The Last Days

06 Jun

by Marc Jacobs, Reasons for Hope Contributing Writer

 

 

Christians should not be surprised by the relentless assault of academia on the biblical worldview of origins. 

 

The Apostle Peter actually forecasted, in his second letter (3:1-6), a time when the authority of Scripture would be challenged on this front. 

 

He begins with an admonition to believers to maintain a high regard for Scripture (v.2) and be aware of conflicting philosophies (v.3). The conflict has always been about the Word of God and the compulsion of the natural man to distance himself from It.

 

In his prophecy, Peter details the when, the who, the what, the why, and the how of this (then) future opposition.

 

WHEN (will it happen)In v.3, the text says “…there shall come…” indicating that his pronouncement reflected future events (this can be contrasted with warnings of current events in 2:1). The phrases “there shall come” and “last days” intimate a chronological assignment by the writer of a time to come.

 

WHO (will be responsible)?   The “who” are identified as “scoffers” (also in v.3)…those whose philosophies are rooted in selfish desires rather than Sovereign design (my paraphrase of “…walking after their own lusts”). Oxford American Dictionary defines a scoffer as one who speaks derisively (scornfully), especially of serious subjects…a mocker

 

WHAT (will be compromised)?   In verse 4 we see that the gauntlet is thrown down concerning the reliability of God’s Word (“…Where is the promise of His coming?”)

Remember the words that Jesus used to comfort His disciples when He told them that He would be leaving? (John 14:1-6) A requisite connection to approaching the Father through Jesus is the trustworthiness of His promise to return (see Acts 1:9-11).

 

WHY (would it be challenged)?   Back in verse 4, we can see that assertion of the scoffers is based on phenomenal observation. What was their perception of the evidence? They concluded that “…all things continue as they were from the beginning…” This scornful derision is a reference to a concept made popular by the writings of a Scottish lawyer turned geologist, Charles Lyell, at the turn of the 19th century. 

 

Uniformity or uniformitarianism is the concept that current rates and processes are responsible for every geologic and topographic observation. If the present is the key to the past (necessitating millions of years), then neither the Biblical record of history nor the New Testament writers that subscribed to it (not to mention Christ Himself) can be trusted.

 

HOW (would it be accomplished)?   In verses 5 and 6, it becomes clear how the scoffers would debate the veracity and relevance of God’s Word. Using the rationale of uniformity, they could deny Creation and the great diluvial judgment known as The Flood.

 

One scientist speaking at the 1984 American Association for the Advancement of Science summarized the collective agenda of many of the prominent voices of the various disciplines with this astounding admission.

  “The overturning of the catastrophist, Biblical view has been one of the major achievements of modern science.” 

 

So what are we to make of the 2 Peter 3:4 reference to uniformitarianism in the context of creation

 

I believe it is a reference, in prophetic awareness, to the theological trade-off that would take place during “The Enlightenment” or “Age of Reason” when the “…words which were spoken before by the holy prophets…” (2 Pet. 3:2) would come under intellectual assault. 

 

Note that the “scoffers” conceded reference to creation, but only as it could be explained from the uniformitarian framework. Their objection was that it happened “…by the word of God…(v.5)”

 

What do I mean by theological trade-off?

 

Many of the prominent theologians of the early 1800’s became troubled, even intimidated, by the sweeping, cultural momentum of this new natural philosophy. In an attempt to maintain credibility in this new climate of “enlightenment”, the preachers revisited Genesis and emerged with a revised chronology based on uniformity

 

20130607LastDaysIn 1804, a new theory was introduced by a young Scottish pastor named Thomas Chalmers. His idea became known as the Gap Theory. Its premise was basically this…the ages necessary for the pronouncements of geology could be neatly placed between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  

 

This “gap” was used to reconcile the doctrine of uniformity (and its long ages) with the Genesis account of creation.

 

C.I. Scofield wrote (1909) in his popular study Bible; “…the first creative act refers to the dateless past, and gives scope for all the geologic ages.” He commented with great relief, “No conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains.”

 

Charles Spurgeon quizzically remarked in a September 2, 1855 sermon entitled Election,

“Can any man tell when the beginning was? Years ago we thought the beginning of the world was when Adam came upon it; but we have discovered that thousands of years before that God was preparing chaotic matter to make a fit abode for man, putting races of creatures upon it, who might die and leave behind the marks of His handiwork and marvelous skill (fossil remains), before He tried His hand on man.”

 

Thus “deep time” uniformity became harmonious with creation as prophesied in 2 Peter. 

 

There were a few, however, who truly understood the impact of such compromise and did remain “…mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets…” as the Apostle Peter had admonished. One such man (in this growing minority) was Granville Penn; geologist, Christian, and great-grandson of William Penn (the founder of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania). These words of Granville Penn were written in 1825…

 

“If there is anything that tends more than another to perplex the thoughts of the believer in Revelation (The Word of God) in this age of geological inquisition, it is unquestionably the objects with which he sees himself surrounded in the disordered scenery of the globe, when he is urged to contemplate them as they are adventurously expounded by persons who resist all connexion of them with the narrative of Scripture; and when, moreover, their expositions are dogmatically asserted, to be proper dictates of philosophy. And, as the exposition of these objects has hitherto been almost exclusively adventured by persons who have systematically resisted that connexion, a reflecting mind is bewildered by the difficulty of reconciling the author of the objects which are seen, with the author of the statements that are read; and seems often driven near to the distracting doubt, whether they can be One and the Same, and consequently, whether the first and introductory record of the body of Scripture (Genesis) can be truly of divine original: for, we are sure, that Nature is of divine original.”

 

Unfortunately, as Granville Penn points out, those resisting the connection between Scripture and natural observation were the ones that were (and are still today) aggressively engaged in propagation.

 

As theologians scratched and clawed for cultural relevance and credibility, they revised their interpretation of God’s opening record. The result was a cacophony (a discordant mixture) of cosmogonical (theories of origins) compromise.

 

Now along with evolution and Biblical creationism the theories of origins have expanded to include primarily theistic evolution, ruin/restoration creationism (Gap Theory), and progressive creationism.

 

The greatest casualty of creation compromise is the message of reconciliation attached to the writings that follow. You cannot change the opening record without affecting the integral sum the Scriptures. Creation that involves millions of years turns the Kingdom message into the hope of fools.

 

Christian, there is no doubt that we are living in “the last days.” May we each recommit ourselves to the absolute authority and life-changing power of the Word of God from the very first page.

 

Carl Kerby

Carl Kerby is an inspiring, motivating and highly respected Christian speaker. With more than 20 years of ministry experience, Carl shares his extensive knowledge and understanding of God’s creation in his presentations, outreach events, books and other resources as the President and founding board member of Reasons for Hope, Inc.