Theodore J. Cabal and Peter J. Rasor II. Controversy of the Ages: Why Christians Should Not Divide Over the Age of the Earth. Wooster, OH: Weaver, 2017.
I agree with Justin Taylor’s endorsement: “Cabal and Rasor help us sort through the issues and the options, modeling for us how to use proportion and perspective in our rhetoric and strategies of disagreement within the body of Christ.”
I wrote this in 2011:
In my view young-earth creationism is exegetically superior and scientifically viable and coherent. It’s possible, however, to err by overemphasizing the issue in a way that demonizes old-earth proponents and lumps them together with theistic evolutionists. The relative importance of something is extraordinarily important, and understatement can be much more convincing than overstatement. Some well-intentioned people use inflammatory rhetoric that overstates the importance of holding to young-earth creationism, and it needlessly pushes people away from the position.
Reading Ted Cabal’s book reinforced that. I believe it even more strongly now. I’m grateful I can serve with fellow pastors and professors who differ on whether they are old-earth creationists or young-earth creationists. That’s an intramural debate worth having. But what matters more is that we’re united on more important matters. We’re not debating, for example, whether Adam and Eve were real people and the first two humans.
Cabal leans toward an old-earth view, but that’s not the point of his book. His point is that the rhetoric we use to defend our view matters. For example, we should not call the age of the earth a “gospel issue.”
Cabal argues calmly, thoughtfully, and charitably.
He explains that professing evangelicals engage evolution today in four different ways (and a popular group is associated with each):
- young earth creationism (Answers in Genesis)
- old earth creationism (Reasons to Believe)
- evolutionary creationism (BioLogos)
- anti-evolution without theology (Intelligent Design, e.g., Discovery Institute)
A forthcoming debate-book for Zondervan’s Counterpoints series features these four views:
- Young Earth Creationism: Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis)
- Old Earth (Progressive) Creationism: Hugh Ross (Reasons to Believe)
- Evolutionary Creation: Deborah B. Haarsma (BioLogos)
- Intelligent Design: Stephen C. Meyer (The Discovery Institute)
Cabal explains that in the 1920s, those who opposed evolution called themselves “anti-evolutionists” rather than creationists. They “agreed on the dangers of Darwinism but not the correct interpretation of Genesis. Most fundamentalists held to the gap theory, some to the day-age theory, and only a small minority of mostly Seventh-day Adventists held to recent creation in six literal days. All three groups thought of themselves as biblical literalists, and primarily only the Adventists regarded the earth’s age or differing views of Genesis as particularly important in the contemporary battle of ideas” (pp. 122–23). That began to change in 1961 with Henry Morris and John Whitcomb’s The Genesis Flood.
Cabal tells the story well, and he argues compellingly.