The Lost World of Walton

Why John Walton’s Lost World books are a lost cause.

by

Published: 14 March 2019 (GMT+10)
John-Walton
John H. Walton is Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and author of the Lost World series.

John H. Walton taught at Moody Bible Institute for 20 years, and is now Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, Illinois, USA. Recently, he has been busy publishing a string of paperback books, titled The Lost World series. To date, Walton has published The Lost World of Genesis One (2009); The Lost World of Scripture (2014); The Lost World of Adam and Eve (2015); The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest (2017); The Lost World of the Flood (2018); and most recently The Lost World of the Torah (2019). Walton is suggesting, by his series titles, something has been ‘lost’, but what exactly?

Walton is proposing that the traditional, historical understanding of much of the Bible is mistaken. Hence, it is the correct understanding of these things that Walton suggests has been lost—until now. According to Walton, his recent series reveals how these fundamental subjects should be correctly interpreted—which means, in reality, a re-interpretation of Scripture, to accommodate millions of years of evolution into the Bible.

Walton is highly placed and influential, and his books appeal to middle-of-the-road evangelicals, struggling in the area of science and faith. Sadly, he is offering academically attractive, easy-reading reasons not to believe the historical record of Genesis 1-11. And, in that regard, he is promoting a compromised view to a wide audience, making his influence on the church a dangerous one. Therefore, we need to pray for him and those influenced by his writings, and be aware of what is being taught—hence this brief overview of three books that affect the origins debate the most—the Lost Worlds of: Genesis One, Adam and Eve, and the Flood.

Walton’s Lost World of Genesis One

lost-worldThe Lost World of Genesis One by John H. Walton

According to The Lost World of Genesis One, Walton has a new way of reading Genesis 1—so new in fact, that no one in the last 2000 years of church history has thought of it—including the Church Fathers1 (who were, to a man, believers in a supernaturally created young earth, ex nihilo, by Divine fiat). According to Walton, evidence unearthed by Ancient Near East (ANE) experts has enabled a new interpretation of the text, specifically the ‘Cosmic Temple’ interpretation, based on what he terms ‘ANE thinking’. However, what Walton thinks of as the typical ANE mind-set has been criticised elsewhere as being “simply false”, based on an over-generalization from very little data.2 And if we need to become experts in the thinking of the ANE and rely upon Walton to tell us how to interpret our Bibles accordingly, then there is a problem. The Reformers’ position3 was always that Scripture interprets Scripture, and that we don’t need the Pope or a priesthood to interpret the Bible for us, and that, by extension, includes biblical scholars like Walton. Biblical scholarship can inform our thinking, but it should not be elevated above Scripture itself.

Walton’s hypothesis revolves around re-interpreting Genesis 1 in terms of functional origins, rather than as a historical account of the material origins of the created universe. And this is Walton’s methodology from here-on-in, to minimize and dismiss the historical, physical realities in favour of spiritual, theological concepts—making his approach similar in some ways to the ancient heresy of gnosticism. But one of the fallacies in Walton’s thinking is that he frequently presents a false dichotomy between the biblical author’s concern with purposes/functions and his descriptions of things coming to exist materially in space-time. Genesis is categorically concerned with establishing both. God clearly establishes the material origins of various objects and outlines their functions within Creation Week.

The way Walton’s theory works out is this: God reveals Creation in terms of an ANE ‘cosmic temple’ which He inhabits, and in which the created order plays its part. Walton reasons that this revelation was given over a period of seven literal days, where God is declaring that Creation is glorifying to Him. The recipient of this ‘revelation’, Walton hypothesizes, could have been Moses, but not Adam and Eve.4 How Walton knows this, we are not made privy to. But a simple reading of Creation days 1 and 3 of Genesis 1 reveals obvious material components—proto earth and the Great Deep—day 1; dry ground, seas, plant life—day 3. Clearly, on day 7 there are no material components created, because God declared Creation perfect and complete, and rested from creating. Walton’s reasoning for separating function from material origins at this point is completely unconvincing as you cannot have the world functioning without it having been materially created.

Not until the Q&A section at the back of the book does the rubber hit the road in terms of what Walton’s theology implies. And, as we shall see, this is merely another attempt to get around the plain meaning of Genesis, so as to make room for deep time and evolution. When it comes to dinosaurs and fossil hominids, he states, “these creatures could be part of the pre-functional cosmos—part of the long stage of development that I would include in the material phase.”5 By this, Walton is clearly allowing for death before sin. His treatment of Paul’s categorical statements regarding death passing to all Creation because of Adam’s sin (Romans 8:19–23) does not even appear in the book, which is a striking omission.

