The Framework Hypothesis and Genesis 1
Prof. Herman C. Hanko
The need to speak on the Framework Hypothesis bodes
ill for the church. It is not an error that is placed on church’s agenda
by the world. It originated and has its greatest influence in
conservative Reformed and Presbyterian denominations and seminaries.
Though of relatively recent origin, in another sense
it is not new. Fifty years ago, when I was attending college, the
so-called Period Theory was just being introduced into the science
department. This explanation of Genesis 1 was replaced, after ten or
fifteen years, by what became known as the Gap Theory. That particular
view has very few, if any, defenders today. The Gap Theory was quickly
followed by other views which explained Genesis 1 as myth, or saga, or a
Now we are confronted with the Framework Hypothesis.
Yet, all these views have one thing in common. They deny the literal
meaning of Genesis 1 and are, therefore, an assault, a fierce assault,
on Genesis 1 and the creation narrative, and thus, on the sacred
Scriptures. It is particularly disconcerting that, when these heresies
arise and the church is called to give a clear sound on the trumpet to
summon the church to battle and to condemn unequivocally these false
views, one finds to his dismay that there is scarcely one anywhere that
dares to stand up in the ecclesiastical assemblies and defend vigorously
on behalf of God and His truth the doctrine of creation. We get instead
whimpers and stutterings, and perhaps a trumpet sounding retreat. That
I consider this Framework Hypothesis, recently made
popular, to be an assault on the Scriptures. It is an assault on the
Scriptures in three distinct ways. It is an assault on the divine
inspiration of Scripture. It is an assault on the doctrine of
Scripture’s authority. It is an assault on the Biblical truth which
forms the foundation of the Christian faith.
What the Framework Hypothesis Teaches
The Framework Hypothesis was first proposed by Dr.
Noordzij of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands in the early
1950’s. His defence of the Framework Hypothesis never became very
popular. The later popularity of the view could be explained by the fact
that the idea was picked up by Dr. N. H. Ridderbos, a prominent figure
in the Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands. He wrote a book in which
he spelled out his view of the Framework Hypothesis and defended it. The
title of the book is, Is There A Conflict Between Genesis 1 and
Natural Science? That book has been translated and is available in
this country, though only as a used book. But even that book did not
really make much progress within Reformed and Presbyterian circles until
this same view was picked up by theologian and Old Testament scholar
Meredith Kline. He has popularised the theory. He has had remarkable
success in promoting it and has succeeded in gaining many to his views,
especially in more conservative circles. He has put it on the agenda of
the church. Collaborating with Dr. Lee Irons, he has set down his views
in a book called The Genesis Debate.
The Framework Hypothesis has two parts to it. The
first part proceeds from the assumption that the narrative of creation
in Genesis 1 and 2 is not to be taken literally, but makes use of a
literary device. It is a device which imposes a literary framework on
the creation narrative which requires that the narrative be explained in
a way quite different from the tr additional interpretation that
the church has given to it for two thousand years.
The theory goes something like this. The literary
framework, by means of which the work of creation is described, is
merely a device to give some rather general ideas about the origin of
this world without in any way giving us information on the length of
time in which God’s work of creation was done, in what order God created
the creatures belonging to creation, and the manner in which God created
them. The days are not literal days, but are a device used which points
us to two groups of three, two triads set over against each other. There
is a relationship between the two triads and a correlation can be found
between day one and day four, day two and day five, day three and day
six. What Genesis 1 is trying to teach us is not how God created the
world, not in how much time he created the world, but only that the
creation is divided into three separate spheres each with its own
rulers. There is the sphere of space, which is ruled by the sun, moon,
stars, and planets. There is the sphere of the sea, which is ruled by
fish and birds. There is the sphere of dry land which is ruled by
animals and man. That is about as much as the creation narrative tells
us. We must not look to Genesis 1 to learn how God created things or in
how much time He created things.
If one would ask how God created all things, the
answer of the Framework Hypothesis is: God created all things by
"natural providence." Although, in the book mentioned above, little more
is said about what is meant by natural providence, it becomes clear that
the authors mean God’s ordinary way of working in His creation, that is,
according to so-called natural laws. Hence, the creation came into being
through evolutionary processes, which processes are still in operation
today in the creation. Natural development over billions of years
explains the origin of the creation.
