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All so-called progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists face the question concerning thehistoricity of the creation record. As a theist, the theistic evolutionist feels bound to do so: the Genesis record is a stumbling block on his path. And as acreationist the progressive creationist must somehow leave the impression that he holds that the record of Genesis is the record of real, historical events, so that Gods work of creation actually took place, is a fact of revelation. The “event character” must somehow be maintained. And to do this they must find ways and means of maintaining that the creation record is not ordinary history, not even ordinary sacred history, but history which is recorded in some unusual, strange way. They must keep the record of Genesis as far as the language is concerned, but pour into it a content which harmonizes with their evolutionist or progressivist theories.

It is in this way that various theories of interpretation have arisen and are maintained today, in order to accommodate the alleged scientific evidence of the theories of theistic evolution and progressive creationism, which requires millions and billions of years. But it is for this reason that you can no longer be satisfied with the mere question whether the creation record is historical or the question whether a man maintains the “event character” of creation. That allows room for evasion of the issue. You must specify. You must pin-point the issue. You must find out what they mean by “historical” and “event character.” And therefore you must ask: is the creation record literally historical? Is the creation record to be understood literally or non-literally? (Actually the expression “event character” as it occurs in report 36/44 of the Christian Reformed Church, in my opinion, was itself already a compromise and was intended to leave room for deviating theories.)

But this means, in the first place, that the question concerning the meaning of the Genesis record is strictly a question of exegesis.

This is of the utmost importance.

Nothing else—and I mean that in the absolute sense of the word—nothing else, no science, no scientific theory, no rationalism, no self-made doubts and questions, no theological opinions, absolutely nothing outside of Scripture may enter into the making of the answer to this question: is the creation record to be understood literally or not? This is strictly a question of Scripture and Scripture’s meaning and Scripture’s authority. Exegesis, you know, is a question of themeaning of the Word of God. Exegesis inquires into that meaning, into the truth of the Word of God. It presupposes that the Word of God is understandable, that it is clear, perspicuous, and that therefore the truth of that Word of God can be readily ascertained. Ultimately, exegesis is therefore a matter of bowing before the authority, the divine authority of that Word of God.

This must be stressed. It is of the essence in this discussion. The decisive factor is not at all what this or that scientist thinks, or what he claims to have evidence for. It is not a question of what someone claims to have learned from Gods “other book,” the book of creation. It is not a question of what this or that theologian thinks. Not at all! In coming to a conclusion on this issue it is of absolutely no benefit to engage in “name-dropping.” The name of many a respected Reformed or Presbyterian theologian, for example, may be cited in favor of the “old-earth theory.” And you can even quote church fathers in favor of the period theory. Neither is it a question of what this or that church has decided officially on the issue. Ultimately it is not even a question of what this or that confession says. Also the confessions are .subject solely to the authority of Scripture; and they are of authority only as they give expression to the truth of Holy Scripture.

Let us remember this! This is a cardinal principle of our Reformed faith. (cf. Article 7 of the Belgic Confession of Faith)

In the second place, I want to stress that exegesis is an exact science. There is much talk about science and about scientific evidence and about the exactness and fool-proofness of science in connection with this subject. And the position is sometimes taken that one must be a fool to quarrel with science’s alleged discoveries and evidences, and that to disagree with what scientists say, for example, about the age of the world is simply to fly in the face of facts and incontrovertible evidence. (The Christian should not be so quick to bow before the idol of science and to compromise. If you investigate, you will discover that “science” does not have a very good track record; in fact, it can change its theories as easily as a man can change his shirt.) But I want to emphasize that the exegesis of Holy Scripture is a science also. It is the practical science of the interpretation of Scripture. In fact, if there was ever any science that was exact and that requires exactitude, it is the science of exegesis. Exegesis takes place according to certain definite rules. The most fundamental of those rules is that Scripture is its own interpreter; Scripture itself must interpret Scripture. That is a very simple rule, but a very fundamental rule. Scripture must speak for itself. Our interpretations must indeed be interpretations, not theories which are imposed upon Scripture. They must not stand in the way of the speech of Scripture. An interpretation of Scripture must be the one, necessary interpretation that is demanded by Scripture itself.

In the third place, exegesis must be unbiased. Science likes to speak of this being unbiased, unprepossessed, as a fundamental tenet of the scientific method. We may accept that in the good sense of the word. And we do accept that also with application to exegesis. All exegesis of Scripture must be unbiased. The exegete must approach Scripture absolutely without any prepossession,except the prepossession, the bias, of faith. He must put away everything except that faith. He must not attempt to say something of himself about that Word of God, but he must let the Word of God speak. The bias of faith means that he is prepared to listen and to bow unconditionally before the authority of Scripture. (to be continued)

—HCH