Simmons' Review of Martin's
Tim Martin is a great guy and I consider him a friend and brother. Our families have much in common, in both size and values, and our children played long hours together when Tim attended the Carlsbad Eschatology Conference last March. However, I strongly disagree with Tim’s hermeneutical methods and theory of “Covenant Creationism.” In the brotherly spirit of open discussion, I offer this short critique of Tim’s recent article in Fulfilled Magazine (Winter 2009).
The basic methodology of Martin’s “Covenant Creation” theology can briefly be described as a priori. A priori (Latin, “from an earlier”) is a method of reasoning that is usually deemed tenuous or defective and can be defined as
- involving deductive reasoning not supported by fact; for example, "an a priori judgment"
- derived by logic, without observed facts
- based on hypothesis or theory rather than experiment
In other words, an a priori argument is one that bases subsequent premises and conclusions upon the assumed soundness of earlier premises and conclusions, but for which there is no direct or substantive proof. This describes Tim’s method perfectly. Consider “Covenant Creationism’s” basic assumptions:
- The “end” treated of by the prophets was figurative; therefore, the “beginning” must also be figurative.
- The “heavens and earth” that passed away at the eschaton were figurative; therefore the “heavens and earth” of the creation must be figurative.
- The “new heavens and earth” are the New Testament and its people; therefore the old “heavens and earth” of the Genesis creation were the Old Testament and its people.
In each case, there is no direct evidence to support the ultimate conclusion. The truth of each proposition regarding Genesis and the beginning rests upon conclusions abstracted from the end. Direct proof sustaining his conclusions about Genesis does not exist! No prophet, no apostle, not Christ or any other inspired writer, or any ancient source can be cited in support of the position Tim takes. The whole panalopy of sacred writers and every page of the sacred text assumes the literalness of the Genesis creation. That is why Tim is forced to build his case from a priori arguments about the end.
Normal methods of proving the poetic nature of a passage would entail demonstrating that an inspired author spoke of the Genesis creation as if it were parabolic or a mere allegory. For example, if it could be shown that Moses treated the creation account in terms suggesting it was symbolic, this would stand as good evidence against its literalness. But, to the contrary, Moses always treats Genesis in very literal terms. From the commandment to keep the Sabbath to the chronologies of men’s births and the rise of the separate nations, Moses always treats Genesis as a fully literal, historical account of how the physical cosmos began. In Exodus, Moses thus writes “For in six days God created the heavens, the earth, the sea and all that in them is” (Ex. 20:11). The whole debate about the literalness of Genesis can just about be debated upon the strength of this one verse. Moses’ language simply allows no room to argue for an old earth or long ages of time in creation. Nor does it admit of an allegorical treatment that would make the heavens and earth, or stars and planets mere symbols. Moses repeats himself in Exodus 31:16: “It is a sign [viz., the Sabbath] between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” The Jews were commanded to keep the seventh day because God did. Can Moses’ intention to set out a literal account of creation seriously be disputed? If Moses wanted to be understood literally, is there language he could use that would better convey the point? No. On the other hand, if Moses wanted us to understand he was speaking in metaphors, there are many ways he could have made it know. But on the contrary, nowhere does Moses suggest Genesis is merely an allegory or symbolic. And all subsequent writers agree, never once departing from the literalness of the account (cf. Ps. 33:6; Heb. 1:10; Mk. 10:6).
Another method of proving that language is figurative would be to show that similar language and imagery is employed elsewhere to describe similar conditions or events. For example, it is no secret that the Old Testament prophets made liberal use of metaphoric language to describe times of national and world judgment. When we encounter identical language and imagery in the New Testament in connection with times of judgment, we are justified in our estimation that it is intended to be understood the same way. Our decision in this case rests upon a sound hermeneutical principle called the analogy of faith and scripture: Like interprets like; analogous passages should be interpreted in an analogous way. But we would NOT be on safe ground to use apocalyptic language of judgment and destruction as proof that the creation is figurative. The two are not similar (indeed, they are opposites) and therefore cannot be compared or serve as guides for interpreting one another.
