Gottesdienst on Concordia Journal

A new Concordia Journal has been released which addresses the issues that caused pastors of both the Wyoming and South Wisconsin Districts to issue public rebukes.  The editors of Gottesdienst have put together this response.

Concordia Journal and Creation: a response to the response

Burnell F Eckardt Jr.

for the editors of Gottesdienst

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At first glance, the reply of Concordia Journal appears promising. On further investigation, we find that is not quite what we had hoped for.

Their latest (Winter 2018) edition carries the subtext of a smarting faculty at the St. Louis seminary.  They were wounded, and perhaps surprised that they were wounded, by the backlash they received over their publication in the Summer 2017 edition of an article by Professor John Jurchen of Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, that implied day-age theory of creation was an acceptable interpretation of Genesis 1-2. The fact that this was indeed his implication was confirmed by his own admission in his letter that was published in the Winter edition: “I was in error to imply that the LCMS has acknowledged Day-Age theory as an acceptable exegesis of the Creation account of Genesis 1 & 2” (14). This implication in his report was already self-evident, but the admission comes in the form of an apology and retraction. The journal leads with a reprinting of the seminary’s December 2017 blog response to this kerfuffle by Charles Arand, the Dean of Theological Research and Publication and by an editorial from Dale Meyer, President of the seminary.

The tone of the Arand piece gives some evidence of a subservient willingness to submit to the pious sensitivities of critics, coming with an apology for the lack of clarity, though not without suggesting that the article in question was misinterpreted: “Some even concluded that the article was opening the door to theistic evolution, even though the article made clear that ‘old-earth creationists’ reject theistic evolution” (7). Still, Dr. Arand seeks to assure his readers that today’s seminary is not reverting to the mindset of the seminary that once became Seminex, declaring, ”we will not promote or advocate or defend any teaching that runs counter to the doctrinal position of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” (8, italics original), and then, presumably for good effect, going as far as to quote (yet again) from that old bastion of orthodoxy, the Brief Statement, on the matter, and then, finally insisting “unequivocally  . . . that not a single person on our faculty (as well as Dr. Jurchen for that matter) advocates for a ‘day-age’ interpretation of Genesis 1. We all believe that the most natural and plain reading of ‘day’ (especially in light of Exodus 20:8) is to regard it as an ordinary day” (9).

Interestingly, Dr. Arand’s quotation of the Brief Statement includes this: “We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture. In our days it is denied or limited by those who assert, ostensibly in deference to science, that the world came into existence through a process of evolution; that is, that it has, in immense periods of time, developed more or less of itself” (8).

Dr. Arand follows his editorial with a statement regarding the editorial process of the journal in which he (conveniently?) indicates that since Dr. Jurchen has requested that his article be withdrawn, and that the article was therefore retracted, “that decision obligates us . . . to no longer comment on the specifics of his article, since it is no longer part of the public discourse” (10).

But here’s the problem: if we are to take seriously the “unequivocal” statement that Dr. Jurchen does not advocate for a day-age interpretation, we must ask whether the reasons he gave for its withdrawal are sufficient for us or, for that matter, for the St. Louis faculty. There are two addenda to Dr. Arand’s remarks. The first, a letter from Nebraska District President Richard Snow, indicates “fruitful and God-pleasing” conversations that led to Dr. Jurchen’s “letter of confession” and a resultant offer of “God’s Holy Absolution.” The second is the letter of confession itself, which, for a couple of reasons, is disappointing. First, he calls it “a confession of my personal faith and beliefs” (13), which is not the same as a confession of sin for which Holy Absolution is appropriately given.  No absolution is needed for a confession of faith, and any district president should know the difference. But the letter does contain an apology, and asks “forgiveness for any confusion I might have caused” (14), though not without several paragraphs in which he tries to explain himself. Most disappointingly, he does not say that he had changed his mind (which would be another matter), or indeed admit anything more than that he was in error to imply that the LCMS has acknowledged day-age theory as an acceptable exegesis (14).

But anyone who has carefully read the article should know that it was not an offhand implication about the LCMS that is at stake, but what is evidently the entire purpose for which the article was written: to let students who “struggle” with the age of the earth be “comforted” by the thought that they may believe, without contradiction to the biblical record, that the age of the earth may well be measured in billions of years.

As long as parishioners are able to accept the historicity of Adam and Eve, the corrupting influence of sin, and the gospel of salvation, they can expand the days of the creation week to encompass unspecified periods. . . .

Old-earth creation (or day-age creation) refers to the general perspective in which the six days of creation are expanded to included geological times (sic) scales, typically of hundreds of millions to billions of years, during which God periodically intervened in creative acts. (Summer 2017, 70-71, italics original, underlining added)

We detect no hint of warning in the article against old-earth creationism, contrary to what Dr. Jurchen implies in his letter: “Beyond exegetical difficulties with such an interpretation, several theological difficulties arise . . . namely the mortality of animals before the Fall and the extent of the Noachian flood, the latter of which is sometimes interpreted as a spectacular regional rather than planet-spanning deluge” (Winter 2018, 14). Is he presenting exegetical and theological difficulties in this letter as a warning to students or readers against following old-age creationism? The letter implies so, but the article itself does just the opposite: “An old-earth creation perspective can offer some latitude for LCMS members who hold to the Lutheran Confessions and yet struggle with a young-earth creation approach” (Summer 2017, 71), and goes on to use the flood and the (supposed) mortality of animal life before the Fall to support this perspective.

The exegetical difficulty he discusses is a comparison of the covering of “all” the high mountains under the whole heaven in the flood (Gen. 7:19) with “all” the earth coming to Joseph to buy grain during the famine (Gen. 41:57), in which he is allowing for the perspective of old-earth creationism which includes “an approach that assumes the standard geological time scale” (71), meaning, presumably, the time scale accepted without question by those whose conception of time past spans billions of years.

The theological difficulty, similarly, presents the “fossil record” (72) of this geological time scale as showing animal organisms that have died before the Fall, a matter that, were it accepted, would present no problems for old-earth creationism, but again, would allow it.

Dr. Jurchen’s conclusion asks whether there is a place in the LCMS for parishioners who “struggle with the age of the earth” (72), and answers at length by saying that “we must not present the appearance that the age of the earth if a ‘litmus test’ for orthodoxy” (73). Old-earth creationism is offered here to “comfort” people who “struggle” with the age of the earth. But such comfort would be without legitimate foundation. Not only so, but any such difficulties, raised as they are by spurious science whose dating methods are full of glaringly baseless presumptions and premises, would be magnified rather than assuaged by this line of thought.

There are some real exegetical and theological difficulties Dr. Jurchen does not address. Exegetically, one can hardly see how an old-earth creationism can obtain without a day-age proposition, unless it is one that rejects the historicity of the account in Genesis 1. This is troubling, because neither Dr. Jurchen nor the St. Louis faculty admit to any change in point of view on this matter. On the one hand, they insist that they do not follow the day-age theory; on the other, the article in question, which unmistakably proposes it as a way to help troubled students, was merely retracted, but with no accompanying indication of a change of heart or mind. Theologically, and briefly, any failure to connect the creation of all things with the creation of man as lord of them, until the Fall, betrays a faulty anthropology and, by extension, a faulty Christology. Genesis 1 is most certainly an historical record, but it is not merely that.

So the seminary’s attempt to set the record straight falls short, in the main because the retraction appears to be of something other than what was really needed.  As Wyoming District President John Hill indicated in his December 2017 reply to the seminary, what is needed is not merely a retraction of this article, but a condemnation of it.

Added is another editorial, from seminary President Dale Meyer, an exhortation to fear God. Thinly veiled here is another rebuke (the first was directed specifically to the pastors of the Wyoming District on December 1st of last year). He brings up the matter of the controversy (Winter 2018, 15) and, in the same paragraph, notes that God didn’t take sides in the conflict between Job and his friends (read: between people for or against the article that was published), and goes on to warn about such things as the “terrifying day of the Lord” (16), and pride as “a special temptation to pastors” (18). He must have missed the Wyoming District President’s cover letter to the seminary, which states, “I ask that you not mistake the fervor of the Wyoming District pastors for antagonism or pride.” Dr. Meyer concludes his remarks by a reference to older pastors who “look back and say they would have been more compassionate when they were younger” and then by bringing up the eighth commandment and scolding: “Hasty accusations can put a long-lasting cloud over a dear brother’s reputation and life.” (19).

With that last admonition we couldn’t agree more, sir. But we are thinking of people like the Wyoming District pastors and their president whom you hastily accused. And we find it necessary to defend such neighbors and speak well of them, as we did last January when we presented the Sabre of Boldness to a churchman who, far from behaving with insufficient compassion or in haste, acted honorably and with all due diligence and care, in hopes of bringing about a truly God-pleasing resolution to this controversy. In view of the forward, not to say shameless, insinuations we see in your editorial, it is evident that we must continue to pray for that.

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.

Comments

Gottesdienst on Concordia Journal — 60 Comments

  1. Is it merely a coincidence that the draft was abolished in ’73, and the walkout occurred shortly after, in ’74?

  2. @St Stephen #2

    Berkeley is an excellent university. My eldest brother received his Ph.D. in history from there.

    There are lots of ways women and men can share ministry, unless you think the very word “ministry” has to be reserved solely for pastors.

    Why should I care if Dr. Jurchen plays the trumpet?

    Why are you accusing Dr. Jurchen of “poor taste”? What on earth does that have to do with the controversial article he wrote?

    Why are you mentioning any of these details about his personal life? What is your point?

  3. @James Gibbs

    Good question about ministry. Have you read the CTCR report on the ministry?

    Good question about tastes. Did you go to the link? I did, and saw something I wasn’t expecting and wish I hadn’t. It involved a man with nothing on except what seemed like a thong pulled over his shoulders. If that is what St. Stephen was referring to, I think his warning was warranted…haha.

  4. @Justin Walker #5

    Thanks, although I didn’t actually ask a question about ministry. I just made a statement. I have not read the report you mention.

    I don’t “do” Facebook, and, judging from news reports, I would be really, really hesitant to criticize or condemn anyone based on social media. I don’t know how to tell who is really “posting” what on social media, so who knows if Jurchen posted the picture you mention.

    Again–I think we should stick to discussing the topic at hand.

  5. @St Stephen #3

    What are you trying to say? That those who walked out only attended the seminary to avoid the draft? What proof do you have for this?

    Again–what does this have to do with Dr. Jurchen, his article, or his apology?

  6. @St Stephen #3

    Good point. I also understand that Ed Sullivan died in 1974. Coincidence or Theological Murder Mystery? Didn’t Nixon resign in 1974 as well? I am sure there were Seminex students giving him indian burns until he cried uncle.

  7. @James Gibbs

    I read your statement has implying that St. Stephen was using an improper definition of ministry in making his comment. To understand where you are coming from, I’m wondering if you are coming from the same understanding of what was in the CTCR report or some other understanding of ministry.

    And to clarify the other point, I don’t know if Dr. Jurchen posted that particular picture, and I assumed he had not. I didn’t read St. Stephen’s message as accusing Dr. Jurchen of personally posting that picture or of personally having poor taste, but maybe he was. I was saying that regardless of who posted the picture, it’s on the site when you click through so I found the warning that the site contained content that some might find in poor taste was warranted. Lastly, I added the haha to try to imply to any readers such as yourself that I wasn’t taking any of it (i.e., the reference to or the picture itself) as that big of a deal.

    But if we are going to stick to the topic at hand and you think St. Stephen’s topic is not on the topic at hand, why are you choosing to avoid discussing the topic and hand and engaging him on extraneous matters.

    @Jason…haha. How could you forget Patty Hearst and the SLA?

  8. @St Stephen #2

    I messaged Pastor Meyer of Holy Cross about those posts and he replied,

    “I have seen these, have contacted the individual connected and have tried to get Facebook to pull this page but have not had success.”

  9. @Justin Walker #9

    “St Stephen” put “ministry” in scare quotes–I didn’t. That looks like he thinks whatever Mrs. Jurchen does with her husband isn’t “really” a ministry. Why don’t you ask HIM what HIS definition is?

    “Ministry” means two things to me: being ordained clergy, or, more generically, working in some form of service in the church. Those are just everyday, common-sense definitions. I have not read the CTCR report, as I said before.

    In my experience, when people start quibbling about the usage of “ministry,” they either (a) want to exalt the clergy, or (b) want to put the laity (especially women), “in their place.” Maybe “St Stephen” meant something else–I don’t know. That’s why I made my initial comment!

    As far as the Facebook thing–“St Stephen” included the link, so I think he meant people to go there. Why? To make Jurchen look bad, I assume.

    And, again–who cares about him going to Berkeley or playing the trumpet?

    Why don’t I engage the topic at hand? Because lots of people on this site know I’m an old-earther, and I’ve said my piece on that topic already.

    I just don’t like “St Stephen” and others smearing Jurchen.

    Jurchen is YEC, and always has been. All he said in his article was that the day-age theory was an acceptable option in the LCMS, not that he personally believed in it. He apologized, and retracted his article.

    What more do you want from the guy? Leave him alone, I say!!

  10. @James Gibbs

    I didn’t ask St. Stephen for his definition because I wasn’t interested in his definition. I asked you for your definition because I was interested in your definition. You come off defensive and hostile, and I’m not at all sure why.

    Now, why would I not be interested in St. Stephen’s definition of ministry? Because it seemed to be a simpler, more straight-forward reference to those who fulfill the office of the ministry (i.e., the pastoral office).

    Why would I be interested in your definition of ministry? Because it seems to be at variance with that more simple, straight-forward definition. This makes it more difficult to understand where you are placing yourself in the discussion. Since there is a lot of room to vary from the more simple, straight-forward definition, I think that is where things get more interesting to have a discussion. If you don’t care to participate in that discussion, then so be it.

    The CTCR report also speaks to a narrower and broader use of the term “ministry” and confusion that might result. It sets out definitions that are used within the report, including Auxiliary Offices that are distinct from the pastoral office.

    This is all to say that I personally think it is commonplace for people to talk past each other because they use the same terms with different definitions. Sort of like saying that Roman Catholics and Lutherans can agree on statements concerning justification as long as they don’t admit that they ascribe different meaning to the words used. So you might think quibbling over usage of terms has unsavory motives, but I see an immense value in it since I find it difficult when terms like “office”, “station”, “vocation”, and “ministry” are used differently by different people. I’m just a layman trying to better understand these topics while parsing the significance of different terms.

    While I don’t believe CTCR reports always carry a lot of weight, I do think they can be a good starting point, which is why I mentioned it. And I also think it is fair to expect those better trained, such as pastors and seminary faculty, to be more careful about the use of terms so as not to cause confusion, especially when we have publications that recognize that very tendency.

  11. @ James Gibbs. It is always helpful to have the same understanding of terms. There have been a number of mentions of the CTCR report on The Ministry and you repeatedly mentioned that you haven’t read it. I just invested 2 minutes to google the report, scan the table of contents and read the definition. Here it is.

    -Ministry-This is a general term when it stands alone. It may be used in the
    most general sense of the service (diakonia) of all Christians. For the
    sake of clarity it is preferably used to indicate the special service of those
    who are called to function publicly in the church.

    -Public Ministry-To be in “public ministry” a person must be formally
    assigned to labor in the work of the church on behalf of those in the
    church who are not in public ministry (laity). It refers to offices that have
    specific duties, responsibilities, and accountability.

    -The Office of the Public Ministry-It is the divinely established office referred
    to in Scripture as “shepherd,” “elder,” or “overseer.” This term is
    equivalent to “the pastoral office.” Within this office are contained all the
    functions of the ministry of Word and sacrament in the church.

    -Auxiliary Offices-These are offices established by the church. Those who
    are called to serve in them are authorized to perform certain of the
    function(s) of the office of the public ministry. These offices are
    “ministry” and they are “public,” yet they are not the office of the public
    ministry. Rather, they are auxiliary to that unique pastoral office, and
    those who hold these offices perform their assigned functions under the
    supervision of the holders of the pastoral office. Such offices are
    established by the church as the need arises, and their specific functions
    are determined by the church. The most common auxiliary office today
    is the office of the teaching ministry.

  12. Further in the CTCR report, it also defines “teaching ministry”:

    By using the term “teaching ministry” we are indicating the special
    nature of the auxiliary office of teacher in our church. One who is in the
    “teaching ministry” (man or woman) meets the following qualifications
    established by the church. He or she
    -has been trained in the educational institutions of the church, has
    received specific training in the understanding and teaching of
    religion, and has been certified as suitable and eligible for the teaching
    ministry by a faculty of the church. In some cases the requirements
    -have been met by means of a colloquy program that includes training
    and evaluation.
    -has been placed into the teaching ministry formally and officially by an
    assignment of the Board of Assignments, which is the Council of
    Presidents of the Synod.
    -is given authority to function in the teaching ministry in specific places
    by the formal call of a congregation or other legitimate calling agency
    (e.g., a District, the Synod, or others).
    -serves under the supervision of the called pastor in a congregation or
    under other pastoral supervision in nonparish calls.
    -does work that is specifically spiritual in nature. Although he/ she may
    teach some “secular” subject, the philosophy of Lutheran education
    includes the demand that the faith of the church be evident in all
    activities of the school. Law and Gospel, sin and grace are operative in
    the curriculum and methodology of a Lutheran school.
    -knows and publicly subscribes to the Lutheran Confessions.
    -is accepted formally as a member of the Synod, with the obligation to
    attend official conferences and District conventions.
    -may be chosen to represent groups of teachers as a delegate to
    conventions of the Synod.
    -is answerable for the confessional purity of his/ her teaching and is
    pledged to a life that befits the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    -may be removed from office because of impure doctrine, an ungodly
    life, or incompetence.
    -is pledged to be concerned for the spiritual and eternal welfare of
    those committed to his/her care.

    The CTCR report concludes, “These are the criteria by which our church designates the occupants of its teaching ministry office.”

    In looking at what is specifically said about Dr. Jurchen sharing a ministry with his wife, it seems he says, “He feels very blessed to share both an office and a chemistry teaching ministry with his wife, Dr. Kristy Jurchen.”

    Both John and Kristy Jurchen teach chemistry at Concordia Nebraska and work out of the same office (I’m assuming a working office, not “office” in terms of holding an office within the church). Assuming that both John and Kristy Jurchen meet all of the criteria for being designated occupants of the church’s teaching ministry office, then I would think there is nothing particularly concerning about that statement on Dr. Jurchen’s bio and that it is in accord with the CTCR report on the use of these terms.

  13. Justin Walker and Otto Hottendorf:

    Yes, yes–all that wonderful information from the CTCR report is great. Thanks for sharing, but I already know there is more than one meaning of “ministry.”

    The original post we are supposed to be commenting on is about Dr. Jurchen’s article which referenced the day-age theory. I was never trying to get into a big discussion of “ministry,” but to defend Jurchen from what seemed to me a cheap shot.

    You guys are missing my point.

    “St Stephen” was who I was responding to initially. He said the Jurchens share a “ministry.” Why the quotation marks? Why the link to some bizarre photo on Facebook? It seemed pretty clear to me that he was trying to “knock” Jurchen in some way.

    Justin Walker, you mention that Mrs. Jurchen teaches chemistry. Great! Then I still wonder why “St Stephen” put “ministry” in scare quotes.

    I just wanted to defend Dr. Jurchen. That’s it.

    As far as “defensive and hostile,” just check out some of the things I’ve been called on this website, and you will see ample reason why I might be so.

    That’s what I was talking about.

  14. Good Lord Almighty!

    The article had to do with a particular issue – apparently long forgotten in the present tête-à-têtes+ about side matters that don’t matter.

    I could care less who is right in this BS back-and-forth – no one is behaving as they should. If you cannot address the article, then take this discussion to e-mail or to the Zuckerberg Info Collection Agency-aka-FB.

    The Sem and its response is the issue at hand. Stay on track.

  15. @jb

    Does every comment or discussion within the comment needs to fastidiously track some formulation of what the post was getting at? I don’t seen an issue with comments leading to tangential discussions. But I’m happy to further discuss the topic of the Sem and its response if you have more to add to the post. In general, I think the post raises some good questions about apparent contradictions in the response from the Sem.

    @ James Gibbs

    I don’t think I missed your point. I get that you feel the need to defend Mr. Jurchen against what you interpret are perceived slights. I offered some varying interpretations of what St. Stephen might be getting at, but I also noted that I was more interested in the concept you raised of differing use of the terms of ministry and how that might apply in the example given of Dr. Jurchen’s bio.

    I also saw this as related in the sense of there being claims on various sides about misinterpretations of what was written and said in Dr. Jurchen’s article and the ink spilled since. It brings to my mind that “what we have here is a failure to communicate”. And I think it is incumbent on all involved to continue to conversation until there is a clear resolution of the issue.

  16. @St Stephen #3

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    The connection between anti-war protests and the Seminex walkout was documented by President Larry Rast in a lecture he gave at the Symposia a number of years ago, and which was more recently published in the CTQ. The editor of the Saint Louis seminary’s student journal, “Spectrum,” posted a challenge to newly elected President John Tietjen to state his position on the war ca. 1970. There was also an anti-war protest, of sorts, on campus at about that time. See Rast’s lecture.

    This does not mean that any of the seminary students went to the seminary to avoid the draft. It would be a rather awkward form of servitude–better to head to Canada for a couple of years than do that. I remember a number of young men a bit older than me talking about their “options” in this way before the draft ceased.

    For those who don’t have that memory of those times, the anti-war protests were coupled with anti-establishment-thinking. If you remember the term “antiestablishmentarianism,” and what it meant, then you are of my generation and know what I am talking about. Rast has an important social-cultural point to make, that the way in which the seminary leaders manifested their own protest against the synod was shaped by the ways in which protest in general was manifested in society at the time.

    But this has NOTHING TO DO with the present Board of Regents, the President, the Faculty, or the Student Body of either seminary. The anti-war protests of 1968 were 50 years ago. All, or almost all, of that faculty is dead—certainly long retired. I don’t think any of the present faculty were students at “801” at the time, and if they were, they were among those classified as “conservatives.”

    I agree with jb above. Keep the discussion on the topic of the post, please!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  17. For the record, as I have previously reported on a separate thread, I have come to be at peace with science while remaining at peace with God.

    I see little difference between young earth creationist (YEC) as represented by Ken Ham of AnswersInGenesis and old earth creationist (OEC) as represented by Hugh Ross of ReasonsToBelieve. And even if you see a big difference between them can we at least agree that BOTH are heterodox, neither being orthodox?

    To my ear, YEC insist: You MUST believe the six day narrative in Genesis as refering to literal 24 hour days because God’s word does not lie.

    To my ear, OEC insist: You CAN believe the six day narrative in Genesis as refereing to longer periods of time because God’s creation does not lie.

    From my perspective BOTH are wrong in that the Genesis narrative is a SEVEN day narrative, not a SIX day narrative. All of this disagreement is a natural outcome of removing the seventh day from the Genesis narrative.

    My understanding of the creationism of the orthdox theology of the one holy apolostolic catholic church is that it is an EIGHT day creationism. Towhit: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17.

    This is made possible by the death and burial of Christ, and his resurrection on the day after the seventh day (7 + 1 = 8). This is why baptistries and baptismal fonts traditionally have eight sides.

    It is uttery disturbing to me that this essential truth seems to be ignored by BOTH camps, especially with Easter having been so recent.

    From my perspective:

    1. SIX day creationism (YEC and OEC) is devoid of both Law and Gospel.

    2. SEVEN day creationism has LAW (i.e. the law concerning the Sabbath) but lacks Gospel. This is the creationism that the Pharisees used to justify their persecution of Jesus.

    3. EIGHT day creationism has BOTH Law and Gospel, and for this reason should be the official creationism of anyone claiming to be lutheran.

    Can someone please explain to me why so-called Lutherans, whether YEC or OEC, have abondoned EIGHT day creationism in favor of SIX day creationism?

    As a step towards preserving the unity of the body of Christ can we all please agree on the following:

    1. We are EIGTH day creationists, not SEVEN, not SIX.

    2. The Genesis narrative is a SEVEN day narrative, NOT a SIX day narrative.

    For me, this was key to becoming at peace with science and charitable towards those who remain at odds with science.

  18. @Jeff Stillman #21

    Mr. Stillman wrote, “This is made possible by the death and burial of Christ, and his resurrection on the day after the seventh day (7 + 1 = 8). This is why baptistries and baptismal fonts traditionally have eight sides.”

    A minor point, but I’m not aware of any definitive evidence that this is why baptistries traditionally have eight sides. Another traditional explanation is the reference in 1 Peter 3:20-21 to eight persons being saved from the Flood: “…when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”

  19. @Rev. Robert Fischer #22

    Agreed! I can find no DEFINITIVE explanation for eight sided baptistries or baptismal fonts. So I appeal to TRADITIONAL explanations, which also include circumcision being prescribed for the eighth day after birth.

    Of the TRADITIONAL understandings, the one ESSENTIAL understanding is that of the gospel in general (1 Cor 15:3-4), and the ressurection in particular (1 Cor 15:17).

    1 Cor 15:3-4 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures …”.

    1 Cor 15:17 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

    Please note the words “… of first importance …” in the teaching of St. Paul the apostle as recorded in 1 Cor 15:3.

    But even in your mention of St. Peter’s teaching concerning baptism, we find the consequences of transgression of the Law (judgement), and the end result of the Gospel (salvaton), and the importance of the ressurection.

    The ressurection is so important that we celebrate it not just once a year, but every sunday.

    So we find the orthodox theology of the one holy apostolic catholic church in the mouths of two witnesses (Paul and Peter) concerning the new creation in Christ.

    There you have it: Law, Gospel, new creatures in Christ. If that is not lutheran theology, then what is? And if it is not, why would any orthodox chrisitan want to be lutheran?

    Under this umbrella we should be able to find christian unity and exhibit christian charity, even with hyper-literalist flat earthers (sigh).

    But the divisiveness caused by stripping the seventh day out of the Genesis narrative, and arguing over the scraps which contain neither Law nor Gospel is evident to all. Is it any wonder that the big names in that arena are for the most part heterodox in their theology? Who wants or needs that?

    Finally kind sir, I honor you in your vocation, and thank you for your response to my comments.

  20. @Jeff Stillman #21

    That is a bit of sophistry in your argument, sir; implying that (using your abbreviations) OEC and YEC somehow abandon Law and Gospel because they use the term Six Day Creation instead of Eight Day Creation is a false distinction because neither side is arguing the merits of Law and Gospel. What IS being discussed is the authority and reliability of the Word of God. As far as I am aware, neither side is gutting Christ crucified for the sins of the world is any direct sense. The argument is a diversion, and not a charitable one.

    Further still, and speaking to an earlier point, you state, “I see little difference between young earth creationist (YEC) as represented by Ken Ham of AnswersInGenesis and old earth creationist (OEC) as represented by Hugh Ross of ReasonsToBelieve. And even if you see a big difference between them can we at least agree that BOTH are heterodox, neither being orthodox?” I have a simple response.

    No. No, we cannot.

    Heterodox implies that both positions have strayed into error. This is not the case. OEC have yet to sufficiently answer a simple question; if the Earth is a billion years old, from where does death spring? Romans 5:12 is clear that death follows sin. For the OEC to be correct, the process of evolution must take place over the course of millions of years, millions of years of death, to create mankind.

    See the problem?

    This scenario has death, and sin, prior to man’s creation. This puts us into a place where the evidence of natural record is pitted against the Word of God. Yet, we know that creation has been marred by sin. Can we really trust its record against that of Christ’s own testimony through His apostles?

    I’ll bet on the Word of God, every time! Since, by definition, the OEC argument stands in opposition to the clear Word of the Lord on the subject in Romans 5:12, they are the heterodox position, whereas the YEC position not only does not conflict with the Word of God, it, in fact, takes holy scripture as the sole norm for knowing such things. I.E., orthodox.

    If I have misrepresented your position, please let me know.

  21. @Alden Erdman #24

    Thank you for your response! Obviously we have some disagreement.

    For many years I have done all of my Bible reading from the Spanish RVR1960 which contains no footnotes. But I do own and refer to a number of English language bibles.

    For the purpose of this comment I will refer to The Lutheran Study Bible (English Standard Version) published by Concordia Publishing House of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in 2009.

    I went back read Romans 5 and the footnotes from this bible several times (pages 1917 – 1918). To my eye, I see neither animal nor plant life/death either in the biblical text or in the footnotes. Here are some phrases I have taken from the footnotes:

    “All humans were mortal and under death’s power.”

    “All humans are subject to death.”

    “The death Adam meritted spread to all humanity.”

    “Adam’s sin brought guilt, the desire to sin, and mortality to all humans.”

    “One man – Christ – redeemed us and changed humanity forever.”

    Please notice the words “humans/humanity” in all of the above phrases. If the editors had determined that the biblical text required the use of the words “living creatures” instead of “humans”, then that’s what they should have written.

    But now look at the trap into which we have fallen! We go from arguing over the biblical text to arguing over the footnotes. With no end in sight!

    I propose that we quit arguing about the old creation which will pass away and agree about the new creation which will endure forever. Too much to ask?

    Finally, yes indeed, Ken Ham is at best heterodox. May I suggest that you 1) visit his AswersInGenisis website, 2) use the search tool to find articles on “infant baptism”, 3) read them, 4) inform all of us what you have discovered.

    Postscript: I did not mean to imply that all YoungEarthCreationists or all OldEarthCreationists are heterodox. I apologize if I was not sufficiently clear in this regard.

  22. @Alden Erdman #24

    Just a couple of thoughts…

    You said OEC (old-earth creationism) includes the belief that “the process of creation” was used by God “to create mankind.”

    This is inaccurate.

    The term OEC is usually understood to mean those who believe God created the world over the course of billions of years, but WITHOUT using evolution.

    For more details on what OEC’s typically believe, see Chuck Arand’s excellent blog post describing old-earth creationism at https://concordiatheology.org/2018/02/a-travel-guide-to-the-evangelical-creation-debates-what-is-old-earth-creationism/.

    I also agree with Jeff Stillman that Romans 5 only refers to human death. It is silent about the mortality or destiny of animals.

    I think most OECs would say God made Adam and Eve to live forever, but barred them and and the whole human race from the Tree of Life after they fell into sin, just as YECs teach.

    The only difference is on the issue of animal death before the Fall. OECs think animals died before the Fall, while YECs generally don’t.

    I hope this helps!

  23. I sincerely hope that I am not adding fuel to the fire, but please allow me add something that I find irresistible.

    1. I believe that the Genesis narrative was inspired by God (the creator) and recorded by Moses (the law giver) whom God used to deliver his people from ancient Egypt.

    2. I believe that the Genesis narrative is scripture, and therefore “… profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness …” 2 Timothy 3:17.

    3. I believe that the Genesis narrative is a seven day narrative, not a six day narrative.

    4. I believe that there must be a reason for the narrative to have been conveyed as six work days followed by one rest day.

    5. I accept Christ’s order of creation argument when he taught that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27.

    So then, just what is the “teaching, reproof, correction, training” for which this seven day narrative is profitable? YoungEarthCreationists might at this point answer “To correctly approximate the age of the earth!”. But how does this explanation benefit man?

    Let me suggest that there might be a different/alternate/additional answer. I refer interested persons to the Wikipedia article entitled “French Republican Calendar”, specifically the section labeled “Calendar design”.

    From history, please recall that the French Republic attempted to decimalize almost everything. This included the week of all things. Their year consisted of twelve months, each month divided into three ten day weeks. The Wikipedia article reports that this arrangement was almost an exact copy of the calendar used by the Ancient Egyptians.

    Using the seven day narrative of Genesis, we may use the authority of scripture to reject calendars (e.g. Ancient Egyptian, French Republic) which deviate from the biblical formulation of the week.

    So I for one, do not feel compelled to embrace YoungEarthCreationism solely for the purpose of finding a use for the days. I have an explanation for the days that I consider to be both adequate and applicable to the context of the narrative.

  24. Hmmm . . .

    OEC requires an extrapolation that is unknowable and thus impossible to verify or prove false. To apply such extrapolation anyway is hardly “scientific.” There are so many intangibles possible taking the OEC position that it requires much more faith than YEC.

    Mr. Stillman – it seems that most all of what you write is to salve your own uncertainties. Those of us who have accepted Scripture as presented, and which is expected of us to do by its own words and the Lord, do not suffer from such uncertainties.

    I suspect you are not settled in your own heart and mind as to the literal veracity of Scripture. Hence – putting your presuppositions about OEC out there can hardly serve the veracity of Scripture, and while it is fashionable in this day and age to question everything and seek one’s own unique path to God, yours is not anywhere near the position I would believe, nor teach or preach to any flock to which I was called.

    Pax tecum – jb

    P.S. And this was the point of contention in the original article regarding the CJ’s response of faculty to the Wyoming District, which has yet to be fuflilled. jb

  25. In 1997, YEC scientists from the Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research began an 8-year, $1.25 million study of radiometric dating called the RATE project. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RATE_project.

    They agreed that the evidence is strong for 500 million years worth of radioactive decay in the rocks of the earth.

    How did they reconcile this with their conviction that the earth is 6,000 years old?

    They claimed decay rates were sped up by God (by an unknown process) by a factor of 1 billion during the creation week and during Noah’s Flood.

    They acknowledged that this presented two problems: such rapid decay rates would’ve (a) raised the earth’s temperature to 22,000 degrees Celsius, vaporizing the earth, and (b) killed all life on earth with excessive radiation.

    How did they address these problems?

    They claimed God could’ve protected the earth and its inhabitants from the heat and radiation (by an unknown process).

    So, these YEC scientists “solved” the problem of radiometric evidence for a 500-million-year-old earth by assuming at least two miracles, neither of them ever mentioned in the Bible!

    Nor did they offer any explanation as to why God wouldn’t have simply allowed radiometric dating to show a 6,000-year age for the earth, instead of having the rate of decay go slowly, then rapidly, then slowly, then rapidly, then slowly again (for no apparent reason).

    And people claim YEC is MORE scientific or takes LESS faith than OEC?

    Believe in a young earth because of what you believe the Bible says, and you have my respect. But to claim that “real science” supports a young earth is kidding yourself.

    If that were true, where are the young-earth atheists, eager to make a name for themselves by overturning established scientific dogma?

  26. @James Gibbs #30

    James – as an aside – are you related to Jeff Gibbs at CStL?

    Okay. You wrote – “Believe in a young earth because of what you believe the Bible says, and you have my respect.”

    That is a very telling remark on your part – especially with the rest of it – “But to claim that ‘real science’ supports a young earth is kidding yourself.”

    Is you is, or is you isn’t?

    Let me be clear – I have no need of CRS and their findings to hold to and confess what I believe, by faith, Scripture says, and so teach and preach. Keep in mind that the very temptation in the Garden began with the satan uttering these words in Genesis 3:1 –

    “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”

    Doubting Scripture and its intended meaning, and/or changing it, led to our downfall in sin to begin with. I shan’t then reason from that perspective. That is to ultimately deny Scripture.

    The CRS is hardly the “God said” of Scripture. They have some interesting results – however, they neither prove nor disprove either YEC or OEC. I am not sure why they tried to explain things away as you said they did, but that is of no concern to me in either case. You see – we have a dichotomy here – believe the Scripture or believe something else. That is the real issue!

    Back to the second half of your statement: “But to claim that “real science” supports a young earth is kidding yourself.”

    I rarely “kid” on this subject, if ever. I opened my last posting with this:

    “OEC requires an extrapolation that is unknowable and thus impossible to verify or prove false. To apply such extrapolation anyway is hardly “scientific.” There are so many intangibles possible taking the OEC position that it requires much more faith than YEC.”

    Hmmm . . . I addressed a good bit of that in the post just above yours. But I will take you on your terms in your post. Would you please define “science” for me? I am well-aware of what the definition is, but humor me.

    Let me posit something which I once said to a geological professor who tried to juggle being what he was by profession, and his Lutheran faith. And I asked him this question after he schooled me in depth on how the geological record ruled out the 6-day Creation Account.

    “My good Man – you are very learned, and in fact, I commend you that you have held both your faith in Christ and the results of your study disproving Genesis, in such careful tension. That is a very hard thing to do. Now, if I might, ask you a question . . . I do not question your careful study of the geological strata nor the fossil formations. They are sound science as science is supposed to be done. However, would you not have to agree – that if The Lord God Almighty did indeed create the universe and the world as the Holy Scriptures tell us He did, that being in God’s hyper-speed (God spoke, and it was), would that not nonetheless leave the very same evidence that you use to claim OEC?”

    After a very long, uncomfortable pause, he said – “Yes.”

    I’ll stick with Scripture, James.

    Pax tecum – jb

  27. @jb #31

    Maybe I wasn’t clear with my “telling remark,” as you put it. I think the only way you can make a case for a young earth (YE) is with Scripture, not science.

    I don’t agree with the YE interpretation of the Bible, but I agree with my YE brethren (such as yourself) that God created all things (in the ultimate beginning) out of nothing.

    From what I have read, and in my opinion, the attempt to make a case scientifically for a YE has failed pretty decisively; so, when I hear other Christians say “Science supports a YE,” I think they are leaning on a weak reed.

    If a YE Christian says in essence (as you do), “I believe the Bible teaches a YE, so I don’t worry about what science says one way or the other,” I understand and respect that. You want to honor God’s Word above all. I just don’t happen to agree with you that Scripture demands a YE, nor that espousing an old-earth (OE) interpretation equals a rejection of the Bible’s authority.

    I understand your concern about false teaching, but I really wish you wouldn’t use the “Satan in the Garden” argument (i.e., “If you doubt a YE, you’re being just like Satan when he said, ‘Did God really say…?'”). Obviously, I don’t think of myself as a tool of Satan.

    “Satan in the Garden” can be used against literally any rival interpretation of Scripture, so I think it’s better if we simply say, “I think your interpretation is wrong, and here’s why.”

    You and I both accept the Bible’s authority; we just disagree on how to interpret it on this particular issue. What the Bible is and what it means are two distinct issues.

    I don’t want to get into the definition of “science.” I simply mean the natural sciences (geology, physics, astronomy, biology, etc.) as ordinarily understood.

    As far as the geology professor you mentioned–first of all, I don’t agree with you that Genesis demands God created instantaneously and miraculously in every instance. “Create” is used in different ways in Scripture. God made me, but he obviously didn’t do that instantaneously and miraculously–he used gradual, natural, biological processes. And, yes–those are “miracles” in a sense (“the miracle of birth”), but not in the strict sense. You know what I mean.

    Second of all, I don’t agree that recent, fiat creation would leave the same evidence as OEC. Yes, Adam had to look like he took about 20 years to grow up (he had no parents to bring him up), the trees in the Garden would look like they took years to mature and produce fruit (Adam and Eve needed fruit to eat), etc.

    But why would God create a vast fossil record of creatures that had never lived?

    Why would the rock strata appear as if they had been laid down over millions of years, with radiometric dating exactly matching the putative sequence (e.g., Cretaceous rocks “seemingly” 66-79 million years old lying atop Jurassic rocks “seemingly” 145-201 million years old)?

    Why would the sky be filled with cosmic microwave background radiation exactly matching the predictions of an “echo” from a Big Bang which never happened?

    Why would GPS data on seafloor spreading almost perfectly match radiometric data from the seafloor, “seemingly” showing the continents have been moving apart for millions of years?

    Why has NASA observed asteroid “families” between Mars and Jupiter which can be traced back “seeming” millions of years to the break-up of a parent body?

    None of these things are necessary for a “mature,” functioning universe as a home for man and God’s other living creatures. So, it seems to me, if God made the universe we observe only 6,000 years ago, he included a lot of phoney “evidence” that the universe is lots older. That seems to make God into a deceiver, which I don’t believe he is.

    If what we observe in nature and what the Bible seems to say clash so strongly, it seems okay to me to reconsider BOTH our observations of nature AND our interpretation of Scripture. As we did years ago when the evidence for Copernicus being right (and Luther being wrong) about the sun and the earth became overwhelming.

    Again, I don’t think it’s as simple as “Do I believe science or the Bible?” I think it is often possible to accept both.

    I hope this helps!

  28. “jb,” I don’t know what happened to your comment #31 (that I just responded to), but it disappeared from my screen right after I clicked on “Post Comment”…I hope the problem is just with my computer, and that your comment will re-appear. Yikes!

  29. James – I am awaiting the “Holy Intervention of Norm.” I saved what I wrote – I made one edit, and *poof* – it was gone! I e-mailed him – he’ll get it right.

    After my original post is restored – I will answer your response point-by-point.

    Fair enough?

  30. Norm got it done, as he always does. Bless him.

    My son and I, awaiting my brother, are preparing tacos with all the fixings. I am going to eat, and get settled for the night before I respond. Thanks for understanding. jb

  31. James – I am good to go again, so here I go . . . your words are in italics . . .

    “Maybe I wasn’t clear with my “telling remark,” as you put it. I think the only way you can make a case for a young earth (YE) is with Scripture, not science.”

    I am not trying to make a case , as it were, for YE, but for the Scripture. Rather large distinction there!

    “I don’t agree with the YE interpretation of the Bible, but I agree with my YE brethren (such as yourself) that God created all things (in the ultimate beginning) out of nothing.

    From what I have read, and in my opinion, the attempt to make a case scientifically for a YE has failed pretty decisively; so, when I hear other Christians say “Science supports a YE,” I think they are leaning on a weak reed.”

    The weaker reed is evolution. You have no extrapolatory period by which to test your/the EO theory. Just a certain system of measurement which, of itself, cannot serve as proof.

    “If a YE Christian says in essence (as you do), “I believe the Bible teaches a YE, so I don’t worry about what science says one way or the other,” I understand and respect that. You want to honor God’s Word above all. I just don’t happen to agree with you that Scripture demands a YE, nor that espousing an old-earth (OE) interpretation equals a rejection of the Bible’s authority.”

    James – this is where the waters get real murky, and NOT because those of us who hold to Scripture are doing do, but because evolutionists demand it and science, which can alter course in the next 20 minutes, somehow has become the arbiter. I simply reject that idea, because Scripture rejects that idea. Scripture say “A” – you are telling me “Ab” or “B” is what science demands. Let’s be honest here right now – science neither proves nor disapproves – it exposes. If what it exposes “PROVES” out over time, then it becomes, more or less, fact, yet still very much subject to change. That is hardly authoritative. If Scripture says “A” – and you insist upon “B” – then yes – that is a clear rejection of Scripture’s authority and veracity.

    “I understand your concern about false teaching, but I really wish you wouldn’t use the “Satan in the Garden” argument (i.e., “If you doubt a YE, you’re being just like Satan when he said, ‘Did God really say…?’”). Obviously, I don’t think of myself as a tool of Satan.

    “Satan in the Garden” can be used against literally any rival interpretation of Scripture, so I think it’s better if we simply say, “I think your interpretation is wrong, and here’s why.”

    James – those that reject the authority of Scripture always take that tack. It is a way of avoiding the simple truth of the matter. Changing the meaning of Scripture or purposely using it outside its context is the “original sin” – like it or not. Please, do not go there with me. You said what you said. I can only take it at face value.

    “You and I both accept the Bible’s authority; we just disagree on how to interpret it on this particular issue. What the Bible is and what it means are two distinct issues.”

    No sir, they are intrinsically intertwined. And interpretation? I am of the historical-grammatical school, not the historical-critical. Sorry to go back to Eden again, but you paid the fare to do so . . .

    “I don’t want to get into the definition of “science.”

    That statement, my good man, is the most telling of all. Now I notice that nonetheless, you try to do so for the next however many paragraphs. You don’t want to have to define what you mean, but yet, you wish to feel free to offer all your alternatives without criticism, which you did.

    “None of these things are necessary for a “mature,” functioning universe as a home for man and God’s other living creatures. So, it seems to me, if God made the universe we observe only 6,000 years ago, he included a lot of phoney “evidence” that the universe is lots older. That seems to make God into a deceiver, which I don’t believe he is.

    If what we observe in nature and what the Bible seems to say clash so strongly, it seems okay to me to reconsider BOTH our observations of nature AND our interpretation of Scripture. As we did years ago when the evidence for Copernicus being right (and Luther being wrong) about the sun and the earth became overwhelming.”

    James – you are as ignorant as are all of us as to “how” God did or does what He did or does. Your pretenses about this or that aside, you don’t know. It is okay to admit that! And as I said in the beginning, which you seem to have missed, I in no way posit what I say on YE or OE, but completely upon the Word, and its perspicuity.

    You do not.

    “Again, I don’t think it’s as simple as “Do I believe science or the Bible?” I think it is often possible to accept both.”

    I do accept both. I just happen to know which is supreme above the other. It is, for me, that simple. I am not at all sure you really accept both as do I, and it is clear that if you do, Scripture is not supreme in your estimation.

    Pax – jb

  32. @James Gibbs

    I don’t want to pile on to jb’s comments, but there are two particular aspects of your responses that trouble me: (1) your false choice between either science being right or God being a deceiver and (2) your seeming blindness to your (our) own ignorance.

    You’ve used the “Luther ascribed to the geocentric model” argument a number of times in a way that seems intended to both undercut Scripture and bolster “science”. I think comments on the exposition of Scripture as it relates to these verses has been discussed, so I’ll just comment that you don’t seem to appreciate the history of the “science”. At the time, “science” actually supported the Ptolemaic model more than the Copernican model. There were problems with the Copernican model that resulted in the Copernican model actually being disfavored. If “science” was just what we had evidence for at the moment, we would still have the Ptolemaic model.

    This should also cause you to be hesitant to put too much faith in science or at least admit that if science is good for anything it is good at revealing just how complex and mysterious the workings of this world are and just how little we know about it. When contemplating the constant reworkings of theories in physics, especially when it comes to time and space, and how little we know, I think it behooves anyone who is on the science bandwagon to occasionally, as the Romans did, have someone whisper in your ear “remember you are mortal”.

  33. @Justin Walker #38

    Justin – that was a very good comment! A friend just posted me telling me it dovetailed perfectly, which it did, so absolve yourself of “piling on” my comments.

    Pax – jb

  34. Having been admonished to “Keep the discussion on the topic of the post”, here is the topic of the post:
    “…Arand gives an apology for the lack of clarity, suggesting that the article in question was misinterpreted and seeks to assure his readers that today’s seminary is not reverting to the mindset of the seminary that once became Seminex, declaring…insisting “unequivocally . . . that not a single person on our faculty (as well as Dr. Jurchen for that matter) advocates for a ‘day-age’ interpretation of Genesis 1… But here’s the problem: if we are to take seriously the “unequivocal” statement that Dr. Jurchen does not advocate for a day-age interpretation, we must ask whether the reasons he gave for its withdrawal are sufficient for us or, for that matter, for the St. Louis faculty….We detect no hint of warning in the article against old-earth creationism, contrary to what Dr. Jurchen implies in his letter…-
    …neither Dr. Jurchen nor the St. Louis faculty admit to any change in point of view on this matter. On the one hand, they insist that they do not follow the day-age theory; …the article was merely retracted, but with no accompanying indication of a change of heart or mind. So the seminary’s attempt to set the record straight falls short, in the main because the retraction appears to be of something other than what was really needed…not merely a retraction of this article, but a condemnation of it.”
    In a deliberate and successful attempt to obfuscate the topic of the post by turning it into an ‘interpreting scripture in light of the scientific method’ debate, the STL faculty continues to advocate for a ‘day-age’ interpretation of Genesis 1, and apparently, Rev. Dr. Charles P. Arand either has no idea of what it is the professors profess, or he advocates it as well. “Dr. Arand seeks to assure his readers that today’s seminary is not reverting to the mindset of the seminary that once became Seminex.” This is a true statement. There is no reversion. In fact, nothing has changed.

