Some months ago, I wrote a post in which I accused Ken Ham of being a fibber.
I am not above changing my views to accommodate new facts (I’m not a young-earth creationist, after all), so I feel obligated to share with you an article at Answers in Genesis’ website in which the unthinkable happens: Ken Ham tells the truth.
No longer do people like me have to speculate, infer, imply and otherwise intimate that Ham is an arrogant and self-righteous prig, who believes young-earth creationism trumps the gospel and fancies himself to be in a lonely and Quixotic battle against anyone who finds reason to see allegory in Genesis; in this article, he makes that quite plain all by himself.
Haarsma’s article was a concerned yet cogent and respectful letter addressing Ken Ham’s views of both her organization and Hugh Ross, of the old-earth group Reasons to Believe. Haarsma quite accurately details where the three organizations differ, but points out the much larger common ground that exists between them, namely, a shared belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and his saving work on the cross (this is also known as “the gospel,” or “the only thing that really, really, really matters, when it comes to the Christian faith”).
All three organizations love the Bible and strive to follow Christ. While we disagree significantly on how best to interpret the Bible and the scientific evidence, we would agree that these are secondary issues to the gospel. We are all still believers together. Can we refrain from so quickly calling each other “compromised Christians” or flat-out “wrong”?
Sounds fair to me. So what does Ham think? “No thanks,” he says. In his piece, he comes out swinging:
This is a reminder to everyone that today, just because someone states they believe the Bible is inspired or authoritative does not mean they take it as written! As I explain in the book Already Compromised there is a “Newspeak” in the church today, and it has become a stumbling block to many people. It’s really a form of double-speak. People like Dr. Haarsma make it sound like they have such a high view of the Bible, whereas in reality, she has a low view of Scripture and a high view of man’s fallible beliefs about origins!
Wow, this is amazing! Ken Ham not only understands scripture better than anyone else who has ever lived, and knows far more about science than such feeble mortal minds as Stephen Hawking, he also possesses secret knowledge about the hearts and minds of others that even they themselves don’t know!
Dr. Haarsma may think she holds the Bible in high regard, but Ham knows otherwise. He doesn’t explain exactly how he knows this, which leads to the only possible assumption: Ham “knows” Haarsma does not have a high view of scripture, because if she did, she would agree with him. It’s fallacious reasoning, but with a twist of egotism so deep and sinister it would make a wicked witch dizzy.
In a simple blog post, Ham has declared himself the arbiter between God and man. His views are the standard by which Christians are to be judged. Am I being unfair? See for yourself. Like I said, Ham is coming clean:
We have written a number of articles on the AiG website to warn people that compromising God’s Word in Genesis is an authority issue, a gospel issue, and, indirectly, a salvation issue.
But wait a minute… I thought Ham said in an article criticizing me that evolution wasn’t a salvation issue? Yep, here it is. He wrote, “I would like to point out that I agree with Francke that the creation/evolution debate is not a salvation issue. Like I’ve said before, salvation is dependent on faith in Christ Jesus alone and not on your view of origins.”
Now, he’s saying it is a salvation issue. Seems like a contradiction, but since Ken Ham is apparently speaking directly for God now, probably best not to question him. Here’s more about Haarsma:
Dr. Haarsma really wants me to say that they have a view of Genesis that’s valid, and that I just happen to hold a different view—but that we can all agree to disagree! In other words, she does not really want me to judge her view against Scripture, and she does not want AiG to be bold and unashamed in contending for the faith, like the watchman in Ezekiel to warn people about those who undermine the authority of God’s Word.
Actually, Mr. Ham, I don’t think Dr. Haarsma would mind if you judge her views against scripture, as long as she reserves the right to do the same with yours. But hang on, readers, it gets worse from here:
So what is my response to the dinner invitation?
