The Bookshelf God

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It’s interesting how small God is to some people.

Recently, a biology professor from my former high school named Eric Kretschmer wrote an article outlining his journey of reconciling what he had studied in the scientific field and what he knew as a follower of Jesus Christ. You can find the article here. It’s worth reading. Specifically, Kretschmer does a thorough job of balancing an Old-Earth perspective with a Christian God. If you have any questions, leave a statement in the comment section, and I’m sure he will do his utmost to respond to you in a timely and courteous manner.

In response to this article, a certain gentleman named Ken Ham wrote another article. You can find that here. It is also worth a quick read, if for no other reason than understanding what prompted me to write this. Ken Ham is a very ardent Young-Earth Creationist, and this becomes immediately evident in his critique. However, unlike Kretschmer’s article, there is no comment section, no room for dialogue, and no way for the Eric Kretschmer to defend himself.

Behind this curtain, Ham lambasts Kretschmer for daring to introduce evolutionary theory into a Biblical interpretation of the Bible. He concludes this exceptional rant with an exceptional closing paragraph:

Teachers like Kretschmer will be held accountable for the many students they lead astray with their compromise regarding biblical authority and undermining teaching.  How very sad.  And the board/administrators of such Christian schools will also be held accountable.  What they are doing in essence is helping the secularists capture the hearts and minds of generations of children!

Just marvelous.

Teachers like Kretschmer.

Teachers that devoted a good portion of their lives to pursuing a MD in Theology so they could better equip young minds to defend their faith. Teachers like Kretschmer that venture into the public forum in order to help strengthen the Christian body through dialogue and conversation.  Teachers like Kretschmer who are more focused on rooting and growing the Christian body than being a divisive voice in an already divided Church.

I shudder to think of the horrors that befall the Christian body when men like this are teaching our children science—I’m shocked we haven’t been consumed in fire and brimstone already.

Ken Ham is a textbook case of a man who has crafted God in his own image—a bookshelf God—and refuses to let it go. I don’t know Ken Ham from Adam. For all I know, he is a decent man with decent values who follows the same Christ that all Christians worship. But what can be seen from his brief, yet scathingly bitter article, is that this man has a very small God. If a man cannot admit an infinite God, how can he admit infinite grace? If a man cannot admit the possibility of a system outside his own frail understanding, how can he throw himself blindly onto a Divine system that no man can comprehend? As GK Chesterton writes in Orthodoxy, “A personal God might just as well do things slowly as quickly, especially if, like the Christian God, he were outside of time.”

Ken Ham says that “we have abandoned the authority of God’s Word.” Yet where has Kretschmer abandoned the authority of God’s Word? He is a man that believes in Jesus Christ resurrected, in the Holy Trinity, in a Divine God who is returning to judge the living and the dead—and who happened to manifest himself through evolution. Nowhere in the Apostle’s Creed is evolutionary theory mentioned, yet Ken Ham seeks to discredit and defame a Christian brother over a couple million years. What is a million years to the power of God? What is a hundred million years to the love of Christ?

Titus 3:9-11 declares, with no light tone, “Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

My issue is not so much with intelligent design vs. evolutionary theory—nor are the two entirely incompatible. My issue is with a self-proclaimed Christian who deems it a profitable use of his time to attack another member of the Church. The Church is persecuted on every side; do we really need to tear at each other from within?

Christ didn’t come to preach a message of Young-Earth creation; he came to preach love. I’m angry with Ham, not because of his views (which are entirely legitimate), but because of a glaring lack of grace and his confinement of God to fallen man’s rationale. He is a man given some measure of authority and recognition and, instead of furthering the call of Christ, he is furthering his own idol of Young-Earth creationism—a clanging gong and a resounding symbol.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. Against such things there is no law.

When we stand before Heaven’s gates, Christ will not ask us how old the earth is—the concept seems laughable. He will not have a gate marked “Calvinist” and another marked “Armenianist.” He will not differentiate between the Catholic, the Orthodox, and the Protestant.

No, we will stand before the Judgment Seat, and Christ will look down, and he will ask, “Did you know I loved you?” And if we answer “yes”, there will be no more questions. For if we truly trust that the risen Christ loves us, we will have loved others. Instead of defaming our Christian family, we will love them. We will pick and choose our battles, allowing foolish controversy little attention and saving our breath for the message of Christ. Love the Lord your God. Love your neighbor as yourself.

In the words of John the Apostle: little children, love one another.

