You are hereA Response to Kurt Simmons’ Rebuttal of Beyond Creation Science
A Response to Kurt Simmons’ Rebuttal of Beyond Creation Science
by Timothy P. Martin
I would like to first thank Kurt for his substantial critique of Beyond Creation Science. I have met Kurt in person once before and enjoyed our conversation very much. I do hope our friendly relationship will continue even with our publicly stated differences on this issue. I would also highly recommend his work, The Consummation of the Ages, to the reader. It has much valuable insight into a proper understanding of the book of Revelation.I would like to first thank Kurt for his substantial critique of Beyond Creation Science. I have met Kurt in person once before and enjoyed our conversation very much. I do hope our friendly relationship will continue even with our publicly stated differences on this issue. I would also highly recommend his work, The Consummation of the Ages, to the reader. It has much valuable insight into a proper understanding of the book of Revelation.My new co-author in the upcoming edition of Beyond Creation Science, Jeff Vaughn (aka JL) and I, Tim Martin (aka Middleknowledge), present this detailed response to Kurt’s critique. We highly recommend all who are interested in this issue of the scope of the Genesis flood to read Kurt’s rebuttal carefully before diving into this article. Kurt’s rebuttal is available at: http://planetpreterist.com. You can also read the current edition of Beyond Creation Science in its entirety at: http://www.truthinliving.org.
In order to not confuse the reader we will pattern our response along the same order of presentation in Kurt’s article.
Response to Kurt Simmons’ First Point:
I. There is no Logical Corollary between Preterism and the Scope of Noah’s Flood
We appreciate Kurt’s general synopsis of our thesis. We do believe the Creation Science system (which is anchored in a global reading of the Genesis flood account) has a methodological, theological, and historical correlation to the rise in popularity of dispensational eschatology in America during the 20th century.
Kurt claims we err in that the timing is off. He claims dispensationalism was born in the 1830’s with John Nelson Darby’s work and therefore predates Charles’ Darwin’s Origin of Species released in 1859. Kurt’s argument goes like this:
“Martin is wrong. Dispensationalism was conceived by John Nelson Darby before Darwin’s theory was even written. Darby began preaching dispensationalism in the 1830s, Darwin did not publish his Origin of Species until 1859. Dispensationalism in America predates Creation Science by almost one hundred years. The prevalence of dispensationalism is a completely separate phenomenon unrelated to Darwinism, which Creation Science attempts to refute. There is no connection between Creation Science and dispensationalism other than the fact that many who believe the one also believe other.”
Just because Darby invented dispensationalism in the 1830’s it does not follow that dispensationalism instantly became the dominant theological view in America. It took many decades for dispensationalism to take root and grow to the dominant position we witness today. Kurt’s argument against our thesis is weak from the start. He does not acknowledge that we refer to the rise of Creation Science during the “prevalence of dispensational theology in America during the 20th century.”
Compounding Kurt’s problem is that he omits key facts in his overview. Those who do understand the historical development of both Darwin’s theory and dispensationalism in detail will appreciate the true strength of our thesis from an historical perspective. We believe it is important to set the historical record straight. Then the reader can judge our thesis objectively.
Kurt’s first oversight is that virtually all conservative Christians at the beginning of the 20th century accepted an earth and universe which aged in the millions or billions of years, including mainstream dispensationalists. C. I Scofield incorporated the gap theory into his Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Scofield was not alone with his views. A similar approach was taken by other dispensational leaders including writers such as Clarence Larkin.
The gap theory is widely recognized as one form of old-earth creationism. It attempted to reconcile the “well ascertained facts of geology and astronomy,” in the words of Milton Terry, with the biblical record. Those who hold to the gap theory try to have it both ways: an ancient universe and literal 24-hour days in the (re)creation of the world.
The few holdouts for young-earth creationism at the beginning of the 20th century were also dispensationalists. They were generally confined to Seventh-Day Adventism. Don Stoner explains who pioneered the basic ideas of flood geology:
The currently popular form of young-earth creationism is a consequence and outgrowth of Ellen G. White’s visions of the creation event. In particular, strict insistence on 24-hour days, flood geology, and many specific “scriptural” arguments have their roots in White’s visions. Consider the following quotation from her 1864 publication, Facts of Faith:
“[After the flood] The beautiful, regular shaped mountains had disappeared. Stones, ledges, and ragged rocks appeared upon some parts of the earth which were before out of sight. Where had been hills and mountains, no traces of them were visible…
“Before the flood there were immense forests. The trees were many times larger than any trees which we now see….At the time of the flood these forests were torn up or broken down and buried in the earth. In some places large quantities of these immense trees were thrown together and covered with stones and earth by the commotions of the flood. They have since petrified and become coal, which accounts for the large coal beds which are now found. This coal has produced oil...”
Ellen G. White, the chief prophetess of Adventism saw these visions, but she left it up to one of her followers, George McCready Price, to formulate an academic defense for the geological ramifications of a global flood. Price became the leader of what was called at that time simply “flood geology.” From there, Henry Morris picked up the basic idea and the system was reborn as “Creation Science.” Morris makes these remarkable confessions about Price as well as the role of the Adventists in modern Creation Science thought:
The most important Creationist writer in the first half century, at least in my judgment, was a remarkable man by the name of George McCready Price (1870-1962).
I first encountered his name in one of Harry Rimmer’s books... and thereupon looked up his book The New Geology in the library at Rice Institute, where I was teaching at the time. This was in early 1943 and it was a life-changing experience for me. I eventually acquired and read most of his other books as well.
Several other Adventist creationists published papers in The Naturalist and other Adventist publications, as noted in the following chapter. Although the influence of most of them was largely limited to their own denomination, some (especially Price) have contributed quite significantly to the foundations of the modern [young-earth – T.M.] creationist revival.
Notice the word “revival” in Morris’ quote; it is important. It denotes how young-earth creationism became popular in America with John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry Morris’ publication of The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications in 1961. Beyond Creation Science documents how young-earth creationism parallels the rise in popularity of dispensationalism in the mid to late 20th century. Kurt’s interpretation of a global flood can be traced directly back to the visions of Ellen G. White–without any missing links.
Kurt agrees that John C. Whitcomb, Jr, and Henry Morris are the “founders of Creation Science.” He essentially admits that Creation Science rose to prominence after 1960. His assertion that our “timing is off” misses the influence of the Seventh Day Adventism on both young-earth Creation Science and on modern dispensationalism. The first dispensational mega-seller, after the Scofield Bible, was Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, published in 1970. This was the same year Morris’ Institute for Creation Research opened its doors. The date setting tradition started by Lindsey also has its roots in Adventism. This new dispensationalism reached its zenith in the second half of the 20th century along with young-earth creationism.
Notice how Kurt tries to demonstrate at length throughout his first segment how a “literal” reading of the creation account and a “literal” reading of the flood as a global event can be completely separated from dispensational hermeneutic methods and theology. Kurt’s goal in all of this is to rescue the global flood doctrine for preterist use. His desperate attempt to salvage Creation Science ideology as a preterist fails to deal with the weight of evidence in the book. Kurt’s attempt to distance a global flood interpretation from dispensational premillenialism goes counter to much scholarly research from a wide variety of persuasions, not just ours.
