Re: Competing for the Evangelical Mind

Jan de Koning (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 14:40:56 -0500

Dear Bill,

I am glad that you express your heartfelt concerns, and I tried to address
some of your concerns. I even agree, that we have to study the bible
together. However, studying together does not mean coming to the same
conclusions. But that means as well, that we have to listen to each other.
When I tried to explain, that "Truth" in the bible means something
different than what most scientists understand by "truth", I hardly got a
reply. Only a reference to the "Law of the excluded middle". My answer
referring to a book about many-sided truth values was never answered. The
fact that we have in mathematics several foundational Logics was never
discussed. I don't mind that so much, but don't say, that we do not want
to discuss. In 1932 already Vollenhoven wrote about the necessity of a
christian logic. He showed that logic is not value free.

My main trouble with the litteralistic method you want to use in reading
Gen.1-11 is the same as you have with those that read the Bible differently
than you do. Students coming from Christian background to secular
universities lose their faith because they have only leaarned t read the
bible in one particular way: litterally. They come up against irrefutable
proofs that the earth is old, etc. and say: "Well, if that is so, than I
don't trust the bible anywhere." And they are lost for the faith. I know,
that they should go to other colleges, but some are called to be engineers,
and do not realize the powerful draw "scientific" methods have. All of us
want to fit things together. We would not be writing here if we did not.

You quote Robert, and interpret his posting as saying that we have to be
at war with the the ICR. Maybe we should, but not so much with the ICR, as
well with the philosophies standing behind their reading of the bible. I,
too, think they are dangerous, as I tried to show above. I speak from
personal experience and as a teacher at a secular University (in the past.)
Robert should have worded his concerns differently. Still, now it is
said, it is done. As Christians we have to discuss these matters, and
should have discussed them before. That is why the Christian Reformed
Church (CRC) of North America had a study committee about Creation and
Evolution. The committee reported to synod 1991. You caan probably get a
copy of the agenda of synod 1991 from the office of the Christian Reformed
Church in Grand Rapids, MI.

Your paragraph which says:
>I am patently disgusted with this attitude by a supposedly Christian
>organization. Look at the words above (and similar comments being
>posted): you appear to be at war with Christian believers, more
>intent on proving their faith in the Bible is wrong than in trying to
>find a way of reconciling Christian faith and scientific "knowledge"

I find disturbing. When discussing issues all of us say often words
which are not quite so strongly meant aas they sound. If you and Robert
want to "fight" you still have to discuss what you want to fight about. If
it is, quoting you:

>you must not destroy a person's faith
>position without giving that person an alternative faith.

I agree, but that is exactly what the ASA tries to do. Anyone studying
geology, biology, even physics and mathematics, who thinks that his
thinking is not philosophically influenced needs to study some Christian
philosophy to open his eyes. Unfortunately, that is the case on all side
of the issues. For that reason it ios all the more necessary to listen to
each other and talk to come to aa better understanding of each other.
Thaat means more than stating one's opinion. One must deal with the
arguments of one's opponents as well. It is not sufficient to state thaat
there are gaps in theories. Than it is necessary to show where
radioactivity cannot be used to estimate age. Also, on the other hand why
Gen.1-11 cannot be read as a modern history book. Thaan one has to deal
with many so-called contradictions in the bible, as well as with impossible
figures used. How to explain them? There are books written about these
issues, which I have not seen quoted by either side.

Some quotes you give are accepted by all true Christians and do not
clarify the discussion, for example your quote from Rom 5:12-19. It is a
text quoted in the report of the CRC mentioned above, but you do not
mention to whom you are reacting when quoting that text. Certainly not to me.
Neither do I (and many others wwho consider evolution a possibility)
disagree with what you wrote next about Adam. But just because many at
secular universities do believe that Adam did not exist, we do need to
taalk with eaach other. Following the Young Earth Creationists will give
more difficulties than it solves. One cannot loosen Gen.1-11 from the rest
of Scriptures. If you do try to explain Gen.1-11 in the way you do you
will have to explain inconsistencies in genealogies, in numbers, apparent

>Now will you
(who is you?)
> proceed to tell them that Adam never existed and,
>hence, the theological basis of Paul's letter and of marriage are
>false (or, at best, founded on a false foundation). Or what does
>the average Christian think when he/she reads the words of Jesus,
>the Lord, the God of Truth, He who is the Truth saying:

You have to realize, that the intention of these discussions is not to
talk to "average" Christians, but to scientists. If we are talking to
"avarage" Christians we certainly havee to talk differently, even when we
waant to express the same thoughts.

