At the conclusion of my previous editorial on this subject, I referred to the fact that there are those who have rejected the period theory because of its obvious exegetical flaws and because it does not really help them in getting rid of Scripture’s very definite and specific timeframe in connection with God’s creative work. They prefer to get rid of any kind of literal timeframe whatsoever, and at the same time, of course, to get rid of the successive order of the creative works described in Genesis 1. In order to accomplish this purpose they have turned to what is called the “framework hypothesis.” As we have seen earlier, Howard Van Till adopts this hypothesis in his book, The Fourth Day.
What is the “framework hypothesis?”
We shall let one of its promoters describe it. Dr. Nice H. Ridderbos, in his book, Is There A Conflict Between Genesis I And Natural Science? (Eerdmans, 1957) writes, p. 45:
By the framework-hypothesis I mean the following. In Genesis I the inspired author offers us a story of creation. It is not his intent, however, to present an exact report of what happened at creation. By speaking of the eightfold work of God he impresses the reader with the fact that all that exists has been created by God, This eightfold work he places in a framework; he distributes it over six days, to which he adds a seventh day as the day of rest. In this manner he gives expression to the fact that the work of creation is complete; also that at the conclusion of His work God can rest, take delight in the result; and also (cf. pp. 40-42) that in celebrating the Sabbath man must be Gods imitator. The manner in which the works of creation have been distributed over six days is not arbitrary (cf. pp. 32-35).
As I indicated, Howard Van Till adopts this theory, page 84, and fits it into his corrupt view of Scripture: “The chronology of the narrative is not the chronology of creation but rather the packaging in which the message is wrapped. The particular acts depicted in the Story of the Creator are not the events of creative action reported with photographic realism but rather imaginative illustrations of the way in which God and the Creation are related.” (pp. 84, 85)
In so doing he also gets rid of the questions of the time and manner of creation and consciously rejects both the concordistic and literalistic (his term, HCH) views, p. 92:
In place of the fundamental question of the covenantal prologue—”Who is the God of Abraham and Moses?”—both the concordistic and literalistic interpretations substitute the semiscientific question, “‘By what mechanism and in what time frame did God create the world?” Both of these chronological interpretations treat the seven-day structure of the
narrative as if it were a temporal specification rather than a literary framework, and in so doing, they fail to distinguish between the content and packaging of Scripture, between the story elements and the message being conveyed by the story.
Notice concerning this theory:
1) That it rids Genesis 1 of its historical character completely. All that is left is a vague, undefined message that God is the Creator, and that He created.
2) That Genesis 1 is called “a story of creation,” riot an account, and that it is blatantly claimed that it is not the author’s intent “to present an exact report of what happened at creation.” For this we have the word of Ridderbos and Van Till over against the author, the Holy Spirit!
3) That the knotty problem of the “days” is not solved, but flippantly disposed of. There were no days, except in a purely literary sense; and the whole question of the exact historical event of creation and the time of creation and the duration of the creative work is left wide open for theistic evolution. The framework hypothesis solves all the troublesome problems of the theistic evolutionist, in effect, by getting rid of the problems.
Now submit this theory to the test of Scripture.
Put away your tinted evolutionary eye-glasses; put out of your mind so-called scientific evidences. Simply read Scripture, and let Scripture speak. Then the framework hypothesis simply does not fit the text of Genesis. No one in his wildest imagination would guess that Scripture is employing such a so-called literary device. The framework hypothesis is a cunningly devised fable.
What an altogether strange impression the infallible and perspicuous Word of God in Genesis 1 must make on the unsuspecting reader if the framework hypothesis is true! How impossible it becomes for the ordinary child of God to read any historical account and to grasp its fundamental meaning and message if this is the way Scripture must be read! One would always have need of an expert theologian and exegete if the Scriptures were to be read in this fashion. One would always have to be suspicious that Scripture does not mean what it plainly seems to say.
Sometimes an appeal is made to “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ” in Matthew 1 in an attempt to find Scriptural support for the possibility of such a framework interpretation. However:
2) Matthew 1 makes no claim to be a complete genealogy of Jesus Christ. And while it skips various generations, it is nevertheless a progressive genealogical line from Abraham to Christ.
3) According to its own testimony Matthew 1:17 purposely presents a schematic arrangement of the generations of Jesus Christ in three groups of fourteen generations.
4) We have the evidence of Scripture itself in the Old Testament concerning the generations omitted in Matthew 1.
Hence, the conclusion is clear that in Matthew 1 you do not find an instance of Scripture fraudulently foisting a story which is not exact upon an unsuspecting reader, as is the case with the framework hypothesis in Genesis 1.
The conclusion of the matter, therefore, is that if we hold to the fundamental rule that Scripture is its own interpreter, none of these errant theories concerning the meaning of Genesis 1 can stand.