Romans 14:10-12 and the age of the Earth
Romans 14 is primarily about how Christians should handle differences over “disputable matters” (v. 1, NIV 1984). In this chapter, the apostle Paul writes about issues that were important to the church of the first century A.D., such as dietary questions and observance of special days, such as the Sabbath. Paul urged the believers to put their brothers and sisters in Christ ahead of themselves, and to neither judge nor despise those who disagreed with their convictions.
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (vv. 1-4 ESV)
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (vv. 10-12 ESV, emphasis added)
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (v. 19 ESV)
Paul was writing about ethical matters, but I think we can extend this in our day to secondary theological matters, such as the details of our doctrine of creation, such as the age of the Earth. Some might argue that the age of the Earth is a primary matter; all I can say is that I do not agree. My acceptance of an old Earth does not compromise the integrity of Scriptures nor any essential doctrines (see, for instance, my Creation Creed).
In Romans 14, Paul doesn’t tell anyone to change their views on their dearly held positions. He does tell them to accept one another. As for me, I will voice my convictions, but I will seek earnestly to do this in a way that promotes Christian unity and neither judges nor shows contempt for those who disagree with me.
With love for all believers