02 April 2011

The Ken Ham Controversy

Okay, I'm fired up. I'm so fired up that I'm taking an unscheduled homework break, and that does not happen very often!

The whole controversy with Ken Ham, founder and CEO of Answers in Genesis, being "kicked out" of a couple of homeschool conferences started up a week or two ago. With everything that I was facing during this same time, I simply didn't have the energy to even post about it, and I knew that it was making enough waves that others would hear about it without my two cents chiming in. But now I am seeing other professing Christians or Christian institutions shying away from Ken Ham because of this whole thing. Quite honestly, it's disheartening, it shows an incredible lack of discernment, and it's absolutely maddening.

In short (in case you've been living under a rock), Ken Ham was dismissed because, at a previous convention, he included in one of his seminars a brief warning about Peter Enns. Enns was also speaking at the same convention, and was promoting his newest curriculum as well. If you're not aware, Peter Enns is a member of Biologos, a liberal organization that spends its time and money criticizing and disproving a literal rendering of Scripture. Dr. Peter Enns does not believe in a literal Adam or a literal Fall. Ken Ham included this information in his speech (well supported with video proof) as an example of how some are compromising God's Word, especially when it comes to the Genesis account. For the record, I would like to applaud Mr. Ham for his unwillingness to compromise and for his boldness to speak out and name names as a warning to parents. His is an example of exactly what it means to "contend for the faith."The organizers of this conference, Great Homeschool Conventions, apparently do not hold the defense of God's Word in quite the same regard. They felt that Ham was out of line to criticize another speaker, and thus they uninvited Ham from any future conferences.

If you want to read firsthand why Ken Ham was uninvited from this homeschool convention, visit the Answers in Genesis blog. Here is quoted, in its entirety, the actual email that was sent to Ham informing him of his dismissal. And in case you're wondering, it is not the same information that is being shared with the public by Great Homeschool Conventions. You can read their public statement here.

And now it seems that others are rallying against Ken Ham, afraid to support him or engage him because of this controversy. Yet, for a Christian group or a Christian institution, needing, for example, a speaker for an event, there could be few better choices than Ken Ham! Though I don't doubt that he is far from perfect (just like the rest of us!) here is a man who has devoted his life to teaching and defending the truth of God's Word from Genesis 1 forward, and who has clearly chosen time and again the Gospel of Jesus Christ over and above earthly prestige and popularity. Sides have to be chosen here, and beware, because your choices are as follows: God's Word or the world.

So, as Christians watch this saga unfold and as many of them jump to the side of those who long to live in unoffensive (and blissfully ignorant) peace, let the rest of us continue to stand up for the Gospel, and let us also stand firmly behind men like Ken Ham who are staunch in their defense of God's Word regardless of the consequences.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10) 
SEE ALSO:
Ken Ham's Recent Interview on Crosstalk Radio
Ken Ham on Wretched Radio

13 comments:

  1. Perhaps you should have also linked to this page:

    http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2011/03/15/another-compromiser-speaking-at-homeschool-conventions/

    Ken Ham refers to Peter Enns as a "compromiser" and says his teaching "is outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God. It is an attack on the Word—on Christ."

    I was personally shocked by the harshness of the language from Ham.

    Whether you, Ken Ham, or anyone else for that matter, likes it or not, it is a fact that there are differing views on Creation in the church. That includes in the evangelical wing of the church (and Peter Enns is a card-carrying evangelical).

    To describe those who don't share your particular convictions as a "liberal", "compromiser", or "an attack on Christ" reduces what should be serious theological debate amongst brothers in Jesus to the level of personal insults. He attacks the messenger, not the message, suggesting that his argument is defective.

    So I can understand why GHC has banned him. If someone cannot disagree with another Christian in a gracious and civil manner, then I certainly wouldn't want to give them a platform. It reflects very badly on Ham and does not set a good example for anyone to follow.

    I hope you will have the grace to publish this comment, and in case you are wondering I have no connection to any party involved in this incident.

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  2. Hi Anthony,

    Thank you for your comment. I always find it interesting that, when someone chooses to comment and disagree with a post, they often assume that I will not publish the comment and feel an extra comment is needed in that regard, perhaps to "guilt" me into publishing their thoughts! Rest assured, I welcome discussion here and have no problem publishing your comment. Let me also stress here that I have no personal involvement in the situation. Unless, of course, you consider the fact that the Word of God is under attack and then, as far as I'm concerned, it is personal.