I’m reminded of how Nehemiah responded when opponents who knew what he was doing and why—and they knew what Nehemiah believed (and rejected his stand)—wanted to meet with him:
“Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono…” (Nehemiah 6:1–2)
And the response from Nehemiah was the following:
“So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3)
We at AiG are busy “rebuilding a wall.” We are equipping God’s people to defend the Christian faith, and I believe we are doing a great work for God. We are busy being “watchmen”—warning people of those who undermine the authority of the Word of God. Now, of course, I don’t consider Dr. Ross a personal enemy (as Nehemiah considered some of his detractors)—he is actually a pleasant person. But he is what I would call an enemy of biblical authority.
“Biblical authority,” which we’ve already established is — in Ham’s mind — synonymous with whatever he happens to believe at that moment. But I do actually agree with this last little bit. Ken Ham and co. are most certainly “building a wall” — a wall between their peculiar little sect and the rest of the outside world, especially other Christians.
That’s the only possible takeaway I see from a rant like this. Ham has no use for other believers, unless their beliefs are identical to his on every fine point of doctrine. Not only is this a nauseatingly arrogant point of view (for anyone, but particularly for those who claim to be ministers of God’s word), but it also poisons the gospel because it makes the precious message of Jesus into little more than an afterthought.
Remember, as Haarsma said — and Ham did not argue otherwise — there is absolutely no significant disagreement about the nature of God, Christ or salvation in the statements of faith adhered to by BioLogos, Reasons to Believe and AiG. By nevertheless regarding them as enemies of the faith — to the point that he wouldn’t even be interested in meeting them in fellowship for a meal and discussion — Ham is clearly demonstrating by word and deed that he believes the accurate presentation of the gospel to be less important than the belief that the universe was created more recently than the invention of beer by the Mesopotamians.
Let me explain it by way of analogy. I believe people should not drink cyanide, because it will kill them, because cyanide is one of the most potent and fastest-acting toxins known to mankind. I also believe people should not drink scotch, because it tastes like kerosene, and because beer exists (thank you, Mesopotamia). Though I believe both of these things, and I have reasons for both beliefs, and I happen to think I am correct about both of them, I do not hold them to be equally important.
If someone disagreed with me in regard to my beliefs about cyanide, I would be prepared to argue in favor of my position quite forcefully. I would, in fact, do whatever was in my power to prevent another person from drinking cyanide. If, on the other hand, someone — like my brother-in-law — disagrees with me in regard to my beliefs about scotch, and argues that scotch is delicious, and in fact, insists on offering me a sample from his collection of Glenliver and Laga-whatever every time I come to visit, well, I would think that his taste buds have probably been damaged by over-exposure to the fire water, but I would be perfectly willing to agree to disagree.
Now, let’s put it in terms of the Christian faith. I believe Christians should believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he died and rose again to atone for the sins of humanity. I also believe that Christians should not read the Genesis creation accounts literally, because I think it is an overly simplistic, childish view that misses the intended point of the stories, and because I think there are clear internal cues that indicate the text is an allegory.
If a Christian disagreed with me in regard to my beliefs about Christ, I would certainly argue the point. I would die on that hill, because Christ is — as far as I’m concerned — the bedrock and cornerstone and foundation of the Christian faith, and without the biblical view of who he is and what he’s done for us, Christianity as a concept loses all meaning. If a Christian disagreed with me in regard to my beliefs about evolution and Genesis (it’s hard to imagine, I know), then I’d be happy to discuss my views with them, but I would have no problem ultimately agreeing to disagree.
Indeed, I maintain friendships and working ministerial relationships with hundreds of people who think I’m wrong about my interpretation of Genesis 1-3 (for the record, the feeling’s mutual), and we get along just fine, because it’s a nonessential issue. It doesn’t change our view of Christ, it doesn’t change our view of God’s will for how he would have us live our lives in the world today, it does not — contrary to the hoarse claims of AiG — change our view of the authority of God’s word.
This, I believe, is the same perspective held by Deb Haarsma and her staff at BioLogos. This is the spirit in which she extended the hand of friendship and brotherly love to Ken Ham, but he slapped it away.
I admire Dr. Haarsma for her grace, class and poise. It’s not her fault she extended an invitation to a man and organization who are so convinced they’re right that couldn’t care less what any other believer has to say.