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Houston, We Still Have a Problem (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

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We had an interesting discussion Tuesday centered on scripture, the reliability of scripture, and the foundation of our faith: Houston, We’ve Had a Problem. One of the key aspects of this conversation was how we view scripture as reliable in the face of the scientific evidence for an old earth and for evolution. Certainly I think we can defend the reliability of scripture, the reliability of the scientific evidence, and the Christian gospel. We don’t have to disregard any of these. This is where I stand, centered on Christ, moving forward.

As it happens, on Monday and Tuesday there was a related conversation on the BioLogos blog Science and the Sacred focused on how to respond to a recent speech by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of Southern – a prominent Southern Baptist Seminary. I didn’t mention the speech because I didn’t want to sidetrack our discussion, but I rather expect it was in the background of some of the comments.

Dr. Mohler takes a position quite different from the position I have put
forward on this blog and quite different from the position taken at
BioLogos. In his speech “Why Does the Universe Look So Old?” Dr. Mohler argues “for the exegetical and theological necessity of affirming 24-hour calendar days.” Any old earth view – including Day-Age or Framework – is inadequate. If science appears to contradict the plain reading of scripture – scripture plays the trump card.

And when it comes to the exegetical issues I will tell you that I think the exegetical defense of a 24-hour calendar day is sufficient. In other words, the exegetical cost–the cost of the integrity and interpretation of scripture–to rendering the text in any other way, is just too high. But I want to suggest to you that the theological cost is actually far higher.

You can find a video of  Dr. Mohler’s speech at the Ligonier Ministries 2010 National Conference here (It doesn’t play for me in firefox – but works fine in IE8). BioLogos has also posted a transcript of the speech if you would rather read it. You can find Darrel Falk’s response here and Karl Giberson’s here. (Added: Peter Enns’s response, just posted today, is here.)

Dr. Mohler’s theological reasons are rooted
in his understanding of the biblical narrative of creation, fall,
redemption, consummation or new creation (which actually is not much
different from mine). He calls to task Bruce Waltke, John Stott, JI
Packer, Bernard Ramm, and several more – laying down the gauntlet. He
calls to task the evangelical elite, professors at Christian
institutions. We are witnessing, he feels, a head-on collision between
science and scripture, the Christian Gospel and evolution. Only one will
remain standing at the end of the day. There is only one possible
position:

Our only means
of intellectual rescue, brothers and sisters, is the speaking God, who
speaks to us in scripture, in special revelation. And it is the
scripture, the inerrant and infallible word of God that trumps
renderings of general revelation, and it must be so. Otherwise we will
face destruction of the entire gospel in intellectual terms.

This is an interesting speech – he lays
out his positions and his reasons for them quite clearly.  He suggests
that the world looks old because God made it whole (a mature creation
view); that it looks old because it bears testimony to the effects of
sin – in its groaning.

At the end of the day, if I’m asked the question “why does the
universe look so old?” I’m simply left with the reality that the
universe is telling the story of the glory of God. Why does it look so
old? Well that, in terms of any more elaborate answer, is known only to
the Ancient of Days. And that is where we are left.

I am not disturbed that Dr. Mohler feels
that the YEC position is the preferable position. Nor am I disturbed
that he argues for his position. We need to have this conversation. I am
concerned that he dismisses the evangelical “elite” as compromised and
compromising. I am concerned that he makes it a battle rather than a
conversation. I am concerned that  he sides with Jerry Coyne, Michael
Shermer and Richard Dawkins on this and casts it as a fight to the
death.

But lets consider it a bit
deeper.

How would you
respond to Dr. Mohler’s arguments?

More importantly how would you respond to a Christian
struggling with these ideas?  Someone who finds the discrepancies
between what Dr. Mohler calls “the common sense natural reading” of
Genesis and the evidence of science disturbing and is looking for a  way
forward?  One who finds that this discrepancy undermines faith?

If you agree with Dr. Mohler – why?

And please – keep it civil and
helpful.

If you are
interested in a look at the strength of the evidence for an old earth
from a Christian perspective, The
Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth

by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley lays out the evidence in a
readable form. This is a great place to start.

If you wish to contact me, you may do so at
rjs4mail[at]att.net



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Comments read comments(104)
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Landon

posted July 8, 2010 at 6:34 am


“I am concerned that he dismisses the evangelical “elite” as compromised and compromising.”
I have seen this attitude pop up quite often in the “creation wars.” I think that it is more common among those who have not actually interacted with the scientific evidence for an old earth/evolution. I don’t mean to cast doubts on their intelligence – just their exposure to science. If you learn your science from Ken Ham, it is “obvious” that there isn’t evidence that the earth is old, and overwhelming evidence that the earth is young. Then of course those of us who believe in an old earth must be “compromising” in order to gain favor with the intellectual “elite.”
How would I respond to Mohler? Gordon J. Glover has a good start: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyEOdnckKCQ.



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Peter

posted July 8, 2010 at 6:49 am


“When you learn that I, your brother in Christ, have a different understanding on this issue than you do, will you continue to love me? The command of Scripture that you do is clear.” Then hopefully we can have a civil conversation, mutually beneficial. Otherwise he would be forced to substantiate his verdict to excommunicate me/treat me as an unbeliever from Scripture.



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Peter

posted July 8, 2010 at 6:50 am


After I wrote that additional bit about excommunication I should have written my captcha:
“expels Mr”



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Rick

posted July 8, 2010 at 7:32 am


“He calls to task Bruce Waltke, John Stott, JI Packer, Bernard Ramm, and several more – laying down the gauntlet.”
If one is challenging people such as Stott and Packer, he should be cautious in drawing a line in the sand at the age of the earth.
He may want to include John Piper in that list as well.
http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/2445_what_should_we_teach_about_creation/
HT: Chaplain Mike/IMonk



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Jason Lee

posted July 8, 2010 at 8:02 am


RJS,
Thanks for your civil and thoughtful set up of this issue.
Just as an example of how this issue is affecting the average evangelical… I recently heard the pastor in a very large Dallas church basically say (very passionately) that if you’re not a 24-hour day creation Christian, you’re basically no Christian at all…period. The force of his statement was surprising to me…



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Pops

posted July 8, 2010 at 8:37 am


Someone who finds the discrepancies between what Dr. Mohler calls “the common sense natural reading” of Genesis and the evidence of science disturbing and is looking for a way forward?
I have never found satisfaction on this point – “evidence of science”.
When listening to any explanation of so called scientific theories, that is exactly what they are, theories! When listening to any National Geographic or other ‘scientific’ explanation the use of such words as “We think, Possibly, Theory, Perhaps, We assume etc etc” abounds.
On top of which, with each new discovery, the old statements are retracted or changed with this discovery of ‘new evidence’ which merely reinforces my point.
The ‘evidence’ of science is on shaky ground all the time but Dr. Mohler is making his stand on the basis of scripture and it is upon unchanging scripture that he makes his stand whereas the scientists stand changes with each ‘new discovery’.
I see no problem with Dr. Mohlers position at all and for other ‘Evangelicals’ to depart from scripture and try mould their thinking to match science, they are placing their credibility on the line, for if they have to constantly change to adapt to ‘new discoveries’ then the question may be quite rightly asked “Gentlemen, what else are you prepared to chop and change?”



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JoeyS

posted July 8, 2010 at 8:45 am


A conversation with Dr. Mohler (I struggle using an academic title for the man after this, forgive me) would have to be centered around what scripture is and how we use it/read it. I wouldn’t even mention the age of the earth or science but deal specifically with the nature of Biblical genre, the theological importance of each genre, the cultural implications of story/narrative/parable, the dating of books (by cross-referencing), etc.. He first would have to, IMHO, understand scripture better before a conversation about science could even be conceived.
captcha: tales tho



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Richard M

posted July 8, 2010 at 8:52 am


I would say that I started from the position of the 6 day creation – after all, that’s how it’s written in the Bible and it’s what was taught in the church I went to.
Of course, now that I’m a pastor and I read more widely, I am more aware of the situation of ?Moses writing this;
- A people group seeking identity amongst other people groups with their own creation stories and myths.
- Most of which point to the earth being brought out of chaos, from gods of chaos and destruction, and humans from hate.
- Creation in the Bible speaks of a God who created, who is good, and who brought us into being out of love.
This is what I share with those struggling.
In addition, I would say the Bible is full of books, some history, some poetry, letters, prophecy, etc – are we sure the first part of Genesis is history when a lot of the rest of the books aren’t?



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RJS

posted July 8, 2010 at 8:53 am


JoeyS,
How about the second question. Dr. Mohler is one man, although he does have a bigger microphone than many. As Jason points out – this discussion will impact many other Christians – is impacting many others. How do we respond to Dr. Mohler’s arguments for his position in a way that builds up the church?



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Ray Ingles

posted July 8, 2010 at 8:58 am


Pops –

On top of which, with each new discovery, the old statements are retracted or changed with this discovery of ‘new evidence’ which merely reinforces my point.

I don’t intend this in an uncivil manner, honest, but:
[W]hen people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was [perfectly] spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”.



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Pops

posted July 8, 2010 at 9:15 am


Absolutely Ray, thank you for reinforcing my point!
It is not what people think (as in both of your examples) that Dr. Mohler is standing on, but what the Bible states and the Bible does not state a flat earth or a perfect sphere except in poetic writing. (as it also refers to under Gods wing, which is poetical for we all know God is not a chicken)
Sure, one may argue that his interpretation of scripture is wrong, against Jesus also stating belief in a 6 day creation, but then that leads down a path of contention. A straight forward reading of scripture sets out a 6 day creation and it is that upon which Dr. Mohler stands.



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dopderbeck

posted July 8, 2010 at 9:23 am


RJS — I’m coming to think that, sadly, the Evangelical movement is heading for a permanent division over this constellation of issues. While those of us who hold a different view can do our best to be charitable towards Dr. Mohler, and while he can do his best to be charitable with us, the reality is that we hold irreconcilably different worldviews. I wonder if we ought to stop trying to convince each other, shake hands in sorrow, and move on.



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Pete Enns

posted July 8, 2010 at 9:25 am


RJS,
You’re making some good points, as usual. FYI, my response to Mohler will go up today or tomorrow at BioLogos. I focus on matters of biblical interpretation. And–funny how timing works–I have an article today at the Huffington Post on how New Atheists and conservative Christians share fundamentalists views of the Bible, which make for a science faith war rather than conversation. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pete-enns-phd/does-god-talk-to-us-throu_b_637765.html



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norm

posted July 8, 2010 at 9:37 am


The guy is a dinosaur waiting for the Asteroid to come all the while larger and larger meteorites are peppering his world bringing it to an end. At some point in the future will be uncover the fossilized remains of one more layer of residue along with the flat earth and geocentric beliefs already laid down.
If these leaders of some religious groups want to proclaim themselves as enlightened then it would behoove them to study the scriptures and the ancient climate they came out of better. Over 2200 years ago there was a book called Jubilees written by the Jews themselves that completely undermines the idea of a 24 hour literal day from Genesis. The problem is that traditional religionist are so beholden to their current mindset that they are not free to learn the truth that historically and scripturally destroys their precepts about a 6000 year old earth. Science isn?t the only mechanism that destroys their YEC thesis. The scriptures and surrounding second Temple views that birthed the first century Christians also illustrate their sandy ground foundation.
Here is an excerpt that completely undermines the idea that the Jews considered GENESIS DAYS as literal 24 hour days. The commentary of a ?day as a thousand years? is also picked up by Peter and John in the NT along with the early Christian epistle of Barnabas from Jubilees. They (ancient Jewish scribes and early Christians) read the day as metaphorical and viewed Adam?s death as a Spiritual Death from the fall just as many have figured out today and do not buy the YEC literal nonsense. Why should we if the Jews and earliest Christians didn?t?
Pay close attention below to how day is used in context with Genesis.
Jub 4:29 Adam died, ? And he lacked seventy years of one thousand years; for one thousand years are as one day in the testimony of the heavens and therefore was it written concerning the tree of knowledge: “On the day that ye eat thereof ye will die.” For this reason HE DID NOT COMPLETE THE YEARS OF THIS DAY; FOR HE DIED DURING IT.
Notice how he died ?in the Day by not completing the years of this Day?. Now if that is a literal reading then I?ve got some ocean front property out here in West Texas to sell you. My question is why do these so called religious experts refuse to consider the environment of the times that undermines their modern traditions? Is it because they are more interested in circling their wagons than to determine the truth which might require some hard work to repair the present out molded cultures they help foster?



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T

posted July 8, 2010 at 9:40 am


Pops,
The Bible also states in more than one place that the earth does not move. Please see my comment (#126) to the previous post in this series. We do injustice to history to think this is a totally new situation faced by the Church and its theology.



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 9:49 am


To Dr. Enns,
I get it that you had a bitter end to your employment at Westminster and you and guys like Dr. Mohler don’t have much in common on this topic, but really what is the point in running to some place like Huffington Post to trash conservatives? Do you really want to team up with guys like Frank Schaeffer in providing liberals cover when they accuse conservative Christians of being worse than the taliban. Make no mistake, that is how your posts there will be used.
To Pops and Norm,
I know you have oh-so enlightened views regarding faith and science and people like Mohler are nothing more than knuckle-dragging mouth breathers, but perhaps if you don’t want people like Mohler to see this as an issue of compromise (or culture war) you could ease up a little on the contempt with which you regard him and your conservative brethren.
One last word on compromise. I love John Stott, but he has a history of compromising his biblical interpretation to his personal feelings. He has admitted that there is no biblical basis (that he can see) for nihilism and that he only embraced it for a time because of the implications it had regarding his mother.



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Paul Bruggink

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:09 am


I agree with the comments above which suggest that any discussion with or comments to Dr. Mohler have to be based on Scripture, since for Young Earth Creationists, the bible trumps science every time. And it is totally unproductive to get into “My science is better than your science.
The problem is that there aren’t a whole lot of resources out there yet for dealing with the really sticky issues like Paul’s statements about Adam in Romans 5-8 and 1 Corinthians 15. Theologians need to keep pumping out books for Christian laymen.
Maybe locking Dr. Mohler and Rev. Tim Keller (an evolutionary creationist) in conference room until they can both come out smiling is the answer (since they are two of the “Ten Leaders Who Will Shape the Future of the SBC in 2010″). If that works, then try it with John MacArthur and John H. Walton in a room together.



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:11 am


Just to be clear again,
Dr. Mohler gives a speech at a Ligonier Conference defending his view of the age of the earth to other ‘believers’ and the response is to run out an write an article for Huffington Post trashing all conservative Christians as fundamentalists. A site where Christians are routinely compared to the taliban and Nazis. Is this really how we want to deal with our disagreements? I say something at a church or conference that you don’t agree with and you run to a group of people that loathe Christians and proceed to badmouth me?
Maybe you’re not familiar with Huffington Post and how they typically view Christians, especially conservative ones, but I don’t know what else you could have done to increase the disunity between conservative and non-conservative Christians much more.



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EricG

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:14 am


I was initially inclined to agree with Dopderbeck on this — why even engage the YEC position? — It will eventually die out the same way the idea that the sun circles the earth died out (that idea, of course, was also based on the church’s “literal” reading of the Bible). On the other hand, I think it is very helpful to have Biologos and others engage the YEC’ers so that young people (and others) who have been taught YEC, but realize it is obviously wrong, don’t lose faith. I.e., so they realize there is another way.
I was struck by how charitable Karl Gilberson’s post at Biologos was toward Mohler. He has more patience than I would have.
Every time I hear a YEC’er try to defend the position I’m struck by how they haven’t read — or at least not understood — the basic evidence for an old earth. If they did, they would realize the arguments they keep making don’t really even begin to address the issue. I’m glad there are folks like Biologos to engage on this stuff.



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Norm

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:16 am


Robin,
Yes sometimes I get a little overly excited and should be more discerning. It’s just that I tend to give the lesser learned more grace than I do someone who should know better. I simply consider Mohler spoke as a propagandist and I reacted strongly to it.
By the way what do you think about the Jewish Rabbi?s take on the Genesis Day as allegory? Did you even know that this idea even existed 200 years before Christ and that this saying was so popular that it was repeated by Peter in 2 Peter 3:8 and illustrated by John in Rev 20. Our YEC friends usually avoid such points or if it is brought up they try to discredit it by calling it a ?liberal view?.



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Stephen Mook

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:17 am


This seems to have been a great leadership opportunity squandered by Dr. Mohler. I appreciate anyone who rightly emphasizes the revelation and centrality of God’s word, yet to do so on terms that the bible doesn’t set is a bit misleading to the many who will follow Mohler’s lead.
Amidst this important discussion, I’m thankfully reminded that the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will remain forever.
1 Peter 1: 24-25



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:30 am


Norm,
I’ve learned better than to get into an actual discussion about YEC or allegorical interpretations at this site; no good can come from it. I am just continually amazed at the tendency of Jesus Creeders to insult and deride conservative Christians without so much as a second thought. It’s not just you. I’ve been coming here for a couple months and the one thing I’ve learned is that conservative Christians are backwood hicks that don’t know how to read and learnt physics by bouncing on the trampoline. Scot and RJS do a good job of trying to be respectful and keeping the discussion elevated, but the contempt for conservatives oozes on every single comment thread. It just gets a little wearisome.
Here are some gems from the people Dr. Enns has chosen to go to in order to run down conservative Christians. For the record, I would be just as mad if John Piper chose to go on Huffington Post or Kos or Crooks and Liars to run down N.T. Wright.
“All religion IS zealotry. Trying to put the innanity of religious belief in the context of seperating it from zealotry is yet another desperate and ultimately vain attempt to wrap the absudity of religion in the clothing of rational behavior. It is not rational to believe in spirits and demons. Holding on to such beliefs when no proof has ever existed to support those beliefs requires a strong level zealotry.”
“So. You do realize that you dressed up in nice well written English the same kind of religious dogma that any self-respecting member of the Taliban can spout; with respect to their personal take and their flavor of religion of course? Just like you..”
“And isn’t it interesting that the major players in this drama— Christian, Muslim, and Jewish fundamentalists— are all right-wingers. The differences among them are barely detectable.”



