I awoke this morning to find my stats out of this world, for a Sunday morning. My attention was then drawn to a post which the radical liberal Tony Breeden had created, linking to me several times. What had happened was he went through my blog, quote-mining. This is not an uncommon occurrence, as it is a tactic of the intellectually unsure, those without the moral foundation to wage an argument, to take quotes out of context, attack those quotes, and assume the moral high ground. Variously, this is called many things, but we will simply say that it is a logical fallacy. Now, while they usually are pointless to answer, as the more one writes, the more fodder is created to allow the inept to pretend to have fertile ground from which they believe that they can anchor their position.
That’s fine, but I do believe that the folly which is pushing many away from the Church – that of the Young Earth Creationist’ radical agenda – must be answered from time to time. They have a loud voice, which must be answered. There is surely a correlation between the rise of YEC believers in the United States and the decline of the American Church.
Before I go on, you can ‘Rev’ Tony’s post, showcasing the above mentioned quote-mining, here:
Theological Newspeak: Why Some Folks Calls Me, Ken Ham and Other Biblical Creationists “Radical Liberals” | DefendingGenesis.org.
Tony calls those of us who believe in Scripture ‘extraBiblical Creationists’
[those who give lipservice to the Biblical doctrine of Creaton but actually hold extraBiblical sources as their ultimate authority where it concerns Genesis and related passages dealing with Creation, the Fall and the Flood].
The issue is, is that no one can rightfully understand Scripture unless they pull from the outside. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, we have to use lexicons and other translation helps to bring the original Hebrew into the English. But, biblical interpretation doesn’t rise and fall on the original languages and subsequent translations into other languages. We need context. So, we look for similar literature in similar cultures, such as the Babylonians and Egyptians. We find out by comparison what the cognitive environment was, so that we understand how the words where used. And all of this doesn’t even begin to take into account redaction and canonization. But, in regards to ‘extraBiblical’, let’s examine that misnomer. What is actually extraBiblical about seeking to understand Scripture in context? Nothing. What is actually extraBiblical is applying a “plain sense” reading to Scripture, because it is, above all other forms of interpretation, the most subjective, dependent only upon the person doing the reading. It depends upon the flesh of the human, and by that, I mean, the mind of the human, in that he or she takes his or her present cultural situation and applies it to the Scripture. This adds to Scripture, unlike examining Scripture in original context, and thus is more fitting to have applied to it ‘extra-.’ It is not those who take Scripture seriously that are the ‘extraBiblical Creationists’ but Young Earth Creationists because they add to Scripture.
He goes on to note that I support protecting the teaching of actual science and calls those who see that evolution is compatible with religion as ‘useful idiots.’ He notes that these ‘useful idiots’ are those who deny any role in the universe to the Creator. I am, frankly, unsure, if Tony actually understands theistic evolution. Believers who believe that science can contribute to our understanding of the natural world maintains that God is still in control, and I would go so far as to say, that they believe in an ever-acting God, who is sovereign and maintains order of the universe, more so than Young Earth Creationists who are little more than deists in that for them, Creation was a one time event, with God forever resting, albeit, again, standing against Scripture. Let me clear up the charge of protecting the teaching of Evolution by laws. I believe, as I stated, that Science must be protected, as does the freedom of Religion. It would like passing a law protecting against teaching that witches needed to be burned at the stake, another wonderful gift which ‘biblical literalists’ have given us, in this country and now in Africa.
He goes on to note, and I guess take issue with, my contention that Tony and others have replaced Scripture with Ken Ham. He claims to have the bible as his ultimate authority “while extraBiblical creationists affirm liberal theologians and evolutionary scientists as their ultimate authority.” What Tony and others believe is not in Scripture Authority, but authority of interpretation. Now, admittedly, one could argue that Scripture is to be interpreted in community, and only has authority when done so. I could agree to that, especially since I am in a faith community with which I share theological disagreements; however, our community of believers now include Scientists, Hebrew Scholars among other Biblical Scholars, Historians, and others who help to shed light on the ancient texts, more so than theologians trained only in their own theology. If we were to take the route of interpreting Scripture in community, then we would still come to the conclusion that Scripture contains more than what many in the “plain reading” crowd would suggest, in that we now know more about the social context of Genesis 1, as well as have gained more insight into the Hebrew language to understand that bara doesn’t mean to create (out of nothing), but to assign order, which was the ancient way of giving something existence. This is why Tony and Ken Ham are liberals, because they deny the authority of Scripture in its original sense, or in the the communal sense. They would rather believe their own selves rather than God’s authority.
