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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Jordan - #5201

February 23rd 2010

Right, Daniel. We can misinterpret Scripture. Luther and numerous other Christians made that mistake in the past by presuming that a literal reading of the Bible superseded the scientific evidence in favour of a heliocentric universe. In defense of his position, Luther simply cited proof-texts as you yourself have done here. We now recognize that this is not a convincing form of argument. Luther should have realized that we can use information from God’s creation to inform our interpretation of the Bible and to recognize that God does indeed accommodate His message to the finite and earth-bound perspective of man. The evolutionary creationists you are arguing against here are simply being consistent in advocating the same approach to the Genesis creation account(s). And we feel that the proof-texts you’ve provided so far as a counter to the accommodationist hermeneutic are about as convincing as those provided by Luther.


Gregory Arago - #5202

February 23rd 2010

Don,t be saddened or insulting, Daniel. Open your ears and hear something new!!

Have you read the link yet or not? Why not listen to an Orthodox perspective?

I have not *invited Darwin in.* This is a desperate suggestion that I reject. Consider a civilized point of view for your improvement in terms of balancing religion with science and philosophy.


Gary Aish - #5206

February 23rd 2010

I’ve been reading through this discussion and I thought I’d add my 2 cents.

Daniel - #4895 said: “However, we are constrained by the way that Jesus and the Apostles understood these accounts.”

This is an important point that hasn’t really been addressed and I think the theological debate hinges on this kind of point more than anything else.

In my mind there is no properly _biblical_ justification for such a statement. It is a theological implication based on an understanding of what “god breathed” can (must!) mean and how the authority of scripture can (must!) operate.

cont…


Gary Aish - #5207

February 23rd 2010

...cont

Jesus and the Apostles were truly human and thus people of their time. They would most likely have held all manner of (in our minds) factually incorrect ideas about the way the world works and what had happened in history. However, their understanding was sufficient for getting by in the world of the time and didn’t detract from their relationship with God. I don’t know of any properly biblical reasons why we should hold their understanding of the world up to our scientific standards.

- 2 Tim 3:16 says scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” It doesn’t say scripture is technically correct in every place and so suitable for teaching history and science.
- 2 Tim 3:15 says “...the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” This is the point of scripture.


Gary


Daniel Mann - #5208

February 23rd 2010

John,

What you point out doesn’t represent a contradiction any more than Job railing against God. Rather, it’s God purpose to allow our humanity to be manifest in Scripture.

Regarding textual variants, where the texts are unequivocal, we too must be such. Where the texts are equivocal in their interpretative, we too must be somewhat tentative.

Gregory,

I’m deeply sorry if I’ve been insulting. Please understand me from the perspective of Paul’s words:

Acts 20:32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. “

A relationship with God is undeniably Scripture-centered.


Daniel Mann - #5210

February 23rd 2010

John,

You wrote, “Yet I’m still missing the verses about ‘doesn’t involve or contain any human error.’”

All of the verse that I’ve already cited imply that Scripture, at least in its original writing, was free from error. When Paul writes that Scripture is entirely “God-breathed…that the man of God may be complete to do every good work,” he is asserting that it can’t be in error. God doesn’t make errors. Also, if there are errors, then, rather than being “complete,” we would be misled in some regards.

Likewise, Peter wrote: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21). If it’s all the Word of God, then it can’t have error.

Do you have a standard of truth by which you can correct Scripture or improve upon it? Sadly, it seems the BioLogos’ costly solution is to compromise Scripture so that it can agree with Darwin.


Gregory Arago - #5213

February 23rd 2010

Daniel, the link I gave for you to an Orthodox Christian view. Do you refuse to read it or not?

What I interpret is stubborn, evangelical, Bible-centric, anti-science in your current position.

(Yes, those are strong words, but not meant offensively!)

I understand Paul from his own words (translated into languages I understand), which I read & have read, & from the scholarly commentary made by professional theologians. I don,t think highly of the average American lay Christian interpretation. It often lacks the Tradition & the Ecclesia, which means it is more shallow.

To YOU, Daniel, a relationship with God may be Scripture-centred. Yet to the MAJORITY of Christians in the world, a relationship with God involves the Sacred Tradition, Ecclesia, oh yes, & also Scripture. Do you wish to argue this fact?

This is why, JHM, I said Daniel was using Scripture as a battering ram. It continues…


Gregory Arago - #5217

February 23rd 2010

A relationship with God is God-centred, Christians say Trinity-centred, not Scripture-centred!

Scripture-centrism is undoubtedly a crucial issue in the mission that BioLogos has taken upon itself. There are many Scripture-centrists in the USA. How to correct this quite obvious imbalance?


Daniel Mann - #5221

February 23rd 2010

Gregory,

If you choose to place tradition and ecclesial stuff above Scripture, that’s your business. But just know that this is no longer the religion of Jesus, who corrected the religious leadership of His day regarding this very subject:

•  Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” (Matthew 15:3-9)


John VanZwieten - #5225

February 23rd 2010

Gary,

That is what I finally came to realize as well.  I had been taught that “God-breathed” meant without any errors whatsoever in the original autographs, and the scripture clearly says “God-breathed,” therefor being true to scripture meant maintaining “without any errors.”  Of course I wanted to be true to scripture, which I could tell from a young age were true in the most important sense.

As you note, that proposition is added by (some Western, I presume) theologians, but is not a necessary conclusion from scripture.


John VanZwieten - #5226

February 23rd 2010

Daniel,

If any errors in our Bibles are enough to make us “incomplete,” and you and I both acknowlege errors in the documents we posess today, then it logically follows that we are “incomplete” and misled in some regard.

