You are hereBeyond Creation Science: How Preterism Refutes a Global Flood and Impacts the Genesis Debate – Part 4
Beyond Creation Science: How Preterism Refutes a Global Flood and Impacts the Genesis Debate – Part 4
by Timothy P. Martin
How Old-earth Creationism Prepares Christians for Preterism
Preterists should be aware of the significant development of the old-earth creationist movement among Christian conservatives. Understood broadly, old-earth creationism encompasses those committed to the “Day-Age” approach to the Genesis creation account as well as the broader “Intelligent Design” movement. Most advocates of the “Framework Theory” of the creation account in Genesis also fall under the label of old-earth creationism. “Progressive Creationism” is another popular title. We’ll examine the various old-earth creationist views in part 2 of this book. However, they all agree in rejecting a global flood interpretation of Genesis 6-9.How Old-earth Creationism Prepares Christians for Preterism
Preterists should be aware of the significant development of the old-earth creationist movement among Christian conservatives. Understood broadly, old-earth creationism encompasses those committed to the “Day-Age” approach to the Genesis creation account as well as the broader “Intelligent Design” movement. Most advocates of the “Framework Theory” of the creation account in Genesis also fall under the label of old-earth creationism. “Progressive Creationism” is another popular title. We’ll examine the various old-earth creationist views in part 2 of this book. However, they all agree in rejecting a global flood interpretation of Genesis 6-9.This common thread in old-earth creationism has tremendous implications for the debate over eschatology among old-earth creationists. As a regional flood view is accepted among Christians in the future for various reasons, a great opportunity for the widespread acceptance of preterism awaits.
A Biblical Comparison: The Language of the Flood and New Testament Prophecy
This book focuses on the preterist implications for our interpretation of the Genesis flood. I argue that preterists who are consistent in their hermeneutic approach to Scripture will abandon a global reading of the flood and the Creation Science movement in the end. The language of the Genesis flood is essentially the same type of language we find in New Testament prophecy. The theology of the New Testament also explicitly compares the flood and the coming of Christ in judgment. A regional understanding of New Testament prophecy implies a regional understanding of the Genesis flood.
The main points of this book can be made in reverse to old-earth creationists The link works both ways. Just as a regional understanding of New Testament prophetic events implies a regional interpretation of events in the flood account, so accepting a regional flood implies a regional understanding of New Testament prophetic texts.
Old-earth creationists see the events in the Genesis flood account as regional, even with what appears to be a global description from a surface reading in modern English. When it comes to New Testament prophecy, however, they tend to forget their hermeneutic principles back in Genesis 6-9. They simply revert to a literal hermeneutic to understand the Olivet Discourse, 2 Peter 3, and the book of Revelation. They teach all these texts speak of global events to come at the end of the world. A great example is how old-earth creationists interpret Revelation 1:7-9:
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
Old-earth creationists lapse into the same basic arguments Creation Scientists use back in Genesis 7 for a global flood. They argue this passage (as well as other New Testament prophetic texts) references global events to come at the end of history with the return of Christ. They often ignore or redefine the time statements because of this global language in New Testament prophetic texts. The irony is many who advocate a local flood place New Testament prophecy in the future because of the “global” language it contains!
Preterists are in position to show these old-earth creationists that the language of Revelation 1 is very similar to the flood account in Genesis. The Greek word translated for “earth” is actually “ge.” This is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word “erets” back in the flood account. In fact, the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) uses “ge” exclusively throughout the flood account. Old-earth creationists switch from a non-global reading of “earth” in Genesis 6-9 to a global reading of “earth” in Revelation without comment or explanation. They do this because of their default commitment to futurism.
Old-earth creationism’s bizarre hermeneutic does not end there. Old-earth creationists argue that Revelation 1 speaks of events that will be seen around the world. They believe that “every eye will see him” means everyone on planet earth will witness his coming. This line of reasoning is not essentially different than the Creation Science argument for a global flood back in Genesis. Creation Scientists claim that when the water covered “all the high mountains” it means the water covered every mountain on planet earth. It is quite strange to watch old-earth creationists revert to a surface literal hermeneutic in the New Testament to defend their global-futurism.
I believe it is time for preterists to ask old-earth creationists to defend their inconsistent hermeneutic approach to Scripture. I believe old-earth creationists should logically become preterist in their approach to New Testament prophecy, given their approach to the flood of Genesis 6-9.
A Biblical Comparison: The Flood, Christ’s Coming, and Judgment
Preterism is the right eschatology for old-earth creationists for another reason as well. The strongest biblical argument in Creation Science literature, besides a “literal English” interpretation of the Genesis flood account, is based on the repeated parallel between the flood, coming of Christ, and judgment. This parallel and comparison is plain in these passages:
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Matthew 24:37-41.
