Monday, September 01, 2014

Combating anti-creationism with better screening and cheaper seminary training

I have long believed that those holding to old-Earth creationism or theistic evolution do so out of intellectual laziness. It's much easier to interpret scripture in light of the conclusions drawn by atheist scientists. We Christians are simple folk. We can't possibly be considered competent when it comes to complicated issues like figuring out the age of the earth. I mean, taking the Bible at face value? Who does that anymore?

Unfortunately, many of us have abandoned sound, critical, biblical reasoning when it comes to science. We have bought into the lie that science and religion don't mix. The Word of God, which should be the lens through which we see all of creation, is now the object of study through a naturalistic lens. As a result, the literal six days of creation in the book of Genesis are reduced to mere literary devices used to describe what couldn't possibly have been understood by primitive minds. This is know as the "framework hypothesis."

Gary North describes how the framework hypothesis has infected Presbyterianism. The solution? Better screening and more accessible seminary training:
The framework hypothesis offers seminary graduates a way to wiggle out of the textual trap of Genesis 1. But there is no wiggle room in the chronology of Genesis 11. If Presbyterian ruling elders wanted to screen out the frameworkers, they could use the chronology of the flood to serve as a substitute for Genesis 1. They could grill them in their presbytery examinations. Those candidates who see what Genesis 11 will do to their academic self-image could then become Methodists or Episcopalians.

It is time for presbyteries to set up their own online seminaries, give the training away for free on YouTube and, and bring candidates under real care of regional presbyteries. Young men would not have to go into debt. Older men could do this on a part-time basis after work. There would be far more candidates for the ministry. The range of talents would be wider.

In 1811, American presbyteries began to surrender to the newly invented theological seminary (Princeton) the spiritual authority to monitor the progress of candidates for the ministry. The Calvinist Congregationalists had invented the first seminary in 1808 — Andover — because Harvard had publicly gone Unitarian in 1805. But they still required their young men to graduate from Harvard or Yale, and then study three more years. This dramatically reduced the supply of Calvinists for Congregational pulpits, and by 1860, the Unitarians had taken over Congregationalism. They had the votes.

This was replicated by Presbyterianism. The liberals took over all but Princeton Seminary by 1900, and by 1926 were in control of the Presbyterian Church, USA. In 1936, they de-frocked nine Calvinist pastors for resisting — out of 10,000 ministers.

Lesson: the faction that sets policy for the seminaries will take over the denomination within 50 years. It has to do with screening.

It is time for presbyteries to reassert their authority to train pastors — where Presbyterian law has always officially lodged this authority. Internet technology makes this possible. Cheap.

If Salman Khan can teach 10,000,000 students every month for free, then a presbytery can do the same for maybe 10 to 15 students. Trust me. It really can. The presbyteries can farm out some courses across presbyterial boundaries. The Internet is in the cloud. It's great for heavenly material.
Creationism should not be dismissed as a peripheral issue. While a thorough scientific understanding of Genesis 1 isn't on par with faith and repentance, it remains a vital part of our theology.

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