The Creation Scientists make no attempt to hide the connection as we demonstrate in chapter 2 of the book (part 3 in the Planet Preterist series). They argue for a global flood from their dispensational futurist presuppositions in texts like Matthew 24, Luke 27, 2 Peter 3, and the book of Revelation. We will reiterate that it is no coincidence that all the leading proponents of Creation Science hold to some form of global-futurism. Most are outspoken dispensational premillenialists. An attempt to separate a global flood view from global futurism would be quite a shock to them. Some have already fired preterists from their organization.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Darwinist proponent Michael Ruse wrote an entire book documenting the relationship between dispensational premillenialism and young-earth, global flood ideology. He explains it in a way preterists, at least, should be able to understand fully:
For [George McCready] Price, this worldview was all bound up with the premillenialism of the Adventists. The flood at the beginning corresponds to the forthcoming Great Tribulation at the end.
The ex-Adventist author Ronald L. Numbers wrote a book documenting the relationship between dispensationalism and flood geology at the heart of the Creation Science movement. That book is titled The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
Another non-dispensational, young-earth creationist, Gary North, laments the intimate connection between dispensational premillenialism and Creation Science dogma by saying:
What has bothered me about the Creation Science movement for almost two decades is that its leaders will not admit that they have mixed together a particular view of eschatology that has nothing to do with the categories or content of physical science. They refuse to tell their followers, "This part of the essay is based on premillennialism, and the empirically verifiable facts of physical science don't have anything to do with it..."
In his book Is the World Running Down? (Tyler: TX, Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), North is highly critical of the dispensational premillenial assumptions and methods inherent to the modern Creation Science movement. Our book simply expands that link with a hermeneutic, theological and historical examination as well – something North failed to accomplish.
We also would like to provide one more source to document the relationship between dispensationalism (ultimately Adventism) and modern young-earth creationism. That source is the personal experience of the full-preterist author, Samuel Frost. He explains:
My step-father, rest in peace, was a Seventh Day Adventist. Say what you will about them (my dad was a godly man), their work on Genesis is unprecedented.
From the content in his rebuttal, we can safely assume Kurt agrees. Yet these sources, from a multitude of backgrounds and theological beliefs, document conclusively the very link between dispensational premillenialism and young-earth creationism Kurt denies! Creation Science ideology and dispensationalism both rose to dominance on the American scene in the 20th century. They are related on many levels. Those who wish to deny this must stubbornly ignore history.
The defects in Kurt’s response do not end there. He goes on to reference Josephus as proof that “people have been reading the flood narrative literally for thousands of years.” We assume Kurt means a global flood interpretation by this claim, as we have never objected to the flood account as taking place in history. We teach the flood literally took place with a literal man named Noah and his family. To claim we deny literal events take place in Genesis 6-9 is to misrepresent our position.
The question we deal with has always been whether it is proper to read Genesis 6-9 according to a plain-literal approach in regard to the global language as it reads in modern English. We suggest that a global flood interpretation is a result of modern Western scientific definitions of the language that are demonstrably foreign to the original authors and audience of the texts. Preterists deal with this same problem when it comes to New Testament texts. Futurists demand global fulfillment events because they smuggle pre-conceived global definitions into the New Testament text. They read global language in the Bible from our modern context. But we digress from the primary argument of our book.
Kurt’s reference to Josephus as proof for a global flood surprises us. He offers the following quote as proof for a universal flood which destroyed all humans on planet earth:
Now God loved this man for his righteousness; yet he not only condemned those other men for their wickedness, but determined to destroy the whole race of mankind, and to make another race that should be pure from wickedness…he turned the dry land into sea; and thus were all these men destroyed: but Noah alone was saved.
Josephus was a contemporary to the first century New Testament time period. He shared the cultural mindset of the New Testament authors. He also wrote in the same Greek that we observe in the text of the New Testament. That means we can compare the Greek in Josephus to similar New Testament usage to better understand Josephus’ statements.
The problem is Kurt approaches Josephus with a plain-literal hermeneutic. He assumes the language in our translation means what we take it to mean in our modern culture, as it reads in modern English. In essence, he approaches Josephus in the same fashion dispensationalists approach both the flood account in Genesis and New Testament prophecy.
But what does Josephus convey in the Greek? The entire phrase “the whole race of mankind” which Kurt relies upon to prove an anthropologically universal flood is one Greek word, “genos” (Strong’s #1085), which means “kind,” “clan,” “family,” or at most “countryman.” In the New Testament, this word refers to a limited group of related people. Why should we expect it to be any different in Josephus?
To make matters worse, Kurt has apparently not read Josephus carefully. Josephus begins this very chapter (the previous paragraph) by saying:
Now this posterity of Seth continued to esteem God as the Lord of the universe, and to have an entire regard to virtue, for seven generations; but in process of time they were perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers; and did neither pay those honors to God which were appointed them, nor had they any concern to do justice towards men. But for what degree of zeal they had formerly shown for virtue, they now showed by their actions a double degree of wickedness, whereby they made God to be their enemy. [emphasis ours] 
This quote sets the context of “genos”— this is Seth’s posterity! Josephus is quite clear that the purpose of the flood was to destroy Seth’s line or clan and establish a new line or clan. The rest of mankind is out of view. To force the rest of mankind into Josephus’ thinking is to abuse Josephus.
How can we prove that? Josephus continues in his Antiquities to document how he understood Genesis 6-9 to speak of a local flood. Josephus’ own understanding of the flood is quite the opposite of what Kurt claims – Josephus understood that the flood did not destroy all humans on planet earth. Kurt’s rebuttal is curiously silent about these passages:
Now all the writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood and of this ark: among whom is Berosus the Chaldean... Hieronymous the Egyptian.... Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, hath a particular relation about them, where he speaks thus: "There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris, upon which it is reported that many who fled at the time of the Deluge were saved; and that one who was carried in an ark came on shore upon top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved. This might be the man about whom Moses, the legislator of the Jews wrote." [emphasis ours]
Now the sons of Noah were three – Shem, Japhet, and Ham, born one hundred years before the Deluge. These first of all descended from the mountains into the plains, and fixed their habitation there; and persuaded others who were greatly afraid of the lower grounds on account of the flood, and so were very loath to come down from the higher places, to venture to follow their examples. [emphasis ours]
Could it be more obvious that Josephus understood the flood to be limited in scope to a covenant context? These citations prove that some people were reading the Genesis flood narrative as a local event thousands of years ago. There is no evidence that anyone of that earlier time period read Genesis differently. We ask Kurt to prove us wrong if he can.
Indeed, we agree with Kurt’s point that Josephus comprehends the account in the Hebrew tongue. This proves that a modern, global reading of the flood account is a novel approach. Like the Creation Science system, it is a modernistic invention born from a plain-literal hermeneutic. It takes a dispensational plain-literal hermeneutic to arrive at global conclusions in both Genesis 6-9 and Josephus.