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Sage the Fool

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

Andy Holt

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:00 am


This is a relevant discussion for me because, in a few days, I get to sit down with some concerned parents and explain why we don’t exclusively teach YEC at our church. The reason is that we’re trying very hard to be center-defined (cross, resurrection, trinity, grace through faith, etc.) rather than boundary-defined (tongues, YEC, rapture, etc.). But I was reminded of something very important while meeting with a friend this morning: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5) This call to love rests in the context of Paul urging Timothy to have very difficult doctrinal discussions with people in his church. As much as I would love to beat people over the head with the literary framework interpretation of Genesis 1 and scream that we’re asking the wrong questions of that beautiful hymn, I can’t. I have to listen and I have to engage so that I can walk away from that or any other conversation with a pure heart toward those who think differently than me, with a clear conscience that I didn’t steamroll or berate them, and with a sincere faith in Jesus only.



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Bill

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:06 am


Robin well said. I tend to point to a blog post by Pete Wilson which stopped me and demanded I do some more thinking about dialogue (http://withoutwax.tv/2010/06/10/grace-killers/). Rather than engage in the specifics of Mohler’s comments, I think we need to remember that regardless of where we stand on the issue of modernity and knowledge, God remains sovereign – including all of creation which means science. Thus, the issue is not which is superior, rather how best to work it out the tensions so I favor giving Mohler a platform and dialogue short of coming to a judgmentalist stance (and which tensions are ultimately a process that is not subject to a final and definitive answer this side of the Eschaton.



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T

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:12 am


Robin,
I’m in a conservative church, even as one of the leaders, and I’ve been in the conservative church my whole life, though as a non-cessationist, there are many streams of the conservative church that wouldn’t welcome me at all! So there are certainly currents and bits about conservative Christianity that wear on me, but it’s still my community.
It’s true that more liberal Christians and even non-Christians come here and express their views. But so do I and you and many other conservative-leaning folks. And I don’t think your summary, that conservative Christians are “backwood hicks that don’t know how to read and learnt physics by bouncing on the trampoline” is really representative of the whole community of folks that comment here. In fact, your summary is among the worst things I’ve seen written here about conservatives as a group.
Take this space for the rarity it is: a place where a very, very wide spectrum of viewpoints will be permitted to speak on matters concerning the Christian faith, often (but not always) with only their own conscience to oversee their civility.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:16 am


T, I agree with you and thank you for these words. Robin’s statements are too strong. To use “backwood hicks” is inflammatory and needlessly inflammatory. Disagreement is fine, and I appreciate Robin’s comments; he’s conservative and doesn’t get deleted or denounced.



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BradK

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:18 am


Pops, I may be picking at a nit here, but the term “theory” when you hear it used in regard to science is nothing like “possibly” or “we think” or “perhaps” as those words are typically used in ordinary daily conversation. Theory is more of a trade term and as far as science is concerned, it is much closer to the word “fact” as used in ordinary daily conversation than to any of the above. For example, there is the Theory of Universal Gravitation. When we think of gravity, do we really think of it in terms of “possibly”, “we think”, or “perhaps”? Certainly not.
Evolution (for example) is a fact, just like gravity. It can be and has been observed, just like gravity. Just because there is a scientific theory of evolution does not mean that suddenly someday we are going to discover that evolution doesn’t exist, just as we are never going to suddenly discover that gravity doesn’t exist. To use Ray’s comment as an example, some of our understanding of the earth may change as the result of further scientific inquiry, but we are never going to suddenly discover that the earth is flat. It’s not really helpful to say that anything scientific is “on shaky ground” and that scripture is “solid rock.” Scripture can be misunderstood. It has been in the past and almost assuredly will be in the future.



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Jonathan

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:19 am


It occurs to me that a decent philosophical hermeneutics will solve this problem faster than any appeal to scientific evidence or so-called “straight forward” or literal readings of Genesis. The idea that there is anything like a “plain” or “straight forward” or literal reading of ANY text is philosophically naive. It misunderstands the way that languages convey meaning and it lends us to the sort of naive relationship to scripture that fundamentalist Islam has in demanding the Quran only be read in arabic.
Words, particularly in “plain” readings, mean within a horizon or pool of shared insights that is developed (or underdeveloped as the case may be) within a culture and community of inquirers and learners. The notion that syntactical expression has some direct correlation with already-out-there-now real objects or events is misguided and most of the 20th century’s serious philosophy has dug the ground out from under it rather satisfactorily.
In short, you can’t read the Bible (or any text, for that matter) literally, even if you wanted to.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:19 am


Robin you are on a bit of a complaining roll today. John Stott, by the way, didn’t teach “nihilism” but “annihilationism” and there’s a huge, huge difference. I am unaware that he ever gave that view up.



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:26 am


Scot,
It makes me very angry to see Christians running to people who hate Christians to bash other Christians. I thought BioLogos was better than that and I thought that Peter Enns was better than that.



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:29 am


I loathe some of the implications of ANKOC, but if Piper or Driscoll took to Foxnews or Michelle Malkin’s website to denigrate MacLaren or emergents I would be equally furious.



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dopderbeck

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:37 am


@Robin: where do you see Enns “bashing” anyone? His conclusion in the HuffPo article is this:

Conservative Christians need to do a much better of job of keeping the Bible out of discussions where it does not belong. Atheists need to do a better job of not letting Fundamentalists define for them how thoughtful Christians have been thinking about science and faith for a very long time.

This seems to me an entirely correct and sensible conclusion. Personally, I’m glad that he’s speaking this kind of perspective into a forum like HuffPo. If we don’t go into forums where Christians are “bashed,” listen charitably to the criticism (from which we can often learn a great deal), and offer a responsible defense of the faith, we’ll end up in the sort of ghetto the fundamentalists want to build for us.



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Percival

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:38 am


Robin,
Are you saying that Peter Enns associates with the folks you quoted? Who are they, and why would Peter associate with such horrible people? He must not be a very nice guy if these are the types of people he hangs around with. (Please could you name the sources of the people you quoted here?)



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Norm

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:38 am


Robin,
I hope most of us aren?t as forward in our churches as we are here and other forums. These religious discussion groups seem to work in letting those who can?t really voice their opinions openly in their church community have a venue to speak their mind in a more open environment. Yes one?s angst with the conservative or liberal establishment will fly out all over the place at times and I?m sure you are seeing some of us letting off steam that we have to keep bottled up otherwise. That?s the reason we need the steady hand of someone like Scot and RJS moderating this place.
By the way I think Luther started this whole episode of trading barbs. :)
?pstart astrologer?. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth
By the way I don?t really consider you to be a ?shrinking violet? in regards to getting in someone?s face. ;)



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RJS

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:44 am


While there are aspects of useful conversation here – could we get back to the questions?
Robin – you tried to steer us to some of these questions on the last post. I tried to frame my interaction with Mohler’s speech in a way that could lead us in helpful directions – along the lines you were asking. Any ideas?
Captcha: speech unleash



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kevin s.

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:53 am


“I have an article today at the Huffington Post on how New Atheists and conservative Christians share fundamentalists views of the Bible, which make for a science faith war rather than conversation.”
This seems rather beside the point. We should seek to interpret the Bible correctly, whether or not that interpretation is conducive to conversation.
As far as atheists go, the fact of the resurrection of Christ is sufficiently absurd as to preclude conversation. It can hardly be said that the event squares with science.
On the subject of science, the problem here is that science has no real explanation for the origins of the universe. Science has an explanation for why and how the Earth revolves around the sun and maintains an approximately spherical shape.
Science cannot explain how something came from nothing, and it offers an incomplete rendering of the origins of humanity for that reason. It fails on that level.
That is the issue upon which this discussion hinges. Science begins with the assumption that any explanation of the supernatural is beyond its purview. As such, any supernatural phenomena are immediately discarded.
That’s fine if the purpose of science self-fulfilling. For Christians, however, it is inadequate in the interpretation of scripture, or proper study of the origins of the universe. At some point, any believing Christian must embrace the conclusion that science is often wrong, even in its most vaunted theories.
The application of this logic to the creation debate is simply reflecting the culture. This is a contentious issue for Christians and non-Christians alike.
As such, while you might believe scientists correctly dismiss a literal seven day creation and (more importantly, I think) the creation of man from dust, you can hardly blame creationists for applying a necessary skepticism of science to this issue.
A few have mentioned above that this creationism will, eventually, go the way of the flat earth. Perhaps. But what comes next? The story of Moses? The resurrection?
Will those stories be reduced to a mere “fiction” (Dr. Enns’ word), lest we all be dubbed fundamentalists like those crazy creationists once were?
The “historical Jesus” model is gaining traction among those calling for an evangelical re-examination of Biblical truth. Should we embrace the model, simply because it so easily coalesces with science? Will the resurrection of Christ become a discussion where the Bible doesn’t belong?



