads:
Did you know that the space program is busy proving that what has been called “myth” in the Bible is true? Mr. Harold Hill, president of the Curtis Engine Company in Baltimore, MD and a consultant in the space program, relates the following development.
I think one of the most amazing things that God has for us today, happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Green Belt, Md. They were checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets out in space, where they would be 100 years and 1000 years from now. We have to know this, so we don’t send a satellite up and have it bump into something later on in its orbit. We have to lay out the orbit, in terms of the life of the satellite, and where the planets will be, so the whole thing will not bog down! They ran the computer measurement, back and forth over past and future centuries, and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal! That meant something was wrong, either with the information fed into it, or with the results as compared to the standards. They called in the service department to check it out, and they said, ‘It’s perfect.’ The I.B.M. head of operations said, ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Well, we have found that a day is missing in space, in elapsed time.’ They scratched their heads, tore their hair. There was no answer!
One religious fellow in the team said, ‘You know, in Sunday School they talked about the sun standing still.’ They didn’t believe him, but they had no other answer so they said, ‘Show us.’ So he got a Bible and read from the book of Joshua, ‘Fear them not, I have delivered them into thy hand. There shall not a man of them stand before thee.’
Joshua was concerned because he was surrounded by the enemy and if darkness fell, the enemy would overpower them. So Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still! That’s right! ‘The sun stood still and the moon stayed. . . and hasted not to go down about a whole day.’
The space men said, ‘There is the missing day!’ Well, they checked the computers going into Joshua’s time and found it was close but not close enough! The elapsed time that was missing back in Joshua’s time was 23 hours and 20 minutes—not a whole day. They read the Bible and there it said, ‘about (approximately) a day.’
These little words in the Bible are important. But they were still in trouble, because if you cannot account for 40 minutes, you’ll be in trouble 1000 years from now. Forty minutes had to be found, because it can be multiplied as many times as a body passes through its orbit. Well, this religious fellow also remembered that somewhere in the Bible it said the sun went backwards. The space men told him he was out of his mind. But they got out the Book and read in
that Hezekiah, on his death-bed, was visited by the prophet Isaiah, who told him that he was not going to die.
Hezekiah did not believe him and asked for a sign as proof.
Isaiah said, ‘Do you want the sun to go ahead ten degrees?’ Hezekiah said, ‘It is nothing for the sun to go ahead ten degrees, but let the shadow return backward ten. degrees.’ Isaiah spoke to the Lord and the Lord brought the shadow ten degrees BACKWARD!
Ten degrees is exactly 40 minutes! Twenty three hours and 20 minutes in Joshua, plus 40 minutes in II Kings make the missing 24 hours the space travelers had to log in the logbook as being the missing day in the universe! Isn’t it amazing? Our God is rubbing their noses in His Truth.”
We have a few comments to make on this rather remarkable story.
In the first place, there are some extremely doubtful elements about the whole thing. For one thing, the documentation is very incomplete—in fact, almost non-existent. No mention is made of those who were involved in this matter. A rather indefinite “they” is all that is mentioned: “They ran the computer . . .”; “They called in the service department. . . “; “They scratched their heads. . . ” This always leaves me a bit suspicious. No one knows who the “they” are. For another thing, while I am no scientist and do not understand the intricacies of computer programming—especially in relation to the movement of the heavenly bodies, this sounds gravely suspicious. How are computers able to discover a day missing without knowing the position of the planets prior to the miracle recorded in Joshua? Is not a point of reference needed such as this? Did the fact that God caused the sun to stand still affect also the movement of other planets in our solar system? Is not the length of the day determined by the rotation of the earth on its axis? These questions should be answered before this story is acceptable.
In the second place, there are inaccuracies in the story. Joshua did not pray for the sun and moon to stand still because he was afraid of being overpowered by an enemy which surrounded him. He prayed for the lengthening of the day in order to complete the destruction of the enemy which had begun already. Nor is it at all certain that ten degrees on the sundial of Ahaz is forty minutes. Most commentators agree that the type of sundial is not even indicated in the text and that it is impossible to determine how much the day was lengthened by this miracle.
