Christian leaders who uphold Genesis
Modern-era theologians and prominent church leaders from around the world affirm biblical creation (historical Genesis)
Published: 5 August 2014 (GMT+10)
The modern creation movement is mostly driven by those with primarily scientific qualifications. Some of a theological bent argue that we scientists don’t understand the ‘genre’ of Genesis (i.e. we are theological ignoramuses) and that Genesis is not meant to be understood as history. In part answer to this, I have listed here just some of those with theological qualifications who have taken a public stand for understanding Genesis as straightforward history, just as we scientists do. Those listed represent a wide spectrum, from pastors and evangelists to professors of church history, theology, and Hebrew, and from various church affiliations.
(Note: this list is not meant to be exhaustive. So, the absence of names of staff from a given theological institution should not be read as meaning that there are none at that institution. Also, we will update this article periodically with additional names.)
(In alphabetical order)
Randy Alcorn, MA in Biblical Studies, author of Heaven, and president of Eternal Perspective Ministries. He became a biblical creationist because “the straightforward reading of the text seemed to me to say it’s a young earth.” He also believes that the problem of evil “cannot be properly understood without accepting Creation, the Fall, and Redemption as real history.”
Dr Peter Barnes, lecturer in church history at the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Sydney. He has published a commentary on Galatians (Evangelical Press) and many articles. He wrote: “… if God wanted us to understand the creation week as a literal week, He could hardly have made the point any clearer…. The theological argument is also compelling. According to the Bible, there was no death until there was sin. The creation is cursed only after Adam sinned (cf. Genesis 3; Romans 5:12–21; 8:19–25). This implies that all the fossils of dead animals must date from after Adam’s fall. If there was blood and violence in the creation before Adam sinned, the theological structure of the biblical message would appear to suffer considerable dislocation.”
Dr Todd Beall, Professor of Old Testament, Capital Bible Seminary, Lanham, MD, USA: “… if the inerrant Scripture in Gen 1 states that God created the world in six literal days, then why should we not simply accept it, rather than try to find all kinds of ways to explain it away? Sometimes the plain, simplest, most natural reading of the text is, indeed the best. Such is the case with Gen 1, despite all the attempts to explain it in some other, more complicated way.”
Joe Boot, Senior Pastor of Westminster Chapel in Toronto, the President of Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity and the former Executive Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) Canada; he continues to serve as an adjunct speaker with RZIM. He has authored, Searching for Truth, Why I Still Believe, and How then Shall We Answer? He is visiting lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Christian apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford England, and is a contributing author to the major apologetics volume Beyond Opinion. Pastor Boot said,
“Since the doctrines of Creation, the Fall and Redemption stand in an absolute historical continuum, we get a distorted worldview when we play games with Genesis.
“The apologist seeks to present biblical truth with coherence. In my experience, one cannot even formulate a compelling response to classic questions like the problem of evil and pain without a clear stand with Scripture on the creation issue.
“I have never been able to see how anyone who wants to defend the faith and proclaim the Gospel can compromise the foundation stones of that defence and then expect clear-thinking people to find a proclamation of salvation in Christ compelling.”
Dr Steven Boyd, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, The Master’s Seminary (TMS). Qualifications: B.S., M.S., Drexel University, Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary; M.Phil., Ph.D., Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. Dr Boyd has shown, using a statistical comparison of verb type frequencies of historical and poetic Hebrew texts, that Genesis 1 is clearly historical narrative, not ‘poetry’. He concluded, “There is only one tenable view of its plain sense: God created everything in six literal days.”
Dr J. Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of the multi-campus Reformed Theological Seminary, USA. He is also the John E. Richards professor of systematic and historical theology at RTS in Jackson, Miss. His Ph.D. is from University of Edinburgh, New College (Scotland) in the field of Patristics.
Dr Travis R. Freeman, Associate Professor of Old Testament at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, USA. Dr Freeman argues for the strict historicity of the genealogical records in Genesis.
Dr Kenneth Gentry, Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Classical College, Elkton, Maryland. He co-authored Yea, Hath God Said? (see review) in which he makes it very clear that he stands for the time-honoured understanding of Genesis as history.
Dr David W. Hall, Senior Pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA), Powder Springs, Georgia, USA. He was also the Founder and Senior Fellow of the Kuyper Institute in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Dr Hall is the author or editor of over 20 books, including Holding Fast to Creation, and numerous essays. He is also co-author of Did God Create in Six Days? where he and Dr Joseph Pipa critique non-literal views of Genesis (see below).