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14 thoughts on “The Bookshelf God

  1. Your theology is very poor and your article has more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. You claim that Ken Ham is defaming Eric, and then you have the audacity to defame Ken, with some pretty inflammatory rhetoric. Apparently a God who needed to use evolution he is somehow a bigger God than one who could create in 6 days! Give me a break…

  2. sigzero:
    I truly do appreciate the compliment, at least as far as the writing style goes. I’m sorry that you think my theology is poor; I’m trying my best to understand our infinite God, and I’m not surprised I’m falling short.

    maxh77:
    I wasn’t attempting to defame Mr. Ham so much as I was attempting to defame the unfortunate mindset that Christians should be fighting over evolution vs. creationism. I personally don’t hold any specific view about Creation; I think that God could have made the Earth slowly or quickly. I hold this view thanks to men much smarter than I, such as JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and GK Chesterton. And regardless of what I believe (which, as a finite being, is almost certainly flawed) I believe the Cross of Christ is bigger than the whole issue.

    Anyway, thanks for weighing in. The Church is strengthened through honest dialogue and conversation.

    In Christ,

    Ron

    • Psalmriter:

      What a beautiful song! Thank you for sharing that, I could hear the places you were quoting Scripture all throughout, and that is refreshing in an age of very contemporary, often shallow worship. My favorite line was one of the last ones: “What will remain when all is done, when fire consumes my works before God’s Son?”

      That’s what my theology is built around–God’s Son. The point of my article wasn’t too decide between Evolution or Creationism, the point was supposed to be that the Cross of Christ should be our foundation, and as a church we shouldn’t be so divisive over certain doctrine (and if I was a better writer, I’m sure I could have conveyed that more succinctly). Regardless of whether our earth came about instantly, or over a billion years, God was there and had His hand in it.

      I agree that not all will be saved, only those who throw themselves upon the love of Jesus Christ. I also agree that building your theology on Evolution is a house of sand–that’s how you end up with philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche. However, when Christ is the center, nothing can shake a person–not 6,000 years and not a billion.

      In Christ,

      Ron

      • Ron,

        Jesus is the cornerstone, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached to people who were grounded on the foundation of Genesis. They knew about the six days of creation and the fall and the promise of a redeemer. Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The first prophesy of the redeemer. So they had the foundation already laid through Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets. When Paul was preaching to the gentiles, he had to start laying the foundation of Creation and Original Sin, otherwise the cross was foolishness. If death came before Adam (evolution and millions of years) how could death be the wages of sin? What sin? I’m a good person! If Adam was not a literal man who fell, then Christ’s death is meaningless, there is no reason for it if not for Adam. If the flood did not happen, then Jesus is a liar, or mistaken, (see Matthew 24 and Luke 17) which means He was not suitable for a sacrifice for us, He was imperfect. Without Genesis, there is no reason for the cross, and athiests like Richard Dawkins know it! It’s only christians who are walking the fence, saying “The word of God is true, you can trust it for your salvation, but it’s mistaken in the beginning.” People outside of the church see the hypocricy of that, why can’t the church? What means “the love of God” without first knowing “the wrath of God”? What are we saved from? Just as in the days of Noah, we are saved from the judgement of God. Jesus is the door, but the door of what? The Ark of Salvation! Read 2 Peter 3, all of it. Jesus is the cornerstone, His entirety, from Genesis through the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets is the foundation upon which the cross stands! See Luke 24:25-27. We must not forget that it is not just accepting His love. He loves all, even those who are perishing! Luke 25:46-47 “And said unto, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Do you want to reach the world for Christ? Then don’t compromise! Faith comes from hearing the word of God! It’s His Word that shall accomplish what He has set out to do, not man’s!

        Have you listened to any of our other songs? If you have then you know we don’t compromise. Check out our profile on Jango radio http:www.jango.com/music/psalmriter I believe. Look at the fans that we have received in 2 months. 1240 and only 8 that I’ve seen listen to christian music. These are mostly fans of Rihanna, Sick Puppies, Maroon 5 and other secular artists. I’m not saying this to brag, because in a way it breaks my heart! Where are the listeners of Christian music? We are trying to reach them, but only 8?! God is reaching out to the lost still, even though young people are leaving the church in droves. Why are they leaving? Hypocrisy and compromise. The lost are hungry, while the churched are wanting to have their ears scratched. The most popular song is “Selah”, listen to it and tell me why a lost person would want to fan us while a churched person would want to ignore it. You want to reach the lost? Then stand on God’s word and proclaim it, all of it, with boldness.

      • Psalmriter,

        I’ve actually never considered the “death before Adam” approach to a Young Earth theory. That’s actually a very good argument. Also, thank you for quoting so much Scripture; often times in this debate, people tend to adopt a very dogmatic stance and just shout at each other, and that doesn’t profit anyone.

        That said, I don’t think the Genesis story has to be literal in order for salvation to be necessary, just as I don’t think somebody has to believe in a word-for-word literal Revelation in order to be saved. I think that people know they are sinful; it doesn’t take the Bible to show them that. After all, look at how many people in foreign cultures are saved knowing nothing other than what a missionary preaches to them. And when organizations like Wycliffe translate Bibles into foreign languages, they always start with The Gospel of John–like you said, Jesus as the Cornerstone. People saying “I’m a good person” is usually purely semantics; if anybody gives it any real thought, they usually realize they aren’t.