Kurt denies there is a dispensational bias required for a global flood interpretation. He claims that for us to understand the flood text “literally” we must understand the text “globally.” By Kurt’s standard, then, because we do not believe the scope of the flood to be global, we have rejected a literal interpretation. We want to emphasize again that this is a straw man argument. We certainly believe literal events took place in Genesis 6-9, just as we believe literal (though not global) events take place in first century as referenced by the book of Revelation.
For now it is enough to point out that Josephus, a Jew who lived contemporary to the Apostle John and Timothy the evangelist, clearly understood the flood account to be limited in scope. This was hardly a controversial matter in Josephus’ mind. Neither should it be in ours.
The real bias comes from Kurt’s globally universal demands on Josephus’ account. Perhaps these demands flow naturally from a biased translator who does not properly translate “genos.” (We have only recently realized precisely what Josephus was saying here and are actively fighting this same residual bias.) Whatever the issue, we must take care to deal honestly with all of Josephus’ text according to his own historical context and mindset. (Counselor, you failed to read your star witness’ affidavit carefully before you placed Josephus on the stand. His testimony is critical to this point. Much of your remaining defense relies also on this witness. Your defense of a global flood fails right here.)
Now, before we move on from Josephus we would like to emphasize what Kurt appears to overlook. Even if we are completely wrong and the flood killed all but eight “universally” on planet earth, that still does not prove a global flood! There have been many who held to an anthropologically universal flood who rejected a global flood. These notable local flood proponents include Hugh Ross, Milton Terry, and Arthur Custance.
They argue from the biblical account that mankind still lived in a particular region by the time of Noah. That means a local flood would have done exactly what Kurt proposes. The “universal” argument of “all humanity” must be combined with proof that humans had spread over all of planet earth by Noah’s day. So, even if Kurt is right in his interpretation of Genesis and Josephus (which we do not believe to be the case) his argument cannot prove the flood was global.
Kurt’s first segment ends with a paragraph we found to be a confused and desperate diatribe filled with bare assertions. He begins with a seemingly sarcastic question by asking, “Jesus also likened his A.D. 70 parousia to the destruction of Sodom. (Luke 17:26-30) Is how we read the Sodom account logically related to our eschatological paradigm?” Yes, it is!! Jesus’ comparison of his coming with what happened at Sodom and Gomorrah is an evidence for preterism! If we honor Jesus’ own words, it means we should not expect the coming of Christ to involve global events across planet earth as futurists claim. Global futurists violate Jesus’ comparison in exactly the opposite direction as global flood preterists violate the comparison. Our arguments work well in reverse for the truth of preterism against futurists as we hope to illustrate in our new book.
Kurt continues to struggle through that final paragraph of section 1. Kurt says, “Preterism no more refutes the global flood than it refutes the destruction of Sodom, the tower of Babel, or any other historic narrative of Genesis.” We don’t understand the logic of this argument, for we believe in the historical nature of all these events along the same lines that we believe Revelation speaks of historical events in the first century.
Another example of confusion appears later in that paragraph. Kurt states, “Questions about the flood, the literalness of the Genesis creation account, and the age of the cosmos involve issues of hermeneutics, not Preterism.” We ask how this dichotomy can be maintained with intellectual integrity. Is not preterism a system which is fundamentally rooted in hermeneutics? Trying to separate preterism from issues of hermeneutics appears absurd to us. If preterist hermeneutic principles are valid in the New Testament, they cannot be abandoned willy-nilly to defend pet interpretations in Genesis. Milton Terry saw these issues a hundred years ago in Biblical Apocalyptics. That is one of the reasons he is still recognized as the leading preterist authority on hermeneutics to this day. Preterists would learn a great deal from his consistent approach to early portions of Genesis.
Response to Kurt Simmons’ Second Point:
II. The Genesis Flood Account is Historical Narrative, not Apocalyptic; Eschatological Interpretive Methods are Inapplicable to the Flood
We are not quite sure what to make of Kurt’s arguments in this section. We think Kurt’s arguments boil down to two issues: 1) He seems convinced that we are wrong to suggest the early portions of Genesis involve apocalyptic and 2) he seems convinced that if there is apocalyptic in early Genesis then there cannot be literal events taking place in early Genesis. We will deal with these two related but distinct arguments in turn, but we would first like to correct one oversight. Kurt attributes this statement wholly to me (Tim Martin).
“Any satisfactory interpretation of Genesis must be preceded by a determination of the class of literature to which it belongs. Preterists should understand the importance of first determining the class of literature we find in early Genesis.”
The first sentence of that quote is actually taken from Milton Terry’s Biblical Apocalyptics, p. 39. It is a small detail, but we believe credit is due where credit belongs.
As to the first argument, we are disappointed that Kurt relies on a bare assertion to oppose our thesis. Kurt states:
“Tim Martin’s argument that one’s eschatological paradigm must determine what he believes about the flood (and age of the earth and universe) is based upon the unproved and erroneous premise that the flood narrative is of the same class of literature as New Testament passages about the coming of Christ.”
Beyond Creation Science spends many pages in detailed textual comparisons between the language and terms in the first three chapters of Genesis with the language and terms we find in Revelation and other apocalyptic passages (10 pages in chapter 8 to be exact). Kurt already agrees Revelation involves apocalyptic. That final chapter in the current edition was a brief introduction to the approach. Milton Terry spends 77 pages of his book, Biblical Apocalyptics, in detailed discussion of the similarities between Genesis and other examples of apocalyptic throughout the entire Bible. His discussion exceeds already high 19th century standards for academic and scholarly rigor. Yet, Kurt assumes his case is proven that none of early Genesis can be apocalyptic by raw assertions. He writes:
“But Is Genesis of the same genre of literature as prophecy and eschatology? One has only to compare the flood narrative with prophetic passages from Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation to see that we are dealing with totally different types of literature. They have virtually no points of contact in terms of literary style or genre.”
While Kurt seems to adequately summarize the thesis, he does not interact with our (or Milton Terry’s) examples of textual comparison between Genesis and other apocalyptic portions of Scripture on even one single point! We wonder if this curious avoidance indicates the strength of the textual comparisons between early portions of Genesis and Revelation.
We refer the reader to chapter 8 of Beyond Creation Science or chapters 3-7 in Milton Terry’s Biblical Apocalyptics to judge for themselves whether or not apocalyptic language appears in early Genesis. An improved refinement of the textual examination will also be presented to Planet Preterist in an upcoming article.
One more point we simply must touch on briefly is Kurt’s demonstrable error in his understanding of both biblical apocalyptic prophecy and the contents of Genesis. This surprises us, again, because of the amount of work Kurt has done on the book of Revelation. He states categorically that “Prophecy foretells the future, Genesis recounts the past.” This is wholly inadequate since we know that apocalyptic in the book of Revelation deals not only with things future, but also things present and past at the date of John’s writing. Much of Revelation refers to events which already took place (early church history). Kurt knows this. His commentary on Revelation documents events which took place throughout the early church period. It is not limited to future events from the date of writing. That proves apocalyptic genre can and often does involve things which took place in the past or are in the process of taking place in the present. The Bible most certainly does use apocalyptic to relate history as surely as it relates future events.
