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Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth [Paperback]

By Terry Mortenson (Editor) & Thane H. Ury (Editor)
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Item description for Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth by Terry Mortenson & Thane H. Ury...

14 different scholars address key topics related to the age of the earth, which is the crucial issue of debate in the church regarding origins. Bringing to bear rigorous scholarly biblical and theological arguments in favor of a young earth, they also address much-needed discussion regarding a number of contemporary interpretations of the book of Genesis. A substantial historical, theological, and exegetical defense of the biblical account of Creation, the book is designed for seminary and Bible college professors and students, ministers, missionaries, and others in ministry work.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: New Leaf Publishing Group
Pages   478
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 1"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2008
Publisher   New Leaf Press/Master Books
ISBN  0890515484  
ISBN13  9780890515488  

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More About Terry Mortenson & Thane H. Ury

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dr. Terry Mortenson was born and raised in Owatonna, Minnesota. He studied math and was led to Christ at the University of Minnesota. In 1975 he joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ and ministered to college students, first in America for four years and then for nearly two decades in Eastern Europe. He earned an M. Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago (1992) and a Ph.D. in the history of geology from Coventry University in England (1996). In 2001 he became a speaker, researcher and writer for Answers in Genesis in Kentucky. Over the past 25 years in 15 countries he has spoken or debated on the subject of creation and evolution in homes, churches, schools, Bible colleges, seminaries and secular universities. He has also written many magazine, journal or web articles. He and his wife. Margie, have five daughters and three sons.

Terry Mortenson currently resides in the state of Kentucky.

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Reviews - What do customers think about Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth?

Getting a Grip Would be Good!  May 29, 2010
Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth is the work of editors Terry Mortenson, a missionary for 26 years with Campus Crusade and Thane H. Ury. This appears to be Ury's only book although he lectures on young-earth creation.

The book insists that young-earth creationism is the only biblical viewpoint. It criticises many respected biblical scholars who do not hold this view. It calculates the age of the world using the life spans of the rulers who lived before the flood, following Bishop Usher's dating which has been shown to be flawed.

There is great confusion expressed in the 12 Affirmations and Denials at the end of the book. I'll address Affirmation VI and Affirmation XII as these teach contrary to what Genesis actually says.

VI. We affirm that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are chronological, enabling us to arrive at an approximate date of creation of the whole universe (p. 454).

Clearly these people haven't a clue about how historically reliable this material is becasue they don't even include Genesis 4 which must be read with Genesis 5 as the lines of Cain and Seth intermarried. The intermarriage is shown by the cousin bride's naming prerogative as in the case of Lamech's daughter Namaah (Gen. 4: 22) who married her cousin Methusaleh and named their first-born son Lamech (Gen 5: 25) after her father.

They don't realize that Genesis reveals that Cain and Seth married the daughters of an African chief name Nok (Enoch). That's why both their first-born sons were named Enoch. Given the young-earth creationist scheme, this would mean that Enoch, who was a ruler over a region in west central Africa about 10,000 years ago, was a comtemporary of Adam. So either Adam was not the only man created at the beginning or there is a gap of time between the creation stories and the first historical individuals named in Genesis 4 and 5. I propose that the gap of time was filled by the author's knitting together the oldest mythological motifs of Abraham's ancestors involving a Tree of Life and a Serpent with the oldest known ruler lists. This in no way overthrows the Bible's authority. Rather it shows that biblical authority rests on a tradition of great antiquity, and the biblical worldview is already evident in the oldest known religious beliefs and practices.

XII. We affirm that all people living and dead are descended from Adam and Eve...and that the various people groups (with their various languages, cultures, and distinctive physical characteristics, including skin color) arose as a result of God's supernatural judgment at the Tower of Babel..."

There are 17 language families in the world. Each breaks down into hundreds of languages, dialects and sub-dialects. All the people groups mentioned in Genesis 10 belong to only one language family: the Afro-Asiatic. The Bible is their story because the promise of the Son was made to their ancestors in Eden (Gen. 3:15) Further, most of these people are of African origin and dark skin color so it is ignorant to say that skin color variation is the result of God's judgment.

A misdirected appeal to literalism  Mar 12, 2010
First the good news. This book *appears* to be a scholarly book. Many works are cited and referenced, and the authors in this book have obviously gone to much effort to record their views. The views, however, are misdirected and appear firmly planted in the first century. The authors are to be lauded for the scope of their efforts and their convictions on the perspicuity of Scripture, but their unwillingness to consider the validity of alternate interpretations results in this book being a polemic against deep time and long ages, particularly the easy target, Hugh Ross. Some of the conceptual contortions required to force nature to fit what they believe Scripture says about nature are remarkable.

At the time of the writing of this review, there are no negative reviews and only four positive reviews. I suspect not many readers who disagree with the views of the authors are even willing to make the effort to engage this book. The authors frequently make reference to the fact that theirs is a minority view. Although the majority view is not always right (p. 336), the fact that so many careful thinking scholars disagree with the minority view should cause the authors of this book to be open to re-evaluating their views.

