Scripture truth hangs together; displace a part of it and you distort the whole.
Treating Genesis 1-3 as allegory rather than history not only undermines the doctrine of special creation but the gospel itself. Christ could only be a real ‘second Adam’ if the federal headship of the first Adam was historically true (Romans 5:12-21).
While many evangelicals stand for special creation — which is good — not a few have embraced some erroneous elements. They reject theistic evolution and death before Adam’s Fall; they rightly insist on a ‘young Adam’ and a ‘young Fall’ (thousands of years), but still wrongly talk of an ‘old Earth’ (millions of years).
Why have they done so? Some accept a ‘Gap Theory’, arguing for millions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes this theory:
‘There are those who believe that this great cataclysmic event, which took place in that pre-cosmic fall, involved also an original material creation. This, they argue, is the key to the understanding of the second verse in the Bible … [that] the word “deep” there really means “the chaos” … [and] may include the idea that God made a world, a cosmos, in which these angelic principalities and powers lived and functioned and dwelt. But when some of them fell in their rebellion and pride and disobedience, God punished their universe also, and it was reduced to a state of chaos’. Then God began again, with a second go at creation, from Genesis 1:2b onwards.
Read on in Lloyd-Jones and you find he cannot quite make up his mind about the whole idea (which is a great pity), but he is surely right when he says, ‘I cannot believe that creation as a work carried out by God was at any stage an abyss, a void, a chaos. That does not fit in with God’s work’ (The Christian warfare, Banner of Truth, pp. 73-74).
Lloyd-Jones’ later ambiguity in his sermon (but not over a young Adam and young Fall) reminds us that even the best of men are men at best! But, to be fair to him and past worthies, to expect from them rigorously correct answers to modern evolutionism is like expecting well-rounded views on the Trinity from the Church Fathers before Arianism hit the churches!
But we now, 36 years since Dr Lloyd-Jones’ death in 1981, have five decades of scientific creationism behind us, as well as the ravages of the New Atheism — and little excuse for ambiguity.
The Gap Theory has its knock-on effects too. Consider its whole approach to Scripture.
Even if it is right about the Hebrew behind ‘without form and void’ (Genesis 1:2) and our main English Bible versions all wide of the mark (a point hard to concede), it provides a miniscule base for an elaborate pre-creation narrative. It is a kind of ‘conspiracy theory’. But the Bible is not a gigantic code book and deserves better handling.
And is not a fall of Satan millions of years before Eden’s creation ruled out by Ezekiel 28:12-13? Here it says of Satan (under the type of the king of Tyre): ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering’. Lucifer was initially unfallen in Eden.
Similarly, God corrected Job’s rash speeches with these words: ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding … Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?’ (Job 38:4-7). Creation in Job 38 is a holistic whole, over which all the angels rejoiced not just an unfallen two-thirds!
If we let slip particular biblical truths, our whole system will soon be out of sync. ‘Buy the truth and sell it not’ (Proverbs 23:23)!