Creationist Ken Ham Uninvited From Two Great Homeschool Conventions

by drbeck on March 25, 2011

Recently a new “Gospel-centered Bible curriculum” was published for parents to use with children. The author of this curriculum began speaking at homeschool events to promote his material, including the Great Homeschool Conventions.

And that’s when the big controversy started…

You see, the author is none other than Peter Enns. Dr. Enns was suspended by Westminster Theological Seminary in 2005 for his book released that year, which denied the inerrancy of the Bible. Enns went on to join with Biologos, which teaches evolution and denies a real, historical Adam. Biologos also teaches that the Biblical authors errred in their writings:

If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, John wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons. – See article here.

Here’s Enns denying Paul had a correct view of Jesus and Adam.

The biggest problem with Enns denial of Adam is that Paul’s theology in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Cor. 15:20-28 depends upon on a historical Adam to make sense to the reader. Enns agrees that Paul clearly believed Adam was a real person. He says “There is really little doubt that Paul understood Adam to be a real person, the first created human from whom all humans descended” (article found here.)

To keep from denying the Christology Paul is teaching in the above verses, Enns has to admit Paul was wrong in believing in a real Adam. Which is where you end up when you deny inerrancy. Jesus also clearly believed in a literal Adam and Eve (see Matt. 19:4, which is a clear reference to Gen. 1:27). Inerrancy itself may not be heretical, but where it leads certainly can be. Without inerrancy, one begins to create their own theology, which Enns is happy to do:

And whatever way forward is chosen, we must be clear on one thing: we have all left “Paul’s Adam.” We are all “creating Adam,” as it were, in an effort to reconcile Scripture and the modern understanding of human origins. – From Enns article here.

Back to Enns promoting his Bible curriculum to homeschoolers. The irony is that most homeschoolers believe in a real Adam and Eve and a literal six-day creation taught in Genesis. I can imagine Enns left out his views on evolution and Adam when speaking at these conventions earlier this year.

But Ken Ham, from Answers in Genesis (AIG), was also a speaker at the same conference. Answers in Genesis often refutes the false teachings of Biologos and Peter Enns, which he continued to do at the recent North Carlina convention.

This week, Ken Ham was uninvited from the next two Great Homeschool Conventions (GHS), the first of which is held next weekend in Cininatti, just down the road from AIG’s headquarters and Creation Museum. The reason given was Ham’s public criticism of other speakers at the convention. Ham reportedly said Enns was a “compromiser” during one of his presentations. Or possible GHS is refering to the blog post he made before going to the convention (see here.)

AIG’s statement about the “uninvitation”, can be found here. AIG reports:

“Ken Ham did mention Peter Enns by name in one of his five talks at an earlier South Carolina convention in Greenville organized by Mr. Dean. Ken showed two video clips of Dr. Enns, done in the context of showing how some modern Christian speakers are compromising God’s Word in Genesis. Ken did say that Dr. Enns was also speaking at the conference and had connections to another convention speaker, Susan Wise Bauer. In another talk about a common Christian viewpoint that compromises Genesis, Ken briefly mentioned that one of the speakers at this convention took that view.”

Other speakers from the convention, like Jay Wile (who has written many science texts for Apologia) have joined in the debate over Ham’s “uninvitation”. Dr. Wile sides with Enns in the matter and feels that Enns is within Christian orthodoxy. When I asked Dr. Wile how Enns can reconcile his views with the fact Jesus and Paul clearly affirmed a historical, Wile replied as follows:

I would disagree with you that Jesus and Paul “clearly” affirm a historical Adam. A symbolic Adam takes no meaning from any of the New Testament. This is why many serious theologians do not believe in a historical Adam.

I then mentioned to Wile the problems with reconciling Enns view of Adam with 1 Cor. 15 and Romans 5. Dr. Wile, claiming to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, stated:

Michael, what Paul believes is irrelevant to the passage. What is important is what God is saying. God is powerful enough to inspire Paul to write the truth, even if Paul believes something that is wrong. If Adam is a symbol, the message of Romans is exactly the same.

This response is illogical. What God is saying is what Paul is writing (assuming doctrine of divine inspiration of Scripture!) What Paul believes is what Paul is writing to the churches. Paul is not speaking prophecy like the OT prophets, who spoke exactly what God told them, and may not have understood the prophecy fully. Paul is writing on the authority of Christ, using Paul’s own mind, with his own background, all of which was providentially brought about by God.

(See Wile’s defense of Enns in the comments on his blog here.)

Being a homeschool parent, this trend of comprising on a Biblical view of creation concerns me. It is subtly making its way into homeschool conventions, textbooks and our children hearts.

It’s interesting this occurred in the same week Rob Bell’s new book on universalism hits shelves. Bell, like Enns, likes to blur the lines and make people question whether we have really interpreted the Bible correctly all these centuries. He questions whether there is even a real place of eternal punishment. Enns denies (and tries to get others to question) whether we can really trust the Bible.

And when certain believers stand up and try to point these false teachings out, they are quickly pounced on by the rest of the flock. After all, what’s wrong with asking the question, “Yea, Hath God Said…?”