In the third place, we are afraid of this sort of thing. It is so extremely tempting to use a story like this as a basis for believing the miracle. But this will never do. We do not believe the miracle because some computer went awry somewhere in some space center. We believe the miracle because the Scriptures say it has happened. Regardless of what computers may or may not find, the miracle stands because of God’s infallible revelation. Especially when such a fuzzy story as this is circulated the danger is very real that people will be persuaded that the miracle happened because of the story. But when presently the story is proved to be fictitious (as could easily happen) what then becomes of our faith? Our faith must be firmly rooted in the Word of God itself. If this story (and others like it) should prove to be correct, our faith has not been bolstered in the least.
THE A.A.C.S. AND CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS
We have received a copy of a paper prepared by James H. Olthuis and Bernard Zylstra which is entitled “Schools in the Christian Community.” This paper, by men who are closely associated with Association for the Advancement of Christian Studies, outlines what, in the opinion of the authors is the unique place of the school in relation to and as distinct from other spheres of life. We have commented, in an earlier article in The Standard Bearer, on the error of an educational creed which is promoted by the A.A.C.S. and also by the authors of this paper. In this paper, however, the authors go more deeply into the whole question. While we cannot quote the entire paper and cannot comment on every part of it with which we disagree, we call attention to some important aspects of the paper to show the wrong direction in which this organization goes. In a brief discussion of “the internal nature of the school” the authors offer a “definition” of the Christian school. The heart of this definition is found in the paragraph which reads:
A school is an educational or instructional community of teachers and pupils or students established to prepare the latter for meaningful participation in society.
By “meaningful participation in society” the authors undoubtedly mean participation in “the coming Kingdom of God through which the Lord Jesus Christ restores the direction of creation in all its fulness through history.”
We find this definition wholly inadequate. In the first place, as it stands in the paragraph quoted above, the definition of the school is purely humanistic—as humanistic as anything which any unbelieving pedagogue may compose. When the definition is somewhat circumscribed by a reference to the coming Kingdom of God, the language is so vague and indefinite that it is almost impossible to determine what is meant. The whole definition is intended to give a statement of the purpose of Christian education. But reading the above, one finds himself at a loss to know precisely what that purpose is supposed to be.
Next the paper turns to a discussion of the basis for Christian education. One would expect here some reference to the covenant. But this is not so. In fact, later in the paper, this whole concept is expressly excluded. Here we read:
The Word of God, as it comes to man in the Order of Creation, in the Scriptures, and in Jesus Christ, cf.
I confess that I cannot find any basis for Christian education in this statement. I do not know what the authors mean by their remarks in this, connection. When this is spelled out in some detail the authors speak of the need for an educational creed in distinction from ecclesiastical creeds, but one is left in the dark as to the basis for Christian education.
3. Educational creeds and ecclesiastical creeds:
a. The confessions of a (denominational) institutional church should not take the place of a Christian educational creed in the constitution of a school society since:
(1) A school is a school and an institutional church is an institutional church; each of these societal structures requires a confession relevant to that structure.
(2) These church confessions were not intended to be and should not be looked upon as school creeds; they do not specifically express the directives of the Word of God for an educational enterprise.
(3) To act as if a church creed can be a school creed is to confuse and mislead. It is, in fact, to set up (a form of) church-schools in the Roman Catholic tradition.
(4) To employ church creeds as school creeds is to take the easy way—as if our fore-fathers had worked it all out correctly and in detail for later centuries. It is to take the way of fear—as if the spirit no longer leads His people so that they grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ attuned to the written word. Finally, it is the way of little faith—refusing to heed the admonition of
(5) These church confessions were written at a time when schools as we envisage them today were largely absent. They thus do not deal with the modern educational problems and anti-Christian views of education;
(6) Placing these confessions in the school constitution in a North American context—where the in stitutional church is tragically fragmented in hundreds of denominational pieces—would obstruct the desired development toward a genuinely scriptural-ecumenical (inter) national system of Christian schools. . . .
d. In this context the following points are all-important:
(1) We reject the view that all Christian activity and witness must be channeled directly or indirectly through the institutional church. . . .
