Bethel College Tightens Creation Statement

Bethel College Tightens Creation Statement July 14, 2015

Someone I know, Jim Stump, a fellow BioLogos participant, a fine teacher and Christian and thinker, has resigned at Bethel College (IN) because of Bethel’s revision of its statement on human origins. From Christian Post by Ruth Gledhill:

A prominent evangelical philosophy professor has resigned from the Christian Bethel College in Indiana after it espoused creationism in a statement on human origins.

Dr Jim Stump, an award-winning teacher who has worked at Bethel since 1998 and specializes in philosophy of science, said he had resigned of his own choice because he did not wish to remain under the new creationist policy and bring “tension” to the college.

Bethel College is affiliated to the Missionary Church of Fort Wayne, Indiana which has its own roots in Mennonite, Amish and holiness movements from the Anabaptist tradition.

The new “philosophy of origins” policy was adopted by the college trustees last month and includes the statement: “We believe that the first man, Adam, was created by an immediate act of God and not by a process of evolution.” This is an article of the Missionary Church which, until the change in policy, faculty staff did not have to sign up to.

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  • RobS

    I respect Dr. Stump’s decision to not bring “tension” to the college. But I also wonder if society is having such a tough time to deal with “tension” in different amounts & doses that large pieces of society shuts themselves off from different ideas.

    I’m not a research scientist that is familiar with macro evolutionary theories in the development of the world. But if I respect Dr. Stump and he brings some new ideas about how a Biblical worldview could include God working in those ways, I’d at least be polite to consider his thoughts and views and try to learn something from his efforts.

    It seems more than ever people reject others for seemingly small differences in opinion.

    A friend of the wife exclaimed she didn’t like a certain kind of bagels, which my family buys & eats. My wife casually defended the bagels, suggesting they were OK and our kids liked them. The friend then deeply apologized for saying anything about the bagels. My thoughts: who cares… it’s a bagel! If your taste bud doesn’t like it, then don’t buy it. I’m not lesser your friend for your lack of interest in my breakfast food.

    Apologies for the rant, but just seems we’re so sensitive. Best of luck to Dr. Stump in his new endeavors.

  • Phil Miller

    This is sad… He probably did the right thing by resigning, but it certainly seems like an exceedingly foolish thing for the college to do.

    The funny thing is that according to the language in this statement, even the account given of Adam’s creation in Genesis probably doesn’t fit within this description of an “immediate act of God”. Forming Adam’s body from dust and then breathing life into him certainly sounds like a process. That’s the thing that always gets me in these discussion. As an engineer, I’d say there’s really no such thing as an “immediate act”. Everything is a process. There’s a “t” variable in the equation, and time can always be broken down into smaller and smaller increments. From God’s perspective, does it matter if that time was nanoseconds or billions of years?

  • Tim M

    Why so such a specific statement about Adam not being a process of evolution? And why do faculty have to sign off on it?! Have them sign the Nicene Creed and leave some room for diversity of opinion!

  • Silverback

    Very disappointing. A retreat from good theology.

  • AHH

    The addition of that particular nonessential doctrine to college statements of faith seems to be a trend.
    I wonder if there is some coordinated national campaign to try to pressure colleges to draw that line in the sand, or if these are independent events where the individual schools just happen to have Presidents or important donors who are distressed by the acceptance of evolutionary creation by many evangelicals.

  • Richard

    “Purity” culling seldom practices consistency

  • I’m very sorry to read this. I think there’s a trend among Christian schools to entrench (especially behind traditionalist positions), and it’s costing us some of our finest minds. I don’t know for certain what’s behind it all,but I suspect it’s the simple fact that the deepest pockets tend to owned by those with traditionalist positions themselves, and schools fear angering those (either potential or current) donors.

  • LT

    Out of curiosity, what standard did you use to declare this a nonessential doctrine?

  • RJS4DQ

    As I understand it the school isn’t requiring an affirmation, but requiring faculty to abstain from publicly arguing a position in contradiction to the denominational statement.

    To quote the linked article:

    The aim is not to suppress views on evolution, but “prevent public contradiction or disparagement of this corporate commitment”, the statement says.

    Still, this is unfortunate.

