Here is a sad but very real example of what can happen to a Christian college when it does not maintain a stand on biblical inerrancy beginning with Genesis.
I wrote a blog item recently in response to a guest writer for the Calvin College student newspaper who wrote a scathing attack of me (accusing me of lying)—he was responding to my “State of the Nation 2” address where I quoted a Calvin religion professor who said Scripture is not inerrant and there are mistakes in the Bible.
Well, the editor-in-chief of the Calvin College newspaper (Chimes) has just responded with an open letter to me about my blog post. As I reprint his Op-Ed column below, I will not even intersperse any commentary and let the piece speak for itself—decide for yourself whether he comes across as angry, sarcastic, non-academic, and presents an ad hominem attack—without even documenting my supposing lying. Now, this editor says below that the writer of the original column was only a 19-year-old student (which we did not know)—so we acknowledge that at that age, he lacks journalistic experience, and so some grace needs to be extended to him (even though as a Christian he should not be publicly calling a person a liar, especially without presenting any evidence).
I encourage all Christians to carefully read this article—I would think that any biblically discerning Christian will understand immediately what the issues involved are. In fact, I urge you to forward this blog to others—get it out widely into Christian circles. This is a warning to Christian parents about where they send their children for higher education. It is also a warning to the boards of Christian colleges concerning where the college will end up if they don’t take an uncompromising stand on inerrancy beginning with Genesis.
So, let this remarkable letter to me (printed as an Op-Ed) from the editor-in-chief of Chimes speak for itself, with no annotations after each paragraph (tempting though it is); I have, though, highlighted a few quotes for you to especially take note of, yet I encourage you to read the entire letter:
Chimes–The Official Student Newspaper of Calvin College Since 1907, March 12, 2010, Volume 104, Issue 22
From the Editor, Stephen Mulder, Editor in Chief
Dear Ken Ham,
I read with interest your blog entry from March 6, entitled “Writer for Calvin College Newspaper Lashes out at Answers in Genesis.” In said blog, you asserted that a guest submission from my beloved publication “illustrates clearly the overall state of this Christian college,” and you accused “the editors” (essentially, me) of “poor journalism.”
I’ll admit I was a little skeptical that you, Ken, could be so authoritative about matters of the universe, despite the fact that you have earned “no degrees in any theoretical science, nor any professional training in early antiquity, biblical studies or theology” (as professor Schneider put it in last week’s Chimes).
I’ll also admit that, at first, I thought that writing a 3,000-word treatise devoted to publicly chastising a 19-year-old kid who never contacted you directly and whom you’ve never met (even challenging him to a debate!) was an incredibly petty, even cowardly move on your part.
But after reading it over several times, I’ve decided that you’re totally right. Thank you, Ken Ham, for opening my eyes to the true terrors of Calvin College and the social destruction that the pro-evolution, anti-inerrancy stance taken by many of its professors and students has helped catalyze.
Yes, there were times that, as I read different articles on your website, I became very confused. For example, you make it very clear that evolution is not a “salvation issue” per se. Faith in Christ, you say, is what saves — not a specific belief about the age of the earth. This is one of the few things that you and I already agreed on before I was transformed by Saturday’s stunning article.
But then, in a Nov. 28, 2009 entry, you put quotes around the word “Christian” when describing Calvin College, ostensibly implying that the school is anything but. And, in Saturday’s blog, you claim that institutions (such as Calvin) that undermine biblical authority by teaching evolution as fact “will have much to answer for when Christian educators stand before the Lord one day—and they will be held accountable.”
I thought to myself, Hmm. All my Calvin professors, including those in the religion and biology departments, have claimed that salvation is through faith in Christ. So that seems to suggest that, like you say, they are indeed Christians. But then you seem to imply that Calvin is a phony Christian school and its pro-evolution professors will face eternal judgment and quite possibly damnation.
I didn’t understand it at first, but then I found the key: Your Jan. 24, 2009 entry entitled “Does the Gospel Rise or Fall on the Days of Creation?” laid it all out neatly. Basically, the point is that, even though salvation is through Christ alone, denying the literal truth of the creation story is “undermining the very authority from which they get the message of the gospel.”