    I did not feel it necessary to link to the page you have mentioned simply because it is linked in the AIG blog post to which I did link.

    There are differing views on creation in the Church and I would argue that one's view of Genesis 1 will greatly impact one's view of the rest of Scripture. That is why it is an important concern.

    Ken Ham, and I also, hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible. A grammatical-historical approach to Scripture is the only one which is glorifying to God and His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is inspired by God. To deny this inspiration is to denigrate the authority of Scripture.

    History shows us that it is the liberal schools of theology which have fostered a non-literal interpretation of Scripture. Consequently, I cannot see Ham's or my use of the label of "liberal" as harsh language, it is simply the truth. It is also this theology that has compromised with the theory of evolution and has struggled to smash the Bible into this school of thought. Therefore, to use the term "compromiser" is also simply the truth.

    Sometimes the truth sounds "harsh" to those who are unreceptive to it. This does not mean it is necessarily beneficial to sugar-coat it in order to make it more palatable. In my view, Ken Ham's strong words indicate his concern over the teachings of Peter Enns, and stress the danger of those teachings. It was, in my opinion, gracious for him to share his concerns with others who may be impacted.

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  3. Thanks for publishing my comment. I'm pleased you welcome discussion - I have had a few cases recently where bloggers have refused to publish my comments when I've pointed out weaknesses in their views.

    You offer no reasoning for your claim that a "A grammatical-historical approach to Scripture is the only one which is glorifying to God and His Word". And what if the grammatical-historical approach suggests a non-literal interpretation?

    The problem is that you are forcing the Bible into becoming something that it doesn't claim to be. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is inspired by God. It doesn't say how exactly how that inspiration works, nor does it say that all scripture must be interpreted literally. And, rather interestingly, the list of uses Paul includes do not suggest the Bible is a historic or scientific textbook.

    To take the view that there are some parts of the Bible that must be taken non-literally is categorically NOT denying the inspiration and authority of scripture, but you suggest that it is.

    This is characteristic of the way people like Ken Ham and yourself misrepresent those who differ with you. You twist words to associate us with views that we do not hold.

    "The Lord is my shepherd..." is inpsired, but not to be taken literally (unless David had 4 legs and a fleece), and neither is (for example) Genesis 2:7. I believe the word "formed" implies a potter shaping clay (but God doesn't have hands), and neither can God literally breathe.

    If you accept the above, then you are accepting a non-literal interpretation of scripture, despite your claims to the contrary!

    You write "It is also this theology that has compromised with the theory of evolution and has struggled to smash the Bible into this school of thought". But what if the theory of evolution is true?? What would that mean?

    Ultimately, there's no big issue.

    The Bible is 100% inspired and 100% compatible with science. If science suggests that a passage is not true, then the problem is with our understanding of that passage. That's all.

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  4. Hi Anthony,
    Thank you for your comment. Ultimately, while we could keep this going back and forth it's likely going to result in the same outcome: you and I seem to disagree!

    I too believe that the Bible and science are 100% compatible, but I'm sure our opinions differ of what is true in science and what is still thin theory. I just don't happen to believe that evolution is scientific fact. When the theory of evolution stops changing with every new foot bone they claim to discover, I simply cannot place my faith into it. Besides, God's Word tells me that God created the earth in 6 days, so I believe that. For me, it simply requires too much stretching to say that "days" really means billions and billions of years.

    I say that a grammatical-historical approach to Scripture is glorifying to God because it is the approach that seeks to determine what the author intended to say, not what I think the verse means to me. If I write something, it is most respectful for the reader to read and understand it as I intend for it to be understood. But if I write, "The sky is blue," and you say that you think that means, "My cat is wearing a green sweater," well, then there's a problem!

    True, some Scripture is written in anthropomorphic terms, or with metaphor or simile. This is where we must also take into account the literary form that was used. Genesis is a historical book. Psalms is poetry. There are different rules of interpretation for those--to an extent, and that is where we recognize things like the use of anthropomorphisms or metaphor. Perhaps a book like "Scripture as Communication" by Jeannine Brown would help to better explain this method of hermeneutics, because I know that I am failing to effectively explain it in this tiny comment box!

    I believe that the Bible claims to be the infallible, immutable Word of God, and God wrote a book that can be understood by all men because it was written clearly and plainly. If our interpretation of it is constantly changing, then how terrible for all of us who have placed our faith and trust in His Word as meaning exactly what it says.

