Where did the “gap theory” come from?
There have been many attempts over the years to harmonize the Genesis account of creation with the world’s accepted geology [and its teaching of billions of years for the age of the earth], such as “theistic evolution” and “progressive creation”. The gap theory was another significant attempt by Christian theologians to reconcile the time scale of world history found in Genesis with the world’s popular belief that geologists provide “undeniable” evidence that the world is exceedingly old [even billions of years].
Thomas Chalmers’ writings, give very little information about the gap theory, many of the details are obtained from other writers such as the 19th century geologist Hugh Miller. The most notable influential 19th century writer to popularise this view was G.H. Pember.
Many sincere Christians have invented reinterpretations of Scripture to avoid intellectual conflicts with “scientific” ideas. The gap theory was one such reinterpretation designed to fit in with scientific concepts that arose in the early 1800’s and are still popular today. Why deny the rebellion against Prov 30:5,6; 3:19; 2 Tim 3:16; Gal 1:11,12; Jn 10:35b; Rev 22:18 and similar Scriptural warnings and make ourselves guilty to 2 Pet 3:16b? Try Rom 3:4! How would a follower of Jesus Christ not do what Jesus did [expects]? (Jn 8:28b; 4:15; 15:14). Why would a Christian approach the Word of God from outside, with worldly ideas and philosophies, and oppose the nature of God’s way [a change of heart, where He dwells]?
Interestingly, every major false religion that started in North America [spreading globally] seems to have begun to evolve and develop at the same time!
We find the following:
- Mormonism – Joseph Smith organized the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” in 1830.
- Seventh-Day Adventism – following William Miller’s false predictions of 1834-44, the S.D.A. church was organized in 1860. It was later led by Ellen G. White.
- Spiritism – beginning with the Fox sisters in 1847, the “National Spiritualist Association of the U.S. of A” was formed in 1863.
- “Christian Science” – Mary Baker Eddy published her bible, Science and Health, in 1875
- Jehovah’s Witnesses – Charles Taze Russell published the first issue of The Watchtower in 1879.
- The “gap theory” – Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847), a notable Scottish theologian and first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, was perhaps the man most responsible for the gap theory. The idea can be traced back to the rather obscure writings of the Dutchman Episcopius (1583-1643), and was possibly first recorded from one of Chalmers lectures in 1814. William Buckland, a geologist, did much to popularise the idea. Many of the details are obtained from other writers such as the 19th century geologist Hugh Miller, who quoted Chalmer’ lectures on the subject. This ruin-construction view is held by many who use Bible study aids such as the Scofield Reference Bible, Dake’s Annotated Bible, and the Newberry Reference Bible. The most notable influential 19th century writer to popularise this view was G.H. Pember, in his book Earth’s Earliest Ages, first published in 1884.
Pember’s struggle with these long “geological ages” helps us to understand the implications of the gap theory. The following few quotes from his book Earth’s earliest ages:
Pember, like today’s conservative Christians, defended the authority of Scripture. He was adamant that one had to start from Scripture alone, and not bring preconceived ideas to Scripture, thus changing its meaning. He boldly chastened people who came to the Bible “filled with myths, philosophies, and prejudices, which they could not altogether throw off, but retained, in part or at least, and mingled – quite unwillingly, perhaps – with the truth of God” (p. 5). He describes how the church is weakened when man’s philosophies are used to interpret God’s Word:
“… for, by skilfully blending their own systems with the truths of Scripture, they so bewildered the minds of the multitude that but few retained the power of distinguishing the revelation of God from the craftily interwoven teachings of men (p.7)… And the result is that inconsistent and unsound interpretations have been handed down from generation to generation, and received as if they were integral parts of the Scriptures themselves, while any texts which seemed violently opposed were allegorised, spiritualized, or explained away, till they ceased to be troublesome, or per chance, were even made subservient.”
He then warns Christians:
“For, if we be observant and honest, we must often ourselves feel the difficulty of approaching the sacred writings without bias, seeing that we bring with us a number of stereotyped ideas, which we have received as absolutely certain, and never think of testing, but only seek to confirm.”
What happened to Pember should warn us that no matter how great a theologian we may be, or how respected and knowledgeable a Christian leader, as finite sinful human beings outside Christ we cannot easily empty ourselves of preconceived ideas. We see that Pember did exactly what he preached against, and did not realize it. Such is the ingrained nature of the “long ages” issue. He did not want to question the Scripture [he accepted the six literal days of creation], but he did not question the long ages either (perhaps he took the word of Chalmers, who was a highly respected Christian). So he struggled with what to do. Many of today’s respected Christian leaders show the same struggle in their commentaries as they then capitulate to “progressive creation” or even “theistic evolution”.
Pember recognized that a fossil record of death, decay, and disease before sin was totally inconsistent with the Bible’s teaching. He mistakenly understood there could be no carnivores before sin, because God pronounced everything which He had made to be very good, a declaration which would seem altogether inconsistent with the present condition of the animal as well as the vegetable kingdom (Gen 1:29,30). As discussed in the paper “Apparent Controversies in The Bible” (#5.4), the correct interpretation of Gen 1:29,30 and the death mentioned in Rom 5:12 would rather be in reference to man[kind]. 9a) Non-humans cannot sin and (b) there is no problem with non-human death prior to Adam’s [mankind’s] fall within a short span of time.
