Ark Encounter: Should We Let Them Build Their Ark?

Answers in Genesis is seeking to raise $24.5 million in order to build a life size replica of Noah’s Ark and they need your help. Sponsor a peg for $100, a plank for $1,000, or a beam for $5,000. To date, $2,182,550 have been donated to the cause: that is 437 beams, 2183 beams, or 4,365 pegs. They have a ways to go but you can help them get there. Consider with me, however, if the world really needs a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark and whether Answers and Genesis can possibly do justice to the world-wide flood that it represents.

Ark Encounter’s stated purpose:

Through the construction of a massive full-scale Noah’s Ark, the Ark Encounter will present America and other nations with a reminder about the Bible’s account of the Ark.

Many of the same talented team members that built the successful, high-tech Creation Museum are returning for the Ark Encounter. This new project is positioned to become an attraction that will capture the world’s attention.

The entire Ark Encounter project is slated to cost $150 million. The project will also include a Walled City, the Tower of Babel, a first-century Middle Eastern village, a journey in history from Abraham to the parting of the Red Sea, a walk-through aviary, a large petting zoo.” The $24.5 million being raised by Answers in Genesis will go toward building the ark itself. The amount of money that Answers in Genesis is looking to raise begs the question: is this a good use of our resources? Do Christians need a historically themed park? Is it going to change the way people think about the flood narrative? How will it depict this most terrifying event? Will it do justice to what it depicts?

Here is my issue with Ark Encounter: I don’t think any life-size replica is going to help anyone stomach this most difficult of biblical stories. If there is any Christian story people like to scoff at, it is the flood narrative. Those outside the Christian fold look at such a project and wonder why Christians would spend so much money on something like this, and sadly I have to admit that they have a point.

It is important to note that this is not a church project but a business venture. It is quite possible that Ark Encounter will turn a profit–and thus the $150 million is an investment that is expected to pay dividends. So, despite the fact that it seems like an inordinate amount of money to spend on a Christian-themed park, who I am to say whether its a waste of money? And perhaps they really will “capture the world’s attention.” I would certainly find it interesting to see. So despite the fact that I think there are probably better uses of my money, I say let them build their Ark!

But can Answers in Genesis’ depiction possibly do justice to the flood narrative? I have no doubt that they can build an accurate replica, but the more important question is whether they will accurately convey what the ark represents.

I am one of those nutty Christians who believe in a literal flood and a literal ark. I think it was awful. Its not particularly “family friendly.” All but 8 people on the face of the earth drown (Gen. 6:17). It was a sober act of judgment on man whose wickedness “was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). No felt board or life-size replica can accurately convey its horrors, like the millions of children who drown in its waters. This isn’t a story from which one can easily transition into playing with animals in a petting Zoo. It is horrifying. Its a story that should make us weep.

I recognize it to be one of the most difficult stories in the Bible to stomach. However, I believe perhaps even more strangely that a Jewish man from Nazareth predicted his own death and resurrection. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God and he came to earth to give his life as a ransom for many and on the third day after his death, he rose from the grave, conquering sin and death. The apostle Paul said, “if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). I recognize that many find such faith irrational and I understand that. But everything hangs on the resurrection of Christ. Without going into a detailed defense, I will simply say that I find the evidence for it overwhelming. I believe in the resurrection of Christ and because I can stomach that, the miraculous and terrible event that was the Flood is something that I accept by faith as well.

Someone will surely say, “isn’t Ark Encounter worth it if one person’s life is changed because of this?” There are a myriad of ways that one person’s life could be changed and that doesn’t necessitate the building of a $150 million dollar amusement park. Of course we could argue all day about the best use of our money, but if you really want to see someone’s life changed, why not invest in someone you know? Start praying for a friend, serve them and lovingly share with them of the hope offered them in Christ. Loving God and loving people are strange enough to get the worlds attention. We don’t have to build multi-million dollar structures that represent the most terrifying thing the Lord has and will ever do this side of eternity. Perhaps it will turn a profit; they have research that says it will. But can they possibly convey the flood’s horrors? Will they? Should they?

The world will know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love. Not our multi-million dollar theme parks (John 13:35).

About Drew Dixon

Drew is an editor at Christ and Pop Culture and editor-in-chief of Gamechurch.com. He is also a pastor, soccer coach, and writer. Drew also regularly writes for Think Christian, Bit Creature, and Paste Magazine. He has also written for Relevant Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @drewdixon82

  • http://www.lifeasexperienced.com SethC

    The only problem is sheltered Christian families can’t take vacations to “love.” They can take them to multimillion dollar theme parks. Perhaps, the Ark simply buys into the world’s system of economics. I’m not sure I can see a homeless rabbi charging $100 per peg. Isn’t Jesus the guy who fed people and healed the sick… I’m not sure what would cause someone to read the Bible and assume that we should build an ark. I read it and see taking care of the poor, loving on the orphans, and being a good neighbor.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Seth,

    Your critique is a little unfair of the guys behind this project. They aren’t charging anyone $100 per peg. They are asking for donations. Secondly, I think there is a good chance that this project will cover its expenses. Perhaps they will use those resources to do the very things that you are advocating. They might be good stewards of the profits? Isn’t that at least possible?

