The Biblical Flat Earth: A Response To The Christian Research Institute

The Christian Research Institute "exists to provide Christians worldwide with carefully researched information and well-reasoned answers that encourage them in their faith and equip them to intelligently represent it to people influenced by ideas and teachings that assault or undermine orthodox, biblical Christianity." This ministry is headed up by Dr. Hank Hanegraaff, "The Bible Answer Man." There have been two articles written against the flat earth position at this website which I would like to address here. The first article is by Dr. Hank Hanegraaff and is entitled "Does the Bible Teach That God Created a Flat Earth?"

In this article Dr. Hank Hanegraaff starts out by saying this:

"In A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, Andrew Dickson White, president and founder of Cornell University, decries the regrettable reality that two hundred years after Ferdinand Magellan had empirically proven that the earth was round (1519), Christian fundamentalists persisted in perpetuating flat earth mythology. This, however, hardly corresponds to reality."

My response:

First, Magellan never intended to circumnavigate the earth. His voyage started on the 21st of September, 1519 setting sail from Spain. The voyage lasted for 3 years and is depicted here:

I would like to point out that Magellan does NOT go any where near Antarctica, which, as flat earthers, we would hold as not being a continent but rather the ice barrier that surrounds the flat earth on all sides.

Also, the circumnavigation of Magellan's voyage works perfectly on the azimuthal equidistant map as depicted here:

As you can see Magellan's circumnavigation of the earth works perfectly here whereby the ship is guided by the northern point of the center of the earth. Compasses always point North. If one were to circumnavigate the earth they would be based upon the northern point to determined due west and due east.

In the book entitled "Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not A Globe," Samuel Rowbotham (a Christian), deals with the question of how the earth is circumnavigated by saying:

"Another 'proof' of the earth's rotundity is supposed to be found in the fact that mariners by sailing continually due east or west, return home in the opposite direction. This is called 'The Circum-navigation of the Globe.' Here, again, a supposition is involved, viz., that on a globe only can a ship continue to sail due east and come home from the west, and vice versâ. But when the process or method adopted is understood, it will be seen that a plane can as readily be circum-navigated as a sphere.

In the following diagram, fig. 86, let N, represent the. northern centre, near to which lies the 'magnetic pole.' 

Then the several arrows marked A, S, are all pointing northwards; and those marked E, W, are all due east and west. It is evident from the diagram, that A, S, are absolute directions--north and south; but that E, W, east and west, are only relative, that is they are directions at right angles to north and south. If it were not so then, taking the line N, A, S, as representing the meridian of Greenwich, and W, E, on that meridian as due east and west, on moving due west to the meridian 3, 4, N, it is evident that a vessel represented by the arrow 1, 2, would be at angle with the meridian 3, 4, N, much greater than 90 degrees, and if it continued to sail in the same straight line 2, 1, 5, it would get farther and farther away from the centre N, and therefore could never complete a path concentric with N. East and west, however, are directions relative to north and south. Hence, on a mariner arriving at the meridian 3, 4, N, he must of necessity turn the head of his vessel in the direction indicated by the arrow 6, 7, and thus continuing to keep the vessel's head square to the compass, or at right angles to north and south, he will at length arrive at 90 degrees of meridian from N, A, S, when the head of the vessel will be in the direction of E, W, 8. Continuing his course for 90 degrees more his path will be E, W, 9. The same course continued will in the next 90 degrees become E, W, 10, and on passing over another 90 degrees the ship will have arrived again at the meridian of Greenwich N, A, S, having then completed a circle.

Hence it is evident that sailing westerly, or in a direction square to the compass, on passing from one meridian to another, the path must of necessity be an arc of a circle. The series of arcs on completing a passage of 360 degrees form a circular path concentric with the magnetic pole, and necessarily, on a plane surface, brings the ship home from the east; and on the contrary, sailing out east, the vessel cannot do otherwise than return from the west.

A very good illustration of the circum-navigation of a plane will be seen by taking a round table, and fixing a pin in the centre to represent the magnetic pole. To this central pin attach a string drawn out to any distance towards the edge of the table. This string may represent the meridian of Greenwich, extending due north and south. If now a pencil or other object is placed across, or at right angles to the string, at any distance between the centre and the circumference of the table, it will represent a vessel standing due east and west. Now move the pencil and the string together in either direction, and it will be seen that by keeping the vessel (or pencil), square to the string it must of necessity describe a circle round the magnetic centre and return to the starting point in the opposite direction to that in which it first sailed.