Pember taught from Isaiah that the earth will be restored to what it was like at first. There will be no more death, disease, or carnivorous activity. However, because he had accepted the long ages for the fossil record, what was he to do with all this death, disease and destruction in the record? He therefore forced the fossil remains into a sin-stained history of its own. Thus, in trying to reconcile the long ages with Scripture, Pember justifies the gap theory. He thought we are at liberty to assume a “pre-Adamic race of beings that does not at present concerns us” (Pember, Earth’s Early Ages, p. 28).
The 20th century writer who published the most academic defence of the gap theory was Arthur C. Custance in his work Without Form and Void. The basic reason for developing and promoting the gap theory can be seen from the following telling quotes:
Scofield Study Bible: “Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with Genesis cosmetology remains.” (published 1945, unaltered from the original 1909 publication).
Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible: “When men finally agree on the age of the earth, then place the many years [over the historical 6 000] between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there will be no conflict between the Book of Genesis and science.”
The above quotes are typical of many compromise positions – accepting so-called “science” and its long ages for the earth, and incorporating it into Scripture. What happened to Phil 1:29 and Rom 1:16? Do we really understand Matthew 3:8-10; 7:22,23?
Cyrus Ingerson Scoffield was born in Michigan in August of 1843, and was raised in Tennessee. After a stint in the Confederate Army, he studied law. Ambiguous historical sources say that he was converted in 1879 in St. Louis under the ministry of D.L. Moody. In July of 1880 Scofield joined the Pilgrim Congregational Church of St. Louis. This church licensed Scofield to preach and pastor a church in Dallas, Texas, even though Scofield had been converted less than three years, and had no theological training, and had limited formal schooling (some purport the Dr. infront of his name was self-given). At about the same time, his Roman Catholic wife Leontine [whom he married in 1866] drew up divorce papers July 28, 1881. She charged that Cyrus had abandoned the family, failed to support them, and made no provision for food, clothing or home. The case was somehow dismissed, but Leontine filed a second time for divorce in December 8,1883. This time the divorce was granted on the grounds that the young pastor was not a fit person to have custody of the children. Three months later, in March of 1884, Scofield married Hettie Van Wark, a member of his Dallas congregation. John Darby and Scofield began the Scofield Bible Coprrespondence Course on dispensationalism in 1890. In the early 1890’s Scofield was the head of the South Western School of the Bible in Dallas, forerunner of Dallas Theological Seminary, founded in 1924. C.I. Scofield died in July 24, 1921, and was buried in Flushing, N.Y. However, his Bible with its Darbyism lives on. Bible teachers swear by his notes with the same fervor as others do with Dake’s. Pember, believing these commentaries [of men], had a struggle with the “geological ages”, that has been the same struggle as many Christians, ever since the idea of millions of years for the fossil record became popular. These theories butchers the past and contradict Scripture.
The gap theory, basically, incorporate three strands of thought:
1. A literal view of Genesis
2. Belief in an extremely long but unidentified age for the earth.
3. An obligation to fit the origin of most of the geologic strata and other geologic evidence between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Gap theorists oppose evolution, but believe in an ancient origin of the universe.
There are many variations of the gap theory. Western Bible commentaries written before the 18th century, and before the belief in a long age for the earth became popular, knew nothing of any gap between Gen 1:1 and 1:2. Certainly some commentaries proposed intervals of various lengths of time for reasons relating to Satan’s so-called fall, but none proposed “ruin-reconstruction” situation, or pre-Adamite world. In the 19th century it became popular to believe that the geological changes occurred slowly and roughly at the present rate [uniformitarianism]. With increased acceptance of uniformitarianism, many theologians urged reinterpretation of Genesis [with ideas such as “day-age”, “progressive creation”, “theistic evolution”, “days-of-revelation”, etc.
Problems with the gap theory
- The gap theory is inconsistent with God creating everything in six literal days – Ex 20:6.
- A little deeper discussion of grammatical usage [forcing of words] follows later in this short discussion.
- It puts death, disease and suffering in humans before the Fall, contrary to Scripture Rom 5:12. 1 Cor 15 teaches Adam was the first man, and as a result of his sin [rebellion!], death and corruption [disease, bloodshed and suffering] entered humans in this universe. Before Adam sinned, there could have been [nephesh] death in non-humans but not human death yet [until the fall]. Animals or other organisms could have died, and probably did. Just consider a shark’s teeth or poisonous creatures or some animals with vicious canine teeth. But there could certainly not have been a race of men before Adam that died in a “Lucifer’s flood” – 1 Cor 15:45 clearly says Adam was the first man. Rev 21:1 says the earth we live on is the “first earth”. Gen 1:29,30 teaches us that the animals and man were created to eat plants without clearly specifying or mentioning meat. God described creation as “very good”. Could God describe fighting, killing, eating each other, disease, violence, death and decay [evident in fossil records] as “good”? Yes, it could if the ecology works well [good] that way! Death of man, however, could even just logically only have occurred after Adam, particularly as mentioned in The Bible, after Adam’s sin. Rom 8:22 clearly shows the whole of creation was, and is, subject to decay and corruption but man because of [man’s] sin. Non-humans cannot sin. The fossil record shows disease, decay and death. But when gap theorists believe that disease, decay and death of humankind existed before Adam sinned, they ignore that this contradicts the teaching of Scripture. Then there are 2 Tim 3:15-17; Rom 15:4; 2 Pet 1:19-21; Heb 4:2; Eph 6:17, and so on. Consistency is a problem with man, not with God the Creator and His Word.