    Ultimately, this is a big issue. If one's interpretation of Scripture is constantly changing, than one's view of the God of the universe must also be constantly undergoing change and that is a dangerous thing. God does not change and His Word does not change. Perhaps that is simplistic to you, but this is where my faith lies...in a God who always has been and always will be exactly who His Word explains Him to be. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb. 13:8).

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  5. I’m afraid your knowledge of church history is very lacking. Interpretations of scripture have never been uniform and have always been changing. If you were to tell me a bit about your personal convictions and church background, I could probably come up with plenty of examples.

    But let me mention one topic, which is very relevant to creationism. It's called geocentrism.

    Geocentrism is the belief that the earth is at the centre of the universe, and that the earth is still, and the sun, planets and stars all move round the earth.

    Until about 500 years ago, geocentrism was the majority view for two reasons. Firstly, the astronomers said it was the case, and secondly theologians said it was the case.

    Theologians took this view because there are a few verses in the Bible that imply geocentrism. There's also the overall principle that humans are the most important things in the creation, so they concluded that the place where we live, the earth, must be at the centre of the universe.

    However, as science developed, famous astronomers like Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler all questioned the geocentric model of the universe as being inconsistent with their observations of the stars. Later, Isaac Newton’s work on gravity provided a theoretical method of rejecting geocentrism.

    The church fought violently in favour of geocentrism but eventually backed down.

    Now, of course, the accepted view (including amongst creationists like Ken Ham) that the sun is at the centre of the solar systems, the earth and planets move round it, there are zillions of other suns, everything is moving, and who knows where the centre of the universe itself is.

    So (1) biblical interpretation has changed and (2) when it comes to geocentricism, you accept that the science is right and the bible must be interpreted in a way that is compatible with the science.

    That strikes me as a massive inconsistency compared to your approach to the six-day creation and the age of the earth, where creationists insist on a biblical interpretation that is completely incompatible with the science, which they claim is wrong.

    The inspired Biblical authors believed in geocentrism. They included it in their inspired and authoritative writings. What does that say for how we interpret the Bible?

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  6. As I said, we clearly are going to disagree. It may be true that I am not yet as well read or educated as you. I suppose I can repeat my bottom line one final time, though. I believe that the Bible means what it says. End of story. As there have been new scientific discoveries or archaeological finds, they have been consistent with Scripture...and I wonder why? Could it be that God wrote His book accurately?

    I don't profess to be a master of Church history, or a theologian, or least of all an expert of science. I am *simply* a Christian who loves the Lord and who takes Him at His Word as it is given to us in the Bible. That is enough for me. I don't need theories and hypotheses to explain the universe to me. God says He made it and that works for me. As I said before, perhaps that seems quite simplistic but as far as I am concerned there is no thing greater than standing upon the Word of God as being true.

    Perhaps your conversation would be better wrought with someone who is of a more skeptical mind than me. As you said in your first comment, there should be a place for gracious disagreement among Christians, and I believe that is the place that we have reached!

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  7. One other point, sorry.

    You say "God wrote a book that can be understood by all men because it was written clearly and plainly"

    There has never been universal agreement on what the detail of what the Bible says, including amongst protestant evangelicals.

    As an example, how many different echatological models are there?

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  8. The inspired writers of the Bible DID NOT believe in geocentrism any more than you do when you say the sun rises and sets. You want to read a belief into what they said so as to discredit the proper interpretation of Scripture.

    As for what some Christians believed in the past about geocentrism, that does not alter the truth of what Scripture teaches. And, by the way, there is some very good science which says the earth may very well be the center of the universe, which would make sense biblically, since the earth is the center of God's creation and salvation plan.

    Scripture is very plain that the earth was created in six literal 24 hr days. Otherwise the commandment about the sabbath wouldn't make any sense (you make work 6 indeterminate lengths of time ...). How old was Adam on day 7 when he was created on day 6? Etc

    Paul was harsh with language directed at false teachers when he said they should be eternally condemned. Jesus certainly was harsh with the Pharisees. Ken Ham was 100% in the right, and it is Christians who are speaking against him who are also compromisers.

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  9. Anthony,
    In my opinion, eschatology is a secondary issue (with a few exceptions that are blatantly false). However, I also believe that a plain, literal interpretation of Scripture makes eschatology quite simple to understand. While we can only speculate about fulfillment of prophecies yet to come, there is no speculation about the prophecies themselves.

