OBST591-D17 Old Testament Orientation I
October 31, 2010
Mark Driscoll’s Answers to Common Questions about Creation was first posted on
TheResurgence.com in July of 2006. Driscoll serves as Preaching and Theology Pastor of Mars
Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. He and his wife started the church in their living room in
1996 and have been instrumental in its growth to one of the fastest growing churches in America,
now serving the Seattle area in several locations with thousands of members. Driscoll is a well
known author of such books as Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions which he
coauthored with Gerry Breshears, On The Old Testament (A Book You Will Actually Read), and
many others. He is widely known for his casual, easy writing style and an ability to break
complex theological ideas down into easily understood summaries. This article was my first
contact with Driscoll and since reading it, I’ve spent several hours reading other of his works
and putting several of his books on my much too long reading list.
This essay is a study on four topics about my beliefs that arise from the Answers
article. I will use the main points of his article as the prime reference source in answering these
questions with a few other additions.
My View of Creation
Driscoll presents an easily understood summary of both non-Christian and Christian
views of creation. There are five non-Christian views ranging from Deism, God creating but
then leaving the Earth to us to control, to Naturalism with no Godly influence at all.
His summary of Christian views of creation reinforced Driscoll’s reputation among book
reviewers as a writer who can take complex subjects down to easily understood words. His five
Christian views, ranging from the most simple to those more intellectual, do summarize
the opinions I’ve heard from Christians over the years.
Historic Creation, Driscoll’s View #1, hit me dead in the center of my creation beliefs.
Before reading this article, I could not have articulated it as well as I now can.
This view of creation allows for the idea that there was a creation timeframe for the Earth and
Universe that began prior to Genesis 1:2, then from that moment forward, creation did occur in
six twenty four hour time periods. This view is supported by the Hebrew reshit1 or indefinite
period of time as described in Genesis 1:1, then the literal process beginning in verse 2. Since
my personal beliefs are firm on the literal meaning of God’s word, this view supports the idea of
six literal twenty four hour days for the details of creation of the Earth and its inhabitants as
detailed in Genesis but also allows for the idea, support by the Hebrew wording, that all of
creation may have taken place over a different timeframe. This view, while very close to the
Creationism view, differs from the other four Christian views in its simplicity. I just don’t think
God intends it to be that hard to understand creation.
Approach to Genesis 1-3
Deciding whether to literally or figuratively interpret a biblical passage is always a good
first step. Is there any indication from the context that the writer intended it to be figurative? The
writer of Genesis is generally accepted as Moses. I see no evidence in the context of Moses that
indicates he would have taken a figurative approach.
There are three details in this passage that also leads me to take it literally. First, in the
opening chapters of Genesis, the perspective of the writer is so global, so big-picture that it is
very difficult for me to believe it was written by a man. The references to “formless and void”2,
creating light and dark, heaven and earth are not the perspective of an Earthly writer. They are
detail from a heavenly perspective.
1Driscoll, Mark,” Answers to Common Questions about Creation”, TheResurgence.com, 2006.
2New American Standard Bible, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 16.
Later, in Gen 2:6, the link of the scripture to modern Hydrology leave no doubt as to the
literal detail being given by the writer. There are many, many instances where the Bible links
directly to scientific discoveries found years, decades or centuries after biblical times and this is
certainly one of them.3 In the limited scope of this format more detail can’t be explored but the
“mist”4 detail in this verse is unmistakable as literally inspired by God.
Lastly, the charge from God to the those directly involved with the original sin is a detail
that has always fascinated me. From the curse of the serpent to be on his belly for eternity, seen
with fear by women everywhere to the curse of Adam to toil in the cursed ground forever just to
eat, these words ring completely true today, thousands of years later. That truth of that detail is
alive still today and still supports the position of a literal interpretation of these passages.
The Age of the Universe and the Old Earth View
With a firm belief in the inherent word of God, my view of the age of the universe is a
range of something more than 6000 years! The Driscoll article has taught me many things and
this is one I will not soon forget.
“In the beginning”5 has no time frame. It could be a day or a billion years. The word
used for beginning, reshit or re’shiyth appears in the Old Testament fifty one times6 and never
has a specific time frame. It is not used again in the creation story. Bottom line, there is no way
to validate biblically the age of the universe through the first three words of Genesis.
My view is that from word number four onward, the timeframe is pretty clear. _______________________
3”Science and the Bible”, ClarifyingChristianity.com/science.shtml, 10/14/2010.
4New American Standard Bible, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 18.
5New American Standard Bible, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 16.
Depending on the calendars or assumptions used, it is about 6000 years.7 I see no conflict of the
combinations of these two time frames to come up with universe’s range of age. The idea of Old
Earth is supported by the literal translation of the Hebrew scripture, word by word.
A Biblical Response to Evolution
The question of the evolution process as a part of creation is at the very heart of the issue
of biblical authority. The Bible is either inspired by God without error in even the smallest
detail, or it is not. The Genesis passage makes clear that God created Earth, animals and Man
specifically at given points in time. There was no evolutionary change as part of the event.
So is the Bible without error? “The bottom line is that the Bible has been breathed by
God”8, a favorite quote from Josh McDowell, a favorite author. To a non believer however, this
is just more religious noise.
So how do we really know that the Bible is the truly inspired, without error word of God,
especially the Old Testament with all its rituals and unbelievable stories? If you had asked that
question in February of 1947, the answer would have included faith for sure, but also a
complicated list of Old Testament texts with words like Sopherim, Zugoth and Tannaim.9 In
March of 1947 that all changed.
That month a Bedouin shepherd boy named Muhammad was looking for his goat,
wandered into a cave and found the Dead Sea Scrolls. Forty thousand ancient fragments sealed
7Driscoll, Mark,” Answers to Common Questions about Creation”, TheResurgence.com, 2006.
8McDowell, Josh, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 338.
9McDowell, Josh, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 73.
in large jars since A.D. 68. What was so unique about this discovery to anyone but an
archeologist? When examined, they recreated much of the Old Testament. And to the
amazement of the non-believing world they recreated it within 95% of the existing Old
Testament. The five percent not matching had more to do with spelling and style than
substance.10 Two completely different texts, both almost two thousand years old from two
different sources, telling exactly the same story. How can anyone objectively
not believe God’s hand was at work, affirming to all of us the literal word of God.
My view of evolution is that it is not in the Bible. I believe by faith that the Bible in the
error free word of God. This is also much evidence to support that assumption. The Bible tells a
specific story of creation that does not involve evolution. To open the door to the evolution
discussion is to explore the possibility that the Bible is not God’s perfect word. Good discussion
is always welcome as long as it ends with the appropriate conclusions.
The Driscoll article was fascinating and informative. It filled in the blanks on several key
questions about evolution and the age of the Earth that I’ve casually considered before but never
really understood. Who and when are the two key questions about creation the world has been
asking for over two thousand years. Everyday I study, I am so much more aware of the shallow
knowledge I have of scripture and how inadequate I am in the understanding of the “why” of my
beliefs. As Christians, we must be prepared with the answers that support our faith. Driscoll
helped me accomplish that a bit. I’m more prepared today than yesterday. On to tomorrow!
10McDowell, Josh, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 78.