Tuesday, March 08, 2011

OPC report: Critique of Framework Hypothesis in Appendix

The 2004 OPC creation report attempts to stir the denomination through the origin controversies that present within the larger Church body. It puts forth five views (the "Day as ordinary length" view, the "Day as Unspecified length" view, the "Day-Age' view, the "Framework Hypothesis" view and the Analogical View) and refuses to judge between them in the main text.

The appendices contain more technical material in relation to the matter. It is interesting to note that the last appendix, Appendix 6 Critical Observations, functions somewhat like a minority report whereby Leonard J. Coppes critiqued the analogical and the framework hypothesis views.

In this light, I would like to reproduce his last section of the critique of the Framework Hypothesis, which is certainly illuminative, taken from pages 1733-1734 of the Minutes of the 71st OPC GA.

c) Of the Framework view


A. It employs a hermeneutic (not unlike form criticism) which finds patterns in the text and that yields an interpretative approach that ends up ignoring what the text actually says. For example:

  1. Day four – the lights are said to give light on the earth and to rule over times and seasons (17-18). One must ignore or devalue this explicit ruler-ruled order to affirm that the text teaches us the lights (day four) are rulers over the light (day one).
  2. Day five – the birds were commanded to “fly above the earth,” and to multiply “on the earth” (22). The realm of the birds is the sky and the earth. One must ignore or devalue this in order to affirm that the text teaches us the birds (day five) are rulers over the sky (day two) when the text says nothing about this rulership.
  3. Day six – the land creatures, textually speaking, are not rulers but rulees, with man being their ruler as well as the ruler over the earth (26, 28). The only textually explicit ruler is mankind. One must ignore or devalue this in order to affirm that the text teaches us the land animals (day six) are rulers over the land or earth (day three) when the text says nothing about this rulership, but explicitly teaches that man is the ruler over the earth (dry land 28).
  4. The king-kingdom or ruler-ruled (lord-vassal) duo does not apply to the respective units unless rule, king (lord) and kingdom (vassal) concepts are redefined in each unit (days 1-4, 2-5, and 3-6). This means that neither king-kingdom nor lord-vassal really identifies whatever relationship there might be between the respective units.

B. It affirms the historicity of the creation account while redefining historicity, giving it a meaning different from the commonly accepted definition.

  1. It affirms that the text intends to state that the six days are normal solar days (normal providence pertains), but what it actually means is that they were figurative solar days. The days are not historical days.
  2. It affirms that the picture is that God completed his creative work in a week of days but this is not to be taken as an actual week. Indeed, the logic of this view argues that day one is a purely literary phenomenon. Exodus 20:11 presents the creation days not as a framework but as literal days. In contrast, advocates of the framework call the creation "week" a “lower register metaphor for God's upper register creation-time,” and hold “that the sequence of the ‘days’ is ordered not chronologically but thematically.” Moreover, this view holds that, “The creation ‘week’ is to be understood figuratively, not literally – that is the conclusion demanded by the biblical evidence."
  3. It affirms that the “snapshots” (each day-frame) of divine creative fiat-fulfillments refer to historical events which actually occurred but said events are not in their original order nor do they represent separately occurring creative fiat-fulfillments (events). Indeed, the logic of this view argues that the creation of light was not a separate creative event at all. So, although the things reported as created are affirmed as truly and divinely created the report as to the distinctiveness, sequence and pattern of that creating is not historically accurate.
  4. It claims to see the account as only dischronologized (not in chronological order) while its language and reasoning present important and substantial elements of the account as dehistoricized (non-historical). Advocates of this view state, (a) “….we insist that the total picture of the divine workweek with its days and evening-morning refrain be taken figuratively.” (b) “…the creation "week" is a lower register metaphor for God's upper register creation-time and that the sequence of the "days" is ordered not chronologically but thematically.” (c) “The creation "week" is to be understood figuratively, not literally – that is the conclusion demanded by the biblical evidence.” Thus, (d) there was neither a separate creation of light nor were there six days at all. As one of the advocates says, the framework view is distinguished from all other views in that it sees the relationship between days 1 and 4 more precisely as one of temporal recapitulation, so that day 4 recapitulates day 1, in other words, day 1 is not a day distinct from day 4.

C. It violates the perspicuity of Scripture in that its suggested literary structure(s) does not arise from the text but is used to drive the exegesis. As a result, its definitions of “lord-vassal” or “ruler-ruled,” etc., are imprecise and inconsistent.

D. It violates the sufficiency of Scripture in that it does not allow what the Scripture itself teaches to stand but employs an extra-scriptural structure.


It prosecutes an exegesis driven by a literary assumption rather than arising from the text itself.

A. Its exegesis of Genesis 2:5 does not allow the text to stand as it is presented in the Bible, viz., as the introduction to the balance of chapter two and as focusing on the Garden of Eden and the placing of man there rather than speaking about conditions on day three of chapter one.

B. Its exegesis of day one wrongly affirms that assuming the operation of ordinary providence argues that there can be no light without the lights of day four when contemporary natural science offers several (ordinary providence) phenomena whereby light is produced without suns, moons, and stars.

C. It defends a framework structure by ignoring or devaluing the textual phenomena arguing against it.


A. It redefines “historical” and, in so doing, denies the historicity of the account. It offers a definition of historical (cf., I.B above) that is unparalleled in biblical narrative.

B. It argues that in the creation account there are two levels or spheres of “history”—“The six evening-morning days then do not mark the passage of time in the lower register sphere. They are not identifiable in terms of solar days, but relate to the history of creation at the upper register. The creation "week" is to be understood figuratively, not literally—that is the conclusion demanded by the biblical evidence.” What is this “upper register?” Does this propose a new ontological reality? How can the creation be accomplished in the lower register (assuming they are saying the six days are the record of an actual historical creation) when it is also said to have been accomplished in the upper register?

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