The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Ken Ham really does believe the Bible

Last night, I posted here on The GeoChristian an attempt at satire that some took offence at. I suppose satire will always offend someone, as when Jonathan Swift suggested in his 1729 short story A Modest Proposal that the Irish “problem” could be solved by, well, you can read it for yourself. I guess I am not Jonathan Swift.

I have removed the post, which was entitled, “Ken Ham doesn’t really believe the Bible.”

In my post, I suggested that because Ken Ham is a Baptist, and I am not, he does not really believe the Bible. Of course, all of my doctrines are correct and true to the Bible. If Ken believes differently than I do—and he does—this is clear evidence (so I wrote), that he is a compromiser and is undermining the authority of Scripture. After all, if he doesn’t read certain verses the way I do, he does not really believe what the Bible says.

Of course I regard this as complete nonsense, as anyone who regularly reads The GeoChristian should know. I have been around quite a variety of Christian groups, and know that people I disagree with have good reasons for what they believe, and that my doctrines are not the standard for the church. My fellowship boundaries are pretty broad, with the widest fence being the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. Ken Ham is my brother in Christ, and he and I have much more in common than whatever it is that divides us. We share a love for the Word of God, a desire to see the church built up and taught, and a desire to proclaim Jesus Christ to the nations.

We differ on a secondary matter of Scripture: the age of the Earth. I call this a secondary matter; he calls it a primary one. I call it a matter of interpretation; he calls it a matter of authority.

I apologize to anyone who may have been offended, especially to Ken Ham and to Baptists. My desire is to work towards unity, not to tear down in any way.

———————————————-

Here are some excerpts from the comments from the original post:

K & T — Also, as a complete stranger (but brother!) I’d suggest you be careful not to get caught up in too much of a vendetta against guys like Ken… the spiteful tone of this post is almost as cringe-worthy as most YEC articles I’ve read!

Walter — Your post was rather intolerant of another brother and to state that Baptists are not Christians is crazy. I suggest you reread your post carefully and then remove it. If you do not, it brings your Christianity into question.

I am born again professional geologist and attend an Assembly of God church. I am a fairly recent reader of your blog. When I first read this post this morning, my first reaction was to simply unsubscribe because as a Christian it offended me.

Dustin Smith — After reading through the comments I understand the article much better. I completely agree with the thesis of the article, and I really enjoy reading your posts, so please take it as constructive criticism when I say that this article felt very much like the average YEC article; heavy on statements, jerky logic, and light on grace & peace.

———————————————-

I’ll briefly reply to the above comments:

K & T — I have no desire to be part of any vendetta against Ken Ham. Yes, the post was rather cringe-worthy. As satire, it was intended to be that way. It was an imitation of much of what you and I have read on YEC sites.

Walter — I didn’t mean to imply (even in satire) that Baptists are not Christians. To say that someone does not really believe the Bible is not the same as saying one isn’t a Christian (unless one thinks that people become Christians by believing the Bible). Of course, this is exactly what happens when YEC leaders state that old-Earthers don’t believe the Bible; their followers take an extra step and conclude that old-Earthers are not Christians.  One can believe the Bible and not be a Christian, and one can be a Christian and not believe in biblical inerrancy (I do hold to biblical inerrancy).

Dustin Smith — I agree, the post was jerky and dogmatic, and light on grace and peace. Perhaps that was part of the satire.

———————————————-

Questions:

  1. Is satire or parody directed against fellow Christians ever appropriate? Is there a way that I could have driven home my point using satire that would not have been taken wrongly?
  2. Is there any difference between Ken Ham calling old-Earthers “compromisers who don’t really believe the Bible” because they don’t interpret Genesis the same way he does, and someone calling Ken Ham a “compromiser who doesn’t really believe the Bible” because Ken doesn’t hold to the same position on __________ that they do?
  3. Is the interpretation of Genesis 1 so important that it trumps other doctrines that Christians differ on such as baptism, church government, end times, gifts of the Spirit, or women in ministry?