Walton continues: “Since the material phase precedes the seven days of Genesis 1, these would all be relegated to the obscure and distant past. The anthropological specimens would not be viewed as humans in the image of God. They would not be assessed morally (any more than an animal would), and they were subject to death as any animal was. Most did not survive alongside the humans that the Bible discusses, and others would have died off early”.6 Walton’s statement is both bad theology and bad science, allowing for death of creatures that are essentially indistinguishable from modern humans prior to the Fall. Furthermore, Walton’s dismissive moral assessment of these human ancestors implicitly allows for violence, deceit, murder, rape, theft and so-forth, all before sin entered the world at the Fall, a truly bizarre and un-Biblical position to take.7 These “anthropological specimens” he is vaguely referring to, would include Neanderthals, which showed every evidence of being fully human, who lived with, interbred with, and died alongside ‘modern’ humans.

The real thing lost in Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One is his commitment to Genesis as history. All the ramifications of allowing for millions of years of evolution and its process of death, bloodshed and suffering before the Fall, contradicts the plain message of Paul and the clear teaching of the Lord Jesus, who placed mankind at the beginning of Creation (Mark 10:6).

Walton’s Lost World of Adam and Eve

lost-world-Adam-Eve
The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John H. Walton

In a similar vein, Walton continues his catalogue of errors within his follow up work, The Lost World of Adam and Eve. The issues he covers are of fundamental importance to our understanding of not only Genesis, but the Gospel itself.

Walton continues his either-or thinking from The Lost World of Genesis One by denying that the account of Adam and Eve’s creation is about material origins. Because of his false dichotomy, he concludes that the account is only about functional origins. In particular, he sees the creation of Adam from dust and Eve from Adam’s rib as purely archetypal. He admits that Adam and Eve could have been historical people, but maintains that both Genesis and Paul treat them as archetypes, primarily representing humanity. However, Paul and the early church were clear in their thinking regarding Adam as the first formed man, (the proto-plast).

Regarding Eve being formed from Adam’s rib, again Walton brings his hermeneutical cunning to bear in order to separate the physical from the theological. His dismissal of the physical reality is just that, a glib dismissal. He reasons that Adam did not think Eve had literally been taken from his side when he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Walton states, “More than a rib is involved here because she is not only ‘bone of his bone’ but also ‘flesh of his flesh’.” This is such shockingly poor logic, as Scripture does not limit Adam’s operation to extracting just a dry bone. The text actually states that God “caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh” (Genesis 2:21). Flesh was evidently involved, which is why Adam said what he said. Regarding the rib itself, Walton notes that the Hebrew word employed can be used to mean different things in Scripture (depending on context), but generally refers to a ‘side’ of something. Having concluded the word means different things in different contexts, he then forces a false dilemma on the reader: “On the basis of Adam’s statement, combined with these data on usage, we would have to conclude that God took one of Adam’s sides—likely meaning he cut Adam in half and from one side built the woman.”8

Walton clearly wants the reader to conclude that this is all symbolic language, not to be taken literally! Obviously, taking a ‘whole side’ from Adam would necessitate his quick demise, whereas the removal of one rib is not an unreasonable thing for the reader to grasp. Those familiar with modern medicine know that the rib is the only bone in the human body that can re-grow, and so was no great permanent loss for Adam.

But Walton sees the whole episode as visionary, and tries to make the ‘deep sleep’ of Adam into a revelatory experience, and therefore not a statement “about the material origin of woman.”9 However, even here, Walton fails to grasp that the revelation came when Adam awoke and saw Eve with his eyes, not during his sleep. It was only when Adam awoke that he proclaimed: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man..” (Genesis 2:23). And as the text tells us what God did, He obviously conveyed this to Adam and Eve, which is why marriage is based on the revelation of what God actually did, rather than a ‘vision’ that had no basis in reality.

In arguing away from the plain reading of Scripture, Walton makes some bizarre statements. For instance, he argues Genesis 3:20’s phrase, Eve was “mother of all living,” should not be taken literally as a biological statement that we are all genetically descended from Eve. Why? Because “living” as Walton reasons, “is a word that can refer to all creatures, yet all animals are not biological descendants of Eve.”10 This is a blatant equivocation fallacy (calling two different things by the same name). The context of Genesis 3:20 is obviously referring to all living people, not the sum total of all living creatures.

