What Al Mohler Thinks about the Bible and Evolution (and why I am concerned enough to write about it).

Rev. Al Mohler holds strong views on the Bible, what it means to read it correctly, and how taking the Bible seriously requires one to reject evolution.

I think Mohler’s views on these matters are wrong and harmful.

I first came across Mohler’s views while watching a video of a speech he gave in June 2010 at a conference sponsored by Ligonier Ministries.

In that speech, Mohler warned his audience of the dire consequences of compromising their faith in Scripture’s authority by dallying with scientific explanations of the age of the cosmos.

Mohler certainly has his finger on the pulse of his audience, and he expresses himself on these matters with clarity and confidence. His rhetorical skills, however, could not mask the questionable—one might say, incredible—claims Mohler made in that speech, including:

  1. The earth is 6000 years old, despite how old it looks.
  2. A literal reading of Genesis is the only way of respecting Scripture and holding firm to the Christian faith, regardless of what science and Christian compromisers might say.
  3. Mohler’s views on the matter represents the undisturbed consensus of the Christian Church until fairly recently due to the influence of science.

In that speech, Mohler named The BioLogos Foundation specifically as an example of compromised Christian thinking–i.e., thinking that does not conform to these three assertions. On behalf of BioLogos, I wrote a post questioning each of Mohler’s assertions and inviting him to support his views and clarify numerous points. (The entire exchange can be found here.)

Mohler did not respond. I put the matter behind me until a recent interview Mohler gave on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” (September 22, 2011; link here for audio and full transcript). This interview also included biblical scholar Dr. Dan Harlow of Calvin College, whose recent article on Adam caused some controversy, and which led to some colorful exchanges on the show.

In this interview, Mohler predictably restated his platform, likewise with conviction. The interview reminded me of our aborted BioLogos exchange, both in terms of tone and content.

With that in the background, let me explain why I am writing several posts to address Mohler’s thinking of the Bible and evolution.

My aim is not to cross swords with Mohler, put him in his place, go after him, score points, misrepresent, or any of the other types of tactics that tend to be employed when people disagree on the internet.

Those tactics are both tedious and sub-Christian, and I continue to be amazed at how easily theological watchdogs fail to watch their own theologies by their belligerent denunciations and mockeries of those who don’t interpret the Bible the way they do, thinking the Gospel is at stake at every turn.

Having said that, let me state clearly that I believe Mohler is dead wrong at virtually every turn in how he approaches the difficult subject of biblical Christianity and evolution. I also believe he is free to think as he choses and live with the consequences, and I am not writing to convince him otherwise.

I am writing, rather, for the sake of those who are living with the consequences of what Mohler says they must believe–those who feel trapped in Mohler’s either/or rhetoric, that to question a literal interpretation of Scripture concerning creation puts one on the path to apostasy.

Driven by his precommitment to biblical literalism, Mohler leaves his audience with an impossible false choice between a Christian faith that must remain in intellectual isolation in order to survive and an intellectual life that has no place for Christian faith.

Mohler’s rhetoric is spiritually harmful because it is intellectually untenable.

So, in the posts that follow, I will aim to express very clearly why Mohler’s views are simply unsupportable once one steps outside of the intellectual categories Mohler presumes are closed to discussion.

More importantly, I hope to give to the spiritually distressed some confidence to reject the intellectual demands Mohler makes of them.

These are Christians who at some point have felt a comfort in the simplicity and crystal clarity Mohler claims to offer, but have begun to see that their insulation from other perspectives has become spiritually debilitating.

These are people who know they are not serving God by remaining intellectually insulated, and that refusing to look afresh at their own theological systems when the need arises does not please the God of truth.

These are people who do not want to choose between a life of intellectual integrity and Christian faith.

And they do not need to.

Those in that predicament need to hear that there are many—many—thoughtful, mature, knowledgeable, committed Christians in the world, who work and think deeply in these very areas of Bible and science, and would quickly part company with Mohler’s point of view, without shredding the gospel in the process.

In my next post, we will look at Mohler’s defense of a 6000 year old cosmos mentioned above. This–strangely enough–did not come up in the NPR interview, but was prominent in his Ligonier speech. Mohler’s synthesis of Genesis and science is, in my view, arbitrary. It is also a key component in his defense of a literal reading of Genesis, and so we need to pause there.

The remaining posts will examine Mohler’s rhetoric in the NPR interview.

  • Aslan Cheng

    Al Mohler seem sticks to the Biblical inerrancy more than what is the Bible really said. I feel Norman Geisler tone in his speech about what is the Bible said.

    • peteenns

      I agree, Aslan, but remember that Mohler would argue that inerrancy is the biblical position–which implies literalism.

      • http://www.djfick.blogspot.com Daniel J. Fick

        Does inerrancy really require literalism? I would contend that those do not necessarily equate.

  • Kim Larsen

    The American Protestant churches’ rejection of the notion of apostolic tradition gives way to this kind of hubris. Why should Al Mohler’s opinions on how to read the Bible be given as much or more credence than that of the church fathers who were closer in proximity to the Apostles who walked with Jesus? He’s just not serious.

    • peteenns

      Kim, I think Mohler would argue that on this issue he is closer to the Apostles–and he would be correct in a sense. But the real point is that evolution was not an issue for the Apostles, Church Fathers, Reformers, Puritans, etc., as it is for us. We do not know what they would have said, an calling upon them to settle the current debate is simply a way of avoiding the problem. We do not have that luxury.

      • Elena

        “We do not know what they would have said, an calling upon them to settle the current debate is simply a way of avoiding the problem. We do not have that luxury.”

        Doesn’t St. Augustine pose several possible interpretations of the beginning of Genesis in the Confessions, many of which are not literal? That at least proves that non-literal interpretations of some kind were around early on.

        • peteenns

          Good point, Elena. Augustine had a lot of latitude re: Genesis. Not so much around Genesis 2 (Adam), though, which is where Mohler is going and why (I think) he does not want to give ground on Gen. 1 and literalism. Also, I don’t think this describes Mohler, but I seen a lot of disparagement of Augustine and Church Fathers–they are seen as the place where Christians go to justify their heresies. Crazy thought.

  • Don Johnson

    Thank you so much for doing this. I also think Mohler’s theses are untenable. Be sure to check out Christopher Smith’s “Paradigms on Pilgramage” for a tale of 2 former YECs and their painful path to rejecting the YEC paradigm.

    I am looking forward to your book on Adam.

    • peteenns

      I will do that, Don. I respect what Smith is doing.

  • Tim

    “My aim is not to cross swords with Mohler, put him in his place, go after him… Those tactics are both tedious and sub-Christian…
    Having said that, let me state clearly that I believe Mohler is dead wrong at virtually every turn”

    May I encourage you to change the tone with which you write? If you want to win the accolades of those who already agree with you, then keep doing what you’re doing while realizing that your time isn’t accomplishing much more than that. However, if you want to challenge those who aren’t sure where they stand on the issue or those who are admittedly on Mohler’s side of this, then aim for (more) objectivity and balance.

    I’m eager to read your subsequent posts.

    • peteenns

      Tim, I genuinely appreciate your comment, but I do want to be clear that sharp disagreement should be stated clearly and should not be mistaken as an issue of tone. Nothing will be gained by dancing around Mohler’s views.

  • http://jbyas.com Jared Byas

    Great start with this post, you have adequately hooked me! I have told you this privately, but for the public, what you are attempting to do is so important in the world – giving people the both/and of science and faith, rather than the tired and un-nuanced either/or.

    In my experience as a pastor, this false dichotomy has caused so much unnecessary anxiety as well as people leaving Jesus, thinking that he is wrapped up with certain ways of reading Genesis.

    • peteenns

      Thanks for the support, Jared.

  • C. Ehrlich

    Mohler’s rhetoric is spiritually harmful because it is intellectually untenable.

    Fans of Mohler might think that the greater threat to spirituality is the ambition to be intellectually tenable. Many evangelicals seem to think that the contemporary standards of intellectual tenability are themselves deeply perverse and deceptive. If these standards are perverse, then no child of God should feel the lesser for failing at them; if such standards are deceptive, then most children of God should–for the health of their own faith–avoid even considering them. Here, moreover, is a forceful data point observable by all: the relative absence of Bible-believing faith inside our universities compared to the relative strength of such faith among the uneducated.

    • peteenns

      C., those who wish to stay there are welcome to. I take your point, but I am hoping to address those who do not grant the premise that intellectual tenability is–when it comes to Bible–to be avoided, but upheld in every other sphere of life.

