The Local Flood Theory: Catastrophic Heresy


By Clint Bishard

Jesus Created Ministries



Any church standing on the authority of the Word of God must take a stand that Noah’s Flood was global in its extent.  However, many within the church are not taking this stand because of a giant that has arisen in the land.  This giant comes in the form of naturalistic teaching and is fueled by the uniformitarian geology of secular science.  It denies that the global geologic catastrophe of Noah’s Flood ever occurred.  It also rejects that the Bible is the key to the past and instead teaches that the present is the key to the past.  This giant declares that only current processes we can observe on the earth today could have created the geologic column that we are standing on.  Therefore, at the heart of this giant is a rejection of the Bible and Noah’s Flood as global.

This giant is having a catastrophic affect on our culture and removing the importance of the Christian message. For it is Jesus Himself who teaches that “if you do not believe his [Moses] writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:47).  Now that we have a culture that does not believe the writings of Moses found in Genesis, they are likewise throwing away the words of Jesus and salvation through Him.

The church’s compromise with this giant is nowhere more evident than with the teaching that Noah’s Flood was only a local event.  All of the leading compromise views (day-age/progressive creationism, framework hypothesis, theistic evolution, gap) being taught today are logically consistent with the Flood being only a local event.  This results from these views trying to accommodate a vast age for the geologic column as proposed by the giant. 

If one accepts the Flood was global, then the explanation for the geologic column follows simply.  A year-long global flood as described in the Bible would have produced the type of geologic processes that would lay down the current geologic column found on the continents today.  Therefore, no compromise with the giant is needed if one accepts the Flood was global.  Only the young-earth creation view consistently represents Noah’s Flood as a global event.

Therefore, to help solidify the Christian ranks against this giant that is destroying Biblical authority and a Biblical worldview within our culture, we will look at the top ten Biblical reasons the Flood was global and not a local event.  The first seven reasons come from the teaching of the Genesis text itself, whereas the last three reasons are formulated on the testimony of the rest of the Scriptures.  I conclude with a challenge to all to consider these truths.


The Top Ten Biblical Reasons the Flood was Global


1.      The Genesis description for the depth of the Flood

Genesis 7:17-20 states:

17Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. 19And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. 20The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered.”[1]

How more obvious can the global nature of the Flood be demonstrated than in the above passage.  First, the ark “rose high above the earth” and the waters “prevailed exceedingly on the earth.” Second, it is stated that “all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered.”  Lastly, the “waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward” corresponds to the depth of water required above the highest mountains for the Ark to clear without scraping the top of the mountains (given the Ark’s dimensions in Gen 6:15).  These combined descriptions in no way can be squeezed into the local Mesopotamian flood theory the compromise views require.

Opponents of a global flood will try and point out that the Bible can sometimes use universal terms, such as ‘all’, in non-universal ways.  Although this is true in some contexts, the abundance of universal terms stacked on top of each other throughout the passage above makes such Scriptural wiggling impossible in this context.  This is why the approach normally taken by the compromisers is to focus on their particular scientific viewpoints and ignore such passages as the one above.

While I was a baby Christian in the early 90’s, Dr. Hugh Ross from the Reasons to Believe ministry (more like reasons to NOT believe the Bible in my book), came to OSU and to the church I was attending.  He taught that the universe was millions of years old, that the Flood was only a local event, and that it was OK for Christians to believe all of this.  However, as a Bible believing Christian, I remember quickly turning to this passage in Genesis 7 and reading God’s alternate statements on the extent of the Flood.  Therefore, on a personal level, I am so thankful that the Lord gave us such a clear passage of Scripture describing the Flood as global. 

Now, from my personal conversations with Dr. Ross after he spoke at OSU and at our church, I found him to be gentle and sincere in his beliefs.  Yet, sincerely believing something does not excuse anyone from teaching things so clearly contradictory to the Scriptures.  It is sad when I think of how much of the church and how many Christian leaders have accepted this false teaching.  Please pray for Dr. Ross and the Christian leaders who are endorsing him.  Pray that their hearts would be turned to accept that the Flood was clearly global and to move away from their compromise with naturalistic teaching that is undermining the authority of the Word of God in our culture today.


