Thursday, April 03, 2014

Creation days as upper-register time?

In the developed Framework view, the idea of Genesis one being a literary framework is not just promoted, but it is promoted to the exclusion of other alternate theories of origins, theistic evolution excepted. In a handout I had prepared for a friend on the differing views of creation days, the point was made that the Framework view was merely the belief that Genesis One is a literary framework, and therefore one could theoretically hold on to Framework and YEC, Framework and OEC, and anything in between. I now see that while that is true for a generic Framework view, it is not true for the true hard-core Framework proponents, with people like Lee Irons and Meredith G. Kline basically stating that other views like YEC and Day-Age are unacceptable and promoting a much stronger and fleshed-out version of the Framework view, one which actually states more than just the belief that Genesis One is a literary framework.

One place that shows it is more than a mere literary framework is in its cosmology. Framework cosmology is a two-register cosmology. The Upper Register is "the invisible dwelling place of God and His holy angels, that is, heaven" (p. 236). The Lower Register is called "'earth,' but includes the whole visible cosmos from the planet Earth to the star-studded sky (Col. 1:16)." The Upper Register where God is is called the "archetype," and the Lower Register the analogical replica (p. 238). The relationship is one of analogy, where what happens in the Upper Register has an analogous reflection in the Lower Register. Irons and Kline see this pattern of analogy reflected from Genesis 1:1, which is not a summary of the subsequent creation account but a statement about God making the "heavens" (Upper Register) and the "earth" (Lower Register), following which the "earth" is analogically divided into the star-studded heavens and the earth (p. 240). Irons and Kline see the two-register cosmology in Genesis 1:1-2:3 in the following pairs (p. 242):

1:1 1:2 Days 1-6 Day 6 Day 7
Upper Register Heaven Spirit Fiats Divine Council God's Rest
Lower Register Earth Deep Fulfillments Man as Image Sabbath Ordinance

Having established this two register cosmology, Irons then argued for the creation days being upper register days, which have some unknown relation to the Lower Register which "God has not chosen to reveal" (p. 246). That is sortof convenient. Nevertheless, we press on. The reason why they are Upper Register days is because they are bracketed in front and in the back by Upper Register time periods. For the front bracket, Irons claimed that Prov. 8:22-30 proves that the phrase "in the beginning" is upper register time (p. 241). For the back bracket, Irons claimed that the conclusion of creation week is the upper register heavenly rest of God. Since both bookends are upper register, thus the creation days themselves must be upper register.

According to Kline, Prov. 8:22-30 "explicitly places the events of the six days after 'the beginning'" (p. 243. Emphasis original). Therefore, 'in the beginning' "cannot be interpreted as an ordinary, lower-register time statement." However, such is a strange way of understanding the passage in Prov. 8:22-30. First of all, it rests upon the interpretation that Gen. 1:1 is not a summary statement of the subsequent verses. Secondly, there is something "before" the beginning, namely, God and all that He is including His plans. God's decrees, being His decrees, are temporally coextensive with Him and thus exist from eternity. Thus, in the beginning was God's decrees, because the decrees is coextensive with God and thus before the beginning in eternity past. God's attributes are before time, and there is nothing really controversial about that!

Furthermore, there is no reason why stating the "in the beginning" is upper register would necessitate the days being upper register. If we take Irons' understanding of Genesis 1:1, then from Genesis 1:2 onwards we are in fact dealing with "Lower Register" realities; we have descended into the "earth." So even if Irons' point regarding the front bracket were true, it does not prove anything concerning the creation days.

The idea of God's Sabbath rest being an upper register moment seems easier to defend, since it is God who proclaimed that He rested that day. Irons then links this with the concept of the eternal Sabbath spoken of in Heb. 4, which did cite from the Genesis account. The seventh day for God is thus continuing from Creation until even after the Eschaton, and specifically God's day.

A major problem however arise when we read Rev. 4-5 concerning the events in Heaven, the "Upper Register." Here, we read of the first round of worship being given for the glory of God the Creator, and then the second round of worship to the Lamb for the glory of God the Redeemer. This seems to imply a dual work for God: Creation, and Redemption (or New Creation). In other words, God in His works does not after Creation continues on an eternal Sabbath rest, but Redemption is a work like Creation. The rest spoken of in Heb. 4 therefore must imply the Sabbath rest of the Lamb when His people are all saved, which is analogous to the rest of God the Creator when His creating work is done.

Scripture therefore speaks of two main works of God: Creation, and New Creation. As such, God's Creation Sabbath rest is not unending. It can be said to "end" when Adam and Eve fell.

Till now, we have just established that God's Sabbath rest is not unending. But is it Upper Register, or Lower Register? Here, we notice that if we state that it ended when Adam and Eve fell, then it is somehow tied to the creature and thus seem to be Lower Register.

Before we continue on this thought experiment further, it must be stated that the whole "two register cosmology" has never been proven. That there is an invisible realm where God and the angels primarily are, which is called heaven, is not controverted. The point of contention is the supposed analogous relationships between the "archetype" and the reality. First of all, it is revealing that the creation days have no correspondence to anything in the lower register in the Framework view, which is interesting since all the supposed pairs are matched. As evidence for this theory, we can discount the examples of the commands of God, since under any and every theory, God's authoritative commands always result in fulfillments. We can discount the Heaven-Earth pair in Genesis 1:1 since their pairing is a circular argument presupposing that it is referring to the Two-register cosmology in the first place. The Image of God is not plural, so we can discount that. What we have left are insufficient to support a theory. Since other theories can account for the relation between God's rest and the Sabbath ordinance, why is there a need for a two-register cosmology at all? As the stake in the corpse, how does one decipher which part is upper register and which part lower register when one goes through the creation account, since anything lower register (like days) might actually be upper register? It seems very convenient that the "inconvenient parts" like "days are "upper register" while the Garden of Eden, the various animals etc. are "lower register."

The notion that the creation days are "upper register time" therefore seem to be grasping at straws. The entire cosmology might look beautiful in its structure, but it does not come from the text and there is no necessity for making it with the exception of holding to the strong Framework view. In other words, the whole cosmology look more to be a system made to flesh out a theory, and thus at best is one possibility to understand Scripture, and at worst the imposition of a foreign system to determine biblical exegesis (i.e. eisegesis).

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