Re: Something must change

Kenneth Piers (
Fri, 14 Aug 1998 10:31:08 -0500

REPLY: Thank-you, Howard and amen.

--On 14, Aug 1998 9:44 AM "Howard J. Van Till" <>

> Ryan Rassmussen (in "The original vegetarian movement?") asked a couple
> questions of the form: "How does one reconcile some particular portion of
> the Genesis text with our modern scientific understanding regarding the
> character and history of the universe?"
> Questions of this sort have a long history of generating puzzles,
> conflicts, debates, shouting matches, denominational splits, and other
> forms of both pain and nonsense.
> I submit that it's high time that we Christians admit that the
> problem here is generated by a concept of the biblical text--concerning
> character and appropriate use--that is profoundly misguided. In the
> extreme, communities of faith have crafted numerous claims about the text
> that are at best unrealistic, and often downright ridiculous.
> Forcing the biblical text to do things for which it was never intended is
> sure to generate nonsense.
> The promotion of nonsense in the name of Christianity will do nothing but
> alienate thinking persons from the faith.
> The biblical text was not _written_ by God, it was _inspired_ by God. It
> was written by human beings in the conceptual vocabularies of their day
> culture, and within the limits of the writers' knowledge base. It is very
> valuable as a record of how particular persons and communities
> the authentic presence of God, but expecting or demanding that it provide
> us now with an epistemological shortcut to information about the
> particulars of the universe's formational history is, I submit,
> misguided.
> Those outside the faith know that, and all of our attempts to deny it
> serve only to make us appear not only stupid, but dishonest as well.
> The Christian community must get out of this rut of biblicism bordering
> bibliolatry. We must stop lusting after the kind of certitude that leads
> making impossible demands on the biblical text and closing our eyes to
> can be learned by the competent scholarship and sound judgment that, by
> God's generous gifting, we are capable.
> Howard Van Till

Kenneth Piers, Professor Telephone:(616)-957-6491 (W)
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (616)-676-2056 (H)
Calvin College Fax: (616)-957-6501
GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49546 E-mail:

"Meaning is the being of all that has been has a religious
root and a divine origin." H. Dooyeweerd