At the very outset, let me say that my experience in science has affected my interpretations of the Bible…. It is improbable that I ever would have come up with the view that the earth is millions of years old if I had never studied science.1
Paul, for instance, writing in haste and urgency to some of his wayward and difficult Christians, was not tremendously concerned about dotting the "i's" and crossing the "t's" of his message. I doubt very much whether he was even concerned about being completely consistent with what he had already written.2
These days there's a bewildering array of Bible translations to choose from. How do we know which one to choose? What difference does it make anyway? For most purposes, any translation will do. However, in the debate over the age of the Earth, selecting the right translation makes a big difference.3
These quotations span some 50 years and are representative of the presuppositional assumption that Christians can have no confidence in the biblical text. The current view among many evangelical scholars (and the pastors they mentor) is that the words of God are separate from the meaning of those words. To determine the meaning, one must understand what the original author really meant when he wrote the words.
This man-centered process is based on the pernicious logic that since we don't have the "original autographs," scholars must attempt to compile a "consensus text," using history, archaeology, science, and cultural linguistics.
The biblical truth that "every word of God is pure" is glossed over with the assumption that we cannot be sure that those words are the words, practically making the words of God a nebulous vapor of personal opinion (e.g., "What does it mean to me?"), which in turn produces "every wind of doctrine." It amazes me that such contrary views have gained widespread acceptance among "Bible believing" Christians. May I remind the reader of just a few basics about God's Word?
God has exalted His written Word by decree and majesty.
I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (Psalm 138:2)
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
God demands accurate and precise reading of His written Word.
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)
God's written Word must not be altered or deconstructed in any way.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)
…the scripture cannot be broken. (John 10:35)
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20)
God's written Word is eternally valid and supernaturally protected.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89)
But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. (1 Peter 1:25)
God's written Word is the standard of eternal judgment and temporal righteousness.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The text of Scripture presents a very high view of itself. We who embrace the Bible as God's Word should tread very lightly on the text, "interpreting" it as precisely as humanly possible to conform to the entire body of the information contained in the 66 books recognized as Canon.
- Snoke, D. 2006. A Biblical Case for an Old Earth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 7.
- Phillips, J. B. 1960. The New Testament in Modern English. New York: Macmillian, Foreword.
- Millam, J. Historic Age Debate: Dependence on Translations, Part 1. Posted on reasons.org June 19, 2009.
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2010. Presuppositional Assumptions. Acts & Facts. 39 (4): 22-23.