A Local flood position by Christadelphians

Bro Alan Hayward believed in old earth creation (but not theistic evolution) and had this to say about the Flood in his book “God’s Truth”:

“Of all the miracles recorded in the Bible, the biggest by far is the Flood. It is also the one that has provoked the greatest amount of disbelief.
In this particular case the objections are not unreasonable. They deserve careful consideration. If the Biblical Flood ever took place, it ought to have left some traces. Where are they?

In the old days the answer given to this question was, “Everywhere”. For many centuries it was thought that the varied surface of the whole earth was just as the Flood had left it. But when men began to study geology, about two centuries ago, problems began to arise. A great deal of evidence was found that showed the structure of the earth’s crust has been millions of years forming. The idea of a world-wide flood was gradually abandoned by practically all geologists, for want of evidence.

From time to time some Bible-believer has tried to prove that the foundations of modern geology are quite false, and that the earlier “Flood Theory of Geology” fits the facts better. Price tried this in 1923; Morris and Whitcomb in 1962.

Even many Bible-believers, who would like to be convinced, have found these arguments unconvincing. So it is not surprising that practically all geologists reject the theory of “Flood Geology”. Without wishing to dismiss it out of hand, I can only say that it is not an impossible theory but a very unlikely one.

Fortunately there is a much simpler solution to the problem of the Flood. It depends to some extent on a recognition of our old friend, Hebrew idiom. This affects the issue in two ways. First, as we shall see in Chapter *3, Hebrew methods of dating were not exact like ours. Because of this we cannot be at all sure when the Flood occurred. It may have been many thousands of years ago.

Secondly, we need to consider the following Biblical statements:
(a) All countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy corn.
(b) The nations under the whole heaven became afraid of Israel
(c) Ahab looked everywhere for Elijah, missing no nation or kingdom
(d) Nebuchadnezzar ruled wheresoever the children of men dwelt.
(e) Cyrus ruled all the kingdoms of the earth
(f) In Paul’s day the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven

In all six passages the words in italics look like a tremendous overstatement. Obviously they were not intended to be taken literally. We are up against a Hebrew idiom, which can fairly be stated like this:

When the Hebrews spoke of “All the peoples of the earth” (or some such phrase) they often meant it in a limited sense. They meant either “All the peoples with whom we have contact”, or “All the peoples with whom God is dealing.”

We must take this into account when we read the Genesis record of the Flood. This says that “All the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered.” Does this necessarily include Ben Nevis and the Himalayas and the Rockies, and all the other mountains that Israel had never heard of? In the light of the sayings (a) to (f) quoted above, the answer seems inescapable: no.

Under this watery covering, “All flesh died that moved upon the earth.” Did this necessarily include the kangaroos in Australia, and the llamas in South America? To any Hebrew reader the most reasonable answer would again be: no.

This all adds up to one thing. There is nothing in Genesis to prove that the Flood was world-wide. In the idiom of its Hebrew readers, Genesis indicated that the Flood certainly affected all of that part of the world with which God was dealing. It does not tell us whether or not it affected the rest of the earth.

The cradle of human civilisation was the land of Iraq, and especially the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates. This is the area where Eden was. This was the country where the Tower of Babel was built. This was Abraham’s homeland. This, and the land stretching northward to Ararat, must have been the area where the Flood occurred.

It may have occurred in the days when the whole human race (and I am speaking now of “true men”, “sons of Adam”-see Chapter 23) lived in that area. If so, the whole human race except Noah and his family would have perished in the Flood. In this case it must have happened a very long time ago, and any direct evidence of it would seem to have been erased by time.

But there is plenty of geological evidence of an indirect nature to support the possibility of a great flood having occurred in those parts. Some very great earth movements have occurred in this area since the end of the last Ice Age-that is, during the past ten or fifteen thousand years. The region is surrounded by four seas, the Black Sea, the Caspian, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. If the whole region was once depressed below sea level, great walls of water would have rushed in from all sides. The Genesis Flood might well have happened in this way.

To sum up, we do not know for sure whether the Flood was worldwide or not. Although there are many obstacles to believing in a world-wide Flood, and no real evidence that one ever occurred, the difficulties can be resolved by regarding the Flood as a more local affair. The idiom of the Old Testament strongly supports such an interpretation.
Consequently there is no reason for disbelieving in the Flood, and one overwhelming reason for believing: Jesus Christ believed in it.”

Bro Hayward in a letter to the Christadelphian Magazine (Volume 121, page 68, 1984) stated “Incidentally, although Brother Roberts’ arguments influenced my own views for 30 years, I am now inclined to think that the Flood may very well have been worldwide, after all. His statement is quoted merely to show that there is nothing un-Christadelphian about believing in a local flood.” While this indicates Alan Hayward later changed his mind, he was clearly not that definitive and accepted some variation of the local flood as within the bounds of our position.

The comments by Hayward demonstrate there is a sound basis for not assuming a global Flood – regardless of one’s position on creation.

Hayward is not along.  CC Walker (editor of the Christadelphian Magazine) while believing everyone died, did not think the flood was global.

More recently John Bilello published in The Tidings Magazine supporting the same conclusions.

Luke Buckler also put together another detailed article on the local flood here.



1 thought on “A Local flood position by Christadelphians

  1. David Crouch

    Science of many disciplines and common sense completely rules out a worldwide or local flood – it simply wasn’t possible. The story is clearly allegorical – God hates bad behaviour.

    I just can’t find the “God of Love” in a story that tells us that he killed every child and baby on earth, by drowning.



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