2.      The Genesis description for the duration of the Flood

Another nail in the coffin of the local flood view is the Biblical description of the duration of the Flood.  Genesis 7:12 states that “the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights” and during this forty day period “The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth” (Gen 7:17).  Additionally, these Flood “waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days” (Gen 7:24).  Only after these 150 days of the Flood being on the earth did the ark come to rest.  Gen 8:3-4 states “At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. Then the ark rested … on the mountains of Ararat.” Also, another two and a half months after the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat were required before the water had receded to the point that “the tops of the mountains were seen” (Gen 8:5).  After this, an additional three months were required before “the waters were dried up from the earth” (Gen 8:13), and two months later God told Noah to “Go out of the ark” (Gen 8:16).

The Biblical description of the Flood waters prevailing for 5 months and receding for another five and a half months, plus the one year, seventeen day timeframe required for Noah and the occupants to stay on the ark makes the local flood view laughable, at the least, to any Bible believer.


3.      The need for an Ark

The local Mesopotamian flood view begs the question of why would God have Noah build an ark at all?  Noah and his family could have simply traveled to a location that would not have been affected by such a local flood.  Likewise, God could have simply caused the animals to travel to safe locations on earth instead of bringing them to Noah for protection on the ark.  Additionally, why would a local flood require Noah to take birds on the ark?  Birds have the capability to travel more than hundreds of miles per day and could have simply flown to safety.  The only view that makes any sense concerning the need for an Ark is that the Flood was truly Global.


4.      The size of the Ark

God reveals to Noah the dimensions of the ark in Genesis 6:15&16 - “The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits...You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.”  With the common cubit being 18 inches (the length from the elbow to the fingertip), the ark would have been 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall and have a capacity of 1.5 million cubic feet (see picture below).  Significantly, the ark’s size allowed Noah to carry all of the created kinds “of all flesh in which is the breath of life” (Gen 7:15) on the face of the earth with plenty of room left over (when one properly understands natural selection and its ability to provide the different varieties on earth today from these original kinds[2]).

God requiring Noah to spend decades building such an ark, if the Flood was only local, makes God into the biggest jokester of all time!

Noah’s Ark[3]


5.      The giving of the rainbow

In Gen 9:15-16 God told Noah “I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

Has God broken his covenant to never flood the earth again?  What was the purpose of the Rainbow; a promise to never send another local flood on the earth?  There have been many local floods on the earth since Noah’s Flood.  Just ask those still suffering from hurricane Katrina and the Asian Tsunami. Does God need to apologize to a long list of local flood victims since Noah’s Flood? No, God has surely upheld His promise and will never flood the entire earth with water again. Additionally, in the book of Isaiah, the Lord recalls this covenant by declaring "For as I have sworn, that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth” (Isaiah 54:9).

Therefore, those holding to the view that the Flood was only a local event make God into a violator of His covenant of the rainbow.


6.      The geology of the Flood

The Bible’s descriptions concerning the geology of the Flood are incompatible with the local flood theory.  For, the first day of the Flood was like no other in that “on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up” (Gen 7:11).  The deep being the same Hebrew word tehowm (teh-home') used in Gen 1:2 of the initial existence of the earth.  It would have been enough to say “the fountains of the great deep were broken up,” but it states that “all” were broken up.  Additionally, only after “one hundred and fifty days” (Gen 7:24) were “the fountains of the deep…stopped” (Gen 8:2-3).

This breaking up clearly represents a geological catastrophe of a magnificent proportion affecting the whole earth.  Additionally, several other Biblical indicators showing that the Flood was a geologically global event are as follows:

  • It took the catastrophe of the Flood to produce the conditions on the earth that would allow for the post-Flood rainbow in the atmosphere (point 5 above).
  • Man’s pre-Flood lifespan is shown in Gen 5 to be frequently over 900 years, whereas an exponential decline of the lifespan of man begins after the Flood as shown in Gen 11.
  • In the creation account, the word for “dry land” (Gen 1:9) is singular. Therefore, the original creation included one connected land mass before the Flood. However, today we see the post-Flood land consisting of the seven separate continents.  Therefore, the geology of the Flood must have consisted of the breaking up of this one land mass. Interestingly, the idea that the continents had once been together was first thought of by someone who believed the Bible.  He noticed this language in Genesis and theorized that the land must have split apart during the Flood.  However, it was not continental drift as most teach today, but continental sprint!
  • The Bible uses special words exclusively for Noah’s Flood.  The Hebrew word mabbuwl (mab-bool') is used in the Old Testament and the Greek word kataklusmos (kat-ak-looce-mos') is used in the New Testament.  Other Hebrew and Greek words are used for ordinary localized floods.