  • Jon45Solas

    Ok, I’ll play the odd man out. Adherence to the doctrine that Adam was created by an “immediate act of God”, and not through evolutionary practices is, in my opinion, a crucial doctrine that lays the foundation for many other crucial doctrines. I’ve read many articles on this blog and others wherein countless authors go to great lengths to work out the nuances of doctrines that are adversely impacted by the incorporation of evolutionary theory. And not sideline issues, either. We’re talking about the stuff of redemption here!

    From the creationist perspective, a great many of these problems vanish, and others are greatly simplified. No theories of a diabolical, greed-driven scheme required for reasoning here.

  • AHH

    Of course everybody’s list of essentials and nonessentials will differ somewhat; that comes with being humans with different viewpoints (not to mention with being Protestant). The Apostles and Nicene Creeds would be a close approximation to my list of essentials.
    So I consider it essential that God is “maker of heaven and Earth” (and maker of humans). The details and timing of how God did the creating are nonessentials, and in my opinion moving those aspects into the essentials category is doing great harm to the church.

  • Phil Miller

    Well, the truth has a way of complicating our theories many times. A physicist’s life would be much easier if we didn’t live in a world where quantum forces existed, but from all we can tell, it seems to be the case that they do. We can’t just stick our head and sand and pretend that reality is something it’s not.

  • Sven2547

    Adherence to the doctrine that Adam was created by an “immediate act of God”, and not through evolutionary practices is, in my opinion, a crucial doctrine that lays the foundation for many other crucial doctrines.

    Then that is a shortcoming of those “crucial doctrines”.

  • Sven2547

    The aim is not to suppress views on evolution, but “prevent public contradiction or disparagement of this corporate commitment”

    There’s a masterful piece of rhetorical nonsense, right there. The prevention of “public contradiction or disparagement” of a creationist position is the suppression of evolutionary views, practically by definition.

  • Phil Miller

    “It’s OK if you disagree with us, just don’t let us hear about it…”

  • Jon45Solas

    I agree with your premise that theories are often complicated by truth. But I also observe that the simplest explanation is quite often the correct one.

    Evolution and creation are both theories, but one of these theories is based upon the literal interpretation of the Word, while the other is forced upon the Bible. I’ll stick with creation.

  • LT

    If something is essential, then how can one’s list differ? If people can disagree, doesn’t that mean that it’s not essential?

  • AHH

    Do you have a point that is germane to the post?
    Or are you just trolling?

  • Ted Johnson

    Having been affiliated with the Missionary Church for a season, I can say this is a relatively small and very conservative (theologically and socially) group, and Bethel College (Mishawaka, IN) is its flagship educational Institution, having sold Fort Wayne Bible College to Taylor University some years ago. This does not surprise me at all, but it saddens me very much. It may well be that Dr. Stump’s participation with Biologos was the spur behind the change. In any case, the Big losers are the students at Bethel College. I trust Dr. Stump will go forward with much success.

  • Andrew Dowling

    That something makes your theology more palatable doesn’t make it correct.

  • Andrew Dowling

    So said those that claimed the sun revolves around the Earth

  • As one currently affiliating with the Missionary Church, I can respectfully say that there is much more diversity within the denomination than your comment suggests. You are correct that the current denominational *leadership* is a “very conservative (theologically and socially) group,” but that’s not reflective of the entire constituency or history of the denomination, which has roots in Anabaptism and Wesleyanism more so than in the kind of fundamentalism that this decision reflects. You are right in your conjecture that Dr. Stump’s work with BioLogos was the “spur behind the change.” He and others in the Religion and Philosophy division at Bethel have taught evolutionary creationism for years without censure; it was only when his activity became more public through BioLogos that denominational leaders got more actively concerned. You are also right that this is a big loss for the students (and alums) of Bethel and that, though Dr. Stump was treated poorly throughout this process, he will continue to have much success with his ministry at BioLogos and wherever else he lands.

  • Ted Johnson

    David I know there I are many good people in the Missionary Church, and I have many friends in the Missionary Church. And yes I know there was significant and healthy diversity in its earlier years. If there yet still remains more diversity within the denomination, than what this decision reflects, then I am very glad to hear that, though sad that the more fundamentalist voice carried the day none the less.

