Montana District President Forke puts out an article for age of Earth discussion

District President Rev. Terry Forke has put out an article for his own district pastors (and by reason of putting it online) for us to look at.  It is called “Age Matters: An Answer to ‘The Age of the Earth and Confessional Lutheranism'”.  It is a good attempt to start discussing some of the underlying issues that still remain at large in the LCMS (hermeneutics and word play).

You can read the article by District President Forke by loading it from the Montana District website. (PDF)


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Montana District President Forke puts out an article for age of Earth discussion — 53 Comments

  1. @James Gibbs #49

    Thank you, James and Rev. Noland, for the kind words.

    1 Peter 3:15

    15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

    Much like in the Socratic tradition, above all, I just want to believe what is true, so I am willing to follow the truth wherever it may lead. It truly is a joy to be able to search for truth in a dialectic fashion, especially with a person who is so clearly intelligent as is James. I find that I can learn so many things from these types of interactions, especially if you are truly willing to listen and try to fully understand your interlocutor’s ideas and positions.

    To reiterate again, I must say that one of the biggest things that I really took away from my conversation with James is that he does not deny the authority of scripture. I really feel that the dispute still just resides on how we can determine what that authority is saying (hermeneutical epistemology).

    I hope that people do not underestimate the importance of this discussion. I was watching the dialogue between Bishop Robert Baron and William Lane Craig that recently took place, and Bishop Baron said that the number one challenge to the gospel he sees in the parishes right now is the perceived conflict between science and faith. He truly thinks this is one of the main reasons that we are seeing dwindling numbers (for the most part) in churches across the spectrum, especially among the younger generations. In large part, I would have to agree. We should not deceive ourselves into thinking that this is an issue that doesn’t seriously affect our Lutheran churches because it most certainly does.

    I think this issue of the relationship between science and faith is especially important for us Lutherans to figure out, because the answer that I believe we should be giving to “is there a conflict between science and faith?” is different than what people will get in other denominations. Especially different than in the Roman Catholic church, as Bishop Baron would try to convince people that there is no conflict and that Christianity and evolution are wholly compatible. This is something that I hope everyone here can equally agree is not biblical and is a very dangerous teaching.

    I believe our Lutheran theological system is perfectly equipped to deal with this crisis, though. This is because the same system of hermeneutics that gave us the fullness of the law and the fullness of the gospel (rightly divided!) can show people that we can only claim certainty where the Bible confirms it. In this particular debate of the age of creation, we can not only define the limits of acceptable interpretations based on what scripture says, but we can also remind people that to try and speak with certainty outside either of these limits (this goes for both sides of the old/young earth camps) is to speak ideas into the text. Becuase of this, I truly hope that our leadership will continue to affirm what we currently have listed in the FAQ document titled simplyThe Bible:

    A: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod does not have an official position on the precise “age of the earth,” since the Bible itself does not tell us how old the earth is. Nor is it the Synod’s position that everything in the Bible is to be understood “literally.” There is much in the Bible that clearly purports not to be understood literally–but this must be determined by the Bible itself, not by science or human reason. There is nothing in the Bible itself to suggest that the creation account is not meant to be taken literally….

    That’s how I see it, anyway. I truly do hope that we will see some more fruitful discussions from our LC-MS leadership on this topic, because like it or not, these are the issues that are affecting the people sitting in the pews, and it is to our leadership that we seek direction.

    Thank you all and God bless!

  2. I would like to thank every one here for participating in this wonderful discussion, and also especially Rev. Terry Forke for the encouraging article on the issue.

    The issue of this conflict between current-day secular origins theories (a.k.a. “science” — although this really is just a subset of what we could call science) and the Biblical origins account definitely causes confusion in the church, especially for the younger generation. In my experience working with the high school-age youth of my own congregation, I know there can be doubts as to the veracity if scripture. Not only does some of the public school teaching directly contradict scripture, but a vast amount of information is available via the internet to reinforce those lines of belief.

    Awareness of the philosophy of science is definitely a good start. Modern secular scientific thought regarding origins is constrained by naturalism, whereas traditional western scientific thought was constrained by the Biblical record of history. The use of these different constraints creates significantly different frameworks and theories.

    Although I understand the frustrations with certain people and organizations engaged in creation ministries (e.g. Ken Ham, Kent Hovind), and the “lying for Jesus” claims, it seems to me there is a lot of good work coming out of the creation science movement in general. No, it may not all be accurate, but it’s certainly not all lies. I find the materials of creation ministries and the ID community very helpful.

    I don’t understand some of the arguments made here, such as: since Dr. Mary Schweitzer found original biological tissue in dinosaur bones, and she doesn’t believe it’s an indicator of the youth of the fossils, then we should discount opinions to the contrary. Actually, this is a serious conundrum for the millions-of-years paradigm, which is evidenced by the fact that she has gone to such lengths to be sure of her findings.

    And, for example, what about modern animals and plants being found in the same layers as dinosaurs? I find Dr Carl Werner’s book and video on living fossils to be quite enlightening. Yes, modern animals and plants are found in dinosaur layers, but generally speaking these aren’t being displayed in the museum exhibits about dinosaurs.

    And there has recently been some buzz about Fisher’s theorem of natural selection. Actually, if you look at Fisher’s theorem, it’s a great reason to show why God created animal kinds with a great deal of diversity. The more diversity there is in the population, the better it can adapt to different environments. However, Fisher’s theorem is essentially Mendelian, and does not account for the effects of mutation. William Basener and John Sanford extended Fisher’s theorem to account for the effects of mutation, and the results show severe limitations (and to some extent failure?) of the neo-Darwinian paradigm. Neo-Darwinism is vulnerable to mathematical scrutiny, and in fact some secular scientists have attempted to find a “Third Way of Evolution” as a better naturalistic explanation.

    As Cornelius Hunter says, “Religion drives science, and it matters.” That means there is a lot that Lutherans can add to the discussion!

    This field of inquiry is staggeringly complex. It would be great if there were a place to gather to discuss this in person. How about the 2018 conference of the Society of Creation at Concordia University Wisconsin, June 29 and 30? (!)

  3. @helen #50

    Admitted carelessness on my part, exacerbated by:
    1. macular pucker
    2. cataracts
    3. glaucoma
    4. and a subconscious desire to think of this great man as my “bro”.

    God bless you and all others who have been so gentle and gracious towards me.

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