If one is open to trust the Biblical record that the Flood was global, then they also see that the geology we observe on the earth matches what would be expected from such a catastrophic flood.  For example, as expected, we see billions of dead things buried throughout the geologic column in sedimentary strata (strata laid down by water).  The strata boundaries are straight and abrupt without evidence for erosion and other time factors.  We observe polystrate fossils all over the geologic column and sedimentary layers that were folded before they were hardened into rock.  We see fossils of sea life on the top of every mountain range on the earth.  The list goes on and on. Therefore, a rejection of the Flood as global is a clear rejection of the Bible's geology.


7.      The reason for the Flood

God states the reason for the Flood clearly in Gen 6:5-8

5Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

So we see that God’s favor was shown to Noah, but He had determined to “destroy man…from the face of the earth.” And not only man, but “man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air” were all marked for destruction because of the “wickedness of man.” Furthermore, after God communicates this coming destruction to Noah and the need to build the ark, God tells Noah in Gen 6:17 the following: “And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.” Additionally, this universal destruction is repeated clearly again in Gen 7:23 & Gen 9:11. Was this only a local Mesopotamian flood? Absolutely not! For how much more universal can God get than saying He will “destroy from under heaven all flesh.” Therefore, those who reject that the Flood was global are clearly rejecting the reason for the Flood in that the wrath of a Holy God brought total destruction of “all flesh in which is the breath of life” because of the “wickedness of man.”

This whole episode is clearly summarized in the New Testament by one verse - “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). This judgment by God is clearly seen in the record of death contained throughout the geologic column.


8.      Death before sin

The local flood theory places the fossil record as having occurred in some prehistoric timeframe before man was on the earth. Therefore, Adam and Eve would have been walking on top of the thousands of feet of fossil bearing strata on the earth, placing them after this record of death. This completely contradicts the Biblical record that God had initially created a perfect world for Adam and Eve to live in. For at the end of the creation account, it states "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen 1:31). Death did not come upon the earth until after Adam and Eve sinned, resulting in God's judgment. In the curse, God cursed the serpent and all animals, Eve, Adam, and the earth (Gen 3:14-19) resulting in death, disease, suffering, thorns (found in the fossil record), and etc. As Romans 5:12 states "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." However, we now look forward to "the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). Additionally, "the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now" (Rom 8:21&22).

Therefore, by rejecting the fossil record being the result of the judgment of the Flood, the local flood theorist are accepting another history of death existing before Adam and Eve were ever on the earth. They are rejecting the clear Biblical doctrine that Adam and Eve's sin was the cause of death and the need for God to restore all things.


9.      The testimony of the Apostle Peter:

The apostle Peter gives direct prophetic teaching against the local flood theory in his epistle.  Toward the end of Peter’s life, he wrote 2 Peter to counter the false teachers of his day.  Additionally, in chapter 3 he warned against the false teachers that would come in the last days.  In 2 Peter 3:3-6 he states “that scoffers will come in the last days… 4saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." 5For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water (or better translated “the earth was formed out of water and by water” NASU) , 6by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.”

Note that these false teachers are not the atheists of the last days, denying that there ever was a creation.  They just teach that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”  This is the same principle of naturalism that dominates our culture and many in the church today.  They believe that the ‘present is the key to the past’ instead of the Bible being the key to the past.  Also, note that because of this last days viewpoint, Peter taught that they will choose to not acknowledge, “willfully forget,” the following:

  • That the heavens were created supernaturally “by the word of God.”
  • That “the earth was formed out of water and by water".
  • That the world once perished by being “flooded with water.”

Therefore, given the current day compromises, we see that the false teaching Peter predicted almost 2,000 years ago is coming true today. Likewise, as predicted by Peter, people do not fear the coming judgment, but we should rest assured that “the heavens and the earth…are reserved for fire until the day of judgment "(2 Peter 3:7).


10.  The testimony of Jesus:

The Creator of the universe, Jesus Christ (John 1, Col 1, Heb 1), stated in Luke 17:26-30:

26And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:  27They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  28Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;  29but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  30Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

Jesus’ words here in Luke affirm Noah’s Flood as written with a straightforward understanding of what Gen 6-9 clearly state.  Also, the context of the passage demands that the “all” used in verse 27 must be universal towards all men.  Otherwise it would imply that some Sodomites could have actually escaped the judgment of fire and brimstone and others in the future may possibly escape the judgment at Christ’s second coming.  This parallel between the judgment of the Flood and the judgment of the last days clearly requires the Flood to be global or Jesus’ rule would be limited.  Therefore, an attack on the universality of the Flood is scripturally an attack on Jesus as Judge of the universe!