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Charles Harris

posted July 8, 2010 at 11:54 am


I find many times that in many topical debates history often solves many grandiose claims. I would start by saying his view (YEC)is new. That doesn’t make it necessarily wrong. But, he should hold it more provisionally — like the scientific theories Pops is complaining about.
The evangelical YEC position will be exactly 50 years old next year — born as it was with the 1961 publication of Whitcomb & Morris’ “The Genesis Flood”. Itself based on George McCready Price’s re-presentation of Ellen G. White’s visions.
Prior to the publication Whitcomb & Morris’ “The Genesis Flood” most fundamentalist evangelical dispensationalists, and pentecostals, back to the late 1800s taught Old-Earth gap creationism (or features of it like a pre-Adamic race) luminaries no less than:
C. I. Scofield, M. R. DeHaan, J. N. Darby, G. H. Pember, Finis Jennings Dake, H.A. Ironside, Watchman Nee, Arno C. Gaebelein, Clarence Larkin, J. Vernon McGee, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, Lewis Sperry Chafer, A. B. Simpson, R.A. Torrey, Lehmann Strauss, James Montgomery Boice, Harry Rimmer, L. Allen Higley, A.W. Pink, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Merrill Unger, and a MULTITUDE of others.
And others held a version of day-age, including fundamentalist titans William Bell Riley, William Jennings Bryan, Reformed icons Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield (the father of the inerrantist theology) and practically everyone else who didn’t accept gap creationism. Even the prince of preachers Charles Spurgeon allowed for an Old Earth.
Henry Morris himself, (the father of YEC) embraced Old-Earth gap creationism until the mid 1940s –because he needed a comprehensive answer to Darwinism. He evidently dropped it when he found an alternative. He didn’t develop the alternative from scratch, but borrowed it from a group often regarded as on the fringe (if not quasi-cultic) of evangelical Christianity.
Many might be surprised to think that “virtually” no one (save the disciples of Mrs. White) held the YEC view prior to 1961 — because unwittingly evangelicals associate it merely with the “plain reading” of the Bible. And that is because, they evidently haven’t recognized YEC as a system, yet. A system which intrudes on their very assumptions because it has been so frequently dinned in their ears at every age and opportunity.



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Percival

posted July 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm


Charles #38,
It pains me to see my beloved A.B. Simpson lumped in with Benny Hinn and Jimmy Swaggart!



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Kevin Hargaden

posted July 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm


With regards to the Enns/Huff Post digression, I just want to say that if these Huffington Post people are the scoundrels some depict them as then they are the exact types that Christians like Peter Enns should be hanging around with! :)
But to the actual post by RJS:
I am writing from Ireland, where evangelical Christians are not nearly so het up about the question of origins and Genesis as they are in the USA. I think this is a useful point to hold in mind when Dr. Mohler is making such combative, line-in-the-sand statements. The reality is that there are distinct differences of approach on this issue amongst conservative evangelicals in Britain and Ireland, on continental Europe and in the Far East compared with those in America. Surely this should be a cause to pause. Dr. Al may well be more culturally conditioned in his understanding of this issue then he would like to think because serious Bible believing, evangel proclaiming Christians from other cultures do not see it as a hill to die on or even a debate to have. YEC exists here and in Britain but it is much smaller and *most importantly* it is much less aggressive.
My second approach to Dr. Mohler would be as a Christian who is working within and passionate about the Reformed tradition. He is divergent from Calvin’s reading of Genesis. He is divergent from Warfield and many of the Princeton school. He is divergent from Augustine in his reading of Genesis! This is a radical reading when compared to the history of interpretation and if I could sit down with Al I would love to crack open some of these pre-scientific readings that had more depth in their interpretations than he seems comfortable with.
(Maybe after having Scot over to Ireland this summer we can convince Al to come next year? ;) )



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Fish

posted July 8, 2010 at 12:09 pm


It just struck me that every once in a while I see essays about the value of a liberal arts education as opposed to the value of a technological or scientific degree.
I have to wonder if this debate is not the other side of the coin. To me, an engineer, it’s just impossible to ignore data and research in favor of an ancient writing. The facts on the ground trump everything. If scripture contradicts science, then scripture is wrong.
But I can see how if your education ran the other direction, you could build a logical framework for your philosophical position and stand upon it. Our mental maps are different.



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm


What is a conservative Christian?
The way Peter Enns uses it in the Huff Post article seems to suggest fundamentalism. I would use it differently, but maybe I’m wrong. I’d call myself conservative (theologically), because unlike liberal theologians (I assume), I believe in, for example, the virgin birth of Jesus and his bodily resurrection. I consider myself part of the Evangelical community (theologically).
I would have called Peter Enns a conservative Christian, despite his departure from the traditional definition of inerrancy.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off topic… I was just surprised by the usage of the word here and on Huff Post.



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James W

posted July 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm


I agree with Kevin when he states that this is a culturally conditioned argument. That is, Mohler’s statements are based on an ethno-centric bias. Trying to say that some venerable 19th or 20th century spiritualist–even Hodge–are definitive sources for this debate is wrong because they are still modern theolgians and spiritualists who embodied a theology in their day and age. They do not live now. And the work for theologians or scientists for that matter is to see that every theory is up for revision or re-interpretation with every new age. Therefore, to make Christianity’s vitality live and die on whether we buy a literal creation story is another adventure in missing the point.
To hear some on this thread complain that conservatives who take the bible literally are persecuted and mocked is odd, why come back to this site if you think you are so disrespected here?
These statement are simply a pejorative or ad hominem statements, they do not actually contribute to making a good case for your argument. Debate is to explore the ideas which shape the argument. If someone is claiming that the bible is a historically verifiable or that the genesis account of creation is literal, then the ideas or presumptions that form this belief are up for critique. It is nothing personal per se.



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm


To get back on topic though,
I’ve been lucky enough to be part of faith communities that were respectful to each other over the debate. I have friends and family who are YEC and they seem to respect my faith and those of others who are not. To be honest, I’ve never been in a heated exchange over the issue. It rarely comes up.
But I think the line in the sand mentality is dangerous. I think it tells Christians that they need to make a choice. Science or The Bible! And if suddenly a young Christian finds themselves in a college science class and convinced of the evidence of evolution or an old earth or both, they have been told by their pastor, parent, friends, etc that they have to choose: Science or The Bible. And if they are convinced that science is right, then they believe they have to discard their Bible and possibly their entire faith in Christ. What a terrible ultimatum to give to any Christian, especially the young.



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JoeyS

posted July 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm


@9 RJS,
My approach is to work in the church and try to work towards a way of reading that is, presumably, more faithful to the text. It is my hope that committing to church ministry is the best way to change the tide of culture. The more who invest in this work, the better the chances of true change will be. Volunteers in churches can also work towards this, and often times in a way that won’t jeopardize their jobs. I realize I don’t read scripture perfectly either but I pray for and strive for faithfulness.
captcha: bumbler strongly



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Norm

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm


Kevin #37
I think Pete?s recognition of how the Atheist and the Fundamentalist view scripture literally is actually very telling. It points to the less than thorough understanding of scripture as a platform that leads to misunderstanding it.
Science indeed doesn?t have to explain how nothing came from nothing as it can?t, however science can tell us that once matter was here that it has an age to it that goes back billions of years as we count years. Those of science with faith believe that the God of the Bible brought into existence matter and the atheist simply don?t have any idea and simply ignore the implications for a creator leaving them with nothing.
Science can instruct upon some of the physical development of humanity but can?t answer the complexity of the total human existence as it developed.
Concerning the slippery slope of creation from ?dust? it might be good to understand the Hebrew mindset on the meaning of being created from the ?dust of the ground? and how it is applied by the Jews themselves throughout scriptures. This is one of my beef?s with Christians not performing their due diligence on scriptures and then yanking them out of the total biblical context to support an idea that never existed in the Hebrew mind.
Theology if performed correctly is not easily explainable to the masses and therein lays the problem. Most like Mohler take shortcuts and play to the simplistic understanding that is being propagated. This is why Henry Morris YEC and Hal Lindsey and Tim Lahaye?s left behind mentality got picked up so quickly in fundie churches the last 40 years because they are emotional and easy to explain to the less sophisticated. Pete Enns understanding of Genesis would require extensive teaching and would glaze most folks eyes over in the process and so just can?t compete with the Creation Dinosaur museums and assorted fictional novels that make for easy reading.
The good news is that you don?t have to understand all things to come into the grace of Christ which I believe by and large the evangelical churches typically do a very good job in teaching.



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Darryl Schafer

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm


To blatantly rip off Rob Bell:
Genesis 1.14-16 points out that God made the heavenly lights to mark of days, seasons, and years. So if the things that indicate “days” really don’t arrive until day 4, how do we know that the first three days were actually “days?”
I also question the validity in treating Genesis like a science book. I’m not saying that science and faith are completely incompatible, but Genesis wasn’t written as an Enlightenment-based text beholden to the scientific method — I think we do it and its authors an injustice to treat it as such.



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Andrew Layton

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm


“More importantly how would you respond to a Christian struggling with these ideas? Someone who finds the discrepancies between what Dr. Mohler calls “the common sense natural reading” of Genesis and the evidence of science disturbing and is looking for a way forward?”
I think I would ask someone struggling with these ideas to reflect on how his own “common sense” has changed over the course of his life, and how this might impact one’s reading of the Genesis account. Speaking for myself, my “common sense natural reading” of the Bible has changed dramatically over the years as I have gradually learned more about its contents. Facts about the scriptures, such as the languages they were written in, when they were written, literary genre, etc. were nowhere on my radar when I read the Bible as a kid.
I always find it surprising that people with far more education than myself ? particularly in areas of religious study ? still seem to apply a 21st-century Western common sense reading to these texts. Nowhere does Genesis claim to be a strictly scientific book, as though it were written by a modern investigative reporter. So why do we try to force it to be such?



