Wednesday, July 31, 2013

LYNCHNG by any other name

Up to now I have refrained from discussing Stand Your Ground as a defense for murder in Florida. This law passed by the GOP dominated legislature and governor with the assistance of the NRA and right wing leaning corporate money through ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is a travesty to common legal reasoning as well as a license for racist murder. As I understand SYG if a person fears a threat from another, this fear becomes a legal justification for using deadly force against a perceived threat. With SYG there is no expectation to withdraw (run for your life), but rather draw and shoot. The reason this “defense” is questionable from the start is that the doctrine ignores (deliberately?) social reality. How often have I heard about and heard directly whites express their fear of the other. Just the presence of persons of another race or ethnicity stimulates anxiety about personal danger. On its face this appears absurd since history reports that African Americans have been the victim of violence at the hands of white law enforcement and ordinary citizens for decades. I suspect that the source for this dread is fear of the unknown and incipient racism. Since many white Floridians fear those of another race, they walk around every day in fear of threats real or unreal thereby meeting the standard of the defense. What party would write a law to justify deadly force in a nation or state ignoring a majority that displays such social backwardness. Stand Your Ground, Governor Scott, must be repealed!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Writing a book does not qualify an author for college instruction!

NOT QUALIFIED TO TEACH Coming out of the theological closet, no. 3

College and universities and their programs that merit the tuition paid are accredited generally in two basic ways, either by fields of study through national organizations or by one of the seven regional associations. We cannot categorize all accrediting bodies as being equal since some of the national organizations have such low standards that accreditation by these would be  meaningless for determining the value of programs offered.

 What is the role of the accrediting agency?
The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency. (

A quick reference page to investigate accreditation is

A page that lists organizations that accredit programs is

A page to investigate and confirm the accreditation status of an institution is

After agreeing to the terms of use, in the page that opens you can enter your search criteria.

If you research the status of Ken Ham’s Sponsor Schools at his “creation colleges” web site you will be surprised to discover how so few have regional accreditation and that most cannot even produce results at the CHEA site.

Those accredited by Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

Pensacola Christian College
Bob Jones University

Not searchable at the CHEA site
Crown College of the Bible
Dayspring Bible College & Seminary
Verity Institute
Northland International University
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School while Liberty University is regional
The Master’s Seminary
Jackson Hole Bible College

A few have Regional accreditation, Warner University among them.

Ohio Christian University also Association for Biblical Higher Education
Appalachian Bible College also Association for Biblical Higher Education

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body that accredits Warner University. The educational programs at WU must bear up under the scrutiny of SACS-COC and its peer institutions to remain in good standing.

I have introduced this brief review of accreditation to raise a crucial question. To be certified to teach a course at any SACS-COC school a specific faculty member must be qualified, that is credentialed with genuine transcripts that confirm studies at the Masters Level (18 hours of graduate study in field) to meet the minimum standards for undergraduate instruction. So here is my concern. Neither Ken Ham nor Greg Hall possesses the required credentials to teach the content that they so eagerly discuss in Already Compromised. Since Ken Ham has no graduate studies in Biology how is he competent to address college biology instruction? Ham could not even be assigned freshmen BIO. Greg Hall earned Educational degrees only (M.Ed., Ed. D.). According to the COC he is NOT qualified to teach Bible or Theology. Once when riding back from the Orlando airport our SACS consultant raised this point exactly. She said something like, why is Greg Hall teaching TST 4095? His credentials do not support this. (I now suspect this is the real reason behind changing the prefix from TST to WU.) Then credentials become irrelevant. The changes called for by these authors of Already Compromised and being forced on WU faculty go far beyond COC competence to teach a course. They go to the foundation of higher education itself, not limited to but including: censoring class content, cancelling and deleting expected courses, and dismissing credentialed instructors. How could this ever be judged legitimate?

Friday, July 26, 2013

If what you claim is foolish silence is your best option

I have not been a fan of Augustine. His influence over theology is much greater than it should be. But even this old saint long ago offered some pertinent wisdom that our current strident anti-science creationists may need to hear.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.... Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by these who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. (pp. 42-43)

St. Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, translated and annotated by John Hammond Taylor, S.J., 2 vols. In Ancient Christian Writers 41-42 (New York: Newman Press, 1982). The page references above refer to pages in volume 1.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A current creationist (like you Ken Ham) could learn from John Calvin

John Calvin acknowledged divine accommodation in scientific matters.

