What Does This Nazarene U. Professor Believe?

Randall J. Stephens teaches history at Eastern Nazarene College. He is the author of The Fire Spreads: The Origins of Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South (2008) and coauthor of The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (with Karl Giberson; Harvard, 2011).

Stephens and Giberson (a former Nazarene university professor) coauthored a commentary that appeared on the Religion Dispatches website. It’s a piece on what the authors call the “conservative Christian counterculture.” They basically say that the reason people vote for conservative politicians—who may reject evolution or not accept “gay” marriage—is because they are anti-intellectual. The authors then  point to organizations like Answers in Genesis as one of the reasons there are so many people who are anti-science and thus anti-intellectual.

Actually, one of the main reasons for the appearance of this article is  to push their new book that takes many what I would call “cheap shots” at AiG and me. In this new web article, the authors continue to take many cheap shots—it seems they are becoming even more nasty in their attacks. I know they want to sell their book, and I’m sure they have become more aggressive in their attacks against us to to bait AiG into responding and gaining publicity.

At first, I was reluctant to respond to their article, as they stoop to such low levels in their tirade against us. But I believed I should respond for the reason of warning the Nazarene church about what this professor believes—and also to warn other Christians that they need to be checking out what is going on at their denomination’s colleges. I also urge you to obtain our book Already Compromised—it is a real eye-opener into what is being taught in Christian colleges in the USA. You can get it in print or digital form at these two links:

  1. Print version of Already Compromised
  2. Digital Download of Already Compromised

After reading the article, I have come to many conclusions about what Stephens and his coauthor are stating. I hope every Nazarene understands what this Nazarene professor believes—and therefore we assume his beliefs are being transmitted to the students he teaches and influences:

  1. Biological evolution is fact.
  2. If you don’t believe in biological evolution, you are anti-knowledge, anti-intellectual, and anti-science.
  3. Secularists should be believed over the Bible.
  4. The Bible is not God-breathed.
  5. “Gay” marriage and homosexual behavior are natural and should not be spoken against.
  6. Anyone who believes in six literal days of creation and a young earth is anti-intellectual.
  7. Francis Schaeffer was not a scholar, and his biblical worldview was wrong.
  8. Absolute Christian morality based on the Bible is wrong.

I have reprinted excerpts from their article below.

Perhaps such a university, in the name of fairness, would include paleontology courses taught by someone who believed that dinosaurs were contemporary with humans and that fossils unearthed today are of animals drowned in Noah’s flood.

Could such a university be accredited? The short answer is yes. A handful of fundamentalist colleges and universities across the country incorporate such views into their science curriculum. Knowledge denial, though, can easily finds [sic] other, more subtle ways to reach willing audiences, and even creep into the classrooms of credible universities. …

There is, of course, no such controversy in the scientific community. …

Anti-intellectualism is deeply rooted in American evangelicalism, reaching even into the classrooms of popular schools, like Cedarville University and Liberty University (the largest evangelical university in the world), where students are taught that the earth is 10,000 years old. Millions of evangelical youth grow up hearing that there is a real debate when it comes to human origins. They also come to learn that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle choice that can be repaired with prayer. They are taught that secular historians are suppressing the vision of the Founding Fathers and that America was supposed to be a Christian nation.

Controversies that should have died decades and even centuries ago are kept alive by organizations invested in the answers of yesteryear, often because those old answers, say stalwarts, came from the Bible and are believed to have been laid down by God. These answers informed the thinking of a long-gone society that, through the rose-tinted glasses of those nostalgic for a better time, looks moral, family-oriented, and respectful of God’s laws in ways that the present age is not. …

Ken Ham’s Answers-in-Genesis project is dedicated to the proposition that God wrote the Bible himself and that all knowledge needs to be based on a simple literal reading of that ancient book. As the organization’s name suggests, the book of Genesis is filled with “answers” that God provides to many important questions: How old is the earth? What is the proper relationship of males and females? What is marriage? Why were animals created? Why are there so many languages? Where did humanity originate? Why do people behave the way they do? …

Answers in Genesis argues that starting assumptions, rather than data and theories, determines whether a researcher believes the earth is six thousand or four-and-a-half billion years old. Who can be sure, anyway? Ham encourages students to ask their teachers “Were you there?” when those teachers suggest that the earth is very old, or that dinosaurs predated humans. As Ham would say, God, of course, was there and told Moses what happened “in the beginning.” That’s the “answer.” Professionally constructed dioramas in Ham’s Creation Museum show dinosaurs looking over Eve’s shoulder.

Similar knowledge denial occurs on questions of gender roles and human sexuality. Organizations like James Dobson’s Focus on the Family claim that homosexuality is an inherently perverse and sinful life choice that can be reversed. …

The American Psychological Association has stated definitively that “homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable.” The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with numerous other professional organizations, have adopted similar stances. …

A number of thoughtful evangelicals are alarmed at the surging anti-intellectualism within their ranks. And there are many academic historians, geneticists, psychologists, and other intellectuals within the Christian tradition who do not deny the knowledge claims of their respective fields. Such believers, however, are viewed with suspicion if they do not speak the language of biblical inerrancy, anti-evolution, and conservative politics embraced by other Christians.

Take Francis Collins, for example, one of America’s most well-known scientists and an enthusiastic evangelical Christian. Despite having directed the Human Genome Project and ascended to the head of the National Institutes of Health, Collins’ credentials mean absolutely nothing to millions of evangelicals, who prefer to get their science from Ken Ham, who has no stature of any sort in the scientific community. …

Biblicist watchdog Georgia Purdom [of Answers in Genesis, who used to teach at a Nazarene university] recently summed up this Bible-centric approach in a review (or indictment) of our book. She explains that her organization valiantly goes “against the grain of the secular academic establishment while we stand on the authority and trustworthiness of God’s Word from the very first verse (as opposed to word of finite, fallible man). …

Meanwhile, the turnstiles at Ken Ham’s creation museum turn briskly.*

The authors are obviously upset that so many people are visiting (and keep on coming) to the Creation Museum.  They want people to reject the Bible as they do instead of believing God’s Word as we all should.

Let me highlight a quote that really sums up a good part of the article:

Controversies that should have died decades and even centuries ago are kept alive by organizations invested in the answers of yesteryear, often because those old answers, say stalwarts, came from the Bible and are believed to have been laid down by God.

Giberson and Stephens have now declared they believe God’s Word, written “yesteryear,” consists of “old answers” that are not from God!

No, God’s Word is for all people for all time. It stands for eternity.

“Now, O LORD God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said.” (2 Samuel 7:25)

Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations. (1 Chronicles 16:15)

“And now, O LORD, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, let it be established forever, and do as You have said.” (1 Chronicles 17:23)

He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations. (Psalms 105:8)

Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. (Psalms 119:89)

The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (Psalms 119:160)

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, But the word of the LORD endures forever. (1 Peter 1:23)

Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:25)

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken

*http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/5781/conservative_christianity_and_its_discontents