2. What do you think of the Gap-theory?




Before I answer your question, I would like to say something about the origin of this theory and to explain what this theory affirms, so that all those who have never heard of it may understand what this theory affirms and my answer. The paternity of this theory, which is often called gap-theory, belongs above all to a Scottish preacher called Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), who tried to reconcile the book of Genesis with the new discoveries concerning the age of the earth. This theory is very widespread even among Pentecostal Churches. For instance, the Italian Assemblies of God (ADI, which stands for Assemblee di Dio in Italia) teaches it. What does this theory affirm? In order to explain what it affirms I am going to quote part of an article written by Francesco Toppi, pastor of an ADI’s Church, which appeared in 1988 on the fortnightly magazine ‘Cristiani Oggi’ [Christians Today], which is one of the official magazines published by the above mentioned denomination. Here are the words of Francesco Toppi: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters’ (Genesis 1:1-2 - NIV). Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ does not describe the first step of the creation, it does not refer to the creation of the formless matter out of nothing but to a perfect creation: “The heavens and the earth” (….) This original physical creation is complete in itself, like all the things that God creates, even though we don’t know the details of this first creation (….) Genesis 1:2 would be the result of a destruction, of a catastrophe and implies a result of an episode of the ‘protohistory’ of the universe. This first original creation of Genesis 1:1 was followed by an indeterminate period of time, to which can correspond all the geological eras of billions of years nowadays settled through radiometric instruments (….) the great cataclysm that left the earth “formless and empty and darkness was over the surface of the deep” must have been an event of cosmic importance and thus it can refer only to the rebellion of Satan, to his expulsion from heaven and to his fall from heaven to the earth: (…) therefore Genesis 1:3-31 describes the ‘re-creation’ during which the Creator reconstructed from the formless matter of the original creation existing before the adamic creation’ (Cristiani Oggi, 1988, n° 4, page 2 – Translated by myself). This interpretation ‘allows us to state that the Bible does not contradict science’ (Ibid., page 2). To sum up, first there was the perfect creation made by God; however, because of the fall of Satan from heaven, that creation became formless and void, so God had to remake it. Therefore the six days of creation actually were not days of creation but days of re-creation or restoration. Between verse 1 and verse 2 of the first chapter of the book of Genesis we can calmly place the various geological eras of billions of years the scientists speak about!

Now, as things are, I must say with all boldness that in my judgement the gap-theory is a false doctrine. I have come to this conclusion, after a careful examination of the Scripture, for the following reasons.

If things were as the proponents of the gap-theory say, the Scripture would be broken for these reasons. First of all, that would mean that the things about which the first chapter of the book of Genesis speaks are things which were remade by God, therefore we should no longer speak of a creation but of a re-creation. Whereas the Scripture, referring to the events of the first chapter of Genesis, speaks continually of creation. For after God rested from His work on the seventh day, the Scripture says: “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4 – NKJV). God Himself, when He commanded the Israelites to remember the seventh day to keep it holy, said to them: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). Is it not enough clear that there were no other creation-days before the six creation-days? If the first day was not the one described in verse 3 because there had been a first day billions of years before, why does the Scripture say “so the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5), “were the second day” (1:8), “were the third day” (1:13) and so on? What then would these expressions mean? Don’t you think that we would implicitly acknowledge that in the book of Genesis there are some lies?