Grace and Peace

March 4, 2013 - Posted by | Young-Earth creationism | , ,

18 Comments »

  1. Interesting post, this. I find it amazing that people can get so hung up about different interpretations of Genesis 1. From my reading of the New Testament, Christian salvation comes through believing in the resurrection of Jesus, not believing a certain doctrine about Genesis. It’s easy to see which one of the two is the primary issue!

    Comment by bengarry | March 5, 2013

  2. Solid post – I find that the leaders who really change things long term are both very bold, and very humble. Its a hard line to walk. Keep pressing forward :)

    Comment by Dustin Smith | March 5, 2013

  3. sweet! there’s questions;
    1) Its all about expectations. If you were a comedy blog I would have had my ‘humor glasses’ on, but since you often write serious articles, I read it with my “serious glasses.” It’s sometimes lame, but we just suck at reading minds, so paint a big red “X” over the target next time.
    2) Not really, and that’s why I don’t read his blog.
    3) If it was I suspect God would have spent a little more time talking about it. As it is, He briefly says ‘I made it’ … and then spends the rest of the Bible talking about his relationship with us.

    Comment by Dustin Smith | March 5, 2013

  4. Missed the first article sadly but it looks like a good example of Poe’s law:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe's_law

    Been caught a few times myself with this – always include the smiley face.

    Comment by Mark B | March 5, 2013

  5. Note: if no graphical smiley faces are available use the text version :)

    Comment by Mark B | March 5, 2013

  6. Maybe you should have waited until April 1st to post it?

    Comment by Tim Helble | March 5, 2013

  7. 1. I read yesterday’s post and grinned (I appreciated the satire). I’ve always appreciated your respectful tone with YEC, so that’s why I didn’t mind it. I think that we (Christians) should have a healthy sense of humor and be able to gently poke fun at each other. It can teach us humility and how to see things from another perspective. However, those that constantly parody without balancing it with respect and love can harm by tearing down the body of Christ–but I that didn’t apply in this case. There will always be those that take themselves too seriously and will be easily offended. There’s no way to avoid them (although I like the April Fool’s idea).

    2. No, but that’s based on my own personal opinions/convictions regarding primary and secondary issues. Personally, I’m a YEC that thinks the interpretation of Genesis 1 is a secondary issue . . . so I guess that makes me a compromiser. :D

    3. Nope, but again this depends on your definition of primary/secondary issues.

    While I disagree that a full retraction was necessary, I appreciate your clarification. I think having an attitude of grace and respect for fellow Christians does more to build up and advance the Christian faith that having 100% correct doctrine. That’s why I read your blog. :)

    Comment by anovelgirl | March 5, 2013

  8. That didn’t come out quite right: no one has 100% correct doctrine–neither you nor I nor Ken Ham. God’s grace covers our faulty doctrine, so it is only fair that we extend this grace to others.

    Comment by anovelgirl | March 5, 2013

  9. anovelgirl,

    I suppose a retraction wasn’t necessary, but I decided it would be best to go beyond what is necessary.

    I’m glad that you (as a literature person) quickly identified my post as satire. It would be a pity if we had to write SATIRE at the beginning of an essay just to make sure everyone understands; even then I suppose some would take offense.

    Comment by geochristian | March 5, 2013

  10. I’m not normally a person who “takes offence” easily, and I’m actually disappointed (and slightly embarrassed) that you took the post down. I understood the satirical nature of the original post, although it wouldn’t have been clear to everyone – I think commenter Mark B was exactly right about Poe’s law!

    In response to your questions:

    1) I honestly don’t know. Is it possible to use satire against Christians and still “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”? (eph 4:29). I avoid using it myself, even though I tend to find satire like the Onion hilarious….

    2) No, in both cases it’s disturbing and ridiculous.

    3) No… for the most part, these issues are all distractions.

    Please feel free to continue using satire if you’re happy to do so. I wouldn’t have been bothered to comment if not for the fact that I had been hoping for stronger support for infant baptism than what was provided. I’m always looking for insight into what convinces people to believe slightly different doctrines than I do, and open to changing my own if the evidence is there!

