The Life Application Bible

Does anyone have a Life Application Bible? I’m either about to confirm what you’ve suspected, completely irritate or just plain horrify you…or maybe you won’t care at all, but it’s a good post, so keep reading.

A friend and I were sitting and waiting the other day. She saw and picked up a Life Application Bible that was sitting nearby. This is a woman who has taught me more about creation science and intelligent design than anyone else. Neither of us were familiar with the commentary in this Bible, so she flipped to Genesis 1, which because of the heresy of evolution, has become a commonly compromised part of scripture and an easy way to see where someone stands on the truth of scripture.

The commentary note for Genesis 1:3-2:7:

How long did it take God to create the world? There are two basic views about the days of creation: (1) Each day was a literal 24-hour period, (2) each day represents an indefinite period of time (even millions of years).

The Bible does not say how long these time periods were. The real question, however, is not how long God took, but how he did it. God created the earth in an orderly fashion (he did not make plants before light) and he created men and women as unique beings capable of communication with him. No other part of creation can claim that remarkable privilege. It is not important how long it took God to create the world, whether a few days or a few billion years, but that he created it just the way he wanted it.

The Bible does not say how long these time periods were? There are several Hebrew words Moses could have used to explain that creation took long periods of time, but he chose to use the word “yom” (day), then qualified it with the beginning (morning) and end (evening) times of a normal 24 hour day. A quick study of the Hebrew sheds a lot of light on the subject.

Contrary to this commentary, the question now is about how long God took. Why would God take millions of years, then lie to us about it?

If one is buying into theistic evolution, progressive creation or the gap theory, one is buying into death before sin. Would God have looked down on a creation that was suffering, killing and dying then be moved to call it “good?” We, in our shortsighted perspectives, look out on creation and see it as beautiful, but if we had seen it before the fall - before it began to groan and travail because death and destruction was brought upon it - we wouldn’t be so impressed with what is left of God’s magnificent creation. I doubt God would look down on all this sin, death and destruction and call it “good.” In fact, once when he looked down at all the sin and unrighteousness, he destroyed all (save Noah, his family and the animals on the ark) of his creation.

The Life Application Bible compromises on that too, stopping just short of denying a global flood:

Gen 7:17-24: Was the flood a local event, or did it cover the entire earth? A universal flood was certainly possible. There is enough water on the earth to cover all dry land (the earth began that way; see 1:9, 10). Afterward God promised never again to destroy the earth with a flood. Thus, this Flood must have either covered the entire earth or destroyed all the inhabitants of the earth…it would have taken a major flood to accomplish this.

How about just believing what God’s word says?

A localized flood presents some problems. If the flood was just a local event, then God apparently felt compelled to lie to us about the details of the flood, because in Genesis 7:20, we are told that the waters covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.

After much eye rolling, I grabbed the Life Application Bible from my friend and turned to see the commentary written for Revelation 22:18-19:

We, too, must handle the Bible with great care and respect so that we do not distort its message, even unintentionally…No human explanation or interpretation of God’s word should be elevated to the same authority as the text itself.

In the first chapter of the Bible, their commentary chips away at the very foundation of their faith by compromising God’s truth and in the last chapter of the Bible, they warn against doing just that. Is that irony or just careless editing?

On the front flap of the dust jacket, The Life Application Bible notes:

Nearly 100 contributors and several renowned scholars from various denominations helped prepare and review the study helps. Their participation assures you that all study helps are accurate and true to the Bible text.

I’ve studied different denominations, and considering the differences that keep them in their denominations, this sounds more like a recipe to assure something isn’t biblical than to insure accuracy. The editors include faculty from such theological institutions as Moody Bible Institute, Fuller Theological Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary. Endorsements were given by the likes of D. James Kennedy, Charles Stanley and Billy Graham.

I’m thinking America needs less of a revival and more of a reformation.

8 Responses to “The Life Application Bible”

  1. Jeff Roediger Says:

    You’ll just love reading the TNIV “Today’s New International Version”. That is all I’ll say about it, you really do not want me to get started on it!

  2. Elle Says:

    I’m not familiar with the TNIV. Is it the translation or the commentary notes you take issue with?

  3. Andie Says:

    I don’t know about the commentary notes, but I do know that it is supposed to be Gender-inclusive. We don’t want to offend people by saying referring to God as masculine or by using words such as mankind or sons of God. It’s supposed to be politically correct, I believe.

  4. Elle Says:

    Oh, well it’s a good thing that a few people knew what God was trying to say better than God knew. Whew!

