Monday, May 12, 2014


A local youth pastor and I continue to discuss the faith. (You can read my emails to him in my older posts.) But I was asked to read John H. Walton's book, because the youth pastor considers the historical Christian teaching of the creation account in Genesis 1 to be questionable.

Lord willing, I will share my review of the book in its entirety in the next eight posts. It reads a little more like a sermon, or a response, I guess. And I wish I could have shortened it. But I could not.

Below is the preface...


A review by Marty L. Smith

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD..." (Isaiah 1:18)


The book, THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS 1, by John H. Walton, was a challenging read; not because it was extremely difficult to understand, but because a scholar who is a professing Christian proposes brand new interpretations of the very beginnings; which, if accepted, would shake (and in time remove) much of the framework of the orthodox Christian faith for an individual. But let us be grateful, dear saint,"...for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12:28)

There are many professing Christians who do not believe in the prevailing view of a young earth and a literal six days of creation. Others believe in an old earth where the days were not 24-hour periods. Still others believe it was all formed in a moment. But John H. Walton's view is definitely different, and disturbing. It reminded me of the serpent's words: "Did God actually say...?" Walton proposes that Genesis 1 is an account of functional origins rather than an account of material origins - a position which he says, "...may be designated the cosmic temple inauguration view...the cosmos is being given its functions as God's temple, where he has taken up his residence and from where he runs the cosmos. This world is his headquarters."

True science and true learning approves, confirms, and gives consent to the gospel. It is often rightly said that "all truth is God's truth," and the Lord certainly would have us love Him with all our minds. But "human learning" often opposes the truth of God because of our fallen nature. The Apostle John wrote: "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18). To love "in truth," we must surely keep close to the written Word of God - all of it. It is committed to our trust. We must live for it, and die for it. The blood of the martyrs, such as William Tyndale, has been shed that we might have good translations in our hands. However, it appears that John H. Walton would have us doubt their trustworthiness by appealing to texts outside the Holy Writ, all the while proposing a "reading" that he says "enhances the vitality of the text."

In my review, I will discuss the following:
A. The problem of Walton's dependence on extra-Biblical ancient literature.
B. The problem of Walton's view as it concerns humanity.
C. The problem of Walton's view as it concerns death.
D. The problem of Walton's proposal of material existence long before functionality.
E. Other statements and reviews which corroborate my conclusions.
F. Reflections on some of Walton's troubling statements.
G. Conclusions, looking to Jesus.

Most Christians already know and affirm most of what I proclaim here. If the reader considers this review verbose, please accept my humble apologies. I would politely ask for consideration of the weight of this issue, and for patient reception of the contents as a reminder and an encouragement, if nothing more. But my hope is that the Holy Spirit will convince through these arguments - that Walton's propositions supporting theistic evolution are unsatisfactory - that his methods are unacceptable and overreaching - and that this teaching could be a destructive heresy. His propositions, if affirmed, would undoubtedly undermine our faith and weaken our trust in God and the overall clarity of His Word.

"Theistic evolution is not tenable in the light of Scripture... it is a theory that is absolutely subversive of Scripture truth."

"...theistic evolution destroys the Bible as the inspired book of authority as effectively as does atheistic evolution."
- Dr. Alfred Fairhurst, THEISTIC EVOLUTION

"... aspects of an old heresy relating to the creation account are increasingly infiltrating the Church. This is the falsehood known as Pelagianism."

I am inspired by my love for the reader, my adoration of Jesus, my trust in His Word, my desire to defend the Bible for the sake of the gospel, and my earnest belief that a good English translation such as the ESV is both trustworthy and perspicuous; because, simply put, my God is like that. I believe the gracious hand of Providence has supplied us with reliable translations in our own languages (though I freely admit that some translations are better than others).

I will confess: I was initially tempted to consider his propositions acceptable. He makes a compelling argument from a human standpoint, according to the flesh, drawing from what some call "knowledge." If the Bible was just another book, to be read much like any other book, his arguments might be more palatable. 

However, many things troubled me. This review does not exhaustively list them.

Church leaders, as watchmen, shepherds, and overseers, who are commanded to "...hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught" (Titus 1:9), potentially will have great influence upon the faith and practice of hundreds of people in their care over their years of ministry. As one author has stated, I believe Walton's view is a "sinful compromise." We, whose souls are being kept watch over, should be taught that we can trust that our loving Triune God has not communicated with us deceitfully. These proposals teach us otherwise. And I would assert that those leaders who affirm these proposals relinquish the power to preach God's Word authoritatively. For they would cast doubt upon the apparent clarity and dependability of the Holy Writ, allowing an open door for the entry of many fierce wolves.

Therefore, I speak. By what faith shall we walk?

No comments: