by Rev. Eric R Towse
I have always believed that the Bible is, among its other attributes, complete, infallible, and inspired in its original text by the Holy Spirit. It is with respect to the Bibles completeness that is the subject of our lesson. Genesis 1:1 sets the stage for what some call the Battleground of the Universe. God vs. Satan, Light vs. Darkness, Good vs. Evil. It should also be noted that Genesis 1:1 is the prime target of the Enemys retaliatory efforts to win a battle against Almighty God the outcome of which has already been decided.
In the beginning God. . . vs. THERE IS NO GOD!
created the heavens and the earth. vs. CREATION IS A MYTHMAN EVOLVED (Ask most teachers or scientists!)
Although atheists and agnostics have made their positions known all throughout the Christian era, their agendas received a significant (but temporary) boost when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859. It seemed at the time that science had scored a coup over religion and had somehow disproved the Bible. Nothing was further from the truth. In fact, within 100 years of its publication, evolutionary-based scientists discounted all of Darwins conclusions (in favor of their own new and improved versions, of course). Shortly after its publication, however, ripples were felt within the churchthe effects of which are still echoing to this day. This is why an understanding of the leading of the Holy Spirit in times of persecution is so important for the Bible-believing Christian. While the Holy Spirit encouraged the faithful to stand firm with the Word of God, some were misled into believing Darwins conclusions and began a frantic search of the Scriptures in an attempt to reconcile Creation with Darwin.
Among those who attempted this self-imposed challenge was G.H. Pember who, in the 1870s book entitled, Earths Earliest Ages thought to retranslate certain words from the Hebrew Scriptures to allow for an indeterminable amount of time to have elapsed between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. This created a gap in which all kinds of things allegedly happened, including an entire creation that was build and destroyed before Adam. The theory may have initially brought some consolation to the Scripture-Science controversy if one felt the need to view the earth as old, but the theory did not stop there. It went on in great detail to describe Satans rebellion during this time period with the resulting death and destruction of Gods initial attempts at creation. This theory became a problem unto itself when its concept of sin and death before Adam came into the light of the clear New Testament teachings of death coming through one man (Adam):
"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12 NIV)
"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Romans 8:20-22 NIV)
"For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." (I Corinthians 15:21-22 NIV).
Nevertheless, this Gap Theory as it was called actually found its way into the Scofield reference Bible and was adopted by the renown Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse. Even today, one can hear it being described as revealed truth by some Televangelists. We now know that the correct interpretation of scientific evidence allows for a very young Earth in accordance with the plain and clear teachings of the Bible. The need for some external reconciliation between the Scriptures and opinions of certain scientists (and theologians) who argue for an Earth billions of years old no longer exists.
It should be duly noted that the mere opinion of a scientist does not automatically make a conclusion "scientific." In fact, a poor excuse for science is displayed when one enters into an investigation of evidence dealing with the origins of life and of the universe, having ruled-out in advance the possible existence and of and intervention by a Creator. This having been said, we will now briefly look at Genesis 1:2, the target of the Enemys second salvo against the Word of God: and the Earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep.
The Hebrew source of each and every word in the above verse is found to be similarly translated elsewhere in the Bible. For example, it was suggested that without form and void signified judgement, when compared to its use in Isaiah 34:11 and 45:18. But in other Bible texts it simply refers to empty space. Similarly, and the Earth was. . . gap theorists said, should have been translated: and the Earth became. Although 'became' is a possible alternative, this Hebrew word is translated 'was' over 260 times. It was further suggested that other Hebrew words and phrases throughout the Old Testament be reinterpreted to suggest a re-creation following some cataclysm prior to the creation account of Genesis 1:2, especially when viewed, they say, in the light of the following passages from Jeremiah: "I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger." (Jeremiah 4:23-26 NIV)
Does this refer to a race of people who died prior to the birth of Adam or, perhaps, to a future judgement prior to Gods creating a new heaven and a new earth described by John? (See Revelation 21:1) We must, therefore, conclude that Genesis 1: 1-2 may be taken as it has been traditionally understood as describing the same creation event.
There are several other thoughts that are worth considering when evaluating the Gap Theory. First, God went into great detail in the Bible to let us know about creation, sin, the fall of man, the Devil, and redemption. Evidence in the earth of Adams sin is universal. If such events as postulated by Gap Theorists had actually occurred, why would God want to hide it? Secondly, no Jewish rabbinical writer ever viewed the creation account as contained in the Hebrew Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) as anything other than a single creation. Finally, would God use the timing of the introduction of the theories of Charles Darwin as a milepost to enlighten a few concerning a new interpretation of the Scriptures? Genesis 1:2 stood for eighteen centuries until evolutionary thought entered the church. Its long past the time that this gap theory be laid to rest. Adherents of the gap theory who are truth-seekers should avail themselves of the wealth of materials that are now available by organization such as the Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021. Degreed scientists belonging to such organizations have reexamined the so-call scientific proofs of evolution and point-out the flaws in the various theories as well as an interpretation of evidence that supports the Bible view.
Once a believer has determined that the theory of evolution has failed to prove its case, there remains no need for any Gap Theory. Rather, the Scriptures are, once again, proven to be the complete, infallible, and inspired Word of God! In retrospect, there is a valuable lesson to be learned from the widespread of this erroneous teaching. We are warned by the Apostle Paul, ". . . do not go beyond what is written." (I Cor 4:6). The principles of our Christian faith, that is, matters of salvation, righteousness, holiness, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ for his saints, are plainly stated in Scripture and," . . . that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20) Our focus should never waver from the commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20).