    Everyone needs an editor, right?

  5. Fringe Says:

    Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    Lone Islands Charity: The Moral Dilemma - Doc Rampage doesn’t know whether to give to the homeless or just run Organized Religion and the Church - Jeremy Pierce thinks those who distance themselves from the Church as a body…

  6. sam Says:

    thanks for your post, elle — i’m a fairly orthodox guy (in a rather unorthodox denomination), and i’ve found that i’m most comfortable w/ kline’s framework hypothesis (hope that link works). it takes some thinking, but it also avoids (to my mind) a lot of unnecessary speculation and argument about something that’s ultimately unproveable. many people reject it out of hand, but it’s worth considering it.

  7. Elle Says:

    Hey sam, thanks for your post.

    I followed the framework hypothesis link and read a bit of the paper by Meredith Kline. I had trouble in just the first paragraph:

    The conclusion is that as far as the time frame is concerned, with respect to both the duration and sequence of events, the scientist is left free of biblical constraints in hypothesizing about cosmic origins.

    Does the Christian really want to be “free of biblical constraints” to more easily conform to the ideas of this world put forth by people who reject God and His word?

    Young earth creationists, gap theorists, framework hypothesists (is that a word?) and Darwinian Evolutionists all have the same evidence, yet come up with far different understandings of history. The difference is the worldview from which they see the evidence. I prefer to see the evidence through God’s truth. I think it makes more sense that way. In the first paragraph, Kline is suggesting we change what God said so it doesn’t interfere with what we think. That’s not looking at the evidence through biblical glasses. That’s looking at the Bible through evolutionary glasses.

    I did read a bit further, though, and while it is interesting, I can see why you say most people reject it out of hand.

    In an attempt to get a feel for what those on both sides of the issue are saying, I began reading a critique of the framework hypothesis, but it was so technical that I wasn’t getting much out of it.

    This far less technical article covers the complimentary nature of Genesis 1 and 2.

  8. Jeremy Pierce Says:

    People who don’t know anything about the TNIV should shut up about it. If you want it to use feminine pronouns for God, then you can go to your alternative reality that has something called a TNIV that does that. When it translates words meaning “human” as human, then it’s more accurate than those that translate that word as a masculine. There places to criticize it, but I don’t recommend criticizing anything when what you say about it shows that you didn’t bother to learn anything about it. If you want real information on it, see here.

    As for the wooden reading of Genesis 1 that this post insists on, I suggest reading other forms of the same kind of literature to see what they’re like. A good commentary on Genesis will contain them. Most serious Genesis scholars realize that this is the genre of myth (by which I don’t mean the modern meaning of “false story” but a literary genre illustrating spiritual principles through a narrative, not too unlike a parable except with more out-of-the-ordinary phenomena). The genre itself doesn’t tell you whether the author intended to be merely telling a story illustrating truths about God and how God created, with the details of order and such serving more of a poetic value in terms of structure of the poem itself, or whether it’s a more specific outline of exactly which things came in which order. The study Bible you’re quoting simply makes the point that the primary purpose of the author of Genesis 1:1-2:3 (likely not Moses but someone much earlier, in my view) is to distinguish God’s creation from the creation narratives of other cultures. Insisting that it really took seven days is like insisting that everything under a heading “in that day” in Isaiah or Ezekiel must happen in the same 24-hour period, which means the restoration of the universe won’t last very long. A number of scholars see Jesus as effectively saying that we’re still in the seventh day of God’s rest. Otherwise John 8 makes no sense. If that’s so, then the seventh day isn’t a 24-hour period. Why would the rest of the poem be using those words to describe 24-hour periods outside the structure of the poetic imagery? I don’t think insisting on 24-hour days is quite like assuming the parable of the wedding in Matthew 24 or the parable of the tenants in Mark 12 must means the events they refer to happen within a short time, since the story portrays them that way. In reality they’re the span of God’s relation with Israel. It’s worse of an exegetical mistake to do that, but I think this is a species of the same phenomenon, insensitivity to literary genre and how a literary framework may be intended to convey truths about God’s action (in this case binding together and separating, among other things) rather than a chronological timeline in sequential order. The sequence may simply be logical.

    The death issue is important, but Adam and Eve’s sin wasn’t the first rebellion against God, and the Bible never says human death was the first death. It just says “you will die”. I’d more expect Adam to know what death was already if that statement were to make sense to him. Long creation models don’t require this anyway. Most old-earthers don’t believe in evolution. They just think the evidence for an old universe and earth is compelling, while the evidence for descent from lower animals isn’t.