Origin Confusions part 3: Limitations and Heresies

 

The last two articles have been steps in developing an article I wrote called Mea Culpa some time ago. I raised a digression, a discussion of the difference between the way an apologist or a theologian approaches this issue, and the need to try to keep from bringing every element of the discussion into our evangelism and our apologetics. Soulwinner’s leave gospel tracts with those they seek to win, they do not leave an entire apologetics library. In short, the apologist is a part of the church’s spiritual munitions industry, the theologian is a part of her domestic industries. Discussing the differences between interpretations of Genesis with an unbeliever is like the digression the woman at the well wanted to make in her discussion with the Lord about where worship should happen. A discussion of origins is well and good with the theologians in the church, but with unbelievers, this is something like explaining the sine, cosine and tangent to those who have not even mastered addition. In these contacts, keep it as simple as possible; answer objections where needed and press the point that all we see cannot come about without a creator.  The first piece, two weeks ago expanded the basic main point of mea culpa, which is the need to exercise charity in the way we discuss issues where Christian brothers disagree on doctrinal issues.

But there is a limit to evangelical charity in these discussions, there are doctrinal commitments that are necessary for one to claim to be an Evangelical, one of which is the infallibility of the Scriptures, and there are some who are crossing that line in this particular issue, particularly writers such as Denis Lamoureux and Peter Enns, who are arguing that the Old Testament is a myth. Let me explain the difference for a moment. A proponent of the day age theory of the earth, or a proponent of the gap theory is not arguing that Scripture is wrong about the origin of the earth and universe, they are arguing that a young earther like myself has misunderstood what Genesis means. Denis Lamoureux and Peter Enns instead argue that the Bible is simply wrong about science and history, and yet still claim to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, they merely argue this term needs to be redefined. I am currently focusing on Lamoureux because I know his work better.

Of course, this is not in keeping with Evangelical teaching, but what these men are doing is trying to redefine the term “inerrancy.” There is a sense in which their use of this term is simple dishonesty, theologians in the twentieth century began to develop a theological vocabulary to allow for a discussion of bibliology that allowed for more nuance, thus inerrancy (Scripture contains no errors) was distinct from infallibility (Scripture contains no errors in doctrine). Of course, because many churches have inerrancy in their doctrinal standards, this becomes a problem for those who disbelieve that the Bible is inerrant. And there are historical reasons to be concerned about those arguing the Bible is infallible but not inerrant, after a while the claims that the Bible is infallible begin to be diluted when inerrancy is abandoned.[1] Yet, Lamoureux does not argue that Scripture is infallible but not inerrant (an honest way of describing his position); to do so would be to cut oneself off from churches and funding that require one to be an inerrantist.

One does not merely disregard an argument because it is inconvenient to the positions one has taken; Enns and Lamoureux have raised an argument that should be answered, and I have been working on these answers amidst other processes. Essentially, their argument is that the Bible reflect ancient science which has been disproven, and therefore we should simply ignore any attempt to apply the Bible to origins and treat the universe as essentially naturalistic with a few miracles allowed in the context of the Gospels (although Lamoureux claims Jesus makes scientific errors as well in discussing mustard seeds). For example, Lamoureux argues that the Old Testament presents the sky as existing of a solid dome, and since this is false, one cannot accept the Bible’s proscriptions about science and therefore we treat Genesis as a myth that contains valuable information. Yet, the problem with his approach is that this ultimately becomes a point where Christianity is falsified, because of the importance of the fall in discussions of Human death in the Pauline epistles and thus Scripture is not infallible either.  One must also wonder about Jesus’s treatment of the Torah as the works of Moses. Again, we cannot simply assert that, because the conclusions are distasteful that the argument is false, although we may argue a counter argument outweighs Lamoureux’s work. But, there are significant problems in the case Lamoureux has made. These include the following:

  1. Lamoureux treats language in the Bible as if it is being used as a scientific term, this is something I call semantic naivete, and I’ve had a piece published in a Answer’s research journal recently discussing this point.[2] My argument is that terms used in ancient science will have had an impact on the language being used to describe the world and metaphorical language overtime becomes a “literal” meaning of the term.
  2. Related to this, the terms used as semantic connections in this theory use secondary sources with the surety as if they were primary sources of information. Lamoureux uses the etymological history of a term as if it were a primary source for understanding it’s meaning, and at other times translations, comparisons to related languages, or translations (such as Lamoureux’s references to the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament) are used as sources to ground his argument. But these are sources of secondary value, and one must therefore modify the certainty of the argument they are raising from these sources.
  3. The approach they take is an old approach that underlies those arguing the gospels are myth. This approach was a common one in the gospels in the past in scholarship and today has some popular levels of support. This is sometimes referred to as an aspect of the religionesgeschitelich Schule or the history of religion approach. For example, Lamoureux argues that the narrative of Genesis one is taken from pagan myth, but has been denuded of references to pagan gods and monsters to make the rhetorical point that God is the originator of creation. The thing about this particular way of discussing the gospels is it misses what actually happened that led to this approach being largely dismissed from the gospels texts. Simple comparison can’t be based simply on age of a tradition, when we don’t have the sources for the Torah or the pagan versions in hand, otherwise we are begging the questions. Just as Lamoureux argues from comparisons to ancient myths, Young Earth Creationists often discuss the flood by comparing it to ancient myths, the only difference being those young earthers usually have a broader number of sources they are working from.[3] The differences in the analysis comes down to assumptions, one can make arguments about what is prior, but just as the Christian YMCA preceded the Hindu YMHA in india, it does not follow that a tradition with older extant material is necessarily prior.

 

Conclusion

I have argued that we ought to exercise charity in our discussions with other believers in issues of origins, and that we should be cautious not to make specific models central to our apologetics. Yet there is a limit to our graciousness, and those claiming the Bible itself contains errors should be treated as we might someone that denies the deity of Christ or the virgin birth. The arguments that these men are raising are themselves flawed, and therefore they do not demonstrate that the Bible is false.

[1] See Marston’s Reforming Fundamentalism. Marston is a historian of the Fundamentalism/Evangelical conflict although he is perhaps better in discussing Evangelicals than Fundamentalists, but it is clear that at Fuller, the faith was watered down and the doctrinal and ethical authority of the Bible were implicitly weakened.

[2] https://answersingenesis.org/is-the-bible-true/phenomenological-language-and-semantic-na%C3%AFvet%C3%A9/ This journal is peer-reviewed.

 

[3] Lamoureux limits himself to Semitic sources, but there are flood narratives in other civilizations, although some borrowing cannot be discounted. There are some scholars who believe Hesiod’s Theogony (a poem discussing the origins of the Greek gods) has roots in Semitic writings.

 

Origin Challenges Pt 2: Theology and Apologetics

Before the hustle and Bustle of Charlottesville, and the answer provided to questions of the Alt-right and its relationship to Christianity, I had started a discussion on origins and Christianity and was taking it in two different directions. The first direction is towards my own growing thoughts on apologetics, something I will call Mere Evangelicalism to honor one of the influences that is leading me in this direction, C S Lewis. Like a lot of apologists, I started reading Lewis as a teller of tales about Narnia, but I have come to understand him as one of the masters of my art.

A Tale of Two Disciplines

When it comes to origins, the question falls into a lot of different disciplines. This includes, for the believer, questions of the exegesis of Genesis 1 and 2, and their impact on the Scriptures throughout the text following. There are also scientific questions, and with this questions of science, and these questions are often resting on unanswered (and perhaps even unasked questions) of philosophy of science. For example, in many cases, Christians are applying an approach to science that is not necessarily considered current, when Christians start discussing evolution they start applying falsification criteria, and seem far more reminiscent of the approach to philosophy of science appealed to by Karl Popper. These in turn point towards other issues, how do we deal with the questions of philosophy, theology, exegesis and science? The scientist, of course, sees his own field as the paramount source of data for a solution, but fails to note that there are no such thing as an unbiased observer and the process of interpreting science has a number of subjective aspects.