Moreover, figurative language of creation (e.g., the new heavens and earth) in an obviously symbolic context such as Isaiah 65, 66 or Revelation 21, 22 cannot be marshaled as proof that the creation in a predominately historical book, which is not obviously symbolic, was intended to be understood in a figurative way. The two are not similar and therefore may NOT serve as interpretative guides to one another. There are books of poetry and books of history. One cannot interpret the other. Poets use the things of nature in non-literal and figurative ways. But the opposite is not true; historians and scientists do not employ metaphors and similes to describe what is real. If they did, we could never interpret their writings; the use of metaphors and similes would throw all into doubt. But this is precisely what Tim does; he uses the highly charged imagery of apocalyptic prophecy as an interpretive guide to the historical. For example, Daniel and other writers refer to the armies of Israel in symbolic terms as the host of heaven (e.g. groups of stars or constellations). Other writers make the ruling orbs of the sun and moon similes for earthly kings and potentates. Tim points to these examples and turns them back on Genesis and says “see, the creation account is a metaphor!” But this is absurd. Does the occurrence of figurative language in books of poetry make books of history and science mere fictions? According to Tim’s method, every book of history and science would be turned into a metaphor the moment some later writer used its language in a figurative way.
Reduced to a logical syllogism, Tim’s argument looks like this:
Major Premise: The prophets used figurative language borrowed from creation (nature) to describe the end.
Minor Premise: Language describing nature occurs in the creation account; therefore
Conclusion: The creation account is figurative.
It does not take a logician to see that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. “All crows are black. This bird is black. Therefore, this bird is a crow.” Really? Does being black make a bird a crow? What about ravens, black birds, grackles, and vultures? All preterists recognize the use of figurative and symbolic language in the prophets. The fact that a book of history like Genesis refers to objects in nature that prophets and poets used figuratively does not make the creation account symbolic, no more than books of history make books of mythology real. Each stands alone and cannot serve as a basis for interpreting the other. Moreover, the presence of covenants, promises, or even prophecies does not consign Genesis to the literary genre of the apocalyptic or justify interpreting its language figuratively. Almost every book of the Bible records at least some prophetic material, but no one would affirm that histories of Exodus, Leviticus, or Numbers are therefore “apocalyptic” or intended to be understood other than according to their literal terms.
This is the fundamental failure of Covenant Creationism’s methodology: it assumes a priori the existence of one fact, based upon the presumed existence of another fact. Evolution assumes that because living species change over time that therefore life developed independently from nothing over time. But this conclusion does not follow nor is it sound. Men’s atheism drives them to this position because they are unwilling to accept God. In the same way, “Covenant Creationism” (driven by extraneous assumptions about the age of the earth) assumes that, because later prophets and writers employed figures of speech, therefore the first sacred writer used figurative speech. Because Tim’s conclusions do not follow from the premises, “covenant creationism” is logically and academically unsound.
Poorly & Inconsistently Reasoned
In the first edition of his book, Tim floated his “local, covenant creation” idea. He there admits that it was invented by Old Earth Creationists as an alternative to the gap theory, as a way of “rewriting” Genesis to avoid a young earth and the six days of creation. Tim states, “in the mid-19th century another view was presented that explains the creation account of Genesis 1 as a local creation event...The Local Creation View as presented by John Pye Smith is a variation on the gap theory.” Of course, if the “local creation” theory originated in the mid-19th century, no one would be silly enough to suggest that it was in the mind of God when Moses penned Genesis. Moses would have known and his subsequent writings, as well as other sacred authors, would have reflected this fact. However, Tim cannot cite a single inspired author who agrees with him or who treats Genesis as an allegory. Hence, that should be the end of the matter. Case closed: the local creation idea is a modern innovation and we need not give it a moment’s entertainment. Unfortunately, Old Earth Creationists never let the originality of their theories deter them from imposing them on us or the Bible. We are treated to a constant flow of new theories to explain away the Bible.