Regarding the genealogies of Genesis, which link Adam to Christ in Luke 3:23–38, Walton asks if the hermeneutical issues really demand that Adam was the first man, and if theology is really being built on that concept, or if, instead, God simply used the Israelite’s “contemporary concepts as a framework for communication?”11 Walton’s question, though, is divisive, as it implies God is being deceitful with the Israelites. Regarding these “contemporary concepts” that the Israelites would understand, God clearly communicated in the Bible that He chose Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:31; 12:1–5), and that He chose Israel from the nations (Deuteronomy 14:2). So, if God chose Adam and Eve from an existing population, as Walton suggests, the idea of choosing would be a ‘contemporary concept’ already familiar to Israel, and if that was indeed what God did, surely He could have communicated that simple concept to Israel. But the concept of God’s choosing Adam and Eve from an existing population is not only completely absent from, but contradicted by the Creation account. In suggesting God perpetuated a false idea in the minds of ancient Israelites, merely to accommodate them, and then proceed to build theological ‘truth’ based on their miscomprehension of history—is surely to charge God with duplicity and deception. This is a very serious charge, which Walton skips over much too easily.

There is much more that could be said about Walton’s take on the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s creation, but space does not permit. Suffice to say this work is a subtle, but full-frontal attack on the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. As such, it must be rejected by the evangelical community as a dangerous work of false teaching.

Walton’s Lost World of the Flood

lost-world-Flood
The Lost World of the Flood by John H. Walton

In The Lost World of the Flood: Mythology, theology and the deluge debate, (2018), Walton teams-up with Tremper Longman III. Together, they try to persuade evangelicals to abandon the biblical Flood as a literal global event in favour of a local flood. Although they argue Noah’s Flood was an historic event, the Bible, in their opinion, does not give us a description of that event, but only a description of its theological importance. In fact, what they propose is a direct contradiction of what Christ and the New Testament writers plainly taught. For instance, Jesus clearly taught the universal scope of Noah’s Flood, stating that the Flood came and “destroyed them all”, referring to all those not on the Ark (Luke 17:26–27). Also, the New Testament writers (Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5) all, without exception, treat the Flood as historical and universal in scope, judging the whole earth and all of humanity, except for those preserved by the Ark. Remarkably when one turns to the Scripture index at the back, two of these essential texts do not even appear (Hebrews 11:7 and 2 Peter 2:5)!

Although the authors recognize that Genesis does describe a global catastrophe (listing all seven reasons given in the account as textual proof)12 they deny that the Flood was in fact global—rather they claim that it was only local. Furthermore, because they are committed to the ‘out of Africa’ model for human evolution,13 in their thinking, there never was a time when humanity was concentrated in one place so that a local flood could wipe them out. This means, for the authors, there were people that survived the ‘flood’, something clearly contradicted by the NT scriptures. The authors at this point expose their a priori commitment to the authority of evolution, rather than the authority of Scripture. They demonstrate what a low view of Scripture they really have: “The Bible describes a worldwide flood, yet absolutely no geological evidence supports a worldwide flood”, which in a previous sentence they admit leads one to conclude that Scripture contains “from our twenty-first-century Western perspective … an error or at least a contradiction.”14 However, because of Longman and Walton’s position that Scripture is not concerned with the material aspects of the Flood, he maintains that to conclude the Flood was global or local is equally erroneous. His position is fallacious, as chapters 6–8 of Genesis are taken up with specific details describing the global Flood in material terms.

Longman and Walton spill much ink in their criticisms of creationists, which read like the tired old canards usually raised by atheists—but it is sad when they come from those who claim to be fellow believers. For instance, they think that the description of Noah’s Ark in Genesis 6:14–16 cannot possibly be anything other than ‘hyperbole’ because ancient ships were never that big.15 However, they seem oblivious to the evidence for the massive Chinese wooden treasure ships and other large ships of antiquity, which demonstrate that wooden ships comparable to the size of Noah’s Ark are feasible. For Walton, the Ark’s description, along with the Flood itself, is simply ‘hyperbole’, and according to him the original readers would have read it that way; but how they know this is not explained.16 Longman and Walton have mythologized the boat, and therefore missed the point of Scripture as a reliable witness of historical truth.

Stephen O. Moshier (Wheaton professor of Geology and BioLogos blogger)17 wrote ‘proposition 15’18 which maintains that there is no geological evidence for the Flood, and that the vast majority of geologists do not accept Flood geology.19 However, consensus has never been a good gauge of truth, as the history of science has demonstrated many times over. There is a long list of failed scientific paradigms, at one time held by the majority. Moshier’s chapter is a treatise on uniformitarian thinking, assumed at the outset. Moshier was not present to directly observe any of the geological processes he believes in but, a priori, views everything through the lens of ‘the present is the key to the past’. This is applied vigorously to his sweeping critique of Flood geology, that nothing observed today can explain the amount of water produced during the Flood from rainfall or subterranean sources.20 However, the Genesis account does not describe the events of Noah’s Flood in terms of anything like what we observe today.