 

It seems to me, at least from within a Christian worldview, the questions of origins actually affect two disciplines, one is that of the systematic theologian, who draws from Biblical theology, historical theology, exegetical works, philosophy, etc., and puts forward a statement of how the world came to be and how it fits into God’s economy. Someone who is an Evangelical should at the least make sure this fits within the basic boundaries of orthodoxy, a good test of which are the five fundamentals of the faith. Thus, for example, the moment someone claims the Bible is not infallible, we no longer have a Christian theory to work from.  My argument last time, discussing not that we should weaken our position, but that we should be kinder and more careful about the rhetoric we use when we discuss the issue of origins is primarily based on the way we handle the systematic theological aspect.

A second issue, however, is that of apologetics. Apologetics is a very large field, and like Biblical studies, it requires a great deal of knowledge about a number of different fields, although many apologists, like Lewis have a specialty in some area. Apologists discuss origins from a different angle. A theologian is ultimately interested in the question of which sub-school is correct, an apologist is more interested in the atheist who argues God is unnecessary because of natural selection, and therefore does not exist. There is a danger here, just as theological liberalism developed from Friedrich Schleiermacher and others trying to synthesize Christianity with anti-supernaturalism, it is possible to move into areas that are compromise,[1] but it also means that the apologist must confront different issues from the systematic theologian.[2]   Therefore, I propose a different way of crossing the division to remove systematic theological concerns from apologetics, and apologetics from systematic theological concerns.

 

Mere Evangelicalism

Lewis, in his seminal work, Mere Christianity, which is one of the most influential works outside of the Bible on Christianity, suggested that his goal was not to argue for a specific branch of Christianity. Rather he argued his book was a like a hallway between rooms, and the various rooms were differing denominations and understanding of the faith. While I am unabashedly an Evangelical, I think this makes good sense. While we may, from time to time, defend the trinity with an unbeliever, we do not require someone to be able to write out a theological definition of the trinity before they come to Christ. Nor do we believe someone must understand someone must take a stand on Calvinism and Arminianism—at least not most of us, C H Spurgeon being an eminent exception. Similarly, the apologists concern is not that someone accepts a specific approach to the questions of Genesis, this is something where the complexities of the discussion can be absorbed, to the degree of their ability, as they grown in Him.

Secondarily, as I noted before, I don’t debate inerrancy with an unbeliever, it simply makes no sense. The belief that the Bible contains no errors in faith or no errors in any matter is an important point of Christian theology and frankly, a necessary point for a believer to cross. However, our view of the Bible in theology is itself a conclusion of our belief that the Christian religion is true, we do not believe the Christian religion is true because we believe in the infallibility of the Bible. Therefore, as I’ve noted for some time, I instead want to focus on the reliability of the Bible for apologetics not it’s epistemic and theological character. The latter is important in dealing with heretical forms of Christianity or for answering questions of life and godliness, but to the unbeliever it is as nonsensical as explaining green to someone that has never been able to see.

In apologetics, then, I prefer an intelligent design approach for apologetics rather than discussing a specific theory of origins. While we may need to deal with arguments against Genesis (and we should answer them forthrightly as they come up), the unbeliever will scoff at Genesis not because it is false, but because his understanding is limited to the naturalistic worldview. Jesus did not argue with the woman at the well about where they should worship, He instead shifted the discussion upwards, with unbelievers; the discussions of cosmic fine tuning, for example, are prior to any discussion of biological origins because the universal constants must be in a very narrow band for life to exist at all, micro-biologists such as Behe have noted structures that are not consistent with neo-darwinian evolution, and if evolution were true, it cannot provide an answer to the nature of man (since evolution cannot explain why we like art and literature, our ability to make reliable grounds-consequence statements of belief, nor our moral beliefs). In effect, the goal is to jump over the modern logjam to the questions they do not have an answer for.