    As for sheltered Christians not being able to take vacations to love but only to multi-million dollar theme parks, I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m certainly glad my family isn’t like that. We just got back from Disney World, and I’ll have you know that’s a multi-billion dollar theme park. :)

  • http://www.lifeasexperienced.com SethC

    Brad, I would concur that there is a possibility of them using the profits of such a project to take care of the “least of these” that Jesus mentions. Actually that would be the greatest part of this whole project. Yet, I wonder who would give to this project thinking that it was a profitable use of their resources? I’m wondering how many ministries that actively accomplish Jesus’ commands on earth are being shorted while Christians give to a theme park. The problem with the project is that it continues to establish a separatist “Christian” culture instead of immersing people in the real world.

    As for taking a trip to Disney World, I’m all about awesome trips for families. But Disney World doesn’t claim to be a ministry. They don’t enjoy the benefits of Non-profit status. Rather they are built for the express purpose of entertaining. This ark project is being created under the assumption that it’s a ministry, but in reality will end up an alternative for Christian families instead of going to some “secular” place like Disney World. That doesn’t accomplish anything for the Kingdom.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    SethC,

    Who would give to this project? I suppose people who think that the profits will be used to educate and encourage Christians and to take care of the least of these.

    As for it not accomplishing anything for the kingdom, how do you know that, exactly? Just because you think it is a foolish waste of money (which it may not be), and that it is dumb to pick this theme park over Disney (which is only your opinion) doesn’t make it so. I can tell you that if I were in the area, and the price was not ridiculous, I would take my children to see a life-sized ark and not feel the least bit guilty. I’d be glad such an exhibit were around, actually. I wouldn’t waste my time saying:

    “See all this, children? This park is filled with naive Christians who are sheltered from the world. This place isn’t doing one bit of good for Jesus. Stop enjoying that ark; it’s too expensive. And that money we spent on friviolous ice cream? We should have given that money to the poor. Just like they should have given away all the money to the poor that they blew on this park.”

    I mean, seriously. It’s not your money. You don’t know the motive of those who give to it or of those who will build it. This could potentially make a great deal of money that they will give to other missions. Can you come up with a single, Biblical reason as to why this should not be built besides the fact that you think it is too expensive? Be careful, Judas the Betrayer got all upset about some perfume some woman poured out when it could have been sold and given to the poor, right?

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    SethC,

    For clarity’s sake, I’m not calling you a Judas or a thief. I am implying that you are being judgmental and uncharitable about the “ark park” though. (I made that up. They should hire me for marketing.) If they built a big wave pool ride where you could be on an ark that would make this place even more awesome. And, just so everyone could be happy, they could scare you to death with sound effects, like people screaming and clawing trying to get into the ark with you as you are tossed around in the ark.

  • http://www.lifeasexperienced.com SethC

    Brad,

    I totally understand, and perhaps I’m being a bit judgmental. My main frustration is that it seems like a waste of money while people around the world starve to death. For example, if ________ (insert name of big celebrity Christian that you respect) decided to raise 24 million dollars to give every Christian school kid a Bible, would that seem a little pointless? Christians raising money for themselves seems so selfish… and yes, I do it everyday. I’m sure most of us do it everyday. But that doesn’t make it right. Just because I waste money on stupid stuff doesn’t make it right. Just because they want to build an “Ark Park” doesn’t make it right. (Also, you need to TM that phrase)

    Perhaps I was a little rough. And I’m definitely a little anti-Christian culture sometimes… most of the time. So perhaps I overstepped my bounds, but I would still hold to my idea that it is a waste of money.

    Like Drew said in the article – “Someone will surely say, “isn’t Ark Encounter worth it if one person’s life is changed because of this?” There are a myriad of ways that one person’s life could be changed and that doesn’t necessitate the building of a $150 million dollar amusement park. Of course we could argue all day about the best use of our money, but if you really want to see someone’s life changed, why not invest in someone you know? Start praying for a friend, serve them and lovingly share with them of the hope offered them in Christ. Loving God and loving people are strange enough to get the worlds attention. We don’t have to build multi-million dollar structures that represent the most terrifying thing the Lord has and will ever do this side of eternity.”

    ps- I’m wondering if they are going to close the doors every night for security reasons. And if they can close the doors every night will it really be authentic? (I like mocking the idea more than debating it.)

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    SethC,

    Yeah, I understand you. I am taking the view that the people behind this project are probably Christ-loving individuals and they sincerely hope that this Ark Park(TM) will be of benefit to the kingdom of God. I also admit that it might be, and having two small children, I can imagine that it would be a neat place to go to. I took my children to see real models of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. It was a pretty neat experience. (Those ships were way, way smaller than I expected.)

    Let me say one last thing. It is very easy to “despise Christian culture.” But please be cautious in that. Yes, Christians do silly things and they like silly things. But they are our family, and in much of what they do they mean well. Don’t despise them for their bumper stickers and t-shirts. You will have very little influence over anyone if you do, and you will have little success in changing the culture you despise.

  • http://www.lifeasexperienced.com SethC

    Brad,

    I do understand that whether I like it or not there will be lots of Cheesy Christians in heaven. And I’m ok with that. It’s just frustrating when individuals seem to work against everything I’m trying to accomplish with my life. I’m sure you can understand. How often have we had to answer for stupid things people who call themselves Christians have done (I’m thinking about a certain Muslim holy book burning event right now). I just wonder how I’m going to respond when people who don’t know Christ ask me to explain why these people would do this.

    I love them, and I know I’ll spend forever with them, but sometimes it’s tough to like them and their copyright infringing tshirts. But I’m sure they sometimes feel the same way about me…

  • brittany

    The $150 million price tag on this ark could be spent elsewhere and be useful.

  • Beth Ann Parnell

    I would venture to say that I am not as intelligent or as able to debate this as well as any of you who have written or commented, but what I can tell you is that I have in the past and would again support the endeavors of AIG (the ministry behind the park). They are a godly organization that is non-profit. Their ministry has had a profound impact on our family and Homeschool. Their previous projects (the Creation Museum) is a testament to their desire to represent Christ to the best of their ability. Their museum does an absolutely incredible job of both sharing the gospel with a list world and teaching a Biblical worldview to all who enter. Their ministry has been able to answer many tough questions where science and theology seem to disagree. They have been able to help us see that science actually backs up Scripture when you approach everything from Scripture first. I am not saying they are without fault, but I am saying that AIG is a ministry worth supporting. Please be careful before you join the masses of nonbelievers and believers who are criticizing a ministry’s efforts before fully investigating the heart of the ministry.

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    Okay, they say it’s a “model” of the Tower of Babel, but I think it’s probably a reasonable assumption to believe that their only calling it that to fool God. They don’t want him to realize that they’re not making a model, but a real, working temple-tower: Babel II. AiG clearly wants nothing more than to scrape the heavens themselves and to make lasting names for themselves. However, these guys are smarter than they let on and are able to learn from history. They see that announcing their intention before all leads to God catching wind of it and changing their language. Realizing that American is the best language on earth, they obviously greatly fear speaking Mexican or Italian or some sad offshoot of American. So, they’re building their tower without God knowing.

    And just think, you could be supporting their work (thereby securing a name for yourselves as well) by paying $100 per rung.
    ________________________
    p.s. I found a picture of Rich at the Creation Museum: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scalzi/1969216237/

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    @Seth – I hate you.

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    @Rich – Everything is going according to plan. You are referring to SethC, correct?

  • Ben Pitseleh

    I’m not so sure I think it is a good idea to build a theme park, but I am not dead against it either. I can’t presume to know their minds or motives, or their prayers and God’s responses. I can critique it all I want, but it would be moot to do so.
    Is having a life size ark helpful? Well in certain aspects, no. It doesn’t help illuminate the path of salvation as Drew so clearly said. But on the other hand, I think it would be great to see a life size ark. It will destroy the misconceptions of the ark that the world has. Come on, everybody thinks of it as that cartoon drawing on the cover of children’s books right? A big rounded boat with giraffe, lion, and elephant heads sticking out. We all know that is not the case, but show that picture to somebody and expect them to accept the story or show them a life size replica and tell them the story. People are visual, and this could make it real for them.
    For me, I always tell people that my favorite character in the Bible is Alexander the Great. They look at me sideways either thinking “why?” or “I didn’t know Alexander the Great was in the Bible.” And then I explain what he signifies to me. When I heard about the book of Daniel and Alexander the Great, the Bible became real to me. The Bible was a book before. A book, not THE book. I didn’t understand it was God’s word, or alive, or could impact a person. It was just some printed paper. Then I was told a story that included Alexander the Great. When I heard that the Bible became real. It became historical. I had never read it before (just bits of it) so I had no idea that it included any history, let alone “real” history. My viewpoint changed. My life changed. Within 6 months I was being dunked and proclaiming Jesus as my Lord and Savior. That was 10 years ago. Back in those days, if you had asked me about the ark I would have laughed. If you had shown me it, it might have made me at least consider the feasibility of it. To actually think and consider outside my own brain and perceptions what could have happened.
    And the end result, not just a story of God’s judgement. A story of his mercy and grace. A rainbow to remember his promises…because he has many promises to us all. That he is ever real and present. Yeah, I’m okay with a giant ark being built.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Beth Ann – Please don’t hear me criticizing AIG. That was not the point. I am not sure whether this is a good use of funds or not–I admitted as much in the article. My issue is can AIG possibly convey what the Ark actually represents–i.e the catastrophic flood that destroyed the world’s population save 8 people.

