By Nicholas Miller (Department of Church History, SDA Theological Seminary, Andrews University)
Last weekend a scholar from Wheaton College, Prof. John Walton, came to Andrews University to share his thoughts on the question of how Genesis 1 (ESV) should be read and understood. The crux of his argument was a historical one, and thus worth discussing on this history blog. Walton is viewed in the larger evangelical community as a relatively conservative scholar who believes in the authority of Scripture in spiritual and moral matters, as well as in its claims of miracles and the supernatural. For those not at the event, a brief summary of his presentations and claims follows.
Prof. Walton’s Presentations and Ideas
On Friday night, Walton spoke to students and faculty in a lecture sponsored by the University and the Science Department. He dealt with the question of the general interpretive approach to the Old Testament. He argued that we can only understand the meaning of the stories in the Bible if we understand the worldview of its immediate intended audience. It was written to their worldview, not to that of the 21st century. While its spiritual and moral messages were also intended for today, we should recognize, Walton argued, that its authority does not lie in its claims about the physical world and material reality. He claimed that the Bible makes no scientific claims, i.e., that its observations on the natural and physical world were no different than the existing worldview(s) of the surrounding cultures.