    • Lynette Cowper

      When the church has spent the last couple of centuries drawing an artificial line between faith and reason and presented science vs. faith as an either/or proposition, it is entirely unsurprising that the halls of science boast few Christians and that the church boasts few scientists. Once you have told people of faith to avoid science, you cannot use the relative lack of Christians in the sciences as a proof of the depravity of science, but only as a proof that your pronouncements have been effective.

      • peteenns

        I think you are making a great point, Lynette. Plus, I know too many Christians in the sciences to take at face value the rhetoric that few Christians are in the sciences. It may be, as you say, that certian types of Christians avoid the sciences because it is part of their “culture” to do so.

      • http://dougandrhona.blogspot.com Douglas E

        As Pete notes, there are considerable numbers of Christians in the basic sciences, and even more so, Christians in the medical sciences. Among these folks, there are some who support young earth creationism, but the vast majority accept what numerous scientific disciplines accept – that the earth is very old and that descent with modification has occurred over billions of years. As a counter to Ham’s Answers in Genesis, I recommend Answers in Creation http://www.answersincreation.org/
        Looking forward to your thoughts Pete as well as those of the readers.

        • peteenns

          Thanks, Doug. Thanks for the link.

    • Jeff

      A better term for “intellectual tenability”, the word “intellectual” having negative conotations for many Christians, might be “justifiable warrant”.

  • Ken Montgomery

    Resurrection from the dead is intellectually untenable. I would point people to the work of the Creation Research Institute.

    • peteenns

      Ken, that is another of Mohler’s rhetorical ploys. The resurrection is not something for which there can be evidence in the same sense that there is evidence for evolution, biological and cosmic. Some argue for indirect evidence for the resurrection, but that is another matter altogether, since it is not scientific evidence. A literalist reading of Genesis 1 and the resurrection are in entirely different “evidential” categories and cannot be mixed to make an apologetic point, as Mohler does.

  • http://scienceandtheology.wordpress.com Justin Topp

    Looking forward to this Pete. Great intro and love how you’ve placed your cards on the table. You believe Mohler is completely wrong, but appreciate that many others don’t and probably won’t and the focus here isn’t them. Well done.

    And please don’t forget that little email you were going to send my way!

    • peteenns

      Oops. Send me an email reminding me of the email I was supposed to send. :-)
      And thanks…..

  • eileen

    Spot on, Pete. Keep going…

    • peteenns

      Thanks old friend!

  • http://apprising.org Ken Silva

    “Mohler’s synthesis of Genesis and science is, in my view, arbitrary…there is evidence for evolution, biological and cosmic.”

    You also must admit those who hold your position approach this through your own lense as well. The text of the Bible doesn’t allow for evolution or old earth.

    That’s not to say you can’t hold the view; but it isn’t supported by the language of the Biblical texts, which is Mohler’s main point.

    So-called scientific evidence, and even evolutionists disagree on it, must be interpreted in light of God’s Word; not the reverse.

    • peteenns

      Ken, perhaps the “text of the Bible doesn’t allow for evolution” because it is not written to address that issue. It is ancient literature and so designed to address ancient questions. Saying it is God’s word does not mean its ancient context can be safely dismissed. Mohler’s point stands and falls on his assertion that the Bible is prepared to address the question of origins. One might also ask whether every biblical description of the physical world should likewise have interpretive authority over like this. I will look at that in my next post. Thanks for commenting.

    • Lynette Cowper

      The Bible describes the earth as being ages old, which seems odd if it’s only a few thousand years. The verbs used in Genesis are varied, and only one — ‘bara’ — implies creation ex nihilo. The other verbs used encompass a passage of time or fabricating from existing materials. Only three creation ex nihilo (bara) events are described — creation of the universe, the creation of soulish animals, and the creation of man. All the other events could have taken place through divinely-directed evolution and still be well within the meaning of the verbs hayah, asah, nathan, raah, dasha, yatsa, and rachaph. The young earth creation model is not the only interpretation that is biblically sound and within the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

      • peteenns

        Lynette, I would add that bara’ does not mean creation out of nothing. There is no word in Hebrew that carries that meaning.

  • Doug Groothuis

    I am an ardent anti-Darwinist, but not a six-day creationist. I argue that this is the most biblical and scientific position in chapters 13-14 of my book, Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity, 2011).

