Abraham and the Stars -- By: Allan A. MacRae

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 08:3 (Summer 1965)
Article: Abraham and the Stars
Author: Allan A. MacRae

Abraham and the Stars

Allan A. MacRae

Since God, who inspired the writers of the Bible, is also the Creator of nature, it is to be expected that the Bible and nature will fit together.

This, of course, does not mean that we can construct a complete science of physics, chemistry, botany, astronomy, or even history, from the study of the Bible. This was not its purpose. The Bible was written to tell us what we need to know about God, about man’s sin, about the possibility of reconciliation to God, and about God’s plan for man. These are great and vital subjects, and it is difficult to get a true understanding of them into the heart of sinful man. To do so is the purpose of the Bible.

Nevertheless, if the Bible is to fulfill this purpose, it could hardly be expected that its Divine Author would allow it to be in error with regard to other subjects. Even though the full explanation of such matters is no part of its purpose, its incidental references to them could hardly be erroneous. It is the claim of Jesus Christ and His apostles that God’s word is entirely true.

This does not mean, of course, that the Bible will use the scientific terminology that is in vogue today. Such terminology changes from time to time. What the word “science” generally meant a century ago, the word “philosophy” means today. What the word “philosophy” generally meant a century ago, the word “science” means today. English words are constantly changing their meanings. Scientific terms are often redefined in order to fit with advancing knowledge and with newly suggested theories. Thus, under the modern scientific system of classification, the word “fish” is used to denote an animal that has certain specific structures. In ancient times the word was used to designate any animal that habitually lives in the water. Modern science has a perfect right so to define the words that it uses as to fit its attempted classification and interpretation, but we are wrong if we insist upon attempting to interpret the Bible as if its words were written with today’s usages in mind. We must take words and phrases in the meanings that they possessed at the time when they were written.

A similar situation exists in connection with the use of the word “day.” Nowadays it is quite customary, for the figuring of interest, or the arranging of railroad or airplane time-tables, to think of a day as indicating a period of 24 hours. Yet it is comparatively seldom that any of us use the term “day” in common speech in this particular sense. No one, meeting a friend in the late evening, would say, “Isn’t this a nice day?” He would be more apt to say, “We had a very pleasant day, and the evening is nice too!” In common use a day ordinarily means a p...

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