The Central Narrative of Answers in Genesis

. . . 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

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Revelation of Jesus Christ to John in exile on Patmos 2

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. (Revelation 1:1-2, ESV)

“Revelation”, the common english translation of the greek word “apocalypsis” (αποκαλυψις) which opens this text, is such a familiar term that its basic meaning is almost lost to our ears and eyes. Similarly, the term “apocalypse” has come to refer to any large-scale catastrophic event that threatens the extinction of humankind and life as we know it i.e. zombie apocalypse. (Pace Rick Grimes et al.)

But slow down and listen to the text. John’s first readers did not have this linguistic and cultural baggage hanging on these terms. They were not dispensationalists. There was no such thing as guns or atomic bombs. They had not heard of global warming. John and his early readers had their own linguistic and cultural milieu which shaped their understanding of the term “apocalypse” and the other terms, allusions, and images John uses throughout this prophetic letter to the Christian communities in first century Asia Minor. Like learning a new language, it takes some mental effort and yes some reading and research to understand and interpret an ancient text, including those included in our Scriptures.

Continue reading “Revelation of Jesus Christ to John in exile on Patmos 2”

The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John of Patmos

Learning to Hear What John has Written

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:1-3, ESV)

Continue reading “The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John of Patmos”

Answers In Genesis is Coming to Canada

Are you excited by this news? Are you appalled by this news? Are you angered by this news? Are you totally confused by this news because what’s “Answers in Genesis”?

Whatever your reason for clicking through to my blog, welcome. I hope you find my posts on this organization and the linked resources helpful and informative as you prepare for the arrival of Ken Ham and his Fantastic Ark in the Great White North.

Whether you are a churchgoing Christian like me, an atheist, agnostic, or come from an other faith tradition, you should become familiar with Answers in Genesis and the possible implications for its official arrival in Canada.

What is Answers in Genesis and Why Should You Care?

Continue reading “Answers In Genesis is Coming to Canada”

“Moore” Relevant Biblical Passages

Whitewashed Tombs

In the wake of the allegations against Judge Roy Moore, many American evangelicals are pulling out the defences, excuses, and verbal acrobatics that they used in the face of the myriad sexual allegations against then candidate Donald Trump, especially in the wake of the Access Hollywood recording in which Trump confesses his predatory habits and even identifies the approaching female host as a potential victim should the opportunity arise. Alongside multiple accusations of inappropriate sexual advances, Moore has been accused of assaulting women as young as 14 years old. The accusations against Moore come amidst a wave of such allegations that hopefully reflect a sea change in American culture that will allow women and girls to come forward more quickly and while the cases may still be prosecuted. I hope this trend in the U.S. spills across the border into Canada as well.

As they do in relation to Trump, many self-professing American evangelicals are taking comfort in and finding refuge behind ill applied biblical passages to diminish the voices of Moore’s accusers and maintain their loyalty to the Republican Party. In a culture in which being Republican and being an evangelical Christian are often treated as synonymous, one’s loyalty to the party now trumps (pun intended) one’s loyalty to creed or historic standards of Christian morality. For many people (including some white male evangelical Christians like myself), the level of hypocrisy is so patently obvious that I’m surprised it does not produce a detectable stench. If I read the Psalms and prophets correctly, it is a stench in God’s nostrils.

Continue reading ““Moore” Relevant Biblical Passages”

Those who say Eugene Peterson was motivated by money or reputation know neither the man nor his work.

citizenofnomeancity

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When a religious news site carried an interview with Eugene Peterson in which he was pushed on his views on homosexuality and during which he said that under some circumstances he might officiate at a same-sex wedding, Christian cyberspace went into overdrive.

I stayed quiet because, as a friend, I wanted to process the implications of such a statement and perhaps have the chance to contact him directly; but mainly because, knowing the man and trying to discern the context of the original interview, I fully expected a clarification or retraction to follow, as indeed it did.

Predictably, after his retraction, certain groups and individuals were as quick to prejudge his motives and insult him, as other people had been to denounce and condemn him a few days previously. But far and away the most ludicrous accusation is that Peterson was motivated by the threat of Christian publishers to…

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Speak Up and Into the Face of Prejudice: Diffusing an Anti-Muslim Incident in London, ON

forest city blogger

Last week, I intervened when a white male was verbally harassing a Muslim man in a coffee shop. I grew up in a bi-racial home, I lived in Texas for eight years and I have never witnessed such overt prejudice in my life.

I heard the bully loudly spouting some offensive nonsense before I realized that his seemingly generalized comments had a specific target. When he turned from issuing general statements to asking direct questions of someone, that’s when I first noticed the Muslim man.