Kurt repeats the same error when it comes to Genesis. Kurt makes the amazing claim we reference again that “Prophecy foretells the future, Genesis recounts the past.” He adds, “Genesis simply relates facts. The only thing they have in common is the universal language.” Let us present one piece of evidence. Genesis 3:15 (NIV) says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” IS THIS NOT PROPHECY? Theologians of all persuasions call this the protoevangelium – the first presentation of the gospel. The rest of Scripture can be traced to this headwater promise of redemption. It comes to glorious fulfillment particularly in John’s account of the crucifixion. But if that is the case, then prophecy occurs in Genesis! And if prophecy occurs in Genesis, then how can we object that early Genesis comes to us in apocalyptic genre? The question Kurt needs to answer is why should we expect anything different? Kurt’s claims regarding Genesis and prophecy are patently false.
Kurt’s second argument in this segment seems to be that if we grant that apocalyptic language appears in early Genesis, then it precludes literal historical events. Kurt seems to argue that apocalyptic language is purely symbolic. Kurt writes:
“But classifying Genesis as apocalyptic does not provide a basis for limiting the flood’s scope. If Genesis is apocalyptic, we would interpret the flood itself figuratively, not merely its scope. This is fatal to Tim’s position. His position is destroyed if Genesis is not apocalyptic and its language is understood literally. It is destroyed if it is apocalyptic, for then the flood itself must be taken hyperbolically.”
On the surface, this seems to be a strong objection to the thesis until it is pointed out that apocalyptic examples always reference historical events indirectly. Kurt also knows this when it comes to the book of Revelation. There is apocalyptic language throughout the book and that language references real historical events which took place in the first century, culminating in A.D. 70.
It appears to us that Kurt’s objection relies on a false bifurcation. Kurt assumes (for reasons we do not understand) that apocalyptic language rules out physical and literal events. As preterists, we know this to be false. Given our understanding of apocalyptic portions throughout the rest of Scripture and the literal events (though not global in scope) which accompany fulfillments, we believe Kurt’s dilemma to be, at best, highly doubtful. He may claim, “Either way, Tim’s whole construct falls to pieces and collapses upon the ground” if he wants. We will leave it up to the reader to decide.
One more point to consider is that Evangelical scholars accept a local flood without embracing our thesis that Genesis involves apocalyptic. And as we’ve seen, Josephus also accepts a local flood whether he understood Genesis to be apocalyptic or not. The local flood position is not unique with us and our approach. The real issue is the definition of biblical terms like “earth” or “face of the earth” or “under heaven” language that is so prominent in Genesis 6-9. We know Kurt demands them to be global if we take them literally, but we question that assumption even if our thesis of apocalyptic genre is mistaken.
We would offer Luke 2:2 as an example to illustrate the issue. Luke 2 appears, from a plain-literal hermeneutic, to demand a global taxation/census in the days of Ceasar Augustus. We offer this quote from Walt Hibbard on the hermeneutic implications of understanding “global” language within its own cultural context. Walt writes:
And I might mention, that it is not only the apocalyptic portions of Scripture that use this kind of hyperbolic language. One only has to go to Luke chapter 2 and read the first verse: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustas, that ALL THE WORLD SHOULD BE TAXED." Is this apocalyptic language? I don't think so, yet take note of what it says. Tim [Martin] is not doing anything other than what is normally understand to be relating to a limited portion of the world, not the whole globe. The NASB uses the term "inhabited world" in the Luke 2 text, but is the word "inhabited" really in the biblical text? While I am not a Greek scholar, I doubt that it appears there. When the NASB added the word inhabited, they had good reason to contextually add that word in the English translation.
Using the same hyper-literal global interpretative stance, one would have to conclude that the Romans taxed people in China, Argentina, England and every other nation of the world. After all, it said "all the world shall be taxed." So my point is that we do not necessarily have to understand the language in Genesis as apocalyptic language in order for contextual limitations to be placed on these hyperbolic texts. Just look at Luke 2.
We would love for Kurt to go into our work (and Milton Terry’s) and poke holes into our textual analysis of early Genesis. It must be remembered, however, that even if Kurt could refute the textual comparisons we draw (which we doubt can be done with hermeneutic integrity) he still has not dealt with the real issue of how to interpret biblical language that appears from our perspective and culture to be referencing global events. When we get “into the shoes” of the original authors and audience, we find our modern scientific cultural mindset to be strangely foreign to them.
This issue of global language is what keeps so many from embracing preterism as a result of their plain-literal interpretation of the New Testament. Kurt’s demand for a global flood in Genesis reinforces the very hermeneutic approach that hardens Christians against preterism on the other end of our Bible.
Response to Kurt Simmons’ third Point:
III. The Historical Purpose and Context of the Flood Account must Govern Interpretation and Translation of the Text
Much of this section builds on Kurt’s disproved assertions of the first two segments. The fact that we have refuted those segments means that we have undercut the substance of the remaining portions of Kurt’s rebuttal. There are a few straggling issues we would like to deal with.
Kurt tries to undermine my (Tim Martin) credibility when it comes to original texts. Notice that he does not point to any example of textual error in my book. Where’s the evidence? We would think if my (Tim Martin) credibility with textual issues was a problem in Beyond Creation Science, he would present some evidence. He does not. Instead, he simply dismisses my previous work based on his assumption that I lack any credentials:
“Why should we listen to a man untrained in Hebrew and with no translating skills or experience when he argues for a novel translation attested by no other Bible in print?”
“The word erets occurs repeatedly in the flood account, which the translators of the Authorized (King James) Version, men of imminent learning and ability, chose to translate “earth,” not land or country. (Gen. 7:17-24) In fact, we are not aware of a single translation that uses “country” or “region” in these places. Tim Martin stands alone. Why do the translators decide in favor of “earth” and not some more limited definition of the word? Because the context virtually compels them to.”
Considering how Kurt handled Josephus earlier, we are not too worried about this objection. We would like to point out many eminent textual scholars hold to a local interpretation of the flood. When he says, “Tim Martin stands alone” we are baffled.
What about such eminent Hebrew scholars as John Wenham, Gleason Archer, Norman Geisler, Milton Terry and F.W. Farrar? All these men believe in a local flood. To them we could add many more, but truth does not depend on numbers or credentials. Kurt later recognizes we take a similar approach to Genesis as Terry and Farrar, so this claim of novelty appears to be a self-contradiction to us. It also shows his ignorance of the entire old earth creationist movement in America. Some of the most recognized Hebrew scholars today and in the past lead that movement.
The other issue we find very strange is that Kurt’s argument has been reduced to arguing for a meaning based on its common English translation. Since when do preterists find this compelling? This is one of the most common arguments against preterism by global-futurists who attempt to refute preterism!
We do respect the scholarship behind the KJV and even use that translation in key portions of our work. But we also believe there is room for substantial improvement over the Authorized Version. After all, these are the very same translators who translated “aeon” as “world” in much of the New Testament. Many have noted how that distorts a proper understanding of eschatology. We do wonder if a similar problem applies to the flood account.
Later in this segment Kurt does interact with our main theological argument. We will quote him at length:
“Tim points to language in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse likening the events culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem to Noah’s flood. (Matt. 24:36-41) Tim argues that since Christ’s coming in A.D. 70 was not global, therefore, Noah’s flood need not have been global. Tim adds that Jesus’ comparison of his parousia to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is proof that the flood was regional. (Lk. 17:28-36) In other words, if A = B and B = C, then A = C.”