Update: Apologia has made an official statement laying out where they stand on the issue. Also, Answer in Genesis (Ken Ham) has announced they stand with Apologia on it’s science curriculum, which you can read here.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica Taubert March 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Good article. It made me feel very sad to read about this. Since when is exposing false teachers being divisive and mean-spirited. I’ve heard people argue that he ought to have gone and talked to Enns privately and personally, but this is a public position, and if he’s already been suspended by Westminster for his false teaching then he has been confronted in the past and refused to change. I could understand if it was not a Christian conference, but as it is then things like inerrancy and Creation should be non-negotiable. I think this will really end up backfiring on the conference. Maybe AIG should start their own TRULY great homeschool conference!

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2 Joe Aguirre March 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I just stumbled upon your blog article and wondered if you are aware of Reasons To Believe (I’m an editor here). We are old-earth creationists who hold to inerrancy, a historical Adam, the authority of Scripture, etc and make no compromise with evolution. Our scholars have engaged with both AiG and BioLogos on numerous occasions. It looks to me like you hold to a young-earth view (what many Christians call a biblical view). A question (among many) to be wrestled with is this: Does a consistent reading of all relevant passages on creation demand a 24-hour day reading of the creation days? Before we answer that question confidently it would be wise to see how others have addressed it.

I would invite you to take a look at our website if you get a chance (www.reasons.org), and thanks for bringing up the issue.

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3 drbeck March 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Hi Joe. I used to hold to the Old-Earth view of creation. But over time I realized it does not hold up to careful exegesis of the Scripture. To get the Old Earth view, one must bring in extra-biblical evidence. I would have to disagree with Dr. Ross on nature being the “67th book” of the Bible.

Either way, I do not think Ken Ham should have been uninvited simply based on his pointing out Dr. Enns holds to evolution and an errant Bible.

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4 Joe Aguirre March 31, 2011 at 10:30 am

Hi, D.R. (sorry, I can’t tell your first name) Beck. Hugh Ross does NOT teach that nature is the 67th book of the Bible. RTB holds the “two books” view, namely that general and special revelation are both reliable since they both emanate from the Creator. However, general revelation does not trump special revelation (as we are mistakenly thought to believe).

There are plenty of conservative scholars who disagree with you that a careful exegesis of the relevant texts (not just Genesis 1-2) leads to a young-earth view. I would love to discuss this issue more with you if you are open but I know the thrust of your post is on Ken Ham getting booted from the conventions. It’s interesting to note that RTB (inerrancy, historical Adam, etc.) has been prevented from attending such conventions for years in the past (either speaking at them or even setting up a booth) and yet Enns (theistic evolution, errancy) has appeared at least at this convention.

Thanks, and I wish you well in your studies.

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5 drbeck March 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Joe, I’m not sure why Enns would be more welcome than RTB. At least two parties who agree on inerrancy can get somewhere. Without that presupposition, disagreements are bound to divide.

Regarding general revelation, do you think the noetic effects of sin on the mind can cause unbelievers to reject extra-biblical evidence, evidence that they would otherwise accept if there were not moral/spiritual implications tied to it?

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6 Joe Aguirre April 1, 2011 at 11:25 am

Yes, as a Reformed guy (speaking for myself, RTB is broadly evangelical, although the scholars would agree on this point about the noetic effects of sin) I’m with you on that one. Romans 1 stuff. However, elsewhere, Psalm 19:1-4, for example, special revelation tells us that general revelation provides reliable information about God. What do we make of it? Do we not pursue general rev? I sure hope that’s not the message we communicate as Christians, but it seems to be.

We need to encourage our young people to study the sciences. In fact, I would argue that you and I both learned (and assumed) general revelation to be true far earlier than learning special revelation. We learned the alphabet, parts of speech, how to put words into sentences, logical thinking, etc., as young children. We learned that there was a world around us that corresponded to our senses. Those things did not arrive to us via special revelation.

I think the caution you’re warning against is “leading with science.” It is well-taken but perhaps overstated in the case of those who don’t know Reasons To Believe. We use scientific discoveries as a bridge for the many (and there are many) who wouldn’t otherwise give the faith a hearing. Why? Because they know that the young-earth view is not credible. They have too much training in the sciences. It’s not that they are hardened against the faith (ala Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, et al.), but that they just can’t accept something that has no credibility. They lump all Christians in the same creationism camp because that’s all they’ve been exposed to. We get letters from these people all the time, saying things like “where’ve you been all my life,” or “at last somebody who can reconcile science and the Christian faith,” often with tears. Again, they aren’t necessarily like the full-of-themselves Dawkins types (yes, as a Reformed Christian I know we’re all God-haters), but people who love learning. When someone comes along and speaks their language, they are often willing to listen.

Modern science was birthed in the cradle of Christian theology several centuries ago under the guiding principle of testability (1 Thess. 5:21). It would be a shame for Christians to abandon it now.

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7 drbeck April 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Yes, general revelation does provide us with reliable information about God. The question is whether the unbeliever — who does not have the Spirit within him and is under the noetic affects of sin — can rightly way this evidence. The Jewish leaders could look to the signs in the sky and use their minds rightly to determine the weather. But when it came to the signs of Christ, their sinful hearts quickly denied the truth.

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8 J. Dean May 3, 2011 at 10:29 am

Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

We are coming to the point in history once more in which true, biblical Christianity is becoming the minority in the church as well as in the world.

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