    Does that make sense? I very nearly did not publish this article because I do not have a beef with AIG only this particular endeavor. I hope that helps. I don’t think I am joining the masses who criticize them, I just wonder about this particular endeavor.

  • http://www.literary-views.com Chris H.

    While I can’t say I’m a fan of the project, I understand their goal. But Drew voiced my opinion very well; Is this project worth it? could we be doing something better with our time?

    @Seth T. Hahne, That’s an awesome photo. The resemblance is pretty eerie. “wink”

  • Kevin Parnell

    Is it worth it? Could weapnd this money better? Could more people have the Gospel proclaimed to them if this money was not spent? Before we question the thousands of people who give 100, 500, 1,000 or even 5,000 dollars to this ministry we may should ask these questions!

    What did these families sacrifice to give forbid ministry endevor? New car? New flat screen? New gaming system or game itself?

    Maybe instead of questioning AIG’s intent we should questions our own! How many more people could be reached for Christ if we never drove a new vehicle or if we all dropped the square footage of our house by 500 to 1000 feet? Has AIG asked any of us that question? Remember God lead us all to worship and serve him in many ways and yes a new car can bring glory to God! Each of us must allow God to lead us to that answer!

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    @Kevin – I think Drew’s concern is less with people spending money to build an ark than it is with how well that ark attraction will represent the several things that the ark represents in Scripture. The concern seems to be with the fact that the flood narrative is very far from a family-friendly affair and to move from a story of gross depravity and the mass execution that resulted (along with the salvation of a small few) immediately into a petting zoo seems a bit wry. It’s possible that AIG will do the flood narrative justice, but colour me skeptical.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Kevin, yeah you are laying out why I was hesitant to post this article because I think the AIG folks hearts are in the right place. Seth has laid out where I land on this and why it troubles me. But in the end I should withhold judgment even on that count.

    The questions you are bringing up about $ are excellent ones and ones I need to apply to myself–I mean that with all sincerity because I am indeed a hypocrite and need such reminders.

    I have no doubt that Ark Encounter will present the gospel and for that I am thankful.

    I will say that I am a big believer in personal sharing of gospel. Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations–I think that was addressed to believers not to corporations. So praise the Lord that this park will present the gospel but I do want to say that we must be careful to relegate the preaching of the gospel to corporations when it is our responsibility as followers of Christ.

  • RonF

    It is sad that a Christian pastor has trouble stomaching the truth. I take it your stomach can take secular museums peddling the fairy tale called evolution. This world needs more pastors who believe God’s Word and wants to proclaim it to the lost world. If you are having stomach problems proclaiming the truth, maybe you should find another profession. Thank the Lord for Ken Ham and AIG. We need more pastors like him and his organization.

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    Ron, I don’t know if you realize it, but here at CAPC I’m the token commenter who people expect to be smug and condescending and generally unhelpful. You’re horning in on my territory, man, and I just don’t know how comfortable I am with that.

  • Alan Noble

    Ron,

    Did you even read Drew’s post and comments? I’ll ask you, kindly, to not question his calling if you can’t recognize his extremely gracious and loving criticism. Calling into question a particular project undertaken by AiG is not the same as questioning AIG as an organization. If pastors will be chastised for lovingly sharpening another brother/s, then the church is in serious trouble.

    Frankly, if anything, I think Drew should be criticized for not speaking out against this project more strongly.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @RonF

    “I am one of those nutty Christians who believe in a literal flood and a literal ark. I think it was awful. Its not particularly “family friendly.” All but 8 people on the face of the earth drown (Gen. 6:17). It was a sober act of judgment on man whose wickedness ”was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). No felt board or life-size replica can accurately convey its horrors, like the millions of children who drown in its waters. This isn’t a story from which one can easily transition into playing with animals in a petting Zoo. It is horrifying. Its a story that should make us weep.”

    That was in the article you just commented on–I wrote that. I believe in the ark and the worldwide flood and made no mention of evolution in this article. Additionally I preach God’s Word every week–that is the problem, I have doubts that a replica of the ark can accurately convey what it represents.

  • http://www.lifeasexperienced.com SethC

    @Seth,
    I’m glad I’m not the most unhelpful person in this conversation.