If it is borne in mind what is really meant by sailing due east or due west, which practically is neither more nor less than keeping the head of a ship at right angles to the various meridians over which it sails, there can be no difficulty in understanding how it is that the path of a circumnavigator is the circumference of a circle, the radius of which is the latitude or distance of the ship from the centre of a plane. But if, in addition to this, the leading facts connected with the subject are considered, it will be seen that the circumnavigation of a globe by the mariners' compass is an impossibility. For instance, it is known that the "dipping needle" is horizontal or without "dip" at the equator; and that the "dip" increases on sailing north and south: and is greatest at the magnetic centre.

Dr. Hanegraaff continues by saying:

"First, the moniker 'flat earth' is propaganda. Some reading these words may well remember exactly where they were when they first heard the tale of Columbus’ raw courage in face of mutinous sailors in mortal terror of sailing over the edge of a flat earth. What we are largely unfamiliar with is that far from fanatics clinging to flat earth mythology, unanimous scholarly opinion from Augustine to Aquinas pronounced the earth spherical."

My response:

Where are these quotes of Augustine and Aquinas? I have some I would like to share and I will cite the references for all of them.

Augustine: Let not the philosophers, then, think to upset our faith with arguments from the weight of bodies; for I don’t care to inquire why they cannot believe an earthly body can be in heaven, while the whole earth is suspended on nothing. For perhaps the world keeps its central place by the same law that attracts to its center all heavy bodies. (City of God, Bk XIII, Ch 18).
Augustine: For an eclipse of the sun had also happened; and this was attributed to the divine power of Romulus by the ignorant multitude, who did not know that it was brought about by the fixed laws of the sun’s course (City of God, Bk III, Ch 15).

Augustine: This he said either of those things of which he had just been speaking–the succession of generations, the orbit of the sun, the course of rivers,–or else of all kinds of creatures. that are born and die. (City of God, Bk XII, Ch 13).

John Calvin: [The Christian is not to compromise so as to obscure the distinction between good and evil, and is to avoid the errors of] those dreamers who have a spirit of bitterness and contradiction, who reprove everything and prevent the order of nature. We will see some who are so deranged, not only in religion but who in all things reveal their monstrous nature that they will say that the sun does not move, and that it is the earth which shifts and turns. When we see such minds we must indeed confess that the devil possess them, and that God sets them before us as mirrors, in order to keep us in his fear. So it is with all who argue out of pure malice, and who happily make a show of their imprudence. When they are told: “That is hot,” they will reply: “No, it is plainly cold.” When they are shown an object that is black, they will say that it is white, or vice versa. Just like the man who said that snow is black; for although it is perceived and known by all to be white, yet he clearly wished to contradict the fact. And so it is that they are madmen who would try to change the natural order, and even to dazzle eyes and benumb their senses. - John Calvin, (Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:19-24, Calvini Opera Selecta, Corpus Refomatorum, Vol 49, 677, trans. by Robert White in "Calvin and Copernicus: the Problem Reconsidered", Calvin Theological Journal 15 1980, p233-243, at 236-237).

Martin Luther: There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth. (In response to the publication of the brief Commentariolus, which appeared a decade before De Revolutionibus. This comes from Luther's Tablebook "Tischreden", or record of dinner-table conversations).

For a more exhaustive list of quotes from the early Church Fathers, see my article here.

At the very least the early Church Fathers believed that the earth was stationary and it was the luminaries and the sun and the moon which orbited above the earth.

Dr. Hank Hanegraaff goes on to say:

"Furthermore, the notion that evolutionary man is more enlightened than early man is but the vestigial prejudice of Darwinist dogma. While modern man has an accumulation of knowledge that has produced innovations such as iPods, the genius that produced pyramids did not suddenly become benighted when gazing at an ancient sky. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that a lunar eclipse is not produced by a flat earth. The problem is that postmodern man does science well but has become increasingly unsophisticated in the art and science of biblical interpretation. As such, poetic language is being forced to “walk on all fours.” Isaiah 40:22 immediately springs to mind: “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in” (NASB). Some employ this passage as evidence for sphericity (“circle of the earth”); others for Big Bang cosmology (“spreads out”); still others for the notion that the Bible teaches a flat earth (“tent”). As Augustine made clear, however, Isaiah’s language is self-evidently metaphorical. To read Isaiah in any other way would lead to the further absurdity that God lives in a physical mansion and drives an exotic chariot."