    • peteenns

      Old Earth Creationism is certainly a position some take, Doug. You are welcome to, of course. I haven’t looked at your book but I will at SBL in November. I will look forward to seeing how you handle the scientific, archaeological, and ancient literary data.

  • http://www.mikeandkaren.blogspot.com Michael McDonald

    This is a wonderful article. I am looking forward to the follow-up articles. Thanks for writing.

    • peteenns

      Thank you, Mike.

  • Alex Oh

    Mr. Enns,

    Hi, my name is Alex. I’m a student currently studying software engineering (and I also have a degree in sociology). Just wanted to say thank you for blogging and writing for people like me. About 2 years ago I accepted evolution as the scientific explanation for the origin of human life on earth. Since then I’ve questioned so many of my beliefs and am glad to have encountered your thoughts and the thoughts of other scientists/pastors/theologians to guide me on my faith journey.

    I remember a few times hearing the anti-evolution message growing up in church. I remember sitting in my genetics class in high-school one day and thinking to myself, “This makes so much sense! But the church said this stuff just isn’t compatible, so I shouldn’t believe it…but it makes so much sense!” Unfortunately, I went down the route of pious, unquestioning Christian and despite deep within my heart knowing that their was something wrong about my church’s literal reading of Genesis 1, didn’t bother to question further. It was only until after college that I met a neighbor who happened to be a professor (an OT professor at Seattle Pacific University) who did a talk on reconciling faith and evolution at (a different) church, that I felt safe to finally come out of the closet.

    In my recent delve into Christian theology and the discourse between faith and science, one thing I noticed is that there seems to be a huge gap between the findings in biblical scholarship and what is taught in the church. Why do you think that is, and do you see that gap closing anytime soon?

    P.S. – I enjoyed reading Inspiration and Incarnation (a BIG help) and look forward to your commentary on Ecclesiastes.

    • peteenns

      HI Alex, thanks for a thoughtful comment. You know by now that you are hardly alone. Many Christians are on your very journey. As to why there is a gap between biblical scholarship and what is taught in church, that gap only exists in some Christian movements–namely many sectors of evangelicalism and fundamentalism. There are churches and denominations where biblical scholarship is a conversation partner. Much of the tensions with evang. and fund. is sociological as much as anything. These movements were founded in reaction to many trends in biblical scholarship in the 19th and 20th centuries. Resistance to biblical scholarship is part of the DNA and engaging biblical scholarship can result in denominational repercussions. Fear is a big factor.

  • Gary

    Hi, I believe the Bible is literally correct, including Geneses, and I believe that natural selection is obvious but evolution is unprovable and impossible. There is a big difference between natural selection which explains the varieties of plants and animals we see today and evolution which tries to explain the origins of species. There are too many problems with evolution to make it plausible. There are many examples of several different characteristics in a single animal that must interact in a precise way to function and so would have had to evolve simultaneously, which is inconceivable. Also the dating methods used be evolutionary scientists are inaccurate, at best. All that we see in the natural world can be explained through a literal biblical view. A good source for more information on this subject would be http://www.answersmagazine.com Also you could look up Ken Ham. Thanks

    • peteenns

      Gary, perhaps you are not familiar with my brief but colorful history with Ken Ham…

  • http://uneasyhomeschooler.wordpress.com/ Sherri K. Edman

    Thanks very much. I’m looking forward to this series of articles. I’m home schooling my children and need all the help I can get articulating this for my kids. There are not, ahem, a great deal of resources available for homeschooling parents of our persuasion. (Any time BioLogos wants to put out a curriculum, I’ll be first in line.)

    PS: We are using “Telling God’s Story” for our first grade and K5 kids this year and we all love it– it’s such a refreshing approach to Scripture. Thanks so very much.

    • peteenns

      Thanks, Sherri. We are working hard on the Bible curriculum. Glad you are benefitting from it.

  • Matt

    “These are people who do not want to choose between a life of intellectual integrity and Christian faith. And they do not need to.” Really? The choice may not be either /or (which you seem to imply), but, unquestionably, honest intellectual scrutiny inevitably destroys faith, or at least morphs it so drastically that it becomes no “faith” at all, at least not in the 2000-year-old sense discussed by Jesus and others in the New Testament.

    I juggled these balls for 40 years, and finally had to abandon faith. Why? Because, among several other reasons: (a) True reconciliation between scientific fact and faith — as opposed to a mere subjective point of comfort with conflicting ideas and facts, or “equal but opposite truths” — is not really possible; and (b) At some ponit, continuous adjustment to one’s interpetation of scripture so morphs and distorts her “faith,” as well as her view of scripture, that the resulting “faith” is a faded ghost, and the reduced scripture a book of suggestions that any self-labeling “Christian” can believe, or not, or follow, or not.

    Adjusting one’s interpretation of the Bible’s creation accounts in the face of contradictory scientific data is NO DIFFERENT, expect perhaps in degree, from Harold Camping’s adjustment of his rapture prediction after nobody got swept away on May 21. Adjusted interpretation may help the object (here, the Bible) retain personal meaning for the adjuster. But isn’t the Bible supposed to be overaching? To give more of a standard, and standard-ized, guide for living and dying?

    If every “Christian” can freely adjust the “meaning” of the Bible’s often plain text, whenever it conflicts with other data (scientific or otherwise), does the Bible have any real meaning at all, other than (perhaps) to soothe the poor, backward, individual believer? And where is the line past which adjusted interpretation is not permitted? And if unlimited interpretations leave the Bible with no transcendent application — and make no mistake, this is THE slippery slope — why should I ever endure being “spiritually distressed” just because a bunch of self-professing exegetes disagree? I mean, SO WHAT? It makes more sense, and is utterly freeing, to discard the entire rubric.

    Those (like you, it appears) who try to vitalize the Bible by adjusted interpretations are, sadly, just respirating a brain-dead patient. Yank the tubes, i.e., your adjusted interpretation, and the patient will expire.

    • peteenns

      Matt, I guess I would just disagree, and I’ve been at it, too, for a while. One thing that struck me was your reference to “plain” reading. Sometimes a plain reading is metaphorical, symbolic, and mythological. What is “plain” is determined by genre identification. Genre identification is a matter of historical study. This point seems to be lost on Mohler, and you see to be making the same mistake.

      • Rich

        BBC did a series on the History of Christianity a while back and one its themes was the way that Christianity re-invented itself across the ages – that the same basic traditions were able to be expressed both in an age where scripture was written in Latin and was not to be taught to the public, and in an age of rugged individualism that we find in the modern evangelical church.

        I guess some of what Matt is getting at is whether a Christianity that is so flexible can really be said to have continuity. Of course, simply looking at the history of Christianity it clearly does have continuity in a sense.

        The apostle Paul could look back at Isaiah and use it to support a message quite different from what Isaiah was getting at when he wrote it. Should it be so strange then if our modern interpretation of Genesis should be different from what Paul’s might have been? The difference in both cases is that the interpreter’s fundamental knowledge of the the story’s background has changed – in one case through the personal revelation of Christ, and in the other through the incremental advances of science.

        • peteenns

          Rich, I think you are making an excellent point. One of the things I used to impress upon my student’s at Westminster Seminary was the inherent narrative flexibility of Israel’s story and how the first Christians, and Jesus himself, continued that trajectory.

          Within the OT itself the parade example in the Chronicler’s postexilic revision of Israel’s monarchic period, along with many other examples of where older traditions are morphed in changing circumstances. The NT continues that trajectory in view of the Christ event with required a transformation of Israel’s story to adapt to un unexpected ending–the crucifixion and resurrection of the messiah.

          “Adaptation” so to speak is part of the Christian Bible–a far greater part than evangelicalism is prone to accept, in my opinion. “How do we understand God NOW, in view of what is happening?” is a perennial and absolutely unavoidable question for Christian faith, modeled in the Bible itself.

          This is one of several reasons why I have little patience with those who play the “but the church has always believed X” card. That is not a biblical way to think.

          • Simple Man

            Our faith is the apostolic faith, we should forever strive to interpret the scriptures in the same way Jesus and the Apostles did.