After admitting the “local creation” is a novel idea whipped up by Old Earthers to avoid Genesis’ obvious meaning, Tim goes on to reject it. That’s right, reject it, saying it makes no sense and would require taking all occurrences of “heavens and earth” symbolically, leaving no account of God’s creation of the universe. He also notes that it violates important Biblical hermeneutical principles and patterns:
“A Local Creation interpretation is possible once we understand the covenant use of “heavens and earth” but it is not textually required in Genesis 1...There are some theological challenges for a Local Creation interpretation as well. Preterists rightly emphasize the common biblical pattern in redemptive development of ‘first the physical, then the spiritual.’...A Local Creation approach violates this Biblical pattern by limiting the original creation to covenantal and spiritual realities. A creational, cosmological reading of the ‘heavens and earth’ in Genesis 1 fits with the overall pattern in Scripture of ‘first the physical, then the spiritual.’”
After noting these objections and surveying other passages, Tim concludes that “a local creation interpretation in Genesis 1 is highly doubtful.”
Highly doubtful! Tim states that the local creation theory is a highly doubtful; that it is dubious; that it will not withstand normal scrutiny; that it’s not to be credited by men of normal intelligence. Yet, Tim now embraces what he formerly urged us to reject! What caused him to change? The Bible? No! His lifelong commitment to the errors of Old Earth Creationism that will not allow him to accept the Biblical account of creation! He thus goes about to rewrite Genesis so it will be consistent with his extra-biblical views. That, dear reader, is the long and short of the whole thing. We are not dealing with a question of preterism or eschatology or even hermeneutics, but Old Earthism and Tim’s unwillingness to receive the Biblical account of creation. Nothing more; nothing less. In the new edition of his book, he all but admits this of his coauthor, Jeffery Vaughn: “Jeff realized that the two issues of prophecy and creation are related, and has dedicated his theological study to developing a common and consistent view of both ends of the Bible.”
This is not the method of science or academia; we do not go about “to develop a common and consistent” interpretation of writings. Rather, we interpret writings according to intention of the author. The ONLY interpretation that is correct is the one God intended it to have. For Old Earth Creo-evolutionists (for this is what they truly are, requiring billions of years for God’s creation to evolve and come to perfection before it was suitable for man), for Old Earth Creo-evolutionists, I say, the intent of the author will never do. The Bible MUST be reinterpreted according to a forced paradigm that will accommodate billions of years.
A Brief Detour
It is my belief that men’s inability to receive the Biblical account of creation is because they judge the universe too large and God too small; they imagine that anything so vast must be billions of years old. But let us take an imaginary journey to the beginning and see if the need for billions of years to create the universe cannot be dispelled. Let us imagine God seated upon his throne. Let us next imagine that he speaks, and by the breath of his mouth calls into existence a small cloud like those we are accustomed to see on a cold day when a man speaks, a cloud, hardly more than a puff of air, about the size of a man’s hand. This cloud does not disappear into vapor like men’s breath, however. Instead, it lingers, hovering before the throne. The angelic host crowds around to view with awe this new wonder. Let us next imagine that in this cloud are billions of particles of dust and vapor swirling aimlessly about. Now let us imagine that these particles are whole galaxies. Contained within these galaxies are smaller particles, containing suns and planets. Amongst these myriad galaxies is one called the Milky Way, home to planet earth. As the angelic host gazes with amazement upon the small cloud, God speaks again and says “let there be light.” Suddenly, flashes are seen here and there within the cloud, like tiny static electric sparks crackling in a blanket in a dark room. So begins the creation of our world. Can it be imagined that God, whose breath brought this small cloud, this puff of air into existence required billions of years to make it so? It is such a small, trivial thing, after all. From the inside looking out, it seems terribly great. We are told that for light to travel from the nearest star requires millions of years before it arrives at earth. Yes, from the inside looking out it may seem vast and that it surely has existed for eons. But, when we recall that the whole physical universe is less than a puff of breath, spoken into existence by the Word and Spirit of God, no larger than a man’s hand, then the very idea of its great age and immensity suddenly becomes horribly absurd, and the notion that it has been around for billions of years becomes a sorry joke. Yes, I am convinced that our all too human perspective causes us to fall into many errors regarding how truly great God is.