In reality, though, the gap theory was an effective “anaesthetic” that put the church to sleep for over one hundred years. When the children who learned this compromise position went onto higher education, they were shocked to discover that this theory explained nothing and in fact undermines the authority of God’s Word. They thus accepted the only remaining “respectable” theory, evolution [which went hand in hand with millions of years]. The results were disastrous for their faith. Whether it be a “gap theory”, “progressive creation” or “theistic evolution”, the results are the same. These positions may be acceptable in some churches, but the learned in the secular world will, with little searching, disrespect those who hold them – they see the inconsistencies. God does.
Christians will probably be derided whatever they believe about Genesis. We can choose [accept] to be scoffed at for believing the first book of the Bible as God intended it to be understood, or for believing in a compromise that utterly defeat the gospel message and need for Jesus Christ as the last Adam, that overcame sin and death [the result of what Adam, the first man, did] – Rom 5:12-14; 8:2.
Today, other compromise positions such as “progressive creation” or “theistic evolution” have by and large replaced the gap theory. The “gappists”, by attempting to maintain a literal Genesis but adhering to the long ages [millions of years], opened the door for greater compromise in the next generation – the interpretation of the days, God used evolution, etc.
- The gap theory is logically inconsistent because it explains away what it is supposed to accommodate – supposed evidence of an old earth. Geologic evidence is interpreted with the assumption that the present is the key to the past. This assumption implies that in the past, sediments containing fossils formed basically at the same rate as they do today. This is also used by most geologists and biologists to justify belief in the “geologic column” as representing billions of years of earth history. This “geologic column” has become the showcase of evolution because the fossils are claimed to show “ascent ” from simple to complex forms. This places gap theorists in a dilemma. Scientific evidence actually shows that the opposite is true – there is an increase complexity toward infinity [smaller becomes more complex in God’s creation!]. Committed to literal creation because of their acceptance of a “literal” view of Genesis, they cannot accept the conclusions of evolution based on the “geologic column”. Nor can they accept that the days in the Genesis record correspond to geological periods. So they propose that God reshaped the earth and re-created all the life in six literal days after “Lucifer’s flood” (which produced the fossils); hence the name “ruin-reconstruction”. Satan’s sin supposedly caused this flood and the resulting judgement upon that sin reduced the previous world to a state of being “without form and void”. Remember here that Satan is a counterfeit, copying all that God do, and then presents himself as truth (2 Cor 11:14; 4:4-6), the devil specializes in confusion.
While the gap theorist may think a “Lucifer’s flood” solves the problem, this actually removes the reason for the theory in the first place. If all, or most, of the sediments and fossils were produced quickly in one massive worldwide “Lucifer’s flood”, then the main “evidence” that the earth is extremely old [based on the assumed slow formation of the sediments] no longer exists. Also, if the world was reduced to a shapeless chaotic mess, as gap theorists propose, how could a reasonably ordered assemblage of fossils and sediments remain as evidence? Surely with such chaos the fossil record would have been severely disrupted, if not entirely destroyed. [This argument also applies to those who say the fossil record formed over hundreds of millions of years before this so-called “Lucifer’s flood”, which would have severely rearranged things].
Dating methods. Every single dating method [outside Scripture] is based on fallible human assumptions – not one of the dating methods men devises, are absolute. Why would any Christian want to take man’s fallible dating methods [and ideas on creation] and use them to impose an idea on the infallible Word of God, actually saying men’s word is infallible and God’s Word fallible? (Even though 90% give dates far younger than evolutionists require). When Christians have agreed with the world that they can use man’s ideas to interpret God’s Word, they have agreed with the world that the Bible can not be trusted! Essentially they then send the message to the world that man by himself, independent of revelation from God, can determine truth and impose this on God’s Word. Once this door has been opened, theologists and Christian leaders have told the next generation that one can accept the world’s teachings in geology, biology, psychology astronomy, etc., and to use these to interpret the Word of God. Next could be the questioning of God’s “restrictive” idea on morality… or homosexuality… or 1 Tim 3… or Phil 1:29, or Rom 1:16…
Admittedly a “young earth” receives the scoffing from a majority of scientists. Paul warned us in 1 Cor 8:2, and it is interesting to note that this verse is found in the same passage where Paul warns that “knowledge puffs up”. Academic pride is found throughout our culture, therefore many theologians are not exempted and fall into exactly the same traps. Mammoths are another embarrassment to evolutionists, who date the age of their skin thousands of years younger than their bones – was this then due to very slow births?
The misinterpretation of 2 Pet 3:8 as defining the days in Genesis is a rather desperate attempt to get Biblical proof for an earth millions of years old. There is none. This verse is usually misquoted by reciting the first part only, and omitting the last part [that cancels out the first, as a definition of a “day”]. It actually reads: “… with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” This has nothing to do with the days in Genesis. A day was already defined when Peter was saying – regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ – that God is not bound by time as we are, and they were being silly to stop working in anticipation of His return. Why do people that want to read 2 Peter 3:8 literally as a definition [that one day in Genesis 1 was a 1000 years], that the Lord Jesus is a thief as stated two verses further in 2 Peter 3:10? “As” [or “like”] is a figure of speech called simile, to teach that God is outside of time [being the Creator of time itself]. In fact, the simile is so effective in its intended aim precisely because the day is literal and contrasts so vividly with a 1000 years. Peter began his statement with “do not forget”, implying the reader is to recall something [in Ps 90:4]. This is called synonymous parallelism, where a long period is contrasted with two short periods (a day, and a night watch). To be consistent people who uses this as a definition of a day in Genesis, as being 1 000 years, should say that this watch in the night also is a 1 000 years long, or that Jesus spent 3 000 years in the grave. It would be very difficult to think the Psalmist [in Ps 63:6] is thinking on his bed for 1 000 years or that his eyes stay open for thousands of years [Ps 119:14b], or the day of judgement be a 1000 years long [in Mt 12:36], or that Luke 23:43 presents a problem with exactly how long this day was Jesus was talking about! Yes, it is ridiculous. At any rate, Gen 5:5 [and the whole record of Adam and his immediate descendants for that matter] would not make any sense at all [if Adam was supposed to have been 1000 years old on day seven already, yet he rested (appreciated) with God on the next day (day 7) but had children only at age 130 onwards (Gen 5:3)].