[1] Before someone thinks I am going back on my statements in Mea Culpa let me phrase it this way, there is a difference between one who argues there is no error in Genesis, but we have misunderstood it because of errors in translations or because of some point of grammatical phenomenon (ie Genesis does not err, but our interpretation has), and someone who argues that there is a scientific or historical error in the text.

[2]It is true that a theologian may serve as an apologist, and an apologists may do theology, but of course, all this means is that there focus must shift

Vox Day: A Satanic Imitation of Christianity

I recently posted a statement as a Christian response to the Alt-Right in light of the recent domestic terrorist attack during a counter-demonstration against White supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m a Christian apologist, not a politician, and this isn’t a political blog, but sometimes apologetics means more than answering an objection or raising an argument in favor of Christianity. Sometimes it means denouncing someone who is bringing the name of the Lord Jesus into disrepute. Therefore, I want to specifically call out Vox Day to repent of his actions, which are increasingly defaming the Lord’s name.

Vox Day is the nom de plume of Theodore Beale, a popular Alt-Right blogger and “thinker,” and  his blog, narcissistically named Vox Popoli appears to be a crossroads of that movement. Day obliquely promotes racism and claims to be a Christian, though he denies the omniscience of God and the Trinity.[1] He will distance himself from men like Richard Spencer (who coined the term alt-right) when it suits him, such as in response to the terrorist attack over the weekend[2] after a rally Day described as “peaceful,”[3] and he also uses claims to be an American Indian to deflect such charges, admitting this is because it is  rhetorically useful.[4]

Day himself has described the Alt-Right with a sixteen point manifesto,[5] included among these are the claims that the Alt-right values Christianity as one of three pillars of Western Civilization (Point 4) and then includes a variation on the “fourteen words” (point 14). For those who may be unaware the fourteen words,[6] originated with David Eden Lane, a Neo-Nazi and convicted domestic terrorist. The fourteen words are something like the verbal equivalent of a swastika, and Day went on to defend its use, without clarifying what the alleged danger is to western culture,[7] by appealing solely to denotation with little regard or attention to either it’s connotation or it’s usage.[8] As someone who claims National Socialism is a “semiotically useful form of German nationalism,”[9] he cannot claim ignorance of this point.  He has also made claims that intelligence may be understood in racial terms:

“It is absurd to imagine that there is absolutely no link between race and intelligence. DNA is already being used to predict race with a 99 percent level of accuracy by forensic crime labs, and there is not a single shred of evidence, empirical, historical, anecdotal or documentary, that suggests intelligence is the sole human attribute which is distributed equally throughout humanity. While the relationship between race and intelligence has not yet been fully understood, there is far more reliable evidence for the existence of such a relationship than there is for many widely-accepted scientific theories, including the theory of evolution, string theory, multiple universes and so forth.”[10]

Some in the alt-right also use a series of parentheses around Jewish names, usually this seems to indicate that Jewish surnames echo through history, which is more than a little reminiscent of conspiracy theorys about Talmudic Judiasm raised by Czars, Nazi’s and Islamo-fascist regimes.  Day engages in this activity, and has apparently had his Twitter account blocked for anti-Semitic behavior.[11]

As I noted last time, this is not in accord with Scripture. Paul’s epistles leave no room for racism, contra-Day,[12] Paul very clearly made it plain that Peter was in sin when he withdrew from fellowshipping with gentiles.[13] Paul also called into question the partisan spirit of the Corinthian church.[14] Throughout his epistles he calls people across different ethnic and class lines to a new life in the Kingdom of Christ.  Of course, Christians may very well take different positions on trade deals, immigration or US foreign policy, but not when taken on the grounds of ethnic segregation.[15] This is in fact contrary to the church, which is the result of the “breaking down of the wall of emnity” between Jews and Gentiles.[16] Even the passage most misquoted by segregationists is itself rooted in an affirmation that we are all one blood.[17] None of this is present in Day’s rhetoric or spirit.

Therefore, whatever else he may be, it is time to unequivocally state, Vox Day is no Christian, his claim should be refuted, and he should be treated as a heathen and a publican.

