In the Space of Six Days?

The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) states that God created everything “in the space of six days.” This is repeated in other confessions like the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 and The Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order in 1658. Yet today, many godly men who hold to this confessional believe that the words in the space of six days are ambiguous and therefore cannot be used to say that the days in Genesis 1 are six 24-hour days. For example, Reformed theologian Dr. K. Scott Oliphint of Westminster Theological Seminary argued this way in a debate over young-earth creation:

What we affirm in our confession is that God created in the ‘space of six days’, that’s what my confession says, the Westminster Confession. The ‘space of six days’ is a phrase that is actually just lifted from John Calvin, that’s the way Calvin thought about it. I affirm that He created in the space of six days. What we’re not sure about, because the text doesn’t give it to us, is what that space is.

As Dr. Oliphint noted, the words in the space of six days came from John Calvin’s comments on Genesis. But was Calvin or the WCF unclear about the length of the days of creation?

WCF: In the Space of Six Days

The WCF was written by British Reformed theologians between 1643–1649 and is still used as a confessional statement by many churches today. Chapter IV/I states:

It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

Dr. Joel Beeke, however, argues that by using the term space in the words in the space of six days that the WCF was “talking about a definite span of time, not just a metaphor with six parts.”3 He has also argued that the writings of several members of the Westminster Assembly confirm that they believed in a young-earth and six-day creation.

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