Let us talk about man now. If this theory were true, we should come to the conclusion that Adam was not the first man: why? Because if “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” meant that God made a perfect creation which afterward was destroyed by the fall of Satan from heaven, that would mean that at that time God had created also man and woman on the earth since that creation would have been imperfect without the creation of the human being. Therefore, before Adam there would have been other human beings on the earth, that is to say, there would have been other human beings before the earth became formless and empty. But this is not possible because the Scripture calls Adam the first man, as Paul says to the Corinthians: “The first man Adam became a living being” (1 Corinthians 15:45 – NKJV). Furthermore, when Jesus spoke about the creation of man and woman, He said: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’ and said ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?” (Matthew 19:4-5 – NKJV), didn’t He? What does ‘at the beginning’ mean? What creation did He refer to? As far we know, He referred to the only creation of man and woman accomplished by God, that is, the creation described in the book of Genesis. Therefore ‘at the beginning’ must refer to the only beginning the Scripture speaks of, that is, the time in which God created, and not recreated, man and woman. Not only that, but if the gap-theory were true we should also conclude that when Adam gave names to all the animals, it was not the first time that such a thing had occurred, because the first man, who had lived billions of years before Adam, had already given names to the animals, and therefore Adam had to rename them, and at this point we should wonder if Adam gave the same names to the animals. In other words, if we accepted this theory as a true theory we could eventually affirm many things that are inconsistent with the Scripture. And perhaps somebody might put even the homo erectus and the man of Neanderthal etc. etc. in those billions of years that preceded the re-creation accomplished by God recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, thus we would conclude that the so called evolution of man took place before the re-creation. So brother in the Lord, do not accept this theory for it contradicts the Word of God.

How can we explain then the fact that in the book of Genesis it is written that the earth was formless and empty (this passage, according to the proponents of the gap-theory, support their thesis)? We explain it in this way: when God created the earth it did not have the form it has now, but it was formless. Therefore the earth did not become formless but at the beginning of the creation it was made formless by God and afterward God formed it. For you should keep in mind that at the beginning the continents were not visible as they are now because they were submerged (underwater) as it is written that on the third day God said: “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so” (Genesis 1:9). And the words of the Psalmist are in agreement with this, as it is written: “You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away. They went up over the mountains; they went down into the valleys, to the place which You founded for them” (Psalm 104:6-8 - NKJV). Therefore when we read that at the beginning the earth was formless we have to bear in mind that the earth had not yet risen out of water, in that it rose out of water on the third day as Peter says: “By God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water” - 2 Peter 3:5 NIV). Furthermore, the earth was empty because we know that the plants, the animals and man, were made by God on the third day (plants) and on the sixth day (animals and man). That’s why the Scripture states that the earth was empty and not only formless. Therefore we must not be surprised to read that the earth was empty.

We can say a similar thing also about man, because man did not take immediately the form he has now because the Scripture says that “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). The expression ‘the Lord God formed man’ implies that at the beginning he was formless and afterward he took the form that God had determined (we don’t know how long the formation of man lasted, anyway it took place during a day of 24 hours, I mean it might have lasted 5 seconds or 5 minutes or 15 minutes or 1 hour or 2 hours, etc.; we can say that the formation of man took place between the morning and the evening of the sixth day). That’s not a strange thing because even the baby who is going to be born, before taking the form he will have when his mother gives birth to him, at the beginning was formless and has undergone a process of formation which in this case lasted several months. When David said: “Your eyes saw my unformed body” (Psalm 139:16 - NIV) did he not mean that at the beginning his body was unformed (or shapeless)? Please note that everything is the work of God because David said to God: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 – NIV) and Job said: “Your hands shaped me and made me” (Job 10:8 – NIV). However, when the hands of God began to form man he was not only shapeless but also empty because there was no life in him. It was when God finished forming his body that He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). Therefore, that’s the way God works, but unfortunately His way of working things, so clearly described in the Scripture, has been darkened by the above theory, which is nothing but an idea that sprang from a wrong interpretation given to the words “was formless and empty”. However, it is an idea that while on the one hand is inconsistent with the teaching of the Scripture concerning the creation, on the other hand it builds a sort of bridge between science and the book of Genesis because somehow it confirms that the geological eras of the scientists – which we don’t accept at all – actually can be placed in the book of Genesis. In other words, this theory sprang from the need to reconcile science and Scripture. And the damage caused by it is evident. Know this, brother, that many believers, wanting to reconcile the untrue theories of science with the truth of the Scripture, have wandered from the truth! So, brother, do not give heed to this human science which has deceived many believers and caused them to err from the truth: hold fast the things which are written in the Bible as they are without trying to give logical or scientific explanation to the things which are incomprehensible in your eyes.