I want to thank Timothy Martin for providing me with a complimentary review copy of his book, Beyond Creation Science. It was a pleasure to read and interact with this book.
It’s a rare book that aims to confront its readers thinking and challenge their deep set assumptions and beliefs on an important topic. In Beyond Creation Science, Timothy Martin and Jeffrey Vaughn attempt to do this on two fronts, with the young-earth / old-earth creationism debate and end-times theology (eschatology). With such a daunting aim, it would be surprising if the book succeeded in both goals with every reader.
While the book did not overturn my thinking completely on both ends of the Bible, it did stretch my mind and give me cause to evaluate what I believe in light of the Bible’s entire teaching. The authors present their case well in a coherent manner, and they deserve a hearing.
The work is subtitled “New covenant creation from Genesis to Revelation”, and the authors do succeed in convincing the reader that Genesis and Revelation are inextricably linked. How one thinks and interprets Genesis directly impacts how he thinks of eschatology and Revelation.
A strength of the book is its stress on biblical theology–seeing all of Scripture in light of the redemptive story. I also share a suspicion of dispensationalism with its authors. I found their claim–that the same scientifically literal approach, championed by dispensationalists, which results in a full-fledged futuristic approach to Revelation (pre-trib, premillennialism) also leads them to subscribe to young-earth creationism–convincing.
While I am not completely convinced of old-earth creationism, this book certainly gave me more respect for that view. The authors show how young-earth creationism, was in large part advanced after the threat of Darwinism surfaced, and with the benefit of dispensational hermeneutics. I was shocked to learn that the hugely influential book The Genesis Flood (by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris), was based to a large degree on an earlier work by a Seventh Day Adventist (who would certainly be biased toward a literal 24-hour day view of the creation week), one George McCready Price who wrote The New Geology in 1923.
What was especially fascinating for me was the authors defense of a local flood view. I’ve always just assumed the flood was global. The evidence does seem quite compelling when you examine the terminology used and some of the Biblical and scientific questions which arise when one holds to a global flood. In our scientific age we are biased to see global-sounding terms as unequivocally global. In days gone by, that is not how such terms were understood, and this book explains why.
Another interesting element in the book was the discussion of the antediluvian lifespans. The book shows how it was only Seth’s descendants who were said to have long ages. It also points to millennial lifespans mentioned in Isaiah and Revelation and concludes the biblical ideal life is one thousand years old.
I must admit I was wary of this book’s advocacy of full preterism. I had hardly been exposed to partial preterism before reading this, so full preterism was hard to swallow. In one sense I can see the evidence for partial preterism (the view that the Olivet Discourse has largely been fulfilled in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70). But as the arguments were pressed further for a full preterist view that the resurrection is solely spiritual (i.e. regeneration), and the new heaven and new earth are fulfilled in a Christian’s existence today, I had to balk. In Acts, the angels say Jesus will return visibly like the disciples saw him go into heaven, and in John 14, Jesus says he’s building a place for us and will come back to bring us to be with him. These are just two passages which in my mind directly contradict a full preterist view.
To be honest, this book is not attempting a full fledged defense of full preterism. The book focuses more on Genesis than Revelation. And it doesn’t attempt to answer all the counter arguments for both issues. It aims to show how one’s views of prophecy influence one’s views of creation and the flood. It succeeds in that respect.
I found the book fascinating but remain unconvinced. Often I thought the argumentation was somewhat weak. Authors were quoted as if simply providing their quote proved the point. When trying to disprove the notion that death could not exist before the Fall, the book did not adequately deal with some of the key theological and exegetical supports for that view. This being said, I can understand many of the Biblical arguments for these views now. I can appreciate the authors’ desire to follow Scripture wherever it leads. This is what all of us should aim to do. And to that end, studying out the claims of preterism and evaluating them Biblically is no waste of time.
I would recommend Bible students read this book. But I would caution them against the full preterist view. It runs counter to the historic church creeds and seems to deny some important truths. At the least be wary of it and do more research before adopting that view as your own.
This review is also available in pdf format at CrossFocusedReviews.com.