The Gap Theory Once Again

I have posted before regarding what is usually called “the Gap Theory” (link here for one of my previous posts) which is one of four basic theories regarding the creation account in Genesis chapter 1. I will be the first person to admit that it is critical for any believer to correctly interpret the creation account. In fact I believe that how a person interprets the two books of Genesis and Revelation determines how that person will interpret all of the books in between! That being said I will also admit that I am disappointed with how Christians treat each other when debating/arguing/yelling over this doctrinal point. I am going to present the Gap Theory as the theory I believe to be the correct one (I will provide a link at the end of this post which summarizes the four views). I only know of one pastor who believes in the Invisible War (aka Angelic Conflict) who no longer holds to the Gap Theory and that is Charles Clough.

Once again the premise of the Invisible War is that Satan has rebelled against the Creator (God) in his desire to “become as the most high.” God has allowed the rebellion but will certainly prevail once it is conclusively proven that only God’s way is just and provides for the happiness and security of all creation.

If I was hearing about the Invisible War for the first time I would wonder “when did this rebellion occur?” The answer to this question is between the first and second days in Genesis chapter one. Here is a quote from Pastor Barnhouse:

On the one side of the abyss stands the phrase, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We come to the other side and read the second verse as it is found in the King James Version: “And the earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep.” The revisers in both the English and American revisions, not satisfied with the terms “without form and void,” have given us the better translation, “waste and void,” though the RSV has gone back to the King James rendering. Still another translator interprets the Hebrew as “a wreck and a ruin.” In French there is a common expression which translates our idea of topsy-turvy: it is tohu-bohu — an expression transliterated from the Hebrew of this second verse of Genesis. These are the words which various translators have rendered “without form,” “void,” “waste,” “desolate,” “empty,” “wreck,” “ruin.”

Just here the importance of the comparative method of Bible study is seen. In Isaiah 45:18, we read that God did not create the world as it is found in the second verse of Genesis: “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not tohu . . .” Here is the same Hebrew word as in the second verse of the Bible. It is a formal statement: God did not create the earth as it is portrayed in the description that has commonly been called chaos. The great French Catholic translator, Abbe Crampon, boldly renders it thus: “He hath established it Himself and did not make it as a chaos [Qui l’a fondee Luimeme et qui n’en a pas fait un chaos].” It is noteworthy that the Revised Standard Version has adopted this reading. “He did not create it a chaos.”

The Invisible War
pp 7-8

I would like to provide the King James Version of the passages Pastor Barnhouse is quoting:

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form [tohu], and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [tohu], he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

Isaiah 45:18

Back to Pastor Barnhouse:

This categorical statement is sufficient to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that the first and second verses are separated by an interval. We might read the two verses from Genesis and the one from Isaiah as follows: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth — though God most certainly did not create it that way — became a wreck and a ruin, and darkness covered the face of the deep.”

The Invisible War
p 8

That is a very controversial statement indeed but one I believe to be correct. I would also like to add a quote from the book of Job which indicates to me that Satan’s rebellion had not occurred yet when God created the world:

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Job 38:4-7

This passage does say that all of the sons of God (angels) shouted for joy when the the foundations of the earth were laid. Would fallen angels have shouted for joy when God created the earth? I do not see how. Every glorious achievement by God is an indictment against those who rebelled against Him.

This post is getting long even though I have just scratched the surface of this topic. I do want to provide two resources for anyone who would like to read about this in more detail:

  1. Gary Kukis is exegeting the Book of Genesis at his web site and provides a summary of the different creation theories (link here). Those theories being: Literal 6 Day Creation, Day Age Theory, Gap Theory, Modified Gap Theory.
  2. Gary Kukis uses a lot of the work from Bob Luginbill’s Ichthys web site. Luginbill does an extensive study on the Gap Theory here. Bob Luginbill does some very good work but I wanted to put in a disclaimer here in that I don’t agree with everything he teaches. Bob Luginbill is what I would call a true Arminian (as opposed to what a Calvinist would call an Arminian) in that he believes a person can lose their salvation.

I hope my readers find this as interesting as I do!