Moshier’s critique of mainstream creationist explanations for the Flood involving catastrophic plate tectonics (CPT) is ignorant and disingenuous, claiming that “physical constraints and mechanical properties of the earth’s crust” are “ignored.”21 This is simply not the case, as Dr John Baumgardner’s TERRA computer modelling (which became a standard geophysics industrial software package), solved for multiple physical constants, properties and energy conservation, in order to model the formation and movement of tectonic plates during the Flood. However, Moshier does not acknowledge or engage with Baumgardner’s evidence, whose name does not even appear in the footnotes.22

Moshier raises a series of five straw-man arguments23 which he then proceeds to demolish, as if offering proof of the weakness of Flood geology. The following is a brief response:

  1. Moshier says that Flood geologists explain seashells on tops of mountains as evidence the Flood washed the shells into place. Moshier proposes instead that the shells were originally part of ocean floor sediment which was uplifted during plate tectonic activity. Had Moshier been more aware of CPT or similar flood geology models, he would see that the idea of shells washed into place on tops of mountains is not proposed by creationist geologists; rather the catastrophic uplift of seafloor sediments explains mountaintop fossil shells.
  2. Uniform rock strata covering entire continents, despite Moshier’s dismissal, is excellent evidence for the Flood and these continent-wide layers are well understood within a Flood geology framework, particularly in north America.
  3. Moshier attempts to cast doubt on the re-appraisal of the Coconino sandstone as a marine deposit by Flood geologists. He fails to mention any of the quantitative work done to demonstrate that sand waves in the Coconino are non-aeolian (windblown). Their low angle of repose and marine environment erosional and mineral associations clearly point to them being marine dunes.24 A Flood explanation also makes better sense of the animal trackways he mentions as ‘proof’ against the Flood.
  4. Moshier claims that bent strata in Grand Canyon exhibit “abundant evidence of brittle fracture and slippage along surfaces” according to “mainstream geologists” (citing in a footnote a single page from an MA thesis).25 The evidence, however, strongly suggests such folding occurred while the sediments were wet.
  5. Moshier attempts to offer much (supposed) evidence against the Flood, several charges of which can be answered here. Salt deposits are seen as a “serious problem for Flood geology”—not so, when they are shown to be, not evaporates, but catastrophic magmatic intrusions. Clay formation is also proffered as a major blow to Flood geology as, in Moshier’s view, it can only be formed as a result of soil weathering and slow run-off and deposition. However, it has been shown that fine clays and muds come out of suspension quickly in high speed water flows, as would be typical during the Flood. Limestone deposits likewise are interpreted within a strict grown-in-place uniformitarian perspective, and therefore as proof against the Flood. However, evidence shows fossil limestone contains the hallmarks of catastrophic deposition. Moshier argues against the possibility that the Flood could erode and deposit sediments thousands of meters thick. This would be impossible, he claims, due to slow water velocities, which he calculates on the basis of the average water depth increase and decrease needed to cover the mountains during the flooding and recessional stages. However, this again is a straw-man argument as it requires Flood geologists to adhere to a tranquil Flood scenario. No such constraint is necessary when a straightforward reading of the Genesis account implies an extremely violent initiation to the Flood.26 It is not vertical movement of water but lateral movement which would give rise to the erosional energies required to lay down and carve up the massive global sequences of thick strata. Water movement due to uplift and sinking of land would have been sufficient to cause extremely high energy environments.27

Much more could be said about The Lost World of the Flood. Suffice to say it is a subterfuge and a treatise on how not to believe the Bible. The section on geology by Moshier is also full of misinformation; this book should therefore not be commended. But together, the authors of The Lost World of the Flood play fast-and-loose with biblical authority and inerrancy.

Conclusion

These three works by Walton represent a subtle, but serious attack on biblical inerrancy. In denying the physical realities taught in Scripture regarding the material origins of Creation, Adam and Eve, and the global nature of the historic Flood, Walton has (at least as regards Scripture’s historical claims), promoted dangerous teaching to the church. The Lost World series of Professor John H. Walton risks causing many of those who read his books to become lost themselves, if they accept his views at face value. Walton’s writings do not offer the reader the reasonable middle ground between theology and science as claimed. His books instead offer scholarly rationalizations for doubting the Bible. The end result of Walton’s teaching is to place in the mouth of Christ and the Word of His Heavenly Father falsehood and error. This is tantamount to blasphemy and should be rejected by discerning readers. Walton’s Lost World series should therefore be exposed as the dangerous works of false teaching that they are.