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Dana Ames

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm


Not enough time to read the previous comments, so this will be short.
Frankly, one of the reasons – not the most important one, but one I was glad to find on my journey – I feel at home in EOrthodoxy is because the interpretation of scripture put forth by the church fathers -as I understand it – is that the “how” of creation is something that “belongs to God” and is not really something we can know, though scripture tells us all we need to know about it. We affirm in the N/C Creed that the Father created the heavens and the earth (=the totality of reality) and that the Son was the one “by whom all things were made” and that the Spirit is “the Lord and giver of life”. Orthodox theology is more interested in the meaning of creation than the mechanics of how it was made. The first chapters of Genesis are viewed very much like Walton (and Sailhamer). We don’t have to be six-day young-earth creationists. Scientific discoveries do not have to upset our faith. In this, EOrthodoxy has been a respite for me. Our disagreements are about other things :) but I don’t have to be concerned that anyone might be judging whether I’m really a Christian because of my views about creation or science.
Dana



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm


RJS or Scot,
Do you know of an online resource that lists all of the times Genesis 1-3 is referenced in the NT?



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DRT

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm


In my rather short time as a deeply interested Christian, I have come to see that many people of the cloth have issues and ongoing internal debates concerning the precise truthfulness of what they teach and preach. I think this has led the faith community to consider there no longer needing to be a total alignment between what one teaches and preaches and what one thinks internally. It is simply absolutely impractical to only allow people who 100% believe everything they teach and preach to be one who is teaching and preaching. Therefore, there are two alternatives to this. First, they could teach and preach things that are not 100% in alignment with what they believe, or second they could confess their doubts when there are some in the course of their teaching and preaching.
The stake put in the ground by Mohler is that it is all hinged on inerrancy (that is what my reading says). So he has adopted a position that does not allow for any doubt. Considering that he is highly compensated (just a guess on my part) to espouse an inerrant view and that does not allow for doubt, then I suggest that he is probably maintaining an inconsistency between what he says and what he actually thinks and believes.
This is further complicated by the fact that there is no doubt that there exists a large YEC contingent in the US. Given that there is a large population with those beliefs, there will inevitably be leaders who are compensated to espouse and support the beliefs that that group supports. Given that the Bible says all humans are sinful, I find it unlikely that the one who is representing those people (inerrants) does so with alignment between their personal beliefs and their platform. Given it is probably impossible for someone to maintain that position 100% of the time, it is actually more likely that you would get someone who did not have a problem with maintaining a position of incongruence between the position and the inclination.
That?s a civily as I can write that.
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DRT

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm


I want to be clear in my last remark, I don’t have a problem with anyone believing a YEC view, I just think it is unlikely for someone of his stature to 100% hold that view always and I think it is that lack of alignment that sends a bad message to the faithful, not the message itself.
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MIke

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm


I grew up with a “literal Bible” indoctrinization. Thankfully i’ve been “enlightened” in a way I pray that others will be as well. No sane, logical person can read even the first 6 chapters of the Bible literally and maintain any sense of logic or reason. Thereby forcing one to either assume God isn’t logical or I must not “get it” and “use faith where things just don’t make sense.” Either option dimishes the great and powerful God of the universe. I’m saddened Dr Mohler believes (and is influencing others to believe) that a non-literal view of Scripture threatens faith. Honestly, there has been nothing more vibrant to my faith and understanding of God than to see a bigger, broader, deeper and more personal view of Scripture through the story God tells. It’s allowed me to embrace the mind God gave me, the heart God gave me and seek Him more fully than a literal Bible ever did.
Though not surprising, it is still sad that people fear that “context and interpretation” lead to the destruction of faith. To me, it’s the opposite. A legalistic dogmatic narrow view of God is more limiting and threatening than the other way around.
To someone questioning, I would applaud the question and encourage further exploration. I believe it’s what God wants. Not blind acceptance of rules or even sentences in the Bible, but deeply engaging in the story and the truth of what He wrote.
In these cases I always ask, if something that you believe to be literal is proved to not have literally happened, does that destroy your faith? Are you spending more time trying to justify (debate) what you believe or more time living out the result of what you believe.



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm


“In these cases I always ask, if something that you believe to be literal is proved to not have literally happened, does that destroy your faith? Are you spending more time trying to justify (debate) what you believe or more time living out the result of what you believe.”
There are some things that should destroy your faith if they turn out to be untrue. It was Paul that said if Christ was not raised, then we are above all men most to be pitied. A Christianity without a risen Christ is worthless.



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm


1 Cor. 15:17 (NLT – cause’ I roll like that)
And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.



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Wolf Paul

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm


@DRT: I don’t think it’s called for to basically accuse someone of intentional dishonesty for love of money just because his stated position seems “unlikely” to you.



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RJS

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm


Robin (#50),
I don’t know of a resource. Scot may.
To the best of my knowledge the only times the gospels refer to Gen 1-3 (esp. Adam and Eve) is in the genealogy of Luke and when Jesus teaches about divorce and one flesh (see Mt 19).
Paul refers to Adam and Eve on several occasions (Romans 5, 1 Cor. 15, 2 Cor. 11, 1 Tim 2), Creation groaning in Romans 8.
Jude references Adam in the same passage where he quotes from Enoch in terms of genealogy.
Is someone knows other references – I am sure they will list them.
Romans 5 is the big one – how do we understand this.



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RJS

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm


Robin,
And I agree with you on resurrection – if it was proven that Jesus was not raised from the dead it would undermine any reality to the Gospel and my faith.



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dopderbeck

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm


@Dana (#49) — is there an “official” EO position on the need for a “literal” Adam? I’ve read some EO materials that seem to say yes, a literal Adam is required, others that seem to say no.



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dopderbeck

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:41 pm


@Robin and RJS re: the resurrection: I agree with you that if Christ has not been raised, there is nothing to Christian faith at all.
But — we should clarify that the absolute “literalness” or “inerrancy” of the resurrection accounts in scripture is not a prerequisite for our faith. In fact, there are a number of seemingly irreconcilable differences in the various Gospel accounts of the resurrection.
In fairness to Mohler, he does touch on an important point: without some kind of “fall” into sin, the Christian story doesn’t hold together, and it is indeed harder to understand what the “fall” might mean in conjunction with the standard evolutionary account of the universe. But, in a way perhaps broadly similar to the resurrection, we might say that the “fall” is essential to Christianity, but a perfectly “literal” account in scripture of how the fall happened is not. I would go on to say that the texts dealing with the resurrection are also a very different and more exacting genre of literature than those dealing with the “fall,” but the point remains that even the resurrection texts are not woodenly “literal.”



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm


Dopderbeck,
I don’t get hunt up about literal, I get hung up about true. As long as he was raised from the dead, and it isn’t some allegory for Christian sacrifice or some other rubbish, then there is a reason to be a Christian.



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm


Going back to RJS post yesterday,
If there is no ‘creation’ and no ‘fall’ then I am at a loss for how to think about the bible and its narrative. However, Christ’s resurrection is still enough to give me a reason to be a Christian (It’s just that the bible might no longer be very good evidence that a resurrection occurred).



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BradK

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm


Robin, is this helpful? References to Genesis are not specifically broken out but should be there.
http://mb-soft.com/believe/txh/ntot.htm



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Jennifer

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm


Dana (#49),
I attend a large non-denominational moderate evangelical church, and I can wholeheartedly say that no one there will question my faith on the basis of what I believe regarding creation, evolution and other matters that are up for debate. So it isn’t just the Orthodox church that gives room for mystery and uncertainty with respect to interpreting the Bible.



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Robin

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm


That is extremely helpful Brad, Thanks



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Norm

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm


Robin,
The Last three chapters of Revelation deal extensively with the icons of Gen 1-3. The Beast, Devil and the Curse are defeated. The Sea and the Sun and the Moon are de created and no longer needed as the Lamb is the Lamp.
For OT references look at Ezekiel 28-32 concerning the Garden Trees and Ezekiel 47 as a prophetic prelude addressing the rivers and trees of Eden which Rev 22 also address.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm


Here’s something that needs to be considered … and we’ve touched on this on a number of posts, or RJS has:
The standard Reformed/Lutheran way of reading the whole Bible is through the lens of Romans 5. I surely don’t want to call Romans 5 into the dock, but one has to ask if we are pressing Romans 5 sometimes too much.



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BradK

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:17 pm


Scot, isn’t the standard Reformed/Lutheran way of reading the whole Bible not only through the lens of Romans 5, but a specific interpretation of Romans 5? Tom Wright doesn’t read Romans 5 in the standard Reformed/Lutheran way, does he?



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Rick

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:23 pm


Robin #61-
“I don’t get hunt up about literal, I get hung up about true.”
Exactly. I still (as in the previous post on this) am not clear why some are not understanding that.
Scot #67-
“but one has to ask if we are pressing Romans 5 sometimes too much.”
That is a very interesting thought. We may be guilty of that being our lens.
Futhermore, I know at least some EO’s interpret that verse very differently (Dana may have some thoughts on that).



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Mark Farmer

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm


For Robin (50) – The best I can suggest is that the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament has a table in the back of all the NT citations of OT verses. So if you can get hold of one (knowledge of Greek not necessary to use this table), you’ll have all the the references to Gen 1-3 in the NT.
(Captcha: money groovier. I never seem to get the good theological ones.)



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DRT

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm


#56 Wolf Paul – I stand by my comments. I think it is relevant in every other facet of our society for people to disclose when they have such a heavy personal financial interest in what they are selling so it should be here too. I think people need to weigh that with the rest of it. There is a tendency for people to put their religious leaders on very high pedestals. Back to a thread from a few days ago, I used to believe that everyone in religion is in it because they love God more than I do?..That is just not true.
Now, if he did not stay but a night or two and only carried the cloak on his back and etc. then there may be more cred (no tats needed). There is a reason Paul felt poverty is important to the message. Humans are humans. As I get older I see that demonstrated more and more clearly.
People have no problem pointing out that scientists are employed by people who can benefit from their research and the conflict of interest is obvious. It needs to be equally obvious that there is a large conflict of interest in the case of someone like Al M.
I really don’t think it is unfair at all to point that out.