  35. @Justin Walker #38

    In my opinion, you are presenting Christians with a false choice: believe in an old earth, or believe in the Bible. I think you can accept both.

    As far as my “false choice,” it all began with “jb” arguing that an old earth and a young earth would look exactly the same according to the evidence. I pointed out that, for some things, that would be true (Adam being an adult, trees in the Garden being mature, etc.), but, for other things (fossils, radiometric dating, etc.), an old earth would look different–unless God made a young earth that (for mysterious reasons) looked old.

    It’s like the difference between God making Adam a grown man, and God making Adam a grown man with memories of a childhood that never happened! One makes sense (Adam had no parents), and the other doesn’t (why create false-to-fact memories?).

    Making the earth look old (when it’s really young) seems to be the work of a trickster deity, not the God of truth. That’s why I think the earth looks old because it IS old. It’s a very natural, reasonable inference from all the evidence! Why else would God make it that way?

    I’m not saying, “Bow down to science, or God is a liar!” I’m simply saying that lots of scientific evidence pretty clearly points to God taking millions of years to create, so why couldn’t it simply be the case that that’s what God did?

    As far as “Luther and geocentrism”–I have said (repeatedly) that I accept the authority of the Bible. Please do not accuse me of “intend[ing] to…undercut Scripture.” Call my interpretation of the Bible erroneous all you like, but please DO NOT falsely accuse me of INTENDING to attack the Bible! That is just slander. I am attacking the YE interpretation, not Scripture itself!

    Yes, in Luther’s time, the science on Ptolemy vs. Copernicus was a toss-up. That’s why I don’t think Luther was dumb to say what he did! How could he know future science in advance? He couldn’t, of course.

    But–that’s not the point. Luther condemned Copernicus based on Scripture, saying “the Holy Ghost taught” that the sun moves, not the earth. For his time, that was a reasonable exegesis. We know better now! And–why did we start interpreting Joshua differently? Because the science became too strong to ignore!

    If we changed our interpretation of Joshua because of Copernicus, maybe it’s okay to consider changing our “take” on the age of the earth based on more-recent science!

    “Too much faith in science”–doesn’t that kind of beg the question of when does science get strong enough to justify re-examining our views?

    “…if science is good for anything, it is good for revealing…how little we know about [this world].” “IF science is good for ANYTHING?” Really? Do you believe in vaccination? In pasteurizing foods? In using airplanes to travel? In using the Internet to debate theology? There are a TON of things science is “good for,” and the evidence for many scientific propositions is so strong that we all daily stake our very lives on them being true! Does science answer all questions? Of course not. But let’s not deride science in the name of discounting genuine insights the natural sciences can give us!

    Does science change? Sure. That’s not a weakness, but a strength! We learn more all the time, and our knowledge grows.

    Some scientific theories or explanations are more tentative than others, true–but that doesn’t mean some concepts aren’t extremely well-established, such as the germ theory of disease, the laws of gravity, the nature of the solar system…and the age of the earth and universe.

    I also think your advice about humility would be a good idea in the realm of Biblical interpretation as well. The Bible is infallible, but its interpreters are not.

  36. @jb #37

    When I said “you” (“can make a case for a young earth”)–I meant “any person.” Plus, you DO believe in a YE, right? I don’t think you need to “make a case for Scripture.” I agree with you that it is God’s Word. Where we disagree is on how we interpret it!

    “Evolution”–when did I ever bring that up? I am not discussing or arguing for evolution, but simply an OE. As I said in another comment above (#26), those are separate issues. I’m not sure what you mean by “EO.” “Cannot serve as proof”—why not? That’s just an assertion. Certainly, 99% of scientists (many of them Christians) accept OE evidences as convincing. Are they ALL tools of Satan?

    “Those of us who hold to Scripture”–isn’t that kind of question-begging, like Ken Ham’s shtick of calling YEC “Biblical creation”? We’re debating (at least in part) WHAT exactly Scripture says about the age issue. “Evolutionists”—again, I’m not talking about evolution at all, but only the age issue. “Science can alter course in the next 20 minutes”—come on, pal! That’s just a caricature of science. How long have Newton’s laws of motion, the germ theory of disease, Einstein’s theory of relativity, etc. endured? When fresh discoveries broaden our knowledge, that’s a strength of science, not a weakness! “If Scripture says ‘A’”—again, begging the question.

    “Satan in the Garden”–I think my original comment speaks for itself. If you want to accuse me of being a tool of Satan, go for it. I really would rather conduct this discussion on a more positive basis, but…I think unbiased observers would side with me on this one. Be it as it may.

    “Intrinsically intertwined”–so, what you are saying is that ANYONE who disagrees with YOUR interpretation of ANY Bible passage, ipso facto rejects the authority of the Bible? That’s pretty extreme! My Baptist friends and I disagree on lots of doctrines, and I think they’re wrong where we disagree, but I would NEVER say they “reject the Bible’s authority.” And where did I ever say I believed in the historical-critical method?

    “The definition of science”–I don’t understand what your point is here, frankly. You know what geology, paleontology, etc. are, of course. I simply cite some examples of scientific evidence for an OE. Feel free to criticize them if you wish! Why I have to offer a “definition of science” beyond the commonsensical one is beyond me!

    As far as “how” God created–I was responding to YOUR statement in your comment #31, “The Lord God Almighty did indeed create the universe and the world as the Holy Scriptures tell us He did, that being in God’s hyper-speed (God spoke, and it was)…” YOU seem to be claiming instantaneous, miraculous, fiat creation as THE method used by God in Genesis, so maybe YOU should admit “You don’t know.” All I was saying was that God “creates” in the Bible in various ways (not all instantaneous), and he “creates” in various ways today (such as when he made me personally). Where am I guilty of “pretenses” in saying that? As far as the perspicuity of Scripture, Walter Roehrs wrote a paper in 1965 where he stated that a nonliteral interpretation of the hexameron does NOT violate the perspicuity of Scripture (http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/RoehrsCreationAccountsGuidelines.pdf).

    “You do not”–if you are saying I sometimes uses science (or history) to help me interpret the Bible, I plead guilty! Why is this such a problem? If I think it’s okay to reinterpret Joshua 10 “heliocentrically” (is that a word?) based on what astronomy tell us, does that mean “Scripture is not supreme in [my] estimation”? Of course not. It just means science can help me in understanding what God meant. If I reinterpret Ezekiel 26 to mean God relented from his threat to destroy Tyre by means of Nebuchadnezzar because history tells me that threat never happened, does that mean “Scripture is not supreme in [my] estimation”? Of course not. It just means history can help me in understanding what God meant. If I think it’s okay to reinterpret Genesis…you know where I’m going with that!

    “Pax”–“And also with you.”

  37. @James Gibbs #42

    Whoa! Gonna bow out, James. As an aside – I had a friend who was traveling down precisely the same road as are you some 6 years ago. He now runs a relatively popular, full-blown site for committed atheists.

    May the Lord bless and keep you and yours. Jeff

  38. @James Gibbs

    I’m not presenting Christians with a false choice…at least not in this discussion. My comment was simply that you are giving a false choice, relying on that purported Luther quote in a way you shouldn’t, and that you should tread carefully with your reliance on science because it is fickle, unreliable, and only reveals our ignorance more and more.