The second aspect of his theory is called
two-register cosmogony. Now I have to admit that I read this material a
number of times, but was unable to figure out exactly what is meant. It
is very complicated. It is very abstract. It is very far remove from the
simple statements of Genesis 1. That in itself ought to send up warning
signals to anyone who loves God’s Word. What is meant, apparently is
this. Genesis 1 is not telling us what happened here upon earth during
the creation week, but this chapter in the Bible is telling us what
happened in heaven. There is a heavenly register and an earthly
register. All Genesis 1 is telling us is that there is some reality of
which we know very little, which takes place in heaven where God dwells,
but which somehow has some kind of an effect here below which we are
able to see and to observe only through the metaphorical language of
Now, that is too complicated for me to understand.
But let me quote.
evidence that the Genesis cosmogony has been shaped by the employment of
the Bible’s two-register cosmology thus demonstrating that the picture
of the week of days is one element of a broader pattern in which
upper-register realties are described through the metaphorical use of
lower-register terminology (The Great Debate, p. 185).
I must admit that I do not know what that means. I
would find it extraordinarily difficult if I were teaching the doctrine
of creation to five and six year old covenant children, which once I
did, to have to say to them, "God did not really create things in six
days of twenty-four hours, but what we have here in Genesis 1 is a
metaphorical use of lower-register terminology to give us some kind of
an idea of upper-register cosmogony." I would find myself
extraordinarily uncomfortable. I would probably skip the lesson on
creation, if I had to teach that. But the point is that the language of
Genesis 1 is metaphorical and is in no sense of the word to be taken
If you think that to accuse the Framework Hypothesis
of denying the literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is too harsh a
judgment, other quotes from the book will prove this contention. It is
necessary to prove this because, strangely, the authors claim to believe
in the literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. Nevertheless, they
creation narrative is not to be taken literally but is
kerygma-theological, and redemptive (The Great Debate, p. 218).
If this is set against a literal interpretation of
Genesis 1 & 2, I do not know what "kerygma-theological, and redemptive"
mean. But the point is clear. The narrative is not literal.
Framework Hypothesis regards the seven day scheme as a figurative
framework (The Great Debate, p. 219).
six days of creation are presented as normal solar days, according to
the Framework interpretation, the total picture of God completing his
creative work in a week of days is not to be taken literally (The
Great Debate, p. 219).
The men who defend the Framework Hypothesis do not
want Genesis 1 or Genesis 2 to be taken literally. I consider that idea,
apart from the difficulty in understanding the Framework Hypothesis, to
be a deliberate and calculated assault on the sacred Scriptures.
An Assault on Scripture’s Inspiration
The literal meaning of the sacred Scriptures has been
the foundation of the Reformed faith since the time of the Lutheran
Reformation. It is a profound truth rescued from Roman Catholic bondage.
The Roman Catholic Church had given to the Scriptures a four-level
interpretation. The literal meaning of the Scriptures was not the real
meaning, according to Rome. If one wanted to find the real meaning, one
had to go deeper and deeper through these additional three levels of
interpretation until finally, when one reached the bottom, he would find
the true meaning of the Scriptures in the various levels. The result of
that position of Rome was that the ordinary people of God were judged
unable to understand the Scriptures, and the Scriptures were denied
I do not have to remind you of how vicious Rome
became when the Scriptures were translated into the language of the
common people. Rome did not want the Bible in the hands of the people of
Luther said, "There’s deviltry in that." He
translated the Bible into German and gave it to the people of God. He
freed the Scriptures from the shackles and chains of Rome. In addition
to translating the Bible into German, and as a reason for translating it
into the language of the common people, Luther insisted on the truth of
the office of all believers. All God’s people are given the Spirit. With
the Spirit, they are able to understand the sacred Scriptures. The
cornerstone of that doctrine was that the Scriptures are to be taken
literally; that the Scriptures mean exactly what they say; that they
have no hidden meanings, no meaning below the surface, no deeper levels
of meaning. They say exactly what they mean and mean what they say. The
literal meaning is the only meaning and the correct meaning.
