The battle for truth has had its own killing fields. The first fight in human history was fought in the area of "Did God really say...?"
This region of debate has such strategic importance that conflict continues to flare up there. The war will be won or lost on the battle fields of the authority of the Word of God. And one of the citadels that has regularly been besieged in that territory has been the account of creation.
In our day, fresh battles are being fought, but the bullets are flying on battle-weary fields that bear the scars of centuries of conflict. Does God know what he is talking about? Is his word reliably accurate. In particular, if we can evict him from his place as King of the Castle of Creation, can we become the masters of our own fate?
New battles, but the same old battle ground. So I was interested to read John Calvin's perspective in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. He staked out this position of high ground hundreds of years ago when he wrote, "The work of creation was accomplished not in one moment, but in six days" (Book 1, Chapter 14, Section 2). They were fighting about 6-day creationism a long time ago. The same battleground. But Calvin was defending his position against a foe coming from a different direction. A different battle.
Note what Calvin says: creation was accomplished "not in one moment", but in six days. Today, people who question the accuracy of God's Word argue that the Bible's account of creation is too short (it should be 'billions of years', not 6 days). Back then, they were arguing that the Bible's account was too long (it should be 'in one moment' rather than drawn out over 6 slow days!).
So, he continues, "Objection is taken to these progressive steps [six distinct days of creation] as inconsistent with the power of God." If God is God it should all happen in a heartbeat! But, Calvin maintains, those objections only stand "until human reason is subdued to the obedience of faith" - when the outcome of the battle is settled by the triumph of trusting God's Word.
Calvin was battling what seemed to be an utterly unreasonable idea in his day - the idea that God would need six days to get the job done. His defense of the Scriptures at this point was based on the fact that God was willing to take his time setting stars in place and furnishing the earth with all the resources that man would require, spinning it out to fill a full work week so that we would learn to value the sabbath rest symbolized by the pattern that God imposed on himself, and would appreciate the fatherly care of God for us revealed in his painstakingly slow preparation of getting everything we need ready before he created us.
It seems like a successful defense! Those arguments have been blown off the battlefield forever.Nobody says anymore that the Bible cannot be true because God could not possibly have been that slow. We're on the same battleground, but there's a different battle now. Today's offense is based on the notion that the the Bible cannot be true because scientific theories suggest that God could not possibly have done it that fast! All this in six days and a few thousand years! You must be joking! How unreasonable is that!
But whichever direction the attack comes from, the long and the short of it is that Calvin's core strategy was right. There will be no victory "until human reason is subdued to the obedience of faith". Has God spoken? Yes!