Old Earth Creationism and the word yom (day)

Monday Musings for November 15, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

Getting saved and being saved are two different things. An important part of being saved is reading the Bible and growing in Christ. I was saved at 19 years of age, and I had no cultural training for the job. In America’s “Bible Belt,” the “tone” of Christianity permeates its neighborhoods. But that tone was nowhere to be found in Massachusetts in the 1950s. Mine was the most Catholic state at the most Catholic time… and CCD was nothing like Sunday School.

As such, I had to play catch-up with the Bible and the Christian culture — and one area of concern was the “preferred beliefs” of evangelicals.... which came in sort of a package. Now, these were not my personal convictions; they were the consensuses of mature Christians. So I adopted these beliefs without understanding them, figuring that if I didn’t violate their guidelines, I’d be behaving more rightly than wrongly in the main. I could sort out the beliefs later.

That turns out to be a strong statement on epistemology — a word that I didn’t know existed back then. Epistemology is about warrant. It answers, why do you believe the things you believe? The algorithm I used made sense at that time: do the most correct and honorable things you know to do... and God will help you to eventually “own” the truths that underpin the beliefs.

In that preferred beliefs package was the idea that the Bible was inerrant. This wasn’t a problem in itself. But Christianity was virtually a King-James-Only (KJO) world in those days, so, not only was I learning theology, I was learning a second language — 17th century English!

So, with biblical inerrancy tucked under my arm, I started reading through the Old Testament. But I wanted to give inerrancy its due. So I read everything literally… but by literally, I mean literalistically… because those particular words were God’s very words… right?

Well, about halfway through the Old Testament, I thought I discovered a miracle that no one else was talking about. I observed that God never killed people in sloppy numbers... like 13,421. He always killed them in big whole numbers like 10,000 and 20,000! What a God we have … I thought… a God who proves both his power and inerrancy by killing people in whole numbers!

This was my first experience “discovering” something that was simply not true. But my heart was in the right place… I mean… I took the information I had — that God’s word was inerrant — and I gave praise to him for what he had done! But that is not how inerrancy works. For me, learning how inerrancy works was a process... and that process continues.

Now, even the most rigid commentators understand that rounding numbers is a reasonable accommodation to inerrancy. But it’s a watershed: since round numbers are not precise — and they still consider the Bible to be inerrant — then it is not woodenly inerrant; it is reasonably inerrant.

The same is true of literary genres. Even the KJOs routinely handle historical narrative, poetry and Jewish apocalyptic literature differently. Why? Because that’s how language works.  But the Bible contains many more genres than just these three, so why stop there?

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