Thursday, October 07, 2010

A.W. Pink and the Gap Theory

As I was reading Arthur W. Pink's The Sovereignty of God (which I am borrowing from a library), I came upon an interesting section where Pink discusses the work of the Holy Spirit in regenerating an individual. He likens it to the Holy Spirit's work in renewing the desolate world in Genesis 1. The interesting part about it is that Pink here argues for a Gap[1] interpretation of Genesis, which he then uses as a springboard for his discussion on the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. In the fourth chapter of his book, he writes,

A beautiful type of the operations of the Holy Spirit antecedent to the sinner's "belief of the truth", is found in the first chapter of Genesis. We read in verse 2, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." The original Hebrew here might be literally rendered thus: "And the earth had become a desolate ruin, and darkness was upon the face of the deep." In "the beginning" the earth was not created in the condition described in verse 2. Between the first two verses of Genesis 1 some awful catastrophe had occurredpossibly the fall of Satanand, as the consequence, the earth had been blasted and blighted, and had become a "desolate ruin", lying beneath a pall of "darkness." Such also is the history of man. Today, man is not in the condition in which he left the hands of his Creator: an awful catastrophe has happened, and now man is a "desolate ruin" and in total "darkness" concerning spiritual things. Next we read in Genesis 1 how God refashioned the ruined earth and created new things to inhabit it. First we read, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Next we are told, "And God said, Let there be light; and there was light." The order is the same in the new creation: there is first the action of the Spirit, and then the Word of God giving light. Before the Word found entrance into the scene of desolation and darkness, bringing with it the light, the Spirit of God "moved." So it is in the new creation. "The entrance of Thy words giveth light" (Ps. 119:130), but before it can enter the darkened human heart the Spirit of God must operate upon it.[2]

As a friend of mine pointed out, it is noteworthy that the prophet Jeremiah speaks of the restoration of Israel using the language of creation: "I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; And to the heavens, and they had no light" (Jeremiah 4:23). How well this interpretation holds up, however, I will leave for the reader to decide.[3]

End Notes
  1. The gap theory postulates that an indefinite span of time exists between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. This time span is usually considered to be quite large (millions of years) and is also reputed to encompass the so-called “geologic ages.” Proponents of the gap theory also postulate that a cataclysmic judgment was pronounced upon the earth during this period as the result of the fall of Lucifer (Satan) and that the ensuing verses of Genesis chapter 1 describe a re-creation or reforming of the earth from a chaotic state and not an initial creative effort on the part of God. (Sofield, Jack C. The Gap Theory of Genesis Chapter One. <>.)
  2. Pink, Arthur Walkington. The Sovereignty of God (Sixth Edition). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1959 (repr. 1975) pp. 90-91.
  3. For a good book critiquing the Gap theory, I would recommend Weston W. Fields' Unformed and Unfilled: A Critique of the Gap Theory. New Leaf Publishing Group, 2005.

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