Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Howard W. Hunter on Discrediting the Flood

In a book published the same year he became Prophet, President Howard W. Hunter addresses the question, "Should we disbelieve the account of Noah and the flood as related in the Old Testament?"  Here is what he said:

"There is an effort on the part of so-called modernists to change religious beliefs and teachings of the past to conform to modern thought and critical research.  They deemphasize the teachings of the Bible by modern critical methods and deny that scripture is inspired....

"The Old Testament unfolds the story of the creation of the earth and mankind by God.  Should we now disregard this account and modernize the creation according to the theories of the modernists?  Can we say there was no Garden of Eden or an Adam and Eve?  Because modernists now declare the story of the flood is unreasonable and impossible, should we disbelieve the account of Noah and the flood as related in the Old Testament?

"Let us examine what the Master said when the disciples came to him as he sat on the Mount of Olives.  They asked him to tell them of the time of his coming and of the end of the world.  Jesus answered:  ' But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.'  (Matt. 24:36-39.)

"In this statement the Master confirmed the story of the flood without modernizing it.  Can we accept some of the statements of the Lord as being true and at the same time reject others as being false?

"When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, and they discussed the matter of the death of her brother and the resurrection.  Jesus said to her,  ' I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.'

"Both of these statements, the one regarding Noah and the fact of the flood and the one in which he declared himself to be the resurrection and the life, were made by the Lord.  How can we believe one and not the other?  How can we modernize the story of the flood, or refer to it as a myth, and yet cling to the truth of the other?  How can we modernize the Bible and still have it be a guiding light to us and a vital influence in our beliefs?

"There are those who declare it is old-fashioned to believe in the Bible.  Is it old-fashioned to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God?  Is it old-fashioned to believe in his atoning sacrifice and the resurrection?  If it is, I declare myself to be old-fashioned and the Church to be old-fashioned....  If it is old-fashioned to believe in the Bible, we should thank God for the privilege of being old-fashioned." (Howard W. Hunter, That We Might Have Joy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], pp. 22-23.)

The modernist view

BYU Professor Duane E. Jeffery has provided an excellent review of current modernist flood arguments in "Noah's Flood: Modern Scholarship and Mormon Traditions" (Sunstone, October 2004, pp. 27-45).

"The Incoherence of the Flood" (a current blog article) sets forth a few modernist flood arguments.

The old-fashioned view

According to the LDS Church's  Guide to the Scriptures:

"During Noah’s time the earth was completely covered with water." (Flood at Noah's Time.)

The old-fashioned view is also taught in these Ensign articles: Sept. 1980, 67, Jan. 1998, 35, and Feb. 1998, 22.


Blogger a random John said...

This seems to assume an all or nothing approach, doesn't it? Yet I don't read the NT as making that assumption.

3/15/2007 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It seems to me, after reading Elder Witdsoe's Evidences and Reconciliations, that one can have both a localized and global "flood" and still be square with both the modern prophets and modern rationality.

Elder W comments that, since we view the flood as a baptism, all that would be needed is a film of water to cover the surface of the earth for an instant.

A colossal "super storm" of rain might do this, and if the instant was no longer than the barest fraction of a millisecond the resulting devastation we might expect to see would be very minimal in areas. Perhaps wherever Noah lived (whether you think the human family stayed near Eden for some reason after Adam's death or he had already moved to the Middle East) he experienced a catastrophic flood and was called upon to save the local fauna and his family.

Nothing that President Hunter says discounts the localized flood - he cautions against disbelieving in a flood at all.

3/15/2007 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

President Hunter cautions against disbelieving "the account of Noah and the flood as related in the Old Testament."

Click here for evidence that the Bible does not teach a "localized flood."

3/15/2007 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Rob Osborn said...

Amen and Amen! Good post!

I truly believe in the global flood. I think most Christians would believe in the global flood also if they could just open their minds a little!

I have been to the grand canyon and there purchased a book called "The Grand Canyon, A Different View". It is an excellent read for the likes of mine own slow mind. The book is written by Christian scholars and scients and is well presented to show evidence for a world wide catastrophe.

3/15/2007 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christ taught in parables, it is very easy for me to see this recounting of Noah's story as another parable. What is all the fuss about? The purpose of religion is to help us understand the unexplainable. Once information passes from the unknown to the known we simply reset our navigation based on this further light and knowledge. There are many examples of this, the 1978 revelation is a good example. Look at what BRM said about his prior statements after this revelation was given.

6/04/2007 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

When a Prophet says Noah's story was a parable, I'll reset my navigation based on that "further light and knowledge."  In the meantime I'll stick with President Hunter's view that "the Master confirmed the story of the flood without modernizing it."

You are making assumptions regarding what Elder McConkie said.  Not every related doctrine was discredited by the revelation.  Elder McConkie himself continued to publish certain things that are offensive to some but which were obviously not offensive to him or his Brethren.

6/05/2007 03:27:00 AM  

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