RE: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

From: John Walley <>
Date: Fri Mar 14 2008 - 09:18:13 EDT

I agree with you that the mission of the church ought to be about reaching
and alleviating the suffering of the less fortunate of the world instead of
soaking up our endless blessings and debating how many angels can fit on the
head of a pin, but that is a different argument.
At least for the rich, educated Westerners like you and me who have the
privilege of even thinking about and debating these issues, we have the
responsibility of getting it right, because the mission of the church above
depends on it. There is a direct correlation between what we believe here
and whether some starving kid in Africa gets a meal today or not. Why?
Because it takes the resources of the other rich educated Westerners that
haven't come into the church yet to help us feed that kid in Africa and they
aren't coming in as long as we insist they take stupid lessons in order to
become a Christian.
Bottom line, I feel Protestantism is flawed because there is currently no
mechanism to excommunicate people like Ellen White, Herbert Armstrong and
Ken Ham and we have to let them tarnish the whole church and that actually
becomes counter-productive to the mission of the church. Although we have
seen abuses of a centralized control structure in the church before, I am
not certain that the de-centralized Protestant church is any better off
without one now. Hopefully though this whole new form of science/faith
apologetics is the work of the Holy Spirit and will prove to make the church
relevant again and we can recapture the role of honest and reality-based
intellectual thought leadership we once had in our culture, and then there
will be a consensus and a mechanism to dispatch the Ken Ham's and we can get
on with feeding those kids in Africa in a bigger and better way.
-----Original Message-----
From: David Opderbeck []
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:58 PM
To: John Walley
Cc: David F Siemens;;
Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

No, it's not relativism. It's just that the world, the church, the gospel,
are all so much bigger than this one concern. There are nearly 7 billion
people alive in the world right now. About 1 billion lack access to clean
drinking water. About 1.6 billion have no access to electricty. About 3
billion people live on less than two dollars a day, and about 30,000
children die every day because of poverty. Think about this for a minute:
by the end of this week, more children will die because of poverty than the
total number of people who have ever visited the creation museum.
Does that mean the creation museum is ok? Of course not. It makes it even
more of a travesty to spend millions on such a thing. But you are taking a
problem rich, educated Westerners like you and me have because we're so rich
and so educated that we have time to worry about how Genesis relates to
modern science, and you're making it into priority one when billions of
starving, dying people don't give a crap about it.
I want all my questions answered too, I want everyone to agree with me, and
I want my faith to be simple, straightforward, and easy. I want to be able
to beat the stuffing out of my unbelieving friends in apologetic arguments.
I want my son to be perfectly healthy. I feel bad for myself, but it ain't
gonna happen. Meanwhile, I have to pick myself up, stop blaming everyone
else, and ask the Holy Spirit what his priorities are for me. No doubt some
of that involves doing what I humbly can to promote good Christian
scholarship and improve the life of the mind in the evangelical church --
I'd say I feel that's part of my calling so long as I get to serve in
academia. But I have to fight myself not to confuse my place on the pinky
toe of the Body with the whole Body, and I have to fight myself to allow the
Holy Spirit to show me all the varied areas in which the Kingdom of God
needs to break in.
On Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 11:22 PM, John Walley <> wrote:

But again David, this is the theological relativism I mentioned earlier in
my opinion. Excusing YEC and other flawed doctrine is not the answer. Why
would Jesus bother to warn us about false teaching then if it didn't matter?
Truth does matter and we shouldn't excuse our church leaders for missing it.
You recall my analogy before about the spiritual Arlingtons and I think it
still holds.
And as you know we have discussed before offline, these science/faith issues
are not just obscure, internal doctrinal issues like infant baptism or
speaking in tongues that the world doesn't know or care about, but it is in
fact the very definition of objective reality at stake here and when it
plays out in the courts and in the global media at the very nexus with the
world that Jesus commanded us to make disciples of, I think we have more
accountability than to just love everyone. We have to make sure our faith is
grounded in reality as well and I really don't think that is too much to
ask. The subject of this thread highlights the need for this and the gravity
of the consequences of failing at it.
Plus there are other very practical drivers to getting this right as well.
This science/faith arena is the very battleground by which the enemy is
using to marginalize and even criminalize Christian faith in our culture. We
need to repent of our spiritual pride that has led to this deception In
order to prevent engendering further contempt and scorn from those we are
called to reach and to keep this from leading to something much worse.