Another point concerning the “1 000 years is as one day” and the young age of the earth require mere sound and logical, honest reasoning; namely that, measured against eternity, any period is at any rate equally negligible in terms of time. For instance, would 6 000 years be just as feasible as 3 billion years for a specific created beginning [in eternity] and there is thus no need to force longer periods of time apposing what the Bible indicates just to sound “intelligent”. There should have been, however, considerable more visible, tangible proof of that extraordinarily old living system with much older living organisms than we see today. The oldest living organisms are trees just younger than the time since the Biblical flood! There is of course another clear observable phenomenon and trend in nature – nothing dead gets more organized with time by itself, the opposite is observed, hence would time be against a random-evolutionary process, not for it. This is basically what the second law of thermodynamics dictates. It boggles the mind how anyone can think that a law (in nature) can develop by itself from absolutely nothing while this very law has to already exist and be unchangeable to have its controlling effect on matter. This type of reasoning is only done out of plain unbelief and its tell-tale “embarrassment” for the Biblical accounts (Ps 118:8; Rom 3:3-4?). If a creation is at stake, a mere instant is by implication all that is required. Even for anything to evolve, would require something to have had existed first, i.e. been created. The paper “Evolution” expands more about the fallible dating methods and their selective publishing of findings. To merely add “energy” to get life is as plausible as adding energy with a nuclear explosion and expecting new life organised from it. Energy needs a highly intricate and sophisticated design to be able to utilise that energy useful, as seen in, for example, photosynthesis. The receiving plant has to be fully functioning in its created design to photosynthesise light. The point here is that Rom 1:16 says that we should not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is God’s power unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to anyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance… on Him and His Word. The long ages contradicts the Biblical account (God’s Word, 2 Tim 3:16-17) of God’s creation and those marrying it to worldly reasoning are merely openly ashamed of this gospel of Jesus Christ… Consider again Mk 12:24 and Mt 19:4,26!…
Another amazing truth is that the so-called geological column only exists in textbooks, with the ages of the rock layers allocated imaginary figures by a lawyer (Charles Lyell) in the early 1840’s. Then circular reasoning is used to age the fossils found in these layers: The layers determine the age of the fossils and the fossils determine the age of the layers of rock (which actually, are post-flood sedimentary layers). Some advocates of these theories have been expelled from their universities because of their fraudulent publications. This is, however, not made public knowledge – yet. Research it for yourself.
Amazing how those that cause distrust in the Word of God [dissensions], are the first who want to revert back to Scripture to quote reasons for “not arguing and wrangling about the Word” when [fellow “conservative”] Christians react in defense of God’s written truths. It is the same principle of John 3:18-21 and Isaiah 5:18-22 – we, by own choice, bring judgement on ourselves, so the frustration is to see fellow Christians not trust in, rely on, or cling to [believe], and then try to “shut up” the defenders of [consistent] faith, with stubborn and puffed up pride.
- The gap theory also does away with the evidence of Noah’s Flood! To be consistent, the gap theorist would have to defend Noah’s Flood as a local event. The diversion just regresses. Genesis depicts Noah’s Flood as a judgement for man’s sin (Gen 6). Water flooded the earth for over a year (Gen 6:17; 7:19-24). Only 8 people and air-breathing land dwelling animals with them on the Ark, survived (Gen 7:23). Sadly, in relegating the fossil record to the supposed gap, “gappists” have removed the evidence of God’s judgement on the violent pre-Flood world in the graveyard of the Flood. The fossils buried by the Flood should warn us of God’s judgement [self-inflicted by their own unbelief] on unsaved humans (2 Pet 3:2-14). If the flood were to be local, God would probably have asked Noah to just move away for a while and not to spend 120 years building a big boat
- The gap theorist ignores evidence for a young earth. Much evidence for an earth younger than 10 000 years exist: the decay, and rapid reversals, of earth’s magnetic field; the quantity of helium in the earth’s atmosphere; the amount of salt in the oceans; the wind-up of spiral galaxies; and much more. Most “scientific proof” for an earth billions of years old, is based on models and theories invented by atheists in desperation to proof God did not create as His Word says He did. Dating methods are all flawed, while God is perfect in every way – and so His Word. Many “places” in the Bible of “seeming contradictions” are actually revelations “begging” to be discovered by cross-referencing [the Bible needs no outside help – it can perfectly explain itself]. Other distortions of the Bible are plain wicked pre-conceived and forceful manipulations, even if “meant well”. One can be sincere, but be sincerely wrong. Consider the evidence revealed by creationists on creationist websites that all convincingly points to a young earth made by God.