And what of the community which involves the Young Earth Creationist? I am not calling for their exclusion, but the place which they once occupied – that of the prophetic voice calling the Church to remain biblical faithful – is no longer filled with them. Instead, the Young Earth Creationist fills the position of adversary, of fearmongers. They no longer seek to prophetically call the Church to remember the Scriptures, but now seek to suppress the Truth with unrighteousness and thereby corrupt the faith of many. They need to be an active part of the community, but the position which they want is attainable, and now, unbiblical.
Now, for me, Scripture is an authority. To say it is the ‘ultimate authority’ is to make it something ti is not, didn’t claim to be, and only lately, cults and sects have made it out to be. Nevertheless, as I have just said, Scripture has two authorities within it. First, it is what is actually said in Scripture. We see this by real biblical scholarship and not subjective interpretation of actual facts. Second, it as the authority contained within the faith community. As a member of the United Methodist Church, I live up to certain duties and responsibilities. While I do not personally believe some of their tenants, my pledge is to them and thus, I maintain that their interpretation of Scripture has an authority for me which I would seek to maintain.
He quotes from my application of the term theological liberal to both himself and Ken Ham,
I’ve often explained why he is a liberal; however, for those who need it spelled out to them more than I have in this post, allow me.
Ken Ham and other YEC’ers are reading into Scripture something which is not there. They are using the Text to support their preconceived view of Scripture instead of letting Scripture shape their views. Thus, a liberal. They do not hold to the authority of Scripture any more than those who deny Christ’s Lordship. Thus, a liberal. They take Scripture and twist it to fit their purposes. Thus a liberal. I thought that this was pretty spelled out for them, but seeing as they cannot read past a few spelling errors – so, I’m not perfect – then I will do my best to help them along. I think that I’ve used small words, but I’m not sure.
But, I did note that Ham attacked rather than engages – point proved. Lovely day.
Well, I thought that was pretty clear. But, Tony counters in saying that what they are doing is nothing new, and in fact, we are under the conspiratorial spell of liberal historians in stating that Young Earth Creationism is new, or extraBiblical. The issue, of course, is that while Tony and others and quote mine (something they excel at), they have no real evidence that the peoples of the ANE cultures would have seen Genesis 1 the way that they see it, and not to mention the various other creation and cosmological accounts in the Old Testament. Further, since the Hebrew has been shown to say something different than their faulty English translation, what else are we to suspect, except that they are their own determiners of Scriptural meaning? Thus, a Liberal. Further, their claim of ‘nearly all’ Jews and Christians believing in YEC is a flat out lie.
Anyway, he quotes only a small amount of this post, which is part of a larger series. In it, I discuss the favorite YEC statement found in Mark 10.6, noting that the entire passage has to be examined. Does it actually answer the point? No, and instead, he simply restates the proof-text. So, then, where is the great evidence? As usual, it comes down to “We say it, you believe it.” No evidence by extraBiblical subjective interpretation.
To further cast doubt upon me so that he doesn’t have to actually answer any of the points raised, he takes another line out of another post which was part of a longer conversation. He implies that his readers should ‘shudder’ when they read,
“To me, having the Trinity as an ‘essential Christian doctrine’ is the same as having Justification of the Calvinist variety as the ‘essential Christian doctrine’ or having Young Earth Creationism as the’ essential Christian doctrine.’”