Here are some of the philosophical and factual errors in the book:

p. 10 "Darwin's book was rooted in the basic presupposition that under the right circumstances, life can spring on its own from non-living matter." On the Origin of Species had nothing to say about the origin of life and made no assumptions in that regard. In a 1871 letter to Joseph Hooker, Darwin speculated about a "warm pond", but he drew no assumptions on whether or not this came about under God's providence.

p. 12 "The act of creation cannot be repeated; it cannot be tested; and therefore naturalistic theories purporting to explain the origin and age of the universe are unverifiable." The age of the universe can be verified every time the temperature of the cosmic microwave background radiation is measured, every time the expansion of the universe is observed, along with many other repeatable observations.

p. 17 "The deep-time geological timetable is actually an interpretive philosophical construct." Hardly. When God wants us to find answers to questions about nature, He expects us to direct those questions to nature. The Bible does not necessarily speak authoritatively about nature; it addresses questions about nature according to the understanding of the people in the day it was written.

p. 18 "Theories that deny God as Creator (including Darwinian evolution) are incompatible with Scripture." Darwin never denied God as Creator. Darwinian evolution only denies God as Creator when this is assumed as a metaphysical presupposition.

p. 80 "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God." When Paul says these words, he is not inferring anything about studying the mechanisms of the physical world, as implied in this book. Paul is addressing the materialistic and spiritual assumptions made that keep us from realizing a right relationship with God.

p. 104 "One of the innumerable tragic examples of the consequences of this compromise with millions of years is Charles Templeton." Charles Templeton was a victim of the false dichotomy that says that one must the choice between science and Scripture is mutually exclusive. Note that Templeton's friend, Billy Graham, also espoused evolution (1964), but wisely separated that fact from and integrated that fact into, God's eternal message.

p. 122 "The truth is that general revelation as defined by Scripture does not uncover anything that one could not find in the special revelation of Scripture." This is unbelievably short-sighted and false and is an insult to the intelligence that God has given us and expects us to apply in understanding the order of nature. This statement contradicts other statements in the book (p. 185) that suggest that the Bible was not intended to be a scientific text for all ages. Surprisingly on p. 185 the author correctly observes that "the author (of Genesis) employed a phenomenological perspective in his writing, consistent with the narrow linguistic constraints of historical narratives", yet does not extend this hermeneutic to the obvious literal description of the creation account.

p. 166 "Reading this text (ie. Genesis 1) as a literal historical account leads to the conclusion that the earth is thousands...not billions of years old." Of course the original readers would have understood this creation account as historical truth, but that does not make it fact. This is an example of reverse concordism, forcing ancient Near East views onto a modern world.

p. 171 "The RATE team postulated accelerated radioisotope decay...and discovered that it did indeed happen in the past." In a book rife with references, this "shocking" discovery is cited without a reference. Odd. And which independent body confirmed this result?

p. 209 "If God can commend truths about himself, why must he tell falsehoods about the universe?" Simple. So that the people of that day would understand God's relationship to the universe. God was not recording falsehoods about the universe. The writer of Genesis simply recorded the understanding of nature as the people already understood.

p. 325 "We have strong grounds to conclude that He (Jesus) believed in a literal six-day creation week which occurred only a few thousand years ago." Duh! Why would Jesus have spoken any differently? His listeners already believed and accepted what he was saying, and the intent of Jesus was not to correct their history or science. The least of Jesus' concern was teaching the age of the earth!

p. 375 "Plants are not afforded the status of "living creatures," as humans and animals are." Anyone with a basic knowledge of genomics realizes that plants and animals share many features that defines "aliveness", including metabolism, reproduction and death. Although there are other obvious differences, how this is relevant to the age of the earth is a mystery, unless it provides a convoluted argument to say there was no death prior to the Fall.

p. 385 "Betty attempts to offer a "best way", yet there does not seem to be any fundamental difference between her view and that of a Hindu or Buddhist." HER view? The Betty that is referenced is Lewis Betty, a male scholar. Failure to recognize this indicates a superficiality of research.

Readers should understand that even without compromise or accommodation, there are many ways in which nature and the Scriptures can co-exist without going back to a pre-scientific worldview that discounts what science tells us about nature.
A Great Corrective  Jan 19, 2010
It matters! This book changed my mind. Young earth is the right view when looked at from a Biblical point of view. This book challenges all other options and does so successfully. Though some essays are written better than others, all give vital critiques allowing the reader to look at this issue from all scriptural angles. Wets the appetite for more.
Essential introduction and standard academic text  Sep 9, 2009
The following is the summary of the review I wrote for Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, Volume 14, 2009. The full review can be read at [...].

I highly recommend Coming to Grips with Genesis as an essential introduction and standard academic text on young-earth creationism. The book is a scholarly, biblical, and comprehensive defense of the young-earth view. The authors easily achieved their immediate goal--to present the key arguments for the young-earth view. They also successfully raised the issue that the age of the creation has a serious impact on foundational truths of the Christian faith. Issues such as the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture and consistency in hermeneutics are indeed at stake. The authors wisely avoid the error of making the young-earth view a fundamental of the faith. A major strength of the book is that it is a compilation of works by authors whose expertise is particularly focused on the topics on which they write.

