“Ken Ham Clubs Baby Seals” (or, it may be time for him to rethink his ministry strategy)

I recently posted some thoughts on reading Genesis like an adult. Ken Ham disagreed, and so posted a response, “Peter Enns Wants Children to Reject Genesis.”

Ham’s well-known chosen method of settling differences with Christians seems to be: attack first and ask questions, well, never. This is especially true when in comes to reading the creation story in Genesis as a literal depiction of historical events.

For Ham, the gospel hangs in the balance, and any disagreement with him is de facto a disagreement with the Bible and God himself. You are, therefore, “the enemy.” Gray is not a color on his rhetorical palette.

Given his well-publicized track record, I think it is fair to ask whether in Ham’s universe it is possible, (1) to be Christian, and (2) disagree with him on Genesis. Sadly, I suspect not.

But if in Ham’s mind is it actually possible to be a follower of Jesus AND disagree with him on Genesis, I would suggest that his engagement of his Christian opponents be more shaped by his acknowledgment of their shared Christians bond.

Now, of course, all Christians (at least that I’ve ever come across) in tense moments will fall off the wagon, so to speak, and forget themselves and say something they regret later. But, normally (hopefully) that doesn’t go on for long, and Christians will recommit themselves to acting like Christ once they realize it. Ham, however, has made those regrettable behaviors into a deliberate “ministry” strategy–and, what is far worse, encouraging his followers to do likewise.

One need only read the title of his recent post to see the problem, “Peter Enns Wants Children to Reject Genesis.” What I say in my post is that adults should not read Genesis like children do. That, I think, is a rather different point, not a subtle difference. But Ham’s “Enns wants to harm your children as he clubs baby seals” approach aids his ultimate goal–to score points by discrediting those who fall on the wrong side of his all-or-nothing ideology.

In other venues, this is called propaganda.

Ham’s tactics read more like political ads than how Christians should speak to each other: painting the other in a wholly negative light; employing highly charged rhetoric; quickly labeling his opponents and misrepresenting them to dismiss them more effectively; bullying; and generally not being a very good listener. His rhetoric is also marked by supreme self-confidence that he speaks for God, and is punctuated by the passive-aggressiveness move to ask his followers to “pray” for the person in question.

Ham has made a sub-Christian pattern of behavior into a way of life.

Along with the rest of us, Ham must try to live a life shaped by what Jesus taught and what the Bible as a whole has to say about the words we speak (or type), what we entertain in our minds, and harbor in our hearts. This is a difficult task, to be sure, but Ham does not seem to have taking the log out of his own eye on his daily spiritual warfare to-do list.

Ham, with all his zeal for “obeying the Bible,” would do well to turn that same relentless focus on himself, to do a bit of spiritual inventory, and to recall that what Christ requires of us first, foremost, and always, is a mark of love and humility. Lest, as Paul reminds us, even if we move mountains and have all manner of knowledge, we are hollow and useless–just a noisy cymbal.

If Ken Ham is willing to consider acting as Jesus commanded, I would like to make a concrete suggestion.

For one week, whether in print, in a blog, or in a public presentation–try to disengage old patterns of behavior and create new ones.  

Feel free to disagree, but don’t take cheap shots, don’t label, don’t demonize, don’t besmirch anyone’s good name, don’t assume the worst of others and model that same behavior for your followers.

Rather, assume that you may have something to learn from others, that you may be wrong on some things, and perhaps that one need not be right 100% of the time to be a true follower of Jesus. 

Don’t be quick to take offense when you feel provoked. Ask, rather, the good and wise God to gift you with patience, and to see that reasoned discussion with other Christians is not “compromising the gospel” but a way of living the gospel.

Work to preserving the good name of your opponents, even as you disagree. Be charitable, avoid slander, and promote the good name of others. 

None of us is perfect, but the question I have for Ken Ham is, “Would your ministry cease to exist if you lived this way?”

I suppose that is a question we all must ask of ourselves in one way or another. But right now, I’m asking Ken Ham.

 

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: giving credibility to nonsense (or, walking into an apologetic war machine)
On Being an Ex-Apologist (Hardman, part 1 of 3)
my 5 "best" blogs of 2014 that, as far as we know (who's to say, really?) will likely change the world
creating Adam, again and again
  • TheoGeek

    Hello all, I enjoyed the discussion below. I wish to make
    the following points:

    I believe that the Bible is inerrant in the way that God
    inspired it, however we humans ARE ERRANT (or imprecise in the minimum) in our
    translation of original language and full interpretation. If this is not so, we
    would not have X number of denominations differing on points ranging from
    baptism to the return of Jesus.

    We ARE saved by grace through our faith. We ARE NOT saved by
    our hermeneutics. And, thank God!

    I believe that we need to be gracious and MISSIONAL in our
    contacts with the non-believer who questions our faith based on their
    understanding of science. We must not
    tell them “You must believe X about Genesis” as the text IS be interpreted by
    Christians different ways.

    We must allow for a certain amount of COMPATIBLISM. Alternate interpretations can be compatible with
    true faith.

    In the end, the NATURE of creation is not a SALVATION
    issue. I will draw my line and stand on
    my hill when we get to the nature of the Triune God, man’s sin and necessary
    repentance, Jesus as atonement, and the work of the Holy Spirit in
    sanctification.

  • Michael Hardin

    Ken Ham is a nut job and not worth even mentioning in my opinion. He is the worst kind of fake pseudo-Christian pseudo-intellectual. His website is nothing but mish-mash Fundamentalist nonsense. No worries Peter, this guy advocates nothing important and is no threat to honest Christian scholarship.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      But he’s a nut job with influence. Including activist followers trying to rewrite school curricula and law.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    But those with the best PR machines are the only ones visible. Because they are “the loudest throats” and can out-YELL all the others.


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