John Byl takes on another scholar who doesn’t believe what Genesis 1 says

Reformed scholars often tend to give unaided reason the final say when it comes to the Bible and prophecy.  They use the same sorts of arguments to argue against another biblical teaching many of them don’t like: the literal six day creation.  John Byl has written a delightful response to Scott Clark’s scholarly snubbing of the words of Genesis 1.  Byl is himself Reformed and a young-earth creationist (as were the Westminster Divines).  His article (as most always), is worth your time:



  1. Thanks Paul for this. Six day creation (and deep down as you say, giving unaided reason the final say when it comes to the Bible) is one issue that ultimately I turned away from embracing Reformed theology.

    I remember Fred Butler was trying to dispute that most Reformed teachers are non-six-day-creationists. He cited Gary Demar and John Byl as examples of six day creationist Reformed teachers. But I wonder how mainstream they are: gary Demar and co are normally considered a kook, and John Byl is pretty much more like an Isaiah-type lone figure crying out in the wilderness. If you tally up the number of Reformed teachers who are six day creationists the length looks pitifully short: Gary Demar, John Byl, Tim Challies, Albert Mohler, R.C. Sproul Jr (the not so well known one), John MacArthur, Robert Reymond. In contrast, the non-six-day-creationist list reads like who’s who in the Reformed circle (whether they are YRR or old school Calvinists): John Piper, Tim Keller, R.C. Sproul Sr (the more well known one), Kevin De Young, Michael Horton, Sinclair Ferguson, Bruce Waltke, Peter Enns, Mark Dever, Kim Riddlebarger, Mark Noll, Sam Storms, D.A. Carson, Phillip Jensen, Graeme Goldsworthy, John Dickson, Jonathan Fletcher, Vaughan Roberts.

    In fact tellingly, the notoriously conservative-Reformed OPC refuses to rule out that a refusal to confirm six day creation as the only biblcial stance disqualifies any apstoral applicants from being ordained. There is no question that on the Reformed team, the naturalistic bent runs deep and I’m afraid Fred din’t get it right, six day creationism is a minority (and rapidly decimating) stand in the Reformed “team”. I have experienced this myself, I once mentioned changes to the world’s condition pre- and post-Noahic flood and pretty much became the laughing stock at a Bible study.

    One thing I wish to follow up on was you wrote about theology and the Christian mind some years ago, where you put a point at the time that Reformed scholars became [rightfully] aware that theology should not be passed under the inductive principles through the lens of human observation since man’s mind is corrupted by the Fall (the original article is here ). Wouldn’t the Reformed’s majority/popular stand on science as being something “more reliable than Scriptures’ letter reading” contradict to their attitude towards treating theology that you wrote some time back? If you could clarify this, and explain whether there is a serious disconnect in the Reformed theologians’ thinking it will be great.

    Thanks Paul. Keep up the work. 🙂

    1. Joel,

      The last paragraph of that article where I speak about theology and inductive principles was not referring to hermeneutical issues (as is this post), but to viewing theology as an inductive science open to the same kind of method which the experimental scientist employs in the lab. That is not what is at issue with Clark and most Reformed dignitaries. The issue is in the first place a practiced refusal to submit the reason the the Word if the reason objects loudly enough (say, because of scholarly pressures, etc).

      The disconnect comes up over the lack of affinity between certain beliefs propagated by Reformed CT’s (in this case) and the words of Scripture: words which in a more favored setting would be hung to and stood upon to the letter. This was highlighted in a post I did concerning Kevin DeYoung’s arguing against homosexuality:

      Hope that helps.

      God bless,


  2. Paul, I confess it is probably too deep for me to understand at this stage. If you don’t mind, whether it is possible to suggest whether I’m getting this right:

    Christians who are in the Reformed camp understand that theology as a science cannot be done in the same manner as experimental science – “hypothesis, test for evidence, => conclusion” process because this ultimately derives from rationalism, yet they refuse to consider that when it comes to hermeneutics the same group of Reformed Christians often (not all, but possibly a majority do!) let humanistic reasoning override that the Scriptures plainly says.

    I wonder why it is so difficult for these Reformed Christians to understand that since they profess everything is subject to the fall due to human sin,.it wouldn’t surprise us that even the general revelation has been affected by the Fall, and our own reasoning is subject to corruption due to sin too. This would be consistent with a sovereignist God theology in my understanding. Yet a lot of Arminians and even semi-Pelagians would have no problem accepting six day creation (which is supposed to be in conflict with their own view of man’s fall in the case of semi-Pelagians).

    Thanks, and look forward to spend time to digest mroe of these articles…

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