Re: Living and dying with Inaccurate History (fwd)

Glenn Morton (
Sun, 02 Mar 1997 21:51:06 -0600

At 07:45 PM 3/2/97, Rodney Dunning wrote:
>On Sun, 2 Mar 1997, Glenn Morton wrote:
>> If you are depending upon figurative language for prophecy, an extrabiblical
>> example might suffice to show the problem.
>Well, I was actually thinking about BIBLICAL examples of figurative
>language in prophecy. Consider Isaiah 58:11,
>And the LORD will guide you continually,
>and satisfy your desire with good things,
>and make your bones strong;
>and you shall be like a watered garden,
>like a spring of water,
>whose waters fail not.
>I'm really confused by what you've written. What do you mean when you
>say prophecies of this type do not count? Is Isaiah 58:11, which clearly
>contains figurative language, exempt from the standard established
>in Deuteronomy? Do we simply not bother with the question of whether it
>will ever (or already has) come true? Despite the presence of figurative
>language, I don't think it's THAT hard to tell what Isaiah (and God) is

So, would you feel so blessed if you lived like a person in Isaiah's time,
in a mud house on dirt floors? I wouldn't (at least not initially.) The
point is that there is nothing in that prophecy except a good feeling on my
part that lets me know it has happened. Don't get me wrong I do believe
that God does guide us, but can I objectively always know that the hardships
that come into our lives are blessings rather than curses? The day I was
laid off the first time, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. Fun day. That
entire period is now viewed as a blessing not a curse, but I didn't feel
that way for years. At the time it felt that we were dumped upon. So if a
bad thing and a good thing can both be considered fulfilling that prophecy,
what does not fulfill that prophecy?

>But now we are talking about prophecy! I'm more interested in Genesis. If
>Isaiah 58:11 can pass the test established in Deuteronomy without its
>language being meant literally, then why can't Genesis?

I don't agree that Isaiah 58:11 passes the test of prophecy.

>(It seems your
>point was that the only way for Genesis to pass the test in Deuteronomy,
>the only for it to be true, was for it to be literal history.)

Is it history that God created the heavens and the earth? If it isn't, then
Genesis doesn't pass the test.

>> Are we Christians willing to let secular science make more specific
>> predictions of the future than God, speaking through man, is able to
>> accomplish? What kind of God is this?
>This is really amazing, Glenn. Pray tell, what control do we have over
>the specificity of predictions made by God?

We don't have any control over God. But God has control over what He
relates to individuals. I am not asking to control God.

As I recall, it is a general
>rule of biblical prophecy to avoid specific dates for events (there is
>certainly no specific date given in Isaiah 58). Yet any good astronomer
>can make EXTREMELY specific predictions regarding the timing of celestial
>events. Does this mean that to save God's reputation, we must somehow
>read into biblical prophecy a specificity regarding dates that matches that
>of modern day astronomy? This would be ridiculous amount of control over
>the text.

You forget that this is not control over the text by man but by God.
Christians generally beleive that God inspired the text in some fashion or
another. What is the evidence of this? A feeling or is there something
objective about it? Parsi's believe that their texts are inspired by God,
the Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon is inspired by God, etc. etc. If
you can't give an objective answer to why our book is inspired, then every
religion must simply believe that their book is good and all are morally

Since God is a free moral agent, I presume God had a choice to inspire
something historically true or something historically false. Why would he
choose to inspire something which his foreknowlege would tell him that
mankind would eventually proove false? Is this a test on His part?

In Genesis the claim is made that God created the universe, that he created
man, that there was a fellow named Abraham, Are these facts true? If so, is
there anything that science can say about these events?

And I am unable to save God's reputation. It should be able to take care of
itself. If it can't, then the implications are not good.

>And what does it mean when circumstances totally external (and
>unrelated) to the text itself are determining our interpretation of what it

Nothing more than what happened when christians came to believe that the
earth was not the center of the universe. External data was used to
determine that fact. It was not the wonderful scholarship of medieval
theologians who were able to ferret heliocentricity from the scriptures. It
was not theologians who first opposed the Ptolemaic system. My point is,
that external data always influence the interpretation. Medical information
(external to the bible) is used to determine what happened to Christ on the
cross. Archaeological data is used to support the customs and activities of
people in that time. The problem comes when one suddenly does not want the
input of this external data.

I have pointed out that the geology of the Mesopotamian region does not fit
Genesis 6-11 and what should be expected. If no external input is to be
considered, then I would say that this passage better fits a global flood
than a local flood. But once I began to receive the input of my on the job
geological training, I began to know that what I was advocating as a YEC was
simply untenable. External data convinced me that, barring miracle, my
interpretation of the Scripture was wrong. It has also convinced me that,
barring miracle, it couldn't have happened in Mesopotamia either. Thus, I
had to find another place for the Flood, or conclude that the entire account
is fiction. Considering the latter possibility, is proof that I do consider
the possibility that the account is not journalistic history.

So now we are back to Genesis.


Foundation, Fall and Flood