        Martin Luther would preach sermons where he would tell his congregations to be as good as they can, and if they fall short, then they’re under God’s wrath. He would do this to show the church’s utter dependance on grace and love, and to show each individual’s weakness in front of God.

        2 Peter 3:8 says that “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” I don’t bring this up to make a point for Young Earth vs. Evolution; I bring this up to show that God is outside of time, and regardless of whether or not he made the earth quickly or slowly–the point is that he made it. (If you have time, give this article a quick glance http://thejesuslovingscientist.blogspot.com/)

        Regardless of how old the earth is, we serve an infinite God, who deemed it worthwhile to condescend to meet his fallen people in the form of Jesus Christ. And that is a wonderful thing. Certain things that are necessary to salvation, certain things aren’t. I agree that people need to be convinced of their sinfulness, but I don’t think Genesis is the only, or even the best way, to do it.

        But if I would say anything in this rambling response, it is that I truly hate the divisiveness that comes out of this issue. The conversation that me and you are having is wonderful, and I deeply appreciate you taking the time to talk, but most people don’t do what we’re doing right now; they just lob very bitter, angry rants back and forth. I may not be entirely sure what I believe about Genesis, but I do know what I believe about the Gospels, and I believe that “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11)

        In Christ,

        Ron

        P.S. I think people don’t listen to much Christian music nowadays because there isn’t much good Christian music out there. I think that young people especially are turned off by shallow, contemporary worship music, which is why bands like Mumford & Sons get so much attention–they’re actually making an effort to say something worth saying. So keep doing what you’re doing–I love how Biblically founded your songs are, and people are looking for music that actually says something meaningful.

      • I read Bryan’s posts, and I have to say it has me scratching my head. I totally agree with what he had to say in his Nov. 18th post “The Watchman”. 100 percent agreement, especially “They are also quite difficult to swallow, but the Bible cannot be taken apart, picking and choosing what is easy. We have to take the Bible as a whole.” and I’m impressed with his posts on Ezekiel and Nehemiah. We ARE to be the watchmen, and we have the responsibilities that go along with the position. So why are we so quick to deny, or excuse Genesis? Fear of “science so called”? If you read the Bible and check out what it says instead of listening to what others claim it says, you will see that wherever it touches on science it is accurate. Just one example to disprove the “flat earth” claim of Bible detractors- Isaiah 40:22 KJV
        “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants there of are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in :” I dare say that no one could understand that until NASA provided us pictures from space, but notice it also talks about the expanding universe that we see by measuring the red shift from the galaxies, a “recent” discovery. We can talk about “Science V. Bible” for years and totaly miss the point. Depending on what assumptions you start with will determine what your conclusions will be. Do we start with Man’s word to interpret the Bible, or do we start with God’s Word to interpret what we observe in Science? As a Christian what shall we do? Ken Ham is acting the role of “The Watchman”, his hands are clean. He is not claiming his truth is absolute… he’s claiming God’s truth is absolute, and calling the Church to repentance!Are you familiar with Exodus 19 and 20? God is speaking to all of Israel, and they hear His voice with the mountain smoking and shaking… Exodus 20:1-2 ” And God spake all these words, saying , I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Skip to verse 11 “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Now skip to verses 18-20, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed , and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear : but let not God speak with us, lest we die . And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.” THAT is the word of God from the MOUTH of God! How can we so easily ignore it and say it’s “not important”? The question I’m afraid is going to be asked on Judgement Day is, “Did you believe me? Did you Believe my Son?”

        Usually if I’m ever led to make a comment on any post, I will keep it short and simple, then leave to avoid any foolish arguments. But the Lord has laid you firmly on my heart, and you are in my prayers. http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_15810841

    • Psalmriter,

      Before I say anything (and I promise, I’ll try to be shorter than my last response) I would like to thank you the time you’ve taken. When I commented on Mr. Ham’s Facebook response to my blog post, and I extended an invitation for dialogue, you are the only person who wrote anything back. 25 people were willing to write off a fellow Christian (myself) as a heretic and a heathen (including Mr. Ham), but you were the only one who took any time to talk to me and engage me in conversation, and I believe that speaks volumes to the reality of a relationship with Jesus Christ. So, before I say anything else, thank you for the consideration and for the prayer. God knows we all need it, myself most of all.

