Ken Ham recently released a rant about compromise in the church. Rather than evaluating any single point, I’m just going to go through a short, point-by-point response. Quotes from the article are in block quotes.
…a big part of our mission is to bring reformation to the church, so of course we expect opposition to our efforts. Sadly, the worst opposition from my perspective is from within the church, since we should expect opposition from the world.- Ham
I would like to know what the “reformation” is that Answers in Genesis (hereafter AiG) hopes to bring about. I suspect it is a reformation of young earth creationism, but that seems to be a fairly major position within the average church anyway. A “reformation” is never restricted to just one point, however, so one must wonder what theology it is that AiG hopes to bring to the forefront.
Stand to Reason states its mission as teaching people “not just what to think, but how to think.” Sadly, their supposed teaching people “how to think” is actually teaching them to think in terms of millions of years and evolutionary ideas. -Ham
Ken next turned to an attack on the ministry group, “Stand to Reason.” Note that the reason it is under attack is because the group is teaching “to think in terms of millions of years and evolutionary ideas…” I found this quote particularly strange, considering that Stand to Reason is a specific and vocal advocate of Intelligent Design. The group goes so far as to offer Intelligent Design as “a scientific alternative to evolution.” As far as “millions of years,” one may say that this is indeed part of teaching people “how to think.” Let’s investigate the evidence. Let’s come to our own conclusions. Let’s think about it.
It seems particularly strange to see an AiG person complaining about others teaching “how to think” because anyone who disagrees with the AiG position on the age of the universe is labeled, ironically, a “compromiser.” Only if you hold the position AiG desires you to hold are you someone who knows “how to think.” Seems like a very strange way to teach “how to think,” doesn’t it?
Hugh Ross believes in an old earth and promotes the day-age and progressive theories of creation. He says God created over millions of years in the same basic order as the secularists claim life evolved (in reality, this is a form of theistic evolution). -Ham
Hugh Ross is a favorite target of groups like AiG. Why? I suspect it is because Ross doesn’t focus exclusively on scientific evidence (which young earth creationists tend to reject as “a different interpretation of the same evidence”) but instead offers alternative theological interpretations.
That aside, this quote from Ken Ham is factually incorrect. It makes me wonder whether he has interacted with Ross’ works on a thoughtful level. Ross certainly doesn’t hold the position outlined above. Ross does believe the timeline science has uncovered matches up with the Biblical account. The important distinction is that Ross leans towards progressive creationism (in the writings of his I have read); in other words, God created species over time. When one species passed away, God brought forth a new one. Initially it may seem that this is how Ham described Ross’ position, but note the last clause in which Ham says this is a form of theistic evolution. That is absolutely incorrect. I know of no theistic evolutionist who would agree that God brings forth new species over time in special creative events. None. Rather, it seems Ham is just using the scare word “evolution” and associating it with any position he disagrees with (see Stand to Reason above).
[Skipping over a number of point-counterpoint rebuttals in Ham’s post.]
They [Stand to Reason/other groups like them] can try to modify things all they want, but what they are doing is compromising man’s ideas of millions of years with the Bible and reinterpreting the clear text of Scripture, thus undermining the authority of the Word of God. They do believe in evolution—it’s just that they just don’t accept the naturalistic neo-Darwinian view but modify their beliefs to suit their purposes of having God create but over millions of years. -Ham
Another juicy quote. Let me break it down. First, Ham is tugging the standard YEC line that anyone who disagrees with their interpretation of Scripture is “compromising” by using “man’s ideas.” Essentially, if you are a Christian who doesn’t believe the universe is 6000-10,000 years old, you are compromising Scripture. Never mind a huge amount of exegetical evidence to the contrary (one thinks of C. John Collins’ study of Genesis; Hugh Ross’ own theological work; Sailhamer; Walton’s important study of Genesis in light of ANE cosmology; etc.), if you disagree, you can’t possibly take Scripture seriously. I have run into this personally a number of times. If you disagree, your position simply cannot even have any merit. Never mind if you offer a reading of Genesis which more closely matches the theological/cultural/historical aspects of the text, you’re just wrong.
Moving on, Ham, in baffling fashion, wrote that Stand to Reason does “believe in evolution.” Again, this is a simple misrepresentation of STR’s position. In fact, Young Earth Creationists “believe in evolution” in the abstract too. What? It’s true. Consider the research YECs do in journals of their own publication. Not only that, but even the “Answers in Genesis Research Journal” does a study of “kinds” in the Bible and asserts, “the Bible’s description of created kinds implies an information model which uses variables. The findings in this paper show that a model which uses variables forms a stronger basis for true scientific understanding of biology and, by implication, the Bible provides a superior foundation for scientific investigation.” Wow, looks like AiG believes in microevolution through variables too! I should therefore reject the site as “compromise.”
The problem is that, as is typical in these types of discussions, such a rejection would be an unfair reading of the opposition. Ham and others put scare words like “evolution”; “compromise”; and “man’s ideas” in the context of their opposition. The tactic is highly rhetorical and has little, if any, substance. The fact remains that Ham is cherry-picking ideas from the opposition, putting them in context with scare words, and then declaring victory.
Overall, one must wonder about a few things based simply upon this recent article. 1) What kind of theology is a group like AiG trying to “reform”? Is their perspective limited only to the age of the universe, or do they have a broader vision? 2) Did AiG inaccurately represent their opposition? 3) No matter what side we take in this debate, should we not try to be fair and honest about the other side’s view? 4) Was Ken Ham fair and honest?
Source: “Compromise Being Spread” Ken Ham, http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2012/05/08/compromise-being-spread/.