Systematic Theology Texts And the Age of the Earth

Updated: Mar 26

Mortenson, Terry. “Systematic Theology Texts and the Age of the Earth: A Response to the Views of Erickson, Grudem, and Lewis and Demarest,” Answers Research Journal 2 (2009): 175–199.

The article can be personally examined here:

This is an excellent digest of the “Age of the Earth” issue, specifically in the context of some modern systematic theologies that are influencing ministerial, and thus public, opinion related to this matter. I think that it is not commonly understood that what goes on in the ministerial training centers of our land ultimately, for good or bad, will influence the church at large.

The work begins with a brief explanation of eleven of the salient points in defense of the young-earth creationist viewpoint (with more in-depth analysis of two of those arguments (Death Before the Fall & the Nature of God). Mortenson then discusses three systematic theologies that misrepresent the clear teaching of the Scripture in this matter, and thus capitulate to the old-earth, evolutionary world-view. An important point (charge) is then made that these systematic theologies are actually hindering the work of evangelization, in our evolutionized world.

The systematic theologies that are examined are:

  • Christian Theology - Millard Erickson - Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983 and 1998

  • Systematic Theology - Wayne Grudem - Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994

  • Integrative Theology - Gordon Lewis and Bruce Demarest - Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996

Mortenson follows an orderly and predictable pattern in his attempts to argue for the weaknesses of the texts in the area of the earth’s age. He first (and throughout his discussion) describes some of the good points found the manuscript. Next, he begins to dissect the weaknesses of the text in relation to their support of a long age for the earth. He is thorough in showing contradictions, misunderstandings, and poor / careless scholarship in the works.

He concludes his analysis by succinctly listing (thus re-emphasizing) the relevant points which support his underlying thesis that, “these [4] scholars have not adequately explained the biblical truth on this subject [the age of the earth] nor have they persuasively defended their old-earth positions and provided persuading rebuttals to the young-earth view.”

These concluding points, concerning weak areas in the aforementioned systematic theologies are as follows:

  1. Weak Exegesis of the relevant Scriptures

  2. Inadequate consideration of the relevant creationist literature

  3. Inadequate consideration of the impact of the Fall