      I’m going to try to step beyond the Young Earth–Old Earth debate for a moment, and try to focus on human frailty. I think we can both agree that we will never understand our infinite God–our minds just can’t grasp him. As an extension, there is no individual who will perfectly understand God’s word, for Scripture consists of man–through divine inspiration–using words to describe an infinite God. No words can adequately describe God, and even if there were, no man would be able to perfectly understand them. I say this to highlight the fact that when we stand before Christ on Judgment Day, it’s safe to say that there will not be a single soul who has perfect theology. Just as you said, Scripture is definitely important; how could I argue with you on this? But nobody will ever completely comprehend Scripture. Would it be wrong to say that our merciful Savior will forgive those who may have held improper views about how old the earth is?

      I truly don’t know whether or not the earth is old or young. I wasn’t there when it was made. I’m prepared to believe that it is old–there is some evidence to suggest it. I’m prepared to believed that it’s young–if I believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead, I can certainly believe he made the earth in a literal six days. I personally lean towards an old earth, but that’s because I come from scientific background, and spent a lot of time reading people like CS Lewis and GK Chesterton, who share my views.

      But regardless of what I believe, my single greatest problem with Ken Ham, and the reason I wrote the article, is that instead of preaching Christ crucified, Mr. Ham is preaching Young-Earth Creationism. It’s not that I think there isn’t a place for people to publicly defend certain doctrine, but Mr. Ham has made a career out of being a divisive voice in a Church that is sorely in need of unity and love. The church is built on Jesus Christ–not Young-Earth Creationism and not Evolutionary Theory.

      I admire Mr. Ham’s commitment to a literal interpretation of Genesis, but I sincerely believe his methods of promoting this interpretation are tearing the Church apart and are not in keeping with the teaching of Christ. Mr. Ham treats people who don’t believe his doctrine as if they are his sworn enemies, when in reality, many of them will join hands with him in Heaven around the throne of Christ.

      In Luke 10, Jesus says the greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Is Mr. Ham loving his neighbor when he vehemently targets a Christian high school teacher for saying the Earth is old and does his best to defame him in a public forum? Is that how Mr. Ham thinks that Jesus Christ would act? That high school teacher isn’t a man like the Pharisees, seeking to lead people away from Christ; he’s a man trying to prepare young minds to grapple with those who would try to pull them away from the Cross. This is a man who is currently in Russia with a group of students preaching the Gospel in some of the most desperate and dark orphanages in the world, and Mr. Ham viewed it as a profitable use of his time to attack him. I just don’t understand how that malice is helping advance the Cross of Christ. In Luke 9:49-50, John comes before Jesus and says ““Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”

      Perhaps I am wrong; it would not be the first time, nor would it be the last. I am definitely prepared to yield on my view of the age of the Earth and a literal Creation account–you’ve certainly given me a lot to think about in your comments. However, I am not prepared to yield on my view that Christ’s love transcends certain doctrinal disputes. Whether or not Christ rose from the dead is important, and anyone who says otherwise cannot call themselves “Christian.” Whether or not we have loved Christ and as an extension, loved our neighbor is also of utmost importance–these are the two greatest commandments. But as for Young-Earth vs. Old Earth, it is difficult to comprehend a scenario where we are quizzed on the age of the Earth upon our arrival in Heaven.

      Anyway, I said I would be brief, but apparently I have lied, but that is only because I thoroughly enjoy the conversation we have had and deeply appreciate your time. If you would like, I’ll send you my email address. And again, thank you for your time and your prayers. I’ll also pray for you, especially in gratitude for your commitment to the Body of Christ and for your strength in continuing it.

      In the love of Christ,

      Ron

      • I am looking forward to your email, I will be happy to continue our conversation as long as you’d like. You can write me anytime at admin@psalmriter.com. I do believe you are misinterpreting Ken’s intent. It is not “old earth v. young earth” per se, rather God’s authority v. Man’s authority. It’s not “how God may have done it” but “how God SAID He done it.” You cannot throw out Genesis chapters 1 through 11 and claim the rest is true and inspired, where do you draw the line? The question is, “Do I believe Jesus in everything, or only what I want to?” Read http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2004/04/06/jesus-christ-infallibility-of-scripture#fnMark_1_1_1 for a discussion of how Jesus treated scripture. (This paper is an excerpt from Dr Livingston’s M.A. Thesis titled, “A Critique of Dewey Beegle’s book titled: Inspiration of Scripture”. Copyright 2003 David Livingston, reproduced with permission.)

        P.S It’s only a lie if you know it’s wrong when you state it, no need to apologize as I, too, can get overly verbose (obviously)!

        P.P.S. I have no association whatsoever with AIG or Ken Ham other than admiration for his consistent stand on God’s Word, so do not think I am representing him or his organization in any way. I’m not sure if they even know we exist!

      • I would love to continue this discussion by email. I responded earlier but the moderated did not approve of it, maybe because I included our email (which I don’t mind being public, btw).

      • Sorry about that. I was away from my computer for the last day and when I got on, I didn’t realize the comment had gotten blocked.

        Thanks for pointing that out.

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