Tim, unable to receive the Biblical account of creation, wants to rewrite Genesis. Thus, Genesis is about the creation of a local “covenant relationship with Adam and Eve” and with one fell swoop he opens the door to evolution and an earth billions of years old. The creation of whales, fish, birds, sun, moon, stars, and light is all window dressing and has no literal meaning. According to Martin, Genesis provides no account of God’s creation of the physical universe at all!
“The original ‘heavens and earth’ is the creation of God’s people, using symbolic animals and elements of creation.”
God’s people are the “original” heaven and earth? God made people first, then the world to put them in, so that the figurative and spiritual preceded the actual and physical? And we are supposed to take this seriously? I do not say this unkindly. Remember, Tim says that the local creation model is “highly doubtful.” It just happens that I agree with him. But Tim cannot make up his mind. Earlier in the same article he affirms that the Genesis creation is actual and literal, using real people and events:
“The Genesis creation is a symbolic statement, involving real people in real history, describing the ‘beginning of God’s covenant world.”
Tim says Adam and Eve were literal people and the account is fully historical (“real history”), but then turns right around and affirms that the animals and everything else in the narrative are symbolic and figurative. Which is it? He cannot have it both ways. Either it is real history or it is allegory, but not both. What basis is there for saying Adam and Eve are actual, but everything else is figurative? Can actual people inhabit a figurative world? If they are not living in an actual world, surrounded by real animals and trees, under the real canopy of heaven, where are they living? Please tell us. What is the basis for choosing those parts that are literal and those that are figurative? One’s private judgment? The mere circumstance that the phrase “heavens and earth” occurs? Because God enjoins a covenant upon the couple?
This sort of discrepancy is all through “Covenant Creationism.” For example, Genesis actually describes in literal terms the covenant God made with Adam and Eve. Moses is very plain that God charged the couple not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16, 17). This was the covenant imposed upon the couple. But if Moses has described in literal terms the covenant God made with the first couple, then it is plain that language describing the creation of the sun, moon, stars, whales, cattle and creeping things cannot be descriptive of the same events in symbols! What would be the purpose in that? Yet, if we follow Tim, Moses goes through this elaborate metaphor of God’s creating light, air, water, earth, plants, trees, animals, fish, whales, cattle, creeping things, and men, all this we say, without ever hinting that it is a metaphor we are about. All this Tim asserts is mere window dressing whose only purpose is to teach us that God entered a covenant with Adam and Eve.
The basic premise underlying all of Tim’s “Covenant Creation” theory is that the eschaton was merely “local and covenantal”; that is, that it was somehow principally concerned with the AD 70 fall of Jerusalem and end of the “old covenant world,” which Tim equates with the “heavens and earth.” Therefore, to prove his thesis, Tim must show that
· the eschaton was primarily concerned with events in Palestine,
· involved primarily the removal of the old law and mosaic economy,
· the “heavens and earth” that passed away at the eschaton referred only to Palestine and the mosaic economy.
Conversely if it can be shown that the eschaton was
· not merely local or covenantal,
· was in fact world-wide and that
· the “heavens and earth” of prophecy do not refer to the Old Testament, but
· embrace the thrones and dominions of world governments and powers
if, we can prove these things, I say, then Martin’s whole hypothesis is in error, together with everything built thereon. Indeed, while Tim must prove EACH point to sustain his proposition, because they are interdependent, I can overthrow his entire thesis by negating only ONE! This is a heavy burden for Tim to carry and we believe that no reasonable interpretation of scripture can sustain it. Let us proceed.
