Australia Personal Radio

Personal Testimony Interview on Rhema Radio

Last week I had the pleasure of doing an interview on Rhema Radio on the Central Coast – it amazes me that almost 25% of Australian adults listen to Christian radio – and every area has their own version.  Rhema extends across the country.  Anyway this interview really ended up as a personal testimony….enjoy – if you are interested!

Here are a couple of other radio shows I have done here….

Vision Radio – Twenty Twenty – What Are We Missing By Not Gathering for Church?

What is Hell and Does Anyone Go There? ABC Radio Show

19 comments

  1. Hello Pastor

    This is off-topic but I was wondering if you could please help me with a quick question because there is not much information about this on the internet… Did the earliest Calvinists (like the Genevans and the Huguenots in France) believe in what we would now call “young earth creationism”? Ie, did they interpret Genesis 1 as literal history and did they treat the 7 days of creation as 7 24 hour periods? Were their views fairly uniform about this or were there a range of opinions amongst the Genevans and Higuenots?

    From what I’ve read online, Calvin took a strictly literal approach to the Bible and moved away from the allegorical approach fashionable amongst Catholic Biblical interpreters of the time. Is this understanding correct too? Would we say the Higuenots are akin to modern day “fundamentalists” in that they interpreted the Bible in a highly literal way?

    Sorry to bother you – most of the information about Calvinists and creationism I have found online relates specifically to the Boers in South Africa and I couldn’t find much on the Genevans’ and French Huguenots’ views.

    I greatly appreciate any help you can give me.

    Christ be with you in your ministry work down here in Oz.

    Matthew

      1. Thank you for that link, Pastor David. I really appreciate your help. The article in your link had a really good, nuanced analysis of what Calvin thought. If I understand ut correctly, Calvin believed in a 6 day creation but noted that the text should ot be read tooiterally as it was written for men with no scientific knowledge and was amenable to change as new data came in.

        I also found a link myself very late last night that said the French Huguenot theologian, Andreas Rivetus (André Rivet), believed in a literal, six day creation. Rivet was one of the best – if not THE best – Huguenot theologian of his day and was based in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Leyden. Since he was what we woukd now call a young earth creationist, I am presuming most of the Huguenot laymen of his time would have followed his lead and been so as well.

        Thanks again. You have been a big help.

      2. Pastor David, would it be fair to say *all* the reformers were creationists in the sense they returned to a literal (as oposed to allegorical) reading of the Bible and therefore regarded Genesis 1 as an historical account, (aside from Calvin’s clause in the link above about Genesis being written for a non-scientific audience, hence making it subject to future reinterpretation as per his moon/Saturn comment)?

        I understand the creationist/literal history interpretation of Genesis is enshrined in the Westminster Confession of Faith, too, so do Presbyterians/Wee Free people *have* to interpret Genesis 1 in a creationist way so as not to violate their oath and risk being regarded as heretics? Ie, is theistic evolution totally out of bounds for you?

        At any rate, it definitely sounds like the earliest Calvinist, including the French Huguenots, were creationists /Biblical literalists.

      3. To partially answer my own question, the Reformers (including the Genevans) all believed the earth was circa 5500 years old. Furthermore,

        “Now, the fact that Ursinsus and the other Reformers held these views is no proof of Young Earth Creationism. It does not even mean that Young Earth Creationism is required by the Reformed Confessions. But what it does mean is that Young Earth Creationism is not a modern or novel element within the mainstream of Protestantism. The men cited are, as Ursinus writes, “the most learned men” of the times. They are making their calculations not based primarily on natural science but rather exegesis. And while the development of modern science, particularly physics and geology, is important, we should not then jump to the conclusion that reading the historical details of the Bible, and especially the chronologies of Genesis, in a literal fashion is some sort of obviously naive and ridiculous thing to do. It was, in fact, the default position and the prima facie interpretation of the text during the time of the Reformation.”

        From: https://www.google.com/amp/s/calvinistinternational.com/2014/11/18/young-earth-creationism-among-magisterial-reformers/amp/

    1. An early French-German reformer from Alsace whom Calvin admired, Wolfgang Musculus, believed in a literal, six-day creation:

      https://books.google.com.au/books?id=HE6gPYQFpcsC&pg=PA61&lpg=PA61&dq=Wolfgang+Musculus+days+of+creation&source=bl&ots=xGCglfTg6S&sig=ACfU3U2kDX9V3ediNlOCr1_l3wQ_OBGPPA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiuotyOlfLuAhVj7nMBHbN-DtY4ChDoATAFegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=Wolfgang%20Musculus%20days%20of%20creation&f=false

      https://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Meuslin.htm

      I suspect his views would have influenced the French Huguenots’ beliefs regarding creationism and Genesis 1.