Rev. Peter Hastie, Principal and Pastoral Dean at Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne, Australia, where he lectures in systematic theology and apologetics. Dr Hastie takes a clear stand on the historicity of Genesis and its importance for the Gospel message of the New Testament.
Dr Joel D. Heck, Professor of Theology at Concordia University, Austin, Texas, author of the concise book In the Beginning God:Creation from God’s Perspective, defends the historicity of Genesis. He holds a Th.M. in Old Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity and a Th.D. in Exegetical Theology from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
Dr Michael Hildenbrand, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Toccoa Falls Georgia. Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible (U.C. Berkeley), M.A. in Old Testament (Western Baptist Seminary) Th.B. (Multnomah University.
Dr Francis Humphrey, former lecturer (retired) in Old Testament Studies in the Faculté de Théologie Évangélique de Montréal, Acadia University. He was also the Senior Pastor of The Peoples Church of Montreal, Canada, until illness forced him to retire. He has written on the meaning of yom (Hebrew for ‘day’) in Genesis 1, clearly showing his support for a literal creation week. His book Origins and Redemption (Word Alive Press, 2013), also makes very clear his position.
Dr Douglas Kelly, Jordan Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theology Seminary, in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. He wrote the book, Creation and Change, wherein he made a strong case for a historical Genesis.
D. James Kennedy (1930–2007), M.Div., was senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Florida. He founded Knox Theological Seminary, Westminster Academy, and Evangelism Explosion International. He also was president of Creation Studies Institute. His strong stance for biblical creation is preserved in his sermons on creation versus evolution.
Herbert Carl Leupold (1891–1972) was professor of Old testament Exegesis in the Capital University Seminary, Colombus, Ohio. He authored the highly regarded Exposition of Genesis, Baker Book House, MI, 1942, where he said of Genesis, “The account as it stands expects the impartial reader to accept it as entirely literal and historical. The use made of it in the rest of Sacred Scriptures treats every part referred to as sober fact, not as a fancy-picture.”
Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981), famous British pastor and Bible teacher: “I would contend that the early chapters of Genesis, the first three chapters of Genesis, are given to us as history. We know that there are pictures and symbols in the Bible, and when the Bible uses symbol and parable it indicates that it is doing so, but when it presents something to us in the form of history, it requires us to accept it as history.”
Dr John Macarthur, President of The Master’s College, California, USA. Dr Macarthur authored The Battle for the Beginning, where he contended for the time-honoured grammatical-historical understanding of Genesis. In an interview he made his position very clear, saying, “Evangelicals need to recover their biblical convictions and creationism, and believe what God has plainly said—whether or not worldly minds approve of it.”
Dr Robert V. McCabe, M.Div., Th.M., Th.D., is on faculty at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (teaching Old Testament and Hebrew). He has written an in-depth defence of a literal understanding of the six days of creation week in the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal. He says of the importance of Genesis: “Genesis is the foundation for the remaining 65 books of the Bible. It reveals a number of subjects that have an impact on people of all ages: God’s existence; His goodness in creating the heavens, the earth and all things in both over the space of six, consecutive normal days; His direct creation of His divine image bearers, the first human beings Adam and Eve, on Day 6; His appointment of Adam as vice-regent over creation; the Fall of Adam along with the resultant Curse on the created order; the global Flood in Noah’s day; the tower of Babel; and the birth of the Israelite nation.”
Dr Peter Masters is the pastor of Spurgeon’s famous Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, U.K. In a sermon delivered on 14 January 2014, Dr Masters said, “Everything has its foundation in this book [Genesis]… It’s a book of literal history; it’s presented in the Word of God as literal events, as history.” Dr Masters has been a consistent advocate of the historicity of Genesis.
Dr Albert Mohler is President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kentucky, USA, and Professor of Theology. Dr Mohler recognizes that it is not just ‘evolution’ that is a problem for the Gospel, but the push to accept long ages: “The Genesis account also teaches that God’s judgment on that sin has cosmic effects. If you adhere to an old-earth position, you have a very difficult time explaining how the effects of the Fall—death, disease and suffering—show up long before Adam and Eve.”
Professor Dr Mart-Jan Paul, serves as Professor of Old Testament at the Christelijke Hogeschool Ede (Christian University of Applied Sciences) in Holland and as Professor of Old Testament at the Evangelical Theological Faculty at Leuven in Belgium. He studied theology at the University of Leiden and his doctoral thesis (Ph.D.) was on the history of exegesis, especially about the book of Deuteronomy.
Dr Joseph A. Pipa, Jr, President of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is co-author of Did God Create in Six Days? where he critiques non-literal views of Genesis, particularly what is known as the Framework Hypothesis, which was invented in the 1920s.
