RE: [asa] Ratcheting Concordism in Dennis Venema's talk at ASA meeting

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Dec 01 2009 - 13:51:03 EST

"Ratcheting concordists are easy to spot"

Now it is appearing that the term is a 'position' rather than a 'process.' I would think it should be a process, as everyone ratchets their theology whenever accepting new scientific or theological evidence that demands a shift, as it is incompatible with their current view. Sometimes these facts are a watershed event, discontinuous, such as a YEC accepting evolution so then jumping right into TE, bypassing the OEC middle ground.


From: [] On Behalf Of Dennis Venema
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 10:27 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Ratcheting Concordism in Dennis Venema's talk at ASA meeting

What I intended by the term was to describe someone who is (a) open to scientific evidence, and (b) has scientific concordist expectations of Genesis 1-3. As evidence accumulates against a concordist notion he holds, he will at first resist the science, until the evidence is overwhelming, at which he "gives up" on that notion and ratchets over to the next position.

For example: an OEC contemplating common descent: should they decide to accept CD, there are two choices:

(a) discard their scientific concordist expectations of Genesis and shift to an interpretation of Genesis using ANE science / Divine accommodation
(b) ratchet over to accepting CD, but retain concordist expectations that Adam and Eve are literal individuals who are the genetic ancestors of the entire human race, pending evidence from genomics that suggests otherwise.

Ratcheting concordists are easy to spot - they have theological investments in specific scientific interpretations of Genesis. For example, I met a few ASAers at Baylor who accepted CD, but were struggling to work the population genetics data into their scheme. They were evolutionary monogenists - they accept CD, but feel that God founded the whole human race through a literal pair. Why? "Because it says so in Genesis."

Hopefully that explains my thinking. Just remember IANAT (I am not a theologian). :)


On 01/12/09 9:43 AM, "" <> wrote:
Okay --"ratcheting concordism" -- my interest is piqued. Any chance of a quick
synopsis? Even on our cable modem here at school it took me a few minutes to
get the downloaded slides. And those only show the tantalizing points being
discussed, not the discussion itself. The actual video/audio is going to take
longer to download than I have right now. But I'd still love a sentence or two
explanation if available.


Quoting Dennis Venema <>:

> Hi Steve,
> thanks for sending this direct - I do tend to be pretty hit-and-miss here.
> The term is one I coined - to describe what I see as a phenomenon in
> scientific concordist approaches to Scripture.
> Dennis
> On 01/12/09 5:40 AM, "Steve Martin" <> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I was interested in Dennis Venema's term "Ratcheting Concordism" at the ASA
> meeting. (see presentation slides here
> <> &
> audio here <> ... his brief
> mention of ratcheting concordism occurs around 36:00 min time).
> Dennis describes ratcheting concordism as a scriptural concordist strategy
> that, when in the face of overwhelming evidence, will ratchet over one
> position and lock in there (until the next batch of evidence comes along).
> Now, I know Dennis isn't a theologian but I'm intrigued by that term ... & I
> think it is helpful (not like I'm showing my cards here :-) ). I'm wondering
> a) if this is a new term and b) if others think this is helpful. I would
> especially be interested in hearing comments from those who believe that some
> historical and/or scientific concordism is important &/or essential for
> interpreting Gen 1-11 if we are to hold a high view of scripture.
> cc'ing Dennis too ... not sure if you are as hit-and-miss on this list as I
> am.

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Received on Tue Dec 1 13:51:36 2009

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