My response:

First, when the sun and moon is seen clearly in the sky at the same time how are the moon phases being caused by the shadow of the earth? There are some serious problems with angles in that assertion. Secondly, how would Dr. Hanegraaff explain "the lunar eclipses of July 17th, 1590; November 3rd, 1648; June 16th, 1666; and May 26th, 1668; [where] the moon rose eclipsed whilst the sun was still apparently above the horizon. Those horizontal eclipses were noticed as early as the time of Pliny."? Also, the Bible teaches that God created "two lights," not one. This is discussed in more detail in my article here.

Again, starting with the heliocentric model rather than Scripture can lead to all sorts of problems. Rob Skiba (another Christian) talks about this issue in this video and addresses this in-depth.

Regarding the passage in Isaiah 40:22, if the passage is "poetic," which no one is denying, then people that believe we are on a ball should not use the passage either! I have recalled many Christians who will refer to this passage often as teaching that the Bible teaches we are on a ball. If the flat earthers cannot use this verse because it is poetic than neither can those that believe we are on a ball. Fair enough? Furthermore, as Augustine's hermeneutic was largely allegorical to begin with, it doesn't mean that the Bible in doing so is referring to to things that do not exist. Also, if the passage is to be understood as allegorical, then what is the Hebrew word for circle (chug) actually a reference to? Yes, the passage refers to mankind as "grasshoppers" but that can be understood as referencing how small man is in light of the perspective of God who "sits above" the earth. By the way, the notion of "above" the earth has serious problems if we are on a ball. Any directional references, which the Bible uses often, such as above and below, become empty references which cause confusion from the perspective of being on a spinning ball.

I would ask Dr. Hank Hanegraaff regarding how "allegorical" he believes Genesis chapter One is as well? Does Dr. Hanegraaff believe in a young earth creation? Would he deny evolution and the big bang based upon the teaching of Scripture there which Jesus also references regarding marriage and Adam and Eve being created "ex nihilo," from nothing? If so, then the Bible is not so "poetic" regarding God's creation which stands at odds with modern day "science."

Dr. Hank Hanegraaff continues:

"Finally, the notion that the enlightenment of the Greco-Roman world was divorced from the Renaissance by the deliberate obscurity of medieval churchmen of the Dark Ages is revisionist history at its worst. The millennium that encompassed Greek and Roman history is more correctly characterized by irrational superstition than rational thinking—Greco-Roman thought shackled to the irrational assumption of an eternal universe ministered by moody gods. Little wonder, then, that almost a thousand years after Aristotle, aristocrats spoon-fed at the table of Greek enlightenment dwelled in drafty domains never dreaming of a coming Christian era in which the invention of chimneys, clocks, and capitalism would revolutionize Western civilization."

My response:

In my quote above from Augustine, we can clearly see that Christians were staying off pagan references of understanding the cosmos (Augustine: For an eclipse of the sun had also happened; and this was attributed to the divine power of Romulus by the ignorant multitude, who did not know that it was brought about by the fixed laws of the sun’s course (City of God, Bk III, Ch 15). The Christian has rejected pagan rituals, cosmological understandings, and various other deceptions because they had the Word of God as their standard. True observational science does not contradict Scripture whatsoever, however. The sorts of modern day beliefs based upon assumptions and made into nothing more than theories DO contradict the Bible and those we would reject as should all people seeing as how they amount to nothing more than a false religion and passionate cult.

Dr. Hank Hanegraaff ends by saying:

"In sum, flat earth mentality is more appropriately attached to evolutionists like Darwin who claimed that man can attain a higher importance in whatever he takes up than can woman. Or Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, who rendered blacks 'naturally inferior' to whites."

My response:

I find this assertion completely unfounded and backwards. It is, IN FACT, those that wish to flip the Scriptures into a poetic pivot point for modern day "scientism" that are more "appropriately attached to evolutionists." There has been an influx of "theistic evolutionists" BECAUSE of rejecting the plain meaning of the text regarding God's creation. John Calvin rightly says of this (as quoted above) in saying:

"When they are told: “That is hot,” they will reply: “No, it is plainly cold.” When they are shown an object that is black, they will say that it is white, or vice versa. Just like the man who said that snow is black; for although it is perceived and known by all to be white, yet he clearly wished to contradict the fact. And so it is that they are madmen who would try to change the natural order, and even to dazzle eyes and benumb their senses."