Dr Stephen R. Schrader, Old Testament Department Chair and Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament, Baptist Bible Graduate School, Springfield, Missouri since 1995.
Dr Pieter Siebesma, Professor in Religious Studies and Missiology at Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (EFT), Leuven, Belgium. He is a Hebrew scholar, with his doctorate from Rijksuniversiteit, Leiden, The Netherlands. He is an expert in Semitic languages and Judaica and has written dozens of articles, books and reviews in these fields. He also has degrees in science (Bachelors and Masters).
Charles (‘Chuck’) Smith (1927–2013), Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, California, and founder of the Calvary Chapel movement that numbers 1,500 congregations around the world. Pastor Chuck was a long-term encourager of biblical creation ministries, hosting many conferences, and speaking at them as well. In an obituary in the LA Times, Pastor Smith was called “one of the most influential figures in modern American Christianity.”
Dr Andrew Steinmann, Distinguished Professor of Theology and Hebrew, and University Marshal, Concordia University, Chicago. He has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. He has written commentaries on several Old Testament books and many theological papers. He is a member of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew (USA). Dr Steinmann has no doubt that Genesis teaches that God created in “a succession of six solar days” and that it is meant to be understood as real history.
C. Jonathan Stephen, Principal of Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST), formerly Brynterion Bible College, where he teaches systematic theology and homiletics (the art of preaching). He is past President of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches in the U.K.
Dr Ting Wang lectures on biblical Hebrew at Stanford University in California. He has a M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in California (Escondido), a doctorate in Biblical Studies at the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion (Cincinnati, Ohio). Amongst many affirmations of the historicity of Genesis, Dr Wang said,
“Often, people will use the old argument that we should concentrate on preaching the Gospel, rather than get distracted by ‘side-issues’ such as Creation. But if we cannot believe the record of Creation, then why believe the record of the New Creation (‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a New Creation; the old is gone, the new has come’—2 Corinthians 5:17)?”
“If we cannot believe in the First Adam, why believe in the Last [1 Corinthians 15:45]? Death came through the First, life through the Last [1 Corinthians 15:21–22].”
Dr John Whitcomb, Old Testament theologian, and co-author with hydraulics engineer the late Dr Henry M. Morris of The Genesis Flood. No other single work before or since has so effectively encouraged Christians’ belief in the historicity of Genesis, and the divine inspiration, scientific accuracy, and authority of the Bible as a whole. Dr Whitcomb devoted his Th.D. thesis (Grace Theological Seminary) to defending flood geology. Dr Whitcomb also wrote The World that Perished, and commentaries on Daniel and Esther.
Gerald Irvin Williamson (b. 1925), Reformed theologian, pastor for 50 years, and author; see his A Defense of Six-Day Creation.
Dr Benno Zuiddam, research professor (extraordinary associate) for New Testament Studies, Greek and Church History at the faculty of Theology at North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. He has earned doctorates in the fields of the Classics and Theology. He also serves with Greenwich School of Theology (UK) as tutor for Ph.D. projects.
Dr Zuiddam made his view clear that Genesis is meant to be understood as literal history when he was interviewed for Creation magazine. Dr Zuiddam explains that Genesis “is the account of the beginning, not only of this world, but also of God’s relationship with mankind. It teaches us about an intrinsically good God and a beautiful creation that was messed up by Adam’s sin. It tells about a loving God who didn’t give up on His creation, who singled out the families of Noah and later on Abraham, when the world at large was not interested in serving Him.”
He is an expert in church history and he is clear that the church has generally understood that “God created this world in a very short period of time, under ten thousand years ago. Whether you read Irenaeus in the 2nd century, Basil in the 4th, Augustine in the 5th, Thomas Aquinas in the 13th, the Reformers of the 16th century, or Pope Pius X in the 19th, they all teach this. They all believed in a good creation and God’s curse striking the earth—and the whole creation—after the disobedience of a literal Adam and Eve.”
All those mentioned above are ‘evangelical’ scholars; those who believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. To them we might add the testimony of non-evangelical experts in Hebrew, such as Oxford University’s Professor James Barr, who clearly stated that the intention of the author(s) of Genesis 1–11 meant what was written to be understood as history (six literal days of creation, global Flood of Noah, a chronology of the world from the beginning). Other professors at leading secular universities agree with Professor Barr.
It is clear how Genesis is meant to be understood; as history (a record of events that really happened in time and space). It is also clear that it has been understood that way almost universally until modern times.