The "other" gap theory

Salluz

You mean we can change these titles?
I'm curious as to what people make of the grammatical gap theory that says there is a gap of time between creation days one and two where "the earth was made formless and void." Not to be confused with evolutionary gap theory, hence why I titled this the other one :lol. I guess the idea is that Satan and the other angels lived on earth at the time, and the earth was made formless and void because of Satan's rebellion as a judgment. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I'm inclined to believe there isn't a gap, but the verse about Satan walking in eden puzzled me. Then I thought maybe the garden of eden on earth was a copy of a garden of eden in heaven like many other things on earth were a copy like the temple, ark of the covenant, etc.

I wouldn't normally give the gap theory much thought, but I've encountered it a few times on Jack Kelley's website as something he supported, which made me think about it some more. I'm wondering what everyone else here makes of it
 

Kaatje

Listening for that trumpet sound
I have heard before about this theory. It goes something like this:
After Satan’s rebellion, he and 1/3 of the angels were thrown on earth, and they made it formless and void.
The reason for the theory is that God would never create someting that is not good (whole and beautiful).

Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. The Bible doesn’t say.
But I sure would like to find out. The sooner, the better! :angelcutie
 

Salluz

You mean we can change these titles?
I've always thought God starting the Earth off without form would be like starting with a lump of clay before you make a sculpture. Because he decided to create the Earth in seven days for our sake to demonstrate a week, he had to start somewhere. That's been my reasoning.

And ditto Kaatje I really hope God will let us see the whole creation process, whether it's through a vision, time travel, or a heavenly feature length film on a whopping big screen :lol
 

Jan51

Well-Known Member
ACTS & FACTS BACK TO GENESIS
Why the Gap Theory Won't Work
BY HENRY M. MORRIS, PH.D. | SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 01, 1997
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What is the Gap Theory?

One of the popular devices for trying to accommodate the evolutionary ages of the geologists and astronomers in the creation record of the Bible has been the "gap theory"—also called the "ruin-and-reconstruction" theory.

According to this concept, Genesis 1:1 describes the initial creation of the universe. Following this, the standard events of cosmic evolution took place, which eventually produced our solar system about five billion years ago. Then, on the earth, the various geologic ages followed, as identified by their respective assemblages of fossils (trilobites, dinosaurs, etc.).

But then occurred a devastating global cataclysm, destroying all life on Earth and leaving a vast fossil graveyard everywhere. This situation is then said to be what is described in Genesis 1:2. "And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." The cataclysm is thought to have occurred as a result of the rebellion of Satan and his angels against their Creator in Heaven, with God then casting them out of Heaven to the earth.

Those who advocate the gap theory agree that the six days of the creation week were literal days, but they interpret them only as days of recreation, with God creating again many of the kinds of animals and plants destroyed in the cataclysm.

What is the Purpose of the Gap Theory?

The gap theory was developed mainly for the purpose of accommodating the great ages demanded by evolutionary geologists. This idea was first popularized by a Scottish theologian, Thomas Chalmers, early in the 19th century. In this country, the famous Scofield Study Bible made it an almost universally accepted teaching among fundamentalists.

The Scofield Bible notes on Genesis I include the following:

The first act refers to the dateless past, and gives scope for all the geologic ages. . . . The face of the earth bears everywhere the marks of such a catastrophe. There are not wanting intimations which connect it with a previous testing and fall of angels. . . . Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains.

However, serious conflicts do remain. In fact, there are few, if any, professionally trained geologists and astronomers (to my knowledge there are none) who accept the gap theory. The promoters of this theory have mostly been Bible teachers who hoped they could place these great ages in a gap between the first two verses of Genesis, and thus not have to deal with them at all.

With the modem revival of scientific Biblical creationism, many of these teachers have abandoned the gap theory in favor of strict creationism. Most advocates of the gap idea were men of strong Biblical faith, and when they were shown its Biblical fallacies, plus its scientific inadequacies, they were quite willing to reject the evolutionary ages scheme altogether.

Many of us had naively assumed that the gap theory was moribund, and so had concentrated most of our critiques on the other compromise theories (day-age theory, framework theory, etc.). But it now appears that the gap theory is still being advocated by a number of evangelical theologians.