    • Lynette Cowper

      I think part of a lot of people’s issues with ‘the plain meaning’ of scripture is that they’re approaching it from the position of a speaker of a modern language like English that has multiple words for the same concept so you can be very, very precise. But the Old Testament in Hebrew has less than 9000 words and less than 3000 root words. When those texts get translated into a language like English, with its estimated one MILLION words (granted, there are a lot of technical and scientific terms), it lends a narrowness and exactness to the text in the translation that isn’t there in the original language. Just as an example, the word ‘yom’ — translated ‘day’ in the Genesis 1 account — has a dozen or more meanings, everything from a time period from sunrise to sunset (the daylight portion of a day), through a calendar day, through a long but finite period of time, all the way to ‘forever’ (such as the final verse of Psalm 23). It was a general word for time that has to be translated based on context. But in translating it, we have to be aware that the original meaning was much looser than any translation we’re going to do into a more precise language.

      I’d also argue that your understanding of the interaction of faith and intellect is more limited than it is for some people (though perhaps not for you). The bible presents the record of creation as being a revelation of the nature and qualities of God, so adjusting my interpretation of the narrow and precise modern understanding of the verses of scripture to a more loose interpretation in line with the original language is not a challenge to my faith. My faith is not blind, but comes at that point where I look at the evidence and say, “That’s enough for me to accept this as true.” For each person, that level of evidence is going to be different, just as some people readily like and trust a new acquaintance while others are more circumspect and less willing to offer up their trust. We are called to work out our salvation. To my mind, that involves interacting with the scripture, challenging my assumptions, and being open to the Spirit’s leading in light of Biblical scholarship. I’ve adjusted my understanding of some passages, but my faith has been deepened by this continual challenge, not weakened.

  • Thomas Mitchell

    I highly recommend you spend some time at Answers in Genesis. That site has some incredible materials, including technical and semi-technical papers that scientifically and logically refute the anti-Scriptural view of these matters.

    • Gretchen

      I think you might be missing the bigger question of whether or not this view is truly “anti-Scriptural.” If Genesis 1 were written by and primarily to a pre-scientific audience (which it was, even though the writer was inspired by the Spirit and the text applies to future generations, as well), it doesn’t make much sense for the story to be communicated in a scientific way that the people of the time–including the writer–would not have understood. Instead, the Genesis story is constructed incredibly similarly to other creation myths of the time, but with a drastically different God at the center with drastically different answers to the “big questions” (e.g. the nature of God, the purpose of mankind, etc.). Coming from this perspective, is it really anti-Scriptural not to assume the creation story is scientifically accurate in every detail?

      • peteenns

        I am with you here, Gretchen. At points in my posts I am stepping into Mohler’s shoes and arguing on the basis of his assumptions. What you say here is what I have written in many places, including Inspiration and Incarnation. I find both troubling and curious that so many gatekeeper Christians have trouble with the principle that “God speaks our language.”

  • Jackie W-Kansas

    The Biblical age of the earth IS 6,000 years. That means the Biblical timeline can be traced back that far. One reason the earth looks older could be because of a world wide flood that formed fossils & layers.

    • Lynette Cowper

      The recorded history of China is older than 6000 years. The scriptures say that God’s nature and eternal attributes can be understood through the creation so that no one has an excuse and also that the creation reveals the glory of God. If that is true, then the record of nature and the record of scripture will not be in conflict. If we find a conflict, it is one created by a poor interpretation of either the scientific observations or the scripture. To assume that our interpretation of scripture is ALWAYS right, so it must be the myriad scientific observations going back hundreds of years that is wrong, is an incredible act of hubris. It is the same “literalism” that led to the mistreatment of scientists like Galileo because the church insisted that the earth was flat, the sun orbited the earth, we existed at the center of the universe, and pi is exactly 3. Unless you believe these things, you are not a biblical literalist. If you do not believe these things, then you have adjusted your interpretation of scripture based on scientific knowledge. There is no reason that those whose interpretation is well within the accepted meanings of the words, but is not as narrow as that of other and older readings, are outside of orthodoxy and those who choose the narrower interpretation need to stop treating this as some sort of heresy.

