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Ken Ham’s “State of the Nation” Address

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February 18, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by the BioLogos Editorial Team. You can read more about what we believe here.

Ken Ham’s “State of the Nation” Address

On Wednesday evening, Ken Ham, President of Answers in Genesis, and the head of the Creation Museum in Petersburg Kentucky, gave his annual "State of the Nation" address. Since Mr. Ham singles out BioLogos in his speech and expresses grave concerns about what we are trying to do, we have been asked by some of our readers to comment. We encourage all to watch his talk. Mr. Ham graphically illustrates our gravest fears. He is misleading his audience in ways that will continue to do much harm. So what is the BioLogos response? Please consider reading (or rereading) three of our recent blogs. Karl Giberson has written poignantly about his visit to the Creation Museum last Fall. At about the same time, I wrote about my attendance at a seminar put on by the Institute for Creation Research. Finally, I want to point to our more recent essay: “Why BioLogos?”

Mr. Ham states that two-thirds of churched young people abandon the faith of their youth as they enter into adulthood. The answer, in contrast to what he suggests, is not better training in young earth creationism. Heaven forbid! This is the very thing that is causing many to abandon their walk with the Lord. BioLogos exists primarily to help those same young people realize that their Christian faith need not be tied to Mr. Ham’s view of a 10,000 year old earth. God’s Word and our life in Christ is much more profound than that! If Mr. Ham and his followers want to continue to believe in a young earth, that is up to them. However, implying that one’s life in Christ depends upon holding a particular view of the earth’s age is not fair to our young people. We, all of us who share the BioLogos’ view, exist to show them that nothing could be further from the truth than this.

Submitted by Darrel Falk


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Daniel Mann - #5597

March 1st 2010

John,

I like a number of things that you wrote. I agree with you that there are other sources of cognitive authority. We are accountable to God also because of the truth that we have within (Romans 2:14-16) and also the truths that we garnish through our eyes (Romans 1:18-20). Nevertheless, Scripture is pre-eminent (Isaiah 8:20; 1 Peter 4:11; 1 Cor. 4:6-7).

I also agree that we can press our distinctive interpretive beliefs to the point that it interferes with the unity that we are supposed to maintain in Christ. I’d just like to add that there are some beliefs and teachings that we shouldn’t tolerate and that shouldn’t be included within the framework of unity. Jesus taught that there are teachings that should be avoided at all cost: “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast [teachings] of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)

Paul also taught that we could lose out by believing the philosophies and “the tradition of men” (Col. 2:8).


John VanZwieten - #5615

March 1st 2010

Wasn’t the teaching of the Pharasees that by the scriptures they “have eternal life”?  Interesting how the Pharasees would have memorized at least all of the Torah if not the entire O.T. and yet Jesus said of them “You do not have His word abiding in you” Jn 5.

I also agree there are beliefs that we shouldn’t tolerate, but I would suggest that such beliefs are just as likely to seem highly religious as to seem irreligious.


Gregory Arago - #5617

March 1st 2010

“I’ve tried to argue that “Bible-centrism” represents the religion of Jesus.” - Daniel Mann

Sorry, Daniel. Jesus’ religion was God-centrism. He understood that most people of his time were illiterate.

You live in an age where 99% of your neighbo(u)rs are literate.

“The medium is the message.”

It doesn’t sound to me like you are sorry in the least for your agressive (you wrote “uncompromising”) biblical literalism or that you even recognize it as such in comparison with most other Christians. Do you see that there are other perspectives consistent with God’s Kingdom in which to rightfully view his Scripture, Tradition and Ecclesia?

Feeling like this is a last post for me in this thread.

In agreement with John’s #5584…


Gary Aish - #5632

March 2nd 2010

Hi John,

re: inerrant

My problem with the term “inerrant” is that is gives the wrong impression. Our culture is very technically oriented, so people think “inerrant” means the bible is like a science text book that doesn’t have any mistakes. However, the bible is not a textbook, it is a literary work, and has a very different way of presenting things. The texts are very tightly bound with the culture and mindset of the people of the time of writing. This is God taking humans seriously and communicating with them in a way they understand. To me saying the bible is a “reliable record for its intended purpose” is a more appropriate for the type of content it contains. 2 Tim 3.15,16 is the best expression of this.


Gary Aish - #5633

March 2nd 2010

cont…

As an example, the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 do not match at all. If I look at the bible as being “inerrant” then these texts quickly prove that the bible has an error. Some people will still wriggle and pull out all kinds of fancy arguments to work around the discrepancy, but the fact still stands, these genealogies cannot be reconciled.

If we take “reliable record for its intended purpose” as the starting point, then we might learn that the genealogies of Matthew and Luke are presented to make theological points about Jesus. Authors in that time were quite happy to miss things out and shuffle them around to make a theological point. Following from this, the genealogies of early Genesis are the same kind of thing. They are contributing to some theological point of the author rather than presenting a comprehensive, absolutely factual family tree. Our culture looks for facts. Ancient cultures looked for truth. We have to start our interpretation from their point of view, not ours.