    @Drew,
    Great article, and thanks for handling that topic with more neutrality than I could ever muster

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    @Seth – There can be only one. [Queen softly strains in the background.]

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    RonF,

    Here’s some truth for you:

    1. You didn’t read the article very carfeully. You should admit this. It is better than you admitting to reading it carefully because this would mean your reading comprehension is sub-par.

    2. Defensive, knee-jerk responses like yours is not a credit to the ministry you support. Ken Hamm is not above critique, as I am certain he would readily admit. If he isn’t, even right now, listening to thoughtful objections to the park then he is not being wise.

    3. Your response is shameful. If you cannot do better than this, you should probably do something besides comment on blog posts. Hissy fits are unbecoming of a man of God. This website welcomes, as far as I can tell, almost every sort of curmudgeon (See Seth not C) to comment, and it welcomes thoughtful objection. So voice objection, but do it thoughtfully after having read the article.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Ben Pitseleh thanks for your gracious response. I think there could be some value in that and I appreciate you sharing how. I certainly did not intend to say in the article that no one should give to this or that doing so would be sinful. I don’t believe it would. At best this is a wisdom issue and the center of my complaint is that I have serious concerns as to whether the horror of the flood will be accurately conveyed and again–I should probably withhold judgment on that count until I see if it is or not.

    @SethC thanks! It was meant to be gracious.

  • Alan Noble

    This is probably going to be a long post, and I just made it longer by observing this fact.

    In regard to Drew’s argument that the medium of a life-sized Ark is not a good way to express the message of the Flood, I think he is spot on in that whether or not it is appropriate to spend $150 million on this project, it is true that this medium could possibly make the message much harder to understand. If they design this park to reflect the horror that was the Flood, then I doubt anyone would be interested in visiting it. However, if they do not represent the horror, then they will leave visitors with a false view of the event, a watered-down, theme-parked version which might seem to make the historical event less real to visitors.

    But I think we can go further than Drew does in his very charitable and gracious article. Let me start off where he ends: “The world will know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love. Not our multi-million dollar theme parks (John 13:35).”

    James 1:27 makes a similar point: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

    What is significant about these verses is that they are clear commands for us to make our faith known and to honor God by loving others. James makes it clear that this love is to include caring for our neighbors’ material needs. So, we are commanded to care for the poor and needy, but what you won’t find in the Bible is a command to spend our resources on a project that is essentially a $150 million monument to the historicity of the Flood. The Bible tells us how we can honor God and witness to Him in the world, and building an Ark is not that way.

    The truth is, we do not need to believe in a literal, historical, global flood 4000 or 6000 years ago in order to be saved. In fact, the historicity of this one, particular event is really not even important to spiritual growth or maturity. In other words, this is a huge expense of resources over an issue that is simply unimportant. That is not to say that I don’t believe in the literal, global flood, but that I don’t believe there is any biblical support for us devoting such incredible resources on a project which poorly attempts to defend one particular historical event. There are many wonderful and thoughtful responses to liberal theology which treats the OT as myth; a life-sized Ark is not likely to contribute anything meaningful to this discussion.

    If this were a project completely funded by a for-profit institution, I would be much less bothered by it. By asking for donations from Christians, they are very likely taking funds which would have gone towards other charitable projects, ones that were mandated by Scripture, like caring for orphans and widows. We all spend money on frivolous things which will pass away, and I do not believe these purchases are necessarily selfish or sinful. The Bible speaks highly of enjoying the blessings God has given us. My objection is to the presentation of this project as a ministry. And since this is clearly presented as a ministry project by Christians, I suspect that many non-Christians will find this use of money to be a poor witness to the love of Christ. In addition, if this project does make its money back, it seems safe to say that 99.9% of the revenue from ticket sales will come from Christians. Which means that the money to fund the project will be donated by Christians and the money to cover those donations will also be funded by Christians.

    Let me end with a couple caveats. I do not in any way claim to know the hearts of the people working on this project, nor will I even speculate that their hearts are in the wrong place. And if they go through this project, I will be happy that they are proclaiming the name of Christ, even if I believe that their methods are unfruitful and their use of resources is uncompassionate. Just as Paul, in Philippians, was happy that the name of Christ was proclaimed, even though he criticized methods of those proclaiming Him, I believe that it is right and loving to say to AIG that we praise God for their desire to glorify Him, but we humbly encourage them to devote those resources towards a project which would follow the Biblical mandate to care for the poor and needy.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Alan,

    Let me begin by saying that I am going to thoroughly enjoy disagreeing with you because it is evident that you read the article and made a thoughtful response. :)

    Having said that, I do not believe you have brought a new critique to the table, or even a good one. So, let me begin my critique of your critique and you can then critique me.

