Sin and death
Despite the claims of B. B. Warfield, a theologian I hold in high esteem, the question of the antiquity of man is of great theological concern ("The genesis of the question," July 26/Aug. 2). If the days of creation were long ages of time or simply each a snapshot of God's creative work (again over a long period of time), then there would necessarily be death among the animals prior to the creation of man. Yet we read in the infallible Word that death came to God's perfect creation as a direct, judicial consequence of sin-man's sin (Genesis 2:17). Faithful exegesis requires us to begin with the biblical text! We must avoid beginning with secular scientific conclusions and then working backward to the Bible. - S. Scott Willet, Concord, N.C
William Smith uses a helpful analogy to point out the huge differences between the three major ways of interpreting Genesis 1-2. The first two views treat the text as telling us important facts about how God created the heavens and the earth. The third view essentially sees little or no connection between Genesis 1-2 and the facts of earth history. It's like going to a friend's house expecting to see home movies of a trip to Yellowstone only to discover that you can't figure out when the trip started, what route they followed, how long it took, or even what it looked like when they got there. - Ray Pritchard, Oak Park, Ill.
Too much talk
I disagree with William Smith, who argued for the legitimacy of the non-chronological "literary framework" view of Genesis 1 and 2. This understanding scarcely suggested itself to anyone before the time of Darwin, and it has been ably refuted by Old Testament scholars such as E. J. Young. Where the "literary framework" theory has gained the ascendancy, such as in The Netherlands, it has contributed strongly to a drastic decline in Protestant orthodoxy. What is needed is not "a lot more talk," between this and the chronological views as Mr. Smith suggests, but-for the good of the church-more decision.The text of Genesis 1 teaches what the Reformers, the Westminster Divines, and the majority of Christians throughout history have understood it to teach: chronological creation days. - David A. Kloosterman, Kalamazoo, Mich.
The crux of the matter
Do we believe Romans 5:12, which says, "sin entered into the world through one man and death through sin," or do we believe that millions of animals had died before Adam came onto the scene? And if death did not come because of sin, then Jesus' death is in vain. - Alta Stingle, Jefferson, Ohio
I found your commentary, "Philosophical doubleheader," most interesting. It was directly applicable to the Soul Food article in the same issue. William Smith treated the class-one rapids issue of creation like a class-six rapids issue. Too many Christians fail to see that this is an issue as simple as adultery but much more significant. Handling creation as an unimportant or unintelligible issue strikes at the foundation of the gospel. Both the "day-age" and "literary" views negate the need for the Second Adam to undo the historical mess that the first Adam created because they remove the connection between the fall and the curse. In these views the curse existed long before Adam showed up, and thus it preceded the fall. There is then no logical necessity for the cross and redemption. - Walter Sivertsen, Park City, Ill.
No litmus test
Thank you for recognizing that one's position on the age of the earth is not a fair litmus test for biblical conservatism. I recently left my church of seven years over the issue of inerrancy, and find it frustrating to now find myself being dismissed as a "liberal" because I believe in an old earth. - Tori E. Libby, Woodridge, Ill.
There are really only two views on creation, not three. One must either begin with the premise that the Word of God is the absolute truth and authority or one must begin with the word of man and attempt to fit God's word into it. - David Jolly, Florence, Ken.
Look to the text
Mr. Smith seemed to indicate that the question, "What does the text teach?" is on the same level with, "What does science seem to show?" His point is well taken that Christians need to respect one another's view on doubtful questions. The real question must always be "What does the text teach?" Theology formed from science or any source other than the inspired text is not legitimate theology. - Neil T. Wiggins, Fremont, Mich.