I recently responded (Ken Ham on “Compromise” and Stand to Reason) to a blog post–really a rant–by Ken Ham, young earth creationist. Well, Ken Ham apparently took issue with my own posts (and others’–see links at the end), and has offered another response. All block quotes are from Ken Ham’s post “To Help Bring Reformation” and all credit goes to him for the writing of said quotes. For a shorter response to Ham’s latest post, check out Unrecognized Agreement and Unity.
First, it is worth noting that Ham doesn’t cite any specific sources for the views he attacks, so it may be difficult to draw out all the points. To be fair, it seems that at least a few of his points respond directly to my own blog post. I will try my best to draw out Ham’s points while offering another critique.
In my initial post on the topic, I pondered the notion that AiG is seeking to start a reformation. I mean, Ken specifically stated such in his blog. To whit:
Thus, as part of the mission of AiG, we believe we have been called to challenge the church to return to taking God at His Word from the very first verse—we liken this to helping bring in a new Reformation. -Ken Ham
Leaving aside the hidden assumption that any view which is not exactly the same as AiG’s position is, by implication, not “taking God at His Word”… I wondered what exactly it was that Ken Ham and AiG is seeking to do with a reformation–is it a reformation simply pressing YEC or is it a comprehensive, whole-church reformation. Ham responded:
A few Christians reacted to my comments with blogs falsely accusing me (and AiG) of equating such “Reformation” as getting people to believe in young-earth creationism. That is not our motive—and never has been (despite the numerous times we have been accused of such). Really, believing in a young earth is a consequence of believing God at His Word in Genesis. In other words, our efforts are not directly to get people to believe in a young earth, but to get God’s people to take God at His Word in Genesis. -Ham
That’s fair. Ken Ham–and many other young earth creationists–tend to argue that if one takes the Bible at “its Word,” then one will end up as a YEC as well. But how is it that Ham and others assert their position is the position at which one will arrive if one takes the Bible as true? Well, clearly, it is through a specific hermeneutic. In fact, Ham cites it himself as part of the AiG mission statement:
We relate the relevance of a literal Genesis to the church and the world today with creativity. -AiG Mission statement as cited by Ken Ham
Right! Well then it is part of the mission of the group to endorse, legitimize, and put forward as the truth the hermeneutic of reading a “literal Genesis”–by which it is meant a Young Earth view. But of course others read a “literal Genesis” and have no problems with old earth positions and indeed see absolutely nothing in the account as contradicting an old earth position. So, it seems that if YEC is supposedly a consequences of the position AiG holds, then YEC is absolutely part of the “reformation of the church” that AiG is trying to bring about. It is a consequence of their hermeneutic.
But then there is the question of whether or not their are readings of Genesis which allow for or even call for an old earth position. Other inerrantists like C. John Collins or G.K. Beale argue that the passages do not necessitate a young earth position. Thus, it seems like, without argument, we once more have a YEC dismissing other positions as against “believing God at His Word.” This is the kind of subtle ad hominem attack that people who can sense logical fallacies will react against. Notice the dichotomy that is set up: if you “believe God at His Word” you will hold the same position as AiG; but if you don’t hold the young earth position, you therefore do not believe God at His Word. One can’t make a worse accusation against other evangelicals than this.
But hey, why stick with subtlety?
These bloggers and others who falsely accuse us of being focused on young earth creationism are themselves undermining the authority of the Word of God, for which they will be held accountable before the God of creation. -Ken ham
Yes, that’s right. Apparently I (and others) falsely accuse a group named “Answers in Genesis” which actively promotes young earth creationism through books (including children’s books), a magazine, a research journal, and even a VBS program [image on right all credit to answersvbs] (notice that the entire curriculum is focused on Young Earth Creationism: day 1 is in six short days, everything was made; day 2 is the bible says it, that settles it [and note that in Ham’s other post he argued we should teach our children how to think, not what to think–or at least in addition to ‘what to think’]; day 3’s main question is “Can your view of creation affect your view of the gospel?”; day 4 is on intelligent design [admittedly this doesn’t specifically mean young earth]; day 5 is going to teach children there are dinosaurs in the Bible) of focusing on a young earth.
Seriously, you did read that right. I and others are accused of falsely stating that Answers in Genesis is focused on young earth creationism.