The book could use another edition to fix some problems. Consistency throughout the book could be improved. For instance, Boyd contradicts Beall on the issue of the phonetic similarity of tehôm to Tiamat (p. 134, 190). Freeman's strict 6,000 year approach could be squared better with the later "Affirmations and Denials." The important concept of "deep time" is used early in the text (p. 20), but a careful definition is not attempted until chapter 7 (p. 199). In several places there was overlap between the chapters that could have been avoided if each chapter remained focused and referred to other chapters for incidental points. For example, the mention of the flood at the end of chapter 6 should be handled in chapter 9. Theodicy issues could be removed from chapter 13 and limited to chapter 14.

The editors devoted a few pages in the epilogue to intelligent design, an important current topic that was not mentioned in the body of the book. An entire chapter explaining and critiquing that movement would be a valuable enhancement to a future edition.

As a festschrift to Dr. John Whitcomb, CGWG admirably supports the kind of traditional, conservative approach that Whitcomb has taught for years in support of young-earth creationism. It is a must-read.
Matthew A. Postiff
A "must'have"  May 21, 2009
The following review is by Michael J. Vlach, Assistant Professor of Theology, The Master's Seminary Journal, pp. 114-116, Volume 20, Number 1, Spring 2009.

Vlach writes: "The early chapters of Genesis continue to be a battleground in the debate over the age of the earth. The case for six-day creation, a global flood, and a young earth finds a great ally with Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth. The editors, Terry Mortensen and Thane H. Ury, have assembled fourteen formidable theological scholars to defend a young-earth view and critique contemporary old-earth interpretations of the book of Genesis.

"This defense of a literal view of Genesis 1-11, which is also a tribute to the life and ministry of early earth advocate, John C. Whitcomb, is not intended to be a scientific presentation for a young earth. Instead, this book admittedly complements young earth science books by focusing on a correct exegetical and theological understanding of Genesis. As such, it is intended to be a stand-alone text for seminary and Bible college professors and students, pastors, missionaries, and all interested in what the Bible really says about creation.

"Readers should appreciate the two forewords. The first is by Henry M. Morris, who penned his words shortly before his death. This reviewer is glad that Dr. Morris was able to see the fruit of this outstanding book before he left this earth to enter the presence of His Lord. Both editors acknowledge the great influence of both Morris and Whitcomb on their views of Genesis. The second review is by John MacArthur, who also heartily commends this book.

"Coming to Grips with Genesis consists of fourteen chapters followed by two appendices. The first appendix, by Paul J. Scharf, is a biographical tribute to John C. Whitcomb. In regard to the chapters, James R. Mook addresses what the early church fathers really believed about the six days of creation. In separate sections, Trevor C. Craigen and Terry Mortensen tackle the topic of deep time in Genesis. Richard L. Mayhue addresses why nature should not be considered the 67th book of the Bible. William D. Barrick discusses the geological implications of Noah's flood. Travis R. Freeman examines the issue of genealogical gaps in Genesis 5 and 11. Ron Minton shows the reader what the apostolic witness states regarding creation and the flood. David W. Hall, Todd S. Beall, Steven W. Boyd, Robert V. McCabe, James Stambaugh, and Thane H. Ury also offer helpful chapters on various exegetical, theological, and historical matters related to Genesis 1-11.

"The message of the fourteen chapters is clear - Genesis and the rest of Scripture teaches a sudden, six-day creation of this earth, which is only thousands, not millions, of years old. This position was the view of the apostolic witness and the church for nearly 1,800 years. The church today, to its peril, has largely rejected the teaching of the Bible on creationism, caving in to Enlightenment thinking and dubious science. The solution is to go back to what Genesis actually teaches, with a boldness resting on the assurance that God's Word is true.

"In addition to the excellent chapters, one of the most interesting sections of the book is the Epilogue. Here the editors express their appreciation for and concerns with the Intelligent Design Movement. For those who appreciate the IDM and movies like Expelled, but still find something missing, this section is helpful and, in this reviewer's opinion, quite balanced.

"The reader should also appreciate that Coming to Grips with Genesis also offers a Recommended Resources section that lists books, Web articles, DVDs, and periodicals that will allow further study of issues related to creation and the flood. Also, the work has an "Affirmations and Denials" document in the appendix. The reader may want to note that this document is also on-line with instructions at the end explaining how other theologically trained people around the world can "sign" the document as a testimony to the church and a call for the church to have a truly biblical worldview in this evolutionized world. The URL for that document is

"This book is unparalleled in offering a compelling, scholarly, and recent defense of young-earth creationism from a biblical perspective. The greatest strength of the book is its unapologetic commitment to what Genesis actually teaches about origins. As the editors declare, "The authors of this book are convinced that no properly interpreted scientific facts will ultimately contradict a straightforward reading of Genesis." (427).

"For those interested in issues related to creation and Genesis 1-11, Coming to Grips with Genesis is a must have. Seminaries and Bible colleges would do well to get this book into the hands of their students quickly."

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