- The gap theory fails to accommodate standard uniformitarian geology with long ages anyway. Today’s uniformitarian geologists allow for no worldwide flood of any kind – neither the imaginary “Lucifer’s flood” or Noah’s real Flood. They also recognize no break between the supposed former created world and the current [so-called] recreated world. Any one that has observed a rainstorm and the resultant trickling streams will have a problem with the idea of using a present [erosion, forming] rate observed, and applying that to the distant past [algebraically]… it is an obvious flawed and forced assumption.
- Most importantly, the gap theory undermines the Gospel at its foundations.
By accepting an ancient age for the earth [based on the standard uniformitarian interpretation of the “geologic column”], gap theorists have the evolutionary system intact [which they by their own assumptions oppose]. Even worse, they must also theorize that Rom 5:12,14 and Gen 3:3 refer only to spiritual death. But this contradicts other Scriptures (1 Cor 15:21,22; 1 Jn 3:8; Heb 2:14-17; Gen 3:22,23). These passages clearly tell us that Adam’s sin led to physical as well as spiritual death. In 1 Cor 15:45 the death of the Last Adam [the Lord Jesus Christ] is compared with the death of the first Adam. Jesus’ death is the culmination of what He had to suffer and pay for with a physical death for man’s sin, because Adam, the first man, died [also] physically because he sinned. And Adam’s sin was to not resist the self-righteousness Eve fell for!
Gen 3:22,23 tells us that if Adam and Eve have partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Life [Jesus Christ] in their fallen state, they would have lived for ever in that fallen state. God decreed they [their bodies] should eventually die because of their sin. In placing on man the curse [result – Rom 8:1,2] of physical death, God provided a way to redeem man through the Person of His Son Jesus Christ, Who suffered the curse of death on the cross for us – Heb 2:9. By becoming the perfect sacrifice for our sin and rebellion and resulting self-righteousness, He conquered death. He took the penalty that should rightly have been ours at the hand of a righteous Judge, and bore it in His own body on that dead tree. All who believes [trust in, rely on, cling to] in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are received back to God to spend eternity with Him by grace alone. As a matter of fact, should live until Jesus Christ returns – that is the message of Christianity. To believe there was human death before Adam’s sin, destroys the basis of the Christian message, because the Bible states man’s rebellious actions (following “self”, law) led to human death and the corruption of the universe (Rom 8:19-22).
Why would a gap-theory be necessary, other than to force [refuted, unproved] “scientific” age theories to fit into Scripture that clearly and plainly nowhere teach an earth millions of years old.
A closer look at Genesis 1:1-2
The earliest available manuscript of Genesis 1:1-2 is found in the Greek translation of the O.T., the Septuagint [LXX], prepared about 250-200 B.C. The Septuagint does not permit the reading of any “ruin-construction” scenario into these verses, as even Custance admitted. A closer look at these verses reveals that the gap theory imposes an interpretation upon Genesis 1:1-2 which is unnatural, and grammatically unsound. Like many attempts to harmonize the Bible with uniformitarian geology’s supposed long ages of earth history, the gap theory involves a well-meant but misguided twisting of Scripture.
Following, a brief look at five major issues of interpretation bearing on the gap theory
1. Creating and making [bara and asah]
The Hebrew bara, used with God as its subject, means to “create” – ex nihilo, production of something which did not exist before. However, in the fourth commandment God “made” [asah] the heavens and the earth and everything in them in six days – Ex 20:11. If God made everything in six days then there is clearly no room for a gap. To avoid this clear Scriptural testimony against any gap, gap theorists have alleged that asah cannot mean “to create”, but to “form”. They then claim that Ex 20:11 refers not to six days of creation, but six days of re-forming a ruined world.
2. Is there such a difference between bara and asah in Biblical useage?
A number of verses show that while asah may mean to “to do”, or “to make”, it can also mean “to create”, the same as bara. For example, Neh 9:6 states that God made [asah] “heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things on it, the seas, and all in them.” The reference is obviously to the original ex nihilo creation, but the word asah is used. [We may safely assume that no “gappist” will want to say that Nehemiah 9:6 refers to the supposed “reconstruction “, because if it did, the “gappist” would have to include the geological strata as well, thereby depriving the whole theory of any purpose]. The fact is that the words bara and asah are often used interchangeably in the O.T.; indeed, in some places they are used in synonymous parallelism [Gen 1:26,27; 2:4; Ex 34:10; Is 41:20; 43:7]. Applying this conclusion to Ex 20:11 (cf. 31:17) as well as Neh 9:6, we see that Scripture teaches that God created the universe [everything] in six days, as outlined in Gen 1.
3. The grammar of Genesis 1:1-2
Many adherents of the gap theory claim that the grammar of Gen 1:1-2 allows, and even requires, a time-gap between what happened in verse I, and what happened in verse 2. Into this gap – believed by many to be billions of years – they went to place all the major geological phenomena that have shaped the world. This is a most unnatural interpretation, which is not suggested by the plain meaning of the text. The most straightforward reading of the verses sees verse I as a subject-and-verb clause, with verse 2 containing three “circumstantial clause” – that is, three statements further describing the circumstances introduced by the principal clause in verse 1.
This conclusion is reinforced by the grammarian Gesenius. He says that the conjunction waw [“and”] at the beginning of verse 2 is a “waw copulative”, which compares with the old English expression “to wit”. This grammatical connection between verses 1 and 2 thus rules out the gap theory. Verse 2 is in fact a description of the state of the originally created earth “And the earth was without form, and empty” (Gen 1:2a).
4. “Was” or “became”?