Gary


John VanZwieten - #5654

March 2nd 2010

Gary,

I agree with you about the impression “inerrant” gives about scripture.  I have a friend who grew up in the church being taught that if the Bible has any mistakes in it then it can’t be trusted.  As an adult he ran across a book entirely devoted to pointing out mistakes in the Bible.  Most of them were crazy nitpicks, but some were harder to defend.  In my friends mind, if _even one_ of those criticisms was true, then he could no longer trust the Bible, and he ended up falling away from his faith.

The “inerrancy” doctrine starts with God rather than the scriptures.  It says God cannot err since he is both omniscient and truthful.  As you point out, it’s better to take a closer look at what God is actually intending to communicate through scriptures, and hold that as what we believe to be inerrant.

Many apparent contradictions in scriptures do have reasonable explanations, so don’t be too quick to agree to the “see—an error!” charges.  But you are right that the Bible does not stand or fall on every detail of every account being “factual” as we want to make it.


Keith - #5844

March 5th 2010

(cntd)

I’ve heard arguments for why this doesn’t apply to 21st century Christians, and in reality the arguments may have merit.  (To be honest, I am personally on the fence on this one).  However, if the creation story is to be taken at face value, and if the Jonah and Noah stories are to be taken completely literally, then I can find no suitable argument as to why Jesus’ clear teaching shouldn’t also be taken at face value.  Further if, as some argue, injecting 21st century understanding of evolution into the Bible diminishes it, then it must also be accepted that injecting 21st century beliefs on relationships and marriage into the Bible equally diminishes it.

Why then do evangelical and protestant churches and their members almost categorically refuse to view couples in a second marriage as living in adultery?  Why do nearly all pastors in these churches gladly perform weddings for people who have been divorced (often not for reasons of marital infidelity), and bless the marriage as being good and legitimate?


Keith - #5845

March 5th 2010

(cntd)

I don’t know the answer, but I wonder if it has to do with the lack of popularity of the position.  My suspicion is that what may finally drive American evangelical and protestant churches to accept evolution will not be evidence or argument, but instead empty pews and offering plates as more and more youths leave the Church.  As an evangelical Christian all of this makes me very sad, but I fear that it may be the reality of the matter.


Keith - #5846

March 5th 2010

Weird, somehow the first part of my comment disappeared.  Sorry for the discontinuity. 

The initial part of my post expressed my confusion/frustration with the fact that so many evanglicals and protestants teach the importance of a Sola Scriptora or literal view of the Bible (especially when it comes to creationism), yet do not see any problem with the refusal to abide by many of the teachings of Jesus.  Why shouldn’t these also be taken litereally?

My example came from Matt 19:9 which reads, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery”.  This is repeated in the other gospels, and thus could not have come about by Matthew misstating the words of Jesus or some other such thing. 

This then goes into post 5844….


O. Bower - #9747

April 14th 2010

I haven’t read this entire thread (nor will), so this comment might be redundant.  Has anyone considered the term “word” in the Scriptures does NOT always denote the Bible?  Of course it sometimes references Jesus, however, even if it’s not Jesus, it’s not always the Bible either.  Sometimes it’s simply the proclaimed Gospel or YHWH’s commandments.  It would seem quite anachronistic to think OT and NT writers used biblical terms the way we normally use them.


jim lang - #10717

April 21st 2010

I would think that christians have a real problem when they interpret genesis 1-11 literally, but yet wash away inconvenient parts.  Such as divorce, remarriage, prayer veilings.  But what do you guys do with Christians that do subscribe to all of that?


Headless Unicorn Guy - #15690

May 31st 2010

Mr. Ham states that two-thirds of churched young people abandon the faith of their youth as they enter into adulthood. The answer, in contrast to what he suggests, is not better training in young earth creationism.

Ken Ham’s solution—Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles, indoctrinated from birth—reminds me of nothing so much as the response of classic Communists to a besetting problem.  Specifically, the Soviet Union’s one-size-fits-all reaction to any problem among the masses:  “Increase Political Consciousness Indoctrination”.  Until all Soviet schools and media were Politically Conscious Politicallly This, Politically That 24/7/365 while the country stayed messed up.


lanenebraska - #55618

March 25th 2011

Ken Ham is spot-on about Biologos.

I agree with Dan:

Daniel Mann - #5597

March 1st 2010

John,

I like a number of things that you wrote. I agree with you that there are other sources of cognitive authority. We are accountable to God also because of the truth that we have within (Romans 2:14-16) and also the truths that we garnish through our eyes (Romans 1:18-20). Nevertheless, Scripture is pre-eminent (Isaiah 8:20; 1 Peter 4:11; 1 Cor. 4:6-7).

I also agree that we can press our distinctive interpretive beliefs to the point that it interferes with the unity that we are supposed to maintain in Christ. I’d just like to add that there are some beliefs and teachings that we shouldn’t tolerate and that shouldn’t be included within the framework of unity. Jesus taught that there are teachings that should be avoided at all cost: “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast [teachings] of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)

Paul also taught that we could lose out by believing the philosophies and “the tradition of men” (Col. 2:8).

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