  • Thanks, Ted. I affirm the general sentiment of your original comment but just wanted to clarify that the views and actions of the denominational leadership on this and many other issues are not reflective of the entire constituency, even if they sometimes appear to be so. The denomination is far from monolithic. Many of us within the denomination were upset by these actions, which don’t reflect our views or approach. In other words, there is internal dissent and disappointment on this as well as the external disappointment expressed in this post and elsewhere. Some of us actually feel more at home with the Missionary Church of “its early years” than with the more recent lunge to the far right reflected by some of its current leaders and their decisions.

  • Silverback

    “Literal” “Interpretation” “Word.

    I see three problems right there.

  • Silverback

    How about Augustine for a standard?

  • Jon45Solas

    Maybe so. But the Bible never claims that the sun revolves around the Earth. On the other hand, the Bible clearly makes the claim that creation happened in 6 days.

    Exodus 20:9-11 says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”

  • Muff Potter

    Let’s put the shoe on the other foot for a minute. What if it had been a creationist or an aficionado of intelligent design who came out of the closet so to speak at a progressive institution? My guess is that tenure or no, the inquisitors at the progressive College would be more than happy to make an example of him or her. My point is simply this: Ideas are dangerous things, sometimes even more dangerous to those who hold them than to those who oppose them.

  • Craig Wright

    Psalm 93: 1 says that the earth cannot be moved.

  • Phil Miller

    Job 38:22 claims that God keeps snow and hail in “storehouses”… I like RJS’ article about the “Storehouse Theory” from a few years ago.

  • Phil Miller

    Secular universities generally don’t have anything equivalent to statements of beliefs that Christian schools have. I lived in a college town where a major state university is located, and there is more diversity of belief among professors than people typically portray there as being. There are ID proponents at secular universities. Michael Behe, perhaps the person most associated with ID, is at Lehigh University in PA, for example.

  • Jon45Solas

    There’s no reason to believe this speaks to the earth’s orbit. Will you move the earth off its axis?

  • Jon45Solas

    Job 36:27-28 “For He draws up the drops of water, they distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down, they drip upon man abundantly.”

    Ecc. 1:6-7 “Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again.”

    Isa. 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth…”

    Where the Bible speaks about science, it is accurate. Besides, some of the passages cited by RJS teach real water cycles in a poetic way: Ps. 135, Jer. 10. What is that about “He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth” in Ps. 135? Sounds like a water cycle to me…

  • AHH

    Where the Bible speaks about science, it is accurate.
    The “firmament” of Gen. 1:6 and elsewhere (solid dome above the Earth holding back the waters above) is perhaps the clearest proof of the falsity of this blanket claim.
    The inspired writers of Scripture made use of the prevailing concepts of the time, including ideas where we now know better like the firmament, waters above the firmament, fountains of the deep, and geocentrism. Rather than eisegesis to try and make the Bible teach accurate science, I think it is more fruitful to allow these facts to help us understand the Biblical genres in play, which are not trying to teach science at all.

  • Phil Miller

    Where the Bible speaks about science, it is accurate.

    Except for the times it’s not… Even in the creation account, there are some very basic problems. How is there day and night with no sun, for instance? The moon is talked about as being a lesser light, when we now know the moon doesn’t produce light on its own at all.

    It’s actually doing injustice to the ancient Biblical authors by trying to make them say something they weren’t. The understanding of nature found in the Bible represents pretty much what was common of ancient man.

  • Paine

    Correct. Their assumptions and grid are unwritten and sometimes subconscious, which is more dangerous. At least with Bethel the grid is out front. Not all who sharpen guidelines are Fundamentalist. It is more apropos to view all of this within the tyranny of post-modernism.

  • Marshall Janzen

    You’ve quoted Ecc. 1:6-7 to claim the Bible accurately describes the movement of wind and water, but you did not quote the previous verse, Ecc 1:5, to claim the Bible accurately describes the movement of the sun around the earth (more accurately, across the earth, then doubling back unseen).

    Some say this verse just reflects appearances while the next two reveal reality. But if you adopt that approach, how do you tell when Scripture teaches and when it describes how things look? Why can’t Genesis 1’s “after their kind” describe appearances while falling short of explaining the full biological reality?

  • LT

    Not trolling at all. Trying to understand how you think and what standards you use to classify essential and non-essential.

    So for instance, why is God as maker of heaven and earth essential and timing and details not? Your position is a common one. I am just trying to understand how you get there.