This is an accurate portrayal of our thesis. We not only believe this to be the case because these events are explicitly compared, but because these events are described in demonstrably similar language as well. Kurt’s objection goes like this:
“There are two errors here. First, Jesus referred to Noah’s flood because of the suddenness with which it caught its victims unaware and the completeness of the destruction it brought, not to indicate its size or scope. Daniel 9:26, which indicates the end of Jerusalem would come like a flood, is to the same effect. Jesus’ reference to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah is similar, showing both the suddenness and completeness of the devastation wrought. If anything, Jesus’ citation to these events shows their historicity; that they were not mere legends or exaggerations, but actual events whose literal record in the scripture can be implicitly trusted.”
We have already dealt with the straw man argument against our thesis that we deny the account references literal events in history. We are not sure why Kurt repeatedly makes this an issue since he has already said, “Tim admits the flood occurred, but wants to limit its scope.” Moving past that problem we will deal with the first objection.
Kurt wants to limit the comparison in these texts to the element of surprise. We will grant the element of surprise exists in these comparisons, but to limit Jesus’ parallel to this one dimension is far too narrow. It cannot stand up to scrutiny because of the context in the Luke passage. Luke 17:32 records Jesus words, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
This demonstrates there is more to the 3-way comparison than mere surprise. Besides, if the issue in these comparisons is mere surprise, what does Jesus’ warning accomplish? No, Jesus uses these examples to draw an analogy they needed to understand (and did already if they heeded Daniel). If they acted like Lot's wife and gave in to their longing for the earthly Jerusalem, they risked destruction just like Lot's wife. This doubled as both a spiritual and physical warning for the covenant people in the first century. Likewise, if they did not listen to Jesus and his apostles as "preachers of righteousness" in their generation with their warning of the coming "flood," they too would be swept away and destroyed with the wicked. Kurt refuses to acknowledge the full implications of these comparisons because they refute a global interpretation of the flood for preterists.
Another reason Kurt’s minimalist method fails is the fact that the context of 2 Peter 3:5-7 is parallel to Luke 17. Peter, following his teacher’s lead, mentions the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the day of judgment in close association in 2 Peter 2 – the context for 2 Peter 3. Then he draws the same parallel as Jesus:
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.
Notice there is no element of time or “surprise” referenced in Peter’s comparison. The comparison is water and fire – the destruction of two covenant worlds. But if that is the case, then what is destroyed in Genesis 6-9 is a covenant world. The context, as we saw in the immediate context of Genesis 5ff (and paralleled in Josephus), was the covenant people of God with the descendants of Seth. It was not planet earth. The same applies to Peter’s context. He is referring to a covenant world, not planet earth.
The real problem is that holding a global view of the flood subverts a preterism. If the flood was global in scope and the New Testament authors explicitly compare the judgment with the flood, then it proves a global, future judgment to come. We wonder if Kurt believes in a global, final judgment to end history. Could this be an underlying cause of his rejection of our thesis?
Kurt’s second objection to our argument from the explicit comparison of the flood, Sodom, and parousia goes like this:
“Second, Christ’s eschatological coming was not merely limited to Judea, but was world-wide: it brought ruin and devastation throughout the inhabited earth (Roman empire) as Christ avenged the quarrel of his church and gospel. There were great famines and plagues in Rome and Asia; there were earthquakes that devastated cities in Asia minor; Rome experienced uprisings in foreign lands and civil wars at home; there were four emperors in the space of a single year, whose wars wrought devastation to all of Italy and Rome; Romans watched in amazement as the capital and temple of Jupiter was burned to ash in combat between the forces of Vitellius and Vespasian’s brother, Sabinius; last of all, Jerusalem and Judea were completely destroyed. Thus, quite contrary to Tim’s assertions, Christ’s coming in the first century was indeed felt and seen world-wide.”
Our response is a hearty, “Amen.” Thank you providing evidence for our thesis. We sense that Kurt has now bifurcated his definition of “world-wide.” If his definition of world-wide is a limited region such as the Roman Empire, we could agree with him that the flood was world-wide! But we doubt this is his definition of “world-wide” back in Genesis.
Beyond Creation Science does reference documented flood events in the near-East which covered a substantial chunk of Eastern Europe, Mesopotamia and Asia. Kurt’s argument is no problem for our thesis: it supports it. The events surrounding Christ’s eschatological coming were limited to a specific region of planet earth. The same is true of the flood.
Kurt’s last paragraph in this section is limited to a discussion of 2 Peter 3. His argument is best captured in this quote:
“[T]he new heavens and earth speak to the regeneration of man in Christ which would attend the removal of the former world system in which there was no forgiveness of sins, of which the destruction of the city and temple were signs. Because the heavens and earth of II Peter 3:7-13 are not physical, the language of this epistle cannot help Tim. Besides, the removal of the elements of the old covenant system was as universal and complete in the spiritual realm as Noah’s flood was in the earthly; not one element of the old system remains before the face of God; all were wiped clean away forever. (Cf. Heb. 8:13; 12:26-28) Thus, if any thing, II Peter argues for the universality of the flood, not its circumscription.”
We think Kurt is relying on a basic argument that what took place in the flood was physically universal while what took place in A.D. 70 was spiritually universal. We should first mention that we agree with the general preterist method of “first the physical, then the spiritual.” In fact, we discuss how this pattern works with Creation/New Creation issues in our book along with a few other examples. However, we object to Kurt’s application of this principle to the flood/fire comparison for the following reasons.
First, Peter is doing nothing differently in 2 Peter 2-3 than Jesus does in Luke 17:26-30. Earlier in context (2 Peter 2), Peter drew the same 3-way comparison between the flood, Sodom and parousia/judgment as Jesus did. This three-way comparison breaks down the physical/spiritual method Kurt employs. What do we do with the example of Sodom? Do we apply those events physically or spiritually? Or is that event left in limbo? This question alone causes serious problems for Kurt’s method.
Second, on the natural side of Kurt’s dichotomy we see remarkable spiritual events taking place in Genesis 9. God establishes a new covenant with Noah complete with new signs, promises and demands. This is a spiritual creation – in essence a “new heavens and new earth.” What takes place in Genesis 6-9 is not limited to physical events but include spiritual transformation as well. (We think this is why Peter would think of this account as parallel to the time in which he lived at the brink of another covenant catastrophe/transformation.)
Kurt makes a similar error on the other side of his dichotomy as well. What we see going on in A.D. 70 certainly involved universal events in the spiritual realm. We do not deny that. Yet we affirm equally that A.D. 70 involved very physical local events, culminating in the physical destruction of Israel after the flesh. Indeed, the very land of Israel was thoroughly destroyed by fire at the hands of the Roman legions. Kurt’s dichotomy lops off the spiritual elements in Genesis as well as the physical events in the 1st century. It does not account for all the details. Universal spiritual transformations always accompany local physical events in Scripture.