Let God be true and every man a liar.

The second article I wish to address here from the same ministry was written by James Patrick Holding and is entitled, "The Legendary Flat-Earth Bible."

The first objection starts by quoting Robert Schadewald who was an atheist who debated a geocentrist named Gerardus Bouw.

"'The Bible is, from Genesis to Revelation, a flat-earth book.' - Robert Schadewald (1943–2000), former president of National Center for Science Education

Schadewald is not alone in this declaration. Calling the Bible a flat-Earth book has been a staple of Bible critics for centuries. The American atheist Robert Ingersoll, in About the Holy Bible (1894), says of the Hebrews, 'They thought the earth was flat, with four corners.' The website of a modern-day freethinkers’ club says, 'Many if not most people are unaware that the Bible teaches the earth is flat. All standard Bible references, all standard mainstream non-fundamentalist Bible scholarship acknowledges this.' Often tied in with mythic representations of Columbus seeking to prove that the Earth was not flat, or Galileo bravely suffering persecution because his findings contradicted the teachings of the church, the 'flat-Earth Bible' has achieved the status of an urban legend.

It is not only critics of the Bible who maintain this legend. There have been fringe Christian elements that have argued that the Bible teaches a flat Earth. One proponent, a contemporary to Ingersoll, was Samuel B. Rowbotham, author of Earth Not a Globe (1881). In modern times, Charles K. Johnson founded the International Flat Earth Research Society, which, until his death in 2001, promoted flat Earth beliefs as biblical.

Is a 'flat-Earth Bible' anything more than a legend? Some critics admit that the case for a flat-Earth Bible is made by inference rather than by direct statements from the Bible. The very fact that a case can only be made by inference speaks to contexts missing from the legend.'

My response:

Regardless of what atheists have to say or other "free thinking" groups, as Christians, we are to approach these issues from the standard of God's Word. I would also point out that Biblical Flat Earthers (namely The Biblical Flat Earth Society) reject many other flat earth organizations especially the one cited here as the International Flat Earth Society.

The article continues by saying:

"The Bible was written in a time and culture remote from ours, and biblical authors were limited in terms of what they could coherently express to their audience. This is not to say that God could not have inspired an author to reveal that the Earth was a sphere. However, although inspired by God, the biblical text had to offer an accommodation to human finitude."
My response: 

To suggest that the Bible, in speaking on matters regarding creation such as the firmament, sun and moon, and namely the Genesis account, are merely "accomodating" because the text "had to be" is what has lead to theistic evolution positions as well as belief in the earth being billions of years old.

The article goes on to say:

"To illustrate the problem, a critic once remarked that the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31–2) would have been more impressive had Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a redwood. Since no one in first-century Palestine knew what a redwood was, the critic argued, this would have demonstrated prophetic knowledge to the modern reader."

My response:

No creationist, young earther, or flat earther argue from any sort of parable to begin with. The Bible uses all sorts of forms of poetry. No one would deny that but to suggest that certain accounts, such as Genesis chapter one is poetic is what has lead to the problems which Christians face today regarding ridicule and persecution and NOT for being honest with the text (as Schedwald points out) but for being DISHONEST to it. They are therefore rightly left to hang upon their hypocrisy in abandoning the clear meaning of the text by having one foot in the world of modern scientism so as to not appear completely foolish to the foolish world!

The article continues:

"Such judgments reflect a provincialism that assumes the modern reader should be a privileged target of the text. If Jesus spoke of redwood trees, it would represent a stunning anachronism that readers for hundreds of years to come would find puzzling, and potentially consider a reason to reject the Bible’s message, just as some claim to reject it today because of alleged flat-Earth passages. The modern critic demands accommodation from God at the cost of confusion for all who lived before."

My response:

Are we not all privileged readers? To suggest that one can ONLY benefit from the true meaning of the text must now go back to the past denies the sufficiency of Scripture for correction and instruction in righteousness. Jesus did not live thousands of years ago when in A.D. 33 upheld the creation account without offering any correction or addition to it in Matthew 19:4. Obviously we should all be eager to understand the context surrounding the authors, history, and audience but NOT as to sacrifice the entirety of the meaning in order to satisfy theories which abound today!

