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Is Belief in a Six-Day Creation Apostasy?

By Wayne Jackson

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In a recent issue of his magazine, Does God Exist?, John N. Clayton of South Bend, Indiana had an article titled: "Biblical Fundamentals vs. Religious Fundamentalism." The design of the piece is to ridicule those so-called "fundamentalists" who believe that the entire creation was effected within the six days of history's initial week. Clayton says "religious fundamentalism has done an incredible amount of damage." He identifies six-day creationism as a basic component of "fundamentalism," and puts it in the same category with belief in UFOs, demon exorcism, etc. Here is one of his comments.

It [fundamentalism] demands the entire creation to have been accomplished in a literal seven-day week instead of recognizing God has been [sic] active before and after that week

What should be said in response to this misguided brother's charge? First of all, none of the Lord's people, with whom this writer is familiar, adopts the designation "fundamentalist." A Bible believer ought to be satisfied with the name "Christian." This appellation should signify that one accepts the testimony of the Scriptures, neither more nor less, for his authority in all matters relating to faith and practice. Since none of us was there at the beginning, we are wholly dependent upon the declarations of the inspired writers as to what happened. Second, Clayton's allegation-that "the entire creation" was not accomplished within earth's first week should be examined in the light of biblical testimony, not within an emotional climate tainted with evolutionary suppositions. And make no mistake about it; this brother has been significantly influenced by the propaganda of evolutionism. For ample documentation see: Wayne Jackson & Bert Thompson, In the Shadow of Darwinism-A Review of the Teachings of John N. Clayton (Apologetics Press, 1992). Let us focus upon Clayton's statement that "God has been [sic] active before and after that week." Consider the following factors."

The Total Creation in Six Days

There is the explicit testimony of Moses, who declared: "[I]n six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is" (Ex. 20:11). Two items are of special interest, "in" and "all." The creation ­ "all" of it-was accomplished "in" the six­day period. The Hebrew term kol, rendered "all," signifies "the whole" or "totality" of a thing (Gesenius, 396). Could a statement be clearer than that? It is difficult to see how. But Clayton simply cannot accept that. And why not? Because he has endorsed the evolutionary system of chronology that demands the earth be billions of years old. Our friend's belief in a substantial portion of the evolutionary theory has distorted his view of the Bible.

Nothing Before "The Beginnings"

The Genesis record commences with these words: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Subsequently, the text says: "And there was evening, and there was morning, one day." Verses 1­5 deal with the divine activity of the beginning day of earth's first week. But Clayton suggests that "before that week" God had already "been active" in the work of creation. Does that make any sense at all from a logical point of view? How could God have been "creating" before the beginning of the "creation"? Such a contradiction should not be attributed to be Scriptures.

The Work Was "Finished"

John Clayton further asserts that God was involved in creative activity "after that week." That statement explicitly contradicts the testimony of Genesis 2:1­3. Therein Moses records that "the heavens and the earth" and "all the host of them" were "finished" (kalah-"to complete, bring to an end," Brown, et al., 478) as the first week came to a conclusion. The inspired writer affirms that God "rested" (shabhath -"to cease, desist," Brown, et al., 991) from "all" his creation activity. One scholar notes that this language "implies that the created world came into being as a fully developed whole, as a finished product. God's creative power did not merely produce a phenomenon with vast possibilities and potentials which, in turn, would develop in the course of eons of time. The world was finished, complete, a product of God's workmanship and was fully done" (Aalders, 74). This agrees with the well­known first law of thermodynamics, which asserts that, according to present processes, nothing is being created.

Clayton's Radicalism

John Clayton is so radical in his quest to find "creation activity" outside the bounds of the initial week, that he labels the contrary view as "apostasy." Within this context he charges: "The apostasy of religious fundamentalism has been as catastrophic as the forsaking of the simple message of the gospel by modern denominationalism" (8). The gentleman appears to be calling for a cessation of fellowship with all who subscribe to a literal understanding of the Mosaic testimony. If the brother is accurate in his charge, Moses himself becomes an apostate (Ex. 20:11). That is a most serious implication.

Notes

Aalders, G. Charles (1981), Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), Vol. I.

Brown, Francis, Driver, S.R., Briggs, Charles (1907), Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (London: Oxford University Press).

Clayton, John N. (1997), Does God Exist?, January/February.

Gesenius, William (1979 Reprint), Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker).

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Published October 1997