Wednesday, February 05, 2014

My heart hurts and my head aches!

There was an interesting "debate" last night that I have been following with some interest in the weeks leading up to it.  My main reason for being interested was because I, for about the last fifteen years, have lived life with one foot on both sides of this debate.  I absolutely, 100%, believe that God created our world!  But I am not compelled by the simplistic arguments that a small but loud group of Christians give as the only possible answer of how God pulled it off.

There is a variety of deep and beautiful answers under the Christian umbrella to this question that add old earth creation, theistic evolution, and other explanations to the pool along with young earth creation.  To listen to Ham, you would think that only the final option is open to any serious Bible-believing Christian. The fact is many Christian scholars and some of the greatest minds throughout history chose differently. They chose what they believed to be better and more biblical ways to answer this question for themselves.

I was approached by "Answers In Genesis" a couple years ago about doing some things together.  I did a bit of exploring, and was interested to learn of a conservative seminary who'd been approached by AIG for the purpose of making a statement of endorsement. Virtually all the staff threatened to resign should the seminary align itself in this way.

As I began to interact more with AIG about doing an event where we heard from a panel of Christian experts on all Christian perspectives of creation, their representative refused as they wanted to be the sole voice, able to control all the information that was shared.  Most troubling of all is their rhetoric that if we don't give our kids their answers, they have a 97% chance of spontaneous combustion, sending them immediately to hell. (OK. That may be a stretch, but this is my blog and if you have interacted with one of them, you've no doubt noticed that they do see it as being that dire).

Except for the remarkably partisan, almost everyone I have spoken to or read today was disappointed with the debate from both sides.  Both sides could have done better.  Both sides could have been clearer.  Both sides could have been more logical and more loving.  But the one thing that struck me the most has been reading comments from my friends who have been on the fringes of or just outside the Christian camp.  Sure, they were not happy when Nye chose a more condescending posture. But the thing that bothered them the most, even more than the lack of logic in some of Ham's arguments, was his dogmatic position that his way of seeing this is the only right Christian way.  His insistence that there are answers where there may not be is, in fact, keeping people from faith, not opening doors to it.

Most students of the Bible will say that the first twelve chapters of Genesis raise way more questions than they answer.  And while we would prefer the answers to be there, a great hermeneutic that I follow is when the Bible doesn't give us the answer, God must not have believed it was important for us to know.  The Hebrew is too ambiguous.  The writing is too poetic.  And when we try to make any verse or term give us the same information as a science text, I fear that we are headed for a repeat of a dark time in our history, when people were killed for 'disagreeing with the Bible' by claiming the earth is round, something we now know is true and have allowed to change how we once interpreted the scriptures.

I am not trying to disparage anyone or any view.  My only point is that dogmatic answers and utter control is not ultimately helpful to anyone, nor does it promote faith.  Often in spite of us, Jesus has taken care of himself for quite some time, and I believe He can continue to do so without our protection.

So again, I believe that God created everything!  Of course He is behind it all!  I am a creationist, a pastor, a believer that the Bible is completely true, and a serious student of the scriptures.  What I am not is arrogant enough to pretend that my interpretation of the Bible is always perfectly God's interpretation as well.  There are various views held by people who love God equally and are just as serious about the scriptures, and in my opinion, the beauty of that variety is better than any single perspective.  The more we force people to take sides on the non-essentials, the more we constrict access to and interest in the essential gospel!  


David Drury said...

Well said, brother: "The more we force people to take sides on the non-essentials, the more we constrict access to and interest in the essential gospel!"

It's the "paper, pen, blood" thing for me.

The way God enacted creation is a pen issue for my tribe, or maybe even pencil really (very editable and non-doctrinal).

Love having a Wesleyan hermeneutic of scripture, rather than a Fundamentalist one, which allows for such things.

The real problem today is not that too many believe evolution is a good theory. The real problem is that not enough believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

now that's a blood issue... I'd die for that.

Dane said...

Well said. I myself believe in a younger (not 6000 years) earth model, I do not make it, as David Drury puts it, a "blood thing", in fact I really do not talk about it, other than personal research and study. I am a big science lover from my child hood. For me the narrative (historical not poetic - Hebrew), as well as Moses' own references later to the 6 days of labor and the seventh day of rest, it is hard for me to draw an exegetical conclusion contrary to a literal day (Evening, Morning, a # with Day). The problem with Ken is that he takes the chronology too far where there may be gabs in it - and the intent was not be for tracking the earth’s birthday :) Ken also does not believe that God created a fully function universe. If God can create Adam, which was not a zygote then a fetus that God breathed into, then God indeed created a fully functional and mature system with Adam.

I think we do have to be careful in our hermeneutic though, because there are other forces coming at us besides evolution theories that want to take a world view and impose it onto scripture. I hope our hermeneutic is not one that blends into the colors of the rainbow, or any other backdrop it is placed up against.

The other question is an honest valid question, and that is, if Genesis 1-11 (what about 12?) is not an historical record, where is the distinction within the text that helps us have a healthy foundational hermeneutic to be good exegetes of the text? Is Adam a real person? Is Noah a symbolic representative? Was God only upset with the people in Noah’s geography? Is the whole story symbolic? What about the Tower of Babel? Why stop at chapter 11, what about chapter 12?

I’m fine with other views, but if Ken Ham’s YEC comes under scrutiny (and it should) so should everyone else’s, when it comes to how the scriptures are handled; that are “entrusted” to us.


Rob Paterson said...

Dave & Dane, great thoughts! Thanks for contributing to the conversation in ways that compel people toward Christ!