This truth lies in the very nature of the Scriptures.
The Scriptures are, after all, the infallibly inspired written record of
the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. But they are the record of God’s
revelation in Christ to God’s people. God wants to tell His people about
the great salvation He has prepared for them in Christ. All things
recorded on the pages of Holy Writ belong to that salvation.
The conclusion is that Genesis 1 speaks of Christ as
well as Revelation 22, and as well as all intervening books and
chapters. God gave the revelation of Himself so that His people might
have this revelation of Himself to know Him as their God and to live
with Him in covenant fellowship. To use the words of Psalm 25, "The
secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his
covenant" (v. 14). He tells them who He is. He tells them of all of His
wonderful attributes and glorious works. He tells them of what He does
in order to save them and make them his people. He tells them of all the
glorious things He is going to do for them and will do for them forever
and ever. But, because they are all part of the salvation which God
gives His people, they are all revealed through Christ, through whom
alone is salvation ours.
He makes known His secrets to His people in such a
way that they are able to understand. Why else would He reveal these
secrets? John Calvin in a certain place speaks of the fact that God in
the Scriptures talks "baby talk," because that is all we as creatures
are able to understand. God lisps in a language that is understandable
to us. To all God’s people, the educated and the uneducated, the farmer
and the doctor of philosophy, the old saint and the little child, He
speaks. How many times in the Scriptures are not children directly
addressed? God does not talk in a mysterious language that only
professors with with their PhD's are able to understand. He does not
talk in the Scriptures about two-register cosmogonies and cosmologies.
God wants His people to understand how He made all things. Hence, what
God says is literally true. Is that so hard to believe? "God said, Let
there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was
good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the
light Day and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the
morning were the first day." That is how God talks because He wants us
to know who He is and what He does so that we come to know Him as the
God of our salvation.
The simplicity of the Scriptures can not be true if
we can no longer trust their literal meaning. There is not any one that
reads this pamphlet who can discover what the Scriptures mean, if we are
dealing with writings which cannot be taken literally. In that case, the
church needs learned scholars to tell us what the Scriptures mean. It is
obvious to anyone who reads the first two chapters of Genesis that they
teach one simple truth. God, by the Word of His power, called everything
into existence in six days exactly like the days we have. Let us conduct
an imaginary conversation.
"But," say today’s scholars, "You are all wrong.
Genesis 1 does not mean that at all."
"Well," we respond, "What does it mean?" The response
comes quickly. "We have here a two-register cosmogony given in a
"But is not this so vague and hard to understand that
it leaves room for unbelieving theories of origins, that is,
How can the ordinary child of God understand that?"
"We have gifted Old Testament scholars here in the
Seminary who will explain how these things are to be understood."
"But what has happened, then, to Scripture’s
perspicuity? To the office of believers?"
To that there is no answer. The silence is palpable.
Was the church of the martyrs, the church that was
persecuted by the whore of Rome, the church of past centuries, in need
of today’s scholars to know the faith that she was called upon to
defend? They were poor people who, lacking today’s scholars, could not
possibly know what Genesis 1 and 2 were talking about, if we are to
believe today’s exegetes of Scripture.
Theories which deny the literal meaning of the
creation narrative are leading the church back to Rome! Is that where we
want to go? Back to Rome where a new priesthood, now of scholars, will
explain to us what we are unable to understand by ourselves?
Facing this very problem in his time, Calvin writes
in his preface to his commentary on Romans: "We ought to have such
respect for the Word of God that any difference of interpretation on our
part should alter it as little as possible. It is therefore
presumptuous and almost blasphemous to turn the meaning of scripture
around without due care as though it were some game that we were
playing." He writes in the commentary on the parable of the Good
Samaritan: "We ought to have a deeper reverence for scripture than to
reckon ourselves at liberty to disguise its natural meaning." In other
words, to disguise Scripture’s natural meaning with theories such as the
Framework Hypothesis is to show irreverence to the sacred Scriptures.
The church always has maintained this position.
