Sunday, April 3, 2011

Money, Ministry, God, and Mammon: How “love” binds them all together – a Case in Point


The “love bug” bites Answers in Genesis... on the arse.

Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a popular apologetics ministry that is considered by many Lutherans, as well as other Christians, to be a reliable source of information related to defending the content of the book of Genesis – the most attacked book of the Bible. It is also a popular and well-respected resource among Christian home educators, who are generally concerned with the quality of educational materials that they choose to use, and specifically concerned with the doctrinal integrity of those materials. As a result, AiG founder and CEO, Ken Ham, along with many other well-credentialed AiG lecturers, routinely speak before large audiences, and are highly sought-after by homeschool convention planners due to the interest AiG generates among prospective attendees. Most of these conventions are planned and operated by smaller, independent non-profit organizations. But not all of them are non-profit. One such for-profit organization, Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc., has unwittingly struck the sparks of what has swiftly grown into a raging controversy among home educators, one which includes all the salacious elements of a public scandal: money, influence, truth, censorship, falsehood, and “love.”

The principle characters in this controversy, other than Ken Ham of AiG, may not be known at all outside of the home education movement. Within that movement, however, the characters are mostly iconic figures: Dr. Jay Wile, who has been well-known as a young-earth Creationist and defender of the literal six-day Creation account, is founder and former president of Apologia Educational Ministries and respected author of many of their science textbooks, he sold Apologia in 2008, was retained as author for a short time, but made the decision to leave in 2009 for what appears to be doctrinal reasons; Dr. Susan Wise-Bauer, a leading proponent of Classical Education, co-author of The Well-Trained Mind (widely considered to be the guide to Classical Education for home educators), author of The Story of the World (a very popular read-aloud, grammar-stage world history curriculum) and The History of the World (a new, rhetoric-stage world history), and owner of Peace Hill Press; and Dr. Peter Enns, author of the book, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, and the now controversial religion curriculum, Telling God’s Story, published by Olive Branch Press – the “religious instruction imprint” of Bauer’s Peace Hill Press. There are other individuals involved, of course, but in the interest of keeping things simple so that we can focus on the core issue, these names will suffice.

False doctrine, influence and ministry
Ken Ham had a contract to speak at the 2011 Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. conventions – which are located mostly in the South and East. He delivered his presentation in Memphis as scheduled in early March, but prior to his speaking engagement in Greenville, SC, he was made aware of Dr. Enns, his association with the Biologos Foundationa group which is aggressively promoting an old-earth “incarnational” interpretation of the book of Genesis – and of Dr. Enns’ contract to speak at the Memphis convention. Understanding that such a view impacts more than just the story of the creation of man and the universe, but also the Image of God in man, man’s fall into sin and loss of that Image, and God’s promise of reconciliation and restoration through the work of the Messiah, Ken Ham resolved to include in his Greenville presentation published statements of Dr. Enns and the Biologos Foundation, along with statements of others, in a regular portion of his presentation in which he provides examples of statements from prominent people and organizations who compromise and reject the Genesis account. Anyone who is familiar with Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis knows that this is what they do. Prior to the Greenville convention, Ken Ham published the blog entry, Another Compromiser—Speaking at Homeschool Conventions pointing out the position of Biologos Foundation, using their published words, as follows:
    In my last post I suggested that the Adam story could be viewed symbolically as a story of Israel’s beginnings, not as the story of humanity from ground zero. But some might ask, “Why go through all this trouble? Why not just take it literally? The Bible says Adam was the first man. That’s the end of it.”

    It’s not that simple, and if it were, people wouldn’t be talking it about it so much. First of all, reading the Adam story symbolically rather than as a literal description of history is not a whim, and it is certainly not driven by a desire to undermine the Bible. Rather, as we have seen, the Bible itself invites a symbolic reading by using cosmic battle imagery and by drawing parallels between Adam and Israel (to name two factors).

    There is also considerable external evidence that works against the “just read it literally” mentality.

    The biblical depiction of human origins, if taken literally, presents Adam as the very first human being ever created. He was not the product of an evolutionary process, but a special creation of God a few thousand years before Jesus — roughly speaking, about 6000 years ago. Every single human being that has ever lived can trace his/her genetic history to that one person.

    This is a problem because it is at odds with everything else we know about the past from the natural sciences and cultural remains. (
Further, Ken Ham in his blog entry, linked to the following YouTube lecture – to which Dr. Enns himself proudly links from his own blog – as representative of his teaching, so that readers could draw their own conclusions:

Finally, knowing that they were going to warn conference attendees of false teaching promoted by the Biologos Foundation, and that a representative of Biologos (Dr. Enns) was going to be present at the Greenville convention, Mark Looy of AiG personally spoke to the president of Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc., informing him that Ken Ham and AiG would be doing so, to which the president responded: “We would expect nothing less from Answers in Genesis” (listen to the YouTube interview with Ken Ham, below, for this quote and other details). And this is exactly what Ken Ham did at the Greenville convention.

What do you suppose happened?


Dr. Wile, Dr. Enns, and the twin coordinate powers of Church statesmanship
And now for the “love.” Aware of Ken Ham’s blog post warning of the teaching of Biologos and Dr. Enns, Dr. Wile, formerly of Apologia, issued a response to Ken Ham’s warning, entitled, An Opportunity for Critical Thinking!, in which he asserts that there is room for disagreement in the interpretation of the first three chapters of Genesis and that there are multiple equally valid positions on the “inspiration of Scripture,” and then decries Ken Ham for offering public assessment of Dr. Enns’ published materials and public statements, claiming that such is unloving and unChristlike. Then, two days later during the Greenville convention itself, Dr. Wile published a glowing review of Dr. Enns, following Enns’ lecture, The Dark Side of the Old Testament and What We Must Learn from it. This review focused mostly on ‘how Christian Dr. Enns is’ and early in the commentary section of this post, Dr. Wile defends his public approval of Dr. Enns on the basis of his identification with the man as his “Christian brother,” even though he personally disagrees with Enns’ (apparently) perfectly valid theology.

But this is nothing new for Dr. Wile (formerly of Apologia). Beginning at least since his departure from Apologia, Dr. Wile has been guilty of propping up error alongside the truth, naming the Biologos Foundation and extolling their version of theistic evolution not only as compatible with biblical Christianity, but as equally valid with his own views. For example, in 2009, he writes:
    Since the early church was not unanimous in taking the days of Genesis as 24-hour days, I fail to see why the modern church should be. Indeed, given the fact that many in the early church viewed the days of Genesis to be something other than 24-hour days, I think the modern church is free to believe that as well. Thus, if some Christians want to postulate that the days were something else (not an attempt at order, but instead, long ages of time), I can’t see how you can suddenly say they don’t believe the Bible. (Clement of Alexandria on the Days of Genesis)
By 2010, we read such things from Dr. Wile as:
    I strongly disagree with the idea that Old Earth Creationists aren't Biblical. Are you really willing to say that people like Norman Geisler, Gleason Archer, and J.P. Moreland aren't Biblical?

    The young-earth view of creation is one orthodox interpretation of Scripture, but there are others. Even many in the early church, such as Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria , Basil of Caesarea, Augustine, and Hilary of Poitiers, didn't think the Genesis days were 24-hour days. Why do modern young-earthers believe that they MUST be 24-hour days.

    For the record, I am a young-earth creationist. I prefer that term, however, because I think old-earth creationists, as well as some theistic evolutionists, are also Biblical. (Young Earth Creationists or Biblical Creationists?)
    ...I would agree with you that the philosophical underpinnings of evolution are religious in nature. They end up relying on assumptions that can’t be tested. Thus, that makes them religious. However, I don’t think they are necessarily opposed to the Christian worldview. PZ Myers is clearly opposed to the Christian worldview, and he is VERY religious in that opposition. However, I don’t think his opposition comes from the philosophical underpinnings of evolution. Instead, it comes from his application of evolution. He uses evolution as an explanation for a universe without a Creator. That is clearly opposed to the Christian worldview, but that is just his application of evolution. Others, such as the folks at Biologos, apply evolution differently, and as a result, they do not oppose a Christian worldview.

    I don’t agree with the folks at Biologos, but I understand where they are coming from. They think God organized the physical laws of the universe so that evolution would produce everything we see today, including people. This keeps God’s hands “clean” of the “messy” business of creation. In their mind, this elevates God. Thus, their application of evolution leads to their Christian worldview. (This Isn’t Evolution – It’s Lunacy)
More analysis of Dr. Wile’s theological incontinence since leaving Apologia can be found here, if the reader is interested.

We encourage the reader to pause here for a moment, however, and recall our very recent post, C.P. Krauth explains how orthodox Lutheran Synods descend into heterodoxy. What were the steps that Charles Porterfield Krauth observed as the process of descending from orthodoxy into heterodoxy?
  1. Error begins by asking toleration...
  2. Indulged in for this time, Error goes on to assert equal rights...
  3. From this point Error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy.
And here, in the case of Dr. Wile, formerly of Apologia, we see this process playing out, as plain as day. The fact is, Dr. Wile attacks Ken Ham and protects Dr. Enns because he has been making propaganda for the false perspectives of Dr. Enns for years now. He attacks Ken Ham as “unloving,” rather than address the content of Ken Ham’s warnings, because he, and those who follow him, have progressed to Krauth’s second stage: truth and error are equivalent. He thus has no basis for criticizing Ken Ham’s content – agreement or disagreement with it is irrelevant – so he resorts to attacking Ken Ham’s “tone” as unloving, and the fact that he fails to see equivalency in mutually exclusive positions as “unchristian.”

As one can imagine, Dr. Wile’s aggressive and public pursuit of “big-tent orthodoxy,” and retreat from the young-earth positions he is well-known for defending, has sent Apologia Educational Ministries into a virtual tizzy. Inundated with letters and calls from deeply concerned home educators, they have had to issue their own reply in an effort to assuage the concerns of current and potential customers. ‘Don’t worry folks, Dr. Wile does not work here anymore!’ But just how much of what Dr. Wile (formerly of Apologia) currently reveals as his true doctrinal perspectives have seeped into the textbooks he has written over the years? We are assured by Apologia that on their face, nothing has, directly. But what about indirect influences? What would he have written differently had he not been wrestling with his own doubt regarding what he had been publicly defending – as we are now forced to presume he was? What about further patronage of those works? By purchasing the textbooks he had written for Apologia, is the concerned Christian home educator, or Christian day-school, financing his continued attempts to stand truth up next to error? These are critical questions for those looking for Christian teaching, or doctrinal reinforcement, from a science textbook, and for those selling such textbooks on this basis.

For the love of... ??? Dr. Susan Wise-Bauer just wants it to go away
Dr. Susan Wise-Bauer is considered by many to be the poster-child for the success of home education. Herself a first generation home school student, she’s been referred to as the quintessential whiz-kid, and is regarded today as a high-power intellectual among home educators. Based on the education she received in the home, Dr. Bauer and her mother, Jesse Wise, wrote The Well-Trained Mind, launching Dr. Bauer’s career, and her curriculum publishing business, Peace Hill Press. Like Dr. Wile (formerly of Apologia...), she has been a well-known figure and trusted source within the home education movement for a long time, and today is widely known and respected outside of it, particularly in academia.

Up to this point, Dr. Bauer, who is herself a professing “American Christian” and whose husband is pastor of a rural, non-denominational church near their home, has wisely stayed away from religious issues in her world history curriculum and other publications meant for consumption by home educators. As a result, her curriculum has appealed to a very broad market, and has been very popular.

The connection between Dr. Bauer and Dr. Enns in the unfolding drama briefly outlined here, is her decision to enter the religious publishing market with a new publishing imprint of Peace Hill PressOlive Branch Press. As stated above, this is the publisher of Dr. Enns' now-controversial Bible instruction curriculum for young children. One may wonder at Dr. Bauer’s decision to publish a Bible curriculum that promotes “big-tent orthodoxy:”
  • this her confession? (it might be...)
  • ...was this merely a business decision, to appeal to the broadest possible religious-publishing market? (maybe... with the implosion of Evangelicalism, it is no longer the profitable religious publishing demographic that it once was... Liberalism, with the aid of the Emergent movement, has replaced it as the new profitable demographic for publishers... the new reductionist, gender-neutral NIV is evidence of this demographic change...)
  • ...or does it have something to do with the professional connections she has with Dr. Enns, such as the fact that he was a professor at the college from which Dr. Bauer received her M.Div, or that she has publicly supported him through other controversial publications? (seems reasonable...)
One is reduced to wondering, since Dr. Bauer has been very reluctant to speak publicly about this issue. However, she did issue at least one public statement in a Well-Trained Mind forum post entitled, With reluctance, trying to set the record straight, in which she quite clearly avoids connection with Dr. Enns and Olive Branch Press – the “religious instruction imprint” of Peace Hill Press – stating among many other things that:
  • “I have absolutely no connection with Biologos. At all.”
  • “Peter Enns, who has written a book for the Olive Branch imprint of Peace Hill Press, sometimes blogs for Biologos. To my knowledge, he has a publisher-author relationship with them. He has a publisher-author relationship with Olive Branch Books.”
  • “I support every parent's right NOT to use the Bible curriculum published by Olive Branch Books. However, it is absolutely untrue to say that this curriculum attacks the Bible. Please read it before making such accusations. That seems to me to be the most basic requirement for critiquing materials.”
Experienced home educator and homeschool blogger, Robin Sampson, is correct to characterize such statements as “sidestepping” in her blog post Homeschool Controversy: Anti-Bible, Bible Curriculum!, and reinforces this characterization by offering several quotes from Dr. Enns' Bible curriculum that is published by Bauer:
    “The Flood was an attempt by God to set it right, but it didn’t work.” (Page 70)

    “For many parents, the Bible looks a little bit like my child’s room. It’s a mess. Names, places, events are all over the place, and you hardly know where to start cleaning up. It’s such a mess, in fact, that if someone ripped twenty pages out of Leviticus or 1 Chronicles, you might not even notice it was missing. And if your aim is to teach the Bible to your children, the mess isn’t just confusing. It’s stressful.” (page 10)

    “If our expectations are modern instead of ancient, we will get ourselves into a bind. Before we can ask the hard questions — for example, 'Is Genesis 1 in harmony with scientific thought? Or does Genesis 1 trump scientific thought?' — we must ask a more foundational question: 'What do we have the right to expect from God’s word as a book written in an ancient world?'” (pages 18/19)

    “The issue is that I read him a very complex and intricate biblical narrative — the story of Adam, Eve, and the serpent — as if it were a child’s story. This biblical story was meant to convey something profound, mature, and foundational to ancient Israelites. Sitting down and reading this story with my son set him up to receive it as one tall tale among others. The Garden narrative is deeply theological and symbolic. Despite the neat talking snake, it is not the type of story that we should toss casually to our young children. When, at a more mature age, children are asked to revisit this story and begin dealing with it in earnest, many can hardly refrain from snickering. ('I outgrew talking animals years ago!') Or consider another Bible story commonly taught to children: the story of the Flood. The boat, the animals, the rain, the drama — all lend themselves to videos, snappy tunes, macaroni art, flannel graphs, and furry friends. What is obscured is the simply horrific notion that God would bring down such drastic destruction on the earth, rather than finding some other solution to humanity’s rebellion. And that is a question young adults should ask.” (page 44/45)
Yet, there is more to Dr. Bauer’s connection to Dr. Enns. In 2006, Dr. Enns wrote a book entitled, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, the content of which reportedly resulted in his dismissal from Westminster Theological Seminary. In that same year, Dr. Susan Wise-Bauer wrote a glowing review of Dr. Enns’ book. She titled it Messy Revelation: Why Paul would have flunked hermeneutics. Ken Ham, in a recent blog entry (Susan Wise-Bauer, “Why Paul would have flunked hermeneutics”), reviews several quotations from Bauer’s review, some of which follow:
    So how can we claim that the Old Testament — and it alone from all the texts of that pre-Christian age — is divine communication from God to man? It’s an interesting question, but it turns out to be small potatoes compared with the next problem that Enns, professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, sets before us: It seems as though the Old Testament was also puzzling for Matthew and Luke and Paul. In fact, from where we sit, it looks as though the apostles were lousy at exegesis...

    Enns gives us a number of startling New Testament passages that use the Old Testament by wrenching the original words violently out of context and even altering them … In other words, Matthew is shamelessly proof-texting, in a way that would get any student enrolled in Practical Theology 221 (Expository Skills) sternly reproved...

    Changing the words of Scripture to suit your own purposes? Paul wouldn’t get past the first week of New Testament 123 (Hermeneutics) like that. He is breaking every rule of thoughtful evangelical scholarship, which holds that the proper way to approach inerrant Scripture is with careful grammatical-historical exegesis: painstaking analysis of each word of the Scripture and its relationship to other words, the setting of the sentence in the verse, the verse in the chapter, the chapter in the book, and the book in the historical times of its composition.

    Of course Paul breaks those rules, Enns says; they are our rules, not Paul’s. Inspiration and Incarnation offers us passages from such extrabiblical texts as the Wisdom of Solomon and the Book of Biblical Antiquities in order to show that, far from doing something extraordinary and super-apostolic, Paul and Matthew were doing exactly what most of their contemporaries did. Both apostles had been trained by the scholars of their day, the so-called “Second Temple” period, to come to a text looking for the “mystery” beneath the words: the deeper truth that an untrained reader might not see. Both of them came to the Old Testament already convinced that they knew what that mystery was: the incarnation, death, and resurrection of God in Jesus Christ...
For the interested reader, more analysis of Dr. Bauer’s connection with Dr. Enns and its impact on AiG and Ken Ham, along with links to additional resources on this topic, can be read here. Regardless of such further analysis, at this point we are left to speculate what her true motivations for publishing Dr. Enns’ bible curriculum are. But three things are certain:
  1. there is a definite theological resonance between Bauer and Enns,
  2. their theology is not to be trusted by any Christian who desires to be orthodox,
  3. her “reluctance” to be forthright with her customers and her apparent desire to struggle against those who would publicly critique her published materials and those of Dr. Enns is very suspicious – and has nothing whatsoever to do with a concern over “being loving”.

“Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc.” to Ken Ham: We reject your spirit!
Affirming their agreement with Ken Ham and his position, Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. nevertheless folded under pressure – presumably from Dr. Jay Wiles, Dr. Peter Enns, Dr. Susan-Wise Bauer and other interested parties – officially terminating their contract with Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, and permanently prohibiting him and AiG from any further involvement in any future conventions that they may host – and this after the president of Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. was informed by Mark Looy of AiG that Ken Ham would warn conference attendees of compromises and error in Dr. Enns’ materials, and affirmed to Mark Looy his support for Ken Ham: “We would expect nothing less from Answers in Genesis”.

In announcing their termination last week, AiG published the email they received from Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc., along with their own response, in this blog post: Kicked Out of Two Homeschool Conferences. In their letter, Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. equated AiG’s public critique of Dr. Enns’ published materials with terms such as “slander” and “attack” – but most peculiarly, as having an “unScriptural spirit.” In the public announcement on their own web site, Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. state as much directly: “Ken Ham was removed for his spirit, not for his message” – whatever that means.

In their commentary, Answers in Genesis quite correctly observes:
    We often find today that if we speak against someone’s theological compromise, we are accused of being “un-Christian” or “unloving.” This is a bigger topic for another time, but for the moment let us state that we need to understand what the Bible means by “love.” It does not mean one doesn’t publicly stand against error.

    Being kicked out of these conventions is sad, but AiG notes this is not the major issue here. What is troubling is that more and more churches have been infiltrated by academics who compromise God’s Word, and many Christians are simply unaware of the danger.
Indeed, getting “kicked out” for issuing public critique of published materials and public statements, is a sad thing – but it is a trivial concern next to the soul-killing error that is spewed by false teachers, and the obligation of Christians to sound the warning. And it is likely to happen to most Christians who are thus filled with Truth’s conviction. Many, as in the case of Ken Ham and AiG, will be the object of “organizational solutions,” of political retaliation floating on cockamamy foundations like “We agree with what you say, but reject your spirit” – and this rather than to show the fortitude to engage the debate publicly, rather than to take a public position and defend it.

Todd Friel of WRETCHED Radio interviews Ken Ham
Interveiw begins about 1:45 into the recording...

Our Conclusion
The situation with Ken Ham and AiG is not unique, and it is quite illustrative of situations we all face. It is unfortunate, but more often than not these days, the phrase, “Speak the truth in love!” is levied as a threatening warning against those who, with hearts full of love and gratitude for what Christ has done for them, do the hard work of actually speaking the difficult truth. Such threats warn of impending retaliation from rivals or organizational authorities; or they warn that, ultimately, the value of truth is only proportional to the subjective standards of behaviour which accompany it.

And this is what has happened to this perfectly good phrase. Repeated ad nauseum and used as a weapon, the thrust of this phrase is no longer that Truth flows from a foundation of love, but that Truth has no objective value and that it is only as effective as the “method” employed by the truth-teller. Often, it seems, the pious theologian who gives arbitrary instructions concerning “loving discourse” is only posing as a psychologist or sociologist as he points the truth-teller to the results he desires from speaking the truth, rather than to the value of the truth itself, and insists that the truth-teller observe certain rules of discourse if he would be effective. Thus, the perfectly good phrase, “Speak the truth in love” has been ruined.

The fact is, speaking the Truth is love. That is what has made the other well-known, and much older phrase, “The truth hurts,” so poignant; and it is especially the case when the Truth exposes cherished falsehoods and demolishes the strongholds of Satan. For this reason, speaking the Truth "in love" should never have anything to do with whitewashing the Truth, or remaining silent, in order to avoid ‘hurt feelings’; all it means is that we don't offend for the sake of offending, or for the sake of sport. Furthermore, the impact of standing on the Truth and sounding warnings against error should never be an object of anticipated measure, but of trust in God’s providential working. Each person has been given unique characteristics by God. Personality, for instance, is a product of God’s genetic gift to the individual and of His gift of life experiences through which that individual’s character is developed, for His hidden purposes. Likewise, an individual’s conviction comes from God’s gift of faith to that individual, where the individual's portion of faith meets his personality and is expressed accordingly. Such expression has the impact God desires, and has already planned.

We are called to live by conscience, and this means speaking and acting according to our convictions as we have been equipped by God to do so. As a wise man, caught in a difficult situation, once said, It is never safe to go against conscience. And in giving advice for living according to conscience, this same man recommended that Christians Sin Boldly! – that is, that they do what they do because they are convinced as a matter of conscience that it is the right thing to do. Even if it turns out that in the end it isn’t the right thing to do, that’s ok, because we can deal with that – it’s called repentance and forgiveness. But a fear of possibly being wrong should never prevent us from confessing and living according to the convictions of conscience, indeed such fear robs us of conviction; and it is never safe to violate conscience at the behest of those issuing threats and demands, or to attenuate Truth and squelch warnings of error because someone declares that in merely doing so “YOU’RE NOT BEING LOVING!!!” In this sense, we at Intrepid Lutherans will continue to speak and live according to conscience, to “sin boldly,” and encourage our fellow confessional Lutherans to do the same.


Tina Hollenbeck said...

Thank you for this very insightful summary of the recent controversy. I'm bookmarking it to share with others, as it does an excellent job of communicating what has happened, even to someone outside the home-educating community.

And thank for standing with Ken Ham and AiG which, in this instance, equals standing for/with the Truth.

Anne Tess said...

Excellent! Thank you!

Rev Tony Breeden said...

Wow! I wish I'd known about Kraus' analogy before; he hits the nail right on the head!

Personally, I think that Dr. Wile has fully shed his Biblical [ie, young earth] Creationist beliefs. He still gives lipservice to it, but he defends extraBiblical Creationism and theistic evolution.

Thanks for the thorough and insightful post,
Rev Tony Breeden

Sara said...

This was a great blog article. I have been following this controversy closely, as a homeschooling mom of 4. It breaks my heart to learn of Dr. Wile's involvement in this, as I had been planning to use his Apologia science books when we reach high school. Now I am not sure what to do. Thankfully, I have a good many years to go yet!

Also, I want to thank you for your conclusion on speaking the truth in love. You have reassured me that a recent discussion on FB I began was the right thing to do, even though the dissent was from other Lutherans and family to boot. I feel much more confident now, and I needed to hear this. So thank you.

Sara Baerbock

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Rev. Breedon (and Tina, and Anne),

Thank you for posting your comment(s), and for your kind words of approval. I would have responded sooner to you, but the priorities of life and family have prevented me from doing so until now...

Indeed, the words of C.P. Krauth regarding the danger of error, and the growth of its influence, do ring true. Though they were affirmed by him through difficult experience, I believe they are not his own original thoughts, but those of St. Augustine. Regardless, they fit very well with what we recognize today as the process by which falsehood works against the Truth, what we would probably call the "principle of incrementalism."

I must confess to having perused your blog a bit as I was investigating this issue, having linked to it in a few places, above. You're probably in a better position to personally evaluate Dr. Wile's true position than I am, having directly interacted with him over the years and been directly involved in the defense of young-earth Creationism. Even from my less-informed standpoint, however, it is plain to see that he is propping up error alongside truth and calling them equivalent. He is taking mutually exclusive theological positions, which touch directly upon God's plan of salvation for mankind, and calling them equally valid. His stated reason for doing so is "peace." This is what we would call "unionism" -- sacrificing the truth of God's word for the sake of "political unity" in the visible church. The problem is, firstly, that it isn't true "unity" -- an agreement to disagree is not agreement, but manifest disagreement. Secondly, such unity isn't Scriptural, which in the visible church is conditioned upon the high standard of doctrinal agreement.

This is different, of course, than the "spiritual unity" that all true believers have in "the Body of Christ" -- or what we would call the "Church Universal". But the Bible teaches that only God can see into a man's heart and actually see his faith. All we see are the evidences of that faith, a person's confession and his works. As a result, this "spiritual unity" we all have in the "Church Universal" is something God sees, but it is invisible to us. We believe it is there because God sees it and tells us it is there. So, while we are here on this earth "contending for the faith," this "spiritual unity," which all true believers throughout time and place have with one another by virtue of their faith in the promises of Christ, is not a basis for unity in the visible church. Rather, the evidences of that faith -- what a Christian confesses that the Bible says and how he lives out that confession -- are the bases for gathering together about God's Word in the local congregation; likewise, agreement in doctrine and practice is the proper basis on which these congregations join and "work together for the truth." And this is the high standard of unity to which the Scriptures call the visible church, also calling the local congregation to watch out for false teachers and to remain separate from them.

Continued in next comment...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous comment.

But this militates against our human thinking, doesn't it? "Doctrine divides!" we are told -- while we Christians desire unity with one another, and quite properly so. Yes doctrine "divides", but it does so in a way that serves the goal of Scriptural unity, which all Christians desire, and of properly representing the “spiritual unity” we do have in the Church Universal. First, it must be recognized that doctrine unites -- it unites those of common conviction regarding the teachings of Scripture, as Christians are enjoined by the Scriptures to do, and does so definitively. And this is vitally important. When differences in doctrine result in the "separateness" we observe in the visible church, when they result in various Christian denominations separated by doctrinal boundaries, the result, on the surface, is the "division" which is decried by those who would prefer to compromise doctrine for the sake of "political unity", for the sake of a "public show of togetherness" which has no certain foundation in the pure teachings of God's Word. But they are wrong to decry doctrine for this reason, for second, the meticulous maintenance of doctrine by the various denominations actually serves the cause of true unity in the visible church, in a truly ecumenical sense, by providing Christians who desire to be visibly united with other Christians under the pure teachings of God's Word with something definitive to address and to work through as they seek the high standard of agreement under God's Word that the Scriptures require of Christians who would unite and "work together for the Truth."

And this seems to be the chief error of Dr. Wile, and those who support him. In a charitable construction, based on what I have read, it seems that he is willing to compromise his own convictions regarding what the Scriptures teach for the sake of "political unity" -- for the sake of a false ecumenicy, which is not based on agreement regarding the teachings of Scripture, but on a compromise of those teachings for the sake of an outward show of peace and Christian solidarity. For example, he states that he is a "young-earth Creationist," and I assume that his stated position is not independent of the vital doctrines connected to a young-earth position. For now, I'll take his confession at face value, and assume that this is what he actually believes. Assuming this, the problem is that he holds up a mutually exclusive interpretation of the creation account as equivalent to his own -- an interpretation which casts aspersion on the vital teachings of plenary inspiration and biblical authority, and which vacates Scripture's central teachings of man's Fall into sin and his loss of the Image of God, of the consequences of that sin (death and separation from God), and of the promise of a Messiah by whose work man would be saved from these consequences, redeemed and reconciled with God. And Dr. Wile does so while appealing to external displays of peace, love, brotherhood and unity. In so doing, we all recognize that Dr. Wile also vacates his own confession. Again, being charitable, I'll assume that he doesn't realize this -- although quite honestly, I have no idea how he couldn't realize it.

Continued in next comment...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous comment.

The point is, Ken Ham is more than justified in speaking according to the convictions of his Christian conscience, in pointing out dangerous falsehoods in the teaching of Dr. Enns and those who support him. And in the case of Ken Ham's defense of a literal interpretation of the Creation account, I can confidently say that there is definite resonance among us confessional Lutherans. As for the rest of Ken Ham's theology, there may well be additional points of agreement, and sadly, probably many points of disagreement -- we are called to emulate the Bereans as we evaluate all teaching we encounter, and to compare it to what we are convinced the Scriptures teach. But those things are not under consideration in this blog entry.

Anyway, I say all this, less for your benefit, Rev. Breedon, since I'm relatively certain that none of this strikes you as completely foreign or as particularly outrageous, but for the benefit of those who may visit this blog and struggle with the idea that maintaining doctrinal integrity is important.

Thanks again for commenting.

Mr. Douglas Lindee

patricia shake said...

Mr. Lindee,
I was the one that posted your blog on facebook for the others here to see and I really appreciate your insight.
I am really wondering what you might be referring to in your comment "sadly, probably many points of disagreement" with Ken Ham?

Maybe you can point me to a particular post (or your beliefs) because I am very interested. I spent some time on your site and found it very interesting and I felt your leanings were toward reformed as Kens is. I love to read history and have read much of the reformation and being from a Catholic background (with a big C) and being born again at age 43 and now in a ARP church I am quite curious about the differences. Maybe you could recommend some books to read.
Thank you again!
Pat Shale

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Ms. Shake,

I was wondering where all those FB hits came from! We replicate our blog posts on our own FB page, so when I started seeing hits rolling in from Facebook, I thought it was a result of folks linking from our own FB post... But at the same time I also thought, "Gee, it sure did replicate sooner than I expected..." Later that day I saw that it hadn't replicated on our FB page yet, and realized someone else must have picked it up.

You describe an interesting past. I have a "non-homogeneous" past as well. I was raised a "charismatic," and through the first eight years of college, or so, floated around in Evangelicalism. Concerned with the multitude of conflicting theological "opinions," and convinced that the Scriptures were really not that fluid, I set myself to the task of understanding the Scriptures in their own terms. What do the Scriptures say on their own, without bringing any preconceived notions to the text? That was the question I landed on, and to which I wanted an answer. By this time I was engaged to a woman with her own "checkered past." She was baptized Roman Catholic, but her family eventually switched to Pentecostalism under the influence of Catholic Charismatic Movement. She spent most of her formative years among the Pentecostals, but by the time we met, her family had left that "faith tradition" in search of greater doctrinal stability. Thus, my fiance and I were on the same page. We didn't care what label we would apply to ourselves, we only wanted to believe what the Scriptures taught and to join with other Christians who did the same. Our period of courtship was a time of mutual study of the Scriptures, growing together in our relationship, as we grew in our relationship with Christ, together. The result of that multi-year study had us adopting the public confession of historic Lutheranism.

Anyway, you ask about the difference between "Reformed and Lutheran" teaching. I chuckle to myself, comparing the relatively few words it takes to ask that question compared the number of volumes one might write to answer it. Of course, those who frequent this blog are probably chuckling to themselves too, "Yeah, Doug, the number of unnecessarily verbose volumes!" Yes, it's a weakness of mine...

Continued in next comment...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous comment.

Still, yours is an honest question and I would like to put forth honest effort in answering it, at least from a high level perspective addressing what I see as the more important differences. I won't have time before tomorrow to do so however -- so I hope you won't mind if I don't have such an answer before, say, tomorrow evening or Friday morning. In the meantime, I will list a few books for you that I have found helpful, and that have come recommended to me by others.

(1) The Spirituality of the Cross, by Dr. Gene Edward Veith. In my experience, most folks, when they ask "What are the differences", are not immediately interested in a rigorous theological comparison, but really mean to ask, "What's it like being a Lutheran?" understanding that with this explanation they will encounter some of the distinctive teachings and practices of Lutheranism, as well. This is Gene Veith's book, a gentle and meaningful introduction to Lutheranism for non-Lutherans, and also for those Lutherans who have become disconnected from what they say they believe, and even for those of us who are are rather "well-heeled" but who've perhaps forgotten what it is like to see things that way. I highly recommend it as a first book, especially if you've had limited contact with confessional Lutherans.

(2) Northwestern Publishing House has begun publishing a series of books entitled, A Lutheran looks at... -- so far addressing doctrinal differences with Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists and the Assemblies of God. Another very excellent work addressing the differences between confessional Lutheranism and Pentecostalism, broadly speaking, is Rev. Arthur J. Clement's The Pentecostals and Charismatics: A Confessional Lutheran Evaluation, which resonated deeply with my wife and I, given our background.

(3) A third book I'll mention has recently been published by Concordia Publishing House: The Lutheran Difference: An Explanation & Comparison of Christian Beliefs. I have not had the opportunity to reveiw this book myself, but it does come recommended from a trusted source -- and it definitely looks promising. The video preview introducing the book is informative, as well, impressing upon the viewer why confessional Lutherans find doctrine so important.

(4) Finally, I'll recommend listening to an internet radio program entitled, Issues, Etc.. Through the daily episodes of this program, you'll get a strong flavor for what confessional Lutherans believe, how they think, and how they apply their theology to the challenges that life hurls our way.

I hope you've found this reply helpful, so far. I'll get back later with more info.

Thanks for posting!

Douglas Lindee

Daniel Baker said...

I was never overly impressed with the materials of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis that we utilized in my (WELS) high school biology and Earth Science classes. The material routinely left me hanging high and dry in apologetic debates with non-Christian friends, particularly during my less-than-Lutheran phase. In fact, demoralizing exchanges such as those were responsible for leading me to the brink of apostasy; thankfully, the Holy Spirit brought me back to the Word as expounded upon by the Lutheran Confessions (something which, incidentally, our Lutheran schools could spend more time emphasizing - rather than less-than-adequate apologetic defenses of the 1st Chapter of Genesis).

I believe it was Saint Augustine who asserted that it is a disgrace for a Christian to speak authoritatively on a matter of doctrine which pertains to the natural world around us, to the extent that he makes Scripture and the faith look idiotic to the non-Christian who can clearly observe and test the physical world to the contrary of the Christian's contention. A quick Google search will show that Answers in Genesis does just that on a regular basis.

There is a way to defend a literal interpretation of the Genesis account. Perhaps collaboratively gathering actual *biologists* who reject the evolutionary model would be a start.

I'm sure I will take heat for what I've said here - so be it. But I've sat through plenty of class hours which utilize AiG materials, and have found them lacking; on the other side of the coin, I've sat through plenty of university lectures which promote propaganda from the abiogenesis and evolutionary models. So I do have at least some background on the issue.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


I, on the other hand, have been very impressed with AiG's materials and approach. They do have several *biologists* as well as astronomers and geologists and physicists who reject the evolutionary model.

More importantly, they have been rather careful not to dogmatize their scientific findings or suggest that faith ought to flow from scientific proof. They've provided a good service for us in giving us credible alternatives to the evolutionary model, starting from Scripture as absolute reliable truth.

Maybe you'd like to explain how you think AiG has disgracefully made the Christian faith look idiotic to the non-Christian. I've never seen anything of the kind from them. What makes the Christian faith look idiotic is when the facts themselves are denied, or when assertions are made about the natural world that the Scriptures do no teach. "The earth is flat," for example. AiG's primary emphasis in the teaching tools I've seen from them is that we all start with the same facts. We have the same bones, the same fossils, the same observations, etc. But there are two (at least) ways to approach the facts: Either with or without God's Word.

Brian G. Heyer said...

At first glance it may seem off the beaten path (or narrow road) for Intrepids to post something concerning the Answers in Genesis/ Great Homeschooling Conventions controversy. Mr. Lindee deftly touches on several important topics, such as Classical Education and how heterodox ideas gain acceptance in society and particularly the church.

Hopefully our readers will understand why the Genesis account of Creation is a foundation of our trust in God’s promises. I’ll share an anecdote from my Sunday School class of middle school aged students. After our Genesis lesson, one student who attends a government school asked, “I thought God came after the dinosaurs?”

Look at his question from his perspective. He knows Jesus is his Savior. However, the world and culture tell him over and over that he is just the accidental result of billions of years of protein combinations. In his youth, the culture tells him the dinosaurs disappeared 60 million [sic] years ago, yet also Jesus walked with us as a man only 2,000 years ago. Of course God did his thing after the dinosaurs were gone-- look at the timeline!

The world's culture demands an untrustworthy Genesis account. It cannot withstand the accountability of a creation to its Creator. The culture fools itself into disregarding Genesis and the perfect Creation, so that it can disregard man’s fall into sin, so it can disregard the need for a Savior.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

And I would add – not by way of heaping criticism on you, Daniel – that it is entirely possible that in your experience you have discovered weaknesses in AiG's apologetic. This is fine, and it would be useful to know what those weaknesses are so that the apologetic can be perfected.

Ultimately, however, we are not interested in proving the Bible through the use of Science. This is an utterly intolerable notion. Likewise, is proving Science through the testimony of Scripture. The proper use of apologetics does not have as its purpose either of these two objectives, nor does it purpose to use argumentation as a way of trapping the skeptic and forcing him into "faith." The Holy Spirit, alone, is to be credited with the work of producing and strengthening faith, and with teaching and reminding us of all that Christ taught. And the Holy Spirit does so only through the Gospel in His Word, and in the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord's Supper). The proper use of apologetics, in the process of evangelism, has as its purpose the objective of overcoming obstacles to hearing the saving and Faith building Message, through which the Holy Spirit works. Many people, pastors especially, use apologetics all the time, even if they don't realize it. "What about the Gospel of Thomas!" a skeptic will say in objection to the Bible. Well, a good pastor or evangelist, realizing that this question is preventing his listener from giving the Message a legitimate hearing, will provide an explanation that will penetrate that barrier so that he can get on with the task of sharing the Gospel. He is thus doing apologetics. Same with the questions or accusations such as "What about Miracles! Miracles don't happen!!" or "You Christians are horrible horrible people – look at the Inquisition!" or "The Bible is just a book of moral stories, orally handed down from generation to generation!" or "How could a truly loving God allow so much pain and suffering in the world?" or "Radioisotope dating proves that the Bible is completely false!!!" or, etc... It is more than proper that such accusations and questions be met with a sober response that preserves the integrity of Scripture, "in the whole and in all its parts."

Continued in next post...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous post.

By the same token, what is equally intolerable is that any Christian would allow the so-called "conclusions" of Science, which as a consequence of the scientific method itself are transitory in nature, to carry absolute authority on the question of human origins, or in any matter touching upon questions of the transcendent. Such matters are entirely outside of our human ability to observe or meaningfully contemplate. Indeed, by definition, in order for us to have any such knowledge, a transcendent Being would have to reveal these truths to us. Such a Being has done so, by entering His own Creation as a Man, revealing to us (a) the terrible truth of God's Law, that we are children of His wrath, being destitute of merit before God, unable to gain favor in His sight, doomed to an eternity of separation from God in the torments of Hell, and in dire need of a Saviour if we are to be spared this consequence, while also revealing to us (b) the Good News of the Gospel, that this Man is God Himself, the Word made Flesh, and the Saviour of the World, who has come into the World to save it by doing for man what man cannot do for himself – live perfectly under God's Law and make satisfaction with God by paying the debt we owe because of our sin – and promising spiritual life, forgiveness of sins, eternal salvation to those who believe Him. These truths and His promises are not "validated by science", but demonstrated in a singular event: the physical death and bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Science is neutered and and rendered mute in these matters, as it's method requires direct measurement (we cannot directly measure a human event that occurred 2000 years ago), and requires repeated observation and measurement under controlled conditions before any valid conclusion can be drawn (historical events occur only once). If any "method" is to be applied to a human event which occured in history, that would arrive at any measure of its facticity, it is the legal method, which relies on the testimonial evidence of those who directly observed the event, and of their contemporaries. The Bible offers competent testimonial evidence in a way that allows direct and cross examination, so much so that, for centuries, the worlds top legal minds have been compelled to apply themselves to the very question, "Can it be said that the Resurrection did in fact occur?", concluding that the events recorded in the Gospels, as we receive them today in these written accounts, did occur, not with a measure of "moral certitude," but "beyond reasonable doubt." Even so, such a measure of certainty is not faith. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen," and does not leave room for "unreasonable doubt" in any form. What such a conclusion does is force the skeptic to confront not only the fact of the Resurrection, but the deity of Jesus Christ, and to consider His Message for all of humanity. And through this Message the Holy Spirit works faith, which moves one from merely acknowledging an event (as fantastical as that event was!), to acknowledging Jesus Christ as the one and only Saviour of the World and implicitly trusting His promises for his own salvation.

Continued in next post...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous post.

By the Resurrection, not science, we know that the Man Jesus Christ is also God, that His promises are True, and that His Word is inerrant. We know by the direct testimony of this inerrant Word that the Subject of the Bible, is not an attribute of God (like His Sovereignty), but the Man-God Jesus Christ, Who, in His own words, chastising the Pharisees for searching the Scriptures [the Old Testament] in search of knowledge and entirely missing the point, declared of them "These are they which testify of me." He is the Subject of the Bible; therefore, challenges to the very Word of God, even the Creation account, are attacks against the person of Jesus Christ, against God in the Flesh, and attacks against the Man are attacks against the Message that He brings to us. We expect such attacks from the World. How horrifying it is when such attacks are tolerated among those who simultaneously claim to trust in the promises that Christ brings to us in His Message of Salvation, and it is inexcusable that such individuals would issue these attacks themselves.

The question for the Christian isn't "What does Science say about the first three chapters of Genesis?" Rather, the ultimate question is "Do you really believe in the physical death and bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and trust His promises for your eternal salvation?" – for such belief and trust will not permit sacrilige against God or His Word, and imbues the believer with full confidence in what it directly states, leaving him with the very valid and necessary apologetic task of answering worldly challenges to the veracity of the Creation account, along with many many other challenges that the world derives great pleausure in attacking us with, in a way that directs focus away from such rationalistic barriers to salvation, and instead upon the person and work of Jesus Christ and the saving Message of the Gospel which He personally brought to us.

My Thoughts,

Douglas Lindee

Daniel Baker said...

Mr. Lindee,

I agree with your sentiments, especially with regard to your comments about not using science to prove the Scriptures accurate and vice versa. We know the Scriptures are true by faith, which is given by the Holy Spirit - not by science.

As far as my concerns with how Answers in Genesis makes a mockery of our beliefs to the heathen world, a quick walkthrough of demonstrates non-Christian refutation of AiG assertions.

Now of course you can say that the entire website is a string of lies propagated by an evolutionary bias, and there's nothing I can do to combat that assertion. But on a personal level, I cannot believe that virtually all of the scientific community knowingly rejects actual scientific fact due to a deep-seated desire to abhor creationism and, to a greater extent, Christianity. My skepticism of this notion goes even deeper when considering the fact that almost half of the scientists who accept evolution claim to be theists as well.

Don't get me wrong - I recognize the need to maintain the integrity of the Genesis account and the full consel of Scripture. But I question if following the methods of the Evangelical community, i.e. AiG - and remember, Ken Ham is an Evangelical Baptist - is the right answer.

A couple of years ago I picked up Ham's "The Lie: Evolution" from Northwestern Publishing House. Initially, I embraced the book. In retrospect, however, literature such as that builds up the first chapter of Genesis to a level at which it doesn't belong. The account of creation, as you rightly pointed out, is meant to compliment the subject of Scripture - that being, Christ - not the other way around. When it is asserted that accepting the theory of evolution destroys the Christian faith, our salvation is then made contingent upon whether or not evolution is accurate.

I have had numerous - and I mean numerous - friends (mostly Evangelical) apostatize because of this false dichotomy. All the evidence that they saw pointed toward evolution and, thanks to material like Ken Ham's, they logically concluded that Christianity must be false. In contrast, as Lutherans we know that our faith is founded on Jesus' blood and righteousness. We know that our faith has come from God the Holy Ghost Himself, through His efficacious Word (as you rightly asserted, Mr. Lindee). Our faith, consequently, is not dependent on the falsifiability of evolution.

My point in all of this is that, when the faith is made contingent on some point of science, then whoever has the most convincing scientific argument is the victor (and, if you look at, 9 times out of 10 that is not Answers in Genesis). When the center of the faith, on the other hand, is made Jesus' blood and righteousness, everything else melts away and petty debates over evolution become rather inconsequential - I learned that the hard way.

In closing, I must admit that, as your weaker brother, my soul, conscience, and faith is still deeply offended and grieved by this topic. I tend to avoid discussions on this issue for that very reason, but as it appeared on one of my favorite blogs, I felt compelled to offer my thoughts. As such, please bear with me if I have not elaborated in a satisfactory manner.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


I sympathize with your struggle, and your comments are welcome.

You wrote, "But on a personal level, I cannot believe that virtually all of the scientific community knowingly rejects actual scientific fact..."

First of all, it's not a matter of rejecting fact. As I said before, we all have the same facts, the same evidence. "This plant fossil has X amount of carbon-14." No one disputes that. "This star is X number of light years from that star." "This fossil was found in a layer with that fossil." No one disputes that. But how does one explain the evidence? It depends whether or not one accepts, by Spirit-given faith, the Biblical record. If one accepts that record, then one seeks an explanation that is consistent with that record. If one wishes to have observational science serve as the starting point, well, that's fine, but man is notoriously arrogant when it comes to what he thinks he knows and is capable of extrapolating over long periods of time and unfathomable distance.

"...due to a deep-seated desire to abhor creationism and, to a greater extent, Christianity."

No one is saying that evolutionists reject creationism out of a conscious hatred for Christianity. But their refusal to believe God's Word forces them to come up with their own interpretation of the evidence. They are the "scoffers" who, as Peter says, "deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water."

"My skepticism of this notion goes even deeper when considering the fact that almost half of the scientists who accept evolution claim to be theists as well."

Being a theist and being a believer in God's Word are two totally different things. I have yet to see a "theistic" evolutionist who can fit his theories in with 1) The order of the days of Creation, 2) The existence of a real Garden of Eden and a real Adam and Eve, 3) The real Fall into Sin and Promise of a Savior and 4) The fact that animal and human death is solely the result of Adam and Eve's sin.

Yes, our faith is founded on Jesus' blood and righteousness. But of which Jesus? A "spiritually interpretted" Jesus whose human history is insignificant, who is the biological result of millions of years of divinely guided evolution? Or the Jesus who is truly descended from Adam, Seth, etc.? We can only know the eternal Word from the eternal Word.

So faith is not contingent on some point of science, but entirely on the Word of God. We would be guilty of a sort of Gospel reductionism if we claimed that the only part of God's Word that matters is the story of the life of Christ (I'm not saying you're doing that).

So to go out there, as AiG does, and simply state the Biblical record of the origins of the universe as reliable is not stupid or foolish or disgraceful. It's admirable. And to attempt (with admitted susceptibility to error) to explain the evidence according to that Biblical record is, likewise, admirable. This must include demonstrating how evolutionary conclusions are incompatible with the Biblical record.

I don't mean to sound preachy about all of this. I am grieved that Satan and the world have so successfully afflicted God's children with their lies that God's Word is not reliable. It's the only thing that's reliable in this soon-to-be-destroyed universe.

Daniel Baker said...

Pastor Rydecki,

Since we have opened the can of worms, I would like to discuss the idea of theistic evolution. While I don't subscribe to it as of right now, I would like to address some of your assertions.

You said:

"Being a theist and being a believer in God's Word are two totally different things."

This is true, and I did not mean to imply that theist=Christian or anything of the sort. I don't have the the research on hand, but I suspect that a large majority of those "theists" are Christians. I know many of them first-hand, and for that matter I am familiar with a number of conservative, confessional Lutherans who subscribe to an evolutionary model. Perhaps that seems oxymoronic, but they do exist - and they're not members of the ELCA.

"I have yet to see a 'theistic' evolutionist who can fit his theories in with 1) The order of the days of Creation,"

And you likely never will, because it's virtually impossible. By the same token, I have yet to meet a creationist who can tell me how light came before the sun, or how plants came before the same. There are a number of church fathers who interpret the first chapter of Genesis on a more metaphorical level - including Saint Augustine - while not denying its literal implications, i.e., that God created all that exists.

"2) The existence of a real Garden of Eden and a real Adam and Eve,"

This, on the other hand, I have seen explained. The notion that God selected two of our ancestors and breathed the "breath of life," i.e. spirit, reason, morality, into them is the most commonly asserted scenario. This would not necessarily negate the Garden of Eden or any of the important aspects of the 2nd or 3rd chapters.

"3) The real Fall into Sin and Promise of a Savior and 4) The fact that animal and human death is solely the result of Adam and Eve's sin."

The issue of death is the most complicated part of accepting an evolutionary model, and it's what has kept me from accepting it. The best explanation is that - for the human - it is spiritual death, rather than physical, which is the consequence of sin.

Now, obviously (at least from my perspective) the whole thing leaves something to be desired. Where I'm at right now is basically like this: God created the universe with age. This is something we can all agree on. Adam and Eve were not created as infants (and, as the famous question goes, he did not create the egg before the chicken), nor did God create only seeds, or unformed mountains and islands, etc. God created fully formed adults and a fully formed world. The light which takes millions of years to travel from the most distant galaxies was already here. It is not impossible for me, in light of this, to accept that God created life as a completed evolutionary process. Not that he allowed evolution to "take its course;" simply that he created us with the process already completed.

I'm not saying that's what happened, but it's an easier pill to swallow for me than denying science, Scripture, or both. And, if evolution is wrong, Scripture still maintains its integrity (something which theistic evolutionists would have a problem with). By the same token, if creationists are wrong, Scripture maintains its integrity as well.

These are my thoughts. Please chastise me and point out my error with your pastoral wisdom.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


Only a minute to respond now. I'll try to get back with more later.

For now, let me recommend a book to you, if you haven't already read it. Dr. Jonathan Sarfati's Refuting Compromise. Published by Master Books, and yes, I think I found it referenced originally on the AiG website.

The subtitle is, A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of "Progressive Creationism" (Billions of Years), As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross.

Several of the argumentations you mentioned are addressed in it rather well, I think. Especially important is the question of death, given the importance of Christ's physical (not spiritual) resurrection as the beginning of the reversal of the consequence of Adam's sin, which was physical (not just spiritual) death ("for dust you are, and to dust you will return").

Daniel Baker said...

I have not read it. I will pick up a copy and start from there. Also, thank you for the reference which combats the notion of physical death not being a wage of sin. As I said, that's one of the major reasons I still reject the notion of theistic evolution.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...


I finally found time to compose an answer to your question about differences between Reformed and Lutheran teachings. It was a little too long to post as a comment here, so I posted it as the following blog entry: Differences between Reformed and Lutheran Doctrines

Hopefully this is something like what you were looking for!

Douglas Lindee

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