But if instead of the “inerrancy” doctrine (no human error in the text), we hold to an “infallability” doctrine (no error in God’s message to us when properly understood) then we can allow human errors whether they come in authoring, transcription, or translation without charging God with error (or at the least incompetence in ensuring exact transmission of His inerrant words to us.)

As to my “standard of truth” for interpreting and understanding scripture, I would say that as a result of my seminary training in biblical languages and exegesis, I come to the text with great humility.  While the main message is plain enough for a 4-year-old to understand, I look to the Spirit, often working through the body of Christ (present and past), to “guide me into all truth” as is promised in scripture.


Gregory Arago - #5227

February 23rd 2010

Daniel,

“If you choose to place tradition and ecclesial stuff above Scripture, that’s your business.” - D.M.

No, I choose to keep an open heart with open eyes and ears.

You can close yours and claim to be 16th century “scriptural”  if you choose, to your loss.

For the fifth time, have you read the link to a recent Orthodox view of evolution and creationism, or not?

A mere 15 minutes of your time to read it, but perhaps a world of difference to your perspective.

Gregory


Daniel Mann - #5239

February 24th 2010

John,

I can appreciate the various concerns that you’re trying to juggle. I too have learned the painful lesson of humility, on many occasions, and respect your admonition.

I would just add that we must be at least equally humble regarding the “assured findings of science.”


Daniel Mann - #5240

February 24th 2010

Gregory,

I don’t know why you continue to charge me with “close-mindedness” regarding the stance I take? Can you be so sure that I haven’t weighed a myriad of other stances? Can’t I also level that charge against you?

No, I haven’t yet looked at your link. Often, we are so entangled in these dialogues and our other responsibilities that we have little time left over for the more tangential.


Gregory Arago - #5253

February 24th 2010

Please forgive the tone of the previous message, Daniel. There is no compulsion for reading the link.

Why do I assume your ‘close-mindedness’? Because you claim Scripture-centrism. / I can’t be sure, but if other stances are better your language will reflect them. / I’m on the cutting-edge wrt ‘evolution’, Daniel, so level the charges you’d like.

You portray Darwin as simply a villain to religious faith, whereas many people do not accept this narrow portrayal of him.

What would it take for you to forgive Darwin & come to terms with the fact that many Christians are not Scripture-centric & that evolutionary theories can, when limited, be compatible with a robust Christian faith?

In 5086 you said: “I don’t reject the evidence for evolution”

Which evidence(s) for evolution do you accept?


Victor Bruhn - #5254

February 24th 2010

I’d like to weigh in here.  For most of my life, I’ve subscribed to the view that I THINK Daniel is advocating: Scripture can be taken word for word in the literal sense just about everywhere; “inerrant” means that everything was recorded from a point of view that directly relates to everyone from any generation.

I now believe that this has been a mistake on my part, and that there are things that I’ve been believing that are insertions into Scripture.  None of these insertions are related to the central message of Christ being the Messiah that died for the propitiation of our sin…as far as I’ve discovered, most relate to non-essentials that I don’t believe God intended to be teaching us with Scripture.


Victor Bruhn - #5255

February 24th 2010

(continued from previous)

I have not completely figured it all out yet…I probably won’t for as long as I live.  However I now have a better understanding that God spoke in language that the recipients of Scripture could understand.  The biggest example in my own case is that a creation account that our 20th-21st century CSI mindset would consider “accurate” would have been meaningless to the Israelites of the Exodus.

But I think I step away from the outlook, or at least the semantics, of some involved in this thread, when I say that I don’t consider these to be “errors” in Scripture.  An “error” would concern mistakes regarding things that are the actual intent of Scripture, and the only errors I’m discovering are those that *I* have been making about that intent.  I have recently concluded that God never intended to teach us science with Scripture.  We can figure out much of that on our own.  He’s more concerned with the important stuff.


Daniel Mann - #5279

February 24th 2010

Victor,

Please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The view that Scripture is without error in its original doesn’t imply that we should take it in a literal and wooden manner, but instead, how it was intended. Some is figurative and some literal and historical. I think we’d all agree that we have to allow the context and the genre of the literature determine interpretation.

Regarding the textual variants that we find among our 5,700 + ancient Greek manuscripts: where the texts are uncertain, we have to also be somewhat tentative; where they are certain, then we can also adopt a stance of certainty.

I think that the textual and interpretive problems have been vastly overrated.


Daniel Mann - #5280

February 24th 2010

Gregory,

Your apology means a lot to me! And thanks for attempting to answer my question. You responded, “Why do I assume your ‘close-mindedness’? Because you claim Scripture-centrism.”

We all hold certain truth(s) as foundational or determinative of the other things that we believe. I’m sure that you have a lens or set of criteria by which you evaluate everything. In a sense, we are all biased. My bias is in favor of Scripture. However, I will assert that there are many concrete reasons upon which I base my stance.

“What would it take for you to … come to terms with the fact that many Christians are not Scripture-centric & that evolutionary theories can, when limited, be compatible with a robust Christian faith?”

I don’t think that we can be faithful to Christ and His Word and Darwin at the same time. It inevitably will come at the expense of “a robust Christian faith,” as Jesus suggests: Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

“The Facts of Evolution”: If something is a fact, I accept it as you do, but I’ll place them within a different theoretical framework.


Gregory Arago - #5286

February 24th 2010

“I don’t think that we can be faithful to Christ and His Word and Darwin at the same time.” - Daniel Mann

I guess your conclusion is foregone then.

“If something is a fact, I accept it as you do, but I’ll place them within a different theoretical framework.” - D.M.

That’s one of the simplest defences against discovery of new (scientific) truths that I’ve yet read!

In other words, it doesn’t matter *what* the evidence shows, you’re not going to accept it because you’ve got a ‘theory’ to protect you from any challenge.

Not much worth discussing, then, is there?


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