      • gmv

        Lynette,

        The recorded history of China goes back to about 1500 BC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_China). And you don’t have a good understanding of the Galileo affair (see http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v14/n1/galileo). And you have way too much reliance on modern “science,” and its statements regarding evolution, radiometric dating, etc. This world does show God’s glory, but it is a fallen, cursed world, and has been affected by its history, so what we see is not like the original creation. Plus, our minds, senses, and tools are limited; but God is not limited, and He has communicated in His Word. And if we say that Genesis is not literal, and Adam was not literal, then we must say that Jesus was mistaken, as was the Apostle Paul. Might as well throw out the whole thing…

        • Sapphire

          Traditional Chinese history places the Xia dynasty about 2100 BCE but there is only scant evidence for this. Some bronze artefacts have been dated to 4,200 years ago but I presume you would not accept the dating methods anyway.
          AIG’s account of Galileo is hardly unbiased. While it is true that Galileo’s persecution was politically and personally motivated, as were many at the time, it is still significant that the church secured its conviction through Galileo’s scientific endeavours.
          The “slippery slope” argument just won’t wash. YECs are happy to accept that the Bible does not mean the sun literally rises or that Heaven is literally in an upward direction from the ground or that the Earth has literal foundations or that the firmament is literally a solid sheet without compromising the Gospel yet they stick at a 6000 year old six day creation.
          If your faith is that shallow, then you may as well throw the whole thing out.

    • Jackie W. – Kansas

      http://www.bookfinder.com/dir/i/The_Wallchart_of_World_History-From_Earliest_Times_to_the_Present_-_a_Facsimile/076070970X/

      Our copy covers up to 1997. Based off of a Victorian wall chart from 1890. Most of the panels were reproduced by courtesy of British Museum, London. There had to be more sources than just the Bible. Not finding footnotes though. IT pulls out to 15.5 feet.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Well said! This is the part that struck me the most “thinking the Gospel is at stake at every turn.” If the Gospel can’t tolerate deep theological discussion and stand under scrutiny then he has the wrong “gospel”.

  • Laura Robertson

    Thank you for addressing Dr. Mohler’s comments directly and honestly. I am a member of an SBC church, and I feel angry every time I read or hear about something he has said. He does not represent the views of many southern Baptists, but he acts as if he speaks for all of us. He and the other fundamentalists in charge of the SBC are deeply harming our denomination and causing many people to question whether or not they can be “true” Christians and still enjoy the wonders of the universe from a scientific viewpoint. I am looking forward to reading subsequent posts.

  • Jackie W. – Kansas

    Since this isn’t a salvation issue shouldn’t Ken Hamm, Mr. Enns & Dr. Moehler agree to disagree agreeably ?

    It seems the age of the earth is the least of our worries. It won’t be a hill I am willing to die on or for.

  • Jacob Arminius

    “Mohler’s rhetoric is spiritually harmful because it is intellectually untenable” and you want “intellectual integrity”

    You have GOT to be kidding.

    1. Is a man walking on water “intellectually tenable”? (or scientific)?
    2. Is a man healing a person born blind by putting spit on his eyes “intellectually tenable”? (or scientific?)
    3. Is a crucified dead man who has all his blood drained from his body and left to rot in a cave for three days but is found walking and talking among His apostles “intellectually tenable” (or scientific?)

    It is one short step to denying those things also. I am so glad you are wiser and smarter than generations and millions of Christians that came before you but firmly held to the truths just as they are told in Genesis. But they were a bunch of ignorant people living in the dark ages I guess.

    Praise Darwin !!

    • peteenns

      Jacob, I realize your points appear to be compelling to you, but they are not new and have been addressed by others, including myself at various points on this blog.

  • Pingback: Inerrancy: If it Was Good Enough for Jesus…. (a panel discussion at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

  • Keith Johnston

    In my opinion, at the heart of the ‘inerrancy problem’ lies an inadequate doctrine of the Holy Spirit. As the Westminster Confession of Faith says “yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts” It is not the Scripture itself that convinces us of its “infallible truth, and divine authority” but the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • Ludwig

    I read your above post and am still unsure what Al Moher thinks of the flat earth.

    What does he think on he number of ribs?
    I asked many of my family and friends if women have more ribs than men.
    95% thinks that women have more ribs.

    What does Al Moher think on this?
    More to the point, what do you and the people reading this blog think?

    There is one Baptist group that is very vocal and clear on the facts that the earth is flat, women have more ribs, the sun is a lump of burning coal stars are diamonds, earth is only 6,00 years old etc.

    What is scary is that these same people (Al Moher) included, are grouping together to vote for another false religion person namely Mitt Romney of the Mormon’s.

    Needles to say, I have studied the Mormon faith and a few others all from America, and it is real scary. USA is the person holding the gun and thus makes the rules for the world.

    Regards
    Ludwig


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