References and notes

  1. “The easiest, casual reading of the text (and one that has been believed for millennia), or one that did not have access to ancient Near Eastern texts, would suggest a de novo creation of human beings.” Walton, J.H., The Lost World of Adam and Eve, InterVarsity Press, Illinois, p. 192, 2015. Return to text.
  2. Weeks, N.K., The Bible and the “Universal” Ancient World: A critique of John Walton, Westminster Theological Journal 78:1–28, (p. 26), 2016. Return to text.
  3. Samson, J. Sola Scriptura (Part 1), posted February 10, 2006 on reformationtheology.com/2006/02/sola_scriptura_part_1_by_pasto.php (accessed 23rd January 2019). Return to text.
  4. Ref. 1, pp. 50–51, 2015. Return to text.
  5. Walton, J.H., The Lost World of Genesis One, InterVarsity Press, Illinois, p. 168, 2009. Return to text.
  6. Ref. 5, p. 168. Return to text.
  7. See Philip Bell’s section ‘Pre-Adamic sin?’ in Bell, P., Evolution and the Christian Faith, Day One Publications, Leominster, pp. 159-162, 2018. Return to text.
  8. Ref. 1, p. 78. Return to text.
  9. Ref. 1, p. 78. Return to text.
  10. Ref. 1, p. 184. Return to text.
  11. Ref. 1, p. 188. Return to text.
  12. Walton, J.H., The Lost World of the Flood: Mythology, theology and the deluge debate, InterVarsity Press, Illinois, pp. 48–49, 2018. Return to text.
  13. Ref. 12, p. 45. Return to text.
  14. Ref. 12, p.49. Return to text.
  15. Ref. 12, p. 39. Return to text.
  16. Ref. 12, p. 41. Return to text.
  17. biologos.org/author/stephen-o-moshier (accessed 23rd December 2018). Return to text.
  18. Ref. 12, pp. 150–161. Return to text.
  19. Ref. 12, p. 150. Return to text.
  20. Ref. 12, p. 153. Return to text.
  21. Ref. 12, p. 154. Return to text.
  22. Baumgardner, J.R., Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: the physics behind the Genesis Flood; in: Ivey Jr., R.L. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 113–126, 2003. Return to text.
  23. Ref. 12, pp. 154–161. Return to text.
  24. Whitmore, J.H. and Garner, P.A., The Coconino Sandstone (Permian, Arizona, USA): Implications for the origin of ancient cross-bedded sandstones; in: Whitmore, J.H. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 581–627, 2018. Return to text.
  25. Niglio, L. C., “Fracture Analysis of Precambrian and Paleozoic Rocks in Selected Areas of the Grand Canyon National Park, USA”, MA thesis, University of Oklahoma, p. 68, 2004. Return to text.
  26. Grand Canyon basement evidence strongly suggests the violent initiation of the Flood whereby huge clasts of underlying rock (reportedly up to 130 ft in length) are emplaced into overlying layers, see: Austin, S.A., Wise, K., The pre-Flood/Flood Boundary: As Defined in Grand Canyon, Arizona and eastern Mojave Desert, California, in R. E. Walsh (Ed.), Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 1-10, (3), 1994. Return to text.
  27. Prabhu, R., Horstemeyer, M. F. and Brewer, W., Ocean Circulation Velocities over the Continents during Noah’s Flood in Snelling, A.A. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 247–254, 2008. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Colin W.
I feel so disappointed when I see someone who ought to champion God's word really destroying it. Walton does all this because he has an imperfect scientific knowledge so squeezes his square peg into a round hole. That he says there is no geological evidence of a global flood shouts his ignorance. Sad.
Dominic Statham
Sadly, he also has a low view of Scripture and values so-called 'science' (the word of man) above the Word of God.
Robert S.
The serpent continues to hiss, "Hath God said....?" as he did 6,000 years ago. His injection of doubt worked to divide Eve from God and it is working with many today.

Excellent article. Thank you for the reviews and the rebuttals backed up with Scripture as well as with the recounting of supporting physical evidences. Keep it up!
Gavin Cox
Yes, I agree. Many thanks for your encouraging words Robert!
Joshua B.
Sounds like this set of works is a classic example of 2 Peter 3 thinking.

2 Peter 3:3–7 (KJV 1900): Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
Mark P.
This view of “ANE thinking” is a “fudge factor” for interpretation, to borrow a term from science.