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

If the Scriptures teach that the "sun stood still," who am I to now twist the opposite meaning out of the text based upon a modern day assumption? Have we grown so "privileged" as to believe that we now are capable of rewriting the text and reveal how opposite and confusing the pure Word of God was then because of what NASA has told us? I would argue that those that do wish to study and find the meaning of the text through proper study and hermeneutics are NOT the ones that are seeing themselves as "privileged" as to not have a proper value and understanding assigned to God's Word.

The articles continues:

"Critics will agree that the notion of a spherical Earth was held by few or none at the time of the writing of the Old Testament, which is where the vast majority of alleged flat- Earth texts are found. Reports of a spherical Earth therefore would have received the same reception as a report by Jesus of redwoods. The most efficient option for the inspired text, therefore, was to make no explicit statements about subjects such as cosmology, which is exactly what we find in the Bible. It is also why critics can only make a case for a 'flat-Earth Bible' by inference."

My response:

Parables were used then and even today to refer to every day objects in order to convey a moral story. That there were no redwoods mentioned by name would be consistent with parables which also didn't refer to people by name. One of the arguments for understanding Luke 16 was referring to a literal clearly demonstrates this. In that particular parable people are named! That is uncharacteristic of a parable. Further, the flat earth position is hardly based upon pure inference especially when the preponderance of the texts are examined. It's not as if the flat earthers found one obscure verse and decided to twist it completely out of its meaning and make it the basis of an unfounded belief. Texts ranging from Genesis to Revelations either explicitly teach a flat earth or imply it regarding particular allegories. The firmament teaching alone has caused major problems regarding those Christians who wish to have the text follow a modern day scientism view which twists and turns constantly. The "canopy theory" has insummountable issues which has been openly admitted.

The tree in the book of Daniel that grows so high that it could be seen from the "ends of the earth" compounds the problem as if this allegory can even be imagined on a spinning ball! Also, these same scholars end up chasing their hermeneutical tails when they see the text which says that "every eye will see Him" and insert modern day technology, such as cell phones or televisions as the basis by which this would occur. They do this because they know such interpretations must follow their heliocentric view which does not allow every eye to see Christ who returns to one side of a spinning ball.

The article goes on to say:

"Space does not permit a thorough analysis of every alleged flat-Earth biblical text, but we may refute one of the chief ideas in short order. Careful, contextual analysis indicates that exceptional care was taken in the inspired text to avoid any cosmological statements indicating a flat or spherical Earth. In fact, analysis yields the conclusion that the Bible’s authors did not even refer to planetary Earth at all."

My response:

It is clearly revealed here that space stands in judgment of "biblical texts." This again is backwards and demonstrates the folly of those that wish to sit in judgment of Scripture rather than begin with Scripture. Genesis one is either being "allegorical" when it refers to the "heavens" and "earth" or it is to be understood literally.

Continuing from the article:

"The Hebrew word most often translated “earth” in the Old Testament is ’erets. It is used to refer to some specific nation or territory, like the “land (’erets) of Havilah” (Gen. 2:11). In other cases, it refers to a defined plot of land, like the one purchased by Abraham (Gen. 23:15).

It is often assumed that ’erets is used in a third sense meaning planetary Earth, and it is this usage that leads some critics (and Christians) to infer a teaching of a flat Earth. However, close examination reveals that ’erets never refers to planetary Earth, encapsulating the entire biosphere of land, sea, and air, but only the “land” part—and then, not inclusive of that “land” that is underwater in the seas.

Although several passages reveal this point, the most telling is Genesis 1:10, “God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good” (NASB).7 It is clear that the seas are not considered to be part of the ’erets. Rather, ’erets is associated with that which is “dry.” Thus, in no case can ’erets mean planetary Earth."

My response:

The Hebrew "eartz" is referencing the whole earth in Genesis 1:1. Otherwise, what will they now respond to as being referenced there? A territory or a plot of land? The first part of the Strong's definition reads "earth, whole earth (opposed to a part)." Genesis 1:10 uses simply "artz" while also possessing a descriptor.


Continuing from the article:

"Another telling passage is Psalm 72:8 (KJV): 'He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.' This confirms that ’erets refers only to dry land, for it categorizes 'seas' differently from the land, rather than regarding “earth” as encompassing the entire biosphere."