    Even in the purported quote of Luther, I’ve never seen it as him “condemning” Copernicus. Who is slandering now? And how has our interpretation of Joshua 10:12 changed? Did the Sun stop in the sky and not set for about a whole day? Has there been a day like it before or since? Are you saying this can’t be interpreted literally with the sun being fixed in the sky (as Luther did, albeit with a mistake in how the phenomenon would come about)? Are you saying that everyone now interprets it metaphorically because everything would need to stop since the sun, moon, and earth are all in motion?

    And I really can’t fathom why you went off on the “if science is good for anything” comment. Are you serious? For someone who goes on about not interpreting Scripture literally, you sure take BJS comments hyper-literal. But I’ll say this, we don’t stake our lives on science being true. We stake our lives on science being right enough for us to apply it reality. It’s sort of like government work that way…good enough to move ahead with. There is a difference between science and engineering. You should figure it out while you keep banging on about science.

    Lastly, it’s hard to take you seriously when you say some concepts are well-established, like the laws of gravity. Now, don’t take this literally, but you could fill a book with what we don’t know about gravity and how unpredictable it can be. When they can’t even tell us what the constant is for the gravitational constant, I think throwing around phrases like “the laws of gravity are well-established concepts” doesn’t quite make sense. In case you are interested, here is an article I found interesting on that exact point:

    https://futurism.com/the-gravitational-constant-is-it-really-constant/

    And I’ll highlight its last paragraph:

    “It is nice to still have mysteries in the universe, things that we done quite understand. Incredibly small changes in the gravitational constant can affect the rate at which stars form, their size and how long they remain on their main sequence. Maybe we will never know for sure, remaining one of the universes true mysteries.”

  39. @jb #43

    Dear Jeff,

    Thanks for the cheery aside! 😉

    In all seriousness–I, too, have read accounts of Christians who lost their faith after embracing modern science. On the other hand, Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe relates accounts of scientists (or scientifically-educated people) who didn’t accept the Gospel until he told them you can accept an old earth and still be a Christian.

    Ken Ham loves to argue that “millions of years” destroys the Bible’s authority and encourages “the youth” to abandon the church. On the other hand, I’ve read the account of a missionary in the former Soviet Union who stressed that YE teaching was hindering his work there.

    Judging by polling and the official stances of the Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations, there are millions of Christians who accept an old earth. Will they all fall away? I doubt it.

    So the genesis (pun intended) of conversion or apostasy is a variable, unpredictable, individual thing, obviously. My parents were both strong Lutherans, and brought us all up that way. Two of us are still Lutheran, one is now Catholic, and two never darken the door of a church. Go figure!

    I think you and I can agree that handling the origins debate in a sensitive way can be vital in not causing problems for believers, one way or the other.

    I enjoyed our dialogue, even though serious disagreements obviously remain between us. Glad we could have a much more positive interaction than we’ve had in the past!

    May God bless you and yours, also!

    James

  40. @Justin Walker #44

    On the “purported” quote of Luther—this is from page 359 of Luther’s Works, Volume 54: Table Talk (Fortress Press, 1967): “Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem…This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down…I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth.” The footnote for this entry says, “The reference is undoubtedly to Nicholas Copernicus.”

    So—when Luther said Copernicus “wants to be clever,” “wishes to turn…astronomy upside down,” and concluded, “I believe the Holy Scriptures,” that’s not a “condemnation?” He said the guy contradicted the Bible!

    As far as “purported,” okay—there is some debate over exactly what Luther said. But it doesn’t matter. Read his commentary on Genesis, and you will see that he believed in geocentrism, regardless of what he said at the table.

    For what was Galileo condemned by Rome? For “contradicting the Bible” by teaching heliocentrism! That’s what people believed back then!

    And that’s okay—how could they have known better? As you yourself already pointed out, the science was still uncertain back then!

    So—Luther was a man of his time. How is that slander?

    How has our interpretation of Joshua 10 changed? Big time! We used to think it taught the sun actually moves, not the earth—as Luther said! We now know better, so we interpret it “phenomenologically,” etc. If it weren’t for modern science, we would still think the sun literally moved through the sky. Luther and his contemporaries did!

    As far as “literally”—look, I neither know nor care how God answered Joshua’s prayer. Did God make the earth stop rotating? Did he fiddle with the laws of optics? Who knows? The point is he DID miraculously prolong the daylight hours so Joshua could win that battle!

    My point remains the same: Luther (and Pieper, and lots of other sincere Christians) used to take Joshua 10 as a proof-text for geocentrism. We no longer interpret it that way. Why did we change? Because science informed our interpretation—and that’s okay!

    On not staking our lives on science—sure we do! I drive over bridges, trusting they will bear the weight of my car. I accept vaccinations, trusting they will keep me from dying of dread diseases. I get on a jetliner, trusting it won’t fall from the sky and kill me.

    And, yes—I know there’s a difference between science and engineering. Obviously, by “science,” I meant both. Engineers base what they do on science, for one thing. When I say “My dad built a bridge” (he was a civil engineer), that doesn’t mean I think he built it by all by himself with his own two hands, for goodness sake!

    “Keep banging on about science”—nobody asked you to read or respond to my comments, pal. Funny how guys like you, when given an argument that refers to science, suddenly become skeptics about all science. “Science supports a young earth–wait, I don’t rely on science!”

    Again, by “laws of gravity,” I mean commonsense, obvious stuff, like astronomers using Newton (modified by Einstein) to figure out planetary orbits, NASA launching probes into space, what keeps the ISS in orbit, how construction projects rely on architects to know how forces work in designing buildings, etc. Those are well-understood and used every day!

    Gravity is predictable enough for me to know how to walk down the sidewalk, when to brake my car, etc. Solid stuff.

    I read your article from futurism.com. The article actually says, “So far as we can tell, the gravitational constant has remained constant throughout the entire history of the universe.” It does say measuring it absolutely precisely is elusive, because the other fundamental forces cause tiny errors in the measurement. But so what? So we don’t understand absolutely everything—does that mean we don’t understand a lot?

    Btw, I’m still waiting for an apology from you for accusing me of “intend[ing] to…undercut Scripture.”

  41. @St Stephen #47

    @St Stephen #47

    Dude, you need to calm down and ditch the paranoia!!!

    My real name is James Gibbs, not Jeff Gibbs. The views I have expressed here are my actual views and no one else’s. No one has prompted me to post here. Quite the contrary–more than one family member has urged me to stay away from this website!

    I’m just an LCMS layman expressing my own thoughts. I am not a “crypto-atheist”–I believe in God. I have been talking about old-earth creationism, not evolutionary creationism. The age of the earth is all I’ve discussed here, as you can easily see by checking out my past comments.

    Feel free to disagree with my views as strongly (albeit in a civil way) as you like. Or, take your own advice, and only discuss the STL seminary response to the Jurchen brouhaha.

    You are NOT boss of this website. If I want to discuss a (clearly) related issue, what is your problem with that?

    You are NOT free to slander Dr. Jeff Gibbs, Dr. Charles Arand, or the STL seminary with conspiracy-theory-level nonsense!

    Mr. Moderator, I know you don’t like my old-earth views, but I think you are fair. Please put a stop to this online slander of people utterly unconnected to my posts!

  42. “On not staking our lives on science—sure we do! I drive over bridges, trusting they will bear the weight of my car. I accept vaccinations, trusting they will keep me from dying of dread diseases. I get on a jetliner, trusting it won’t fall from the sky and kill me.”

    Odds are, they will perform as expected. On occasion all of them fail.

  43. @helen #48

    Sure. But solid engineering or solid science are still solid. “Reliable” doesn’t have to mean “infallible.”

    Our understanding of Scripture will sometimes fail, too. Humility cuts both ways.

  44. @James Gibbs #47
    Having difficulty with the edit function, I took that as a sign and deleted my comments. You are of course correct, James (about that anyway). I apologize for upsetting you.
    The HS science discussion is wearing me out. But that is what trolling is all about isn’t it? Should anybody care to chime in on the topic, I’ll just read.

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