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Ken Ham's Assensus in Genesis

A few weeks ago I wrote about theologian Marcus Borg's classification of four types of faith. One of these types, assensus, is a faith of the intellect only. It involves believing something to be true in the absence of evidence. The next two—fidelitas and fiducia—involve actions of the will. These can be summed up by the English words "faithfulness" and "trust", respectively. The last one, visio, is best understood as a new way of seeing. It involves a transformation of the whole person.

But some people still prefer assensus. An example is the young-earth creationist organization, Answers in Genesis (AiG). AiG's website makes it clear that its members' faith is rooted in believing a certain proposition to be true, namely, that the earth is only 6000 years old.

In The Burden of Standing for God’s Word AiG founder Ken Ham states:

But even with all these challenges, there is one thing I really dislike about being in this ministry! I hate it when we have to publicly oppose, debate, and challenge Christians who, while they might believe the gospel (and would even say they believe in biblical inerrancy), compromise God’s Word in Genesis. That is what I’m most saddened and stressed about.

I hate it when the world sees this contention among believers. But at the same time, it’s very important for Christians and non-Christians to see us boldly and unashamedly standing on the authority of God’s Word from the very first verse.

Ham sees himself as a modern-day equivalent to the prophets of ancient Israel.

This compromise is really no different from what the prophets dealt with as recorded in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and others, as we read about leaders who compromised God’s Word with man’s fallible beliefs. That’s why, as much as I hate it, it’s so important for us at AiG to do all we can to passionately reach out to these leaders.

Ham's fellow AiG "prophets" Avery Foley, Dan Hicks, and Bodie Hodge make similar claims.

But if Ham and his crew would step out of Genesis for a moment and actually read the prophets, they would see a focus that wasn't assensus. On the contrary, the prophets are very critical of a faith whose roots went no deeper than saying the right words.

The Lord said:
Because these people draw near with their mouths
    and honor me with their lips,
    while their hearts are far from me,
and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote;
so I will again do
    amazing things with this people,
    shocking and amazing.
The wisdom of their wise shall perish,
    and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden.

- Isaiah 29:13-14

Hosea is not interested in debating his fellow Jews about the number of years since creation, or how many days it took to make the world. Rather, he is concerned about his people's actions, which, as he sees it, are a result of their lack of fidelitas.

Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel;
    for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or loyalty,
    and no knowledge of God in the land.
Swearing, lying, and murder,
    and stealing and adultery break out;
    bloodshed follows bloodshed.

- Hosea 4:1-2

Jeremiah has harsh words for those who sow dissention among the people. Ken Ham may want to rethink his strategy of challenging and debating everyone with whom he disagrees.

Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
    it speaks deceit through the mouth.
They all speak friendly words to their neighbors,
    but inwardly are planning to lay an ambush.
Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord;
    and shall I not bring retribution
    on a nation such as this?

Jeremiah 9:8-9

Amos lists his people's sins in detail, and none of them involve the genre of Genesis.

Thus says the Lord:
For three transgressions of Israel,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;
because they sell the righteous for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals—
they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth,
    and push the afflicted out of the way;
father and son go in to the same girl,
    so that my holy name is profaned;
they lay themselves down beside every altar
    on garments taken in pledge;
and in the house of their God they drink
    wine bought with fines they imposed.

- Amos 2:6-8

And whereas Ken Ham might dream of a future day when every opposing viewpoint has been argued into submission, the prophets imagined something much greater.

In days to come
    the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
    and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
    and many nations shall come and say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
    and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
    and no one shall make them afraid;
    for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

- Micah 4:1-4

This is a visio fatih. If we were given the options of making this future a reality, or having debates about the meaing of the word "day", would it really be that hard to choose?

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