So what should be our conclusion?   We should clearly conclude that Biblically the giant doesn't’t have a leg to stand on.  The local flood viewpoint does not get its basis in Scripture, but comes from the fallible minds of men who want to accept the philosophies of naturalism over the clear teaching of Scripture.  Therefore, those promoting the local flood theory are rejecting the clear teaching of the Word of God and are standing on the side of the giant.


Do you reject the Flood as global?

            How about you, are you on the side of the giant accepting the views of fallen men over the clear teaching of the Word of God?  If you are not a believer in Christ, this is to be expected as the Bible clearly teaches that unbelievers will hate and avoid the truth (John 3:18-21).  However, I am happy to see that an unbeliever has read this far in this article.  My prayer is that you would consider the claims of Christ, and that you would come to accept the truth.  However, if you claim Jesus as your Savior and yet still reject that the Flood was global, then I would like you to consider the words of the Apostle Paul and “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor 13:5).  For you may actually be a Christian, but just confused in your faith and just need to repent of this compromise in your life.  However, it is difficult to see how a true Christian could continue to reject such clear truth from Scripture as Noah’s Flood.  For “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim 3:16).  Additionally, Jesus, who affirmed the Flood, stated “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death”(John 8:51) as well as “For if you believed Moses , you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:46&47).  True Christians should be those who accept the revealed Word of God.


Do you accept Noah’s Flood as global?

Now, if you are a Christian and you clearly believe the Flood was global just like the Bible teaches, then I invite you to consider being a giant killer!

I hope that you recognize that the rejection of Noah’s Flood as described in Genesis is a giant in our land.  This giant has brought in a catastrophic heresy that has steadily grown throughout the church for the last several hundred years.  This has resulted in a complete rewrite of history, a rejection of the Biblical view of origins, the undermining of the authority of the Word of God, and a growing rejection by our culture in the message of salvation through faith in the Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, taking down this giant will help restore the foundational issue of the authority of the Word of God, and, in return, the message of salvation in Christ will once again be relevant to our culture.

So how do you go about taking down this giant?  I believe 1 Samuel provides some of the best advice concerning the most famous giant killer of them all – David.  First, make sure you have what it takes to be a giant killer.  Make sure, like David, that your heart is in the right place, for “the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7) and that you are walking in “the Spirit of the LORD” (1 Sam 16:13).  This will protect you from the accusations of “pride and the insolence of your heart” (1 Sam 17:28).  Know also, that like David’s time, this giant is big (1 Sam 17:4), well armored with many weapons (17:5-7), relentless (17:16), and making others afraid (17:24).  Be ready to be cursed by the giant (17:43) as he continues his work of making a mockery of the Christian faith (17:35).  And most importantly, like David, you must know that the battle is ultimately the Lord’s (17:45-47).

Realize where the battle is taking place.  Unfortunately, this giant has slipped into the church and must be taken down there first.  Therefore, a good place to start would be your church leaders and teachers.  Jesus gave very clear guidelines on how to deal with problems in the church in Matt 18:15-17.  After being covered in prayer, start by asking your church leader privately if he believes the Flood was global.  If he does not, then show him from the Bible that God clearly teaches the Flood was global.  If he does not listen to you, find one or two others who are accepting of God’s Word and have them go with you to address the leader concerning his error.  If he still will not hear you, then share your concern with the church.  If there is a continued rejection of Biblical truth, then consider finding another place where the Word of God is not compromised to conform to the world.  For “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).


            The church failing to uphold the global nature of Noah's Flood has brought in a flood of skepticism towards the Scriptures. This giant now stands firmly ingrained in our culture making a mockery of Biblical authority. Leaving this giant alone will continue to help wipe out any trace of relevance from the Christian message within our culture. This is one giant that needs to come down. May God enable us in the slaying of this giant as we work to faithfully proclaim His Word to a lost and dying generation.  “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (Prov 30:5).

[1]All Scripture quoted from The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] See J. Woodmorappe, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1996)

[3] Ham, Sarfati, and Wieland, The Revised & Expanded Answers Book; pg. 150


Jesus Created Ministries (JCM) - Page last updated January 13, 2007