[1] http://voxday.blogspot.com/2012/03/false-doctrine-of-trinity.html last accessed 8-14-2017

 

[2]http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/08/stupidity-is-no-substitute-for-strategy.html last accessed 8-14-2017

[3]http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/08/riot-police-called-out-in.html last accessed 8-14-2017

 

[4] http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/08/did-not-see-that-coming.html last accessed 8-14-2017

 

[5] http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/what-alt-right-is.html last accessed 8-14-2017

 

[6] We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

 

[7]https://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/in-defense-of-14-words.html last accessed 8-14-2017

 

[8]Of course the answer to Day’s dare is that he has not expressed what danger he seems to think threatens my existence or the existence of white children. There is no biological pathogen that I am aware of to target our DNA, no plot put forward for white genocide, and in fact few in America even among the Antifa movement would be willing to consider such an extreme. What is the point except provocation?

 

[9]https://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/09/of-alt-west-and-alt-white.html last accessed 8-14-2017

 

[10]http://www.voxday.net/  last accessed 8-14-2017

[11] http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/05/why-i-was-blocked-from-twitter.html last accessed 8-14-2017

 

[12] http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/06/life-in-post-white-not-america.html last accessed 8-14-2017

 

[13]Galatians 2:11-21

[14] First Corinthians particularly chapters 1-4.

 

[15]Nor are the fears of some cultural genocide rational, Rome was successful in part because it was profligate with it’s citizenship to colonies, and because it intentionally assimilated people and ideas from other cultures, particularly through auxiliary units serving in the legions. This would be an example of how the failure of civic nationalism is not the failure that Day claims, although one may very well question whether the modern American society is able to maintain this stance in a post-Christian age.

[16]Ephesians 2:14

[17]Acts 17:26

A Christian response to the Alt-Right

I have seen some, though likely not all the news about a rally of white supremacists referring to themselves as the “alt-Right” in Charlottesville VA. Blood has been spilt, though I won’t claim to know by whom. I will not claim to know everything on the ground, so I will make no specific statements on what has actually happened, the news feed on the internet is currently providing more commentary than facts, and I don’t have cable. Additionally, since sensationalism sells ads, I want to be careful not to reference some specific fact or statement that might be retracted by morning. I will answer in principle alone.

Christians, however, will almost undoubtedly be drawn in, at the same time as our current president (who is not known for his erudition or careful statements of principles) will have his every statement parsed for hidden sympathy with racism. It will be implied every supporter of his cause, including many white evangelical Christians, will be compared to the Nazis and Klan. Let me be plain. There is no justification for racism in the Bible. Paul clearly states that the goal of the church is spreading the gospel to every tribe and nation (Romans 15), and that the church is to be a place where Greeks and Jews are on equal footing (Galatians), and there is no justification for ignoring this principle on the grounds of skin color. It is true that the visible church has not always been on the Bible’s side in this issue, unfortunately, the Church is culturally situated and it is all too often a problem that worldly philosophies find their way into the church. The book of First Corinthians was written to a church with serious problems, many of them implicitly gained through the culture they were situated in. The same is no less true, unfortunately, for the church today.

Many people may ask why the Church has been so slow to condemn the alt-right, but this assumes that they understand the movement’s true nature, and that the alt-right is honest in describing themselves as a right-wing movement. American conservatives believe in a few basic things, the rule of law (with it strict constructionist interpretation of the constitution, equal treatment of citizens under the law, and a restoration of the checks and balances enshrined in the constitution), a rejection of non-market based economic models (including Keynesian, Marxist and neo-Marxist economic principles, which are rejected on largely empirical grounds) and opposition to totalitarianism.[1] There are other issues that go in and out of favor with conservatives (the principle of peace through strength, concern about the national debt, and a belief that the government needs downsizing in secondary and tertiary functions due to spending). There are also social conservatives who are concerned with public morals and the decline of society, but some of these are political moderates. The Alt-Right rejects conservatism outright, if you don’t believe me read a few alt-right blogs, you will generally find a great deal of antipathy for conservative principles. The thing about Nazi’s and fascists is they are far closer to the early twentieth century progressives than to modern American conservatives.