“Gappists” translate the earth was without form and empty” as “the earth became [had become] without form and empty”. At stake is the translation of the Hebrew hayetah ( a form of the Hebrew verb, hayah, “to be”).
Custance claims that out of 1 320 occurrences of the verb hayah in the O.T., only 24 can certainly be said to bear the meaning “to be”. So? Note that the meaning of a word is controlled by its context, and that in the previous section we showed that verse 2 is circumstantial to verse 1. Thus “was” is the most natural and appropriate translation for hayetah. It is rendered in this way in most English versions [as well as the LXX]. Furthermore, in Gen 1:2 hayetah is not followed by le, which would have removed any ambiguity in the Hebrew and would required the translation “became”.
5. Tohu and Bohu
These delightful words are usually translated “formless and empty” (Gen 1:2a). They imply that the original universe was created unformed and unfilled and was, during six days, formed and filled by God’s creative actions.
“Gappists” claim that these words imply a process of judgemental destruction, and indicate “a sinful, and therefore, not an original state of the earth.” However, this imports into Genesis 1 interpretations found in other parts of the O.T. with very different contexts [namely Isa 34:11 and Jer 4:23]. Tohu and bohu appear together only in these places in the O.T. However, tohu appears alone in a number of other places and in all cases simply means “formless”. The word itself does not tell us about the cause of formlessness; this has to be gleaned from the context. Isa 45:18 [often quoted by “gappists”] is rendered in the KJV “He created it not in vain [tohu], He formed it to be inhabited.” In the context, Isaiah is speaking about Israel, God’s people, and His grace in restoring them. He did not choose His people in order to destroy them, but to be their God and they His people. Isaiah draws an analogy with God’s purpose in creation: He did not create the world for it to be empty! No, He created it to be formed and filled, a suitable abode for His people. “Gappists” miss the point altogether when they argue that because Isaiah says God did not create the world tohu, it must have become tohu at some later time. Isaiah 45:18 is about God’s purpose in creating, not about the original state of the creation! Though the expression tohu and bohu in Isa 34:11 and Jer 4:23 speaks of a formlessness and emptiness resulting from divine judgement for sin, this meaning is not implicit in the expression itself, but is gained from the particular context in which it occurs. It is not valid therefore to infer that same meaning into Genesis 1:2, where the context does not suggest it. As an analogy, we might think of a word like “blank”, in reference to a computer screen. It can be blank because nothing has been typed onto the keyboard, or it can be blank because the display on the screen has been erased. The word “blank” does not suggest, in itself, the reason why the screen is blank. It is likewise with “formless and empty” – this form of use is [theological] a “verbal allusion”.
These passages on judgement allude to the formless and empty earth at the beginning of creation to suggest the extent of God’s judgement to come. God’s judgement will be so complete that the result will be like the earth before it was formed and filled. This does not imply that the state of creation in Gen 1:2 was arrived at by some sort of judgement or destruction as imagined by gappists. As theologian Robert Chrisholm Jr wrote, “by the way, allusion only works one way. It is unwarranted to assume that Jeremiah’s use of the phrase in a context of judgement implies some sort of judgement in the context of Genesis 1:2… Jeremiah is not interpreting the meaning of Gen 1:2 (Chrisholm, R.B., Jr, From Exegesis to Exposition: A practical guide to using Biblical Hebrew, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, p. 41, 1998). Bare in mind also, that all God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus Christ on His cross; Jesus Christ paid for all sin once for all (1 Thess 5:9-11; Heb 10:14)!
Many gappists have used this word in the KJV of Genesis 1:28 to justify the gap theory on the basis that this word means “refill”. Thus they claim that God told Adam and Eve to “refill” the earth, implying it was once before filled with “pre-Adamites”. This is wrong. In the Hebrew, the word translated “replenish” is male, and simply means to “fill” [“fulfil”, “be filled”]. The English word “replenish” meant “fill” from the 13th to the 17th centuries. Then it changed to mean “refill”. As the KJV was published in 1611, the translators used the English word “replenish”, which at that time meant only “fill”, not “refill”. (See Taylor, C., What does “replenish the earth” mean? Creation 18(2):44-45, 1996). God will [can] not contradict Himself. Amazing how gappists admit words like “let” and “gay” today has a totally [opposite!] different meaning to the time it originated and was widely used, but refuse to admit or apply the same observation or rule to the word “replenish”. Obviously arbitrary and selective use forcing words to fit their fallable theories.
The straightforward meaning of Genesis 1:1-2
The gap [ruin-construction] theory is based on a very tenuous interpretation of Scripture. The simple, straightforward meaning of Genesis 1:1-2 is that when God at the beginning created the earth it was initially formless, empty, and dark, and God’s Spirit was there above the waters. It was through His creative Light energy that the world was then progressively “formed and filled” during the remaining six days of creation. “Forming” during days 1-3; and “filling” during days 4-6. Ps 33:6,9; Heb 11:3; 2 Pet 3:5… Perhaps this was a deliberate pattern set by God: work 6 days, “rest” one [giving us a seven-day week]…
Consider the analogy of a potter making a vase. The first thing he does is get a ball of clay. What he has is good, but it is unformed. Next, he shapes it into a vase, using the potter’s wheel. Now it is no longer formless. He then might dry it, apply glaze and fire it, Now it is ready to be filled – with flowers and water. At no time could one of the stages be considered evil or bad. It was just not finished – unformed and unfilled. When it was finally formed and filled, it could be described as “very good”. We miss the infinitesimal complexity of God’s awesome creating power in unseen detail. The more man think himself clever, the more puffed up and blinded we become for Love, Life and Truth.