Martin consistently ignores important passages and whole chapters of scripture that show the second coming was world-wide. We have shown these to Tim in the past, but to my knowledge he has failed to refute or respond to them even once. Not once! His academic methodology seems to be to simply ignore whatever does not fit his paradigm. I do not say that uncharitably. Tim is a beloved brother for whom I have great affection. But the word of God is sacred and cannot be dealt with in such cavalier manner. We want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Ignoring passages of scripture that show the eschaton was world-wide will not do!
Some of the most obvious passages showing the eschaton was world-wide occur in Daniel. Daniel chapters two and seven deal with the latter days and time of the end. Yet, both chapters fail once to so much as mention Israel, Judea, Jerusalem or the Jews. Rather, they deal exclusively with the world-dominion of the Gentiles from Babylon to Rome, Rome’s persecution of the church in the last days, and Christ’s second coming against the Roman power. These two chapters alone are sufficient to stand Martin’s whole theory upon its head! We encourage the reader to study Daniel two and seven for themselves. There simply is no avoiding the fact that these chapters have nothing to do with the AD 70 fall of Jerusalem or the Old Testament ritual.
James Jordan, in his new commentary on Daniel, falls into the common error of novice preterists of attempting to explain everything about the “latter days” in terms of the fall of Jerusalem and the Old Testament. He attempts to explain the “clay” of the feet and toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in relation to Herod the Great and Roman dominion of Judea. John Evans, in his book on Daniel 2, does the same thing. The proof text relied upon is the parable of Jeremiah 18 where the prophet watches a potter forming a pot on his wheel. When the pot is marred in the potter’s hand, he took the lump and made it into something new. God then propounds a parable, saying, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?...At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it...etc” (Jer. 18:6, 7).
We preterists often focus on only one part of a passage and say “Aha!” but in our haste overlook the rest of the text. How many times have we seen this?! In this case, preterists (Jordan, Evans, and others) see the clay and God’s reference to Israel and say “Aha, the Jews are in Daniel two; the Jews are the clay!” But, the passage is very clear that all nations are typified by clay in God’s hands, not just the Jews. God expressly states as much. “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and a kingdom.” The armies of Nebuchadnezzar conquered the entire ancient world, from Elam in the east to Egypt in the west. As God punished other nations by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies, so he punished the Jews. And as God punished the Jews in AD 70, he also punished other peoples and nations, particularly the Romans and persecutors of his church. Thus, it is an extremely selective reading that attempts to force the Jews into Nebuchadnezzar’s dream; it is a case of our hermeneutic driving our conclusions. We correctly identify that the second coming was in AD 64-70 and that the fall of Jerusalem was deeply involved with the eschaton. In our desire to validate this conclusion, we attempt to explain everything by those terms. But this is wrong. The eschaton was world-wide. Consider these passages from scripture, which clearly show that Jesus’ second coming was also against the heathen. We have produced these before. We produce them here again because, in order for “Covenant Creationism” to be valid, Tim must negative these texts and prove that the eschaton was not world-wide (e.g., did not embrace the whole oikumene world of Rome and civilized man). He cannot, and therefore his theory is invalid.
- Ps.2:8, 9 – Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
This Psalm is about the resurrected, glorified Christ and the kingdom given him of the Father. Christ’s kingdom is more than just the church; it includes all earth’s nations, which he rules with a rod of iron, dashing to pieces those that disobey. The dashing here corresponds to the dashing of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It is world-wide and is eschatological.
- Ps. 110:5, 6 – The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
The “day of wrath” is the second coming. The Psalmist thus states that Christ’s second coming would be world-wide; it would entail judgment upon the heathen and fill many countries with death bodies.
- Hag. 2:6, 7; 3:21, 22 – For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts…I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen.”
This verse is important because it is quoted by the Hebrew writer as about to be fulfilled in his day. Its first application is to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple under Zerubbabel; its second and ultimate application was to the kingdom and church of Christ.
Haggai foretold a time when the wealth and power of the nations would accrue to the benefit of the Jerusalem temple, by the fall of worldly powers. This became a type of the victory of the church at the eschaton.
