It is a subtle, but important distinction. I approve the desire to think God’s thoughts after Him. I fear though that I am sometimes tempted to approve God’s thoughts only when they agree with mine. A few weeks ago during a Question and Answer time at Ligonier’s annual conference I honestly answered a question as to my views on the age of the earth. I’m a young earth guy. Have been for twenty years. Though there were other young earth guys on the panel, and all the gentlemen on the panel are in my judgment fine, godly men, I found myself humbled by the enthusiastic support of the young earthers in the crowd, as if I had taken some sort of odd, bold and prophetic stand.
Despite my respect for those with whom I disagree on this issue, it is difficult not to fear that those on the other side weigh the Bible too lightly, and what they are hearing in His revelation through His creation too heavily. I know they don’t intend that. They may not even be guilty. But I am at least guilty of finding it less than easy to maintain toward them a presumption of their innocence.
What troubles me more, however, is when my comrades within the young earth camp (and please let’s all remember that these “camps” are all together within the walls of the kingdom) make the same kind of mistake. I fear that too many of us embrace young earth creationism not because of the dependability of the Bible, but because of the fine scientific work of those in the young earth camp.
I’ve seen and been blessed by the work of several “creation” ministries. Insofar as they are about the business of thinking God’s thoughts after Him, all I have is praise. Indeed I suspect my concerns reflect not those who produce pro-young earth teaching, but those who receive such teaching. If a stunning slide show about Mount Saint Helens persuades you that the Bible is true, that’s a problem. If a compelling video about the Great Flood convinces you there was a Great Flood, that’s a problem. The problem is your ultimate allegiance is to stunning slide shows and compelling videos.
Of course because the Bible is true we should expect His revelation in creation to match right up. Because there was a world-wide flood we should expect to find evidence of a world-wide flood. But we should not conclude that there was a world wide flood because our studies affirm such. Instead we’re supposed to believe the Bible.
Now it may well be that we young earthers are the geo-centrists of our day. It may well be that the best, most faithful understanding of Genesis is a Framework view, or some other view that requires an old earth. In short, I could be wrong. Geology, however, biology, astro-physics will not be how I come to know I am wrong. It would take the Bible to do that.
God is true wherever He speaks, whether in His Word or His world. Both natural and special revelation are inerrant and infallible. Only one of them, however, is clear, forthright, straightforward. Before we wrestle over this vexing issue, may we all learn to agree with two things. First, whatever the Bible teaches, that is what we are going to believe. And second, we are going to believe it because the Bible teaches it.