    Glenn,
    Thanks for your input. I agree with you 100%. I wonder how many of those who are upset with Ken Ham would have been appalled at Jesus' words with the Pharisees when He called them 'hypocrites' and 'whitewashed tombs.'

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  10. @Anthony:

    First, I'm not gonna deal too much with the Biblical interpretaion issues (because others have handled it), save to say that the fact that Genesis, Luke and Matthew, includes genealogies that go back to Adam tends to indicate that they believed there was a historical link between the times. I know there have been arguments against it, but truth be told, they've always reeked of desperation rather than rationality.

    Moving on to what I see as your main point of contention (and please let me know if I'm wrong):

    The problem with saying that the Bible is "incompatible with science" is that it's simply a false statement. The correct statement is that the Bible is incompatible with the interpretation of science as given by God-haters (who despite many protests by well intentioned Christians, really are the lead thinkers of any old-earth Christian group, as it is the atheists who define the mechanisms of evolution, and the timeline, and everything else save the work to make it compatible with scripture).

    Personally, I expect atheists to given interpretations of data that is contrary to the Word of God. However, they do occasionally get it right, as the Greeks did when they first thought up heliocentrism 2500 years ago. But given that the number of times that the scientists have "gotten in right this time" is so great that any person putting faith in them over the scriptures is simply setting themselves up to have egg on his/her face.

    Speaking as a scientist in training (primarily in computer science, I fully admit, but I've had some training in the three core sciences: biology, chemistry, and physics) macro-evolution is the most ludicrous idea to have even cursed western society (and I'm quoting a teacher on that), let alone it's compatibility with scripture.

    Coming from a computer science perspective, evolution is a joke because it's simply impossible to do a real simulation of it (and having coded the types of "simulators" biologists use, I do feel I can say this, as their simulators assume the outcome, which defeats the purpose of the simulation). As such, I see little reason to accept theistic evolution as a means of creation, save to call death a natural and good thing, which is contradictory to scripture.

    As to the Peter Enns issue:

    I recall at one point Dr. Enns being charged with denying Original Sin. However, as I can't currently find where that charge was made, I will only say that if the charges are true (and that's a big if), then Peter Enns has no place in any self-professed Christian organization. Original Sin is universally affirmed by Christians as a key doctrine, and dissent from that is regarded as heresy.

    Sorry for the length of this, but I do feel strongly about this issue (evolution vs creation).

    May God bless.

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  11. Malachi1990,

    Thank you so much for your comment and your contribution to this conversation. I truly appreciated your input and wholeheartedly agree with what you said. You helped clarify much of what I was trying to (and failing) to say and added much more besides! Thank you again!

    Blessings.

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  12. Interesting all of the comments here and all over the Internet about this. Most of the discussion revolves around the sentiment that "there are disagreements in the Church" on Creation.

    Well, that's man's shortcoming, because there's no disagreement or differing of opinion in the Bible on Creation.

    God hasn't given a Scripture that means different things to different people. If man was the determiner of what Scripture was to mean, that effectively makes man into God, and God no longer has authority as the giver of Truth, but rather man is the arbiter of what is true or not.

    Scripture interprets Scripture, and there is no gray area in regards to the ultimate issue at hand, which is this: if you begin to discard what the Bible says at Genesis Chapter 1, then what does it say for the rest of the Bible? If you discard any of it, you don't believe the Bible. You are no different than Mormons, Christ-rejecting Jews, Muslims, Bhuddists, Catholics, etc. They ALL believe a certain portion of Scripture, but each has their own select alterations, deletions, and additions.

    How should we act? Look at the examples of the prophets, of Christ, the apostles. They tolerated no compromise, and openly exposed doctrine which did. What was the result? Most of them were martyred...and by the so-called spiritual crowd, in many cases.

    This controversy is no surprise. The Holy Spirit does not war with the Holy Spirit, and while salvation is determined only by God, He has given very clear Scriptural basis for identifying the evidence of salvation.

    Everyone can meditate within themselves on what evidence of salvation exists in a set of beliefs which selectively rejects portions of God's Word.

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  13. Anonymous,

    Thank you for your comment! Since I agree with you wholeheartedly, I have nothing to add except...AMEN!

    ReplyDelete

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