gap02I received the following question:

What is your opinion about Genesis 1:2 the gap theory and is there a connection between 2nd Peter3:6 the destruction of that world with Genesis 1:2? Do you see a connection with the chaotic world and the destruction Peter speaks about? Do you suppose Satan was involved in any of this?

I do not agree that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. It seems to me that the word “became” in Genesis 1:2 is used in the sense “came into being” in this case, as in “the earth came into being without form and void.” This is not the typical meaning of “became,” perhaps, but then, how often does it happen that things come into being from nothing?

The whole argument seems to me largely strained to lead to a predetermined solution. For example, the fact that “without form and void” is used of judgment in its other two occurrences. But those occurrences are referring to the destruction that was going to take place in the land of Judah after the invasion of Babylon. The destruction was going to result in the decolonization of the land, so that the land would sit desolate and without inhabitant for 70 years. After this length of time, much of the progress that men made in taming the land was lost, so that it went back to nature, as this earth will do without tending. The people who returned to the land after these years were in many ways a colonial movement, and the destruction of all that was “human” about the land resulted in the need for them to start over, more or less, in taming nature. The result was almost like the creation God made in the beginning, only backwards, as if the land went from a habitation of man back to being a chaos again, “without form and void.” It is a very vivid picture, but does not “prove” that Genesis 1:2 is talking about a destruction. Rather, these passages are speaking of the creation of the land in reverse, using the familiar phrase from the creation of the earth as the word picture.

As for God saying that He did not create the earth “without form,” this is as if a potter should be asked about the lumps of clay he produces. I suspect the potter would respond that he doesn’t produce lumps of clay. If one pointed out to him that he has watched him produce a lump of clay every time before he makes a pot, he might well respond that those are not his products, but just an intermediate step on the way to making his pottery. So he does not make lumps of clay, he makes pots. In the same way, God did not create a waste when He created the earth. That was an intermediate step the earth went through, much like the lump of clay the potter makes to turn into a pot. Yet He did not create a waste, but a habitable planet, as we can see it around us. So to argue that this means that the earth must have become a waste because of some destructive judgment is, I think, just wild imagination.

The world of II Peter 3:6 was the world that existed before the flood of Noah’s day, which perished in that flood. I have never heard a reasonable explanation from any of the gap theorists as to why this is not so. They seem to take for granted that this is self-evident. Well, it is not evident to me, and I see no logical reason not to connect this with the Biblical flood of Noah, not some imaginary flood of the gap theorists. The connection seems to be made by wishful thinking, not because of fact.

That said, I realize that Mr. Sellers, whom I greatly admire and whose study I greatly appreciate, along with men like Dr. Bullinger or Mr. Welch, all believed and taught the gap theory. I think there was a reason for that, which is that creation science had not been around long enough or become sophisticated enough to formulate reasonable answers to the claims of the old earth crowd. Thus, men of that day needed some explanation of what they thought was the scientific age of the earth, so they lighted on the gap theory as providing that explanation. Now, creation science has provided us with plenty of evidence that the earth is, in fact, much younger than our atheistic friends have claimed it to be, and I think we no longer need wild theories loosely based on a few verses to explain the age of the earth. To use what Mr. Sellers would say regarding other issues, the verses the gap theorists claim, when brought to the witness stand, do not bring forward the evidence they are dragged there to present. The plain reading of Scripture is that the earth was created “in the beginning,” and then quickly formed into the world we live in in six days. This is not a “childish idea,” as Mr. Sellers claimed, but the plain, Biblical truth.

Young earth scientists may not have clear evidence for every claim of the old earth types, but they have enough evidence about enough things to satisfy me that evidence about the things they have not worked out yet will eventually be forthcoming. I see no reason to push the age of the earth much beyond 6,000 years, and probably not at all beyond 8,000 years.

As I expressed above, I do not see any “chaotic world” as ever having existed. The earth came into being as a waste and empty place, much like the lump of clay a potter makes, and then was formed into the pristine creation of God that existed for a brief time until the fall. I think Satan was involved in the corruption of the earth as we know it today when Adam allowed him into the world at the fall. Since that time, the earth has been, we might say, on the wrong side of the cosmic conflict, and very graced are we that God has taken an interest in us anyway, and proceeded to do the work to save us!

At any rate, that is my take on the issue. I did consider the gap theory myself, and held it for a time, but eventually came to see that it was scientifically unnecessary and Biblically inaccurate. I understand why some people held it, but I really think the earth is young relative to the ludicrous suggestions of the evolutionists, and there is no need to make it older than the Bible would suggest it is.