Reaching Out to ETS

Recently, Steve Ham (senior director of Outreach) and Dr. Terry Mortenson (AiG speaker and researcher) travelled to California to have a booth at the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) annual meeting. Steve sent me the following report:

Dr. Terry Mortenson and I just spent three days at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting, attended by about 2,100 people from all over the world. The three days were filled with theologians representative of many different colleges giving papers on many different areas from biblical and systematic theology, exegesis, evangelism, worship, philosophy, Christian history, etc. Answers in Genesis again had a booth at the conference, and each year Dr. Mortenson gives leadership to a private meeting of young-earth creationist ETS members and helps to organize the “Creation Consultation,” which is four consecutive sessions for the presentation of scholarly papers and interaction between ETS members on all sides of this debate about origins and the correct interpretation of Genesis.

It was great to see how many people were so thrilled with Answers in Genesis having a presence at the conference. A number of professors, pastors, and seminary students came by our booth to tell us how much they enjoy using our materials in their classes or teaching ministries and how the AiG ministry has personally helped them stand strong in the historical foundations of our faith as found in Genesis. In saying that, it is also fair to note that we received some criticisms as well. Even then, some of the men who had negative things to say also had to admit that they had not properly considered the materials that defend the credibility of a literal historical narrative in the first chapters of Genesis. It was truly pleasing to see some of these men agree to get a copy of some of our materials, particularly including Coming to Grips with Genesis (coedited by Dr. Mortenson) and Dr. Andrew Snelling’s two-volume work, Earth’s Catastrophic Past. We may never know how these materials will help some of these people who are teaching the next generation of pastors, missionaries, and Bible scholars. We need to be praying about this.

As I first thumbed through the program of 350 papers being delivered, I witnessed a “who’s who” of popular Christian authors and academics. The exhibitors’ hall was filled with publishers selling the materials of these authors and a host of other materials intended to help Christians search through the Scriptures. It was then that I realized something. With all the books and authorship and academic representation involved, there is only one Book and one truth that brings me true wisdom. It would appear to me that many of the men at this conference would agree with that statement. But there would be many who would add to it by saying that we cannot understand that book without these scholars’ background understanding of whatever their own academic pursuit had led them to. In other words, I saw a danger in an academic thinking that leads to the Bible being out of reach for the common man. I was instantly reminded to be a Berean (Acts 17:11).

The highlight for me was the keynote lecture by this year’s president of ETS at the Presidential Banquet. It was refreshing to hear this very sentiment echoed. The speaker was analyzing the background of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. With his digging into the history of Jewish angel worship referred to by Paul in Colossians 2:18, there were some great statements made of the hard-hitting relevance of the sufficiency of Jesus that Paul writes about. Even in this in-depth analysis, the speaker reminded everyone that if we had no ability to search out any of the historical background to Paul’s statement, not one aspect of the doctrines in this letter would be harmed. The text of Scripture is for all to read and understand with clarity, and this does not exclude our ability to dig to the deepest depths of truth with fervent application in study.

I walked away refreshed. I am not a PhD theologian, and I was not one presenting a life’s work of research in my area of expertise. But I am one who has my very own copy of the Bible, and I know what it is. Jude 3 says, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” We have all been given an established propositional objective body of truth, handed down faithfully through the centuries and not built by human minds but breathed out by God. This is the faith that has once and for all been delivered to all, with the central tenant of truth in Jesus Christ. There is only one ultimate source of truth (God) just as there is only one Jesus Christ (who Himself is God), and His truth is specially revealed to humanity from Genesis through to Revelation.

No matter how much scholarship or human admiration any man receives, Christ’s truth (the Bible) remains the infallible, inerrant truth and the standard by which all truth claims should be judged. The ETS was a good and valuable exercise, but as I see it, only if every scholar first agrees to this major tenet. There is one source of absolute truth and one Lord, and in comparison, all men are finite and frail—and ultimately in comparison, ignorant and foolish. Therefore, the Scriptures must be our final authority over all the words of men.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken