Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Issue with Answers in Genesis

by Chad Miller

When I say I have issues with Answers in Genesis (AiG), I'm not referring to their Young Earth Creation (YEC) interpretation of Genesis 1-11. My issues are with the considerable amount of time and effort they spend leveling false accusations against those who believe in Old Earth Creationism (OEC). AiG is the most widely followed YEC ministry, and unfortunately their divisive tactics have a significant impact on the Christian community, thus my focus on their ministry specifically. I’m not making the case for OEC or refuting YEC arguments on this post. Those arguments are handled elsewhere and there are plenty of good resources available.

*OEC and YEC throughout this post refer to Creation-ism and Creation-ist interchangeably*

I (like many OEC's) have YEC friends. The vast majority of my friends are YEC. Fortunately this is not a point of division or conflict and we're able to lock arms together to serve the Lord in ministry. We all understand we're not differing on our interpretation of passages related to the deity of Christ, the resurrection, or other first tier issues, but rather a third tier issue. Most importantly we understand this is an issue of interpretation; not inerrancy. That’s a very important distinction worth repeating:

This is an issue of interpretation; not inerrancy.

I’m not sure how many different ways this message can be communicated by various OEC's, yet AIG continues to falsely accuse OEC's of undermining inerrancy as well as attacking the cross, the Word of Christ, and the person of Christ Himself.

Those are extremely serious accusations... and this is coming from brothers in Christ toward other brothers in Christ.

If you're an avid watcher of TBN like I am (sarcasm font not available), you may have seen a recent roundtable discussion with Ray Comfort (YEC), Sean McDowell (OEC), Hugh Ross (OEC), Eric Hovind (YEC), John Bloom (OEC), and Ken Ham (YEC) discussing creation and evolution. One need only see the opening remarks of the discussion to quickly see the problem with the approach Ken Ham takes. He is not focused on coming together with other Christians to counter the secular worldview being forced upon us and our children. Rather, his sights are set squarely on his fellow brothers in Christ who do not agree with his interpretation of Genesis 1-11, accusing them of being compromisers and actual partakers of the secular worldview itself.

Everyone else on the panel opens up by standing together against the atheistic/Darwinistic worldview (though it eventually does turn into a YEC vs OEC debate - thanks Brother Ken). He opens up by stating his big issue is one of Biblical authority. A noble issue to be sure and one everyone on the panel would agree with, but his aim immediately focuses on the wrong target; other Christians. He accuses those who disagree with him of "allowing the culture to invade the Church" and quickly draws a direct comparison from those who attack the resurrection of Christ to those who question his YEC view. He accuses OEC’s of "unlocking the door to Biblical authority" and places the blame for "losing Biblical authority, losing the culture, and losing 2/3 of the young generation" squarely at their feet. Yet again, VERY serious charges!
and this is just in his opening remarks…

Elsewhere he has said:
"Christians who believe in an old earth (billions of years) need to come to grips with the real nature of the god of an old earth — it is not the loving God of the Bible."
"The god of an old earth cannot therefore be the God of the Bible who is able to save us from sin and death."
"There’s no doubt — the god of an old earth destroys the Gospel"

I wish I could say I was surprised by this, but sadly it’s par for the course. The common themes of compromise, undermining Biblical authority, forcing false interpretations, and many other untrue charges are thick in AiG articles, publications, curriculum, speeches, etc. Unfortunately this mindset overflows into many of the Christians who follow their ministry.

Even in this recent "clarifying" post by AIG (not Ken Ham directly), they claim many of the statements above are taken out of context.

"Most old-earth creationists either do not recognize this truth or have chosen to ignore the dichotomy their belief creates. Also, theistic evolutionists generally accept the big bang theory, which creates additional problems."

AiG has a habit of lumping all OEC interpretations in with Theistic Evolution (TE) despite the fact this is clearly not the case. Ministries such as Reasons to Believe are very clear on their stance against Darwinian evolution and reject TE, yet AiG consistently goes after all shades of OEC with the ferocity of the Spanish Inquisition... except unlike the Spanish Inquisition, everyone expects the AiG Inquisition.

The author also claims adherents to an OEC view are in sin and need to be corrected by their YEC brothers:

"Consider the final words of the book of James. “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19–20). Of course, this must be handled with gentleness and respect. Paul wrote, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1)."

Is that really what James and Paul had in mind in their epistles? Are OEC's in need of being saved from a multitude of sins and death of the soul as James mentions here? One need only read Galatians 5 and the rest of 6 to see this is clearly not applicable for Paul's admonition either. He continues...

"Our goal in pointing out the error of old-earth creationism is driven by a love for Christ’s church. We do not want to see them led into a serious error, and we desire to see our brothers and sisters remove the “high places” of old-earth beliefs. Still, we realize we are sinful and fallible. If our actions are ever motivated by our own pride instead of love for God and for fellow believers, then we would be in the wrong. If such a case arises, we hope someone would love us enough to respectfully point out these faults."

I'm not judging the motives of AiG, but I can judge their clear statements which cause division in the body of Christ. While they claim it is possible for an OEC to be a true Christian, their actions and even their words clearly say otherwise. If their motive is indeed love for their brothers, I can say as an OEC I feel zero love from Ken Ham or AiG in their attempts to save my soul from destruction... and as we all know, feelings are important, especially mine. (I really do need a sarcasm font)

Continuing on:
"Think about this carefully—if we don’t correct fellow believers who are in error, then we don’t truly love them. No sane parents would fail to correct their own child who runs dangerously into the street, because they love the child and don’t want harm to come to him or her. Similarly, we do not want to see our brothers and sisters led astray by worldly teachings that have done so much to undermine people’s trust in Scripture.

What we are saying to old-earth Christians is that they need to cling to the biblical view of God and jettison the faulty views of God demanded by their old-earth views. They need to accept biblical authority and all that comes with it, including the Father who loved us so much He sent His Son to die for our sins—not His own carelessness or ineptitude."

So OEC's are being "led astray", "undermining people's trust in scripture", "need to cling to the biblical view of God and jettison the faulty views of God", and "need to accept biblical authority"? Really? Notice the intentional bridge from OEC to TE in that last statement., implying the OEC view undermines the Gospel.
I do actually agree with him on approaching a brother when one believes another brother is in error, which is my motive for this post. If I ever see an OEC making any of these kinds of claims against YEC's, I will confront them in the same manner in which I am AiG in this post... probably moreso.

Again, I'm not offended by the YEC interpretation of Genesis 1-11. AiG is entitled to their interpretation and I thoroughly acknowledge there is zero conflict with one holding to YEC and also maintaining strict orthodoxy (including Biblical inerrancy). What I do take issue with, and hopefully more of my YEC brothers and sisters will as well, are the extremely divisive tactics used by Ken Ham and AIG against their brothers and sisters in Christ. Hold fast to a YEC interpretation, but can we please stop this business of implying OEC's are out to destroy the Bible?

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