Ages Are Important for Timelines [or: How Old Was Terah When Abram Was Born?]

Constructing a chronology of biblical events is fairly simple—but not always easy. One of the most important aspects of developing a timeline is discovering the anchor dates, but this can be easily thwarted by failing to read the text carefully.

For example, most people assume (and teach) that Abram’s father, Terah, was 70 years old when he fathered Abram (based on a careless reading of Genesis 11:26). However, it’s best to understand Terah as at least 130 years old at the birth of Abram! That interpretation will offset all of the other dates, from the birth of Abram back to creation, by about 60 years.

We arrive at this conclusion for several reasons…

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Composing a Doctrinal Statement [section 3 — on Creation]

Composing a doctrinal statement (or any other essential documents) can be one of the most arduous (but crucial) projects undertaken by a church. In this series, I’m sharing my own doctrinal statement, a section at a time, in an attempt to provide a helpful example of a detailed statement that is worded positively, but articulated precisely enough to exclude certain theological positions for the protection and unity of the church.

Section 3 — Creation

We believe that the creation of the space-time universe from nothing, as recorded in Genesis 1–2, is neither allegory, nor myth, nor poetry, but a literal, historical event [1]. The existence of all things is the result of the direct, immediate, creative acts of God over six literal days [2]. Mankind was created in the image of God by a direct work of God (not from previously existing forms of life), and the entire human race descended from the historical Adam and Eve. Mankind was given dominion over the earth (though the full exercise of this dominion is redacted due to the Fall), to be stewards of creation for the glory of God. We affirm and hold to The Biblical Perspective of Environmental Stewardship.

Death (both physical and spiritual) entered into this world subsequent to, and as a direct consequence of, man’s sin [3]. The special creation of Adam and Eve, and their subsequent fall into sin, is historical, literal, and the basis for the necessity of salvation for mankind. God’s purpose in and for creation is to reveal His glory.

(Genesis 1–2; Exodus 20:11; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 11:6; 45:18; Matthew 19:4; John 1:3; Acts 17:24–27; Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:20–26; Colossians 1:16–17; Hebrews 11:3)


1) With this one simple statement, based on the statements on inerrancy and hermeneutics in Section 1, we’ve lost half of evangelical Christianity, but we’ve created a mighty foundation for unity on the inerrancy, sufficiency, and authority of Scripture.

2) And there go some more… Notice how many views we’ve excluded by this statement: Theistic Evolution (and atheistic, for that matter), Day Age, Progressive Creation, Analogical Day, any allegorical interpretation, even the Framework Hypothesis depending on the variety.

3) This statement not only excludes evolutionary cosmogonies, but also such views as Day Age, Analogical Day, Framework Hypothesis, and the Gap Theory.

Science and the Bible [Part 3]

Evolution is the next topic Morris covers. It is a brief but necessary discussion, and Morris covers a large range of issues in what I think is an excellent treatment of the issue for anyone wanting to quickly familiarize themselves with the subject from a biblical standpoint. Morris argues that the “theory” of Evolution is not a science so much as a worldview, or philosophy. No one was there at the beginning (although “beginning” is difficult to define from an evolutionary standpoint), no one observed how the earth came into existence, or plants, or fish, or people. We are all trying to interpret what happened in the past from our viewpoint in the present. We cannot observe it, so we must interpret the world we observe. The conclusion we come to about the past will depend on our worldview. An evolutionary starting point will dictate that we explain things only by what we can observe today (this becomes an issue for evolutionists since we do not observe evolution taking place today). If we start with a biblical worldview, we will take the description in Genesis as a record of events given to us by someone who was there, and in fact, started it all by creating the universe and everything in it.

Morris then deals with the issue of Christians compromising with evolutionary thought. He says that they are in fact incompatible. According to evolution, once life started (which was millions of years after the rest of the universe got under way), the first multi-celled invertebrate marine animals evolved from one-celled organisms in the ocean. Eventually, marine vertebrates developed, then amphibians, then reptiles, then mammals, then birds, and land plants developed long after.

However, as Dr. Morris points out, that order of events does not fit with the Genesis record at all. The Bible says that land plants were created on the third day of Creation, whereas marine animals were not created until the fifth day – and the birds at the same time! All land animals, as well as humans, were created on the same day, the sixth and last day of Creation. Morris discusses other issues regarding evolution, but time does not allow me to go into further detail right now.

Morris then talks about the global flood of Noah’s day. He discusses the evidence for a worldwide flood as opposed to a local flood from the text of Scripture (e.g. “the water rose above all the high mountains”), as well as from geological evidence, such as marine fossils deposited on top of high mountains. This is a good example of where a belief in the veracity and inerrancy of Scripture can actually aid the scientist in interpreting the evidence around him. The account of the global flood recorded in the Bible gives a solid explanation not only for the marine fossils on the tops of mountains, but also for such things as the geologic column, and even the conditions that caused a great Ice Age! Morris also discusses issues such as how Noah could have fit all those animals on the ark, and how the animals spread out across the whole earth after the flood.