-----Original Message-----
From: David Opderbeck []
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:32 PM
To: John Walley
Cc: David F Siemens;;
Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

John, I understand some of what you're feeling right now. I think, though,
we ought to be a little more nuanced in what we say of how the church has
handled itself. The church is big. In every period of history since the
time of Christ, the church has been faithful in somethings and not so
faithful in others. From our perspective the progress can be lurching,
painful, and slow -- kind of like someone giving birth. But the Holy Spirit
has never left the church. Thank God that today, most Christians around the
world are taught to reject racism and antisemitism, to help the poor, to
combine the preaching of the gospel with acts of mercy, and so on. The
things that in my wisdom I want to become "prefect" right now in the church
might not be exactly the things God in His wisdom is putting at the top of
the list. Our individual lives are like grass that dries up and blows away,
and the Kindgdom of God is a tiny mustard seed, but the "not yet" will

On Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 9:10 PM, John Walley <> wrote:

When Jesus warned of false teachers, that logically implies that there
exists true ones. Where to find them is a different issue but Jesus did say
that His sheep hear His voice and if we seek the truth we would find it.
I reject the claims that due to the nuances of much learning, the truth is
unknowable because that is counter to the claims of Christ. Also I agree
with George that obvious doctrinal error can be sufficiently filtered out
easily enough by plain common sense, spiritual discernment and testable
Granted we will all have unlearning to do on judgment day but the real
tragedy is that false learning came at the expense of not learning what we
should have and what God called us to. And I think that will be in large
part for a lot of people due to the fact that the church absolved herself of
this responsibility.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of David F Siemens
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 10:09 AM

Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

There are several conflicting magisteria, like Ellen G. White, prophetess of
the Seventh Day Adventists; Herbert Armstrong who had headquarters in
Pasadena, CA. There are other theological traditions that are held within
the several denominations, including the now abandoned Missouri Synod
anti-Copernicanism. Since serious Bible students differ on the Eucharist and
Baptism (back to the time of the Reformation), where will you find this
magisterium? The fact is that, when we stand before the Lord, we'll have
things to unlearn, even among those of us who are certain they are right.
Dave (ASA)
On Thu, 13 Mar 2008 08:29:25 -0400 "John Walley" <>

I agree with you wholeheartedly on this one and this same conclusion has
been my key takeaway from my recent OEC-TE journey. The church needs more of
an emphasis on what are reasonable and allowable interpretations of the
Bible (after getting it right first of course) and that would diffuse a lot
of this "private interpretation" nonsense that leads to this disaster and
I think we need the office of the Majesterium restored to the church and
that was one unfortunate casualty of the Reformation and we are suffering as
a result of it. Ironically, I think the closest thing that I have found that
approaches this function in the church today is this list. There may be
better examples out there cloistered away in church hierarchy somewhere but
not easily accessible to the general seeking public to my knowledge.
Today's Protestantism is afflicted with the intellectual equivalent of moral
relativism in our culture. We have intellectual or spiritual relativism
where every idea is equal including YEC and it is politically incorrect and
unacceptable to correct it. This denies the truth that there is an absolute
right and wrong and that we should have it or be looking for it and have a
way to know it when we do find it.
I think it will take a removal of all the complicit pastors from their roles
and it will take a new generation of leadership in the church but I am
hopeful that we will see it soon as I feel that is what the Holy Spirit is
trying to do.

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology 
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Received on Fri Mar 14 09:19:55 2008

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