It goes against common sense that after the lessons of the 10 plagues, revelation to Moses would be based on false beliefs of ancient cultures. Or else, the series will continue with a book about Lost World of Exodus :(
John C.
This is obviously not the first time someone supposedly from 'within Christianity' has been taken to task in your excellent reviews. What bothers me most is the basic intellectual and spiritual dishonesty of such a person. He is a professor at a supposed Christian College, and yet what does he find in Christianity but disappointment and untruth. How scholastically unsatisfying that must be. I pray God opens his eyes and heart. If not, I pray he will have the fortitude to remove himself from that environment, and seek employment among the Darwinians upon whom he looks as so many gods.
Dan M.
There is a common thread with all false theology. It is that those who propose theology opposite to and modified from scripture, make it up as they go along. They stretch, distort and misquote scripture to suit their desires. Modified scripture is an invention of the mind to make God more palatable to those who oppose Him from the beginning and don’t like the ramifications of the Fall. The Muslims did it, the Mormons did it etc. All ancient and modern-day cults do it and it is a clear distortion of God’s word. It is tragic how they will believe anything but God's word that claims [to be] an eye-witness account. It is archaeologically right on and where it touches on science it is right on. Clearly there was a watery global catastrophe in the past. We know this by the unique rock formations we see today all containing marine fossils. There is only one way marine fossils got to the top of the mountains (unless they can defy gravity). We can see that all living things are mind-boggling complex bio-molecular machines that beg design. So, what gives? Accept God’s Word or totally abandon it at your peril! He ultimately left the choice up to you. John 3:3.
Ask yourself, why is it that so-called scholars compare the bible to all the secular (fabricated) history to ascertain its correctness, rather than the other way around. They give secular history more weight and It is clear bias.
Glenn L.
As a convert from liberalism, it appears to me that the denigration of ancient Israel in the Flood book will probably give more ammunition to the growing antisemitic, anti Israel sentiment among liberal religionists. As for me, "Thy Word is (and will continue to be) a lamp unto my feet."
Mike D.
Just heartbreaking. I know one thing. I'd hate to be them trying to defend this sell out of Jesus the Creator, inerrancy of scripture & the creation account which Jesus did validate Himself. When Romans 1:20 says God made it plainly obvious to ALL, that includes these sell out compromised. Jesus warned what would happen to those harming children [in their disposition] towards the Gospel [Matthew 18:6, Ed.]. I think that's true with adults too. James says true believers are known by their works! Jesus warns about [being] lukewarm & many that claim all these works but never knew Him will have to depart from Him. It's certainly not the Holy Spirit leading to this "knowledge". Reminds me of a man telling me once that the Holy Spirit had lead him to divorce his wife & marry the woman he was having an affair with. I asked him. Would the Holy Spirit lead you to do anything contrary to scripture? I then put my Bible in front of him & asked him to show me where scripture validated what he said. He got quiet. I said I can show you the exact opposite. Do you want me to? Let me just say the price he & his family paid for him doing that was massive. I really fear that the cost these compromised & sell-outs of the Bible & Jesus will pay will be also massive unless there is true repentance!!!
Gian Carlo B.
Michael Jones (aka: Inspiring Philosophy) has a video interviewing John Walton on his book The Lost World of The Flood. He also made numerous videos [in] which he attempts to reconcile evolution to the Bible. I haven’t watched those videos since I know the usual rhetoric will be employed.
I’ll be honest: I have nothing against social sciences giving us an interpretative framework to understand the Bible. Many passages in Scripture are best understood if we are informed of the sociological context, including our understanding of grace and faith, as well as Leviticus and some passages in the book of Judges. But I also see Gavin Cox’s point that such practice may lead to some form of elitism, no different than what the Reformers perceived towards the Catholic Church. However, this is why Christians, particularly laymen, needs to inform themselves and do research on their own. Don’t stick with what experts say solely. When it comes to the first 11 chapters of Genesis, while it’s helpful to know the social contexts, it won’t do much since ultimately, those 11 chapters, particularly the first two, talk about the origin of the universe and man. The hermeneutics indicates it so, the Orthodox Jews and all Church Fathers understood what it meant, and they were just as educated. It’s also helpful to point out John Walton is [in] a minority since he claims things no OT researcher takes seriously. This is an example of how Walton takes a sociological framework too far beyond its proper scope. Critical thinking still is important in discerning the words of a few experts versus a healthy use of hermeneutics that is available to the public. Academic knowlege should be available to everyone, and I think the Reformers made that point or wouldn’t surprise me if they had back then.
Philip Bell
Unfortunately, it's not accurate to say that "no OT researcher takes seriously" Walton's claims. Far too many people do follow his lead, and that of other scholars like him.
Kathy K.
This is an excellent article. I can see the wheels turning in Satan’s head in inventing new/old lies to draw God’s people away from the truth in Genesis. These men are hitting the bottom of the barrel of garbage in order to come up up with such contradictions.

