Re: Schaefer's Book

From: Jan de Koning <>
Date: Mon Aug 16 2004 - 14:10:59 EDT

My reply to Peter Ruest's statements below:

Firstly, we are moving from a nine-room house, containing a large library
to a three room condominium at the beginning of next week. I really should
not let myself be drawn into a debate again. Many of us are indeed tired
of having to repeat arguments time and again, and being accused of taking
the Bible not as inspired by God. We do believe that the whole Bible is
inspired by God.

The Christian Reformed Church synod appointed a study committee of
scientists and theologians in 1988, reporting to its synod in 1991. I was
a member of that 10 member committee. Eight of us signed the final report,
one member had withdrawn for personal reasons, one disagreed on one or a
few points with us, but signed the report excepting the (comparatively
small) part he disagreed with. We all agreed about the fact that Genesis
in its entirety was inspired by God, speaking to Old Testament people in a
language they understood. His intention was to teach the people of that
time about the relationship between Him and the people living then, not to
teach what is now called science.

In the nineteenth century already there were Calvinist theologians who did
not reject evolution. One of my tasks was to search what they said. Also,
I want to repeat strongly, that all of us accepted the Bible as God's
inspired Word to His people. That means God was talking the language which
that people understood.

Please, understand, however, that repeating the arguments time and again,
at a time that we are moving becomes very tiresome. This debate has been
repeated time and again over the past ten to 15 years. So, though I every
now and again will say something, I think, that all has been, and much of
it is in the archives, I assume.

Jan de Koning

At 05:05 PM 16/08/2004 +0200, Peter Ruest wrote:

>Several times on this list, Jan de Koning has complained of having to
>repeat his old arguments again and again, and nobody seems to be
>listening. Sometimes, I feel the same frustration. Although I have little
>hope of finding an agreement now, I'd like to shortly comment about three
>types of statements taken from Michael Roberts', Jan de Koning's, and Paul
>Seely's last posts on this thread:
>- Michael Roberts wrote: "The writer had no knowledge or concern about
>science and beyond the fact that God is creator of all that is".
>- Jan de Koning wrote: "People who insist that God spoke to people 5000
>years ago in a scientific language cannot be convinced of their error...
>Insisting that God spoke to them in a language they would not understand
>makes the Bible a book that is doubtful... God did not speak in 21st
>century English to people who could not read or write. So God did not
>intend to teach them modern science."
>- Paul Seely wrote: "... was it the INTENTION of God to teach us HOW the
>universe was created, the order, the length of time, the nature of the
>physical world, etc.? Did any prophet, apostle, or Jesus ever cite
>Scripture in order to teach physical science?"
>On this list, we have for years - on and off - discussed the
>interpretation of Gen.1-2. Still you keep falsely charging Dick Fischer,
>Glenn Morton, me and others of claiming the Bible to teach science,
>although each of us has repeatedly rejected that charge. None of us has
>ever claimed that the biblical writers knew modern science, or that God
>wanted to teach us science through revelation. But our corrections and
>clarifications keep being ignored.
>It is not that we would disagree about everything, however:
>- Michael Roberts wrote: "I see Gen 1 as a hymn to God the creator".
>- Jan de Koning wrote: "God spoke to them in a language they understood,
>and about situations they understood... Luckily there are Christian
>theologians (even in the 19th century) who are willing to admit that God
>could create using evolution... Let us... agree that we are God's
>children, because Jesus, God's Son died for our sins."
>- Paul Seely wrote: "I do not believe Genesis 1 (or 1--11) is 'only the
>work of the human writer.' I do believe that it is 100% divinely
>inspired... The purpose of the inspiration is to give us information that
>educates us spiritually, not scientifically."
>Dick, Glenn, I and others you denigrate as "concordists" will fully agree
>with all of these beliefs of yours under (B). But we strongly disagree
>about the importance of harmony between revelation and reality, as well as
>about claims of having found, once for all, _the_ correct interpretation
>of a text, down to the details.
>- Michael Roberts wrote: "I won't make a big issue about this as there are
>more important things to worry about".
>- Jan de Koning wrote: "Let us drop the subject..."
>I get the impression that you don't want to enter into a genuine
>discussion of what really concerns us (cf. my last paragraph above). You
>keep ignoring or misrepresenting what we say. You keep implicitly calling
>our concerns misguided, without - as it seems to me - even trying to
>understand them. I grant that you understand the YECs' (and probably the
>ID people's) concerns and the problems with them. But we are not in the
>same boat.
>For your Genesis interpretation, you keep appealing to scholarly
>authorities, referring to what some call a large majority of OT scholars.
>But as Dick Fischer has emphasized in his last post, "Sure Casssuto knew
>his Hebrew. He was simply not as tuned in on the historical underpinning
>of Genesis as we can be today. We are not duty bound to the same
>ignorance that hampered these long-dead commentators.
>If we can't learn anything, we are doomed to repeat past mistakes."
>Unfortunately, this does not only apply to long-dead commentators, but
>also to some living ones who refuse to reconsider, scrutinize and
>challenge what they once learned in their theological studies, including
>the assumptions underlying some of the dominant theories.
>Your strawman of "concordism" seems to refer to seeking and fabricating a
>concordance between a strawy literalism in text interpretation (ignoring
>all genre differences) and some selected facts of modern science - and in
>this you mix us up with YECs (who often replace science with pseudoscience).
>But there is a huge difference between any of this and our idea that a
>biblical text may not only have, as its central content and appeal, a
>clearly theological message, but may also be compatible _both_ with what
>the ancient biblical writer (or people of any other period of human
>history) knew (not just believed) about reality (or science) _and_ with
>what we know about it today. Now, compatibility is not the same thing as
>identity - a text never gives a complete description of a state of
>affairs, only a very fragmentary one, concentrating on a few points
>important to its own objective.
>Nevertheless, such compatibility would not be feasible with a purely human
>text. But I believe it is possible with God inspiring his chosen prophet,
>guiding his thinking - even while fully respecting his personality. I
>don't know to what extent God had this aim of compatibility in his
>inspiration activity, but I find it very interesting that often such
>compatibilities can be found in the biblical text. I am also surprised at
>how often a claimed incompatibility between a biblical text and science
>(or between different parts of the biblical texts) can be resolved quite
>easily, even when accomplished OT scholars thought it couldn't be done.
>Granted that often our examples of compatibility may not be quite
>watertight, and they are certainly not cast-iron, but the same caveat
>applies to many of the traditional text interpretations which many
>commentator-authorities agree upon. Shouldn't a new proposal be judged on
>its own merits, rather than merely in the context of traditional views,
>discussing real evidence, rather than just appealing to authorities?
>Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
><> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
>"..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
Received on Mon Aug 16 14:22:28 2004

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