It doesn’t matter that millions of faithful Christians worldwide think that it’s perfectly logical to say that the Bible can still be wholly useful, wholly inspired, wholly sufficient and wholly authoritative in matters of spirituality and holy living without every last historical and scientific detail being totally accurate. It doesn’t matter because, obviously, if you accept the possibility that Moses or Luke might have made a few clerical errors and screwed up a detail here and there, than the entire authority of the Bible is ruined.
If you say, “Well, maybe the writer of Genesis was wrong about it being a literal history, but isn’t it great that God inspired him to reveal his truth anyway?” you might as well be saying the trinity is a sham.
And clearly, as soon as we think that the Genesis accounts of creation or Noah or Abraham might “simply” be stories that reveal divine truth about the nature of God and holy living—and not literally, historically true, regardless of whether or not the original writer thought them to be—then we’ve set the stage for ourselves and millions of others to be led astray by crippling doubt. Yeah, sure, Jesus’ primary teaching method involved telling stories that revealed God’s divine nature without being literally true — he called them “parables,” I think. But c’mon, he’s the Son of God. I think we can give him a break here.
Thanks also, Ken, for revealing some things about Calvin College that I hadn’t noticed before. In hindsight, your claim that the guest writer from two weeks ago is broadly representative of the college as a whole makes total sense. Sure, there are hundreds, if not a thousand or two students here who are steadfastly anti-evolution and young-earth believers. And yes, the very next week (a day before your blog changed my life) I did publish a response article from a student who defended you.
But now that you mention it, I often see those pesky religion and biology professors crashing economics, business, math and engineering classes, peddling their heresies while students are trying to learn about partial derivatives.
It’s even worse in the actual biology and religion courses — can you believe these “Christian” compromisers are actually trying to teach their students to be informed and successful practitioners of said disciplines? For shame. I mean, why should students who wish to become biologists have to deal with the theories that 99 percent of biologists accept?
As you note, Calvin College is a big institution, with five times the budget of your entire organization. I guess I hadn’t realized until now that Calvin was using all of its millions and millions of dollars in a blind effort to compromise biblical integrity. At the very least, I thought we had an art gallery or something.
I wish to take a few minutes now, Ken, to share with you the depths of my former ignorance. See, before looking through the Answers in Genesis website, I had always thought that interpretation of the Bible has been dependent on time, place and social context. Ken, you like to talk about how the idea of treating Genesis as allegorical (rather than literal) is a very recent development. Well, I used to think other Biblical ideas—emphasis on personal relationship rather than communal relationship with God, for example—have changed over time.
The worst part of it, Ken, was that I thought that it was okay. In fact, I used to think that one of the most beautiful things about the Bible was not that it could be molded by the whim of society, but that it somehow maintained its authority and sufficiency even as God’s people continued to grow, adapt, change and bring new ideas and experiences to the understanding of God’s word.
How refreshing it is, then, to learn that the one, true, eternally correct way of understanding the Bible is the way that you understand it today, Ken. Augustine, Luther, Calvin—those guys have nothing on the youth pastor from the megachurch down the street.
And if we don’t understand the Bible, history and science in exactly the same fashion that you do, it’s clear what the consequences are: an evil society bereft of morality, and inclined to violence. I’ll just let your August 1999 newsletter speak for itself:
“Just a couple of weeks after the horrible killings at Columbine High School in Colorado, students (including those who saw friends shot in front of their eyes) went back to school and sadly were given the ingredients to make more ‘bombs.’ You see, when millions of students have been told in their classes that there is no God, that man is just an animal, and that death, bloodshed, and violence (similar to what we observe in today’s world) are a natural part of the evolutionary mechanisms that produced man, then let’s be honest about the logical consequences!”
Incidentally, I had also once thought that racism, violence, murder and all kinds of other sins had occurred before Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species,” but I now regard those as lies propagated by the corrupted history teachers at Calvin College. And I’m sure all the sins propagated out of Christian religious fervor—from the brutal crusades to the Ku Klux Klan to the only-recently overturned policy banning interracial dating at Bob Jones University—are either exaggerated due to secular propaganda or perpetrated by people who aren’t “real Christians.”
