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

From: Douglas Hayworth <>
Date: Wed Dec 02 2009 - 13:51:25 EST


I'm glad you asked the question and got Dennis to confirm that he coined the
term "racheting concordism". I remember him using the term but hadn't
thought to clarify where it originated. It'll be nice to have this fact on
record for the benefit of historians 50 years from now! Dennis, how does it
feel to know that you'll be the topic of an esoteric discussion of etymology
some day!?

It's easy to take the concept of racheting concordism too far, but I'll do
it for a moment in order to make a point. In some sense, all of us
believers are prone to racheting logic; we all hold out that science and the
Christian view of reality make sense together (i.e., are compatible or
concordist in some general fundamental way). In our own minds, we all
continually maintain ways to reconcile the two competing kinds of
information (formally complementary epistemologies). Which of us doesn't
take some comfort in the "good fit" between a Big Bang universe (an actual
beginning) and our belief in creation?

I think this is how Bernie was interpreting racheting when he outlined his
progression from YEC to atheism. But, strictly speaking, this is not the
usage that Dennis intends, and attempting to apply the phrase this broadly
makes it less useful. Bernie may have been forced to atheism via this
racheting logic, but most of us remain theists precisely because we break
free of the rachet with regard to strict concordism. Dennis' rachet applies
only to those who believe that science and scripture speak the same
language. Most of us allow the two languages to interact and dialogue, but
we do not cogitate under the assumption that they are the same.

Once we are free from strict concordism, there cease to be any notches in
our mind's rachet because we are not counting on the rachet to prove or
anchor the faith. We simply hold the rope in our hands and trust the Spirit
to tell us when to let it slide or hold it tight.


On Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 7:40 AM, Steve Martin

> 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.
> --
> Steve Martin (CSCA)

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Received on Wed Dec 2 13:51:54 2009

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