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Monday, September 08, 2008

A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, by Snoke, part 2: View of Scripture

To part 1 of this series, on A Biblical Case for an Old Earth (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006) by David Snoke.

Does Snoke take the Bible seriously? Let's put it this way. There is a Scripture Index in the back of the book, which shows that Snoke has referred to 37 of the 66 books of the Bible, using more than 300 different passages.

Snoke devotes his first chapter to an important issue, namely "is it legitimate for non-Biblical experience, such as scientific evidence, to influence our interpretation of the Bible?" His answer is a carefully qualified "yes." The most important qualification is this: It is illegitimate to place anything generated by human beings in a position of unquestioned authority over the Bible." (13) He also states, on the same page, that it is illegitimate to change our view because our original view did not conform to popular opinion.

So why does Snoke say that extra-Biblical experience, including scientific findings, can legitimately influence our interpretation of the Bible?

He argues for this by using examples. Some of these have no direct relationship to science. Snoke, for instance, says that most Christians do not believe that there are any Apostles now living on earth, in spite of such verses as Ephesians 4:11. The reason that we don't think there are any Apostles now is that we don't have evidence of contemporary Apostles.

Snoke also considers the statement by Christ that some who were alive would not see death until he returned (Matthew 16:24-28, Mark 8:34-9:1, Luke 9:23-27). Here, again, he says, we do not interpret that as having the apparent literal meaning, because of our experience -- Christ has not returned yet.

The author uses other examples, scientific and non-scientific. The science-related example he gives is the matter of the motion of the earth. There are passages in the Bible which seem to teach that the earth does not move, such as Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and 104:5. But, because of the scientific evidence that it does move, we have altered our beliefs about what the Bible is really saying about the subject.

I agree with Snoke, and, clearly, other Christians who take the Bible very seriously also do -- we do interpret what God said in the Bible in the light of our experience, including scientific findings.

Thanks for reading. I expect to publish more posts about this book.


intrigued american said...

A very thought provoking review. I liked the way the author and the reviewer handled the subject. Folks sometimes really reach or push it when trying to correlate the bible and science. These guys are keeping it real, and it works. Anyway, interesting and thanks!

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, intrigued american, whoever you are.