    First, I find it strange, and Drew can come down from his office and pound me as well, that we are objecting to the ark because it isn’t going to be horrific enough. Have you ever seen a cross that you believed conveyed the horror of what the Son of Man went through? Have you ever heard a sermon, for that matter, that demonstrated how ignoble it was for the Son of God to drink the cup of God’s wrath for me? Should we stop making crosses and sermons then?

    Second, we most certainly can honor God by building an ark. If I can eat shrimp in such a way that God gets glory, then he most certainly can receive glory from this project. You are correct that we do not have a command to build arks in the Bible. Nor do we have a command for a church meeting house. Nor for a tennis court. Or for a Starbucks. What kind of objection is that?

    Third, while it is true that you do not have to believe in a literal flood to be saved (even though Jesus clearly did), if you do not believe it you will be a weak, anemic, and ultimately have other problems. Denying the clear teaching of the Bible, whether it be about human origins or universals floods or Israel’s exodus, is never good for one’s spiritual health. The goal isn’t just to “get saved”, its to keep being saved and to continue in conformity to God’s image. To grow in this, we need to have a faith that robustly embraces the Bible as a 100% true and reliable witness to history.

    Finally, all this crying about the money going to an ark instead of orphans and widows is, frankly, ridiculous. It sounds more like Judas than Jesus. It isn’t as if these guys aren’t interested in helping widows and orphans. For all we know, if you are a widow or orphan, then you can come in the park for free and eat all the popcorn you want while you are there. Isn’t there more than one way to care for a widow or orphan? Or do they only need food and clothing?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people giving money to the church and not to silly things. I make my money off of preaching the gospel. But if the folks at my church want to give money to see a full-sized replica of the ark built, then more power to them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and not a single widow or orphan will be starved for it. In fact, that should probably be a sign that they put over the entrance of the “Ark Park” to alleviate this concern, “No widows or orphans were harmed in the building of this park.”

    That’s enough for now. I hate it when critiques of critiques get longer than the orignal critique.

  • Alan Noble

    Quickly:
    1. Two (or more) wrongs don’t make a right.
    2. Certainly we can do many things to the glory of God, but that does not mean that they are wise actions. My point is that there is a huge need (especially in this economy) to help those around us, and that is Biblically mandated. And $150 million is a ton of money for a project that gives the appearance of spirituality (defending the Flood?) but is not really significant.
    3. I suppose we’ll just have to disagree on this point, but I think it is fairly self-evident that you will not ultimately have problems if you do not believe in a global flood. Thankfully, our sanctification is not based on our right interpretation of Scripture.
    4. Judas? I’m sorry, but I think the Bible is fairly clear on this point. We do have a very, very serious obligation to care for the poor and needy, and we simply do not have an obligation to give to a for-profit Ark-Park (TM). In fact, it is an unwise use of our resources. That does not make it a sin, but it does make it unwise. Do people have the spiritual freedom to build or support this project? Certainly. Can God use it? Of course! But is it a profitable use of our charitable giving (particularly considering how poorly most Christians do at paying tithe?)? No.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Alan,

    You don’t really believe your point #3, do you? That is, that our sanctification isn’t based on “right interpretation” of Scripture? How about that interpretive part that talks about Jesus bodily rising from the dead? Of course, that interpretation is important, right? I’ll go ahead and say that your sanctification is hindered by denying a world-wide flood. Not believing what God has said is a pretty serious offense.

    As for #4, yes Judas. He is the one who complained about the perfume being wasted on Jesus when it could have been sold to take care of the poor. This ark park is not the “either/or” you make it out to be. Nor is food and shelter the only thing a person needs to live. (We do not live on bread alone.) In fact, this park may make enough revenue that more poor people can be helped than if it isn’t built. You have absolutely no way to know that this is an unwise economic or even didactic venture. I get that you don’t like it, you just don’t have a leg to stand on to say that it is bad, unwise, or that people shouldn’t donate to it.

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    Man, first Ron with the smug condescension. Now Brad with the patronizing rhetoric? It’s like everyone is stealing my shticks. It’s like you guys don’t even need me anymore. What’s next?

  • Alan Noble

    Brad,

    Just a couple things, and then I will agree to disagree:

    First, yes I really do believe that our sanctification is not based on right interpretation. Praise God who is gracious. That, of course, is not a license to interpret the Bible however you want; it is merely a realization of God’s graciousness and our inadequacies.

    Second, as for Judas, didn’t Jesus correct him because it was a special circumstance? Because the poor will be with us always but He would not be, bodily? I’m not sure he’s good support for your claims.

    Third, let me say again that if this was entirely a private, for-profit enterprise I would be much less opposed to it. But since they are asking for donations, and since Christians have limited incomes, and since that donation money will not be available to spend on those who truly need it, I believe this is clearly an unwise use of resources. Particularly since, as Drew discussed, it is not a profitable way to tell the story of the Flood.