Walter J. Kaiser, professor of Old Testament in Gordon-Conwell Seminary
writes: "Scripture has only one meaning, the one obvious from the
thought and words. It is a meaning which anyone who reads the text can
ascertain. The obvious surface meaning, the ‘prosaic’ meaning is the
right one, and looking for other meaning reduces exegesis to a shambles"
(Roy B. Zuck [gen. ed.], Rightly Divided. Readings in Biblical
[Kregel Publications], pp. 167-170).
Even Herman Ridderbos, who promoted the Framework
Hypothesis, wrote concerning the creation narrative in his book on the
One who reads Genesis 1 without prepossession or
suspicion is almost bound to receive the impression that the author’s
intent is to say that creation took place in six ordinary days.
The Framework Hypothesis has to do
with what is called literary criticism of Scripture. In an essay
(originally given as a speech), C. S. Lewis writes:
Whatever these men may be as Bible critics, I
distrust them as critics. They seem to me to lack literary
judgement, to be imperceptive about the very quality of the text
they are reading ... These men ask me to believe they can read
between the lines of the old texts; the evidence is their obvious
inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines
themselves. They claim to see fern seed and can’t see an elephant
ten yards away in broad daylight (Christian Reflections, pp.
That strikes me as appropriate. The defenders of the
Framework Hypothesis claim to see the fern seed of two-register
cosmogony and they can not see the elephant of six days of creation in
broad daylight at ten paces. That is an assault on the sacred scriptures
and God’s Word. We must view it as such and consider our calling.
An Assault on Scripture’s Authority
The Framework Hypothesis is an assault on Scripture’s
authority. The Framework Hypothesis, as well as any other view that
refuses to take Genesis 1 literally, is an assault on Scripture’s
authority because it is a sell-out to modern unbelieving science. Now I
happen to like science and I am not going to use this point to carry out
some vendetta against science. I read all the science I have time for. I
like astronomy particularly. Science is wonderful. But not unbelieving
science. Yet the church sells its soul to unbelieving science.
Unbelieving science is summoned to serve as the shock troops in an
assault on the citadel of the Scriptures.
The authors of the Framework Hypothesis would deny
this. They are at great pains to claim for themselves two things. They
claim to believe in the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures, and
they claim that they are not imposing their Framework Hypothesis upon
Scripture under the pressure of scientific discovery. Many times in the
course of their argument they remind the reader of their commitment to
the Reformed doctrine of Scripture. One is reminded of Shakespeare’s
memorable line: "Me thinketh thou protesteth too much." But so it is.
They want us to be convinced that they are not adopting their view under
the pressure of modern science. Their Framework Hypothesis, so they
claim, was developed simply because of the fact that they were engaged
in honest and objective exegesis of Genesis 1 and 2 and were compelled
by the exegesis itself to adopt this position.
But what they claim is not true. This can be shown
from their own writings. The defenders of the Framework Hypothesis tip
their hand, whether purposely or inadvertently They write:
We must regard any creation account or narrative of
human events that clearly contradicts scientific and or historical data
as erroneous, mythical, or fictional.
One can not
say it any clearer than that! Any exegesis which contradicts science is
erroneous, mythical, or fictional.
is that natural revelation and scripture cannot contradict one another.
If there is an apparent conflict between our interpretation of natural
revelation and our interpretation of Scripture, the only role of natural
revelation in the exegetical task is to serve as a warning that we may
need to re-examine our exegesis." That settles the matter of their view
of the relation between natural revelation and Scripture. When natural
revelation and Scripture come into conflict with each other we are not
warned, as we should be, to reinterpret our science! No, when the two
come into conflict with each other we are told that we may need to
re-examine our exegesis. Science is right. Our understanding of
Scripture is wrong. That means that the authority of science stands
above the authority of Scripture.
Another quote will further substantiate this.
As far as the time frame is concerned [that is, how
long it took God to create all things, HH], with respect to both the
duration and the sequence of events, the scientist is left free of
biblical constraints in hypothesizing about cosmic origins (quoted from
Kline in The Reformed Herald, p. 7).
We are flatly told that the scientist, whether
believer or unbeliever, is perfectly free, when it comes to the question
of the origin of the creation and the sequence of events in creation, to
do his own work apart from any constraints of the Scriptures.
So, after all, their claim to be objective in their
exegesis is a false claim. They want to make room for science, which
teaches an old earth. We are to take the word of an unbelieving
scientist rather than the Word of the God of heaven and earth.