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3 Comments on “The Gap Theory Once Again”

  1. heavenbound Says:

    Glenn: In reading your post you mention getting resourses from Kukis and Luginbill. Now I haven’t researched those fellows as of yet. I would like you to comment on your point about understanding Genesis and Revelation which enables us to understand the books in between. Creation that doesn’t take in recent discoveries of our heavens leaves out proof vs speculation. Have you taken into account what NASA has discovered thru exploration of space and pictures sent back from the Hubble telescope? Clearly not taking discoveries made since NASA’s inception, would make any suppositions based on the Bible’s interpretations and theories formulated on bias and not science. Refusing to accept proof of galaxies and planets not discovered at the time of any ancient writings would be fruitless. The idea of what Genisis puts in front of us to read is a simplified example of Thermo dynamics, gravity, nuclear energy, atom splitting etc. These terms understandable and viable have always been around but how can you explain how an airplane can get into the air?
    Without knowing say what gravity is and how it can be eliminated to the point of getting a jumbo jet into the air? The bible defines simplicity to those at the time writing to those who understood what they knew. I hope I have been clear in my point. Sometimes I ramble……Gary

    • Glenn Says:

      Hi Gary,

      There is a huge amount of disagreement in Christianity regarding both the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation. If you interpret the book of Genesis literally with a literal creation story and a literal worldwide flood it will dramatically affect how you read the rest of the Bible. Many Christians (and I do not deny that they are believers) believe that the Book of Genesis is allegorical up through Noah’s flood. Because I believe these events to be literal I also take the covenants that follow (Noahic Covenant, Abrahamic Covenant, etc.) to be very literal. Once a person starts down a particular interpretational path it is next to impossible to stop.

      The Book of Revelation has a lot of controversy surrounding it. If you believe that the events revealed in Revelation are still future (which will happen if you accept the prophecies to be literal instead of allegorical) it has a large impact on what you believe the purpose of the Church to be, whether the nation of Israel has a future, whether there will be a millennial reign of Christ, etc.

      If you accept the Books of Genesis and Revelation to be literal instead of allegorical you would be surprised how much it narrows your interpretational options.

      When it comes to modern science and the scriptures I believe that we put too much faith (and I mean faith) in modern science. Yes, I agree that we have learned a lot about the world around us through the scientific method. I also agree that the Genesis account of creation/restoration is a simplified account of what God did. However a simplified account can still be true.

      To dismiss the Genesis account as some kind of mythical story for our uneducated forbearers is really an easy way to dismiss the issue. Our forbears were made in the image of God just like we are and they could comprehend the issues just like we can. Many of the ideas promoted by modern atheistic science have been around for millennia. The ancient Greeks believed in the spontaneous generation of life just like the evolutionists do with the only difference being that the Greeks didn’t recognize the need for billions of years to be involved. As King Solomon said “there is nothing new under the sun.”

      There is a huge debate that is raging over these issues. I have studied it some and I do have some resources for you if you are interested. I am going to provide three links which contain anywhere from a little to a lot of information if you are interested.

      1. Charles Clough did an excellent study he called the Bible Framework which you can link to here. The Bible Framework goes over the creation narrative, and a lot of other topics, in great detail and challenges the idea that modern science has dis-proven the Biblical account. The Bible Framework has 224 audio lessons and about 800 pages of printed material so it is not a minor undertaking but I would recommend it.
      2. Charles Clough spoke to the West Houston Bible Church in 2005 and those three messages have been recorded. You can find the three messages as either audio or video at this link. These will give you a taste of what is contained in the Bible Framework.
      3. Once again West Houston Bible Church hosted a Bible conference on Creationism this past year and the 14 talks on the topic are available here. Once again you have the option of audio or video. The presenters will do a much better job of going through the issues than I can do justice to.

      Glenn

  2. heavenbound Says:

    Thanks Glenn: I will absolutely go to some of the websites you mentioned. It is interesting to note that ancient civilizations have similar creation stories long before the book of Genesis was written by Moses. This in fact tends to prove that what the bible speaks of is truth rather than in alligory. I never thought the bible to be alligorical per say. What I will say is that the Catholic church over hundreds of years have slanted views in doctrine and creed for their own purpose thru out history. Being slain for levitical law in Judiasm or being killed in the inquisition is a huge price to pay in a world governed by theocracy or church government.
    I am so thankful that we live in a society that accepts all rights to religious beliefs in this country. With that said as far as Revelation is concerned I have developed a position that when this was offered. It was before the close of the offering of the “Kingdom is at hand” age where the announcement by John the baptist. It being written by the last disciple, it clearly places a great degree of emphasis on the kingdom program and not the church program as introduced by Paul and his ministry to the gentiles. Now this is my point, That revelation is for Israel and the coming back of Christ to claim victory for the Jews. Nothing in Revelation speaks of what Paul was preching at all. All the plagues, the bowels of rath etc. It is my opinion that Christ was standing at the right hand of the father when all this was to take place. He is now seated, grace is now the age we live in. Grace is the new covenant and has been in force these last 2000 years. His death supercedes any earthly ministry or any jewish covenant. For now there is no difference between Jew and Greek as Paul puts it. This is my dispensational point of view. It is also interesting that John the baptist was the first prophet since Malachi over 400 years prior.
    One of the keys things that I found to help me understand Revelation was to read it as if I were Jewish. That really helped me to conceptualize this point of view.


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