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:6-7.
Advocates of Creation Science develop a strong argument from the biblical comparison. They point out that if you believe these passages, referencing the coming of Christ and judgment, refer to global events which come at the end of the world, then logically, you should believe the Genesis flood account refers to global events as well. To not read the Genesis flood account globally, Creation Science advocates argue, would violate the clear parallel and comparison both Jesus and Peter make between the flood, Christ’s coming, and judgment. In other words, if planet earth is destroyed by fire at Christ’ coming, then planet earth was destroyed by a flood in the days of Noah. This oft-repeated argument in Creation Science literature convinces many global-futurists that there is no other option than a worldwide flood in Genesis.
I have searched old-earth creationist books which touch on the scope of the flood to see how they deal with this common argument in Creation Science literature. Nearly every old-earth creationist book I investigated simply ignored the issue of the repeated New Testament comparison of flood and fire. Those that mentioned the passages do not deal with the comparison so obvious in the text.
Bernard Ramm’s classic text, The Christian View of Science and Scripture makes no reference whatsoever to the flood parallel in Matthew 24:37-41; 2 Peter 3:8-9; or Luke 17:26-27. Neither does Don Stoner in his book, A New Look at an Old Earth: Resolving the Conflict Between the Bible & Science. David A Young makes no mention of these passages in his book, Christianity and the Age of the Earth. Even Dr. Hugh Ross avoids those texts in Creation and Time: A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy.
The reason old-earth creationists avoid those texts seems obvious. They are problem texts for those who want to have it both ways: a regional interpretation of the Genesis flood and a global interpretation of New Testament prophetic texts. Creation Science advocates are more consistent than old-earth creationists. They understand that if planet earth is destroyed by fire on the day of judgment or in conjunction with Christ’s coming, then planet earth was destroyed by a flood in the days of Noah. The Bible explicitly compares these events.
Bible vs. Science
Because old-earth creationists remain committed to futurism, old-earth creationists cannot handle this biblical argument. Old-earth creationists usually concentrate on emphasizing the scientific case for an old earth to convince Christians of their position. This inevitably leads to the charge from Creation Scientists that old-earth creationists care more about science than what the Bible says. The accusations usually appear similar to these:
[I]t is only evangelicals (and a few conservatives in other branches of the Church) who have a problem with Genesis 1. It is only among evangelicals that we find a concerted attempt to find a way to harmonize Genesis 1 with the evanescent opinions of modern science.
Not until certain theories in modern geology, biology, paleontology, anthropology, and physics, gained wide acceptance in various Western intellectual communities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did debates about the Genesis days begin to roil the Church… Regrettably, many of these recent innovations have flowed from evangelical pens more interested in conforming to the ideas of passing scientific trends than in defending classical orthodoxy.
Those dedicated to Creation Science usually get the moral high ground in this argument, because most agree that the Bible trumps current scientific theory. However, old-earth creationists do hold the Bible in high respect. They do believe that what they see in the physical world around them is consistent with what the Bible teaches. What will old-earth creationists do when they realize that preterism refutes a global flood by using Scripture? The New Testament parallels between the flood and the coming of Christ and judgment are only a problem for a local flood advocate if he holds a global-futurist view of New Testament prophecy.
A New Audience for Preterism
This situation creates a huge opportunity for preterists to make inroads with those convinced of old-earth creationism. Few preterists have ever thought how old-earth creationism prepares Christians to accept preterism. This is a new frontier when it comes to preterist apologetics. Old-earth creationism is an audience ripe for a preterist harvest. I believe old-earth creationists will sense their inconsistency if they are pressed on the issue of their self-contradictory hermeneutic and failure to deal with the biblical parallels to the flood in the New Testament. Since they have already committed to a local flood against the claims of the Creation Scientists, the choice is clear. They should embrace preterism.
Preterists should point out how the traditional argument for a local flood is an argument for possibility only. Old-earth creationists make the biblical case for a local flood by examining the language of the flood account: words and phrases such as “earth,” “under heaven,” and “face of the earth.” This examination of the biblical text makes a local reading of the flood account possible only. It cannot give a firm statement for a local flood.
Old earth creationists subvert their own arguments back in Genesis by maintaining their global futurism in relation to New Testament prophetic texts. When it comes to the New Testament examples of that same type of global language they tend to agree with Creation Science proponents. They believe that global language as it reads on the surface in modern English implies global physical events. Old-earth creationists remain unaware of how preterism enhances the biblical defense of their position of a local flood.
Preterism offers old-earth creationists an air-tight response the young-earth creationist’s charge that they care more for science than they care about the Bible. Preterism holds out the explanation which makes sense and shows how the Bible teaches a non-global flood. The Bible does harmonize the evidence scientists see for a local flood. Consider again that important passage at the beginning of this book.