The third problem for Kurt’s dichotomy is the explicit mention of means in Peter’s comparison. One is water. The other is fire. How can Kurt’s dichotomy “physicalize” the first and “spiritualize” the second and do justice to Peter’s comparison considering the events we know took place? Is Kurt willing to affirm that A.D. 70 events were confined to a spiritual fiery dimension? We hope not. We think it is very important to recognize the very literal events which took place in the 1st century (just as we affirm very literal events took place in Noah’s day). But that means the fire is not limited to spiritual realities as this pattern applies to other things in Scripture which follow that same natural/spiritual order.
The bottom line is that Peter explicitly compares two judgments. In the text there is the "world of that time" and the "present heavens and earth." Two worlds. If we are consistent, as preterists, we should believe both “worlds” are defined by covenant, and therefore both judgments (as far as the physical detail) take place within a covenant context. Kurt’s dichotomy fails.
This issue of covenant context is the key to the entire debate. The failure to recognize covenant context is the real point of difference between Kurt and us. Global-flood advocates make that error in Genesis. Global-futurist advocates make that error in Revelation. We can see clearly how the issues are related.
The book of Revelation uses all of the same types of global and universal language as the flood account. The Septuagint uses “ge” throughout the flood account (“ge” is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word “erets”) just as “ge” is used throughout the book of Revelation. Futurists “globalize” Revelation because of the same hermeneutic Kurt demands in Genesis. We also see the same kind of “universal” language in reference to “mankind.” Consider this passage:
And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind… the rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands. Revelation 9:15, 20.
Global flood futurists are consistent when they demand that Revelation speaks of events which must involve humans across the entire planet earth. Does Revelation not talk of plagues killing one-third of mankind? Does not the Tribulation come upon “all who live on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35)? Once again, Kurt’s approach to the Genesis flood militates against a preterist understanding of Revelation.
Not only does a linguistic comparison between Revelation and the flood prove a covenant context (not to mention the immediate context we’ve already demonstrated), the symbols in the book also prove a covenant context as well. The bow in Genesis 9 comes up again in Revelation. (Earlier Kurt claimed there are no points of contact between the flood account and prophecy. We offer this detail to prove him wrong) The bow which God places unstrung in the clouds in Genesis becomes a weapon of war in Christ’s hands:
I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. Revelation 6:2.
We found it interesting the Kurt makes no mention of the bow in Revelation 6:2 in his commentary. But we think we understand why Kurt would completely overlook the bow. David Chilton saw the connection whether he understood the full implications or not:
We should ask a rather obvious question at this point – so obvious that we are apt to miss it altogether: Where did Christ get the bow? The answer (as is usually the case) begins in Genesis. When God made the covenant with Noah, He declared that He was no longer at war with the earth, because of the “soothing aroma” of the sacrifice (Gen. 8:20-21); and as evidence of this He unstrung His bow and hung it up “in the Cloud” for all to see (Gen. 9:13-17)… It was thus necessary that the first Rider should be seen carrying the Bow of God’s vengeance, to signify the unleashing of the Curse upon Israel’s ground; for these apostates, the Noachic covenant is undone.
If the use of God’s bow is limited to “Israel’s ground” in Revelation, then it is also limited to the covenant context of “Noah’s ground” in Genesis 6-9. There is no biblical justification for a planet-wide flood in Genesis if Revelation speaks of local events!
The concurrent use of God’s bow in both texts demands a consistent understanding. The bow in Revelation is another key evidence of the explicit biblical connection between eschatology and the flood. We hope the reader will fully grasp how large of an issue covenant context truly is to this debate. As preterists become more comfortable with a covenant context reading of Revelation we expect they will become more comfortable with a covenant context reading of Genesis 6-9. It’s only a matter of time.
Response to Kurt Simmons’ Fourth Point:
IV. The Authority and Silence of the Scriptures
Kurt’s final segment ends with a plethora of accusations and rhetoric. Very little of substance remains intact in this section with our response to the first three sections complete.
In his first paragraph, Kurt raises the issue of the hermeneutic principle of the authority and silence of the scripture. He equates our methods with Roman Catholic doctrines. We think this objection is a red herring to distract the reader from Kurt’s weak arguments. Those who have read Beyond Creation Science in its entirety will testify to our consistent argumentation from Scripture – whether the reader agrees with our conclusions or not. We don’t think Kurt is entirely honest with this criticism.
The next paragraph opens with an argument for the destruction of all men “universally” save eight. We have addressed this previously. There is a clear covenant context to the flood account. Noah and his family were the only ones spared in that context. (Josephus parallels this understanding in his Antiquities).
Our claim that there were other human beings in other parts of the globe untouched by the flood is perfectly compatible with biblical teaching. We would make much the same assertion in regard to the Tribulation. There were other human beings on the globe that are outside the purview of New Testament prophecy that were untouched, no, completely unaware of the Great Tribulation. This complaint is not an issue for preterists.
Later in that paragraph, Kurt makes a brief argument from the account of Babel. We have a chapter in the new book dedicated to this issue of the flood and Tower of Babel. In that chapter (to be posted at Planet Preterist) we will show how the account of Babel actually strengthens the case for a local flood. We ask for the reader’s patience on this issue. The study of Babel is fascinating both biblically and historically.
At the end of that first paragraph, Kurt makes one assertion we will show to be highly questionable. He says, “In other words, the Bible provides a complete account of the origin of every nation of men after the flood. Tim cannot name one nation of people that the Bible does not attribute to Noah’s sons.” If Kurt refers to the nations within the breadth of the Roman Empire, we will agree with him. In fact, many theologians draw a parallel between Babel and Pentecost. The curse on Babel is reversed at Pentecost as God’s Spirit is poured out and each man hears the gospel in his own tongue. All the biblical nations were represented at Babel. Notice the language in Acts 2:
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. Acts 2:5.
Pentecost fulfills the prophecy of Joel 2. But notice how Joel 2 phrases the promise in familiar terms with the flood account:
And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28 (NKJV).
Did “all flesh” receive God’s Spirit on Pentecost in the same sense global flood advocates take the phrase to mean in the flood account? No, the “universal” language in Acts 2 (and Joel 2) refers to the nations of the Roman Empire. Human beings in China, Mongolia, Japan, Australia and the Americas are simply not in view of these accounts. We submit that these nations, far removed from the Roman Empire (yet living contemporary to the 1st century), did not descend from Noah’s sons. We believe a sound case can be made for this directly from Genesis.
Genesis 5:4 says Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters. Who are these other sons and daughters of Adam? Notice how the biblical account focuses in on Seth's line from that point on, leading down to Noah from Gen. 5-9. (Josephus demonstrates a similar understanding.) But what happened to these other sons and daughters of Adam? The text does not explain, though it does clearly state their existence. They were born hundreds of years before Noah, yet the Bible says nothing about them from this point on. They could've moved to present-day China for all we know.
We must recognize that Scripture informs us that there were other people besides those listed in the genealogical material in Genesis (and by extension the rest of Scripture) from the very start. Kurt, along with many others, overlooks this very important fact. If the descendants of these other sons and daughters of Adam lived in China by the time of the flood (as one example) why would God need to wipe them out for the wickedness that went on in Noah's covenant world where he preached to a wicked generation?