For example, the Nelson Study Bible, published this year (1997), in its footnotes on Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, says:

Here it means that God renewed what was in a chaotic state. God changed chaos into cosmos, disorder into order, emptiness into fullness. . . . The two words, without form and void, express one concept—chaos. The earth had been reduced to this state—it was not the way God had first created it.

The editors and contributors to this volume—43 in all—include many well-known evangelical leaders. Yet they feel they must allow for the geological ages, and so they opt for what amounts to the old gap theory again with its pre-Adamic cataclysm. The notes in this study Bible do allow a worldwide Flood, but there are no relevant comments on the effects of sin and the curse on the animal kingdom, and no mention of the billions of fossils now preserved in the earth's sedimentary rock beds.

Is the Gap Theory Scientific?

The reason why geologists will not accept the gap theory is that it contradicts their assumption that the past is continuous with the present. There is no room in their naturalistic approach to science for a global cataclysm that would destroy all life and then require a new creation of plants, animals, and people such as the gap theory proposes.

Any cataclysm that would leave the earth "without form and void" (or "a shapeless chaotic mass" as The Living Bible expresses it), with "darkness on the face of the deep" everywhere, would require a worldwide nuclear or volcanic explosion that would effectively disintegrate the whole crust of the earth. All pre-cataclysm mountains would be blown into the sea and billions of tons of rocks and dust blown into the atmosphere, leaving the earth covered with "the deep" everywhere and "darkness" covering the deep everywhere.

Such a cataclysm would disintegrate any previously deposited sedimentary deposits with their fossils and thus obliterate all evidence of any previous "geological ages." Thus the gap theory, which is supposed to accommodate the geological ages, requires a cataclysm which would destroy all evidence for the geological ages.

Is it Theologically Sound?

The gap theory is also unsound theologically. The God of Creation is an omnipotent and omniscient God, and is also a God of grace, mercy, and love. The very concept of the geological ages, on the other hand, implies a wasteful and cruel "god," and therefore probably no god at all.

The supposed geologic ages are identified in terms of the fossils found in the earth's sedimentary rocks, and there are multiplied billions of them there. But fossils speak of death—even violent death. The preservation of dead animals requires rapid burial if they are to last very long. There are many regions, for example, where there are millions of fossil fish preserved in the rocks. There are dinosaur fossil beds on every continent, as well as great beds of fossil marine invertebrates practically everywhere. These may indeed speak of cataclysmic death and burial, but not a cataclysm operating slowly over billions of years, as the geological ages imply. If the gap theory were valid, it would mean that God had instituted an ages-long system of suffering and death over the world, before there were ever any men and women to place in dominion over that world, and then suddenly destroy it in a violent cataclysm. Why would an omnipotent, merciful God do such a wasteful and cruel thing as that?

They cannot blame Satan, either. According to the gap theory, Satan's fall took place at the end of the geological ages, followed by the great pre-Adamic cataclysm on the earth. Thus the geological ages, with their eons of cruelty and waste, took place even before Satan's sin. God Himself would be solely responsible for the whole debacle, if it really happened.

But is the Gap Theory Biblical?

If the Bible actually teaches the gap theory' however, then there might be some reason to try to accommodate it in our theology. But the Bible does not teach it! If there really had been billions of years of animals suffering and dying before Genesis 1:2, why would God say nothing about it? The best they can offer in support of such a notion are some out-of-context quotes from Isaiah and Jeremiah, along with an ad hoc translation of Genesis 1:1,2.

And why would God send such a devastating cataclysm at all? Satan's fall did not occur until after the creation week of Genesis 1, for at that time God had pronounced the whole creation "very good" (Genesis 1: 31). At present, however, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together" (Romans 8:22) because of the great curse pronounced by God on man's dominion (Genesis 3:17-19), as a result of sin.

This groaning creation has indeed experienced one global cataclysm—one not inferred from vague hints in out-of-context quotes, but rather one described in great detail in Genesis 6-9 and referred to often and unambiguously in later passages—namely, the worldwide Flood in the days of Noah. Most of the vast fossil graveyards in the earth's crust can best be explained as one of the results of the Flood.

This awesome spectacle of destruction and death was not part of God's "very good" creation. There was no death in the world until sin was in the world (Romans 5:12; I Corinthians 15:21; etc.). In fact, death itself is "the wages of sin" (Romans 6:23). Our future deliverance from sin and death has been purchased by the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, who is "the propitiation for our sins and ... also for the sins of the whole world" (John 2:2).