Especially when it comes to how the world came into existence. Is that
what the believer is supposed to do? That is what these men are asking
us to do.
The argument is that natural or general revelation
and special revelation are both the Word of God; that both, therefore,
say the same thing and cannot contradict each other. We must be reminded
of a truth upon which Calvin insisted. He reminded us that our sin makes
us so spiritually blind that we can not see the revelation of God in
creation unless we put on the spectacles of Scripture. Hence, science
must be interpreted in the light of Scripture, not Scripture in the
light of science.
Two points must be emphasized in this connection. The
first is that the Framework Hypothesis, as well as all other theories
that try to bring evolutionism into the creation narrative, is based on
the principle of uniformitarianism. We are able to determine, so this
principle states, how the world was ten, fifteen, or twenty billion
years ago by how the world is today, because all the forces operating in
the creation today were operating throughout the entire history of the
world, and were operating in the same way. Kline concedes the principle
when he insists that creation took place by ordinary or natural
This theory of uniformitarianism is, however,
demolished by the Holy Spirit in Peter’s second epistle, chapter three,
where Peter puts the very words of the uniformitarians in the mouth of
the scoffers who deny Christ and the power of His coming: "This second
epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your
pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words
which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of
us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: "Knowing this first, that
there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own
lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the
fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the
beginning of creation" (vv. 1-4). But, as Peter goes on to say, all
things do not continue as they were from the beginning of creation. The
Flood came and the Flood was a universal catastrophe. As Peter makes
clear, the entire structure of the creation was changed by the flood.
Whereas once the creation was surrounded by water and stood in the water
and out of the water, now it is surrounded by fire being reserved unto
the day of judgment.
Another event which is not taken into account is the
fall of man into sin.
In his book, The Green Eye of the Storm, John
Rendle Short tells us that one of his reasons for abandoning theistic
evolutionism and adopting the traditional view of creation in six days
of twenty-four hours was his inability to get past the fact of the fall
and the curse that came because of it. It is in the nature of the case
that anyone who wants an old universe, as is true of all the defenders
of the Framework Hypothesis, must have a creation in which there always
was death. Kline says that the idea of death coming with the fall cannot
be supported by the Scriptures. He realizes, however that Romans 5:12 is
a key text, and so he tries to explain away the clear meaning. The text
reads, "Wherefore, as by one man sin came into the world, and death by
sin; and so death passed on all men for that all have sinned."
But it cannot be explained away. After the fall, God
pronounced the curse upon the creation. The curse means that God in His
fury against sin, brings death into the creation.
The difficulty is that one cannot have fossils that
are one hundred and fifty million years old if there was no death before
the Fall. That is impossible. So, death was characteristic of creation
for all the billions of years of its development, contrary to the
literal statements of the Scriptures. Reformed believers must maintain
that through the fall of Adam death came upon all things, and that only
through the atoning death of Christ Himself, who bore the curse, can man
and the creation be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Before the
fall death was impossible. The whole creation, through Adam lived in
fellowship with God the source and fountain of all life.
Not only is it true that the tremendous catastrophes
of the Fall and the Flood came upon this creation, so that all things do
not continue as they were from the beginning of the creation, but man,
as the punishment of God against sin, is made totally depraved. Part of
that total depravity is his spiritual blindness. In his spiritual
blindness he is unable to understand spiritual things. In his blindness
he is an enemy of God. He hates God and attempts by one means or another
to destroy God’s name, and truth from the earth.
Evolutionism, in whatever form it may come, is an
attempt to do that very thing. Are we then going to permit these
unbelieving scientists to tell us how the creation came into existence?
God has given us the Scriptures to tell us, and He has put those
Scriptures as eyeglasses on our nose so that we can see the creation as
God made it and as it truly is. Apart from these spectacles, we can not
understand the creation. But if we have the spectacles on, we can
understand it. Then we can do our scientific work and see God in all of
His mighty works, all His power, all His majesty, and all His purposes
which He has for the whole of creation and for us. What a marvellous
gift God has given to us.