Kurt levels a charge related to science in his third paragraph. He says, “Yet, led away by science falsely so-called, Tim chooses to disregard the divine account and place faith in men; he believes the earth took more time to create than six days and that the earth is perhaps billions of years old.” This is a bizarre charge, considering Beyond Creation Science hardly mentions issues of science! The book certainly develops no arguments for a local flood from a scientific perspective. We believe our work prepares the way for Christians to look anew at scientific issues unhindered by errant interpretations of the flood account.
We do admit our belief openly to the reader that reputable scientific advance offers no real threat to Christianity: quite the contrary. The more we know about our universe, the more we know about the majesty and awesome power of its Creator. We will explore some of these issues in upcoming articles to Planet Preterist (and the new book). For now we will only state that it is far better to take an objective look at the scientific evidence than be led away by a “scientific” system cobbled together to justify the visions of Ellen G. White! If Kurt insists White’s trances accurately capture the true meaning of Genesis, then there is little we can do to convince him otherwise.
At the end of that paragraph Kurt claims we are not sure Genesis references the creation of the universe. He says:
“Indeed, he is not even sure that the creation account of Genesis speaks to the creation of the cosmos, but posits that it may be an allegorical account of the creation of national Israel! It is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible treatment of the scriptures. This man should not be teaching the Bible until he learns how to remain within the confines of the scriptural text.”
We would refer the reader to chapter 7 of Beyond Creation Science to judge on their own if this is an accurate assessment of discussion in that chapter. We are amazed at this emotional lather. Another recent critical review made the logical leap that our discussion in that chapter means we teach God did not create planet earth!
The whole truth is that we have seen discussion about this issue of “heavens and earth” language in Genesis 1:1 among preterists. We think the discussion will have to be faced openly and honestly by preterists sooner or later. We address the logic of that position with our own response. We find no need to poison the discussion with emotional vitriol or verbal abuse which tends to be counterproductive in the long run anyway. What is darn near funny is that Kurt finishes his point by saying:
“[T]the pattern is first the natural then spiritual; God created the natural heavens and earth in Genesis, the covenantal heavens and earth of the Old Law in Exodus, and the new heavens and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness in A.D. 70.”
Those who have read that section carefully will find this statement curiously familiar. We wonder why Kurt doesn’t offer a footnote to reference the book directly! The book states clearly:
There are some theological challenges for a Local Creation interpretation as well. Preterists rightly emphasize the common biblical pattern in redemptive development of "first the physical, then the spiritual”… A Local Creation approach violates this Biblical pattern by limiting the original creation to covenantal and spiritual realities. A creational, cosmological reading of the "heavens and earth" in Genesis 1 fits with the overall pattern in Scripture of "first the physical, then the spiritual."
Of course if Kurt had quoted from Beyond Creation Science it would have proved that this is essentially how our discussion concluded. Tactics of misrepresentation and omission always reflect a weak case. It is no different with Kurt’s shady attempts here.
Kurt’s next paragraph references an e-mail by another preterist who also holds to a local flood. Kurt greatly dislikes some ideas that were presented in the e-mail. He attributes those ideas to my (Tim Martin’s) approach. How this is connected in detail to my thesis, Kurt never really explains. He merely asserts the accusation in broad generalizations with plenty of innuendo:
“Tim’s methodology produces the most extravagant, speculative, and dangerous doctrines. One person I know who has come under Tim’s influence has been led to believe that God created other men before Adam and Eve. (After all, where did Cain get his wife? See the email I received, below) Using Tim’s methodology of “speaking where the Bible is silent,” one could affirm that God created life on other planets and that Mars is colonized by little green men!”
We’re not sure what little green men on Mars have to do with our thesis. One thing we do know is that reformational work is messy. We have heard preterists claim that preterism “proves” the end of the death penalty for murder. We have heard preterists claim that preterism “proves” the legitimization of sincere and loving homosexual relationships. We have heard preterists claim that preterism abrogates all formal human government in the civil realm, family realm and ecclesiastical realm. We have heard preterists claim preterism “proves” pretty much everything under the theological sun.
This is the nature of theological progress in God’s Church. It always has been and always will be a bit messy. Slogging forward in our understanding of God’s Word and how it applies to human life in God’s world will lead to errors in some cases and truth in other cases. When it comes to all the ferment going on within Preterism we believe that any case must be proven by rigorous standards and open debate before we should change our beliefs. That is precisely why we have put together our carefully documented thesis. We are essentially conservatives – understood in the broadest measure of time over the last 2000 years of Church history.
With that in mind we will point out once again that a local flood interpretation dates back thousands of years! The Creation Science movement and a global flood interpretation are modern inventions, flowing from modern scientific cultural mindsets. Flood geology (of the Creation Science version) is hardly 150 years old. Yet, Kurt acts like any who question it have rejected Scripture. Well, here’s a question. How could European Christians, who lived before the discovery of the New World by Columbus at the end of the 15th century, possibly conceptualize a global flood as the Creation Scientists do today? They weren’t even aware of a large portion of the planet’s land mass.
We do not understand why many global flood advocates (especially preterists) think their interpretation of the biblical account are so natural and plain that any who question them question the Bible. What we do understand is that Preterism, rather than being essentially new, merely recaptures the Hebraic mindset and expectations of those who lived smack dab in the middle of biblical history. We think it is only fitting that we “see” a local flood in Genesis when viewing the text through preterist assumptions and hermeneutic principles. We’ve simply tried very hard to get back to the thinking and mindset of those within biblical history. Lo and behold, the end result is that we end up with the same understanding of the flood as Josephus!
If that gets us branded with names such as “liberal,” “skeptic,” “postmodern-emergent,” “white supremacist” then so be it. None of those labels are accurate. Now Kurt claims this “teaching is dangerous and should be driven from the church.” Futurists say the same thing about preterism, so we’re not too worried. We are Christians who want to understand the Bible in terms of itself.
In a later paragraph, Kurt references Milton Terry and F.W. Farrar’s view of creation. He lays this charge:
“[T]hese men made their remarks in the late 1800s when Darwinism was overthrowing the faith of millions and churchmen were everywhere in retreat before the advance of scientific claims about the origin of life.”
That statement speaks volumes about Kurt’s ignorance of interpretations which differ from Ellen G. White and the Adventists. Terry’s and Farrar’s approach to Genesis come from a long line of biblical interpretive tradition on Genesis, emanating through Augustine to many of the Church Fathers. Terry explains:
It has from ancient times been felt by the most devout and thoughtful interpreters that much in the earlier chapters of Genesis must be understood in some other than a literal sense. St. Augustine spoke of the "ineffable days" of creation, and all the common readers since his time have wondered that light should have been separately created three days before the sun.
This does not prove non-literal interpretations are true, but it does prove Kurt’s charge false. Were Augustine and other Church Fathers duped by Darwinism? No one informed on the history of interpretation of Genesis in Church history would claim non-literal readings spring from the 19th century and Darwinism. That is nonsense fostered by academically challenged dispensational Creation Science literature.
We skip down to the final two paragraphs of Kurt’s rebuttal. There he says:
“If we were to place a circle upon paper and ask Tim to write in it all the verses showing the earth is materially older than the sum of generations from Adam to ourselves, that the earth took longer to make than six 24 hour days, that more were saved from the flood than eight, and that the flood was merely local or regional, at the end of the day that circle would still be empty. Why? Because there are no verses in the Bible which teach these things.”