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Ham-Handed Hermeneutics VIII: The Hexæmeron of Basil of Cæsarea – Preface

IN his Hexæmeron, a Lenten series of homilies on the six days of creation, Basil of Caesarea provides us with his interpretation of Genesis 1. In contrast to the default practice of reading Genesis 1 metaphorically or allegorically, Basil insists upon a literal reading of Genesis 1.

As I am writing this series of posts, in the season of Lent, I plan to proceed by giving each Homily its own separate post. Hopefully, at the end of this series, I will be able to write a post summarizing the Hexameron as a whole and its relation to modern YECism. So, what you will see in this series of posts is my own grappling with Basil’s exegesis of Genesis 1 as kind of a running but far from exhaustive commentary.

You can find the full text of Basil’s Hexameron and other extant writings of the Church Fathers on CCEL.org. Continue reading “Ham-Handed Hermeneutics VIII: The Hexæmeron of Basil of Cæsarea – Preface”

Stop Playing Chess on my Checkerboard!

In the past few weeks, I have had numerous on-line interactions with YECists (Young Earth Creationists). Prior interactions inspired my recent posts on the tendency of many YECists to react to simple statements in accord with orthodox Christian doctrine with shock and seemingly “righteous” indignation and, subsequently, in defense of their YEC beliefs and supposedly in defense of Christian orthodoxy, they frequently make assertions deemed heterodox by the Christian tradition.

When the error is brought to their attention via relevant quotes and links to texts, YECists will not change their position but change the authoritative source of their assertion. That is, in their initial reaction, they will claim that their position is the traditional orthodox position. Yet, when I or someone else provides evidence from Church Fathers, councils, and creeds to demonstrate their error, then, persisting in their error, YECists will reject the arguments of the Church Fathers, councils, and creeds. Usually, at this point, YECists will then claim that it does not matter what the Church Fathers, councils and creeds say for those teachings are the “fallible words of men” and their position is based in the “infallible Word of God.” In other words, they retreat into the argument that their position is the biblical position based on the plain reading of the text (of course). Any position that is contrary to their position is then obviously not biblical but shaped by non-authoritative extra-biblical sources.

Of course, for those of us familiar with the development of doctrine, this begs the question (and I think I am using this idiom in its proper sense from logical argument). Arius assumed that his teachings were biblical. Apollanaris assumed his teachings were biblical. Yet, whether YEC and indeed the doctrine of inerrancy into which YECists ultimately retreat are biblical and in such a way that excludes all other interpretations of the Scriptures is precisely the question at hand.

Having a “dialogue” (and I use the term loosely) with a YECist is quite predictable in its circularity and its self-serving inconsistency. I have written the following dialogue as a way to draw you into the limited circle of reasoning that is characteristic of YECism. Continue reading “Stop Playing Chess on my Checkerboard!”

Heresy is the New Orthodoxy II.1: Double-Standards and Hypocrisy

Or I Feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills!

So, last time, I mentioned that a friend of mine posted my Part II of this series on a Facebook page called Evidence for Creation. At first, I watched the discussion unfold without commenting but against my better judgement I jumped into the fray. As with most internet exchanges, it did not end well. It barely started well. And I am certainly not innocent, here. I get a little frustrated after being on the defensive and arguing in circles for about 400 posts. My patience wears a little thin especially when someone suggests that I need still more education and really means that I need to read a particular scholar that agrees with them. Meanwhile, the majority of YEC contributors demonstrate a pervasive anti-intellectualism but I’m the one who needs yet another MA. We’ll get to this double-standard.

What would be apparent to anyone (except the YEC contributors) to this thread would be that at almost every turn of the argument and with every new contributor they confirm the main thesis of my post. My argument is: Many YECists, in their endeavour to defend their commitments to their particular version of “biblical inerrancy”, their peculiar interpretation of Genesis 1, and their belief that the earth is less than 7,000 years old will frequently employ statements and make assertions and recapitulate arguments that were deemed heretical and unorthodox by the Church. Moreover, the traditionally orthodox position that I set forth is greeted as heretical. Additionally, I am frequently rebuked, my faith in and commitment to Christ is questioned, and, so, the question of my salvation is up for grabs (Christ’s grace is apparently not sufficient to cover my supposed doctrinal errors).

Now, as they were responding to my post about Apollinarianism, it was not surprising that the main focus was what Jesus knew, how and when did he know it. Yet, time and again and in predictable circular fashion and as new people joined the thread (having read my post or not), the orthodox position that during the incarnation there  were things Jesus did not know was rebuked as unbiblical and heretical and tantamount to denying Jesus’s divinity.

Double-Standards

Now, a few of the contributors did throw in the occasional theological term like Trinity, person, etc and one individual even mentioned the hypostatic union as though that doctrine somehow supported Jesus’s omniscience during the incarnation. Yet, Continue reading “Heresy is the New Orthodoxy II.1: Double-Standards and Hypocrisy”