We can perhaps show the foolishness of evolutionism
with an illustration. Supposing that a group of scientists, interested
in architecture, came to a large and old castle to learn how it was
constructed. In the entryway a book was found on the table in which the
builder of the castle explained in detail how he had built it. But these
learned scientists, glancing briefly at the book, reject it as an
authoritative account, throw it into the moat filled with water, and
proceed to examine a few stones in the walls, a few steps from the steep
staircases, and a few tiles from the roof. After studying them, these
learned men give us a detailed explanation in which they maintain that
the castle came from some very old material, but gradually evolved into
the mighty fortress which it is now. Who would ever believe such
And now there are those in the church, conservative
churches, who take their spectacles off, throw them on the ground, jump
on them a few times, and then go prowling around in the earth’s crust,
blind as bats, to tell us how the creation came into existence. How can
anyone believe these things?
An Assault on the Foundation of the Gospel
Finally, this view is an assault on the foundation of
the gospel. I word it that way deliberately.
When I was going to college, I was introduced to the
Period Theory. The days of Genesis 1 were said to be long periods of
time, not normal days of twenty-four hours. The professor, knowing that
some of us in the class were believers in the literal interpretation of
Genesis 1, said to us in words of this effect, "I hope by the end of the
year, I will have you all persuaded of the correctness of the Period
Theory. If there are one or two of you that are not persuaded, I will
consider that to be a failure on my part. But I want you to understand
that it really does not make any difference what you believe. Whether
you believe a literal account of Genesis 1, or whether you believe in
the Period Theory does not make any difference for salvation, because
Genesis 1 and its interpretation does not belong to the gospel of
salvation in Jesus Christ. So you can believe what you wish on these
matters. All these views are acceptable in the church."
Howard Van Til, in his book The Fourth Day,
also insisted that it makes no difference what one believes on this
question. Whether one believe what his book teaches, or whether one
believes in creation in six days of twenty-four hours, or any other
theory, the question of what is right and wrong is irrelevant, because
the creation narrative is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The
same is being said today by the defenders of the Framework Hypothesis.
We have to listen to the old song: "It doesn’t matter what you believe."
Even in the book, The Genesis Debate, the defenders of creation
in six normal days state emphatically that they do not consider the
issue a divisive one, and that different views ought to be acceptable in
From such a position matters can only get worse. The
question of creation becomes an open question in the church. To make
matters worse, it is then added that the question of the creation is a
non-confessional question, and that any effort on the part of radicals
to define the way in which God created all things and the time in which
He did so is an effort to add to the confessions. Because all this is
said to be true, we are asked to tolerate these views. The plea is made:
"Just tolerate us. That is all we are asking. Declare the whole matter
of origins to be non-confessional. Give us room in the church for our
view. You may hold to your view. You may maintain your position. We are
not going to try to shove our views down your throat. It just doesn’t
make any difference to salvation. It doesn’t touch on the heart of the
gospel of Jesus Christ."
It is striking and significant that the Arminians
asked for the same toleration in the years prior to the Synod of
Dordt—and they came close to taking over the whole church. It does make
a difference what people believe concerning Genesis 1 & 2, because it
makes a difference on what they believe concerning their Bibles. Who are
these people that claim to have the right to take part of the Bible and
say this does not belong to the gospel of Jesus Christ? The whole of
Scriptures has to do with Jesus Christ. The whole of Scriptures is
gospel. The whole of the Scriptures has to do with our salvation. When
God made the worlds and created man as the king, His purpose in that
creation never was to glorify Himself through the first Paradise and the
first Adam. His purpose right from the start was to glorify Himself
through the second Adam in the redeemed heavens and earth which are made
one through the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Do you think that Satan, that foul spirit from hell,
could frustrate the purpose of Almighty God? Do you think that when he
introduced sin into the world God stood wringing His hands in despair
while saying, "Oh my, everything is spoiled. We shall have to fall back
on Plan B. Plan A came to nothing. The devil made it impossible. Now I
will try to salvage something out of this mess that the devil and man
made." Is that the God of Scripture? The Scriptures reveal God as the
absolutely sovereign One who does all His good pleasure.
