Imagine that you're a fundamentalist with pretensions. A sophisticated fundamentalist. You even have a PhD. Imagine also that you're a bit of an entrepreneur. You are Dear Leader of your own little high-demand designer sect. You publish your own journal, a slick affair that looks good on a coffee table, or so you hope. And now you have set yourself the task of writing about Genesis.
Choppy waters ahead! The faithful, tithe-paying members expect feel-good apologetics. But you've been cultivating contacts in the scholarly community, so you can't just go to print with bluster and proof texts. What to do, what to do...
This is, of course, an entirely hypothetical situation. But it does bear a passing resemblace, perhaps, to the situation David Hulme (PhD) finds himself in with the Winter 2012 issue of his journal, Vision.
Hulme is a former Worldwide Church of God evangelist and presenter of The World Tomorrow program (a title recently coopted by Julian Assange for quite different purposes). These days he's top dog in a minor schism, the Church of God, an International Community. He's also a gap-theory creationist.
So how does Dave manage to keep his balance on the thorny issues of Genesis?
Step 1: line up some heavyweight authorities to quote: Herman Gunkel, John Levenson and Claus Westermann. Not extensive or even particularly relevant quotes you understand, just a felicitous sentence or two to lend a veneer of credibility.
Claim that "this gap theory - or understanding - has great explanatory power."
Claim that "It is accepted by some scholars that this [tohu va vohu condition in Gen. 1:2] is a reference to the result of Satan's rebellion against God before the creation of humankind..."
Scholars accept this? Really? Sadly Dave doesn't name names, and I for one can't think of a single legitimate biblical scholar today who's swallowed that particular camel.
Dave has no qualms about identifying the talking snake with Satan, something Genesis itself fails to do (can we all say etiology together?). "The intrusion of Satan into human history occurs in Eden. He was dominant on earth as the guardian angelic power until his opposition to God brought his downfall. Now the object of his deception became Adam and Eve..."
This is a great precis of John Milton's Paradise Lost, but a complete misreading of the Hebrew Bible.
As for Gunkel, Levenson and Westermann, one can only wonder what they might make of it all.