In The Beginning
by Jere E. Frost
August 28, 2000
Genesis one is the record of the creation. It took place in six days. These six days were not only the origin of the earth and man as we know them, but also of the physical universe itself. Before these six days there were no heavens, earth, stars or sun.
"For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is... (Exodus 20:11)
The passage is clear: everything that is a part of the earth was made in these six days. Therefore before these six days not only was there no earth, but the materials of which the earth consists did not yet exist! All that is in them was made in these six days! This is the origin, the absolute beginning, prior to which there was nothing. So when Genesis one says, "In the beginning, God created," it is not talking about a refashioning of something that already was, but of bringing into existence that which before had no existence at all.
"... [T]hrough faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear."(Hebrews 11:3)
Since the earth was made out of things that had not previously appeared, and all that was made was made in six days, it necessarily follows that verse one -- "God created the heavens and the earth" -- is included in what happened on day one:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. ... And the evening and the morning were the first day."(Genesis 1:1,5)
The sun, moon and stars were not created until the fourth day. So there was no universe until then. They did not gradually come into existence. They were "not made of things that do appear." God made them out of nothing, which is to say this was the origin of the material as well as the design and arrangement -- it is their absolute origin.
Jesus himself further confirmed that what happened in these six days was "the beginning of the creation." He used the expression to explain when and how the marriage relationship and obligation began. But let us not forget the expressions Jesus used -- "the beginning" and "the beginning of the creation." When did the creation have its beginning? Jesus said it was when marriage was instituted, which was in the six days of creation described in Genesis one.
"And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female ..." (Matthew 19:4)
"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." (Mark 10:6)
Are the six days literal, 24 hour days? Undoubtedly. This is the ordinary and natural meaning of the Hebrew words for day (yom) and days (yamim, plural) in Scripture. It is the explanation as to why the seventh day was chosen as the one on which men were to rest, namely, that God had worked six days and rested on the seventh. God did not create the world in six hours or six eons, but in six days, and he did not rest the seventh hour or seventh eon, but the seventh day. This ordinary use of the word day is enhanced by the fact that it is noted to have had evening and morning. Moses speaks of a day or days over 100 times, but never in a figurative sense. No passage attaches a number to a day, such as first day, seventh day, or forty days, but what it is a day in the literal, ordinary and commonly understood sense.
Gradualists, uniformitarians and evolutionists all speak of a "big bang." Such is tacit admission that the universe could not possibly be accounted for by the science of their theories. It is also an acknowledgement of the need of a beginning, of some phenomenon outside of and utterly beyond the realm of their respective theories, without which the theories are self-contradicted, absurd and impossible.
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Brother Ferrell Jenkins did not shock me when he wrote on the internet that in 1967 I had written a bulletin article in which I said I did not know how old the earth was. His electronic chair shocked me a little because he had disparaged others' use of it, yet he put me in it and turned on the juice. Otherwise, I take no offense. And I hope that henceforth he will not. It matters but little as to whether communications are conveyed on paper, magnetically or electronically. Content is really all that counts. As to his content, he was correct although I did not remember writing the article. I thank him for reminding me of that 33-year-statement, especially in view of current concerns, for it impelled me to update in writing, as in the above article, the fruit of my studies in the intervening years relative to that point.
The following is sincere encouragement to him and brother Colly Caldwell to take the steps that I believe can resolve the crisis at Florida College relative to the days of creation.
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Avoiding Casualties in a Crisis
Our love for one another should impel us, in any time of difficulty and dissension, to seek not only to uphold truth but to also work in one another's best personal interest. My heart is distressed, even as many others are, by the conflict at Florida College over the "Days of Creation" and the "Unity in Diversity" atmosphere associated with it. But I am also persuaded that casualties can be avoided if we have proper attitudes and perspectives.
The Right Attitude
First, love must exist and unity must be desired. (John 13:34; Ephesians 4:3) When brethren do not love each other, they do not even need an issue to produce chaos. They only need an excuse. It is not difficult to determine when this is the case. Love seeks to encourage and to keep everyone together in peace without anyone being hurt. A lack of love is satisfied to effect a parting of ways, physically and psychologically. It is a lack of love that is usually at the heart of most church splits in both the local and broader sense. You have to have love. You have to want unity. You have to want to work things out.
This love not only needs to be felt, it needs to be expressed. Efforts for reconciliation and renewed camaraderie need to be made lest the profession of love be seen to be empty. It is hard to convince someone being ousted that you love them, and shameful to claim to want unity while trying to effect a separation.