When God formed the heavens and the earth, He, as it
were, created the stage in splendid detail, on which stage would be
enacted the drama of sin and salvation in Christ. Christ’s salvation is
cosmic. The salvation of the catholic church and the salvation of the
whole cosmos in Christ. Even the salvation of heaven is through Christ
(Col. 1:20), so that all things may be united in Him who is exalted to
be Lord of all. Right from the beginning of the works of God that was
God saw all that He had made and behold it was very
good. Why was it good? It was good, because God saw that it was
perfectly adapted to serve the purpose which He had determined for it in
Jesus Christ. There is gospel here in Genesis 1.
There was even evidence of this given by God in the
creation of the heavenly bodies. These heavenly bodies, we are told,
were created for various purposes, among which was to serve as "signs"
(Gen. 1:15). But what is a sign? A sign is an earthly reality that
points to a heavenly truth. We are given a sign of the sacrifice of
Christ in the broken bread and the poured out wine served in the Lord’s
Supper. The sun was created to be a sign of the Sun of Righteousness who
rises with healing in his wings (Mal. 4:2). It is a sign of as the
bridegroom of His bride, the church, who comes forth from His chambers
(Ps. 19:5-6). The gospel of Christ. God created the lily of the valley
and the bright morning star so that we may see Christ (Col. 2:2, II
Peter 1:19). There is gospel in God’s work of creation. To deny creation
is to deny the gospel. Indeed, creation is the foundation of the gospel.
Genesis is the book of beginnings, the beginnings of the gospel of Jesus
Christ. In Proverbs 8, where Christ is personified as the Wisdom of God,
Christ Himself says, "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,
before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the
beginning, or ever the earth was ... While as yet he had not made the
earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
When he prepared the heavens, I was there ..." (vv. 22-31). This is
gospel, glorious gospel. Because Christ is the One in whom all the
cosmos and all the elect are saved, He was, as it were, present when the
cosmos was formed that He might supervise it and see to it that it
served His own glorious work of salvation. Even more, He was revealed as
the Wisdom of God in all the works of God’s hands. The creation is the
foundation of the gospel. Are we going to destroy the foundation? What
will happen to the house?
The advocates of the Framework Hypothesis are
reluctant to include man in creation by "ordinary providence." Perhaps
it is too great a concession to evolutionism even for them. The result
is that the proponents of the Framework Hypothesis draw a line through
the events of the sixth day. The line must be drawn between the creation
of the land animals and the creation of man. What belongs on the side of
the line which includes the creation of animals belongs to science, we
are told. But this is not true of the creation of man. The creation of
man must be taken literally. But why? There are no exegetical reasons
for drawing such a line. And indeed, with more logical consistency, many
refuse to do this, but claim that man also belongs to the evolutionary
process—although he may have had a soul injected at some point along the
way. But, let it be noticed, this evolutionary description of man’s
origin is the inevitable results.
Finally, it is repeatedly argued that the church must
allow freedom for its scholars to believe and teach what they will
concerning the truth of creation because the whole doctrine is a
non-confessional doctrine. That is, while the confessions teach that God
created all things, they do not teach how and in how long a time God
performed the work of creation.
This line of reasoning is sheer sophistry, and an
open attempt to bypass the confessions. The Confessions, taken in their
entirety, simply assume the doctrine of creation as taking place in six
ordinary days, such as we know today. But they also teach this doctrine
explicitly the Heidelberg Catechism states that "The eternal
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth,
with all that is in them) ..." (Lord’s Day 9, Q. & A. 26).
The Framework Hypothesis contradicts this statement
of the Catechism in two ways. First of all, it contradicts this
statement by teaching that the creation took place by ordinary or
"natural" providence, and was not, therefore, a miracle. If creation out
of nothing is not a miracle, then there are no miracles at all in
Scripture. Secondly, the advocates of the Framework Hypothesis
contradict this teaching of Scripture because they teach that the
various creatures came forth from something. Higher forms of creatures
came forth from lower forms of creatures. All developed. This is a
denial of our confessions, which are squarely based on Scripture’s own
repudiation of evolutionism. Hebrews 11:3 teaches that God created in
such a way "that things which are seen were not made of things which do
appear." These men, bent on introducing evolution into the church, say,
"Things which are seen were made of things which do appear."
