It can hardly be said of the concordistic theory, i.e., that the days of Genesis 1 are not really days of twenty four hours, but periods of thousands or millions of years in duration, that it represents an honest attempt to explain the days of Genesis 1 in the light of Scripture. The conclusion that these “days” were periods was surely not reached because a sincere effort was made to let the Word of God speak and throw light upon this question. We have already noted that during the early centuries of the church of God in the New Dispensation, it was universally believed that the days of Genesis 1 are ordinary days of twenty-four hours, and therefore the same as our days. What happened, then, that the concordistic theory should make its appearance and be so widely acclaimed as it is in our present day? One can hardly deny that the Period Theory is widely acclaimed and adopted today. I am not speaking now of the theory of Evolution which is taught today throughout the world’s schools of learning. Also from this point of view, the world has witnessed a tremendous change during the last decades. The undersigned has already mentioned the trial that occurred in our country some decades ago, when a high school teacher was placed on trial because he taught evolution in a public high school and was prosecuted by William Jennings Bryan, who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of our country three times. But I refer to the fact that this theory, the Period Theory, is widely heralded and accepted today in the Church, and taught almost universally in our Christian High Schools. And we may certainly say that it does not represent honest attempt to explain, exegete the Holy Scriptures. It is not true that the Word of God led people to believe that the days of Genesis 1 are periods. That which led the Church today to embrace this theory was our modern so-called science. Science, it is said, speaks facts. And one can hardly deny facts. Facts must be accepted. And these scientific facts simply prove beyond the shadow of any doubt that the “days” of Genesis 1 must have been periods. These facts simply prove that our world cannot have been only six to eight thousand years old. And with these facts in mind men turned to the Holy Scriptures. The facts of science must be accepted; so, Scripture must be interpreted in agreement with these facts. This means that Science rules over the Word of God, and must serve as a guiding rule in our explanation of the Word of God. This, of course is a very dangerous method of interpreting the Bible. We have always claimed that even Dogmatics may not rule over the Scriptures. And it is certainly true that Science may not rule over these Scriptures. The Word of God must stand alone. It carries in and with it its own authority. Any attempt to ascertain whether the “days” of Genesis 1 are ordinary days of twenty four hours or long periods of time, constituted of thousands or millions of years must be made only upon the basis of the written Word of God. That Word is a lamp before our feet and a light upon our path also in regard to this question of days or periods. And we do not hesitate to say that the concordistic theory cannot possibly be maintained in the light of the written Word of God.
Before we proceed with our analysis of the concordistic theory in the light of Holy Writ (incidentally, Rev. H. Hoeksema in his Dogmatics advances several arguments against the idea that the “days” of Genesis 1are to be regarded as long periods of time, and we will refer to these arguments and elaborate somewhat upon them), we wish to make two observations. On the one hand, we certainly do not need the theory that the days of the first chapter of the Bible must be viewed as long periods of time in order to embrace the truth of the Divine creation of all things. We mean the following. It certainly was not necessary for God to extend His creative work or almighty speaking over thousands upon thousands of years to make what He made. Dr. Bavinck may write, as he does, that so many creatures were created upon the fifth day that it is hardly possible to believe that all this occurred within a period of twenty hours. But, what child of God would dare to say that the Lord could not have created the universe and all therein contained at the very beginning of time? That the Lord created all things in a period of six days certainly does not mean that He needed these six days to make what He made. Who would dare to limit the almighty God and declare what He would be able to do and what He would not be able to do? God, for example, did not need all of the first day, did He, to create the light. The Lord did not only create the heavens and the earth, but He also made time. And this implies that He also created the day and the year, the former consisting of the fact that the earth turns upon its axis once in twenty hours and the latter consisting of the fact that the earth moves around the sun once a year. So, we need not adopt the concordistic theory of periods instead of days because the Lord needed them, needed thousands and millions of years to create the heavens and the earth and all the things therein contained. And, on the other hand, the concordistic theory is, frankly, repulsive to the undersigned. Why is it that our modern church world seems to crave this conception of the Divine creation of all things? We believe that this theory is principally evolutionistic. Is it more to the glory of God to accept a theory which would have us believe that thousands and millions of years were necessary to explain the creation of the heavens and the earth, or is it more to His glory to believe that everything was called into being by the Lord’s almighty word, so that “by the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth?” Frankly, the former is repulsive to me; the latter is certainly in harmony with what the Scriptures teach us concerning the living God. Fact is, all the mighty works of God are works of a moment. The Period .Theory hardly glorifies God.
