Response to IEAC Creation Statement/1

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by brother Mike Pearson
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1. Accepting Genesis as a Literal Record


The opening chapters of the Bible describe the creation of the heavens and the earth. These chapters are infused with the majesty, holiness and truthfulness of God. Here we discover the origins of life seen all about us today; then the tragedy of Adam’s transgression and the consequences of sin. We accept the creation record as literal in its details.


It is understood that some might prefer to read the creation record in Genesis in a literal manner. However, this issue is not as clear-cut as some might like to assert, and never has been. For example, C. C. Walker (editor of the Christadelphian Magazine from 1889 to 1937), quite openly pondered the value of a literal interpretation of the early chapters in Genesis. Consider these quotes from Bro Walker’s writings:

“ does not seem necessary to confine the allusions of this first chapter of Genesis to six literal days on the last of which man appeared”.[1]
“...we believe there is no real conflict between Genesis and geology; though we are unable any longer to hold to the idea that the first chapter of Genesis, from verse 2 onwards, is intended to describe the operations of six literal days of twenty-four hours each, some six thousand years ago”.[2]

“Therefore, if the “days” of Genesis 1 are to be taken as literal days, we feel bound to admit the sun as the origin of the “light,” and “evening and morning” that were the characteristics of “the first day.” How can you have “evening and morning” without the sun?[3]

Other prominent authors from our community who did not consider the six days of Genesis 1 as literal, consecutive days include: Henry Sulley,[4] Peter Watkins,[5] John Carter (who accommodated differences)[6] , Alfred Norris,[7] L G Sargent,[8] H A Whittaker,[9] Alan Fowler,[10] Alan Hayward,[11] Alan Eyre, and Wilfred Lambert.[12]

Even though these brethren did not seem to view Genesis 1 as a “creation record as literal in its details”, when looking at how Genesis 1 has been interpreted over the years in our community, there has been no consistent approach. For example:

  • Bro John Thomas believed in one pre-Adamic creation;
  • Bro Roberts believed in many pre-Adamic creations;
  • Bro Walker believed the six days were long ages;
  • All our early scholars believed the earth to be millions of years old, whereas today some will argue that the earth is less than 7,000 years old, and that dinosaurs co-existed with humans.

The point then, is that our community has been struggling with how to correctly read Genesis from its earliest days, and so it seems somewhat divisive to make this an issue of such dogma, or even fellowship at this point of our history.

Another indication of how cautious we need to be about insisting on the literality of Genesis is to consider the two most common views in our community:

  • Old Earth Creationism (OEC): Our community’s traditional position that posits that the earth is very old, but that our current creation occurred 6,000 years ago (and therefore accommodated the idea of pre-Adamic creatures).
  • Young Earth Creationism (YEC): A view that became popular in the 60s, positing that the entire earth and heavens were created 6,000 years ago.

Both of these views claim to be based on a literal reading of Genesis 1. Yet each of these views differently interprets the creation of the sun and the moon, and the placing of these and the stars in the firmament. If one is going to insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1, they can’t both be right. One view defines them as being literally ‘made’, the other as ‘ordered’ or ‘appeared’.

To summarise and conclude this point:

There is complete agreement that the creation account Genesis IS infused with the majesty and holiness of God. But remember, the phrase we are dealing with from the IEAC Creation Statement says, “We accept the creation record as literal in its details.” As the points above illustrate, to try and read these verses so literally as to be a specific record of events, is something our community has been struggling with since its inception. Because of this, there are many variations on how to interpret the early chapters of Genesis. Therefore, to make a stand based on one’s own convictions is one thing, but to impose that conviction as a matter of fellowship is hardly a wise pursuit, and is sure to inflame unnecessary conflict in our community.

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  1. C. C. Walker, Genesis (The Christadelphian, 1910) 47:363
  2. C. C. Walker, Genesis and Geology (The Christadelphian, 1914) 51:317
  3. C. C. Walker, Is it Wrong to Believe the Earth Was a Sphere? (The Christadelphian, 1933) 50:349
  4. Henry Sulley, Creation (The Christadelphian, 1926) 63:472
  5. Peter Watkins, The Days of Creation (The Christadelphian, 1960) 97:6
  6. John Carter, The Days of Creation - Editors comment (The Christadelphian, 1960) 97:6
  7. Alfred Norris, Where Science & Religion Meet (The Christadelphian, 1965) 102:18
  8. L G Sargent, What do we believe (The Christadelphian, 1966) 103:460
  9. H A Whittaker, Commentary on Genesis 1-4 (Biblia Books, 1986) p16–17
  10. John Nicholls, Creation & the Fossil Record (The Testimony Magazine, 1997) 67:325
  11. Alan Hayward, Creation and Evolution: The facts and fallacies (SPCK, 1987) p170-177
  12. Wilfred Lambert, Creation (Endeavour Magazine, 1996)