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EarthAs a follow-up to my post of September, 21, 2009, on evolution and the LCMS position, Cyberbrethren‘s Pastor McCain has added another post, entitled ‘How Old Is the Earth? The LCMS Does Not Answer That Question‘.  Whilst this is unrelated to my own, as it is dated September 18, 2009, I shall reproduce parts of the post and the comments it received.

Getting to the heart of the matter, Pastor McCain clarifies the LCMS position neatly in a comment to reader Michael Mapus here (emphasis mine):

Let’s not compare belief in a 6,000 year old earth with belief in the Resurrection. The Scriptures testify explicitly to the Resurrection, but they nowhere tell us the earth is 6,000 years old. This is precisely one of the point of this post. Many, even LCMS Lutherans, assume we have embraced some of the popular tenets of American Fundamentalism, at least as it is popularly understood. In fact, we do not.

Now, back to the post itself.  Here are the main points, although it is worth reading both it and the comments in their entirety:

– The LCMS has no doctrinal position on the age of the Earth.

– The LCMS is not a fundamentalist church.

– The reason it does not take a position on the age of the Earth is that the Bible does not state how old our planet is. 

– The LCMS does not believe in a total literal interpretation of the Bible, however, the Bible — not man — determines at what points it should be read literally, e.g. Adam and Eve.

– The LCMS Synod believes there can be ‘no actual contradiction between genuine scientific truth and the Bible’.

– It is possible to harmonise Biblical teaching with scientific knowledge, ‘e.g. God created the world in an already ‘mature’ state, so that scientific ‘data’ lead one to the conclusion that it is older than it actually is’.  

The LCMS Synod affirms that:

‘God by the almighty power of His Word created all things in six days by a series of creative acts,’ that ‘Adam and Eve were real, historical human beings, the first two people in the world,’ and that ‘we must confess what St. Paul says in Romans 5:12‘ about the origin of sin through Adam as described in Genesis 3 (1967 Synodical Resolution 2-31). The Synod has also, therefore, stated that it rejects ‘all those world views, philosophical theories, exegetical interpretations and other hypotheses which pervert these biblical teachings and thus obscure the Gospel’ (1967 Synodical Resolution 2-31).

Pastor McCain gives reasons for the LCMS’s hesitancy to give the age of the earth and evolution a simple yes or no answer here:

What does a person wanting to nail down a specific age of the earth have to say about a six day creation of the world, a real, historical and factual Adam and Eve as the first human beings created by a direct act of God, as recorded in Genesis, and a real, factual, historic fall into sin, etc. In other words, I’d want to explore fully what is animating any assertion about an age of the earth and what else comes along with it, either as cause, or result, of a conviction about the age of the earth.

That makes sense and sounds better than the Synod’s statement, which, hmm, seems to support my original post. As one of the commenters said there, there’s a ‘culture war battlefield’ between the ELCA and LCMS on interpretation. Back to Pastor McCain: He’s not saying a pastor would tell you not to believe in evolution but he would wish to explore your logic and reasons for wanting to believe it in light of other episodes that Genesis 1 contains: Adam and Eve, their fall and Original Sin.

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