My response:

This confirms that words in Hebrew can be used in combination with others to convey particular meanings. Again, the Strong's definition allows for "erets" to refer to the whole earth (opposed to a part) such as in Genesis 18:18,25; Genesis 22:18 (= הָאֲדָמָה Genesis 12:3) Jeremiah 25:26,29,30; Jeremiah 26:6; Isaiah 37:16,20 = 2 Kings 19:15; 2 Kings 19:19; Zechariah 4:10; Zechariah 4:14.

When Genesis 18:25 says "will not the judge of all the earth do right," is that supposed to mean that those that were in the sea will escape the judge? Obviously not.


"Finally, notice the divisions laid out in Genesis 1:28 (KJV): 'And have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.' The division of sea from land shows that 'earth' does not mean planetary Earth, because by definition, that would include the seas."

My response:

The "divisions" descriptor being used there is referencing the "dominion" that mankind was to take regarding all that "fills the earth." That the earth contains animals, fish, and birds is to only expand upon scope of the dominion which was commanded by God for man to have and does not contradict the use of erets that was used in Genesis 1:1 in any way. In other words, when "erets" is left to itself, it can reference the entirety of "the whole earth." Even when descriptors are used such as "dry" it would not take away that meaning since it goes on to describe animals which exist in the air and water so as to not be confusing and rather expounding upon the meaning "erets" and the reference to the scope of man's dominion on the earth.


"Having shown that there is no clear reference to planetary Earth in the Bible, many alleged flat-Earth passages lose their force in a case for an errant cosmology. Passages that refer to the 'ends of the earth,' for example, are a favorite of critics. Psalm 48:10 declares, 'According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth.'"
"Critics assume that 'ends' refers to the edges of a flat planetary disc. However, as we have seen, oceans are not part of the semantic range of ’erets. Therefore, 'ends of the earth' must refer to the shoreline, that is, where dry land (erets) meets the sea. This is indicated most clearly in Proverbs 30:4 (KJV), 'Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth?' The connection of the binding of the waters with the 'ends of the earth' indicates that what is in view is the shoreline of the sea."
My response:

In Job 34:10-11 it reads: "And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?"

If the ends of the earth refer to the "shoreline" how does one explain the seas which wrap fully across the earth in places such as in the southern hemisphere where they are not "stayed?" Obviously there wouldn't be any sense in which they are being held back by land there and therefore that interpretation, pardon the pun, falls flat.


"In response, critics may point to passages they believe indicate a universal meaning for 'earth.' These passages are said to reflect some condition or instruction that has universal application, and so 'earth' must refer to planetary Earth. Deuteronomy 13:7, for example, contains a warning to Israel against seeking false gods: 'Of the gods of the people which are round about you…from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth.' Critics assume that this warning is meaningless unless it is a universal prohibition.
However, this does not follow. The greatest spiritual threat to Israel at this time was the pagan religions of Canaan, Ammon, and the surrounding nations. There was no reasonable threat of Israel being tempted to follow the gods of Mongolia! Therefore, 'earth' most intelligibly refers to regions in and around Canaan."

My response:

Two points: One, we have already shown that the Hebrew allows for both "whole earth" or "part" depending on the context and descriptors used. Secondly, were the Monglians any less pagan than others? Again, this particular verse very well may have a limited scope in view but it wouldn't in any way mean that is ALWAYS its usage via Genesis 18:18,25; Genesis 22:18 (= הָאֲדָמָה Genesis 12:3) Jeremiah 25:26,29,30; Jeremiah 26:6; Isaiah 37:16,20 = 2 Kings 19:15; 2 Kings 19:19; Zechariah 4:10; Zechariah 4:14.


"Similarly, a universal application is assumed for Job 28:24, 'For he looketh to the ends of the earth,' because an omniscient deity will be able to look from one end of a flat Earth to the other. As with the prior passage, however, any limitation of meaning to 'earth'—which here would most likely mean from one shore to another, within geographic ranges familiar to Job—would hardly exclude omniscience, and observation by God of lands beyond Job’s knowledge. Here again, critics should apply the observation that the inspired text accommodates human finitude."

My response:

Critics should apply the observation that the inspired text accommodates such as human finitude? Was God not aware of man's limitation and wish only to convey the earth and its descriptions only from man's finitude rather than convey the truth from God's perspective? This is the sort of hemeneutic that has lead to woman pastors, sodomite marriage and various other immoral positions because man was simply not up to date on the latest cultural progress as we (wickedly) possess today! Again, Genesis 18:18,25; Genesis 22:18 (= הָאֲדָמָה Genesis 12:3) Jeremiah 25:26,29,30; Jeremiah 26:6; Isaiah 37:16,20 = 2 Kings 19:15; 2 Kings 19:19; Zechariah 4:10; Zechariah 4:14 all use "erets" in an all encompassing manner.