As preterists we have read this passage as quoted by the Hebrew writer (Heb. 12:26) only in terms of Jerusalem’s fall, but, as we see, its actual, original, and intended scope was universal – the eschaton would be a time when all nations were shaken and the throne of heathen kingdoms overthrown.
We should also note that the heavens and earth in this context point to higher powers and earth’s governments; they have no covenantal significance.
- Rev. 1:7 – Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
This last passage can be translated in more narrow terms to say “all the tribes of the land shall wail because of him.” But no translation in print does this, nor would it fit within the imagery of Revelation which portrays the eschaton in universal terms, far surpassing Judaea and Jerusalem (the dragon and beast and clearly Roman). Moreover, the word “also” – they also which pierced him – meaning the Jews, signifies that they too would see him in addition to earth’s other peoples.
- Matt. 25:31, 32 – When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.
- Acts 17:30, 31 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he is about to judge (melle krinein) the world (kosmos) in righteousness.
These are just a few of the passages holding out a world-wide coming. Nobody who is willing to deal honestly with the scriptures can deny it. Yet, Tim ignores these passages, never once attempting to interact with them in a meaningful way. How can “Covenant Creationism” recommend itself to critical thinkers if it does not meet normal academic standards? How can we subscribe to a theory that ignores vast portions of scripture in order to make it work? Let me emphasize again that I have a great affection and respect for Tim. I say none of this with the least anger or malice. But let also say that I fear God and reverence his holy word! As Christians we simply have to demand higher standards of academic scrutiny than “Covenant Creationism” will withstand or has demonstrated thus far.
Heavens & Earth NOT “Covenantal”
The second basic assumption of so-called Covenant Creationism is that the “heavens and earth” are symbols for the Old Testament and that the “new heavens and earth” are symbols of the New Testament. We have already shown in other articles that the wicked are in the new heavens and earth and therefore they cannot symbolize the New Testament (Rev. 21:8; 22:15; cf. 21:27). We have also shown that those who do affirm that the new heavens and earth symbolize the New Testament have historically ended up teaching Universalism (e.g., Tim King and Presence Ministries). The better view is that the city, the new Jerusalem is the covenantal habitation of the saints, not the new heavens and earth. The new heavens and earth are symbols for the world under the dominion of the reigning Christ. The briefest review of Isa. 65, 66 and II Pet. 3 will confirm this. The world that formerly was under the dominion of the Gentile powers (including apostate Jews) who oppressed and persecuted God’s people is now under the reign of Christ, who rules in righteousness from God’s right hand with a view toward the advancement of his gospel and the chastisement of those that resist and disobey. But if the new heavens and earth are not the New Testament, then it stands to reason that old heavens and earth are not the Old Testament, and “Covenant Creationism” collapses upon itself.
Tim relies upon passages like Rom. 8:19-23 in support of the idea that God’s people are the covenantal “heavens and earth.” He asserts that the “creation” of that passage is the God’s people, the Jews. But, this is mistaken. Paul says “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22, 23).
Notice that two groups are under contemplation; those who have the first fruits of the Spirit; and those that do not. Those with the firstfruits are the Jews; the gospel was first preached to them and they are specifically named by John as the first fruits to the Lamb in Rev. 14:4. Other passages confirm this priority of the Jews (Eph. 1:12,13; cf. Acts 3:26; 13:46; Rom. 2:9; James 1:18). The “whole creation” is given as “every creature” in the margin and refers to the Gentiles. The Greek is pasa h ktisij. The identical phrase occurs in the great commission in Mark: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (pash th ktisei) he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15, 16). The identical phrase occurs in Colossians when Paul says that the gospel had been preached in to “every creature” (pash th ktisei) which is under heaven (Col. 1:23). Therefore, what Paul is saying in Romans is that every race and people—both Jews and Gentiles—were groaning together in pain looking for salvation from the bondage of sin and death. God subjected the human race to vainity; not willingly, but in hope that they might seek after him and follow after his promises. In the gospel, the creature is delivered from the bondage of corruption; not all men, for not all will obey. But those that do obey attain unto the adoption and glorious liberty of the children of God, Jew and Gentile alike. Hence, there is nothing to the idea that the “creation” or “heavens and earth” of Genesis speaks to the Jews or the Old Testament.