(2) Reliance upon ecclesiastical confessions as a sufficient basis for Christian education leads to spiritual sterility and principal bankruptcy in the Christian educational movement since the educational relevance of the Word of God is not explicitly brought to the fore.
It is, of course, true that the creeds of the Church were not written with Christian schools in mind—which seems to be a major point in the article. But this is irrelevant. The creeds are what the Church believes to be the truth of the Word of God. And it is precisely the Word of God which teaches the Church all about the principles of Christian education. It teaches what the basis for Christian education is. It defines the goal of Christian education. It gives the principles of the truth in the light of which all the revelation of God in creation must be interpreted. This is why we fear so strongly the statement quoted earlier in which a distinction is made between the Word of God in Scripture, in creation, and in Jesus Christ—as if there are three distinct and disconnected Words of God. But because the creeds contain the truth of Scripture, they can (and must) function as the creedal basis of Christian schools. Certainly this leaves room for developing these principles explicitly (on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions) which pertain directly to Christian education. One gains the strong impression that the A.A.C.S. does not want anything to do with the creeds. And, it seems sometimes as if these men want the principles of education to be developed on the basis of something other than scripture itself.
In discussing “the school and the family” the article says:
In reformed circles it is often argued that the school is a ‘parental’ institution, that it is an extension of the Christian family. Two arguments for this position can be noted: 1) and 2) infra.
1. The doctrine of the covenant
a. In the light of such passages as
it is argued that the Lord has given a special covenantal responsibility to parents for the education of their children.
b. This view is subject to several misconceptions: (1) In the first place, the ‘covenant’ is not made with parents-as-parents, but with Abraham, the father of all believers, and with the entire people of God. . . .
(2) The covenant of God with His people cannot on a Scriptural basis be narrowed down to the triangle of church, family and school; for the covenant embraces the entire life of God’s people: . . .
(3) When the people of God are specifically instructed to teach the words of the Lord diligently to their children, we are not in the first place dealing with Christian education as we know it today but with the continuity of the covenant-community in history. Here indeed the parents occupy a special place, in the Old Testament context and also today. But this special place, and the special responsibility that goes with it, is not taken over by the Christian school. . . .
After defining the general responsibility of parents towards their children, which includes the choice of a school which their children will attend, the article goes on to say:
3. Parental “responsibility” and educational “authority.”
a. As long as a child is a minor, its parents have the specific responsibility to care for its proper development.
b. But this responsibility of the parents before God, in a differentiated society such as ours, is generally executed via institutions that lie outside of the home, that are of a non-parental character, that—therefore—lie outside the parents’ range of authority. We therefore make a fundamental distinction between the broad responsibility of parents for their children and the specific authority of the parents in the home. And it is our conviction that the school as we envisage it today lies outside the parents’ authority in the home. . . .
The article then goes on to spell this out in considerable detail.
But this is serious business. Basically, the error is a flat denial of the covenant—especially of the truth that the covenant is continued in the line of generations. This is surprising, for the A.A.C.S. always speaks of its “reformational” character. Here it cuts the heart out of Reformed truth.
Because the covenant is denied, the schools are not founded upon the truth of the covenant, are not a fulfillment of covenant responsibilities, and are not an extension of the home. The schools are not to be parental schools. Christian education occupies a distinct sphere of its own along side of the home, the state, the church, etc. And within the schools there is an authority which is not parental, but which is the authority of professional pedagogues who are placed in special and unique offices by God to exercise an authority of their own. In the schools, the children do not belong to the parents who have nothing at all to say about their education in the schools, but to a professional elite—a cadre of teachers who take over the responsibility of the children’s education.
We cannot go into a criticism of this in any kind of detail. Let it be clearly understood that this is the destruction of all Christian education. And the view so clearly defined here, is a very real danger into which we also could, almost without noticing, fall.