    You don’t like this being in a school doctrinal statement. But how do you determine what should be in there? Labeling it essential doesn’t help me understand how it got into that category for you. That’s all. I just want to understand how you get there.

  • LT

    I am not a fan because Augustine had a lot of issues on which he wasn’t clear. Even today, Augustinian scholars debate what Augustine believed.

  • Phil Miller

    I don’t really know what you’re talking about, to be honest. I do think that someone who was a hardcore YEC or even ID proponent would have trouble getting hired in most biology, micro, or biochem departments today, but it would probably depend on the specific individual and their research area. In my wife’s old department, her advisor, who is now the department head, is an Orthodox Christian.

  • Jon45Solas

    Ecc. 1:5 is accurate as it is viewed from our perspective on earth. How often do you say, “Wasn’t that a beautiful rotation of the earth causing the sun to become visible”? I still call that a sunrise. I personally think that’s pretty great of God to condescend to our normal language.

    As to your final question, I anticipated it and went to Exodus 20:9-11 instead of Gen. 1 in a previous comment. In six days, the whole shebang.

  • Jon45Solas

    In the new creation there is no sun. You don’t have to have the sun to have light. In fact, in Gen 1:3, He specifically creates light before the celestial bodies.

    The moon is a lesser light. It gives off light to the earth, even if it doesn’t produce it on its own. Genesis 1 doesn’t say where the light originates, just that it comes from the moon to the earth.

    No compromise required. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Phil Miller

    Yeah, yeah – I’ve heard it all before. Those “answers” may satisfy you, but they aren’t really answers. They’re rationalizations.

  • Jon45Solas

    The water canopy came down in Noah’s flood. Gen. 7:11

    I’ve heard that NASA still wonders about all the water molecules up there.

    And now, because all the harmful rays aren’t shielded as well from the earth, people don’t live to 900+ years old (plus the fact that God ordained it).

    Same for the fountains of the deep. The earth’s crust probably covered great pockets of water that God caused to break free at the time of the flood. also Gen. 7:11

  • Jon45Solas

    Fair enough. You can’t win them all. And the answers are thoroughly satisfactory to me.

  • AHH

    The water canopy came down in Noah’s flood. Gen. 7:11
    We are reaching the point of diminishing returns in this exchange, but one of several reasons the “water canopy” explanation does not work is that the same firmament structure is spoken of in the present tense in the (post-flood) Psalms. Not to mention the fact that the Hebrew word is for something solid, not liquid or vapor. And that the greenhouse effect from that much water above would have cooked Adam & Eve.

    I’ve heard that NASA still wonders about all the water molecules up there.
    I don’t know what you’ve “heard”, but take it from this scientist who actually specializes in water among other things — water molecules in the atmosphere (and in the universe) are not particularly mysterious.

  • Marshall Janzen

    First, I rarely speak of how the sun hurries back to where it rises each evening. Ecc. 1:5 seems to go well beyond a figure of speech, and given its context immediately before similar language about the wind and water’s movements, writing off one verse as condescension while praising the scientific accuracy of the other two seems inconsistent.

    In Exodus, God is described in our terms to justify the Sabbath. That’s why it’s “in six days” (20:11) and on the seventh “God rested and was refreshed” (31:17). That’s also why Genesis 1 portrays all God’s work taking place during the day, explicitly stating six times that evening comes and then morning comes with no creative work done between.

    For Israel’s benefit and ours, God is described like a human labourer, but this does not mean God is a human labourer. God’s creative work wasn’t literally confined to six days (Ps. 104 declares some of the same work to be ongoing), God doesn’t literally get tired and need refreshment, and God doesn’t literally stop working at sunset.

    Just as “this is my body” can be understood as a profound metaphor that undergirds our tangible, physical response at the Lord’s table, so too “in six days” may encapsulate God’s creative work in a framework we can emulate each week. God truly acts in creating the world and creating the community that re-members Jesus’ body, but neither of these acts can be reduced to the days or bread by which they become powerful symbols suited for our worshipful response.

  • mjk

    Nope. The earth moves off its own axis, regularly.

  • Silverback

    “I’ve heard that NASA still wonders about all the water molecules up there.”

    citation needed.

  • hoosier_bob

    In reading reports like this, I have no regrets for walking away from evangelicalism and returning to the mainline denomination in which I was raised. The mainline has many shortcomings. But the increasing emergence of biblically suspect “purity tests” within evangelicalism led me to conclude that it was time to go.

