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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Defence of Natural Theology But Nay to Gap

I recently read a review of the ministry of Thomas Chalmers in the Banner of Truth Journal for March 1980. Biblical Creationists such as myself are mindful that Thomas Chalmers proposed what has become known as the "Gap Theory" as a means to reconcile the Word of God with the 'world's' adopted view of a great age for the earth.

Essentially, "Gap Theory" places a long age and destroyed earth between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Biblical Creationists regard this 'age' as a significant event inadequately addressed in the text and an unwarranted imposition within the first two verses of the Word of God.

Notwithstanding my disagreement with Thomas Chalmers on this point I was interested to read the following from the author of the review:

Chalmers has been variously assessed as a teacher of theology. He was certainly not without deficiencies. In depth and accuracy of learning he is not in the front rank of Scottish theologians. The course of divinity which he set his students embodied the doubtful procedure of beginning with 'natural theology' before he advanced to the subject matter of Christianity itself.

This is a doubtful criticism of Chalmers considering the detachment of the review author by time and circumstance from Chalmers and his method. The method was not without precedent as the Apostle Paul was required to adopt a similar approach to get a better hearing when in Athens (Acts 17). Circumstances arise when a Christian must have an intelligible argument and point to the Creation/Creator before the hearer is prepared to hear of that same Creator being the Saviour who deals with their sin.

Perhaps it was that Thomas Chalmers saw where Scottish thought was heading and he wanted to prepare his students to meet the challenge with a 'complete' armour. Errant scientific propositions had a devastating affect on the Christian faith in the Nineteenth and subsequent centuries. Chalmers was wrong to impose an unwarranted imposition on the first two verses of the Word of God and open the door to the pernicious notion of Theistic Evolution. Nevertheless, many students were influenced by Chalmers and the Lord God was pleased to bring an 'Awakening' to areas of Scotland in the first half of the Nineteenth Century.

The scene before the 'Awakening' was described by Alexander Duff as follows:

The savour and unction of divine grace was gone; the peculiarities of the gospel were despised as offensive to classic taste and culture, and devotion scorned as fanatical and contemptible . . . Instead of the power and pathos of earnest gospel invitations and appeals, there were substituted cold pretences of academic learning, that froze the generous sympathies of the human heart.

As the article in the Banner of Truth Journal notes, The Moderates preached morality, with almost nothing of the supernaturalism of true Christianity. They ignored the Fall of man, sneered at the idea of a new-birth and said nothing of the perfection and power of the work of the Son of God.

Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that one of the fruits of Theistic Evolution is the deadening of faith in the supernaturalism of true Christianity. Because belief in that pernicious notion of Theistic Evolution is so rife in evangelicalism today the scene is set for repeating the deadening of the Church in our age.

The "Gap Theory" is erroneous but not as heinous an error as Theistic Evolution. It is better for the Church to be rid of both and return to faith in the straight-forward reading of the Creation account in Genesis 1 (supported in Exodus 20:11 and 31:17) to put the preaching of other vital points of the work of God on firm foundation.

Sam Drucker


John said...

As far as I can understand, SADs follow Calvin with their distaste for natural theology. It's a real slap in the face for God as it means God's creation has no relation to its creator. How profoundly silly! This is why people like Gordon Cheng reckon the koala has a wrong-way-up pouch.

More serious, it allows a second creator to usurp God's direct role - just like the Gnostics - except with these SAD guys it's long ages or evolution "doing" God's job...somehow.

And I guess that's why when pinned into a corner about their nonsense creation theology, they shrug their shoulders and say, "It's a mystery."

Well, guys, of course, it's a mystery if you're a Gnostic and ignore the plain words of Scripture of God telling Moses what, how and when He did create everything.

sam drucker said...

John, surely it is an issue of faith or, in the circumstances you mention, lack of it.

For a person to respond in the affirmative and in haste to some researcher's speculation about the Koala pouch without giving due regard to God and His wisdom is pure and simple a faith more in man ahead of faith in God. It is hard to imagine God blessing the ministry of such a doubter.

Sam Drucker

sam drucker said...

Just to point out that the Lord God uses a variety of means leading to the salvation of people, I quote from a review by Iain Murray of the work of Puritan, Thomas Hooker, on the Doctrine of Conversion:

"With some, Hooker argues [in his work Application of Redemption], God's manner in bringing them to a sense of sin, 'is sweet and secret, and works insensibly upon the spirits of such who do receive it, when and how it seems best to his infinite wisdom, whose ways are indeed past finding out.' In this connection he especially instances infants and those who, brought up in godly homes, come to know God savingly in their youth; Joseph, Samuel and Josiah being quoted as examples.

And again, he represents the unconverted man as locked up behind a door of unbelief which must be opened, but, as in ordinary life, there is more than one way of dealing with the problem of a lock; 'A man may pick the lock, or break the lock; open the door and lift up the latch gently, or else unhinge it with violence and noise
[so] that all the house, and all the town may hear, but it's opened both ways.'

Any idea that conviction of sin should cover a certain time, come in a set manner, or reach a certain degree, is not to be found in the Puritans

I remain convinced that people cannot rightly believe in Jesus Christ without acknowledging their sins and seeking them 'laid on Him'. However, I am not convinced that immediately laying on the unconverted the seriousness of their sins against a God they do not know is the only method the Lord God wishes Himself to be first revealed to the unregenerate.

Sam Drucker