      I hope this helps! God bless.

    2. I can’t help much but here are a few points that might ne useful (please correct me if I am wrong on any of them, Pastor!!!)

      * The Early Church interpreted Genesis in various ways but it unanimously condemned the ideas of the philosopher, Lucretius, who was a proto-evolutionist.

      * It is sometimes claimed by critics that “creationism” is a modern, novel way of interpreting Genesis that arose with the American fundamentalist movement in the early 20th Century but, as far as I can tell, this is just flat-out wrong. The Reformers were creationists who interpreted Genesis 1 and stories such as Noah’s Ark as literal history, as did many figures in the Early Church. (Basil and Ambrose are examples.)

      * The Roman Catholic Church is, ironically, *less* dogmatic on this one specific issue than many Protestant denominations(!) Catholics actually have freedom of choice about how they interpret Genesis and whether they accept creationism or Darwinian evolution, provided they accept Adam and Eve were historical persons abd the Fall occurred/original sin was introduced as described in Genesis.

      In his book, “In the Beginning” Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) argues against creationism. He compares Genesis 1 to other Middle Eastern creation stories of the period and notes that Genesis 1 creates a prism through which the early Jews saw creation un a much more beneficial/less hostile way.

      Likewise, the Vatican’s official astronomer has gone so far as to declare creationism is a ” kind of paganisn”!

      (To be fair, he also said “the idea of papal infallibility had been a “PR disaster” [for the Roman Catholic Church].”)

      https://www.scotsman.com/news/world/creationism-dismissed-kind-paganism-vaticans-astronomer-2508334

      * Although the Reformers were Bible literalists, Luther noted how the Old Testament pointed to Christ through prophetic literary devices like “types”. They alao used scripture to interpret scripture so all interoretation was ultimately done through the light of Christ’s revelation in the Old Testament. I understand this approach of Luther’s is called the “literal-spiritual approach” to interpreting scripture.

      * According to a source I just found, the major French Huguenot theologian, Theodore Beza, was a Biblical literalist:

      “Beza’s ardent and logical defense of double predestination, biblical literalism, church discipline, and other Calvinistic ideas has led many modern scholars to consider him one of the formative influences of seventeenth-century Reformed scholasticism.”

      https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/calvin-gallery-of-calvins-supporters-and-opponents

      Another site puts it even more unambiguously:

      “His strong defense of Calvinistic ideas, such as double predestination, biblical literalism, and church discipline, had a permanent impact on the Reformed tradition.”

      http://reformedanswers.org/answer.asp/file/39714

      Given the huge influence Theodore Beza had on the Genevans and the French Huguenots, I therefore find it very likely they were Bible literalists too and, therefore, almost certainly creationists when it came to how they interpreted Genesis 1.

      * This looks interesting too but you have to have an account to read it:

      https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1558/refm.v17.177?needAccess=true&journalCode=yref20

      I hope this helps you!

      1. Yes, the Huguenots were creationists.

        You are right. It is surprisingly hard to find clear information on this! This is a statement I found in a modern-day French protestant parish pew sheet (the English translation follows). I know a pew sheet isn’t the best source to cite if you are asking this question for a uni paper but I hope it helps:

        ***

        Comment a-t-on pu découvrir tout cela ?
        Comment l’idée saugrenue d’évolution a-t-elle germé dans l’esprit des hommes ? C’est très simple.
        Selon le récit biblique, il est clair que chaque végétal et animal a été créé par Dieu selon son espèce. Immuablement. Chaque radis ou chaque écureuil est donc le même depuis sa création. C’est ce qu’on appelle le Fixisme ou Créationnisme. Non seulement ce texte biblique faisait autorité en la matière mais, l’évidence aidant, personne ne pouvait le mettre en doute et encore moins penser autrement… Jusqu’au jour où les naturalistes français, au XVIIIe siècle, soucieux de mettre un peu d’ordre dans la profusion des espèces et désirant les classer une fois pour toutes, se sont heurtés à de telles ressemblances (ou si peu de différences) de certaines d’entre elles, qu’ils se sont demandés pourquoi Dieu s’était amusé à créer des espèces si voisines les unes des autres… ? Une idée saugrenue vint chatouiller le botaniste français J.B. Lamarck : et si ces espèces, avec le temps, dérivaient les unes des autres ? Idée stupide que Lamarck refusait lui-même au début. Mais idée qui revenait sans cesse, comme obsession, et qui aboutit en 1809 à l’exposé de la théorie transformiste dans son livre Philosophie zoologique : les espèces vivantes dérivent les unes des autres par des transformations successives expliquées de différentes façons. Charles Darwin s’appuya sur cette découverte qui ne concernait que les espèces vivantes et l’étendit à la nature toute entière en lui donnant le nom plus général d’évolution. L’Evolutionnisme était né.

