Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor



From: JASA 17 (June 1965): 63.

Dear Editor,

At first I decided not to, pursue the questions which I raised in my letter printed in the Sept. '64 edition; but on further contemplation.  I have concluded that this question gets at the heart of the present issue within A.S.A. over Theistic Evolution, so please permit me to mention what appear to me to be serious weaknesses in Mr. Hearn's reply:

1. Mr. Hearn admits that the New Testament authors believed in a literal Genesis I and 2 and that this literal view is presented in the New Testament. If the authors believed in a literal view, but their view did not come out in the inspired record, there would be no problem concerning inerrancy; but the author's mistaken view does find its way into the inerrant record. What does inerrancy mean if it does not mean no errors when properly interpreted and with sound principles of interpretation found in many fine textbooks on the subject. It appears to me that Mr. Hearn is saying that Paul wrote an error in the Bible, but the Bible is inerrant I might add that one good principle of Hermeneutics is that the Scriptures help interpret the Scriptures. It appears that Mr. Hearn feels that Scripture confuses the Scriptures.

2. Mr. Hearn's example in Matt. 6:26 misses the point. Neither the author nor the hearers thought God literally put seeds in the birds' mouths. This was obvious to all (symbolical or figurative language). This is one characteristic of symbolical language, that is, that it normally is obviously so and its purpose is to reveal truth, not conceal it.

3. Mr. Hearn did not tell what the geneological lists from Genesis I to 11 symbolized. There is certainly no indication in the text that it is symbolical. Here it is, inconceivable that all those names could only have symbolical meanings, and what do the various ages symbolize?

4. It is inconceivable to me that any sound hermeneutical approach would result in taking say Genesis 11:24 and say, "And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah, . . . Nahor being symbolical but Terah being literal." Yet this is what Mr. Hearn must do somewhere along the geneological line.

5. If we can arbitrarily divide a verse and call half literal and half figurative with no internal indication that half is figurative, can we not do this anywhere in the Bible just as we please? And if so does the Bible really have any authority?

Frank Cole