When it comes to the age of the earth
Young Earth Creationists generally believe:
- Genesis 1-11 teaches historical and scientific truths, and specifically that the universe is approximately 6,000 years old.
- An old-earth viewpoint is a denial of the authority of the Bible.
- The church has always held this view.
- Therefore this belief is primary doctrine and deviation from it is heresy.
- Throughout church history, people have held different interpretations
- Some early church leaders held that Genesis 1-11 is allegorical and does not teach history/science
- Other leaders taught a historical view.
- They all believed in the authority of the Bible.
- The church never considered an old-earth or allegorical viewpoint to be heresy
- The church dealt with numerous heresies – Arianism, Gnosticism, Monarchianism, Pelagianism, to name a few.
- Answers to the heresies were often incorporated into creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicean Creed.
- No creeds contain references to interpretations of Genesis 1-11.
On the other hand …
Martin Luther did hold the historical/scientific young earth view quite strongly. He believed that the Bible taught:
- A young earth
- An earth at the center of all things
- A physical dome (firmament) over the earth
- Stars attached to the firmament
- Waters above the firmament
John Calvin had similar views. He believed that the Bible historically/scientifically taught a young earth and geocentrism.
Though nearly everyone today would say these two men were incorrect about geocentrism, it was obvious to both of these men that all these things were one package and were taught quite clearly in Scripture. Why would one thing be allegorical and not the others? Why would we listen to what science has to say about one and not the others?
More recently …
Since the more modern discoveries of the antiquity of the earth, many well-know Christians have publicly held to either an old earth view or an acceptance of varying viewpoints. A few of these are:
- B. B. Warfield – a founder of the fundamentalist movement
- C.S. Lewis
- Francis Schaeffer
- C. I. Scofield
- R. C. Sproul, Sr.
- J. I. Packer
- E.J. Young
- Billy Graham
It is hard to believe these these people could be considered heretics.
Holding an old-earth view of Genesis 1-11 has always been completely acceptable during the history of the church. The idea that it is heretical is quite recent.
In fact …
The modern young-earth movement has its origin in Ellen G. White, self-proclaimed prophetess of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. White ‘… reported a divine vision in which she was “carried back to the creation and was shown that the first week, in which God performed the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day, was just like every other week.”’