  • Silverback

    Well, for that matter, I am not a fan of Paul, but he is recognized as an
    Authority, as is Augustine. Individuals are free to hold to their idiosyncratic interpretations of Scripture, but the vast weight of authority is against a literalist interpretation of Scripture and a YEC interpretation. That Authority goes back at least 2000 years. Based on that weight of authority, YEC is not an essential doctrine.

  • LT

    Paul is inspired Scripture; Augustine is not. I am not sure what you mean by a “literalist interpretation,” so I can’t comment on that. But Paul, whom you recognize as an authority, seemed to place the direct creation of Adam and Eve as an essential. And like so many discussions, this goes back to the whole issue of authority of Scripture.

    When it comes “essential doctrine,” I would say we have to ask “essential to what”? There are a lot of doctrines that are essential to some things that are not essential to others. Someone can be a Christian without holding to immersion of believers. But one cannot be a Baptist without that. So is baptism essential? Well, it is if you want to be a Baptist, but it isn’t to be a Christian.

    Anyway, I didn’t want to get involved in the conversation. I was just interested in reading how other people answer the “essential” question. I am disappointed nothing was given, but life is busy … I understand.

    I tend to think the direct creation of Adam and Eve is essential because so much of the promise of the gospel depends on the “in Adam/in Christ” connection, and there is no way to account for the dignity of humanity in the image of God without the direct creation of Adam and Eve. I don’t think YEC is essential to Christianity.

  • Jon45Solas

    Alright, have it your way. Could be speaking of isostasy. The point is, YOU are not moving it.

  • Jon45Solas

    Interesting views, and unnecessarily complicated.

    You may find it overly simple, but I take God at His word when He says six days. And if you take the Exodus passage coupled with Genesis 1, where every day of creation is followed with the phrase, “there was evening and there was morning…”, it is pretty clear that each day was a day.

    Psalm 104 doesn’t speak of any new items being created, but rather, the sustaining of the existing creation and God’s providential hand in that.

    I see no real benefit in spiritualizing the creation account, unless your goal is to make room in the Bible for unproven secular theories that present more scientific problems than does creationism.

    But if you feel the need to, so be it. And what you end up with is the need for more reinterpretation, which really amounts to either rejection or at least a deep tissue massage of biblical texts. Again, I’ll stick with creation, and for good reason.

  • mjk

    Either way, “The earth is [NOT] firmly fixed by His power,” if what the psalmist means is that the earth does not move on it’s axis (or in space).

  • Jon45Solas

    Yes, there are admittedly problems with the water canopy theory, but I don’t believe they are insurmountable. However, some creationists do suggest other explanations for raqia, like the possibility presented here:

    My stance on the water canopy, or other such theories is to treat them as what they are: theories. That means that they are subject to reconsideration.

    The real point is that what is non-negotiable to me is the accuracy and perspicuity of God’s Word. That’s where I start, and that’s why I can appreciate the stance that Bethel College is taking on creation. I haven’t looked into their reasoning for rejecting evolution, but I would expect that they see it the same as I do: a direct attack on God’s Word.

  • Jon45Solas

    Therein lies the problem. You are purposely arguing for the meaning of the verse to be something contradictory to truth. Why? It certainly doesn’t have to be…

    You are saying that the psalmist is in error. This is contradictory to the Bible’s self declaration of inerrancy.

  • mjk

    Of course the psalmist–as an ancient person with access only to ancient scientific beliefs–is incorrect about his “scientific” assertion about cosmology. That error is completely inconsequential to the trustworthiness of the scripture’s testimony to Christ, which, of corse, is infallible.

    I don’t believe the scripture declares itself to be inerrant in anything like our modern, philosophical, presuppositionalist constructions of that term. Nor do I believe that the affirmation of that entirely modern construction is at all necessary to be an orthodox, even evangelical, Christian.

  • Jon45Solas

    Well, it must be obvious by now that I disagree with your premise. I prefer not to single out topics in Scripture and elevate those to the status of infallibility while leaving others behind. Too subjective. Plus, I don’t want to have to try to explain to an unbeliever or a new convert why they should believe that Scripture is fully inspired and authoritative, except when it’s not. Hard sell.

