Benjamin Corey recently attempted to take Ken Ham to task for claiming that a Biblical creation narrative is foundational to Christianity. Corey is a progressive liberal and self-professed “Anabaptist,” although he is best described as an apostate who has denied the basic tenets of Biblical Christianity.
Corey is a figure within the dying Emerging Church movement and has for years inflamed evangelicals by challenging what he calls “fundamentalism.” Corey is a proponent of Rauschenbuschism, or social gospel. Ken Ham, the other central figure in the latest social media-fueled controversy, is a Creationist, Apologist, and founder of Answers in Genesis.
The controversy began when Ken Ham made the following comment on Twitter…
Ham’s point seemed to be that Genesis is the foundation of a Biblical worldview. Corey seemed to think it was a good opportunity to take a swing at Ham, “juking” him for his use of term “foundation.” Corey wrote on his Patheos blog…
What is tragic about insisting that a particular interpretive approach to Genesis is the foundation of Christian faith and worldview, is the fact that it is ironically unbiblical.
Regardless of how Genesis may or may not be best interpreted, Jesus actually claimed that he is the foundation we must build our faith on (Matthew 7:24). In addition, Jesus rebuked religious leaders who built the foundation of their faith on the Hebrew Scriptures, and articulated that refusing to put him (Jesus) first, resulted in completely misunderstanding the point of those Scriptures (John 5:39).
Thus, even if Ken were right about a Young Earth and his hermeneutical approach to Genesis, he’s still wrong. The Christian faith and worldview is founded upon Jesus Christ– anything else is idolatry, even if it’s idolatry wrapped in a Bible case.
Firstly, Corey conflates “the Christian faith” and “worldview,” as though Ken Ham would view the two terms synonymously. A worldview is a comprehensive conception or understanding of the world. Academically, it is sometimes called weltanschauung, German for “world view.” In theory, Christianity (the religion centered upon the person of Christ) may be divorced from a Biblical weltanshauung. In reality, of course, the two must be connected because they both have the same source, which is the Holy Bible. Their connection, however, does not mean the two are the same. The foundation of the Christian faith is Christ, but it should seem obvious that the foundation of a Biblical worldview is the Bible.
Secondly, Corey seems to think that understanding Christ can happen independently from the Holy Bible. Where he gets his Christ, I am not sure. The same Bible that must form the foundation of our worldview is the same Bible that informs our understanding of Christ.
Thirdly, Jesus didn’t rebuke the Pharisees for building their foundation of faith upon the Hebrew Scriptures, but for being ignorant of the Hebrew Scriptures. Consider Jesus rebuking the Pharisees saying, “Have you not read” in reference to the Old Testament (Matthew 19:4-6, Matthew 22:31, Mark 2:25, Mark 12:10, 26, Luke 6:3, Luke 10:26). The problem wasn’t that the Pharisees considered the Old Testament too much, but that they considered it not enough! Their “woe” from Jesus in Matthew 23:23 was because of their neglect of the Scripture!
Fourthly, while it is true that Jesus is the foundation of our faith (just as it is true the Bible is the foundation of our worldview), Corey draws a distinction between believing in Jesus and believing the Biblical account of creation. While Corey calls Young Earth Creationism (YEC) a different hermeneutical or interpretative approach, he indicates that denying YEC has no implications for christology. However, a survey of the New Testament writers reveals that their christology was informed by their view of the Genesis account. John begins his Gospel by proclaiming Christ as creator, and chose the first miracle to write about which would reveal Christ as creator (the turning of water into wine in John 2:1-11). When Paul stood before the pagans at Mars Hill, the first words out of his mouth affirmed the historicity of Adam (Acts 17:26). In short, to deny that Christ made the world as the Bible says he made the world shakes not only the Biblical foundations of worldview but also the Christological foundations of Christianity.
Secondly (and here’s where Ken’s faith structure sets our kids up to reject the faith entirely), instead of saying, “Here’s how we think Genesis should best be interpreted, but we could be wrong– so let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”, the religion of Ken Ham tells kids, “Here is the only way to understand Genesis– and if we’re wrong, nothing else in the Bible can be trusted.”
How they fail to see the unnecessarily precarious position they box themselves into is beyond me. It’s one thing to get the foundation wrong, but it’s another to step that up a notch and say, “If we turn out to be wrong, the Bible cannot be trusted.”
In this way, as a Christian and minister who disagrees with Young Earth Creationism, my most pressing concern isn’t that kids believe the earth is only 6,000 years old.
My most pressing concern is that kids might believe the entirety of our faith is untrustworthy if Genesis is understood in any other way.
The only way that keeping one’s eyes on the God of Creation isn’t to keep one’s eyes on Christ would be if Marcion’s ancient heresy was correct and these are entirely different gods. This is a false dichotomy that Corey has created, as though focusing on Christ or Creator are two mutually exclusive things.
Furthermore, it demonstrates the futility of the evolutionary position as held to by Corey. Without a literal Adam, there is no reason for a New Adam. Without one man’s trespass, we have no need for one man’s deliverance. It is true that to deny the literal Genesis narrative is to deny Jesus Himself.
For these children who grow up and begin to find modern science compelling and at odds with the Young-Earth worldview, they become high risk for abandoning the faith because they have been preprogrammed and convinced that without Young Earth Creationism, the entire Christian faith is now called into question.
The point is, by the time our children abandon a literal Genesis account they have abandoned Christianity already. Their Christianity will have been no more real than Benjamin Corey’s. Ken Ham isn’t ruining Christianity and you don’t pull children away from Christianity by teaching them the Bible. God’s sovereignty aside (is that possible?), apostasy isn’t caused by somebody believing the Bible. It’s caused by them by denying it.
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