We’ll take up that challenge. We’ll begin with the phrase “evening and morning” in the creation account. The form of the Hebrew phrase “ereb boqer” that translates “evening and morning” appears only twice outside of Genesis 1. Those two places are Psalm 55:17 and Daniel 8:26. In Psalm 55:17, David claims he prays “evening and morning”—hardly an example of 24 hours. In Daniel 8:26 the King James Version translates literally “the vision of evening and morning” whereas all modern translations make it plural “vision of the evenings and mornings.” The KJV shows the similarity to the Genesis phrase (proving another connection between Genesis and prophecy, contrary to Kurt’s prior claims) and the modern translations shows agreement that “evening and morning” does not necessarily mean an ordinary 24-hour day. It can and does refer to a longer period of time.
To this evidence we will add the conclusion of the initial creation account:
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and heavens. Genesis 2:1-4 (KJV).
Notice that Scripture teaches creation took place over “generations.” We will talk about what that might mean in the context of the original audience and culture of Genesis in an upcoming article and in the new book. But for now, we mention that Christians agree that “generation” means “generation” across the Bible except two cases. The young-earth futurist denies this example and Matthew 24:34 (and related texts).
A preterist who denies “generation” means “generation” here, contradicts his defense of preterism from the New Testament. The fact that multiple generations are referenced in the creation account proves the universe is materially older than the sum of generations from Adam to us. The Scriptures are silent about how much older. To demand we follow Bishop Usser’s methods to date the universe down to the year and day is to speak where Scripture is silent.
Let us grant for a moment a plain-literal interpretation of the creation in Genesis, for sake of argument. What is clear from the second creation account in Genesis 2 is that these events require time and deliberation on Adam’s part. Naming the animals and being instructed in the care of the garden were not instantaneous. Though unfallen at this point, Adam is still a creature who must learn over time. No one should conjecture that Genesis 2 took place over the space of one hour or even three on day 6. The text is also silent about how long Adam lived in Paradise. How does Kurt know that millions of years did not pass before the fall? We point this out only to highlight how many unexamined assumptions Kurt relies on in his particular interpretations.
To our full argumentation for a local flood we could add Numbers 13:33. Caleb said, “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim).” We agree with Gary DeMar that the Nephilim are just plain (tall) folk and not green men on mars. But Genesis 6:4 says the Nephilim were on the earth before and after the flood. If we take these accounts literally, then it seems clear some Nephilim survived the flood. Indeed, we do not find the name “Anak” (from whom Caleb says the Nephilm descend) anywhere in the biblical genealogical material. Maybe Kurt can help us. How could the Nephilim survive a global flood?
Another passage we would add is from the Psalms:
But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. Psalm 104:7-9.
By Kurt’s own literal method, this passage proves that the flood did not cover all dry land. This passage is a creation passage. It references God’s voice which brought the dry land into being. It makes a promise. “You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will the waters cover the earth.” A global flood interpretation sets the Scriptures against themselves if we commit to Kurt’s dogmatic literal method.
We could add many more texts which would overflow a single circle drawn on a single piece of paper. Hugh Ross lists 21 major creation texts in Scripture. Kurt argues from two of those but the other 19 show that creation takes place over indefinite time. But we sense the real issues between him and us are hermeneutic assumptions. Kurt finishes his rebuttal by saying:
“The question thus becomes, where do we stand, upon the solid rock of scripture and “thus saith the Lord”, or the speculative notions of men that presume upon the silence of the word of God?”
The careful reader will notice that Kurt has simply confounded his own interpretation of creation and flood – an interpretation which can be traced directly to Adventism – with biblical inspiration. We openly recognize our local flood presentation from the perspective of preterism is merely one competing interpretation of the flood account. We believe, all things considered, it is the best interpretation for preterists who are interested in understanding the entire Bible in a consistent fashion.
Kurt's extreme dogmatism on this issue is matched by his ignorance flowing from his failure to diligently study all sides of the Genesis debate. (He has proven he is capable of this thorough and objective study with his commentary on Revelation.) His claim that our view is irresponsible is rooted in his own irresponsibility. And though Kurt has not shown it, his claim that our thesis is “dangerous” probably has merit.
The idea that God created a planet designed to last eons and eons is dangerous to the status quo in American Christianity dominated by futurism. The idea that God destroyed a particularly violent segment of that planet's population in divine retribution by waters of a flood is dangerous to the status quo of American Christianity dominated by futurism. The idea that God destroyed a particularly violent segment of that planet’s population in divine retribution by fire at the Coming of Christ is dangerous to the status quo in American Christianity dominated by futurism. We think the more dangerous, the better.
Our blessings to Kurt as he continues to study this topic.
Tim Martin (aka Middleknowledge)
Jeff Vaughn (aka JL)
 Milton Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books  1988), p. 40.
 Don Stoner, A New Look at an Old Earth: Resolving the Conflict Between the Bible and Science (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1997), p. 120, 121-122. Ellen G. White from Facts of Faith, in Connection with the History of Holy Men of Old (Battle Creek: Steam Press, 1864), p. 75-76, as quoted by Don Stoner.
 Henry Morris, History of Modern Creationism (San Diego: Master Book Publishers, 1984), p. 79.
 Ibid., p. 80.
 Ibid., p. 83.
 Michael Ruse, The Evolution-Creation Struggle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), p. 239.
 Gary North, Letter to ICE subscribers dated May 19, 2001.
 Sam Frost, Comments on the Preteristcosmos discussion group. Available here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PretCosmos/message/6303.
 Josephus, Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 3, Section 2.
 For a representative example of the biblical usage of “genos” see: Mark 7:26; Acts 4:6, 36; 7:13, 19; 13:26; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 22:16.
 Josephus, Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 3, Section 1.
 See also Genesis 5:6ff.
 Josephus, Antiquities: Book 1, Chapter 3, Section 6.
 Josephus, Antiquities: Book 1, Chapter 4, Section 1.
 John Holzmann of Sonlight Curriculum for Homeschoolers gave a positive review of Beyond Creation Science. Discussion stemming from that review led to a dialogue with a local-flood advocate regarding preterism. You can see that review and discussion at: http://archive.sonlight-forums.com/showthread.php?t=156634.
 You can read Walt Hibbard’s positive review of Beyond Creation Science at: http://www.preteristviewpoint.com/id61.html. Another positive review by the preterist, Brian Kimball, is available here: http://www.preteristplanet.com/id103.html.
 Walt Hibbard, Discussion on Preteristcosmos discussion group. Available here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PretCosmos/message/10546
 For a further discussion of this see the Planet Preterist article which deals with objections, specifically Question 8. That discussion is available here: http://planetpreterist.com/news-2777.html.
 Kurt Simmons, The Consummation of the Ages: A.D. 70 and the Second Coming in the Book of Revelation (Bimillenial Preterist Association, 2003) pp 144-145.
 David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth: Dominion Press, 1987), pp. 186-187.
 Milton Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House  1988).
 Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days (Colo. Springs: Navpress, 2004), p. 66.