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17:26-30. 
If all three judgments are explicitly compared, then shouldn’t all three be understood as non-global in scope?
Global flood advocates must teach that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was not like the Genesis flood in physical detail. Old-earth creationists get two out of three correct by rejecting a global flood, yet holding to global futurism regarding the coming of Christ. Only preterists are in a position to remain true to the biblical comparison between the physical events of the flood of Noah’s day, the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the coming of Christ in A.D. 70.
Preterism adds to the traditional arguments for a local flood in Genesis. Because preterism closes the door on a global reading of the Genesis flood, preterism should logically become old-earth creationism’s best friend. Once these biblical issues become common knowledge, I believe multitudes within the old-earth creationist movement will naturally accept preterism. They will come to see that their old-earth creationist beliefs about the Genesis flood prepared them for a preterist approach to New Testament prophecy.
Church History and the Question of Heresy
Old-earth creationism prepares Christians for preterism in another way as well. Old-earth creationism makes a distinct break with the traditional teaching of Church history on the age of the earth and universe. Young-earth creationists often point out how Church history is on their side when it comes to the debate over the age of the earth. James Jordan writes:
It is a fact that before the modern era, nobody in the history of the church for over three thousand years ever questioned the chronology of the Bible, and only a tiny handful ever questioned that the six days of Genesis 1 were ordinary 24-hour-type days. The few who did question the six days of Genesis 1 did so for philosophical and not scientific reasons. Even so, no one suggested God took a vast amount of time. Augustine thought the six days were instantaneous. All accepted the biblical chronology and calculated the age of the earth from it.
What James Jordan says is not in dispute from old-earth creationists. One old-earth creationist writes:
It cannot be denied, in spite of frequent interpretations of Genesis that departed from the rigidly literal, that the almost universal view of the Christian world until the eighteenth century was that the Earth was only a few thousand years old. Not until the development of modern scientific investigation of the Earth itself would this view be called into question within the church.
This puts old-earth creationists in a similar situation preterists find themselves in today. Old-earth creationism fights to defend the progress they believe can be demonstrated by sound scientific investigation. They often fight against the charge of heresy in the Genesis debate in much the same way preterists must deal with heresy headhunters in the debate over eschatology.
Old-earth creationists cannot legitimately use the majority’s acceptance of futurism in church history as an argument against preterism. To do so would logically invalidate old-earth creationism! I should add that this similarity between preterism and old-earth creationism in relation to traditional views has implications for how preterists respond to old-earth creationist claims as well. Preterists who dismiss old-earth claims because the history of the church has not clearly taught an old earth risk hypocrisy in the matter. Preterists, of all people, do not have the easy way out many others choose when faced with both biblical and scientific evidence for a local flood.
Both preterists and old-earth creationists accept theological paradigms which allow for progress. Old-earth creationists accept progress when it comes to the Genesis debate. Preterists accept progress when it comes to the debate over biblical eschatology by acknowledging the substantial or total fulfillment of New Testament prophecy. This puts both old-earth creationists and preterists in the same boat when it comes to inflexible traditionalism.
Old-earth creationism prepares Christians to accept preterism. Those dedicated to old-earth creationism will find that preterism enhances the biblical argument for a non-global flood.. In Appendix 4, we’ll examine another area of a symbiotic relationship between preterism and old-earth creationism – our time perspective. For now it is enough to show what great potential exists for the spread of preterism among those who call themselves old-earth creationists.
To be continued…
Copyright 2005 by Timothy P. Martin. All rights reserved. Reprinted by Permission
[This book will be available through the Planetpreterist bookstore]
 The Hebrew word for “mountains” in Genesis 7:19 is “har” (Strong’s Concordance number 2022). It is predominantly translated as “hills” throughout the Old Testament.
 James B. Jordan, Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis One (Moscow, ID: Canon Press) p. 22.
 J. Ligon Duncan III & David W. Hall, The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation, ed. by David G. Hagopian (Mission Viejo: Crux Press, 2001), p. 22, 60-61.
 Peter draws the same comparison as Jesus in 2 Peter 2:5-9.
 James B. Jordan, Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis One (Moscow, ID: Canon Press) p. 17-18.
 Both preterists and old-earth creationists claim some historical precedent in Church history. Old-earth creationists point to non-literal readings of the Genesis creation account that go back millennia in Church history. See Hugh Ross, Creation and Time: A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1994), pp 16-24. Preterist claim historical precedent throughout Church history for their understanding the Olivet Discourse as fulfilled in A.D. 70. See Gary DeMar and Francis X. Gumerlock, The Early Church and the “End of the World”: The Past Fulfillment of Matthew 24 (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2005).