Morris then discusses issues of chronological history, showing how the time references in the Bible can be reconciled with secular dates, and in fact how the time frames given by the Bible actually make more sense of archeological evidence. He then discusses the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the role they played in further establishing the veracity of the Old Testament canon, as well as the increasing number of Greek manuscripts which are enabling translators to be even more sure of what the original authors actually wrote.

Science and the Bible was an excellent resource for showing that one can trust the Bible as the inspired Word of God, while also honestly engaging in scientific inquiry. One must be careful of theories such as evolution, since it is also a belief system and a worldview, just as biblical creationism is, but science and the Bible are not inherently opposed to one another. And although it is a tricky voyage to search for the truth while trusting both (good) science and the Bible, Dr. Morris shows that trusting in the Bible’s record of history may actually enhance one’s ability to accurately interpret scientific observations.

Science and the Bible [part 2]

One of the books I read while looking into the relationship between science and faith was Science and the Bible, by Dr. Henry Morris. I would highly recommend this book for anyone trying to understand a reconciliation of the seeming contradictions between the claims of the Bible, and scientific discoveries.

Morris begins his book by stating that the Bible in fact contains many truths about the natural world, many of which were not even known to scientists until recent times, and he gives several examples. The first example he gives is the countless number of stars. In the past, several notable scientists have attempted to count how many stars exist (Ptolemy, Brahe, and Kepler to name a few); yet the Bible clearly states that the stars cannot be counted (e.g. Jeremiah 33:22). The Bible also compares the number of stars to the number of the grains of sand in Genesis 22:17. Now, scientists are continually finding more stars, and even more galaxies, and in fact have calculated that the number of stars is most likely comparable to the grains of sand on the earth.

Morris then discusses the shape and position of the earth in space, noting that not very long ago, people believed the earth to be square, or flat, or resting on top of something. Yet thousands of years ago, Isaiah spoke of “the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22), and in Job 26:7, Job said that God “hangs the earth on nothing.” Such insights surely cannot be interpreted as mere coincidence or guesses, but rather point to the divine inspiration of the Bible. Dr. Morris then goes on to discuss such things as Solomon mentioning the cycle of wind, Job discussing the formation of water droplets out of the vapor of clouds, and the importance of blood as the “channel of life.”

Morris then discusses the issue of miracles as being “unscientific.” Many people point to the miracles recorded in Scripture as good reason to disregard the Bible as unscientific, or silly at best. Their argument is that miracles (such as the Virgin Birth or Christ’s resurrection) are scientifically impossible, thus any report of a miracle must be mistaken or false. Of course, miracles are, by definition, “scientifically” impossible – or rather, they set aside or defy general laws of nature. That is what makes them miracles. Morris argues that it is not so much that miracles are literally impossible across the board, but rather that God has indeed set down laws that bind the natural world, and God has the ability and prerogative to intervene in the natural order to affect a miracle if it serves His purpose. Thus, we would certainly expect miracles to be extremely rare, but must not go so far as to say they cannot happen. This is God’s world, he can intervene if he likes.

In the next post, I’ll conclude my summary of this book with Morris’ discussion of evolution, the global flood, and archeology.

Science and the Bible

The “battle” between science and Christianity, rages stronger than ever today. At least, that’s how many people see it. But is there really such a dichotomy between science and Scripture? As a seminary student studying to enter the pastorate, I approach this issue from the standpoint of exhorting Christians to stand on the authority of the Bible first and foremost. Yet, science is important for our understanding of the world, and many scientists tell us that science and Christianity are totally incompatible. In the next couple of posts, I’d like to argue that there is no such intrinsic incompatibility between pursuing scientific inquiry, and maintaining a strong belief in, and literal interpretation of, the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.

Many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, believe that one can either believe in science, or believe in the Bible, but that the two are inherently opposed to one another. But upon closer examination, there appears to be no evidence that this opposition in fact exists. Larry Vardiman, from the Institute for Creation Research, states the issue this way:

The current attitude in the academic and scientific community is that science and religion are completely incompatible. It is believed that science is a system of knowledge based on experimentation, observation, and logic. Religion, on the other hand, is viewed as a system of faith based on myth, culture, and self-delusion. A researcher is allowed to have a personal religion, but he should never permit it to affect his work or he will no longer be considered a legitimate scientist.

Why must a researcher never allow his religious belief system to affect his work? The underlying assumption seems to be that a religious worldview, especially a Christian worldview, will inevitably damage one’s ability to properly conduct scientific inquiry, or to accurately interpret scientific observations. However, it may be that a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture could actually allow for a more accurate interpretation of scientific investigations, while scientific findings may simultaneously strengthen one’s conviction and trust in the truth of the Bible.

When I was researching these issues years ago, I read a book called Science and the Bible, by Dr. Henry M. Morris. I would highly recommend this book for anyone — Christian or unbeliever — seeking to understand the seemingly contradicting authority of the Bible, and scientific discoveries. Over the next few days, I’ll walk through an outline of Morris’ book for those of you who won’t have the motivation to go get a copy and read it yourself! See you next time…