Okay, but what’s the point of that? Did he answer it? No. He provide no counter, and no reason why this particular post was in his story. What I do believe is that he was trying to suggest that I need to be doubted because I say that the only essential Christian doctrine is Christ. Why would anyone disagree with that? Oh, that’s right, because he said so. I’m not sure how that actually carries weight, but in the arena of fundamentalism, this is the way it usually goes. There is no questioning the authority, which is never Scripture.
In another post, I questioned whether or not one could change their opinion on the Virgin Birth or other issues. Remember, that post was aimed at both sides – liberal and conservative. That wasn’t mentioned. He says that I cast doubt upon the Virgin Birth and that the Holy Spirit, without evidences, interprets Scripture. I would like to see, if possible, the verse which says that. Further, I would like to see the verse where evidences cannot be used by the Spirit to guide us into all Truth. After all, Christ does say that the Spirit will guide us into all Truth. It doesn’t say that the Spirit will whisper into our ears factoids. Again, no where in Church History is that view sustained.
What does he say exactIy?
It’s the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth, not evidence [which requires interpretation, btw]. Do you see here where his ultimate authority is? The word of men who make no difference between the holy and the profane when it comes to the Bible. He takes the word of Bible doubters and claims we should be prepared to change our interpretation of the Bible based on the word of these scoffers. This is typical of those who hold to extraBiblical Creation positions. When they abandon the historical veracity it has affects their beliefs concerning other doctrines, because they have abandoned the Bible as their ultimate authority.
See the difference? He is relying on what can only be described as gnosticism to guide him. Some aeon or another tells him secret knowledge that cannot be proven. Further, he lies about me in stating what I do. Unfortunately, his silliness is transparent to the majority of us, but to him, he thinks he actually has a point. I know that feeling, that air of superiority. That is what gnosticism does. it elevates you above the others. The main issue, is that we haven’t abandoned Scripture, because seek to properly understand it. He abandons Scripture in favor of this gnosticism.
He goes on to quote a commentator, although seemingly ignoring the other comments on the post wherein the commentator was shown to be working with a deficit of knowledge. Now, this is where Tony gets into lying about Jewish and Christian history. While there is in fact Young Earth Creationism throughout the histories of the faiths, it has never been a dogmatic belief. Further, as Shai Cherry and others have noted, the Jewish history of interpretation was never really based on literalism. As Augustine noted, Christians should never push the bible against Reason and showed that he supported that statement by his non-literal readings of Genesis. Or Origen. Or Philo. Or a countless number of others who felt no need to see Genesis 1 as a literal, scientific truth and yet remained faithful Christians.
He insists that the Apostles believed in YEC. I have yet to see evidence of this, and as one who has already discovered his lies, I find his word suspect.
Further, to end his post, he says to look at Europe as what happens when Christians believe in Evolution. Odd, then, that as I noted before, the belief in YEC is on the rise in the United States at the same time the American Church is in decline. Further, his baseless claim that evolution is the cause of Europe’s crisis is both historically and sociologically inept.
I find it odd that Tony is a member of a Faith Tradition which is credited to a reinterpretation of Scripture when new evidences were presented. Protestantism came from these new interpretations based on new evidences. And yet, Tony and other liberals, seek to hold to their Tradition over against the real meaning of Scripture. Is it hypocritical not to reexamine Scriptural interpretations in light of new evidences when one’s one religious freedom is due to that every action? I’d say yes.
He’s right, though, on one thing – the fate of our children are at stake. Either we allow them to sink back into fear and superstition, of false biblical interpretation given more to homogenized thought which engenders perversity of the Gospel, or we teach them the way of Christ, which is to an honest biblical interpretation, and that all Truth is God’s Truth, whether or not we seek to crucify those who tell it. As we fight against forces in the Church, those who seek to turn over Tradition, and to remove Scripture from its authoritative position, denying the God reveal in both Scripture and Nature, in fighting against theology found in both Church History and Nature, by the Spirit and Science – as we attempt to hold true to Christ… I hope that those who pretend to care for the Church will repent of their theological liberalism, of their lies, their false history, and come to accept Christ anew, and to fully rest on Scripture. These compromisers are no better than other ancient heretics, of most notably, the Gnostics.