There are also very good comments to the article, too. The bottom line is we accept God’s Word as truth and as inerrant. Thanks for the watchmen keeping their voice right out front to inform Christians.
Richard H.
Check out the Statement of Faith on Wheaton's website [i.e. where John Walton works as Old Testament scholar and Professor, Ed.]. It includes these statements:

WE BELIEVE that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures, and in a state of original righteousness.

WE BELIEVE that our first parents sinned by rebelling against God’s revealed will and thereby incurred both physical and spiritual death, and that as a result all human beings are born with a sinful nature that leads them to sin in thought, word, and deed.

I wonder how Mr. Walton's views square with these?
Kerry K.
It's truly disgusting for you to denigrate one of the best Scholars out there. Sad, how you have to brainwash your people and spoon feed them only what agrees with YOU. I've been a Christian for almost 40 years. Walton's books are an excellent resource. Just because you dont agree with his conclusions does not imply his works are a lost cause. Sick. Truly sad.
Philip Bell
Are you as concerned with the denigration of Scripture? Is it not more sad when influential Christian scholars teach people to make God's Word subservient to human opinion?
David R.
If you can disprove Genesis, then you disprove Jesus Christ. Their real goal.
Nathan K.
Thanks for your article. I really enjoyed Walton's books and have not really been dissuaded from him by your article. I am reasonably sure we all agree that the main message of Genesis is not 'how long God took to create'. Like Walton, and I am confident like you too, we all believe the message is about God as creator, mankind as his gerent, sin as the problem and Jesus as the saviour. Whatever we think about whether Eve was made out of an actual rib or not - the main point remains the same. As you say the church fathers were unanimous that God is creator (although not all YEC) and Walton too believes the same. God can create via evolution or other means if he wants to, differing opinions cannot all be right, but they can all be saved. Thanks again for your article.
Gavin Cox
Hi Nathan,
Thanks for reading my article and thanks for taking the time to offer your comment. Sorry I haven't changed your mind though. The main reason why we cannot accept the millions of years of evolution is that it places death before Adam sinned. Walton allows for the death of pre-Adamites meaning Adam was not the first man, which is clear from Scripture that Adam was the first man, and secondly, death came after sin. It is not just a case of 'how long God took to create'. These are gospel central issues. Take for instance this verse Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." If evolution and millions of years are true, then this central gospel text is false. How so? Because death was already part of the natural order long before Adam was ever around to sin. Secondly, as God pronounced his creation "very good" at the end of Creation Week (Genesis 1:31) if evolution and millions of years are true, what of the fossils that contain cancer, brain tumours and evidence of death, disease and suffering? God would, therefore, be the creator of all these terrible things and be calling them "very good". This is not the God of the Bible.
You also mention that not all the Church Fathers were YEC (I prefer the term biblical creationists). As far as I am aware, they all held to the earth's age of not more than 6000 years Orthodoxy and Genesis: What the fathers really taught also Old-earth or young-earth belief Which belief is the recent aberration? also see The Church Fathers on the Genesis Flood for just a selection of articles (there are more on CMI's web site), that show the Church Fathers to-a-man did believe in a young biblical age for the earth.
David S.
Another day, another smiling false teacher. I am beginning to think the chasm between bible believers and bible deceivers is too wide to bridge without a radical Holy Spirit reformation. People have entrenched themselves in positions defiant of the living God to the point that WHEN He purifies His bride, they may be left on the outside looking in. I know I have blind spots, however, and I displease my Savior on a regular basis, so I will pray for the church to come together under the banner of biblical authority till we all attain to the mature man. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Russell N.
Mr. Gavin Cox,

I am so glad that you are the one that wrote this most scholarly, apropos critique of Walton's books! ... Walton completely/totally perverts & destroys everything about God & His character, what He has created & done for us through Jesus Christ. Walton also does the same thing to the Gospel, Adam & Eve, and all Biblical teachings about everything, especially including what Paul taught us about the Gospel, the Fall & sin in Romans 5 & etc., and et al. ... Yes, Walton's teachings are very dangerous! When I first started reading this article, I knew immediately that Walton has to believe in mysticism as well. This really is what so much of the New Age Movement is all about. I cannot prove this about Walton himself, but this is the impression he definitely leaves with me. The bottom line for me is that Walton unfortunately possesses an irrational, inexcusable absurdism of what the Bible & reality teach us. Yes, Walton is lost in his own world. We can only hope & pray to God that he himself is not a lost cause.
Gavin Cox
Thanks for your response Russell, I am not sure about Walton and mysticism though, we can only deal with the arguments in front of us and deal with them biblically, rigorously and graciously which is what I've attempted to do in this article. Yours, Gavin
Guy G.
Walton follows the usual pattern of elite theologians....