You are quite right, of course, when you say that “the more the culture believes evolution … the more they reject the Bible.” Two-thirds of young people are leaving the church, while at the same time acceptance of evolutionary theory within Christian circles is on the rise. There is definitely a statistical correlation between the two. And as we all know, correlation implies causation.
It is precisely because these compromisers, these charlatans, are rejecting Biblical inerrancy that we are losing so many of our young believers. It isn’t because non-scientists are using pseudoscience to refute widely accepted and vetted scientific claims. It isn’t because the faith has been improperly used over the centuries to justify wars of conquest, religious and scientific oppression, slavery and racial injustice.
It isn’t because men like Pat Robertson, who speak for millions of American Christians, claim that the Haitian earthquake and Hurricane Katrina were in part God’s retribution on Haitian and American society. It isn’t because evangelical church leaders and movements are becoming increasingly political, polarized and absolutist, alienating younger believers who don’t hold the same views about inerrancy (even as they accept the authority of scripture and necessity of Christ for salvation).
It isn’t because many of those same leaders have misrepresented the faith to the public, so much so that research from the Barna Group indicates that most Americans under age 40 associate evangelical Christians with homophobia and sexism. It isn’t because other church leaders have failed to understand and adapt to the changing needs and understandings of the next generation.
It isn’t because organizations like Answers in Genesis attack other Christians who simply believe that accepting evolution and an old earth doesn’t threaten the Bible’s authority in any way. It isn’t because organizations like Answers in Genesis claim that acceptance of valid, widely accepted scientific claims directly or indirectly contributes to violence, despite no evidence to support such an accusation.
It’s because Calvin College teaches evolution.
So thank you once again, Ken, for enlightening me. I hereby denounce my decision to print the previous article.
And thank goodness for the secular agenda, too. Without it, we’d probably have to blame ourselves.
(Article reference http://www-stu.calvin.edu/chimes/article.php?id=4734)
While the commentary above by the paper’s editor reveals much about Calvin College and I don’t need to elaborate on it, Mark Looy, our staff CCO, asked me if he could add an observation or two and write something about an editor’s responsibility at a newspaper:
When a columnist (even a guest writer) makes an accusation that a particular person like you, Ken, makes “so many lies” (the words used by the student), it is incumbent upon the paper’s editor to tell the journalist that he needs to cite examples of so-called lying. It’s basic journalism; to do otherwise is irresponsible journalism. Now, Mr. Mulder may not have reviewed the column himself before the piece went to print—maybe another editor did. But that does not excuse the paper—much less a Christian one—of accusing someone like you of lying and not giving even one example.
Perhaps some grace should be extended to the staff of a newspaper that is probably largely made up of students (but presumably with a faculty advisor to assist them). Still, by professional journalistic standards, the paper widely missed the mark when it allowed a columnist to say that you lie and yet no editor asked the writer to substantiate such a serious charge.
Mark also notes that it is not surprising that the editor-in-chief supports his guest columnist because the editor was offended by my “State of the Nation” address because, among many things, I took a (biblical) stand against “gay” marriage. (Last year, for example, this Chimes’ editor wrote: “There is a strong minority population at Calvin College—of which, full disclosure, I consider myself a member—that advocates the legitimacy of committed, monogamous gay relationships (including same-sex marriage).”) When a Christian does not believe in the historicity of Genesis and its teaching about marriage being a man and a woman, then we should not be surprised by the writings of this editor. He lashes out against those who accept Genesis as straightforward history, and does not believe Genesis is foundational to all Christian doctrine like marriage—and it’s because he believes in evolution, not Genesis.
On Friday, another Op-Ed (written by someone else) was published by the Chimes, again attacking Answers in Genesis and me personally (e.g., I am called “an excruciatingly poor representative of the Christian faith”). Here is an excerpt of that Op-Ed:
The earth is billions of years old. People evolved from apes. Adam was an early hominid leader whose arrogant actions against God led his entire tribe into sin. Life continues to evolve in thousands of exciting directions, and for that we have a brilliant God to thank. Atheists and young-earth creationists alike: please get over it.
See this entire Op-Ed here.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying—and please share this blog as an email with your pastor, friends, and family.