    Fourth, just because we don’t know that they aren’t going to use the revenue from the park to give to the poor is in no way a justification for supporting them. I don’t know that they aren’t going to use the revenue to build a giant robot that will destroy New York, either, but that would not be a good reason to not support them.

    Brad, i get that it is important for us not to make new laws–I.E. thou shalt not giveth moneyth to building(th?) Ark Parkths (TMth)–and that is a good concern. We do have the freedom under Christ to use the money He has blessed us with according to our conscience. And if I were to say that it is a sin or wrong to support AIG here, I believe that i would be in sin! However, i think it is perfectly reasonable to advise Christians against donating to this program based on what I believe to be clear Biblical teaching about what is important to invest in. It is possible for two, sincere Christians to disagree on what is wise. And I suppose that is what is going on here.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Seth – Brad might be punchy, but patronizing doesn’t fit. He is making an argument, that sort of thing is always welcome.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    I would say there is a difference between “based upon” and “influenced by” with reference to #3. Right intrepretation of Scripture is not the ground on which our sanctification stands–there are plenty of godly people who are wrong in certain areas but it is influenced by it and I would say its influenced by it significantly.

    Does that help?

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    @Drew:

    • “You don’t really believe your point #3, do you?” Because surely you wouldn’t say something that daft, would you Alan?

    • “How about that interpretive part that talks about Jesus bodily rising from the dead?” Or did you forget that the resurrection was actually in the Bible, Alan?

    • “Of course, that interpretation is important, right?” See how I’m skewering your argument, Alan? Without even trying?

    • “I’ll go ahead and say…” Yeah, Alan, I’m just gonna go ahead and answer these questions on your behalf, so you don’t make a fool of yourself. Because what if you answered them differently? Then we’d all be embarrassed, Alan.

    • “You just don’t have a leg to stand on…” I’ll grant that this last one isn’t really patronizing, but it is pretty dismissive of what was a cogent argument.

    So yeah, Brad’s comment was patronizing. Trust me. I know how to patronize with the best of them. It can be a good polemical tactic* against an opponent who is easily cowed. I use it from time to time when I’m lazy.
    _________________
    *note i.e. a way to win an argument when you don’t want to have your whole argument’s weight rest on facts and reason or when you think your opponent is immune to reason but need him to agree with you anyway.

  • Alan Noble

    You know who else is “punchy”? Mike Tyson. The Author and Star of a certain awesome video game. Which makes Brad alright in my book. Bam! (let’s not let things get too serious around here).

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    Alan I’m ashamed of you. Videogames? At a time like this? ¡Think of las manos!

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    GAME CHANGER

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Seth because I know Brad and his sense of humor I suppose I didn’t take his comment as patronizing but yeah I think things you laid out certainly come across that way.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Seth T. Hahne,

    I see what’s going on here. Rank jealousy. I was afraid my punchy, condescending, yet unassailible logic would do that to you. That’s why I threw you a bone in my earlier comment. I know that when you read, “No orphans or widows were harmed in the building of this park” you laughed. Nothing but love for you here, dude. Nothing but love.

    Alan Noble,

    It’s okay that you are wrong about the Ark Park(TM). In ten years when you take your kids to it, you can laugh about it while you are all eating ice cream. Just don’t eat it on the bench designated for the orphans and widows. :)

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    I’m just feeling a bit obsolete now is all.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Seth,

    No way, dude. Drew showed me your lava house thing on Minecrafter. I dread the day when you have to unleash that sort of creativity on me.

  • Kiel

    “Comment Spree!” – Said in the Halo-guy voice.

    Congratulations on another achievement Drew. Your rank has just increased to Lt. Colonel Grade 1.

  • Richard Clark

    This comment thread wins in every way possible.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Since this comment thread is so awesome, I thought I’d keep it going by saying I almost applied to write here. My niche was going to be “Pop Culture Codger.” Sort of like the old dudes on Muppets that always critiqued the show. I just couldn’t figure out how it would work, and I was afraid that Seth would be busting my chops all the time because I think he was angling for that gig. Of course, there were two old codgers on the Muppet show. It could have worked.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Kiel that comment made my day, if it were on Convore, Alan would “star” it!

    @Brad, the visual image I get of you being like those old guys on the Muppets is pretty hilarious!

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    @Brad – Ben already kind of has that job. Seth will never write for us for as long as I’m alive. He knows why.

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    I should say he’ll never be a regular writer. Guest posts are fine.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Seth will never write for us for as long as I’m alive. He knows why.

    Whoa, just don’t forget the cannoli.

  • Ben Pitseleh

    @ Brad
    I more get the visual of Mystery Science Theater 3000 instead of Muppets.

    @Drew
    I only comment this just as a side note. This article has spawned a huge response. Albeit some of the responses are silly banter so can’t really be counted, but the count right now is 50 comments. Last night it was 30. Earlier that day it was much less, maybe 10 or so.
    Okay, so my point is, even if a lot of this attention is hype, people respond to it. So why wouldn’t it be considered a good outreach tool? Sure, hype and controversy are NOT what a ministry should be built on (and hype probably isn’t the word I’m looking for anyway), but with that in mind isn’t that how we approach things in American Christianity today? For instance, my church is doing a big Easter celebration at the local high school, so we can fit all 1200 members or so into one service, plus the increase we will have since it is Easter. We are having a 25,000 piece egg hunt for the community. We are printing flier handouts, lawn signs, etc… to promote it. A lot of this is hype isn’t it? We are “selling” and event in a certain way. Sure, the root is that we want it accessible and welcoming to outsiders. That’s fair. One could argue that an egg hunt is not the right use of funds, or that eggs in themselves shouldn’t even be promoted. Also, why rent the school for a day when we have a perfectly good warehouse size building to hold services in. Sure, we couldn’t do one service, but we do three every week so isn’t that okay too? So those are funds that could be spent differently as well, and perhaps more wisely. But in the end we are doing it, and everybody thinks it is a good idea.
    So, lets make the connection. If AIG is following this same model, why is it wrong? Sure, it is on a much bigger scale of financing, but the flip side is they are working a way so that it can finance itself as well. But the concept of flash and flare to attract people isn’t a new one. They are just doing it a little differently. So why should they be critiqued if they are just following the concept that the congregations typically follow and have no problem with?

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Ben,

    Great comment, there. I hope it generates another fifty thoughtful comments. I expect Thursday to be a little slow.

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    I think we should also have a Good Friday theme park. If the carnivalization of one terror of judgment is appropriate, then why not another? Think of all the family friendly fun!

    • Ride the Flume of Blood! (The splash of one half of the sacrament is the perfect way to cool on hot summer afternoons!)
    • Every day at Noon, you’ll be able to take part in the beard-plucking ceremony of our mascot, Plucky.
    • Experience one of our twice-a-day live performances at the Scourge Theater. (You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh some more!)
    • Punch a hooded clown in the head to win a goldfish—two if you can prophesy which clown is real and which are the dummies. (Doubles as great training for your children’s future military service in Middle Eastern prisons!)
    • Every evening, watch as the heavens are darkened! Just in time for our crucifixion lightshow!
    • Hey ladies, play a part in the crowd and throw water balloons at half-naked men on crosses. Best aim gets a date for the evening and a free dinner for two at the Last Supper Cafe!
    • Kids will love to visit our Little Slain Lambs petting zoo. (Your timid little ones need not fear, these soft, adorable sheep won’t move a muscle.)

    • Why have a Good Friday when you can have a Great one?

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    Seth,

    The answer to your silly idea is obvious: there is simply no way to work a petting zoo into that plan.

    Strictly speaking, the ark was an instrument of salvation, not of judgment. There is something in the ark to be celebrated. The doom, after all, was on the outside.

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    @Brad – So was the cross.

  • Ben Pitseleh

    @Seth:
    You forgot casting the lots for the seamless tunic. There is a carnival game written all over that.

    And if you get bored of not being able to cut up the tunic, move on over to the Holy of Holies and rip the curtain in two.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    @Seth – Also, don’t forget the orphans.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com/ Brad Williams

    @Rich

    I am such a jerk. I have to say that the cross was an instrument of judgment and Jesus was the instrument of salvation. But that’s due to a compulsion to want to be right and not wrong, which always results in hair-splitting and theological pendantry.

    Also, I’m trying to get Drew up to the all time high on the comment list. Where is this one now.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Ben Pitseleh

    Thanks for sharing and I wouldn’t necessarily have any problems with what your church is doing– I sense that you are trying to be faithful to the lord. I think the AIG folks have good intentions here and as Kevin pointed out (and I sorta admitted as much in the article) who am I to say this is a poor use of funds. So yeah I think we have to be careful on making hard and fast rules on how funds should and shouldn’t be used. We need to be most careful/thoughtful with how we use our own funds.

    Anyway my main point was not so much money as it was whether this event–the flood–lends itself to such a park given the reality of what it represents.

    I am fine with what your church is doing so long as people don’t begin to see such things as a replacement of their own personal evangelism. Similarly, I apprecaite AIG spreading the gospel through this ark project, I just hope people don’t begin to think that such business endeavors are the best way to accomplish the great commission.

    Anyway thanks for your response and thoughtful questions.

  • Frederick James

    Why did they not just build a smaller scaled replica/miniature?


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