A report on my recent Christian Leaders Tour of the Grand Canyon
Written by Dr. Stephen Hague, Academic Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies at Faith Theological Seminary, Baltimore, MD.
This by-invitation only trip (July, 2013) was an educational adventure in the Grand Canyon co-sponsored by Canyon Ministries, The Master’s Seminary, and Answers in Genesis. I travelled for seven days through the Canyon down the Colorado River on two large rafts along with thirty-one other men, twenty seven of whom are scholars, teachers, and leaders at different institutions in the USA and England. We were guided by four very skilled boatmen who hollered like cowboys riding a wild bronco whenever we went through white water rapids!
After 100 white-water rapids, some 187 miles of water, and lectures and readings on the geology of the Canyon from two remarkable (encyclopedic) geologists (Dr. Andrew Snelling and Dr. John Whitmore), I can easily say there is nothing like seeing it in person and having such experts explaining it! Although I have always believed in the historicity of Genesis 1 as a record of six natural and “ordinary” days of creation, as well as a literal worldwide flood in Genesis 6-9, I have never been so clearly challenged and moved before to understand and accept the fossil and geological strata of the earth as the record of the flood and rapid, catastrophic post-flood depositions. (It is akin to touring Israel and seeing biblical sites for the first time, giving a face to what we know from scripture.) For example, the whole team was inspired by the experience overall, but profoundly so when we got to the deepest foundation level (“creation stone”) below the thousands of feet of flood deposits, and an Englishman on the tour stood on the raft and read Genesis 1 with great boldness and strength as it echoed in the Canyon. Not only was I overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s glorious creation, but also by the magnitude of his judgment on the earth in the days of Noah.
The evidences for a great and catastrophic flood in the Grand Canyon are quite inescapable, and so it is concerning that so many Evangelical Christians do not believe in a global flood, and that they do believe that earth fossiliferous rock layers represent many millions of years of death and destruction before the Fall of Adam and Eve in Eden, since that is how the geological strata is understood by evolutionists. Indeed, what is particularly striking is that the flood strata of the Canyon extend for tens of thousands of square miles, sometimes reaching across all of North America into Europe and even over the Mideast. It is irrefutable that the layers of the geological strata were laid down swiftly in extremely catastrophic conditions, and that the fossilized creatures that number in the billions died suddenly as they were buried in the sands, mud and rubble of the settling depositions. I understand that the evidence of a worldwide flood is difficult to accept by our generation that was born and bred on the naturalistic, evolutionary hypothesis. Nevertheless, rejection of the biblical creation and flood accounts as other than historical records, and taken as derivative of Ancient Near Eastern myths, or tales from Israel’s “faith-memories” or some such, leads to devastating theological and spiritual consequences that I know from much personal experience. Consequently, it is difficult to understand why so many Christians will not at least carefully consider and research the evidences for the historical, “supernatural,” and recent creation/flood model. It seems to confirm what someone has said that the real issue facing us today is not the authority of scripture but its sufficiency, and I would add its unity.
As we wound our awe-struck way down the Colorado River, the two geologists on the team taught throughout the day in-depth lessons on the creation-model, and Dr. Terry Mortenson and Dr. William Barrick presented the biblical and theological case for both creation and a global flood. I was painfully confronted with my own negligence of the seriousness of these issues for our times. Their seriousness cannot be easily overstated, since these are such critically determinative matters for our biblical hermeneutics, our exegesis, and our theology. Though they may not be considered “salvation issues,” they are certainly foundational to the entirety of subsequent redemption-history given to us in OT and NT revelation. How we read the text regarding our origins, God’s purposes for his creation, and his ways of judging and redeeming his creation, will certainly determine how we understand and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ who himself believed and expressed firmly that Adam and Eve were created by God in fairly recent history, “at the beginning of creation” (Mk 10:6), at the same time that he created the heavens and the earth ex nihilo. That is, in his view, there is no great time gap (that would include billions of years of death and destruction on the earth) between the creation of the heavens and the earth and the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 1. Jesus also certainly believed that the flood of God’s judgment was a truly historical event. Indeed, he even compared the historical flood to his own historical return when he said, “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed” (Lk 17:27). Jesus who always spoke truly, always treated the OT as a record of fact, and he did not “accommodate” his views to the supposedly erroneous views (of the creation and the flood) of his contemporaries, as some suggest.
- One of the books we read before the trip: Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury, editors, Coming to Grips With Genesis:Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth (AR: Master Books, 2008).
- For Andrew Snelling’s geological study of the earth and the Canyon, see his superb two volume Earth’s CatastrophicPast: Geology, Creation & the Flood.
- Free-to-read online books
- For Christian tours of the Canyon
- How old is the earth?