  • Peter Wolfe

    I think it is an equally hard sell telling people that the Bible contains modern cosmology (earth goes around sun, rain comes from clouds formed over oceans …) – particularly to science trained people. Turns out IMO “selling” the Bible is just plain hard.

  • mjk

    I totally agree and am completely satisfied for us to disagree on this point. I’ll clarify a couple things from your comments and then you can have the last word if you wish.

    It isn’t about subjectively signaling out topics of infallibility. It is about purpose. Scripture’s purpose, so says Jesus, is to point people to him. That’s what it does. And it does it well. Teaching science? Not so much. I have a hatchet that does a wonderful job at chopping wood. It’s terrible as a screwdriver.

    To your last point, in my estimation, it is far more difficult to explain to the proverbial unbeliever/new convert why the Bible is believable/trustworthy when it is demonstrably in error over some pretty fundamental matters, such as cosmology. The easier sell is to concede the ancient cosmology and then return to scripture’s point, which is not to teach origins, but to point people to Jesus.

  • Jon45Solas

    No need for more words. Thanks for the engagement.

  • Jon45Solas

    Give them the Word, and let the Sword do its cutting! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • mjk

    I’m thankful for the spirit of your engagement as well. Thank you.

  • Christy

    It wasn’t a witch hunt. Dr. Stump resigned of his own accord and issued an amicable joint statement with the college president.

  • Marshall Janzen

    I end up with Jesus’ sacrifice and church-building not reduced to a piece of bread, and God’s creative grandeur not reduced to a week. And I end up with bread and weeks with which to ponder and receive God’s gracious acts.

  • Marshall Janzen

    I’m not sure why direct creation is necessary for human dignity. Ps. 8 seems to speak of human dignity being an undeserved gift for lowly creatures, not something our special nature demanded.

    I’m glad Paul insists on the “in Adam/in Christ” connection rather than a “descendant of Adam/descendant of Christ” connection. The latter would truly require a biological connection (in which case we’re all hooped, since Jesus didn’t have kids), while the former does not.

  • LT

    I’m not sure why direct creation is necessary for human dignity.

    Thanks Marshall. I would say because human dignity is rooted in the image of God in man. That has to come from somewhere. There is no evolutionary basis for it. There is only a direct creation basis for it.

    If man is simply the next step in the evolutionary process, then there is no basis to assert that at some unknown point God simply inserted or injected his image. The Bible describes that humans were made in the image of God, not that they developed it somewhere, or received it at some point.

  • Jon45Solas

    I’m good with that (not that you were looking for my approval). ๐Ÿ™‚

    I guess for me, I’m resolved to take the Bible literally and plainly unless the symbolism is obvious and inescapable. In the case of the bread, I would say it is an excellent symbol that serves as a powerful reminder of the real flesh of Christ being broken for me. But that’s no different than the symbolism of Jesus referring to Himself as a door or a vine or a shepherd.

    In the case of a literal six day creation, what would display God’s grandeur more than His creating every visible thing in such a short time? In fact, I would argue that God could have spoken everything into existence in a single moment, but chose instead to lengthen it out to six + one days for the express purpose of setting the pattern for our week. Wonder of all wonders!

    Anyway, that’s my take. Blessings to you.

  • Phil Miller

    I would agree that there’s no evolutionary basis for seeing the image of God in man, but indeed, it’s not necessary for there to be. I don’t think the image of God is something that is “inserted or injected” into people, but rather I think it’s more appropriate to look at as a calling or purpose bestowed on us.

    If you look at the etymology of that word that is translated to image, it’s the same thing that was used to explain the statues that rulers would set up around lands they had conquered. They would place images of themselves to remind inhabitants who was in charge or who was making a claim to that land.

    I see the concept of imago Dei having less to do with an ontological fact about us, but rather it has to do with our unique God-given responsibilities. If you look at the parallels with the calling of Israel, it makes a lot of sense. Abraham was simply a nomad living in Ur before God called him. But when God called him, he suddenly had a special purpose.

  • Marshall Janzen

    Thanks Jon. I fully agree God could have created everything in an instant. But rather than 13-plus billion years cutting down on the wonder, I see it as one more way God surpasses us. (How many projects have you maintained for billions of years? My patience even more than my lifespan limits me from such things.) Not only does God make such a long-lived universe, God remains active and creative throughout it, forming each new creature just as Psalm 104 and 139 declare.