But if "death reigned" not "from Adam to Moses," as the Bible says (Romans 5:14), but had already reigned for billions of years before Adam, then death is not the wages of sin but instead was part of God's creative purpose. How then could the death of Christ put away sin? The gap theory thus undermines the very gospel of our salvation, as well as the holy character of God.

The fact is that no such gap exists between the first two verses of Genesis at all. The second verse merely describes the initial aspect of the creation as "without form and void"—that is, with neither structure nor inhabitants. The rest of the chapter tells how God produced a marvelous structure for His created universe, with multitudes of plant and animal inhabitants for the earth, all to be under the dominion of its human inhabitants created in the image of God. It was only then that God pronounced the creation "finished" (Genesis 2:1).

It is time for those who believe the Bible and in the goodness and wisdom of God to abandon the gap theory once and for all (as well as the day-age theory, which is even worse) and simply believe what God has said. The gap theory has no scientific merit, requires a very forced Biblical exegesis, and leads to a God-dishonoring theology. It does not work, either Biblically or scientifically.

* Dr. Henry Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.

https://www.icr.org/article/why-gap-theory-wont-work/
 

Salluz

You mean we can change these titles?
Jan, I tried to specify that this isn't that gap theory I'd like to discuss. Here's an article from gracethrufaith that I was bringing up
https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/more-on-the-gap-theory/

Quote:
I accept the Gap Theory as it was originally proposed. And that is that the most literal translation of Genesis 1:2 is “But the earth became formless and void” rather than “and the Earth was formless and void.” This allows for the creation of angels and the judgment of Lucifer prior to the beginning of the Creation account in Genesis 1:3. A long gap of time between verses 2 and 3 while the Earth lay in darkness as a result of the judgment (and darkness was on the face of the deep) also reconciles the evidence for an old Earth with the Biblical claim of a young civilization without contradicting the 6 Day Creation story . Both Jeremiah 4:23 and Isaiah 45:18 seem to support this, being the only other places where the Hebrew words for formless and void are found.

But you can’t use the Gap Theory to explain fossils of dinosaurs, etc. I believe this a case where science is incorrect in its dating. Nor does it justify a pre-Adamite race of human-like beings. The Bible is clear that Adam was the first man, and Paul said that sin and death entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12) The fossil record was created in Noah’s flood.

Unquote

I'm already firmly convinced anything having to do with evolution or anything other than literal creation days is hogwash, I just wanted to get people's opinions on this presentation of a gap where angels were the ones on earth, not people or animals.

As to whether Eve's sin was the first sin, does the bible say that? I thought the general consensus has always been that Satan sinned first, which is why he tempted Eve in the first place
 

Jan51

Well-Known Member
Jan, I tried to specify that this isn't that gap theory I'd like to discuss. Here's an article from gracethrufaith that I was bringing up
https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/more-on-the-gap-theory/

Quote:
I accept the Gap Theory as it was originally proposed. And that is that the most literal translation of Genesis 1:2 is “But the earth became formless and void” rather than “and the Earth was formless and void.” This allows for the creation of angels and the judgment of Lucifer prior to the beginning of the Creation account in Genesis 1:3. A long gap of time between verses 2 and 3 while the Earth lay in darkness as a result of the judgment (and darkness was on the face of the deep) also reconciles the evidence for an old Earth with the Biblical claim of a young civilization without contradicting the 6 Day Creation story . Both Jeremiah 4:23 and Isaiah 45:18 seem to support this, being the only other places where the Hebrew words for formless and void are found.

But you can’t use the Gap Theory to explain fossils of dinosaurs, etc. I believe this a case where science is incorrect in its dating. Nor does it justify a pre-Adamite race of human-like beings. The Bible is clear that Adam was the first man, and Paul said that sin and death entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12) The fossil record was created in Noah’s flood.

Unquote

I'm already firmly convinced anything having to do with evolution or anything other than literal creation days is hogwash, I just wanted to get people's opinions on this presentation of a gap where angels were the ones on earth, not people or animals.