        ***

        In English:

        How did we discover all of this?
        How did the crazy idea of ​​evolution
        germinated in the minds of men? It’s very
        simple.

        According to the biblical account, it is clear that each plant and animal was created by God according to his
        species.
        Steadfastly. Each radish or each squirrel is therefore the same since its inception. This is called Fixism or
        Creationism.
        Not only this biblical text was an authority on the matter, but obviously helping, no one could doubt it and even less think otherwise

        Until the day when French naturalists,
        Eighteenth century, anxious to tidy up
        in the profusion of species and desiring themto classify once and for all, have come up against such similarities (or so few differences) of some of them they wondered why God had fun creating species so neighbors of each other…?
        A crazy idea tickled the botanist French J.B. Lamarck: and if these species, with thetime, drifted from each other? Idea stupid that Lamarck himself refused at first. But an idea that kept coming back, as an obsession, and which led in 1809 to the presentation of the transformist theory in his book Philosophy zoological: living species derive the from each other by transformations successive sessions explained in different ways. Charles Darwin relied on this discovery which concerned only living species and extended it to all of nature by giving it the name more general evolution. Evolutionism was born.

        http://protestantsperreux.fr/bulletins-chroniques/06-2013.pdf

        ***

        So it infers that creationism was the default position for French Huguenots and any other interpretation was inconceivable until Lamarck, and then Charles Darwin, came along.

      2. Thank you for the amazing response to my questions! I really appreciate it. Yes, it is very surprising how little information is out there about the Huguenots’ beliefs re: Genesis 1 and creationism, apart from the Hugs who went to South Africa. I just learnt Joseph Scaliger was active at tge same time as James Ussher in Ireland, so there was clearly a lot of interest in chronologies and dating that world at that yime period. Although Ussher is often ridiculed by the world today, he and Scaliger were clearly two of the leading intellects of their time.

        Yes with Calvin, Beza, Rivet, Scaliger and Musculus all interpreting the Bible as literal history, I am sure the average Huguenot man-on-the-street would have been a creationist too as these ideas would have trickled down to him via tracts and pamphlets stemming from the new invention of the printing press.

        I found one other interesting article myself:

        https://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2014/07/calvin-the-fundamentalist-and-other-general-synod-myths/

        “Calvin was not a fundamentalist. The Guardian Style Guide does not contain an entry for “fundamentalist.” However, as noted many times here at GetReligion, the Associated Press Stylebook makes this observation:

        fundamentalist: The word gained usage in an early 20th century fundamentalist-modernist controversy within Protestantism. In recent years, however, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians.

        Essentially, the argument is that labeling Calvin as a “fundamentalist” won’t do for a church-related piece since in this context fundamentalism is associated with an uncritical and generally uneducated mode of Biblical literalism and parochialism…

        In defense of the author of The Guardian article, I have no doubt that some members of the progressive camp within the Church of England dismiss their opponents as “fundamentalists” and apply this term to those figures in church history like Calvin or Augustine from whom they draw their doctrines.”

        So although Calvin did take the Bible literally, his scholarly and critical approach allows more nuance than we would expect from a stereotypical “fundamentalist” today from one of the denominations originating in the southern USA in the early 20th C. It is interesting (and disappointing!) that some opponents of Calvin today use “fundamentalist” as a perjorative to dismiss him and his intellectual heirs in the evangelical/Presbyterian movements.

        At any rate, my question has been resolved: the Huguenots read the Bible in a literal (but nuanced and thoughtful way, with lots of conscientious study and debate), and believed in the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis, (including Genesis One and the account of Noah’s Ark) and were thereby what we would now call “young earth creationists”. Thanks again for all your help! God bless.