It is easy to see that this revered Reformation theologian did not ascribe to a view that the Bible is verbally accurate even in matters of astronomy and therefore can be used as a scientific textbook. Instead he candidly recognized that Moses did not offer scientific description. Possibly even more crucial he did NOT assert that astronomers had to make their own discoveries conform to the level of understanding found in the Bible. Calvin wrote in his Genesis commentary concerning chaper one, verse sixteen:

16. The greater light I have said, that Moses does not here subtilely descant, as a philosopher,

on the secrets of nature, as may be seen in these words. First, he assigns a place in the expanse of

heaven to the planets and stars; but astronomers make a distinction of spheres, and, at the same

time, teach that the fixed stars have their proper place in the firmament. Moses makes two great

luminaries; but astronomers prove, by conclusive reasons that the star of Saturn, which on account

of its great distance, appears the least of all, is greater than the moon. Here lies the difference;

Moses wrote in a popular style things which without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with

common sense, are able to understand; but astronomers investigate with great labor whatever the

sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor

this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is

unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot

be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God. Wherefore, as ingenious men are to

be honored who have expended useful labor on this subject, so they who have leisure and capacity

ought not to neglect this kind of exercise. Nor did Moses truly wish to withdraw us from this pursuit

in omitting such things as are peculiar to the art; but because he was ordained a teacher as well of

the unlearned and rude as of the learned, he could not otherwise fulfill his office than by descending

to this grosser method of instruction. Had he spoken of things generally unknown, the uneducated

might have pleaded in excuse that such subjects were beyond their capacity. Lastly since the Spirit

of God here opens a common school for all, it is not surprising that he should chiefly choose those

subjects which would be intelligible to all. If the astronomer inquires respecting the actual dimensions

of the stars, he will find the moon to be less than Saturn; but this is something abstruse, for to the
sight it appears differently. Moses, therefore, rather adapts his discourse to common usage. For

since the Lord stretches forth, as it were, his hand to us in causing us to enjoy the brightness of the

sun and moon, how great would be our ingratitude were we to close our eyes against our own

experience? There is therefore no reason why janglers should deride the unskillfulness of Moses in

making the moon the second luminary; for he does not call us up into heaven, he only proposes

things which lie open before our eyes. Let the astronomers possess their more exalted knowledge;

but, in the meantime, they who perceive by the moon the splendor of night, are convicted by its

use of perverse ingratitude unless they acknowledge the beneficence of God.

71 “Great lights;” that is, in our eyes, “to which the sun and moon are nearer than the fixed stars and the greater planets.” —

Johannes Clericus in Genesin, p.10. — Ed.

72 The reader will be in no danger of being misled by the defective natural philosophy of the age in which this was written.

Which side actually has a complete lack of evidence?

The "missing link" problem

I continually hear the claims from anti-science people about "missing links" or gaps of evidence in the fossil record. Of course gaps exist in the evidence so far discovered. Who would honestly deny this fact? When considering the available fossil record the first observation that every side must acknowledge is the near miraculous character of such physical remains. Deposition is random and so is survival of remains. That so much has been recovered over the past two centuries should be a source of astonishment, joy, as well as thanksgiving. Instead of gloating about gaps we should be grateful that finds of physical remains have allowed theoretical construction to be as fruitful as it now is. Now let's go back to the alleged problem. Such gaps they suppose offer sufficient reason to reject any kind of evolutionary theory.Those who argue this way however suffer a blindness concerning evidence themselves because this so-called weakness is not the sole problem of evolutionists. For in fact this gap of evidence must also be recognized and finally faced by those who argue a young earth creationist position. Nowhere on earth have physical remains for homo sapiens or earlier hominid skeletal forms been recovered alongside prehistoric remains representing the many forms of dinosaurs. Since creationists like Ken Ham (see Creationist Museum) actually preach that humans and dinosaurs lived together at the very same time, logic requires that one ask, where is the physical evidence to support this novel contention? Documenting the evidence in the geological strata to confirm such claims is required first before anyone can identify a system with such ideas as "scientific creationism." So far not one example exists. Of this I am certain for if such evidence existed, those like Ken Ham would have published this finding in all the newspapers of the world.

The war between science and faith is a fiction promoted by the extremists on both sides

BioLogos Theology Statement

At last a serious attempt to consider creation and science together with mutual respect.

On November 9-11, 2010, a group of pastors, church leaders, scholars, scientists, and informed laypersons met in New York City for the second Theology of Celebration BioLogos Workshop.

After much dialogue, the following statement emerged, which represents a summary of the discussion, as no attempt was made to develop a binding consensus statement.

Summary Statement

Science and Faith

We affirm historic Christianity as articulated in the classic ecumenical creeds.  Beyond the original creation, God continues to act in the natural world by sustaining it and by providentially guiding it toward the goal of a restored and consummated creation.  In contrast to Deism, Biologos affirms God’s direct involvement in human history, including singular acts such as the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, as well as ongoing acts such as answers to prayer and acts of salvation and personal transformation.

We also affirm the value of science, which eloquently describes the glory of God’s creation.  We stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom faith and science are mutually hospitable, and we see no necessary conflict between the Bible and the findings of science.  We reject, however, the unspoken philosophical presuppositions of scientism, the belief that science is the sole source of all knowledge.

In recent years voices have emerged who seek to undermine religious faith as intellectually disreputable, in part because of its alleged dissonance with science.  Some go further, characterizing religion as a “mind virus” or a cultural evil.  While many of their ideas are not new, these voices are often identified as the New Atheists, and scientism undergirds their thinking.

In contrast to scientism, we deny that the material world constitutes the whole of reality and that science is our only path to truth.  For all its fruitfulness, science is not an all-inclusive source of knowledge; scientism fails to recognize its limitations in fully understanding reality, including such matters as beauty, history, love, justice, friendship, and indeed science itself.

We agree that the methods of the natural sciences provide the most reliable guide to understanding the material world, and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process.  Thus BioLogos affirms that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves God’s purposes.

Accounts of Origins

We affirm without reservation both the authority of the Bible and the integrity of science, accepting each of the “Two Books” (the Word and Works of God) as God’s revelations to humankind.  Specifically, we affirm the central truth of the biblical accounts of Adam and Eve in revealing the character of God, the character of human beings, and the inherent goodness of the material creation.

We acknowledge the challenge of providing an account of origins that does full justice both to science and to the biblical record.  Based on our discussions, we affirm that there are several options that can achieve this synthesis, including some which involve a historical couple, Adam and Eve, and that embrace the compelling conclusions that the earth is more than four billion years old and that all species on this planet are historically related through the process of evolution.  We commit ourselves to spreading the word about such harmonious accounts of truth that God has revealed in the Bible and through science.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Denying infallibility is a logical option if biblical evidence matters

“rejecting infallibility”  Coming out of the theological closet, no. 2

Evangelicals (allied with fundamentalists) now prefer to use the term “inerrant” to describe their idea of biblical accuracy. The informed holding this view assert that whatever the non-extant autographs of scripture said is absolutely accurate on whatever subject is addressed, history and science included. The logic of the word inerrant therefore requires absolute 100% compliance with facts to maintain a position of overall biblical effectiveness. An earlier and more common descriptor that a much broader spectrum of Christianity has historically employed was “infallible.” This term attributed complete reliability to what the Bible teaches regarding faith and practice.

Already Compromised, p.42, asserted: “I have heard other scholars say that “the Bible is true in all that it affirms” (whatever that means), but they go on to say that it was never intended to be an academic text and should be trusted only in matters of faith, not matters of science. This equivocation is heresy to me considering that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Col. 2:3, and “all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16; NKJV emphasis added).”” The writer conjectures that Col. 2:3 and 2 Tim. 3:16 somehow refute holding a narrower view of accuracy. I cannot deduce how anyone who carefully reads these two verses (in context might help even more) can decide that they truly carry the weight of this conjecture. Do you see any declaration that the Bible was and is accurate in "matters of science" in either of these selected texts? I challenge anyone to find any such declaration anywhere in the biblical text. First the concept presented in Col. 2:3 has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible, unless one is proposing that some equivalence between Christ and the canon. That leaves the four functions included in 2 Tim. 3:16 which unfortunately omit any explicit reference to historical and scientific matters.

A wide spectrum of Christianity decades ago had agreed upon how to understand the nature of scripture and published this decision. The International Congress on World Evange­lization was held at Lausanne, Switzerland, July 16-25, 1974.  It brought together 2,473 partici­pants from 150 countries and 135 Protestant denominations. One outgrowth of that International Congress was the Lausanne Covenant.  Section 2 of the Lausanne Covenant is entitled:  "The Authority and Power of the Bible."  It reads:

                We affirm the divine inspiration, truthful­ness and authority of both Old and New Testa­ment Scriptures in their entirety as the only written Word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and prac­tice.  We also affirm the power of God's Word to accomplish his pur­pose of salva­tion.  The message of the Bible is ad­dressed to all mankind.  For God's revela­tion in Christ and in Scripture is un­change­able.  Through it the Holy Spirit still speaks today.  He illumines the minds of God's peo­ple in every culture to per­ceive its truth fresh­ly through their own eyes and thus discloses to the whole church ever more of the many-colored wisdom of God. (II Tim. 3:15; II Pet.1:21; John 10:35; Isa. 55:11; I Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16; Matt. 5:17,1­8;  Jude 3; Eph. 1:17,­18; 3:10,18)

The Lausanne declaration influenced the position taken by the Church of God in 1981 where the General Assembly,

“RESOLVED that this Assembly declare its convictions that the Bible truly is the divinely inspired and infallible Word of God.  The Bible is without error in all that it affirms, in accordance with its own purpose, namely that it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NAS), and it therefore is fully trustworthy and authoritative as the infallible guide for understanding the Christian faith and living the Christian life; …” (The Assembly Speaks (36-38), compiled and edited by Barry L. Callen).

Here again this decision follows a faith and practice approach, not one promoting scientific accuracy.

Disputing a claim of complete scientific accuracy for the Bible is easy since it represents the common view of 21st century faith. My question this week examines the more commonly held stand as referenced above by the Lausanne Covenant statement and the General Assembly resolution.

The rule of faith and practice position maintains that the Bible is entirely reliable in matters concerning belief and conduct. I shall only consider the practice/conduct side of this long held view.

For us to honestly maintain this declaration the Bible must be completely reliable in all matters of practice. Finding even one clear example where the teaching it enjoins is contrary to established norms would demand rejecting any such affirmation. Does the Bible offer any such examples? Yes, it does. The Bible presents a positive review of slavery by offering Old Testament regulations about the exercise of this institution and even in the New Testament presents instruction on how slaves and masters are expected to conduct themselves. It clearly does not prohibit the exercise of slavery. Since from the 19th century followers of Christ have condemned slavery can we continue to hold scripture as infallible? Obviously such slavery mandates show that Scripture does not always offer absolute truth, that is, truth for all times, and for all people everywhere. If on select matters of conduct we must reject that Scripture offers absolute instruction on specific conduct can the Bible can be honestly received as infallible regarding faith and practice as traditionally confessed? The Bible is our infallible rule of faith and practice (except for slavery and ….). I can no longer affirm the view that scripture is our infallible rule of faith and practice. Rejecting this confession raise another threat. Since the Bible's slavery discussion falls short of absolute reliability, what other absolute conduct teaching may be found deficient now and in the future?


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Imaging the divine is always a risky practice

Deity is portrayed in human form, but depictions of the ineffable also are represented through a more biblical/spiritual non-corporeal form as well in German churches.

Friday, July 19, 2013

After one recognizes "pro-life" is merely doublespeak

“pro innocent life” Coming out of the theological closet no. 1

Have you noticed that more and more you are seeing the appearance of a new phrasing, “pro-innocent-life”? The recent appearance of this expression of the “anti-choice” or “anti-abortion” crowd is revealing. Evidently the Christian right has finally and logically recognized by their own words that they are in fact NOT pro-life. It is difficult to defend a claim to be “pro-life” while supporting war or even pre-emptive war, and capital punishment. This new slogan of the Christian right once again demonstrates a lack of theological sophistication of its adherents. Apparently they do not understand their own belief system. The developed Augustinian doctrine of inherited sin, original sin, or inbred sin represents the traditional view of Catholic theology and as well as Reformed and Wesleyan interpreters. Holding this dogma there can be NO innocent life. A key text undergirding this belief is Psalms 51:5.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (KJV)

Denying the commonly held view by Catholics that the sex act in of itself is sinful, this sentence denies any functional innocence of the unborn from conception on. The entry, do unbaptized babies go to heaven, is a hot topic for in Google it produces 12,200 results. For example the web site entitled, “Where Do Unbaptized Babies Go When They Die?” reports this dilemma:

“If we say that the unborn and unbaptized infants automatically go to Heaven, there's a serious risk of presumption (or worse, thinking of abortion as assisting these poor souls).  It also seems to undermine the Church's teaching on the necessity of infant baptism.”

In case you miss the theological quandary here it results directly from the church teaching of the necessity of infant baptism. The rite of baptism is the ordinary means to cleanse anyone from original sin. Without baptism original sin remains. If original sin remains there can be no original innocence. Thus the use of the phrase “pro-innocent-life” is illogical and just propaganda.