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Norm

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm


Scot,
If we read Rom 5 through the lens of Adam representing all humanity it becomes a problem. When it?s understood that Paul viewed Adam as the federal head of a dispensational or covenant peoples who call on Jehovah and remain in that context problems evaporate. The reading that you refer to puts a heavy premium on Adam as all humanity which if we carried it consistently through Romans and 1 Cor 15 produces problems throughout. If ?all? men are in Adam?s specific sin then ?all? men should be in Christ righteousness but we know that isn?t the case unless we recognize the ?all? as the ?many? of the historical faithful. If we stay with the non covenant view then we end up with Universalism and some do by trying to be literal and consistent.
Rom 5:18-19 KJV Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL MEN TO CONDEMNATION; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL MEN UNTO JUSTIFICATION OF LIFE. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience MANY WERE MADE SINNERS, so by the obedience of one shall MANY BE MADE RIGHTEOUS.



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DRT

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm


Question – How well known was the jewish belief of Adam in Rome during this time? For instance, it would be hard to find anyone in this country who does not know the story of Adam and Eve, so it would totally make sense to say the same thing Paul did whether anyone believed in a real Adam or not.
Perhaps I show my lack of knowledge, but it seems to me to be much like someone in today’s time would refer to Lassie. Everyone knew who Lassie was, but was there really a Lassie? I almost hate comparing Adam to Lassie, but I think it works…



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T

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:48 pm


Scot (67),
Yes. That lens certainly gives this debate the energy it has. The more a given person sees legal justification as equivelent to the gospel or to biblical “salvation,” the more likely this debate will hit nerves that are too sensitive to touch without intense feelings.
Over the last several years, the gospel of God’s reign through Jesus has become more of my “lens,” which doesn’t make this issue irrelevant by any means, but it’s not as central for me as it would have been.
But I don’t know if that recognition gets us very far. It’s not easy, but also not impossible, to pursuade reformed folks to loosen their grip on the Law/Gospel lens of Romans on the grounds of allowing more/some room for the gospel according to Jesus, which tends to expand the “gospel” and salvation beyond justification alone. But any movement on that front is usually because reformed folks have convictions that make it difficult to call “not gospel” or “less than gospel” what Jesus himself called “gospel.” Such folks aren’t as likely, I would think, to be willing to entertain such adjustments for something or someone less central than Jesus, let alone “science.”



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BradK

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm


DRT, it may not be unfair to point out the general possibility, but it seems very doubtful that in this case Mohler is advocating a position in which he does not really believe merely for financial gain. He could have said less (or nothing) or been much less confrontational in his views without damaging his “financial interests” as you put it. I’m often quite cynical, more often than I should be, but I just don’t see any evidence of what you seem to be implying. Especially since I actually know people who are as well-educated as Mohler who without a doubt are sincere, biblical-literalist YEC’s. “Misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice.”
Mohler may be guilty of some cognitive dissonance, but as a Christian brother he deserves the benefit of the doubt in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. Personally I think he sincerely believes what he is advocating.
captcha: received demonic



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Dana Ames

posted July 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm


Jennifer @64, I’m glad to hear it.
dopderbeck @59,
Doctrine in Orthodoxy is not expressed in its canons, or in any kind of magisterial writings, but rather, at its most explicit, in the Liturgy and services of the church. I am not aware of anyplace where Adam is talked about in liturgical language that is not connected to the outworking of redemption in Jesus, particularly with regard to the Incarnation and Resurrection. The sense is that there probably was a “literal Adam”, but there not being a “literal Adam” would not affect the Fact and Meaning of God’s redemptive Act in Christ. After that, the interpretation of scripture by the Fathers holds the most weight. There is a long history in patristic commentary of seeing multiple layers of meaning in scripture, because “truth” is not equated solely with “literality”. I suppose one could argue about those points of patristic interpretation, and that may be the ultimate root source of the different opinions you have encountered.
This, by Fr Thomas Hopko, from the OCA web site:
“The center of the Bible as the written Word of God in human form is the person of the Living Word of God in human form, Jesus Christ. All parts of the Bible are interpreted in the Orthodox Church in the light of Christ since everything in the Bible leads up to Christ and speaks about Him (Lk 24: 44).”
What I’ve found so far is that if something is not relevant to what Jesus’ redemption means for humanity, it’s just not talked about very much. The details of the origins of creation, beyond what is given in scripture, aren’t that relevant to Redemption. In another section of the OCA web site, Fr John Matusiak answered a question with this:
“…if by evolution one is referring to the theories and teachings of Charles Darwin, the Orthodox Church surely does not subscribe to evolution in any manner. Orthodoxy firmly believes that God is the Creator of all things and that human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, are unique among all created beings. At the same time Orthodoxy is not literalist in its understanding of the accounts of creation in Genesis, and I have encountered writings by Orthodox Christians which attempt to balance the creation accounts with a certain ongoing — evolutionary, if you will — process which, on the one hand, affirms that while humans may have evolved physically under the direction and guidance and plan of the Creator, their souls could not have evolved any more than the powers of reasoning, speaking, or the ability to act creatively could have simply evolved. In such a scenario the Creator intervened by breathing His Spirit into man and giving him life, as stated in Genesis. Such thinking, however, while admitting the possibility that the Creator guided a process of physical evolution, is not identical with the theories of Charles Darwin, which in my limited understanding implies that man’s soul also evolved and denies the active participation on the part of the Creator. This poses a variety of questions and problems beyond the scope of your original question.
“In short, then, Orthodoxy absolutely affirms that God is the Creator and Author of all things, that He is actively engaged with His creation, and that He desires to restore His creation to full communion with Himself through the saving death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This, unlike Darwinism, is not a matter of ideology but, rather, a matter of theology.
“Orthodoxy has no problem with evolution as a scientific theory, only with evolution — as some people may view it — eliminating the need for God as Creator of All.”
Hope that helps.
Dana



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dopderbeck

posted July 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm


@Scot and T — yes, but even a “new perspective” lens that focuses on restoration eschatology must include as a narrative hinge that something is very wrong both with the creation and with human vice-regency over the creation. Mohler makes one good point: understanding the long evolutionary history of the universe makes it much more difficult to figure out what the curse, the state of being “in Adam,” means — of correlating the Biblical narrative of salvation with broader reality. This is certainly true for very strongly Augustinian / Reformed theology, but it’s also true for any version of Christian theology in which the present state of things is a problem that the cross addresses.
Mohler’s solution is to tell the story one particular way and then to block out all other evidence that could bear on how the story should be told. Many of us can’t go there, but we still need to be able to tell the story in a coherent way.



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MikeB

posted July 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm


@#38
I find many times that in many topical debates history often solves many grandiose claims. I would start by saying his view (YEC)is new. That doesn’t make it necessarily wrong. But, he should hold it more provisionally — like the scientific theories Pops is complaining about.
The YEC position – that the earth is young – was the position of the early church. I would have to dig up the quotes but most regarded the earth to be around 6-10K years old. How does that make the YEC a new view?
On what scientific findings are people generally basing the earth to be old? Just curious…
Also many passages factor into the handling of the Genesis 1-3 account in trying to determine its literary genre and thus interpretation. There are many passages including Romans 5 and Exodus 20:11 which could be used to demonstrate that the account is taken “literally” rather than as a poetic allusion.



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm


@Scot #67
Do you think this also speaks to the inadequacies of a systematic theology — where we try to fit everything into a nice little box? It seems to that there is an uncomfortableness (word?) when something challenges someone’s theological system and it forces them to overreact. That is, perhaps why some hold so tightly to certain interpretations, because that interpretation is held as part of their whole theological system — so yes… a challenge to that piece then erodes this other piece and so on and son on. So to concede that one part, feels to them to concede it all.



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm


@MikeB #78,
I’m not a scientist, but many scientific disciplines seem to confirm an old earth. Physics and astronomy observes that light can take hundreds of millions or billions of years to travel from the light source (eg star) to our eyes. It’s observed that the universe is in a state of expansion and the rate of expansion can be measured. Archaeologists can date human made artifacts older than 10,000 years old. Geologists can date things on Earth by millions of years. Multiple scientific disciplines come to the same conclusions: an old earth/universe.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm


Kenny, yes, in a word.
I think Al Mohler has “over-identified” with inerrancy (when Warfield had a different view), what he thinks is traditional evangelicalism (it’s not), and with a certain view of Gen 1-3. Now he’s willing to ignore historical, ancient evidence that must be dealt with in a responsible interpretation because it will impugn the system he’s thinking is truth. A responsible hermeneutic is not afraid of what that ancient evidence might be teaching us on how to read Genesis 1-3/1-11.



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Gwen Meharg

posted July 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm


How would I respond? First, as I entered his office I would greet his big black dog and comment on his exceedingly vast collection of dead animals heads on his walls. My side of the conversation would go along these lines.
“Really? Really? THIS is where you want to pick a fight. With a whole world full of unloved people, THIS is your idea of a good place to expend your energy? There is a world spiritually hungry and physically hungry and you are worried about THIS (a surprising number of seminary students live on food stamps and food pantry assistance).”
Of course he would not hear a single word I said because I am, after all, a woman and because, just to be ever so slightly obstinate I would be wearing pants and a top hinting that there might be the possibility for cleavage. He and his dear wife would be so focused on my appearance that they would not be aware of anything else.
And like the good book says, John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you believe what I believe.”
Living in Fort Worth, with so much contact with so many seminarians, I’m a concerned and more than a little bit frightened. Sometimes I am angry. Today, reading this I am just tired.