1) He's afraid of science, so he cowers to it, making it superior to the Bible.
2) This fear makes him compromise his doctrine, reshaping it to fit the "science, so called"
3) This results in a scenario that seriously waters down the gospel, making the need to be saved rather irrelevent.

Wheaton has been compromised for a long time. It is so sad that these theologians are more concerned about how they look to non-believing godless atheists rather than believing, science-based Biblical creationists.

My second criticism is that he is "following the money"....writing a "series" of books is a financial windfall, and he's capitalizing on it.

My last comment relates to the overall impact of a compromising Christian college; My undergrad education was at a state university. They taught evolution, and I expected it, and I dismissed it. What else can you expect from godless atheists? But the problem gets more complicated when a Christian goes to a "Christian college" and learns what is essentially a compromised view of Creation. The professors are "authorities", right? I'm currently fighting that problem with the three of my five children who learned a less-than-Biblical view of Creation from a "Christian college". When death is merely part of the "circle of life", the need and significance of a Savior to conquer death becomes more of a 'nice philosophy' than a necessary part of life.
Gavin Cox
Thanks Guy for your comments, and may the Lord protect your children from the compromised teaching they have received.
Brett A.
Good article. Thank you for writing this review and suffering through these three books. I read The Lost World of Adam and Eve, recently. I know, firsthand, these are painful reads for those who love the Word of God. Walton takes compromise to a new level, IMO. It's either heresy or dangerously close.

What strikes me most, however, is the absurdity of his arguments. The vast majority of his readers (including many young Christians at Wheaton), will not reproduce them. They'll, instead, conclude Genesis is a complicated mess that no one can truly understand—even Christian scholars. All views are valid, and serious study is probably not worth the effort. That's the real tragedy.

Thanks for the much needed critique.
John P.
As is so often the case with people like Walton their ideas are more akin to foolishness and unbelief and we indeed need to let sripture interpret scripture. This bloke's books are not worth wasting one's money on and reading. He needs to swallow his pride, repent and believe what God plainly tells him in the bible rather than try to force his myths and fairytales into it. He probably has no idea of ANE thought anyway. Some of those stories are a distortion of the truth as happens when people rely on oral tradition. Had literacy been more common in that area the distortion would have been less unless they had the equivalent of Darwin, Lyell and Huxley in which case distortion would be deliberate.If Walton lets scripture be scripture he would see the obvious- all fossils and the current topography on this planet result from Noah's flood and the after effects- the ice age.Moses could not have been any clearer in describing the flood. One does wonder at times how intelligent are some bible scholars or are they wolves in sheeps; clothing. We do indeed need to pray for these people that the Holy Spirit gets His Foot into the door of their hearts.
Gian Carlo B.
I've been reading JP Holding and Nick Peter's "Contextualizing Inerrancy", and in Chapter 16: The Genesis Wave, written by Nick Peters, essentially hand waves the issue that the age of the Earth doesn't matter and unsurprisingly, cites John Walton's Lost World of Genesis. What's interesting is how he dances on the Inerrancy part. He cites Walton's "Lost World off Scripture" and talks about the three locutions of Scripture and says that Walton and Sandy are of the illocution (what is the intention and message meant to get across). So basically, it amounts to nothing new: "Genesis is talking about that God is Creator, not how He created, so shut up about the whole meaning of day and how old is the Earth according to the text." He also says previously how we have "married Theism to science" and "look for Americanized answers in an ANE text with an honor-shame society background". Much further back he explains Walton's functional origin position and how he concludes (fallaciously, albeit with a premise of "If Walton's interpretation is true...") that the issue shouldn't matter. Of course you guys already dealt and my conversation with Doyle where you guys grant the functional approach but argue that the causal and efficient causation approach. I respect these guys and I enjoy reading their Kindle book, however it's clear that they are not fit to comment appropriately in these issues and haven't dug deep enough to make educated conclusions on these matters.
Gavin Cox
Thanks Gian for your comment. What strikes me about Walton's books is that he claims to have found the 'missing key' to understanding and correctly interpreting Genesis, and that even Jesus Himself and the Apostle Paul and the other NT writers, to a man, (not to mention the Church Fathers), were all mistaken about understanding Genesis as a straighforward account of history. Really, Walton's position is astonishingly arrogant, implying he knows better than the Creator Himself.

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