The reason why the church has not spoken more loudly, is the problem of our modern political propaganda machines.[2] The word “racist” is sometimes used so freely that it has become somewhat meaningless. If a politician or a commenter calls someone a racist, then it immediately moves his opponent to the defending himself, and the accuser wins points in the propaganda battle. The boy has been crying wolf, and now when a real wolf has departed the fringes of American society (where they have been napping), the cries have been ignored. Maybe Charlottesville will change that. Most Christians probably had very little idea to what the Alt-right was because they weren’t paying attention.  I may disagree with liberals on the wisdom or the justness of their ideas about the means to dealing with racial bigotry, but the ends are not different.

Let it be clear I denounce any group that claims racial superiority, as this denies that man is made in the image of God. I repudiate anyone who attempts to identify this movement with the cross of Jesus Christ as an ugly heresy, to oppress another with the symbol of freedom from sin by the torture and death of the Lord of Life is a crime and should be met with excommunication. I repudiate as both a Christian and an American any attempt to use violence to forward a political end in a stable democracy. Totalitarian brings with it great evil, and I oppose the alt-right, white nationalism, and any such group for their racism. I also oppose any other totalitarian groups who oppose free speech or are willing to use violence to further their ends, including the modern fascist movement known as “Antifa.”

[1] I am not here to defend conservative positions, though I am a conservative. These are not listed for debate, that is the role of a political blogger, I note this only for definition and clarification.

[2] In fact, the worst possible outcome of Charlottesville will be continued appropriation of the matter for political advancement, particularly by extremist groups that are equally bad to the white nationalists in Charlottesville. Sometimes Communist movements are treated as early victims or early principled opposition to Hitler in the rise of the Third Reich, but in many senses, they weren’t all that different. Like the early Nazi’s, the communists had their brigades of stormtroopers, their attempted violent coups and overthrows of the government, and their lists of enemies to be killed. Part of Hitler’s strategy during the thirties was the highlighting of martyrs to the Nazi cause to paint himself in a sympathetic light. Some of these martyrs, such as Herbert Norkus were murdered by members of the Communist Rote Jungfront (the communist counterpart to the Hitler Youth). In a war between the White Nationalists or the Antifa movement, whoever wins, America will be the poorer.

Origin Challenges Part 1: Clarification and Cordiality

I’ve recently been published in Answer’s Research Journal, a peer-reviewed young earth academic journal connected with Answers in Genesis. The piece they published was a rebuttal of one author connected to a movement that seems to be reintroducing a new model of theological liberalism as a substitute for Christianity. Before discussing the piece, though, I want to lay out where I currently am in discussions of the article I published entitled Mea Culpa a year ago, and this discussion, again, opens another issue, which is my own growth in the understanding of an apologist’s mission, limits and the distinctive role an apologetic ministry carries with it.

The issue is charity not change

I was and am a young earth creationist, and while I always am willing to re-review the scriptural data, the presence of thorns in fossil layers with dinosaurs and the problem of evil[1] to me indicate that a Young earth model is still the most self-consistent with a Christian worldview. There are scientists who have filled in gaps and built a Young Earth model that demonstrates how this consistently fits with the scientific evidence, though I will leave those discussions to those who are experts in those fields, this is an issue I will discuss in a later article. The point of the piece I entitled Mea Culpa wasn’t a change in my position, it was a change in my rhetoric, stemming from a discussion with the professor who was running my colloquium, Dr.  Ted Cabal, who has recently published a book on the controversy of the age of the Earth within the church. There is this long running habit among believers to draw interest to a topic by escalating the importance of the issue, this happens with baptism,[2] with eschatological positions,[3] or with Calvinism and Arminianism. My discussion with Dr. Cabal convinced me that I was part of a way of discussing this issue that I already believed was destructive, and also that I was previously using the word “compromise” in a different way than others were.[4]

Please note, I said “I already believed was destructive.” I am a part of a group on facebook called the Christian Apologetics Alliance, (along with a few other groups I would like to spend more time with, but work, school and family already take up much of my time). I’ve noticed when issues involving origins come up, it is difficult to wade through the character assassinations to get to the main point. More often then not, therefore I avoid those discussion after a bad experience on that board two or three years ago. While Dr. Cabal’s work focused on this in terms of the Young Earth movement, I’ve seen similar things from Progressive creationists and from theistic evolutionists. Quite frankly, far too often these discussions produce more heat than light, and there is a certain degree of hubris we should all avoid; Evangelicals should hold themselves to be imperfect interpreters of an infallible text.