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MikeB

posted July 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm


@80
Kenny – I am not a scientist either but have tried to read up on this… seems that scientific dating methods are at best inconsistent and require assumptions that have not been proven. Also issues like “star light” are equally problematic to OEC (horizon problem) and YEC… That is why I was curious what types of scientific data were the clinchers for others.
Thanks
MikeB



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T.C.

posted July 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm


The overriding genre in the Bible is narrative, or storytelling. There is also much poetry, letters and apocalypse. The Bible reveals truth in ways beyond propositional. The creation story is certainly not a paper by a science doctorate to his students. It is a story that evokes many themes, predominately God’s goodness and sovereignty. In the next scene we have a story of the nature of humans, their destiny as chosen stewards of creation and their predicament of sin.
One need only look at the chronology of the life of Jesus to know that the truth of the story is not predicated on chronological precision or certainty – indeed the various authors tell the Jesus story quite differently. In Genesis the author says that God created the sun and stars three days after he said, “Let their be light.” I am not sure what exactly is “common sense” to Mohler, but it seems to me that scientific chronology, let alone precision, was not the purpose of the story. Nevertheless I would think meekness and humility are in order. We are not debating the Lordship of Christ. On that we are unified, brother. That is the battle worth fighting.



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kevin s.

posted July 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm


@Mike
“I grew up with a “literal Bible” indoctrinization. Thankfully i’ve been “enlightened” in a way I pray that others will be as well. No sane, logical person can read even the first 6 chapters of the Bible literally and maintain any sense of logic or reason.”
Why not? If you account for the poetic nature of some of the passages, why can’t you take the accounts, at minimum, as literally true?
You are begging the question, here.
“Thereby forcing one to either assume God isn’t logical or I must not “get it” and “use faith where things just don’t make sense.” Either option dimishes the great and powerful God of the universe.”
How does the failure to conform to human logic make God any less powerful? Isn’t this simply one of many paradoxes to explore?
“Honestly, there has been nothing more vibrant to my faith and understanding of God than to see a bigger, broader, deeper and more personal view of Scripture through the story God tells. It’s allowed me to embrace the mind God gave me, the heart God gave me and seek Him more fully than a literal Bible ever did.”
Okay, but how does this reflect on Mohler? I have found that understanding what the Bible says, and understanding it’s various paradoxes and seeming contradictions helps me understand God in a more vibrant way. He probably feels the same way.
“Though not surprising, it is still sad that people fear that “context and interpretation” lead to the destruction of faith.”
You have “context and interpretation” in quotes. Who has said that it leads to the destruction of faith? This sounds like a straw man to me.
“To me, it’s the opposite. A legalistic dogmatic narrow view of God is more limiting and threatening than the other way around.”
You are misusing terminology, here. Legalism does not simply refer to adherence to God’s law and insistence upon that adherence. It refers to the sinful act of treating man-made standards as law. One could argue, for example, that a prohibition on dancing is legalistic.
Any vibrant faith in God is dogmatic. Belief in the resurrection of Christ is dogma. Belief that we are commanded to give to the poor is dogma.
As for holding narrow view of God, I don’t understand your point. Team of Rivals presents a narrow view of Lincoln. Nonetheless, I have a fuller understanding of Lincoln than I did prior to having read it. He was who he was. Being able to nail down his particulars does not limit him in any way.
“Not blind acceptance of rules or even sentences in the Bible, but deeply engaging in the story and the truth of what He wrote.”
Nobody is advocating blind acceptance. The question is about what we should accept.
“In these cases I always ask, if something that you believe to be literal is proved to not have literally happened, does that destroy your faith?”
In the case of Christ’s resurrection, yes. Also, if a literal fall from sin did not happen, that might not destroy my faith per se, but it would certainly require me to thoroughly re-evaluate it.
“Are you spending more time trying to justify (debate) what you believe or more time living out the result of what you believe.”
If people didn’t debate what they believed, how would you have encountered this more “enlightened” view of scripture?
@Norm
“Concerning the slippery slope of creation from ?dust? it might be good to understand the Hebrew mindset on the meaning of being created from the ?dust of the ground? and how it is applied by the Jews themselves throughout scriptures.”
However you want to read the term, it certainly speaks to God creating a man out of something that was not at all man. The OT frequently says man is made of dust, and will return to that state. It is impossible to understand “dust” to refer to a genetic permutation of some kind.
This, to me, is a more important question than the age of the Earth. You could easily read the Genesis accounts and conclude that the Earth, in some shape or form, has been around for billions of years.



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RJS

posted July 8, 2010 at 5:22 pm


MikeB (#83),
The lines of evidence for an old earth are many. It is an entirely self consistent conclusion. Everything points to the same approximate age. If you want to look into it, start with the book I have referenced at the end of the post.
Dr. Mohler makes a few references to YEC scientific arguments, but he doesn’t really claim that the science is wrong or questionable. Rather he gives a mature creation or “appearance of age” argument. I have many problems going along with such a conclusion.
I find it far more reasonable, as a Christian, to conclude that the earth looks old because it is old.



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm


@MikeB #83
I have no doubt that YEC apologetics have answers to many of the old earth/universe evidences, but the ones I’ve read haven’t been compelling to me. While I don’t believe consensus = truth, it’s difficult for me to ignore the fact that the vast majority of scientists from every scientific discipline that would deal with the age of the earth or universe all agree with an old earth and universe. Is it possible the dating methods are bad? Yeah. Is it possible they’re misreading geological formations, soil layers, carbon dating, etc? Sure, but it doesn’t seem so to me. I guess if I felt any need to hold to a young earth for a specific interpretation of the Bible, I might be more willing to be skeptical of the modern scientific conclusions. . . but I don’t. So the science seems reasonable to me.
With that said, I’m not completely consistent. I have my own skepticism about the the abilities of random mutation and natural selection to produce all the varieties of species. But I’m perfectly willing to be wrong — and feel that my faith in Christ will not be diminished.



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MikeB

posted July 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm


@Kenny 87
I am sure this is not the best place to engage in a debate regarding the science of OEC/YEC…
That said I would find it far more problematic theologically (and scientifically) to accept an evolutionary explanation for man (theistic evolution). Do most OEC also accept theistic evolution?



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DRT

posted July 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm


I have written and re-written several posts, but in all seriousness, when you step back and look at it, isn’t it more likely some man got it wrong rather than the divine creator wants to play a trick on us by making it look like it is young?
Add on top of that it is in the self interest of those espousing that view to see it that way?
I had a YEC in my kitchen in the past year, and when he said that is what he believes I loved him (in the godly love sense, isn’t it a sign of our times that we only have one word for love?). I did not point any of this out. But when Al M. says that, I must say that there is a significant difference. Al is making the argument that his house of cards will fall if god actually did it differently than he thinks god did it. I think the question is whether Jesus meant that to be like children is to be blindly accepting, or blindly loving. I don’t think he was saying that we should all ignore the world around us.
Perhaps (well, in my mind, more than perhaps) we should be thinking what new level of godliness and holiness this brings us by understanding that there is a deeper level to god’s message. I mean really people, it is GOD, there is a deeper meaning, if we are to just think that our logic and blind “belief” is the answer then we have it wrong.
God did not make Adam and Eve to simply believe everything. They were to question things even before the fall. There is a deeper truth in Genesis. What is it saying. Perhaps God wants us to question things!?!?!? Go find me a confessional I think I need a time out~!
Again, the issue I have with him is not so much the belief, but the certainty with which the belief is conveyed. That is significant. I am afraid that we live in a society where it is expected of our religious leaders to tell less than what they themselves are truly thinking. Don’t you? Isn’t that part of the job description? Don’t you have a problem with that? Would Jesus have a problem with that?
I guess Scot will delete this one….



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Scot McKnight

posted July 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm


89 DRT: Delete? Why?



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm


@MikeB #88
I don’t know if there are surveys. :) There are plenty of OEC that don’t accept evolution or at least all it’s claims (including many in the ID movement). There’s also Hugh Ross’ “Reasons to Believe” which is OEC but does not accept evolution: http://www.reasons.org/
There are some who I think remain open to the possibility, but are not committed either way… I’m not positive, but I believe both William Lane Craig and Tim Keller would fall into that camp… That’s the camp I’m in.
I certainly think that human evolution does present some theological questions and concerns, but I don’t think that, in itself, would be reason for me to reject it. Why? Perhaps my theology is wrong.



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DRT

posted July 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm


#90 Scot, because I was saying bad things to my keyboard when I wrote that.
captcha: shylock cancellation…..



