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BIBLICAL DOCTRINE IS NOT FOR DABBLING BUT DIRECTION, CORRECTION AND COMPREHENSION
In Let God be God, Ch. 12, there is a rather more than 35,000 words statement concerning creation, formation, divine declaration, Genesis 1 and answer to the Declaration of my former denomination (Presbyterian Church in America), from the ministry of which I elected to leave and was so constrained by conviction and faith.
This was in 1998, in terms of their failure and the sustained refusal of my Presbytery to make or obtain a simple, relevant declaration on creation, following the national Assembly's sustaining and upholding of a candidate who deemed Genesis on the point, poetical. The Assembly's subsequent formulation merely confirmed and extended the departure from sound doctrine involved, and this subsequent step being answered years ago in this Chapter, there is now a short addition for completeness. This short addition, placed in an endnote, is available now in that Ch. 12, and also below.
Faith speaks when mists of confusion fill the air, "I believed, therefore I spoke," for it cannot allow what is evil to continue unrebuked - as Paul put it, not for one hour (Galatians 2:5). You can never allow any church to dictate silence when faith cries out, the Bible is assailed and subtleties strive to enter. Whether or not one be later condemned, to fail to speak clearly on basics like this, when like an epidemic, error blatantly seeks entry, is neither courageous nor sound shepherding.
Such matters may be of help to others caught in the current downgrade, as Spurgeon called this type of thing, and provide data for deliberation, and biblical basis for action in such situations.
Remember that what is below is simply one endnote in the Chapter, here set separately so that it may be scanned and pursued to the whole work, in Let God be God Ch.12, if so desired.
Purpose and Procedure, Definition and Detailing
It is not our present purpose again in depth to review the length of days 1, 2 and 3 on the consideration, noted by Professor Gleason Archer in his A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, that the text may signify the sun disclosed, rather than created in the fourth day (op.cit. pp. 177-178): the results we found were, practically, not diverse in kind from the normal day conception we experience seven times per week.
The case however may be even simpler (see inset below). Thus, and further, the first source for day and night conception and labour itemisation in six steps, in the biblical text has already had its conception and execution as shown in Genesis 1:3-5. The initial DISTINCTLY itemised action was shown sufficient to make day and night operative, neither more nor less. Much more is to be needed, as with the earth in its earlier pocket of development up to verse 13, and this too will be formed by function-bearing action from the Lord, different in stage, but irreversible in procedure, as the initial is moulded into the developed. Thus comes the second procedural step for the stated purposes in the heavens, 1:14ff..
Thus the partly sufficient light source MADE from the first, is next in vv. 14ff., MADE to be sufficient for all the stated purposes by divine action. Anything easier to understand would seem difficult to imagine.. . anything more internally symmetrical in method.
REVIEW OF LIGHTS AND LIGHTING FOR THE WORLD
Creating, forming, appearing, disappearing,
lighting and allied arrangements for ONE WORLD!
In Genesis 1:9, the dry land is to 'appear' BY action being taken so that what was not in existence before, the dry, came into existence and was thus made to appear. It did not come from nothing, but was a refinement and refurbishing in the existing milieu of water. It was a progressive act to bring one action through a beginning to a closer development to what was desired.
In 1:14, what is instituted as the natural light source, in terms of the entire presentation of divine order being made into natural action (verses 2-3), specified by normative usage, for 1:14-16, now comes into the distinctively celestial occupation. We turn here from the initial generality to the terrestrial specialisation just finished, to the celestial.
Thus the terrestrial already formed into significant function in verses 5 and following, has a celestial additive. The earth is now duly on its way from the initial lack of formation and information, and so the heavens come into focus, with their entirely parallel treatment.
This part also then is now honed from prior existence in merely basic form, into something conforming precisely by crafting, to a set of now applicable purposes. These are spelt out most carefully in vv. 14-16. Thus the earth and the heavens in their sequences, in that order, received the form and void movement to the specialised and cohesive more precisely.
God had already made the light and its first function already worked, His initial natural action being put in place in the most orderly of manners. In each case, in due order, He acted. He proceeded next in this line, to make the earth to be formatted and multi-functional, forming specified dry land and waters, amid the light, on the one hand, and then turning to form the display centre for light, into not one but two deftly illuminative virtual globes - oh, and the stars also!
These were an adorning development in the total purpose of providing astronomical light. The short reference without even adding a verb for it in v. 16,, but relying on the solar and lunar already in place, is notable. It is making it very clear that the stars here had a primary function as light providers for the earth. They adjoined sun and moon in this function. The method of presentation as of production, is strenuously purposive: from nothing (but God) to the formless and void first invention, to its labour divisions in days and nights, dependent on the introduction of light as a specific fiat, to the two domains of development, heaven and earth. It is all cohesive, progressive.
Thus meaning is even made clear in the first vast burst of information in such grandeur, following creation, the formation of dry land. The inchoate, it is described as being "without form and void", so that the build up procedure is introduced. We are essentially to move not from nothing (but God) to something, now, but from creation total and without tether, into the matter of giving form and annulling void, development upon development being moulded, moved, amassed, inserted into place, the earlier the condition for the latter.
That is the nature of the astronomical architecture, specialised from v. 14, and the terrestrial, from the first, with its lacking form and function. There is preparation and there is culmination, step by step, not only in various cases in Genesis 1, but even in the movement from the style and setting of Genesis. 1 itself, to Genesis. 2 in its duly developmental theme,arousing the natural question in the reader: what next ?