      3. “…Here again we meet language concerning accommodation. But note what it means. Calvin implies that God could have made the world “in a moment.” But instead, he “took the space of six days.” Calvin clearly believes that the words in Gen 1 describe a series of works that took six days. What Calvin calls an accommodation is the decision on God’s part to do it in this way, that is, to spread his works over “the space of six days.” God did so, Calvin thinks, because a process spread over time would be easier for human beings to take in and digest. It suited “the capacity of men.” Hence, the “accommodation” lies in the fact that God spreads out his works in time, not in the language in Gen 1 describing those works.

        Modern scholars, by contrast, are greatly interested in the disputes about
        the chronological length of the days of Gen 1, and whether the various works
        described are given in chronological order. For the sake of reconciliation with
        mainstream accounts in modern science, some modern interpreters would like
        to say that God “accommodated” the language of Gen 1 to a framework of six
        days, even though the works being described belong to an entirely different
        order of time.

        Again, whether a modern interpreter agrees with Calvin is not my point. My
        point is that Calvin’s approach should be recognized for what it is. In affirming
        “the space of six days,” Calvin is advocating nearly the opposite to the point of view that alleges that a radical kind of “accommodation” is taking place in the language about six days. Calvin thinks that the language in Gen 1 actually does describe six days of God’s works, but accommodation takes place in the way God accomplishes the works themselves.”

        https://frame-poythress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2014Misundertanding.pdf

      4. This is just from Wikipedia so treat it with caution but regarding your question about Geneva, it may be indicative:

        “A 2006 international survey found that 30% of the Swiss reject evolution, one of the highest national percentages in Europe.”

        Conversely, France, which persecuted and drove out its Huguenots, is marked by uncertainty today:

        “… 55 % of French considered themselves as ‘evolutionist’s’ (“believe that human beings were in fact created over a long period of time of evolution growing into fully formed human beings they are today from lower species such as apes”), 36 % don’t know what to believe (“sometimes agree or disagree with theories and ideas put forward by both creationist’s and evolutionist’s”), and 9 % considered themselves as ‘creationist’s’ (“believe that human beings were in fact created by a spiritual force such as the God they believe in and do not believe that the origin of man came from evolving from other species such as apes”).”

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism_by_country

      5. I am very late to this conversation but the Huguenots were definitely creationists. Du Moulin (and other ministers) believed Eve was literally created from Adam’s rib.

        It is discussed in “Preaching a Dual Identity: Huguenot Sermons and the Shaping of Confessional Identity” by Nicholas Must (2017).

  2. I love personal testimony, personal experience of God can’t be denied and it’s fascinating to see how God works through people. I really enjoyed your radio interview and personal testimony and I’ve realised I have met you and your family, many years ago, staying at the vicarage in Scotland. As an 18 year old I was making a journey ‘up North’ on my own and I was incredibly nervous as several changes of trains were involved. Even though I was from a secular family I decided to give prayer a go. I asked God to protect me on my journey but no way did I expect him to answer. He did send someone, one of your siblings, and when I ended up, some months later at your church and staying with such a lovely family it crossed my mind that it was strange that after praying I’d met with such a strong Christian family. More than that I could feel something different in your home, I know now it was a sense of God’s peace. In any case it took God a while longer to get my full attention. I started praying again when my sister became very unwell from Cancer. I didn’t know what I was doing but just said if you can help my sister I will go to church and worship you. When I got home from the hospital there was a leaflet on my door mat listing every local church and their service times! I never realised God answers prayer or has a voice and speaks. I am still amazed! I was baptised in the sea not long after I realised that my prayers, offered with no in depth knowledge of Christianity, had been answered so powerfully. I belong to River of Life Church and when I look back (I’m 50 now!) I can see he was drawing me towards Him for a very long time. Anyway I love the wee flea – a Christian friend recommended it to me. I also find your talks, interviews, writing refreshing and affirming. And something has made me want to tell you that you were part of my Christian journey! I expect we won’t fully know what influence we have had in other people’s lives, even fleetingly, or what good God has used us to achieve for His purposes until we reach eternity.

  3. Just to say, really good listening to your testimony on Rhema radio. Praying our LORD will continue to use you, and very grateful for your ministry. I’ve only managed to read one of your books, Engaging with Atheists but hope to read more.

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