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Joshua Wooden

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm


It might be too late to weigh in on this discussion, but I might as well try. I, like many, read the first three chapters of Genesis literally, but came away from that view when I read Confession of St. Augustine. By the by, I think it interesting that a man Christians champion as one of the greatest Christian thinkiner of all time considered it a thorn in his side that Christians read Genesis 1-3 literally. I further think that many Christians have more than enough evidence to reject a literal reading of Genesis after looking at ancient evidence, not rooted in science.
Personally, I think Dr. Mohler’s comments are embarassing. As for a Christian struggling with these ideas or problems, I think I would point them to literature that would challenge them to think differently. Many Christians believe in YEC because they don’t realize there’s a choice- they assume their faith hinges on the earth being 6,000 years old. I don’t see how the YEC view is the “common sense reading.” It may be the easy reading- but there’s nothing common sensical about rejecting the great majority of scientific evidence to the contrary.



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John L

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm


(91) “There are plenty of OEC that don’t accept evolution…”
Only a tiny fraction of academic scientists surveyed show any regard whatsoever for creationism over evolution (Harvard Study). And that handful of highly vocal advocates is one reason (among others) that I tend to distance myself from religion.



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James W

posted July 9, 2010 at 1:15 am


Did anyone read the short article in Christianity today which reported on the dismissal/resignations of both Bruce Waltke and Tremper Longman over issues of interpreting Genesis 1-3? The article suggested that this issue of interpreting the creation account is coming to a head in the U.S. I am a Canadian and though people up here disagree on this issue it is pretty low key and no one makes much of a fuss. But i think Mohler and others have to consider that this issue will not wane. I would want to ask him if he think he is really making a dent in secularism by trying to re-assert dated inerrancy arguments?
I believe that secularity and the western scientific worldview is a big challenge for Christianity but trying to take a dogmatic inerrantist view of Scripture is not going to slow it down. I wonder if behind this debate is the deeper concern of the loss of sources and structures that make Christianity meaningful for its more conservative adherents?



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RJS

posted July 9, 2010 at 7:58 am


James W,
I think that the root here is deeper than inerrancy arguments – it is in the meaning or casting of the creation, fall, redemption, new creation casting of the narrative of the Bible.
In the middle of his speech (just about dead center setting of the scroll bar in the transcript) Dr. Mohler puts out this vision very well, in three paragraphs. The three paragraphs begin:

Think with me here. As we are looking at the Scripture, we understand it to be as it claims, the inspired and inherent word of God.

The second movement is of equal importance and that is the fall. Every worldview is accountable to answer the question ?Why are things as they are?

These then take us, as scripture takes us, to redemption. And there we come to understand that God, before the universe was created, had a purpose to redeem a people through the blood of his son.

I don’t think that the vision he casts from scripture is diminished by either an old earth or evolution, but he does, and many others also do. Sure inerrancy is part of the issue – but not the most important part. Any response to Dr. Mohler has to deal with the truthfulness of scripture and with the casting of the narrative of creation, fall, redemption, new creation.



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Ray Ingles

posted July 9, 2010 at 9:12 am


MikeB – Here’s a question to ask yourself about the plausibility of the ‘young Earth’ position, and you don’t have to be a scientist to ponder it.
Finding oil is a very high-stakes issue for oil companies. Trillions of dollars are riding on it. When they look for the most likely spots to drill, do they use Flood geology, or mainstream? Which one actually delivers the goods?
If the Earth is only 6,000 years old, where did the oil come from? If created in the ground, is there a way to predict where it might be found? Or perhaps it did form from plankton, but 10,000 times faster than any chemist thinks it could in those conditions? A young Earth and a Flood would imply some interesting questions to ask, some extremely valuable research programs to start. How come nobody’s actually pursuing such research programs?
Why don’t creationists put together an investment fund, venture capital for things like oil and mineral rights? If “Flood geology” is really a better theory, then it should make better predictions than standard geology does. The profits from such a venture could pay for a lot of evangelism. Why is no one doing this?



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Travis Greene

posted July 9, 2010 at 10:57 am


RJS @ 96, “I think that the root here is deeper than inerrancy arguments”
I’m going to have to disagree. I think it really is about a specific way of reading the Bible. The most common objection is “What’s next, the Resurrection?”. Even with objections about Romans, the main gist seems to be that if Paul thought Adam was historical, and he was wrong, then Paul is now untrustworthy.



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MikeB

posted July 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm


Ray@97
“MikeB – Here’s a question to ask yourself about the plausibility of the ‘young Earth’ position, and you don’t have to be a scientist to ponder it.”
fair enough… and taking that challenge here are the results…
“where did the oil come from?”
Seems there are actually competing theories… abiogenic origins for petroleum… which people are actually investing in… http://www.enviroliteracy.org/article.php/1130.html
Even if we go with biogenic petroleum, what makes OE geology more likely than YE geology to help find oil.
a related question?
if coal takes millions of years to form how come it has C-14 making it less than 70/50K years old?



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Chad Moore

posted July 9, 2010 at 3:24 pm


I think that this whole development is very troubling. It appears that any sort of range of diversity in conservative Christianity is being challenged more and more by some of the key figures of resurgent evangelicalism. Mohler, who I often read and appreciate, so raises the stakes of this issue that it pushes any who disagree into the corner. He seems little different from AiG, to say that to get this one thing wrong, that is YEC, is to lose the whole message of Scripture, and the Gospel itself. This should not be an issue we battle over, but something we can hear one another out on, that is, a conversation. Is there no room for mystery in understanding some parts of Scripture? Doesn’t being this wooden, stiffly literal, force us into some really difficult corners, not with science, but with the text itself? And furthermore, why on many such points of controversy (YEC/OEC, egalitarianism/complementarianism, etc.) do some always accuse the other side of almost forsaking the Gospel itself?



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Ray Ingles

posted July 14, 2010 at 10:45 am


MikeB – Is anyone making money on these ‘alternative theories’ yet? There’s a reason petroleum geologists have a dearth of YECs.



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Edward T. Babinski

posted July 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm


@SSC
Hi SSC!
I once sent a large packet of geological data regarding the Green River formation (millions of varves) to a YEC in Australia who read them and left behind the YEC view of Australia’s Answers in Genesis group, even after a letter from Dr. Sarfati denouncing me at as apostate.
I’m an exYEC with articles that question YECism online, just google
babinski flood geology
I also recently contributed a chapter titled, “The Cosmology of the Bible” to a new book, The Christian Delusion. You can probably read that chapter online at amazon.com via their “Look Inside” feature. The endnotes in myi chapter delve into typical YEC misinterpretations of biblical texts that they claim presage modern astronomy. I show that there are no hidden nuggets of modern astronomical wisdom in the Bible. The Bible’s flat earth assumptions are plain to see from Genesis to Revelation.



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Bryce

posted August 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm


Al Mohler is right to advocate for increased fidelity to the integrity of the Scriptures. He is plugging hard for the right goal.
He is wrong to frame fidelity to the Bible in terms that equate such desired and necessary fidelity with Young Earth Creationism (YEC).
Peter Enns helps us see that more, not less, fidelity to the Bible can be achieved precisely by not importing our modern day concerns with the age of the earth (whether old or young) into the text. Understanding the way the symbols and stories functioned in the concrete historical setting of Israel in the context of Babylonian creation myths, and later, after the Babylonian exile allows us to respect the Bible more, not less.
It is more faithful to use your imagination when imagination is called for rather than search for literal referents in a text. And it is more faithful to see the reality of referents when that is called for.
We need to back up from the heat of this controversy and reexamine our initial assumptions about the nature and function of the Biblical genre and how we tend to import our concerns.
A little reflection on the phenomenon of Confirmation Bias would do us some good.



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Bart Breen

posted November 18, 2010 at 11:35 am


This is nothing new from Albert Mohler and indeed, this was the guantlet he threw down decades ago when he and others rose up within the Southern Baptist convention and educational institutes to make their hermeneutic a litmus test by which they destroyed many men and women, their careers and families. It’s also a good part of the reason for the exodus of many individuals and congregations from the SB convention since that time who agree with them essentially on all cardinal elements of the faith, but differ with them on this one point and in doing so, take a position that has historically been within the church since the early church fathers (old Earth Creationism.)
When one’s interpretation or hermeneutic is elevated to on par with scripture itself, and the two are confused and intertwined to this extent, these types of things can happen.
It could happen as well I suppose from the other direction although I’m not aware of any contemporary examples of OEC proponents using their position as a litmus test upon which to base these types of exclusionary tactics. Every instance I’ve seen cited that I’ve looked at hasn’t been a case of OEC but rather secular science in the midst of the other battle that YEC interpretation foments, namely that with science and evolution. That is a different battle field, and yet, all too often YEC proponents, such as Mohler and I think it’s fair to include with Mohler, Ken Ham, make no distinction between the two.
While I think there is no question that science and creation itself argues for an old earth, and if natural theology is assumed by definition to be in alignment with revealed truth, assuming God is both the creator and the revealor of truth, there should be alignment between the two.
Indeed I think there is. The Genesis account read in the context of the time and culture allows for the understanding of the word “yom” to take on the meaning of extended periods of time which is a legitimate understanding.
It’s not enough for some YEC proponents to allow for their to be principled disagreement. No, they must elevate their hermeneutic above the text and in so doing disenfranchise brothers and sisters in Christ who confess Christ and have the same soteriology they do.
I’ve long since come to accept sadly, that pharisaism and legalism is alive and well today and it is part and parcel of the crusade that Mohler and Ham and those like them exercise when you combine their positions with the power to harm others. There is little hesitation to do so, and sadly the world and many elements of the church look on and believe God and Christ are as they portray in the mistaken assumption that they know what their speaking about.
Sorry if that seems harsh. Mohler’s actions have deeply wounded many whom I love and respect.



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