My hope is that none of the brethren who are in the eye of this storm will be unduly hurt or lose their positions. President Colly Caldwell, Bible Chair Ferrell Jenkins, and Professor Shane Scott all possess the necessary ability to continue in their present roles. I hope they can and will.
Defining the Problem
Second, the issue should be defined. It should never be one's person. It may be what someone has done or taught. The conduct or doctrine then becomes the focal point, but not the person. The objective is properly not punishment or removal of the person but rather their repentance of misconduct and correction of doctrinal error. When this is the result, everyone wins, nobody "got" anybody, love shows, and the ties that bind brethren together are strengthened.
Consider the Lord's forgiveness of the denial by Simon Peter. The divine instruction was to tell the disciples about the resurrection, and explicitly included Peter -- "tell Peter." (Mark 16:7) On Pentecost, a mere matter of days following the denial, Peter is standing up with the eleven and preaching. He has not been shunted aside. There is no doubt the Lord and his brethren loved him. He was not "cold-shouldered" or told to go elsewhere.
In the case of the Corinthian brother whose shameful sin was worse than what characterized the Gentiles, Paul urged the Corinthians to not only forgive but also to confirm their love. (2 Cor. 2:7) He needed to be comforted and embraced; he did not need to be ignored, pushed away or told to go elsewhere.
If the issue is doctrinal, patient study and discussion should take place. Positive exegeses of Scripture and setting forth the logic of one's reasoning in conversations, correspondence or articles are much to be preferred to confrontational debate. If it has to do with matters of judgment or personal faith (as in Romans 14), let no man seek to bind his view or to judge his brother. If it has to do with "the faith," the faith for which we are to contend (Jude 3), let us do exactly that with one another. But let us do it with love and patience, and kindness and courtesy, which means that confrontational debate takes place only after brotherly studies and appeals have proved fruitless.
An Application to the FC Situation
"Practice what you preach" is what I need to do just here. I need to take the time and space to express my love and concern for my brethren with whom I disagree on the matters at hand. I seek to express my love in a practical and perceptible form. Brethren Colly Caldwell, Ferrell Jenkins and Shane Scott are at the center of this storm. I want to reiterate that I do not want any of them to lose their positions with the school. I want to be supportive of them as persons and do what I can to effect their highest good, and no harm at all.
We have already identified the issues, namely, (1) The Days of Creation in Genesis One, and (2) Unity in Diversity.
As to creation, the question is, "Did God create the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, in six literal days?" If there are differences on this, they need to be discussed. I am pleased with what I understand brethren Caldwell and Jenkins believe. As to this topic, the problem is that brother Scott has mentioned multiple alternative views as being equally acceptable. I have no problem with his presenting the rationale of various theories, but I urge him to tell his students (and in this case, all concerned parties) whether or not he has any personal conviction on the subject. If so, tell us plainly what the oracles of God are on the subject, advocate that, and teach nothing else as truth or possible truth. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." (I Peter 4:11)
As to Unity in Diversity, the question is: may a doctrine one believes is false be taught with their approval and without repudiation? This is the catalyst of the controversy. And it is definitively "Unity in Diversity" on fundamental matters. Brother Colly wrote an article in Gospel Truths ("For the Record") in which he said he does not believe in "Unity in Diversity." Whereas I do not for a moment question his sincerity I do question his accuracy.
The introduction of this doctrine to this generation was to embrace Homer Hailey in spite of his advocacy of the idea that the unscripturally divorced and remarried do not need to separate. The proponents of UID acknowledge that such is adultery and can cause the guilty to lose their souls, but somehow it "does not rise to the level" of what should break fellowship. (Shades of Clinton's defense.) What I would urge just here is not a debate, and not a stating of a bottom line conclusion, but for these good brethren to set forth and discuss what they believe either in a meeting or in articles. With clarity, what is the understanding and what is the conviction here?
We can fight, or we can end it.
If brother Scott does not believe the creation took place in six literal days, we who hold it as a matter of faith that it did take place in six literal days, have no choice but to deny and refute the doctrine to the fullest of our ability, and to spare our children's being subjected to such advocacy. If the administration backs this view and attitude, the battle is joined on both (1) the creation issue and (2) the unity in diversity concept.
If the administration has a conviction -- not a mere inclination -- that the Genesis one account of the creation can be taken literally, and will not tolerate a theory alongside it, my problem with the administration and school is over. It's over! Never mind what mistakes may have been made. It's over!
by Jere Frost
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