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Four Views of the Biblical Creation Account

Compiled by Reasons To Believe

The following information comes from the “Report of the Creation Study Committee” posted on PCANEWS.COM, the Web Magazine of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), dated July 6, 2000. The 92-page document, presented to the 28th General Assembly of the PCA, results from the committee’s two-year study of Genesis 1-3 and of the meaning of “day” in that creation account.

  1. The Calendar-Day Interpretation – Often called the literal view, the traditional view, or the twenty-four-hour view, the Calendar-Day perspective may be described very simply. It accepts the first chapter of Genesis as historical and chronological in character and takes the creation week as consisting of six twenty-four-hour days, followed by a twenty-four-hour Sabbath. Since Adam and Eve were created as mature adults, so the rest of creation came forth from its Maker. The Garden included full-grown trees and animals, which Adam named. Those holding this view believe this is the normal understanding of the creation account and that this has been the most commonly held understanding of this account both in Jewish and Christian history.
  2. The Day-Age Interpretation – The six days of the Day-Age view are understood in the same sense as “in that day” of Isaiah 11:10-11—in other words, as periods of indefinite length and not of 24 hours duration. The six days are taken as sequential but as overlapping and perhaps merging into one another. According to this view, the Genesis 1 creation week describes events from the point of view of the earth, which is being prepared as the habitation for man. In this context, the explanation of day four is that the sun only became visible on that day, as atmospheric conditions allowed the previous alternation of light and darkness to be perceived as coming from the previously created sun and other heavenly bodies. The Day-Age construct preserves the general sequence of events as portrayed in the text and is not merely a response to Charles Darwin and evolutionary science. From ancient times there was recognition among Bible scholars that the word “day” could mean an extended period of time.
  3. The Framework Interpretation – The distinctive feature of the Framework view is its understanding of the week (not the days as such) as a metaphor. According to this interpretation, Moses used the metaphor of the week to narrate God’s acts of creation. Thus, God’s supernatural creative words or fiats are real and historical but the exact timing is left unspecified. The purpose of the metaphor is to call Adam to imitate God in work, with the promise of entering His Sabbath rest. Creation events are grouped in two triads of days: Days 1-3 (creations kingdoms) are paralleled by Days 4-6 (creation’s kings). Adam is king of the earth; God is the King of Creation.
  4. The Analogical Days Interpretation – According to the Analogical view, the “days” of Genesis 1 are God’s workdays, analogous (but not necessarily identical) to human workdays. They set a pattern for our rhythm of work and rest. The six days represent periods of God’s historical supernatural activity in preparing and populating the earth as a place for humans to live, love, work, and worship. These days are broadly consecutive. That is, they are successive periods of unspecified length. They may overlap in part, or they may reflect logical rather than chronological criteria for grouping certain events on certain days.