    God could have made all the diversity we see and crammed it within a universe a lightyear across, and that would surely inspire some wonder. But there’s no less wonder in a creation given unfathomable space and time as well.

  • Marshall Janzen

    My view of the image of God is similar to Phil’s. Why should we expect a material basis for the image of God when a material basis is not something we share with God? Image as conferred authority to be excercised in a way that reflects its source seems to fit better with Gen. 1. And, again, Ps. 8 suggests God’s image is something humanity received that elevated them, rather than something they were from their creation.

  • Jon45Solas

    “But there’s no less wonder in a creation given unfathomable space and time as well.”

    That’s a good point, and a great perspective.

    I personally think that it’s great that God would create unfathomable space in such a short time, and leave it to us to see if we can figure out why we can observe happenings of however many billions of light years out there if the creation is as young as I believe it is. There are certainly some interesting theories out there about that at present.

    Maybe in time we’ll be able to make more sense of these things. Or, maybe Jesus will return and explain. Can you guess which one I’m hoping for? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Marshall Janzen

    I personally think that it’s great that God would create unfathomable space in such a short time, and leave it to us to see if we can figure out why we can observe happenings of however many billions of light years out there if the creation is as young as I believe it is.

    Or maybe we’ll discover that contrary to appearances, the universe contains unfathomable time in a tiny space! ๐Ÿ™‚ But since the heavens declare God’s glory, I’m not going to insist that God’s creation is really completely different than it consistently declares.

  • Jon45Solas

    “Or maybe we’ll discover that contrary to appearances, the universe contains unfathomable time in a tiny space!”

    Wise guy, eh?! ;-p

  • LT

    I don’t think the image of God is material. I think it’s part of our immaterial makeup.

    I don’t follow you Gen 1 and conferred authority. There is no doubt conferred authority, but the text says that man was made in God’s image. In the text, that is a reference to the original creation of mankind, not something that was conferred.

    And I don’t follow you about Psalm 8. There again, man was “made” a certain way. The text says nothing of an elevation of man to something.

    I don’t see any textual basis for saying that the image of God came later.

  • LT

    What’s the biblical basis for the image of God being something connected to calling or purpose? Abraham was in the image of God before he was called to a purpose, and even unbelievers are in the image of God. I don’t know what biblical basis you would argue that on.

  • Phil Miller

    Even in the Genesis creation accounts, it’s clear that God calls Adam and Eve to a specific task. In Genesis 1:26, for example it says God creates humans for a specific purpose – ” so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.โ€ Genesis 2:15 says Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden to work it and take care of it.

    Ultimately, though, this seems like an odd discussion to be having. We both agree that all human life is deserving of dignity and respect. We’re just arriving at that position for different reasons. If someone doesn’t believe that, I don’t see how arguing that humans beings were special, directly created organisms is going to change that person’s mind. They wouldn’t buy into the assumptions inherent in that position anyway.

  • LT

    I agree that God called Adam and Eve to a specific (if broad) task. But where does the Bible connect that to the image of God being conferred? The Bible talks about man being “made” in God’s image. It says nothing, to my recollection, about that image being conferred or given at some point after creation or however one thinks man came to be, and it says nothing about the image being connected to calling or purpose that I can recall. That was my question.

    If we are going to say something is biblical, then we should be able to support it from the Bible.

    I don’t think it’s an odd discussion to be having. The initial issue was whether a direct creation was an essential. I think it is essential to some things.

    But thanks for the discussion.

  • Mountain Fisher

    I live in a small mountain valley in NC. I go to a baptist church and I have to keep my OEC views pretty much to myself. I used to be a YEC, but geology kept getting in the way. Now with that said, I believe Adam and Eve were special creations of God, first because the Lord Jesus spoke about them, and the evidence for evolutionary descent from other primates is quite weak and as I support the Discovery Institute as well I have a good grasp on the facts and don’t really want to argue about it. I have changed churches before because some people just feel that they have to set me straight as if my eternal salvation depended upon it. Meanwhile their kids go off to college and lose their faith because they never heard any view but one and I was sitting there for and could have helped.

    To keep the peace, I’m afraid the dissenting professors will have to leave if the school is making this a test of faith, which it shouldn’t and is unnecessary.