I posted this yesterday over at Evangel, and it needed a little second-drafting, but it's a worthy post in its own right. The discussion goes on over there about the BioLogos approach to Genesis, which I think we Pyros are in league against.
However, some have noted that Augustine himself disagrees with the position Dan, Phil and myself would posit on how to read Genesis 1 -- and that position is supposed to justify all who do so. The story goes that denying 7 days in Gen 1 doesn't necessarily lead one down the wide and easy road to hell.
It's an interesting gambit. Let's lay out a couple of things which I think we would agree on with those who are saying such a thing:
1. The full narrative of the anthology which is Scripture is God's explanation of what He intended to explain -- which I think we would also agree is the full message of His intention for all things as manifested in the person and work of jesus Christ.
1a. In that, it's often the case that people miss the forest for the trees -- often in our world where people are very concerned about "exegetical" preaching, one event or even sentence or word is made to be the whole point when it's simply not the case. That may not be criminal, but it is, as Christopher Benson would say, irresponsible.
1b. We have to read what's there, the way it is said.
2. The question of whether Gen 1 is about "days" or "periods" has not yielded a uniform answer in Christian exegetical history, and in the past 2-ish millennia it has not often been the high-sign of apostasy.
Those are absolutely not in question. What is in question is whether or not one can read Genesis in contradiction to the balance of Scripture.
This is perhaps the most vexing part of this discussion for me -- because it seems to me that the other side of this discussion believes you can read Genesis in contradiction to the rest of the Bible without any harm to the Bible as a whole, its authority in general and in particular, and certainly not to the Gospel.
But the point that no one reading this post agrees with Augustine completely has to be a matter of deeper consideration for those who want to use him to champion or in some way rationalize the BioLogos view. See: for Augustine, the question was not whether God created in 7 days or in 7 billion years. His primary purpose was refutation of Manichaeism in the doctrine of creation. And his own theory was, well, let's read it in his own words from Book 1, end of 7.28:
So then perhaps is said and there was made evening and there was made morning, one day in the sort of way in which one foresees that something can or ought to be done, and not in the way which is actually done is a certain stretch of time. After all, it was in its essential nature that God’s creative work was observed in the Holy Spirit by the author who said, The one who abides for ever created all things simultaneously (Sir 18:1). But in this book of Genesis the story of things made by God most appropriately sets them out as it were through intervals of time; by this arrangement of the account in an orderly sequence, the divine plan itself, which cannot be directly and timelessly contemplated by our weaker intellects, is presented so to say as a spectacle for our very eyes to gaze on.Let’s please admit that by no means would BioLogos consent to affirming an ex nihilo creation which doesn’t happen over 7 days but in a mere instant where everything is made whole. And moreover, I am sure none of the advocates of this use of Augustine admit that Sirach is Scripture from which to draw that conclusion.
Let me say frankly that if I have to choose between BioLogos' contrary reading of Genesis and Augustine's, I'd choose the Bishop of Hippo's reasoning without hesitation because it does something the BioLogos reading refuses to do: it admits the supernatural and pre-eminent nature of God's creative act.
For all that we might agree on, we have to get after the core issue here which is the modernist and post-modernist alleged debunking or deconstructing of God. To put Augustine in their camp as if he believed in a nearly-eternal period of creation, advanced by inches and chance, is simply an abuse of Augustine far worse than the accusations of (our) abuse of Genesis.
I think the approach that somehow the church fathers' orthodoxy looks more like the "faith" of the BioLogos community is an unproven assertion at best -- and is probably more like an ill-considered gambit when early church orthodoxy produced the Nicean and Athanasian Creeds, and Biologos could never do such a thing.