There are numerous passages in the Old Testament where the symbolism of the “heavens and earth” is employed in the fall of Gentile kingdoms and powers. It is not used exclusively this way; sometimes it is also used of the Jews. But, Tim must prove that it is used ONLY of the Jews or people of God if his theory is to hold up, which he cannot do. Use of the “heavens and earth” to describe the fall of Gentile dominions precludes entirely the interpretation that they are symbols for the covenant people of God. A single example will suffice:
“Come near ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. The indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies; he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree” (Isa. 34:1-4).
This is one of preterism’s chief passages; it is solid evidence that the heavens and earth of the prophets are poetic and figurative for the world’s thrones and dominions. The nations of this passage are not Jewish; they are Gentile. Verse six specifically names Idumea as among those to come under a time of wrath. This completely flies in the face of Covenant Creationism’s basic premise that the heavens and earth have specific reference to God’s covenant people and only God’s covenant people. Yet, Tim simply ignores this and other passages that don’t fit his paradigm (Isa. 13:10, 13 - Babylon; Ezek. 32:7, 8 – Egypt; Hag. 2:7, 21 – Persia and miscellaneous Gentile nations; Nahum 1:3-6 – Nineveh). There simply is no credible way to maintain that these nations are in covenant relation to God or that the symbolism of the heavens and earth in these passages have reference to the Old Testament or mosaic economy or any other covenantal relationship. Thus, the second basic assumption of “Covenant Creationism” is seen to be patently false.
Isaac Newton gives the following correct explanation of the heavens and earth in prophetic language. We have produced this before, but include it here for new readers:
“The figurative language of the prophets is taken from the analogy between the world natural and an empire or kingdom considered as a world politic. Accordingly, the world natural, consisting of heaven and earth, signifies the whole world politic, consisting of thrones and people, or so much of it as is considered in prophecy; and the things in that world signify the analogous things in this. For the heavens and the things therein signify thrones and dignities, and those who enjoy them: and the earth, with the things thereon, the inferior people; and the lowest parts of the earth, called Hades or Hell, the lowest or most miserable part of them. Great earthquakes, and the shaking of heaven and earth, are put for the shaking of kingdoms, so as to distract and overthrow them; the creating of a new heaven and earth, and the passing of an old one; or the beginning and end of a world, for the rise and ruin of a body politic signified thereby. The sun, for the whole species and race of kings, in the kingdoms of the world politic; the moon, for the body of common people considered as the king's wife; the stars, for subordinate princes and great men; or for bishops and rulers of the people of God, when the sun is Christ. Setting of the sun, moon, and stars; darkening the sun, turning the moon into blood, and falling of the stars, for the ceasing of a kingdom." (Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel, Part i. chap. ii)
Each basic assumption of Covenant Creationism is erroneous. The eschaton was not primarily confined to Palestine, but was world-wide. Christ’s second coming involved more than the removal of the mosaic economy and included a time of wrath upon Rome and the persecutors of his church wherever they were found; the symbolism of the heavens and earth NEVER refers to the Old Testament, but ALWAYS speaks to thrones and dominions of the world’s governments and powers. Covenant Creationism cannot withstand close scriptural scrutiny and should be rejected.
 Timothy P. Martin, Beyond Creation Science (2005), pp. 199.
 Timothy P. Martin, Beyond Creation Science (2005), pp. 199-106.
 Throughout this article we define “world-wide” in reference to the civilized world of the greater Mediterranean man, including the Roman Empire and peoples bordering thereon.
To receive Kurt Simmons’ e-mail newsletter, The Sword & The Plow, click the Subscribe link:
All rights reserved.