What Does Six Creation Days Really Mean?

Over the years, I have had many people tell me that they asked their pastor or other Christian leaders whether they believed in six literal days of creation. They would tell me the answer was often “yes” and therefore these leaders (apparently) agreed with Answers in Genesis. But sadly, these leaders may not agree with AiG’s stand on six literal days, young earth, no death and disease before sin, etc. How is that possible?

I have found that some people (like Hugh Ross, for instance) will say they believe that God created in six days, but you have to ask very specific questions and discover that they really mean millions of years! Even though Hugh Ross uses the word “day,” his understanding of what that means can be very different to what the person asking the question understands it to be. Also, there are many Christian leaders who will say they believe in six literal days of creation according to the literature of Genesis, but they may believe in millions of years and adopt a compromise position like the Gap Theory, Framework Hypothesis, or views like that of John Sailhammer (the billions of years for the universe supposedly fit in Genesis 1:1).

Here is a good case in point. Many people over the past couple of years have told me how great it is that R.C. Sproul—a very fine Bible teacher whose resources have been a blessing to many—changed his mind about Genesis and would now agree with the stand AiG takes on the six days of creation and the age of the earth and universe. However, having read recent articles and heard R.C Sproul discuss this issue, I was really skeptical that he would agree with the stand that AiG takes. Tim Challies, a blogger, author, and reviewer recently published an interview he had with R.C. Sproul. Here is the section pertaining to the question about the days of creation and the age of the earth.

Have you ever had second thoughts about the stand that you took in favor of a six-day creation and a young earth, especially in view of all the new material on the subject that has come out since 2006?

Well, that’s kind of a complex question because when I took the stand, I took the stand on a six-day creation. I didn’t take a stand on a young earth. I don’t know how old the earth is. I didn’t know then. I still don’t.

And what do we mean by “young earth”? If you’re thinking six thousand years, I doubt that. If you’re thinking 12 billion years, I doubt that, too. All I was speaking about was the understanding of what the Scriptures teach regarding the six days of creation. And I’m not even sure it’s correct to say that I took a stand. I said that’s what my view was.

When you say you have a view, it’s one thing to say, “I think that this is the way it is.” It’s another thing to take a stand where you say: “Here I stand. I’m going to die on this mountain.” I could be wrong in my understanding of Genesis. It’s a very difficult to deal with the literary genre in the opening verses of the beginning chapters of Genesis. I think there has to be some room for some flexibility on it.

You can read the entire interview.

I watched a video recently where R.C Sproul and others were discussing the age of the earth. In one section, he talked about the great age of things in the world (particularly associated with astronomy) and basically said that is the reason he doesn’t know what the age of the earth and universe is. To me, it is a glaring admission that he is really starting outside of Scripture in regard to the age issue, and this is determining his hermeneutic used for studying Genesis 1–11. I’m absolutely sure he would not use such a hermeneutic for the rest of the Bible! So many theologically conservative Christian leaders seem to have one hermeneutic for Genesis 1–11 (because of outside influences) and a different hermeneutic (that we would most likely agree with) for the rest of the Bible! This is a major problem throughout Christendom.

The reason I decided to deal with this subject again is to help people understand that when they are trying to find out exactly what a pastor or Christian leader believes in regard to Genesis, one has to ask some very specific questions to dig down to what they really do believe.

I don’t deny that godly men like R.C. Sproul are great Christian scholars who preach the gospel and no doubt have been able to lead many people to the Lord over the years. However, I do believe that no matter how great a Christian leader is, if he doesn’t take a stand on the days of creation but allows man’s ideas of millions of years to influence how he interprets Genesis, the leader (maybe unwittingly in many cases) contributes to an undermining of the authority of the Word they believe in.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken