RE: Something must change

Rasmussen, Ryan J. (
Fri, 14 Aug 1998 12:20:50 -0400

I guess it all starts with a person's assumptions on what the Bible is
and how much direction God gave in the writing of it. Was the hand of
man guided in what was written? Or, were the authors simply inspired
with the general teachings that God wanted them to convey and then given
room to add a little "nonsense" here and there about vegetarianism,
great floods, the stopping of the earth for a day? That would require
each of us to "lean on our own understanding" in sifting through what
the Bible says in order to separate "truth" from the author's lack of
understanding of the natural world.

To tell you the truth, I subscribe to this listserve because I simply
have questions. I come here to see what people from all different areas
of knowledge and experience have to say about the Bible and science.
All my life I was TOLD to believe the Bible was meant to be read a
certain way by a fundamentalist church. Two years ago I couldn't in
good conscience believe those teachings anymore (the earth was created
in 6 days, evolution is evil, the flood was global, etc. etc...) and
simply gave up on what I felt at the time was the majority of my belief.

Some people refer to this as a crisis... for me it was an awakening. I
only held to the very core of my belief: God exists and He has the
power to show me the truth. At that point I simply started praying and
whole-heartedly searching for God and asking for wisdom. After a lot of
work I have finally made it to listserves such as this where intelligent
thought and ideas are shared openly. There is no condemnation for
"wrong" theories but civil discussion as to why the theory isn't or
might not be correct. Steel sharpens steel.

You already seem to "know" what God intended the Bible to be and its
"obvious" limitations. Well, I don't. And I'm far from the position
you seem to be at, having reached a comfortable state in how to
reconcile science with scripture. I have a restlessness in me that does
not accept just giving up on what the Bible says and simply use my
"competent scholarship and sound judgment" in determining fact from

I don't know what other people's intentions are for subscribing to this
listserve whether it be a "lusting after the kind of certitude" you
speak of or not. I am here to help remove a stumbling block in my faith
in the Word of God. I don't particularly care what "those outside the
faith" perceive my questioning as, because my faith is exactly that...
MY faith... not theirs. I'm simply asking questions and listening to
discussions in order to form my own opinion on just how much of a
conflict there is (or isn't) between the Bible and "competent
scholarship and sound judgment". Sure, these questions may generate
"...puzzles, problems, conflicts, debates, shouting matches,
denominational splits, and other forms of both pain and nonsense." If
they do, so be it.

I'm here to reach a comfortable state in my faith and strengthen my
relationship with God and His Word. At this point in my search, I
simply choose to have more trust in the ability of God to write a book
which would speak truthfully to all ages of mankind, from the shepherd
of Herod's time to the astro-physicist of today. Maybe I'm right, maybe
you're right... maybe we're both wrong... but I pray that God gives me
the wisdom to eventually know the truth. And if truth is not meant to
be found by me... at least give my spirit comfort and quench this desire
for resolution.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it
shall be opened unto you..."

In Christ,
Ryan Rasmussen

-----Original Message-----
From: Howard J. Van Till []
Sent: Friday, August 14, 1998 9:45 AM
To: ASA Listserve
Subject: Something must change

Ryan Rassmussen (in "The original vegetarian movement?") asked a couple
questions of the form: "How does one reconcile some particular portion
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
that are at best unrealistic, and often downright ridiculous.

Forcing the biblical text to do things for which it was never intended
sure to generate nonsense.

The promotion of nonsense in the name of Christianity will do nothing
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
valuable as a record of how particular persons and communities
the authentic presence of God, but expecting or demanding that it
us now with an epistemological shortcut to information about the
particulars of the universe's formational history is, I submit,

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