We now call attention to the arguments which we may deduce from the Scriptures in support of the truth that the Lord created the heavens and the earth and all things that are therein in six ordinary days. First of all, we call attention to the use of the word “day,” or YOM, as it occurs in the creation account in Genesis 1. Incidentally, this is, I believe, the only “Scriptural proof” which the advocates of the concordistic theory quote in support of their contention that the “days” of Genesis 1were long periods of time. A day, however, is a day, not a week or a month or a year. To be sure, attention has been directed to the fact that we read in the Word of God that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day, according to II Peter 3:8. It seems to me that the advocates of the Period Theory are very eager to quote the first part of this text and not too eager to quote the latter part of it. They are eager to call attention to the fact that one day is as a thousand years, but not too eager to remind us of the fact that a thousand years are as one day. It is said that whereas one day with the Lord is as a thousand years this can also be applied to the expression, day, in Genesis 1. But we must remember that we also read that a thousand years are as one day. If we; therefore, may assume that the “day” of Genesis 1 is a thousand years, may we not also conclude that these thousand years of Genesis 1are as one day? When we read that a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as “one day,” this reminds us of the truth that with God there is no time; He is eternal. We are also aware of the fact that the Scriptures also speak of “hour” as denoting a long period of time, as when we read of the New Dispensation that it is the last hour. Nevertheless, we maintain and surely must maintain that words in Scripture have their ordinary meaning unless the context indicates that a longer period of time is meant. When we read that the New Dispensation is the last hour, it is obvious that the word “hour” refers to such a longer period of time. How will we ever be able to read the Word of God if words have not their ordinary meaning, if any particular part of the Scriptures does not mean what it says? Then the wildest interpretations of the Scriptures will become possible. Then anyone can read the Scriptures and interpret them as he sees fit. And now one may well ask the question: Does the creation account in Genesis 1 give us any right to interpret the days of creation as lengthy periods of time, extending over thousands and millions of years? And the answer must be an emphatic NO. Fact is, the days of Genesis 1 are limited by evening and morning. That the evening is mentioned first is because the evening concluded the first part of the day of twenty hours, and the morning concluded the second part of this day; Repeatedly we read: “And the evening and the morning were the first, or second, or third day.” So, the day of Genesis 1 was limited by one evening and one morning. If the days of Genesis 1 be long periods of time, extending over millions of years, then it must be granted that also the night aspect of these days, from the evening until the morning, must have lasted thousands upon thousands of years. Considering that a day consists of a period of daylight and the night, the night must have been thousands of years long. And, bearing in mind that the world of plants was created upon the third day, how, then, must we account for the continued existence of these plants during a night that extended over thousands and millions of years? Would plant life be able to survive under such circumstances? Reading in Genesis that “it was evening and it was morning,” wouldn’t we be inclined to say that the Scriptures wish to make it perfectly plain to us that these days of creation were ordinary days of twenty hours?
Secondly, the concordistic theory compels us to distinguish between the first three days and the latter three days of Genesis 1. The Lord created the sun, moon and stars upon the fourth day. From the fourth day on the light which God created upon the first day was concentrated in the sun, and light and darkness were determined and regulated by the earth as it turns upon its axis, and therefore in its relation to the sun. It is for this reason that distinction was made between the first three days and the latter three days of the week of creation. Inasmuch as the sun, moon and stars were called into being upon the fourth day, we may believe that the latter three days were ordinary days; we may surely believe that these latter three days were determined and regulated by their relation to the sun. Hence, these latter three days must have been ordinary days, like unto our days. This, however, would violate a fundamental principle of healthy and sound exegesis. This fundamental principle is that the same word in the same connection must have the same meaning. But there is nothing in the holy record ofGenesis 1 to indicate any difference between the first three days and the latter three days of the week of creation. Besides, there is nothing in the Scriptures to indicate any change whatever after the sixth or seventh day. Presuppose once that the latter three days were long periods of time, millions of years long. Beginning on the fourth day, did the earth turn much more slowly upon its axis, so, that once in a million years it made this turn? But what a change must then be presupposed in the relation of the plants and animals and men? Would, as we mentioned before the plants survive after spending thousands of years in darkness, as the period, then, from evening until morning would cover thousands of years? Then, after these periods of creation had finally passed on and become history, what happened that the days should now become ordinary days, days of twenty hours? Is there anything in the Word of God to indicate such a change? Does not an unbiased, unprejudiced reading of Genesis 1impress upon us the truth that, whereas the same is stated of each day (it was evening and it was morning), all the days in the week of creation must have been of equal length? Surely, the Word of God does not indicate anything else, does it? If these “days” of Genesis 1 were long periods, then the Word of God must certainly be in error here. The Lord willing, we will continue with this discussion in our following article.