The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 14,
teaches that death came into the world with the fall of man. The
Framework Hypothesis denies this when it insists, as it must, that death
was always present in the world. Article 14 says:
willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death and the
curse ... [Man] by sin separated himself from God, who was his true
life; having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable
to corporal and spiritual death ...
This article identifies death and the curse as being
the same. Genesis 3 tells us that the curse upon the creation ("Cursed
be the ground for thy sake") is the punishment for Adam’s sin. It came
with the Fall.
In Article 12 of the Confession of Faith, such
a work of creation as Genesis teaches is specifically taught. "We
believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by His Son, hath created
of nothing the heaven, the earth, and all creatures as it seemed good
unto Him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several
offices to serve its Creator ..." How it is possible for anyone to deny
that this article teaches creation in six ordinary days is hard to
imagine. If this article does not teach creation by God’s almighty Word
in a moment and by His power, then all language has lost its meaning.
Notice, first of all, the article insists that God created all things
"by His Son," not by evolutionary processes. Not natural providence was
the method; God’s Son was the direct Agent of creation. Secondly,
creation was "of nothing." And, finally, creation was such a work of God
that by means of creation God gave to every creature its being, shape,
form and several offices. The being, shape, and form of every creature
was given directly from God and was not acquired by the creature through
genetic aberrations, the survival of those most able to adapt to their
environment, and evolutionary processes, called by the advocates of the
Framework Hypothesis, "natural providence."
Finally, the Canons of Dordt (III/IV:12)
compares creation to regeneration. Regeneration is said to be performed
by God in a way "not inferior in efficacy to creation." It is called in
fact "a new creation." If the creation of the worlds took place by
"natural providence," the same must be true of regeneration. Somehow, by
natural providence the totally depraved sinner is transformed to become
a saint, glorified and holy. It is merely a matter of development.
Rather, even the Canons, singularly uninterested in the doctrine of
creation in their fierce battle with Arminianism, insist that
regeneration is comparable in many respects to the creation of all
Let it never be said that the "how" and the "manner"
of creation is a non-confessional matter. That is a travesty on our
confessions and will inevitably lead to denials of other confessional
Creation is a Matter of Faith
That all brings up one final point.
We do not attempt to prove creationism from science.
We must not attempt to do this. I am not saying that true science
contradicts the creation narrative. It does not. But the battle lines
are not drawn between competing and contradictory interpretations of
creation, It is not a question of who does the best science. The issue
is far more profound than that. The question is simply this: Do you
believe the word of God or don’t you? The battle is between faith and
unbelief. It is unbelief to construct a view of the origin of the
creation which conflicts with the literal meaning of Genesis 1. It is
unbelief to take Christ’s book and say to Christ, "There are some things
that didn’t happen the way you said they happened, because science says
that it is impossible for creation to happen that way.
Hebrews 11:3 puts the entire battle where it must be
fought. How is it possible to confess the truths of creation as given in
Scripture? The only way is the way of faith. Unbelief will always seek
to destroy the truth of God—also the truth of creation. But faith alone
is able to confess the doctrine of creation, namely, that God formed all
things in six days of twenty-four hours. How do we know that by the Word
of the Lord the heavens were framed and all the host of them by the
breath of His mouth (Ps. 33:6)? How do we know that God is the One who
calls the things that were not as though they were (Rom. 4:17)? How do
we know that any form of evolutionism, which teaches that things which
are seen came from things which do appear, is heresy? How do we know
that God formed all things in six days of 24 hours, limited by morning
and evening? The only way is faith. "By faith we understand that the
worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen
were not made of things which do appear" (Heb. 11:3). Faith is the only
way. Saving faith. Faith which confesses that salvation is in Christ
alone. Faith which, laying hold on Christ, receives Scripture as
If the whole world believes in evolutionism, and the
church meekly follows the world, the believer who clings to Christ by
faith and finds in Christ the fullness of his salvation, who glories in
the hope of being with Christ forever and ever world without end,
maintains, even in the fires of persecution, the simple yet profoundly
glorious truth of the doctrine of creation.
"In the Beginning God ..." by Homer C. Hoeksema—an
on-line book on the scriptural truth of creation, over