    Cheers,
    Tim

    Comment by K & T | March 6, 2013

  11. K & T — I purposefully made a weak case for infant baptism (though all those verses were relevant and I could have made a much stronger case). It paralleled the the common YEC tactic of saying things like “Genesis says ‘evening and morning’” as if that settled the case.

    Comment by geochristian | March 6, 2013

  12. Yeah, that YEC tactic, combined with childish catchphrases like “goo-to-you evolution”, make me even more reluctant to identify with them…

    Comment by K & T | March 6, 2013

  13. Well, I guess some people are so literal-minded that they don’t “get” most satire. I suppose that is the danger, such as it is, with satire. Not everyone has the same type of sense of humor. I have noticed that some people who are very strident and who blast anyone who disagrees with them are often the first people to be offended if someone says something negative or even joking about what they believe.

    1. I don’t know. I enjoy satire but I guess it is a poor tool if your intent is to win someone over from the other side. I have read satire (not what you wrote) that was very mean-spirited and if it gets to that point it can be negative and unfunny rather than something that could win someone over.

    2. No, I don’t think there is a difference. Often people who are strident YEC advocates (not all YEC advocates, just certain strident ones) in my experience will also take other secondary issues and say that only “real” Christians can believe thus and such and if you disagree you are a “carnal Christian,” or are ignorant and cannot read the Bible, or you are “unsaved.”

    3. Genesis 1 should not trump everything. There is the problem of the authority of scripture and how you can reconcile the words of Genesis to modern science. YEC followers look at Genesis 1 through modern eyes and expect each sentence to have literal meaning and scientific validity. Then they construct a “science” to fit what they think is the literal meaning. This is a great distraction from greater issues. The creation story of Genesis is different from the pagan creation myths – it shows that God (not gods) exists and is above and separate from nature. Instead, people are distracted by being led down a rabbit-trail of convoluted arguments about the speed of light, fossils, etc.

    Comment by Jacob | March 6, 2013

  14. My first response to your original post, as I relayed it to my husband, was that GeoChristian is feeling particularly snarky today. I read him the post and we both had a good laugh. Knowing your true positions on the matter from your blog and having just read the Christian Post article about Ken Ham (Around the Web, 3/3) and Ham’s blog post it referenced helped intensify the satire and enjoyment.

    As for your questions:
    1) I’m not sure if it is appropriate to use satire against fellow Christians or not. Satire is used in the Bible — Elijah and the prophets of Baal comes to mind first, but there are other passages in the prophets, usually to shock someone out of a sinful attitude or behavior. While I wouldn’t call it satire, Jesus spoke some pretty pointed parables against the Pharisees. They didn’t get it either but were offended. You don’t have complete control over how someone reacts to something. Sometimes it takes the sharpness of satire to open someone’s eyes to the illogic of their position. I doubt your piece would change Ken Ham’s mind, but could lead to an average-Joe YECer to recognize at a minimum the illogical and non-grace-filled tactics that AiG takes.

    2) I think both positions are equivalent.

    3) No, I don’t think Genesis 1 trumps other contested doctrinal issues. But the issue really is not about Genesis 1, or the authority of scripture, but rather one particular hermeneutic approach to the BIble (to be God’s word it must be inerrant; to be inerrant means it must get every last detail of history, biology, geology, and sociology correct to modern, enlightenment standards; if it fails that test of inerrancy, it can’t be God’s word.)

    Comment by Carol | March 6, 2013

  15. I thought your post was a great bit of satire! Donna

    Comment by Donna | March 6, 2013

  16. Thanks to Carol and Donna for appreciating the satire.

    Comment by geochristian | March 6, 2013

  17. If this were Facebook I’d click “like” and all could decide what I meant by that. Personally, I really do “like” the GeoChristian as a fellow Christian and as a brother. Get it?
    “Love,”
    Sheri

    Comment by Sheri Towne | March 7, 2013

  18. Thanks Sheri. Sometimes being liked is even better than being loved.

    Comment by geochristian | March 7, 2013


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