. . . and it’s not Genesis. It’s Culture War.
One might think that the central narrative that drives the apologetic, educational, and evangelistic efforts of the Answers in Genesis (AIG) para-church (or more accurately extra-church) organization is Genesis (or maybe just Gen 1-11). Yet, digging beneath the Christian veneer which presents Ken Ham and adherents to AIG’s version of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) as brave defenders of the Bible and “Biblical” Christianity in an increasingly secular and anti-Christian world it becomes clear that the real narrative core of Answers in Genesis is this Culture War and not Genesis at all.
The driving force behind all AIG activity and propaganda is a merciless campaign with a stark US v. THEM worldview. The US in this war is Answers in Genesis and its adherents with Ken Ham as the de facto general. The THEM is everyone else. The “uncompromising” and socially divisive culture war that has led ironically to many American evangelicals compromising many of their moral principles for the sake of political power — a decidedly unChristian position.
As AIG Canada led by Calvin Smith (formerly of Creation Ministries International) becomes more active in my own country and gains influence among evangelicals, I am concerned that these Christians will imbibe AIG’s Culture War along with their equally problematic reading of Genesis as a scientific text.
AIG’s events are often framed in terms of apologetics training. They offer to teach people how to defend their faith in this increasingly secularized world. Yet, unlike traditional apologetics, the emphasis is not on explaining and defending the gospel (Jesus’s good news of the Kingdom of God) but on defending YEC against “secular scientists” and defending AIG’s peculiar interpretation of the Bible from Biblical Scholarship (including evangelical Christian scholars like N.T. (Tom) Wright, Bruce Waltke, Pete Enns, John Walton, etc.). The best apologetics from Justin Martyr to C.S. Lewis has been rooted in taking the best arguments of one’s “opponents” and presenting the best counter-argument (indeed, this method always results in the best scholarship — iron sharpens iron). Yet, AIG resorts to misrepresentation and caricature in their presentations to win the hearts and minds of those who are genuinely seeking ways to defend their faith and witness to their neighbours.
To be blunt, AIG apologetics is really a way of keeping Christians (especially young Christians) from genuine dialogue and education. The bulwark that keeps this defensive shield in place is fear. Fear that exposure and acceptance of the findings of legitimate scientific discovery (especially evolutionary theory, geology and astrophysics) and modern biblical scholarship that seeks to understand the Biblical texts according to their genre and their original historical context will inevitably lead to the rejection of Christ. This fear shuts down genuine dialogue and prevents Christians from raising legitimate questions. These are the tactics of a cult (perhaps, CULT-ure War) and not the methods of an educator. Neither God nor the Scriptures have nothing to fear from someone asking questions.
As with any other cult, for Ken Ham and AIG, those included in the US are a very small group of Christians relatively speaking as the Them includes the majority of Christians including other Young Earthers who do not embrace AIG’s peculiar interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis (there is ample evidence for this on their website). Of course, this results in the majority of Christians in the world past and present falling on the wrong side of the culture war. In their materials, Ken Ham and AIG frequently refer to Christians as “compromised” who are then described as being on a slippery of slope toward embracing secularism and rejecting Christ.
You can imagine what effect this emphasis on YEC and its being shifted into the place of an essential Christian doctrine might have on individual’s perception of his or her fellow Christians and churchgoers.
AIG assumes that their decidedly modern interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis as a scientific eye-witness and historical account of the creation of the cosmos is the only faithful interpretation of this ancient Hebrew text. Thus, if one rejects their interpretation, then one is ostensibly rejecting God’s authoritative and historical “eye-witness” account of the creation of the cosmos. For Ken Ham, anyone who rejects AIG’s peculiar interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis have placed themselves on the slippery slope that will inevitably lead to denying the historical validity of the rest of the scriptures including the death and resurrection of Jesus.
For most of my Christian life, I saw YEC as a marginal and relatively insignificant issue. Yet, organizations like AIG and Creation Ministries International