The two great dangers are that we choose to fight no battles for the purity of the faith, or we choose to treat every issue as a Fundamental. Paul on the one hand warned against teaching any other doctrine, and that those who preached another gospel were to be accursed, but he also warned that the heretic after the second admonition was to be excommunicated as well, the underlying term referring to a person who bring division (contextually perhaps unnecessary division) and strife. Ironically, it is always easier to see this in others rather than in ourselves, and yet seeing it in ourselves is often where understanding it is most crucial. It is ironic how many of the critics of the radical wing of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement so often sound like the very radicals they claim to be crusading against. Whether one is a radical IFB supporter of the King James Bible, anti-calvinism, and premillennialism, or alternately the anti-IFB crusader declaring premillinialism heresy or claiming the IFB movement is somehow the fall of the American church, the message sounds the same. As James warned us, the wars in our midst often come from our flesh. This does not mean we must give up doctrinal discussions or debates, but rather the tone in which the discussion happens.

What does this mean

I’m taking this discussion in two separate directions, both stemming from what I have laid down here. The first will be a brief discussion of my own (developing) riff on CS Lewis as he has influenced my own development as an apologist, and that is the need to divide theological issues from the “mere evangelicalism” of our apologetic. In a sense, we need to remember that people need not understand the full panoply of faith to be a believer at the point of their entrance, there are elements of growth that come later. The second, however, is to remember that Satan has his army at the gates of the castles, along with the sappers digging underneath, and there is a particular problem developing within the issue of the Bible’s discussion of origins that must be challenged.

[1]The problem in a sense is that the theistic evolutionists is forced to give up the “freewill defense” in dealing with the deductive problem of evil or in dealing with the various inductive approaches one must forego “freewill theodicy.” It is true that this particular problem is less problematic for one group of progressive creationists, the gap theorists, who argued that the fall of Satan had led to the destruction of a primeval world, which God then recreated, the problem with this theory is that it was based on a faulty understanding of the language of Genesis 1, but it does seem peculiar to my way of thinking that the fall of Satan is not a larger topic of discussion during these debates. Yet even this approach as a weakness, the system requires the assumption that the fall of Satan was before Genesis 1, but if this is the case, how is everything that has been created “good” on day seven?

 

[2]One occasionally hears it argued that infant baptism leads to the collapse of denominations into apostasy, but one sees the same argument raised by those in favor of infant baptism insisting the real danger is treating children as if they are not part of the church until they make a profession of faith.

[3]One currently hears amillenial believers talking about how new premillennialism is (usually disconnecting the modern premillennialists from the early church’s similar position which they refer to as “chilism”). Yet premillenialists have often noted that the amillenial position evolved out of an attempt to deal with passages that show Rome in a bad light during the age of Constantine.

[4]For the record, I have never thought that Gleason Archer, Bruce Waltke or others who hold different positions were intentionally changing or watering down the faith. I’ve always felt arguments about B B Warfield by modern Young Earthers were a bit myopic, it is difficult to argue one of the nineteenth centuries most prolific defenders of inerrancy was somehow intentionally compromising inerrancy.

My point was always that as Christians in a non-Christian world, it is easy for us to borrow from the beliefs present in our cultural context uncritically. Nor was this merely attacking opponents, as I study theology this one of several issues that is always in the back of my mind when I try to navigate thorny issues, creationism included. Quite frankly, this is simply an area where guilt from my past reminds me to be cautious in my present.