Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Ken Ham's Comments on SES National Conference on Christian Apologetics Called "Unhelpful"

Ken Ham attacking other Christians?  Gee, who knew?  An article that is running in the Christian Post recounts an exchange between Ham and Southern Evangelical Seminary president emeritus Richard Howe.  The irony is that they are both young-earth creationists.  Michael Gryboski writes:
Ham was part of a dialogue event at the SES National Conference on Christian Apologetics in October, titled "God's Word or Man's Word: From Where Must Apologetics Begin?" He insisted that unwavering belief in God's Word must be the beginning of any apologetics discussion and criticized SES Professor Emeritus Richard Howe for arguing that a defense of the faith can begin with a discussion of natural law.

Ham said in his assessment of the event that Howe "seemed rather weak in his convictions and not very knowledgeable of the biblical and scientific arguments in favor of young-earth creation. And he is very opposed to the way that I, and AiG in general, defend Genesis."

SES President Richard Land, calling the young-earth creationist's comments "unfair and unhelpful," asserted in a statement, "One will be hard pressed to find a more conservative and steadfast seminary dedicated to teaching and defending the foundational doctrines of the historic Christian faith. SES is one of the last bastions of a robust view of biblical inerrancy."
At issue, apparently, is the way in which the Bible is used to determine truth. The suppositional, or classical model supporters argue that one must “marshall” evidence for a position on whether or not the Bible is true. The presuppositional model supporters argue that the Bible is de facto true and that this perspective precedes any understanding or reasoning about the nature of reality. Ham takes the latter position.  Gryboski further writes:
“Compromise positions on Genesis are permeating our seminaries and other Christian institutions. Academics have come up with all sorts of fanciful ways to twist the Scriptures to try to fit in millions of years,” wrote Ham.

Land clarified that all SES trustees, faculty, and staff, which include both young-earth and old-earth creationists, believe the Bible is infallible and inerrant. The issue of the age of the earth — which was not the focus of the conference dialogue — is a matter of interpretation, he noted.

Despite Ham's letter, Land said SES is “committed to furthering this dialogue,” so much so that they have extended an invitation to Ham to participate in a formal debate at next year's conference.
There is a large, unspoken philosophical problem with the presuppositional model in what Ken Ham writes, and it is this: adopting the presuppositional model ‘presupposes’ that you not only have the correct translation of the Bible but that you have correctly interpreted every single passage, down to the last word. A cursory check of the literature, past and present strongly suggests that such a task is beyond that of mortal man. The fact that there were varied interpretations of the the creation account even in the first couple of centuries after the time of Christ drives this home.  1 Corinthians 13:12 admonishes us thus:
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (KJV)
Howe refers to this in his statement:
“We should all remember that our understanding of God's Word never carries the same authority as God's Word itself does. Believers should always approach God's Word with humility and never equate their understanding of God's Word as being as comprehensive or as infallible as God's Word itself is," he stated. "[W]e believe that the question of the age of the earth is a question of what the Bible is saying not what the Bible is.”
And herein lies the heart of Ham's arrogance: in his mind, He has done these things.

Ham believes he has correctly interpreted the bible to the point where he now feels perfectly at home criticizing anyone who does not do so exactly the same way he does. Ancient and current commentaries be hanged. In his mind, they are simply wrong.

There is no humility in this position.  This arrogance allows him to say that other Christians are not Christians and thus, to preach heresy.  Just like the kerfuffle about the Great Home School convention, Peter Enns was, in Ham's mind, completely wrong and needed to be silenced.  This led the organizers to call his actions “unChristian and sinful.”

As Dan Wilkinson wrote, back in 2014, in response to Ham's assertion that people were leaving the church because of evolution:
No, Mr. Ham, no one’s leaving the church because evolution shows that “the Bible could not be trusted.”

Mr. Ham, they’re leaving the church because of people like you: people who fervently create walls, erect barriers, establish rigid rules for what one must believe in order to be a Christian. They’re leaving the church because your version of Christianity has nothing whatsoever to do with right practice, and everything to do with “right” belief. They’re leaving the church because by essentially demonizing everyone who doesn’t agree with you, you’ve made believing in Young Earth Creationism* more important than Jesus’ explicit explicit commandment to love God and neighbor.
With Ken Ham comes all kinds of mischief, controversy, ill-will and self-righteousness.  His actions are the very opposite of “Christ-like.”


  1. The YEC tendency to eat their own alive never ceases to astound me. I don't like to overstate how much the creation/evolution issue may or may not matter to the average Joe, but I think the behavior of YEC proponents is certainly in line with the larger attitudes that are driving people away from the church.

  2. Agreed. As long as Ham continues to lambaste other Christians for not thinking the way he does, it will continue to turn people off. There is nothing like being able to look through a keyhole with both eyes.

  3. Thank you both. And I am glad that the Dan Wilkinson critique excerpted here puts the word "right" of "right belief" in quotes, as Ham's stubbornness has more to do with the rightness of his interpretations of God's Word than with the rightness of that Word itself. No doubt, he fails to see the difference between the two, and that's part of the toxicity I find in his version of Christianity.

  4. I just referred to your post here (under where Ham and also Jay Wile got a mention):