[This article was contributed by Apollos]
Whatever has creationism got to do with the year 607 B.C.E?
Good question. Please allow me to explain …
Let me start with this quotation:
Events recorded in the Bible are in full harmony with proved historical facts. [Mankind’s Search for God, chap. 14 p. 340]
After a careful reexamination of all the texts pertaining to the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah, and also referred to in Chronicles and Daniel, I am personally more convinced than ever that the Bible is fully compatible with the enormous body of evidence from secular history that Jerusalem was destroyed around 587 B.C.E. There is no scripture that cannot be reconciled to this evidential chronology if studied carefully.
That being the case I would like to draw attention to a parallel.
We bash fundamental creationists for effectively bringing God’s Word into disrepute. Despite the scientific evidence to the contrary they stick with a literal reading of the creative days in Genesis chapter 1. The effect is that it repels thinking people from God’s true Word since they falsely perceive that belief in evidential science is not compatible with belief in the Bible.
For instance, creationists often say that the entire universe was created in six literal 24-hour days some 6,000 years ago. With teachings like this, they misrepresent the Bible [g04 6/22 p. 11]
This extreme view has invited the ridicule of geologists, astronomers, and physicists, for it contradicts their findings. … Thus, the idea of creation has been given a bad name by creationists and fundamentalists. [w94 9/1 p. 6]
Failing to handle the “word of the truth aright” brings God’s Word into disrepute. (2 Tim 2:15)
But let us be brutally honest with ourselves. The reason we criticize creationists is not because what they teach conflicts with God’s Word. We criticize them because what they teach conflicts with secular evidence. If the evidence from science and archaeology allowed for a six-day creation then of course we would not say “but an alternative understanding of Genesis chapter one allows for a longer period so we will go with that”. No, we seek to reconcile the Bible with observable evidence.
Yet, when we get to the chronology surrounding 607 B.C.E. and 1914 we do the exact opposite. In fact we do the identical thing to the creationists by teaching that Jerusalem must have been destroyed in 607 B.C.E. Our reasons for clinging to this date are to prop up a dying doctrine first proposed by Adventists around 200 years ago. Unfortunately we also made it a cornerstone of our own doctrines, and have now built some pretty important stuff (from the viewpoint of the leadership) on this foundation of sand.
What are your thoughts about the following quotes from creationists? (they just happen to be the first few I came across via Google):
Were the days 24 hours? Most definitely! “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). [http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v18/n1/six-days]
There is much evidence that Creation is a correct understanding of origins, but the belief that Creation took place in six literal days is based primarily on Scripture. Here are some evidence from Scripture to support this view: [http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/did-creation-take-place-6-literal-days]
It seems clear to us that those who truly believe the Bible ought to repudiate this hoary day/age theory once and for all. [http://www.icr.org/article/838/]
Now if you are a believer in Jehovah God as creator, but you are not a six literal day creationist, then how do these quotes make you feel? I’ll tell you what I feel. They make me feel upset that fundamentalists would push a barrier between people and God by demanding a reading of the text in conflict with hard evidence, when no such conflict need exist.
Now consider this quote from a recent Watchtower defending against the archaeological evidence of when Jerusalem was destroyed.:
Since the Bible explicitly says that the exile lasted for 70 years, it must have begun in 607 B.C.E. [w11 11/1 p. 22 When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part Two]
I challenge you to find where the Bible explicitly says any such thing. If you think you have done so please use the comments, and I will respond to show why that is most certainly not the case.
Just as it is with the fundamental creationist, this insistence that there is a conflict between God’s Word and the available evidence drives a wedge between the thinking person and God.
Any serious Bible student coming at this topic without preconception will ultimately have no problem in reconciling all of the available Bible texts with the findings of archaeology (no more than he or she will have a problem in reconciling Genesis chapter 1 with the fossil record and paleontological dating).
It is only when someone approaches the subject with an axe to grind that the texts become fixed into a distorted interpretation. They will ignore certain texts (such as Jer 25:11,12), and read others superficially without considering how they harmonize with the full body of scripture (such as 2 Ch 36:21).
Of course, if you have been sold on the idea that loyalty to “present truth” (even if it is false), is still an act of loyalty to God, then you are in a bit of a fix. No matter how diligently you study this subject, you are still obliged to teach something that God’s Word does not say, and thus dishonor that Word by bringing it into conflict with the clear evidence that would otherwise actually give credit to our God of accurate prophecy.
I don’t doubt that some creationists are in the same boat. If they wish to be loyal to their churches then they must dismiss the ever increasing secular evidence, and maintain the God dishonoring position that faith is somehow opposed to evidence.
We must either be loyal to “our church” in the same way, or humbly accept that the truth of God’s Word is more important than any pet doctrines we wish to preserve.
Which course is truly an act of loyalty to Jehovah God?