The estimation of the age of the world based on the genealogy of man (deriving by scholars that Adam was created, on day six, around 4000 B.C.)
A friendly warning here: beware of taking lightly or scoffing at old scholars, even if it be Archbishop Ussher. It is just possible they knew something we – or our mentors – do not.
A problem today is the presumptuous and arrogant stance that many so-called “modern” academics take of being more “enlightened”. Read John 1:1-17; 3:17-21; 2 Cor 4:4-7; 1 Cor 2:13-16; 11:12-15 carefully. Then, examine again your theology and see if you have not perhaps [unintentionally] adopted a “mosaic Christianity”, blending other religions into the world of God. Gnosticism (the sect), for example, mixes Greek mythology with the Bible and came up with “Christian mythology” ideas – study Iraneus that brilliantly and adequately defends the Christian faith in his 5 books “Against Heresies” – about 200 A.D.
You do not need scientific understanding for faith (Heb 11:6; Rom 3:3,4; 12:3). “Faith” is God’s gift [your ability, mechanism] to you;” believe” [trust] is your gift back to God. Selah.
Mk 12:24; Mt 22:29; Js 4:4 (Ampl.); 1 Tim 4:1,2; Tit 1:15,16; Heb 11:6… 2 Tim 3:12-4:4; 1 Tim 6:20b!..
Man is easily indoctrinated [impressed] when reading doctrines [academic works] written in the third person [with a mind of Rom 8:7, Ampl.], and then probably ends up – with all good intentions – in a place like Rom 1:21-22 (Ampl). But God speaks in the first person. He is the unchangeable, He is the Great I AM. When last have you [really] heard His voice? Forget the world-system, His aim is a personal relationship – with Him. Not a compromise with a world that hates Him. Dt 30:19 was meant for all of us.
Dt 32:47a says: “It [the Word of God] is not an empty and worthless trifle for you: it is your very life. By it you shall live…” Trust is essential, not your understanding. This has much to do with humbling ourselves before One that is worthy to worship and trust.
Mk 8:38: “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My Word in this adulterous (unfaithful) and [pre-eminently] sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory (splendour and majesty) of His Father with the holy angels”.
Mt 12:36,37: ” But I tell you, on the day of judgement men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced”.
All Christians, especially those responsible for teaching, equipping and training others to be spiritual leaders, should take extra care not to contradict the teachings of the Word of God. Some Scriptures are perhaps designed by God to make His subjects reach points of unquestionable trust in Him and His Word, to show [ourselves] where our real trust lies… The principle Jesus taught about dividing a kingdom [depriving it of its power, making it “desolate”] is a powerful lesson to be learnt. The success a defeated devil enjoys, is because Satan has no problem with division in his dark kingdom – Mt 12:25-37; 1 Cor 2:13-16 ; Col 1:13-22
For academics [scholars], even if they mean it well, to subject the Word of God to outside ideas of man, and then defend this error in reasoning with the proud and self-righteous stance of “we don’t argue about things not important to salvation”, is dishonest and stubborn and pride [hard towards God], and a misquotation of Titus 3:9 [see v 11]. Compromising God’s Word is serious for anyone. See here Jesus’ warning in Mt 23:15.
The world, and nothing in/from it [including “science” and philosophies] deliver us from anything – Jesus Christ alone does, the Word that became flesh… He [not false theories compromising Him and His teachings] sets us free: He [the Person, and what He came to do], not assumptions of men that undermine His Truth. So, there are [Biblical] things important other than “only what saves us” Eph 4:12-15. We are to be witnesses for Him and His teaching of everlasting Life, not the world [system] and religion. We should not compromise with a system that hates our Creator, and tries to reason our accountability away. I love God – no compromise. Please seriously ponder 1 Cor 3:17 [Ampl.] regarding false doctrines…
Note at Mt. 13:26: These tares that are spoken of refer to the Old World variety of darnel, which is poisonous. Virtually all grains are almost indistinguishable from tares when they send up the first blade from the ground. By the time the tares become distinguishable, they are so well rooted that if growing in close proximity to a productive grain, uprooting the tares would also mean uprooting the productive grain; therefore, verse 30 admonishes us to let both grow together until the harvest. The grains of the tares are long and black in contrast to the wheat, and are easily recognizable at harvest time. Many will profess Christianity, but “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Mt. 7:20). That fig tree with no fruit has damned itself. Intellectual acceptance of the historical facts surrounding Jesus Christ (His crucifixion, burial, resurrection, ascension) is not the “believe” required to be a Christian; we are to follow HIS teachings (Mt 7:21; Jn 11:26; 14:1; 16:9; etc.). John 1:12 says “children of God” are those that follow Jesus’ teachings [the Word], and Jesus reiterated what Moses were told by God were factual and true (Lk 24:27; Jn 5:39,46,47; etc). James 2:14-26 shows that Satan also “believes” (knows) the facts, but is not saved (submissive), he twists the Word of God. God is about Life everlasting, Truth and Light – not death/lies.
