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I am struggling with the biblical account that the earth was created in six, 24-hour days. There is significant scientific evidence that the earth and the universe are significantly older. Carbon dating is just one example of a scientific method that helps determine the age of historical objects. I understand WELS believes that the bible is 100% the inspired, factual word of God, but isn't a thousand years like a day to the Lord? As an example of evolution that we see, bacteria are constantly mutating based on exposure to anti-biotics. Man bred wolves to become multiple breeds of dogs; is that evolution? I would appreciate your response to these questions.

As Christians, our starting point is that Scripture is always true and truthful.  (Numbers 23:19; John 17:17)  That means that if Scripture says one thing and other sources say something else, we side with Scripture.  We side with Scripture because God is ultimately its author, even though he used human beings to write down his words.

Another important principle regarding Scripture is that we interpret Scripture as the context directs us.  This means understanding the genre of the section of Scripture under consideration.  Genesis 1 and 2 are historical narratives.  So, we understand the content literally, not figuratively or poetically.  Thus, the “days” of Genesis 1 are days—periods of time that have “evening” and morning.”  There is nothing in the language of the Bible’s creation account to indicate that the days were longer than 24-hour periods.

References to 2 Peter 3:8 (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”) have no connection whatsoever with the creation account.  2 Peter 3:8 speaks of God not being bound to or affected by time.  A day on earth affects God no more than a thousand years on earth.  God does not age.  He is not affected by time.  He exists outside time.  He is eternal.  When people try to say the days of the creation account were longer than 24-hour periods because of what 2 Peter 3:8 says, they are guilty of illegitimate biblical interpretation.

Do we find variety within species?  (That is another question you raised.)  We do.  But we do not find change going across the biblical “kind” (Genesis 1).

Carbon dating is not as precise as it is made out to be. There are numerous papers on file at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary that address creation and evolution.  You will find some of those papers addressing the fact that God made the world with the appearance of age.  (There were fully mature fruit trees, for example, to provide food for Adam and Eve.)

I can also direct you to the website of the Lutheran Science Institute, an organization within WELS, that can provide you with even more reading material.

When it comes to creation, the Bible presents an eye-witness account.  The only one present was God, the Creator.  He tells us that he spoke and called things into existence.  He did not oversee an evolutionary process, nor were things made apart from him.  He spoke, and his powerful word created.  “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11).  The biblical record is clear:  God is the creator.  God bless your study of his word.


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Discipleship and Giving Up Everything

Jesus gave up EVERYTHING for us. Jesus also asked his disciples to give up EVERYTHING, even their families and they did. What does that mean for those that are “believers” that don’t give EVERYTHING? Jesus himself said, for those that don’t give EVERYTHING cannot be my disciple. I don’t know a single WELS believer or anyone from any denomination that has done this. Thanks and keep up the good work. I read Q & A often!


I understand your question to be referencing Luke 14:33 – “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”  If that verse were simply isolated and pulled out of context, it would look like we all need to live ascetic lives in order to be disciples of Christ.  However, the words at the beginning of the verse (“In the same way,”) instruct us to understand this verse in light of the verses that precede.

In the verses that precede, Jesus spoke to people about the difference between following him physically and following him in faith.  Following him in faith means putting him first and being ready to give up whatever interferes with that course of action.  In the preceding verses Jesus spoke of loving family members less than they love him (“hating” them in that sense).  He spoke of suffering in his name (carrying the cross).  He used the illustrations of a building project and a military campaign to highlight the high cost of following him.

With that background, Jesus gave the instruction in the verse you referenced.  When understood in context, it is not a command to live a life of poverty.  Scripture rather instructs us to use our possessions to support the work of the church (2 Corinthians 9:7 ), to provide for the needs of our family (1 Timothy 5:8), to pay taxes and support the government (Romans 13), and to help those in need (1 John 3:17).  When understood in context, Jesus’ instruction is a call to follow him in faith without being sidetracked by anything or anyone in this world.  With that understanding, now you do know believers who can be associated with this Bible passage!

(And thank you for your encouraging words.)

Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.