As to whether Eve's sin was the first sin, does the bible say that? I thought the general consensus has always been that Satan sinned first, which is why he tempted Eve in the first place
I guess I really don't see much difference. The only reason for any kind of gap is to try to compromise with evolution's long ages. 1) It doesn't make any difference if you are talking pre-Adam humans or pre-Adam angelic beings. They are posited to explain the fossils, which are completely explained by a global flood. 2) The changing of "was" to "became" is a stretch, also to accommodate the gap. Here is another ICR article that addresses both those issues.
https://www.icr.org/article/gap-theory-trojan-horse-tragedy
 

Batfan7

Well-Known Member
Interesting idea, and one that I guess I don't have any serious need to agree or disagree with. Satan definitely fell before Eve sinned. The angelic realm, in my mind, is more divorced from our universe than this theory assumes, but if someone wants to believe this 'gap' idea...well, no harm done, I guess.
 

Sowen

Well-Known Member
The premises of the gap theory do not support it.

For example, the description in Jeremiah 4:23 doesn't mean there's a connection to the creation account or that there was a previous Earth before the one we currently live on. Jeremiah 4:23 simply means exactly what it says: Jeremiah saw the devastating effects of God's judgment against Israel and described it as desolation. That's it.

This type of desolation, wherein something existed then was destroyed, cannot logically be applied to Genesis 1:2 because context is required to get the meaning of text, and nowhere in Jeremiah, the Genesis account, or elsewhere in the Bible does it explicitly or implicitly provide that context. So, using Jeremiah 4:23 (in any language) as proof text for a gap theory goes beyond what the text actually says, and reading Jeremiah in its entirety actually presents further arguments against the gap theory.

As for the fall of Satan, no extended period of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is required for this. Here's one reason why:

The Bible tells us that Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old. Since Seth was born into a fallen world, we know that at most 129 years (allow a year for human gestation and other things) had lapsed from the time of Adam's creation to the fall of man which is plenty of time to factor in Satan's fall, Cain, Abel, and other people on Earth.

Because of this flawed logic and other Bible passages which contradict it, I don't believe the gap theory.

As to whether Eve's sin was the first sin, does the bible say that? I thought the general consensus has always been that Satan sinned first, which is why he tempted Eve in the first place
Satan sinned first, but the Bible teaches it's through Adam that sin and consequently death entered the world. It's plausible that the fall of Satan and the fall of man happened close to each other or in quick succession i.e. Satan fell then immediately tempted Eve. We don't know for sure because the Bible doesn't say, so anything beyond that is speculation.
 
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lenraff

Well-Known Member
I have always dismissed the gap theory simply by pointing out that God called His creation good. Not devastated or laid waste, but good. Challenging the creation account is foundational to warring with God, and the quickest way to make an enemy of Him.
Romans 1:20-32
 

Salluz

You mean we can change these titles?
I really wouldn't go as far as to say Jack was an enemy of God for not getting this one right. He is well loved on this site, and his other teachings are super solid. He taught solid salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, hence the name of his site. Let's not malign him by saying he was warring with God
 

Steve53

Well-Known Member
I really wouldn't go as far as to say Jack was an enemy of God for not getting this one right. He is well loved on this site, and his other teachings are super solid. He taught solid salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, hence the name of his site. Let's not malign him by saying he was warring with God
This is one of a very few problems I had with Jack's teachings. IIRC, he wasn't dogmatic about the gap theory, he just thought it was plausible.

Personally, I believe in a literal 6 day creation. We're talking about what God can do. And with our limited understanding I think we have to take the multipal scriptural references of a 6 day period as the only basis upon which to form an opinion.
 

lenraff

Well-Known Member
I really wouldn't go as far as to say Jack was an enemy of God for not getting this one right. He is well loved on this site, and his other teachings are super solid. He taught solid salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, hence the name of his site. Let's not malign him by saying he was warring with God
Salluz, my statement was aimed at disbelief not an author. I don't know Jack, I do know we're not perfect.
 

Andy C

Reborn to fly
Great thread, very insightful comments. I almost always agree with Jack Kelley, but not so much this time. As Steve53 said, Jack was not a definite believer in a gap, just that it could be possible based on proper interpretation of the wording in Gen 1-2.

I dont believe in a gap, but I also believe being right or wrong in this has ZERO impact on my salvation.
 
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