Creation and formation, these are the issues, steps, this is the signature: composure, disclosure, sequential development, logical in kind, lordly in manner, short in duration but with simply enormous emphasis on materiel production and conformity to function, in a unique and eminently methodical sequence. Like the surpassing of all CEOs, the Lord not only initiates the realm of what is to exist, creation, with help from none or from any system, with that glorious freedom which is His, but shares with us from His own declarative word which precedes the inexorable action, such steps and progressions which He deemed best, first on earth, and then starting again at v.14, in the heavens. Whether the tight progression be on the same day, or another, the principle is the same.
In Chapter 1, the day and night numerical aspect is made clear at once, for this is the mode of action, the division of divine labour, and the announcement of light provision is sufficient for night and day, making the format secure to the understanding at once. It depends on what was made in the illuminative first fiat. This does not equal nothing in these contexts, but something adequate for what is shown in function that follows.
The specialised work of FORMING is thus given the verb for forming, an entirely natural thing to do, for it fits the task in view and confirms that light source being initially instituted is one thing, while adapting and moulding it precisely and giving it the specifications for its new functions is another: this is precisely FORMING. That is why the term is used. That is the specialised meaning it can provide as distinct from creating, and the precise action here in view.
The concept therefore, NOT of having sun and moon fully formed, shrouded for long periods, and then exposed is not relevant either to the scripture or to any criticism of the exposition. TO be sure, where someone wants to have that long age scenario, there is a pressing problem, for it is distortion of the sustained character of the text from first to last, and this, not only in Genesis 1, but in the rest of this book. Definitive exposition is not given in order that it should be thrown away, as if a notice that smoking is prohibited is to be 'interpreted' to mean that it is compulsory.
The long and short ideas, the intrusive dream and the biblical exposition differ by billions of years, as in conformity and non-conformity to the text: the biblical and the apostate. This should not be a cause therefore of confusion, because in the biblical account insistence is made that the institution of results through the consistent and normative use of natural developmental apparatus, is the modus operandi. If you want to make an exception, you are free to intrude your own usage; but this is the specified and observable character of the events exposed. You proceed from the inchoate to the sufficiently formed for a stage, to the next stage, and efforts to distort or subdue this fact are not even relevant to its meaning.
When to institute a generic light source, or as in 1:14-16, something formed now into specialised function, this is the way: take this instituting action, and then proceed on that basis. There is no duplication of reference as speciously indicated in the PCA attack. On the contrary, is the generic: the general and the specialised, the initial and the more formed, the conformity of all to provision and particularisation IN DUE COURSE. This course is short, eminently so in the defined definition of day, which proceeds to be used without alteration of innovation in the sense given in the opening of the handbook, specifying how heaven, earth, man, sin, sacrifice came into being, in what terms and on whose behalf, and with what agents, and in what stages.
This is a stark reading of creation, institution, stages, individual and more total results which you can take or leave; and earth has nothing else to compare. Many have tried to crash into it, but challenge as in a tennis tournament, only leaves the champion the more obvious, as every assault falls in inconsistency, ignoring of the text, or joint authorship with whoever wants to revise the source book, into some kind of philosophical biography of preference. For philosophy, write one; they all do. But for integrity in this case, let each keep his own name to his own product, and no confuse it with the Bible and its declarations, limiting definitions and continuing usage of terms as indicated.
That then is the textual continuity in method, and it is followed here. FIRST the source adequate for night and day, THEN the forming, the crafting, for a series of allied purposes which required this, which accordingly is specified with the term most normally signifying this very thing, here or anywhere else, as a norm. Just so, at first we read of the enveloping waters, and then of God forming the firmament, diversifying this generality for a series of purposes. The initial deposit was given more form for more purposes, in the earth. Thus verse 7. In due course, verse 26, the heavens and the earth are now jointly able to be a scene for the scenario of man, the developed stage, brought into existence in summary executive manner, step by step, topic by topic, parallel by parallel.
Further, in this presentation, the difference is not in different senses meaning of the verb to form, but in the same sense. It conforms to forming, and forming to the context. This very term can be used widely, but as to emphasis here on norm, forming is it, providing a contrast with create deemed worthy to be specified in the cases in view. It is not good to suppress God's use of words, used in the same context, and using differential emphasis, transforming the meaning and the method.
There is the difference, either "Let there be lights in the space" or "let lights in the space of heaven be for ..." We find literally, Let be lights in the expanse for ...There seems no reason to depart from Archer's rendering thus this particular text. It is an enunciation of what to do about the light put there, distinguishing initially night and day, in order to make this turned into a multitudinous source. Functional at first, the source worked for night and day; formed and forged at last, with additives and mouldings, it becomes now functional for refined purposes as specified. Just as there was a question what to do with the day-night light source put in place initially, when more demanding and developed points came duly into view, so now there is the answer. THESE are the purposes, and for these, even add the stars. That is the sense of flow in the context, as you move from its form and style of reference to sun and moon, and then in a sweeping moment, stars!
If there was one relatively undifferentiated light source for day and night operation as initially made clear, now there were to be several, forged and formed, a purpose built for multi-function, with the stars a multitudinous extra in the format direction, relative to the entire display of functions for the purposes so carefully defined in the text. That they are magnificent is not the present point: it is that they constitute part of the light sources now crafted into being, and transferred into specified operation.
Indeed, in 14-16, as we come back from terrestrial things to celestial ones, and just as the void earth was to be formed, so the only initially forged light source is here given attention, in a perfect parallel, in one of the most methodical pieces of straight prose one could imagine.