A unique passage is Isaiah 40:22, which says that God 'sitteth upon the circle of the earth.' Critics point to the word “circle” and suppose that this refers to a circle after the manner of a pancake. They may then appeal to other uses of the same Hebrew word (chuwg) as indicating perfect circularity. In reply, some Christian apologists have suggested that chuwg should be understood to mean a sphere, adding that ancient Hebrew had no specific word for sphere.
Critical arguments, however, fail on much simpler grounds. It is far from clear that chuwg refers exclusively to the geometric shape we call a circle. Most biblical passages that use the word provide no contextual indication that a perfect circle is referred to (Job 22:14; 26:10; Prov. 8:27; and Isa. 40:22). The one example that does seem to refer to a perfect circle is Isaiah 44:13: 'He marketh it out with the compass.' 'Compass' here is a compound Hebrew word, mechugwah, which refers to a drawing compass. However, this context is the only thing that tells us that chuwg refers to a perfect circle.
A telling example is an extrabiblical one, from the intertestamental book of Sirach, 43:11–12:

'Behold the rainbow! Then bless its Maker, for majestic indeed is its splendor; it spans the heavens with its glory, this bow bent by the mighty hand of God.'
A rainbow is not a full circle. Rather, it is, at most, a half-circle. Thus, it would appear that chuwg is better understood as relating the concept of a circuit, or a contiguous path. In that respect, a perfect circle qualifies as a circuit, but it is not the only possible form for a circuit. Thus, when Isaiah 40:22 describes the land in terms of chuwg, this can mean one of three things. First, it may imply that the Hebrews thought land existed in perfect circular shapes. But this is impossible, because the Hebrews knew from the regions of Palestine and Egypt that the land was not even roughly circular."

My response:

The ancient Hebrew did, in fact, have a specific word for sphere (dur). Secondly, finally they get something right. Compass is used in Isaiah 44:13 and doesn't convey any notion of a ball like the Hebrew (dur) would.

I find it interesting that they now reference an "extrabiblical" example in order to make a point. If that be the case I can certainly pull out the book of Enoch which will only reinforce the flat earth position. I CAN say that a rainbow is not a ball nor does it reflect any notion that we are on one. In fact, that the rainbow is "half a circle" is evidence of the firmament rather than a spinning ball. The rainbow correlates with the flood that had the "flood gates" open up and fill the face the earth.

Ancient Hebrew cosmology rejects any notion of a spinning ball.


"Second, it may mean that the Hebrews thought land existed in shapes that could roughly be deemed 'circular'—with imperfections permitted. If this is the case, then there is nothing to dispute in Isaiah’s description. How “rough” can the circle be, before it is no longer a “circle”? Such a definition would be subjective, and not open to dispute."

My response:

Or it may mean that the Hebrew's believed God and His Word! Circle means circle and not a ball. How rough can the circle be? Hopefully not as rough as these objections are! If the text says circle are we now to make it into a ball or a loose and rough circle? Not I. I will simply believe the text and take God at His Word rather than answer a hypothetical.


"A final possibility is that chuwg means 'circuit,' and Isaiah refers to the land as a whole, indicating the shoreline’s circuit from one point to another. Isaiah, of course, would be unlikely to have known of the vastness of the 'circuit' of land he dwelt on (including the Asian and African continents, as well as Europe), but that is hardly required."

My response:

Would Isaiah have known the God of all creation that knew the "vastness of the circuit?" Again, this is a man-centered hermeneutic that leads to the utter dismissal of the text in favor of the latest cultural or modern day positions which are subject to fluctuate.


"Other alleged flat-Earth passages may require more detailed explanations, which we do not have space to cover here. The examples I have provided, however, are exemplary in that they make it clear that biblical writers do not have planetary Earth in mind when they refer to the 'earth.' It is fair to say that, on close examination, it is the arguments of the critics that fall 'flat.'

My Response:

This exchange can be summarized as simply as this:

James Patrick Holding - Let God's Word be accommodating to man and his understanding of creation which is subject to change.


Let God be true and every man a liar.

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