Note at Mt. 13:31: The fowls of the air can be interpreted in two ways. First, according to the symbolism used in the parable of the Sower, the fowls could be Satan and his forces (Mk. 4:4 with 15). This would certainly be consistent with other parables in this narrative (Mt. 13:36-43,47-50). It is a fact that many professors (of salvation) but not possessors of eternal life have infiltrated the established church and are causing much damage. The Lord will divide these “goats” from His “sheep” at the final judgment (Mt. 25:31-46). Professing Christians that misuse [apply incorrectly] the Person of Jesus Christ, will be held accountable. These are teachers who themselves struggle with the authority of God’s Word and try to give weight to their half-worldly idolatrous ideas by misquoting Jn 8:32 to “substantiate” their own doctrines.
These fowls of the air could also be interpreted in a positive way to designate anyone who is not seeking His kingdom [principles] first by personally following the King. There are Old Testament examples where fowls of the air lodging in the shade of a tree were used primarily to symbolize people (Ezek. 31:5-6; Dan. 4:21). If interpreted in this way, this parable would be teaching that people (good and bad) were coming into the kingdom. This would be compatible with the theme of growth dealt with in each of these parables and it would also lend itself to the interpretation of children of the wicked one being sown into the kingdom (Mt. 13:38). Those who attempt to judge – and even “correct” – the Word of God with so-called scientific ideas from their “outside” past are infiltrators similar to those in Gal 2:4 . We better heed Rom 12:2,3; Jn 14:6…
The “birds of the air” very possibly could be swifts. The idea fits in beautifully with what Jesus taught and was referring to: God the Father provides what we cannot see; He provided just the right diet right there where they live, with mechanisms (air currents) to their benefit. No one could say that they have seen the swifts eat (sow and reap seeds – like other birds), yet Jesus pointed out they are fed (provided for) by God. Mt 12:35-37 also says that only God knows the seed inside the words [fruit] – Is 55:9-11; Mt 13; 1 Tim 4:2.
Note at Mt. 13:33: When leaven is used symbolically in scripture, it always denotes something bad. Examples are (1) bad doctrine (Mt. 16:6-12; Mk. 8:15-21); (2) hypocrisy (Lk. 12:1); (3) sin (1 Cor. 5:6-7); and (4) malice and wickedness (1 Cor. 5:8). Using this fact as the basis of our interpretation, this parable would be speaking of Satan (the woman) sowing his disciples into the kingdom of God (the meal) for the purpose of corrupting and rendering the Church ineffective. History and current observation certainly verify that this has happened. It is frustrating when academics try to camouflage their self-righteousness and pride.
Note at Mt. 13:37: Jesus made the interpretation of this parable very clear. Namely that Satan has secretly placed some of his followers among the Church for the purpose of hindering the influence of the Church. This has been a more effective strategy than direct opposition. Persecution tends to separate the sheep from the goats (Mt. 25:31-33. Having these “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Mt. 7:15; 10:16; Acts 20:29) is very damaging to the body of Christ. However, Jesus warns us against trying to root them out (vv. 28-29) especially since it is not always possible to discern other people’s hearts. In an effort to destroy these tares, we might offend one of Christ’s “little ones” (Mt. 18:6) and cause his profession of faith to waver. Careful to assume all “believers” are not assisting a defeated enemy (Satan) in spreading his lies in an attempt to discredit the Word of God [God Himself] – carefully read Jn 8:29, onwards. Jesus was having this conversation with the Jews who believed [accepted] He was the Messiah, yet Jesus showed their father to be not God, but the devil. Pride [persisting self-righteousness, law], is a huge problem because of its attitude of “what I have learned is infallible and elevates me above the common man”, thereby actually deifying themselves while denying it! No works [effort or qualification] of man can reconcile him with God (Rom 3:3,20). A [worldly] education can actually be a hindrance (Mt 11:25; Mk 7:13; 10:27), if it distrusts the Word of God or place any doubt whatsoever on God’s character. See the paper “The Will” by the author.
It is important, though, for our own personal benefit that we are aware that the children of the wicked one are placed among the true believers. We should be very careful about putting just anyone who professes Christianity into any position of authority (1 Tim. 3:10). Our best defence is to preach the Word of God without watering it down. False brethren (2 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 2:4) will not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3). They leave when the Word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), begins to expose the thoughts and intents of the heart (1 Jn. 2:19). The Light that shines upon, and exposes [removes] darkness. Consider the paper called “Judging” by the author, if you will, for many false brethren will try to shut up the Truth by quickly claiming that we are judging them. We have to know what “judging” means!
There will still, however, be those who are deceived and do not recognize that they are not born again, who will remain among the Church until exposed (Mt. 7:21-23; 13:47-50). At the second return of Christ, Jesus will send His angels forth to gather all of these tares out from among His true Church (v. 41) and cast them into the lake of fire (v. 42; Mt. 13:42).
The oldest known living thing in the world is a tree that is dated around 4500 yrs old – by scientists (the Biblical flood was probably 2 349 BC). No evidence can be found that any fossil trees could thus far be found with more than about 1 500 rings (one claim says 1 700). This is significant since the Bible claims that God made the earth and all that is in it, and its rather easy to deduct – as in Appendix A – that this creation probably happened 1 651 years before the flood (around 4 000 BC). Now contemplate the following: Col 1:16a; Jn 1:1-3; Gen 1:1a; 1 Cor 15:21,22; Rom 5:12; Mt 19:4a; 12:33-37…
For your reference, visit www.creationism.org/ackerman/ or www.trueorigin.org for enlightening arguments and facts pointing to a young earth – just as the Bible suggests. Also, the paper “Who is Jesus Christ?” by the author for the genealogy of Jesus Christ, showing the deduction why the earth is probably around 6 000 years old.