Re: Tne NTSE & "Competition"

Russell T. Cannon (
Tue, 25 Mar 1997 18:06:50 -0600


I appreciate the opportunity to comment on what you shared from the ICR

Many of the things I've read of Henry Morris' and other YEC's about
OEC's and TE's is that we are doing the work of Satan or that we are
denying the infallibility of scripture. (Yes, such terminology has been
used from time to time.)

Henry Morris has been a key player in the various ecumenical groups that
have been brought together to consider whether OEC is heretical. One
group was asked to vote on whether a Christian had to believe YEC to be
considered truly Christian. The result on the question was one vote
short of unanimous that a Christian *could* believe OEC and still be
considered Christian. The one vote against was that of Henry Morris.
This seems to be very much like the treatment of Galileo and others by
the Christian leaders of their day.

The question about whether "young earth creationsim" or "literal
creationism" is a more appropriate term depends on whether we want a
descriptive term or a pejorative term. YEC describes the Christian
creationist view that is based upon the principle that the scriptures
assert that the earth is young. LC is a condescending term (in a
backward way toward OEC's) that is designed by Henry Morris to exclude
OEC from acceptance as a legitimate Christian doctrine. By saying that
OEC is not "literal creationism" Morris can exert a powerful weapon
within the church to exclude OEC's--such as myself--from acceptance and
recognition withing various Christian organizations and doctrinal

As I see it, Morris is attempting to gain more legitimacy for his
position *within the church* using word games. His position is not
really made more legitimate by this tactic. He simply seeks to have the
moral license to brand OEC as heresy.

There is another aspect to this debate. C.S. Lewis wrote an essay in
which he complained about the way words were used. He said that as long
as words labeling groups of people described the differences between
various people, their culture and philosophy, they can be useful; but he
argued, that if terms began to be so broad that they ceased to describe
anyone or group in particular but the whole mass, they had lost their
usefulness. This may be a similar situation.

What I mean is that although Morris intends by the change to *exclude*
OEC's, he may actually have the reverse effect--to exclude YEC's. There
are many passages of scripture that are obviously not to be interpreted
literally--apocalyptic passages especially. The scriptures are rich
with the use of symbolism, metaphor, and outright allegory. The problem
is not that symbolism is used in scripture but where. Consider the

Psalm 22, prophecy of the crucifixion--verses 12 and 16 taken literally
would imply that there would be bulls and dogs surrounding Messiah's
execution tree. We know that this did not happen literally, but that
the terms are symbolic of people and maybe even demons.

Revelation 12, the story of the woman in the wilderness--Does this teach
us that there would be a literal woman that would bear a child and then
be taken into a literal wilderness by a literal eagle where a literal
serpent would spew literal water out of his literal mouth to destroy her
and the earth would open "her" literal mouth and swallow the literal

Leviticus 23, the law concerning the feasts of Israel--Messianic Jews
believe and teach that the feasts of Israel teach about Messiah and the
various things he would do both at his first coming and at his second.
There is considerable prophetic symbolism to be found there. This truth
was strongly emphasized by John the Baptist when he called Jesus the
"lamb of God" (John 1:29). Did John mean that Jesus was literally a
baby sheep?

What about symbolism in the creation story? YEC's would have us believe
that there is none there. But what about Genesis 1:7, "And God made the
firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from
the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so." What are
these "waters which were above the firmament"? Are we to believe that
space is made of the same kind of water that fish swim in? The Hebrew
word here for water is the same word, "myamim," that is used for the
"waters which were under the firmament"--it is the Hebrew word for water
in its plural form.

There is no YEC that I know, including Henry Morris, that believes that
the waters above the firmament is the kind of water that fish swim in
even though that is the word used in Hebrew. In other words, YEC's know
that men have gone into the "waters which were above the firmament" and
did not find "waters", consequently they do not dare assert a literal
interpretation of this word. They have no problem seeing the symbolism
there even though it was not really demanded until solid evidence that
the word could not be interpreted literally came from the secular

Now I ask, why cannot this also be true about the oft-repeated phrase
"and the evening and the morning were the xth day"? You see, even YEC's
are not *absolute* literalists which means that the term "literal
creationism" could not be applied to them--it doesn't describe them any
more than it does OEC's. They both agree that there is symbolic
language in the creation story, they just disagree as to what is
symbolic and what is literal.

Russell T. Cannon