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Recently, Hank Hanegraaff (known on the radio as “The Bible Answer Man”) gave an answer on his nationwide radio program to a question about the days of creation in Genesis 1.
An AiG supporter transcribed this section of the program for us (which I have printed below). I must admit, I do groan when I hear such answers from an influential person in the Christian world—especially someone who has a national program that has the word Bible in its title and is a leader known to be anti-evolution. We have invited Hank to visit the Creation Museum, and are willing to bring him to our museum and AiG headquarters at our cost so we can meet with him again (as we used to do when Hank was working in California and I was living there, too). So please pray that this comes about. Before you read the transcript, I have made some comments pertaining to our subject matter today.
We have many articles on the AiG website that deal with Genesis 1 as historical narrative, which it is. (See the overwhelming biblical evidence of Stephen Boyd and Robert McCabe, both Old Testament Hebrew scholars, in their respective chapters in Coming to Grips with Genesis.)
There are many examples of Scriptural references outside of Genesis (including the New Testament) that refer directly to Genesis 1 (and Genesis chapters 1–11) as straightforward history. Here are just a few:
Let’s go more into depth about the strong New Testament/Genesis connection and then get back to the radio broadcast in question.
Read the words of Jesus as He quotes from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24: “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4–5).
2. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image” (Genesis 1:26). There are a number of passages in the Bible that quote this, such as “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God” (1 Corinthians 11:7). The reason we know man was created in the image of God is because it is recorded in Genesis 1.
The above references show that Jesus and the apostle Paul (and others writers of Scripture) quoted from Genesis 1 as literal history. There are, of course, many other examples. Now if one takes Genesis 1 as literal history, it is obviously a chronology—day one to day six. In fact, Exodus 20:11 is God’s commentary on Genesis 1 and shows that the days of creation were the same length as the days of the Jewish week that God commanded in Exodus 20:8–10: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11).
If we are going to believe Genesis 2 is history (as I presume Hank does), then we have to accept the seventh day of the creation week—and we also have to accept the previous six days as outlined in Genesis 1. See this article for a detailed discussion of the meaning of the word day in Genesis 1.
When you hear someone talk about the reliability of the “book of nature” (as you will read in the radio transcript below), you need to remember that this “book” doesn’t say anything in words. Hugh Ross (who accepts a big bang, billions of years, a local flood, death before the Fall, etc.) believes that the so-called “book of nature” is the 67th book of the Bible. Now it is true that Romans 1:20 states we are without excuse because creation obviously reveals the existence and some of the attributes of God. But neither those passages nor any others teach that from a study of creation alone we can figure out how and when God created, what its original state was, and why it is the way it is today. For that information, we must go to the written Word of God, not nature. There we find that creation has been subject to the effects of sin and the curse (Romans 8:22), not in Genesis 1 but in Genesis 3.
When some Christian leaders use the term “book of nature,” they are usually referring to man’s fallible interpretation of the fallen creation—and particularly man’s interpretation in regard to the unobservable past! The only way we can know for sure what happened in the past is to read the record of One who was there, the One who knows everything, doesn’t lie, and has revealed to us what happened. We have such a record in the Bible, beginning at Genesis 1:1.
Now read the transcript of the answer given on radio by Hank Hanegraaff:
Caller Theresa: Hi! I wanted to ask you if you believe that God created the earth and all in it in seven literal days, or if you kind of translate it into thousands of years or . . . ?I do trust this will burden you to pray for our Christian leaders across the nation and world. Pray that the Lord will open their eyes in regard to the importance of standing upon biblical authority from the very first verse and away from the opinions of fallible men who look to the “book of nature.”
HH: Well, that's an interesting question. I think that one of the things that we have to recognize is that the book of Genesis is a literary, artistic masterpiece in a lot of different ways.
Uh, first you have a mnemonic device by which you can remember the creative prowess of God every single day of the week so that you have two triads which are memorable, which correspond to one another in alliterated fashion that you can remember as a mnemonic device each day of the week. I think that in itself is profound.
Secondly, I think that you have to recognize that all of Genesis is written in such a way that you can remember it with ten fingers of your hand. So that the genealogical construction and the people mentioned are mentioned in such a way that you can remember God's creative prowess as well as the foundation of the entire biblical text out of which comes an ongoing plan of redemption culminating in a new heaven and a new earth where indwells righteousness.
My point here is to say that I do not think that Genesis chapter one is designed to give you a chronology of creation, but rather to give you a hierarchy of creation—uh, ultimately culminating in a new creation so I, I think if you want to answer the age question, you're better off going to God's other book, which is the book of nature. I don't think that Genesis is intended to give you a timeframe.
Caller Theresa: So you don't think we should look at nature and use the Genesis account as a starting point and interpret nature based on the Genesis account—you think we should use nature to interpret Genesis?
HH: No, no, I wouldn't say that at all. I think that you have to employ the art and science of biblical interpretation to rightly interpret the Genesis account of creation. You need to be able to read the Bible for all its worth. For example, when you get to Genesis chapter three and you see that the serpent is tempting Eve and then later you see how the serpent suffers as a result of his temptation, and how Christ forever puts enmity between the seed of the woman, you see immediately how powerful the text is and you don't want to minimize the power of the text by supposing that, that Jesus Christ crushed the power of the evil one by stepping on the head of a snake. You want to take the text and read it in the sense in which it's intended, and so I don't in any way say that you want to take ah, some kind of minimalist approach to the interpretation of the book of Genesis. No, you need to learn to read it for all its worth.
Caller Theresa: OK, thank you.
This is another example of why our new publication Already Compromised (about biblical compromise in Christian colleges) is so needed—to challenge Christians and Christian leaders. You can pre-order your copy at a special price in our online store.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.