>"For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of
>Noah. "For as in those days which were before the flood they were
>eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until
>the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand
>until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of
>the Son of Man be. (Matt 24:37-39, NAS)

We are indeed living in such times, so let us listen to whaat others say
and talk about that, not just assume, that we who are not agreeing with you
are not trusting the God of the bible,
>Are you going to tell those who trust the Lord and His apostles that
>Noah never existed, that these words of Jesus were false? Oh, yes.
>I have heard it before at Candler: Jesus was not being false, He was
>speaking to them in a way that they could understand. Well, Jesus,
>who is the truth (John 14:6) was never one to couch the truth in
>words that were acceptable to the masses (Matt 13:33-34) and He
>Himself testified regarding the Bible (and in this context, the
>first chapter of Genesis is definitely included)

I wrote about biblical truth before, so will not repeat. I do think, that
"truth" in the Bible has more to do with troth and faithfullness, than with
a "literal" reading in modern sense. Truth in the Hebrew world had to do
with relationships, not with the (pagan) idea of an abstract truth. Thus
when the creation (and fall in sin) are discussed "poetical" language is
used. The creation is from God, yes, bit not every one should knows that
He did it, but no one can "know" how.
>"... Thy word is truth." (John 17:17, NAS) and "But it is easier for
>heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the
>Law to fail." (Luke 16:17, NAS)
>This verse has never been interpretted except in one fashion: all of
>Scripture, down to the Hebrew tittle (a stroke, the smallest letter
>in the Hebrew alphabet) is held to be God's truth.

Indeed, but in the first place, we do not know the original Hebrew text
any more (not an important fact, since I believe too, that what we have is
pretty close to the original.) But, we are not even agreeing on what
"truth" is. Even the "truth" of the "Law" cannot fail is not interpreted
in the same way by all who believe, thaat Jesus Christ died for their sins.
As I said before, I am afraid, thaat in a staement like you just made an
unchristian concept of "truth" shines through.

>ALL Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for
>reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; (2 Tim 3:16,


>Will you stand before the church and tell them that their simple
>faith is wrong, that YOU must correctly interpret the Bible for them?
>You remind me of the Pharisees in John 7:49:

No, neither does aanyone else in the ASA, as far as I know. They may
disagree with you here, but reasoning here is not the same type of talking
that necessarily must go on in the church.

The following sentence shows thaat you did not listen to the conversations
going on before:
>To show the truth is important, but the truth will ALWAYS glorify
>God. If you tear down the simple faith in the average Christian,
>though you successfully defend your "science", maybe you have won the
>current battle over the scientific viewpoint in one person's mind but
>what have you done to their faith in God? BEWARE, lest YOU be the
>person of whom Jesus said:

And your following sentence is true. But as you noticed before I am
afraid that the base of your reasoning is an unchristian philosophy. That
we must talk about. I realize, that some opponents of you have the same
philosophy, but unless we talk about that you keep on saying, like ypour

>"... but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to
>stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around
>his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. "Woe to
>the world because of {its} stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that
>stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling
>block comes! (Matt 18:6-7, NAS)

and our discussion does not get anywhere.
>Incidentally, I know of this struggle from personal experience.

So, do I. However, I was a Christian before I went to university. I was
told, that Isaiah was not telling scientific "truth" when he was talking
about the wolf, the lion and the lamb, since it would be against their
nature. If they would be lying together, they would not be a lion, laamb
and wolf any longer. Luckily I went to the Free University in Amsterdam,
where I had to follow a course in christian philosophy. There I learned to
recognize the pagaan base of scientific theories and the "scientific
method." That does not mean that I now say, that all those, who use that
method are therefor now not Christians. We must be carefull not to accuse
fellow believers in that way. We are all sinners, in our thinking too. We
must discuss and assist each other. Because of my experience, I am scared
stiff of a "litteral" reading of the bible, in modern scientific sense.
But a discussion is never helped, if we start calling names, and not
discuss difficulties. I am glad, that you promise to do so.

BUt the following accusation is out of place, unless you know better what
they base their conclusions on, biblically and scientifically. You do not
show thaat you understand.

>In summary, some of you are implying a greater faith in science than
>in the Bible which Jesus affirmed. You are in danger of being allied
>with the Enemy and remember the words of Jesus:
>"He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather
>with Me scatters. (Matt 12:30, NAS)

Jan de Koning
Willowdale, Ont.