Look, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have your ministry focused on a specific area. In fact, I think that Christians who are strong in science, the arts, philosophy, and other areas of knowledge need to step up and do what they’re best at for the glory of the Lord, whether that means making new discoveries in a lab or going and working at a retail job. Do it well! The problem is that Ken Ham is saying we’re falsely accusing Answers in Genesis of being focused on young earth creationism. Sorry, but they are.
Thus it is obvious that millions of years is incompatible with God’s Word. And one does not get millions of years from the Bible—it comes from fallible man’s interpretation of the past.- Ken Ham
Honestly, this has to be the favorite line YECs use: “man’s fallible __________” or some variant. Again, all it does is subtly poison the well. Isn’t it equally possible that man’s fallible interpretation could lead to a young earth view? Let me answer the question: YES. People are fallible, and they make hermeneutical mistakes, science mistakes, and other mistakes. Thus, one could equally say: “It is obvious that the young earth position is not necessitated by the text. To say that it is necessitated is to use man’s fallible interpretations of Scripture.”
Suddenly YEC looks like it is the evil “compromiser.” But I’m not going to take that route. Rather, I want to consider arguments, not attacks on character; I want to consider the text, and not bring eisegesis into it by assuming my position is the only possible interpretation.
I would also be prepared to say that those church leaders who condone “gay” marriage will have compromised Genesis! – Ken Ham
Another classic YEC scare tactics. I pointed it out in my last post responding to Ken Ham. Basically, you take the position you want to refute and then associate it with anything people who already agree with you will think is bad. For example, you could say “Hugh Ross believes in an old earth, just like evolutionists.” Suddenly, the people who read things like AiG’s website know that Hugh Ross is evil.
Here’s the problem: Hugh Ross isn’t evil. The statement is no argument. It’s guilt by association. It’s poisoning the well, and it’s unChristian.
Hey look, he does it again:
Those in the church who compromise Genesis with millions of years and evolutionary ideas are really saying that man’s word is infallible, and God’s Word is fallible! It is the other way round!- Ken Ham
Scare words abundant throughout. No argument, just assertions.
So no, the “Reformation” we are calling the church to is not (as some critics have been recently claiming) to get people to believe in a young earth— it’s having them accept the full reliability of the Bible. Believing in a young earth is a consequence of accepting God at His Word in Genesis.- Ken Ham
Honestly, this is the best piece of the entire blog post. It sums up Ham’s position well. Basically, he goes in with the assumption that the young earth is the only possible reading of Genesis. Thus, if anyone does not hold to a young earth position, they do not “accept God at His Word.” Now, what he’s saying is that it’s not that the reformation is young earth creationism; rather, the reformation is to re-evangelicalize the church: sola Scriptura! Amen!
Here’s the problem: a young earth is not the only possible reading of Genesis, and by putting it forth as such, and explicitly stating that it must be a consequences of “accepting God at His Word,” Ham and others who make similar claims have therefore put their views as God’s views. Their view is, in fact, a consequences of an ultra-literal hermeneutic which they espouse. The text itself does not warrant it. The fact that there is almost limitless reading from authors who argue that the Genesis account is Ancient Cosmology; or that it lines up with one week as part of creation; etc.; alone speaks to the fact that AiG’s position is not necessarily a consequences of the text, but of their hermeneutic: it’s a consequences of their method, not the source.
Bottom Line: Let’s focus on the issues involved in Genesis and the world that God has revealed to us, which is a reliable guide to truth (Psalm 19). The only reason I spend time responding to Ken Ham and others like this is because I do not want such statements to go unchallenged. When a Christian goes around accusing other Christians of being “compromisers” or other scare-words simply because they differ in their interpretation of a passage of Scripture, that Christian needs to carefully rethink the issues and realize “In essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty.” Stop throwing out the accusations. Focus on the issues.
Frankly, I pray this will happen, but I doubt that it will. As long as one holds one’s own methodology and hermeneutic is the only way to do it, there can’t really be thoughtful dialog. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope that maybe Ken Ham and AiG will be willing to work with others who have different views but still hold to inerrancy of Scripture in order to bring about a whole-church reformation towards inerrancy. But that would require AiG dropping the position that only they are right.
Links to Other Responses to Ken Ham’s “Compromise” Posting
Ken Ham on ‘Compromise’ and Stand to Reason– my response to Ham’s initial post.
Compromising the Kingdom– Faithful Thinkers offers a really in-depth critique of Ham’s use of emotional and ad hominem attacks.
A Brief Word on Ken Ham, Stand to Reason, and the OEC/YEC Debate– two really good points raised in this post. How do our attitudes drive people away?