Book Review:  "Earth’s Earliest Ages" Book Review:  "Earth’s Earliest Ages"
Book Review:  "Earth’s Earliest Ages"

Book Review: "Earth’s Earliest Ages"

Book Review:  "Earth’s Earliest Ages"

by Steve Eastman, Faith Issues

One thing you have to keep in mind about Earth’s Earliest Ages is the circumstances under which George Pember wrote.  The book has progressed through several editions, first seeing the light of day as a shorter work with a slightly different title published in 1876.

If it were a movie, Earth’s Earliest Ages might be considered a “period piece.”  True, it’s non-fiction, but Pember’s words give us a picture of theological thought from a different era, perhaps when the Church was more serious about God.  I cannot help but think of the cultural events he is reacting to and wonder how he would respond to events after his lifetime.

Pember’s personal background is also important as we try to place his words into context.  He was a Classical scholar, with an ideal vantage point to refer to ancient religious beliefs and practices.  Upon becoming a Christian, Pember affiliated with the Plymouth Brethren, a group that promoted the Rapture doctrine and Dispensationalism.  Although both concepts are well established in 21st century evangelicalism, they were considered cutting edge in the 19th century.

Earth’s Earliest Ages features two crucial themes — the so-called Gap Theory and the approaching End of the Age, signified by the rise of occult challengers to the Christian Worldview, just like in the Days of Noah.

According to the Gap Theory, there was an indefinitely long period of time between the first two verses of Genesis.  Pember envisions an age when angels fell, resulting in a destruction of the original Creation, followed by a Re-Creation, incorporating the story of Adam and Eve.  Pember’s promotion of the Gap Theory is a reaction to an event that was current for him — the publication of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859.  The theory allows plenty of time to account for ”prehistoric” fossils.  Please don’t allow the expression — Gap Theory — to trivialize the concept for you.  It is worthy of consideration even if you ultimately decide in favor of the Young Earth Theory.

Pember wrote at a time when several occult movements became prominent in the West.  For example, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and two partners established the Theosophical Society in 1875.  Pember shows the close relationship between Theosophy, Spiritualism and Buddhism.  He builds his case with quotations from leaders in those movements.  He did a particularly good job recounting the history of Buddhism and how some of its practices and beliefs have crept over into “Churchianity.”

Sometimes it takes effort to drill through the detail and writing style of Earth’s Earliest Ages.  You may also find the quotes from occultists spiritually draining, but as the weight-lifters say, “No pain, no gain.”  When you read, consider and pray, you’ll mine treasures from this classic book.

© 2012 Faith Issues
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