Day one of the Answers for Pastors Seminar. Very, very good!
We got to the church where the seminar is being held WAY early. Planned a 30 minute commute from the motel, and it turned out to be 8! Even though there was a lot of rush-hour style traffic, it turns out that we tended to get onto each freeway into the lane that exits next, so we just kind of shot past everyone else.
First up was Ken Ham, who talked about the importance of reading the Bible, including the first 11 chapters of Genesis, the way that God wrote them. He actually wrote them as history, to be read the way that any other history is read. There are so many grammatical and literary markers that point this out. Each of the six days of creation is designed to be read as a literal 24-hour day. No matter what problems we may have with that because of what we believe that science has “proven” doesn’t change the fact that that’s what the word for day means in that particular context. In addition, Moses and Jesus (as well as several of the New Testament writers) believed that each day was a literal 24-hour day. If we give up this ground by discounting the Word of God and put in its place the philosophies of man, we are just as bad as the Israelites who turned away from God’s promise to help them to take the land, and instead listened to most of the spies who told them that it couldn’t be done. When all is said and done, I would rather be in the minority like Caleb and Joshua (who got to go into the land and receive a share of it later) than to be in the majority like the other 10 spies, who died on the spot, and who ended up misleading the whole people so that they all ended up dying in the desert!
Next we heard from Dr. John Whitcomb, the co-author of the first real “creationist” book, “The Genesis Flood.” He is an amazing speaker. He talked about the flood and about the final judgment. One of the things that he said that really stuck with me is that, in doing His work through us, God won’t do the parts that we can do; he will leave those for us, and tell us what to do. But in those areas that we can’t do the work, He will do it. In the flood, for example, He gave Noah instructions to do the building of the boat, because that was something that Noah could accomplish, even if it did take many years. But Noah didn’t have the wherewithal to go out and get two of every kind of animal, so God sent the animals that He selected to Noah (Genesis 6:20). Jesus did the same thing in the raising of Lazarus (John 11). He gave instructions to roll the stone away from the tomb, because the people could do that part. After Lazarus was raised, He told the people to help him out of his grave clothes, because they could do that part. The only part that Jesus did Himself was the one thing the people couldn’t do, and that was raising Lazarus from the dead by calling his name.
After Lunch, Sharla and I were split up into the pastor’s group and the pastors wives group. The pastors heard from Dr. Dave Menton, who talked about what to do with the whole Intelligent Design Movement that states that there must be a designer of the complex structures in living organisms, but steadfastly refuses to name the Designer. They will tell you that it could be an extraterrestrial, or a universal force (and they wouldn’t even close the door to the idea that it was one of the ancient Greek gods!). Dr. Menton’s point is that Intelligent Design is unnecessary. He is an anatomist who trains doctors in anatomy. He has dissected many many corpses and knows how our bodies work from the womb to the grave. He was asked if there were any structures in the human body that look like they were intentionally designed, and his answer was, “DUH!” EVERY structure has the marks of intentional design all over them. And he believes the Bible that tells us that God Himself is the designer of all life.
Next, Dr. Tommy Mitchell talked about what the Bible says about tragedy. He has gone through quite a bit of tragedy in his own life and, as a doctor, has had to deliver bad news to patients and their family members a lot. The thing is, all of the questions about why God allows bad things to happen can be summed up in one word: Sin. Sin, all the way from the very first sin of Adam down to the sins of ourselves and our neighbors, add up to a broken world that is very different from the created world that God said was “very good.” And in this broken world, disease and death and suffering are a natural consequence of that brokenness. And sometimes nice people are hurt by the sinfulness of those around them, such as when someone decides to rob them at gunpoint or to drink and drive. But the answer to all this suffering is not to get angry at God for the brokenness that marred God’s plan for the world, but to be part of the solution by becoming one of God’s people, and helping many others to do the same. I myself have experienced the peace in the midst of tragedy that comes from the understanding that the evil in our world is not God’s fault; that, instead, He has sacrificed His only Son to bring us peace in the midst of everything that can go wrong; and that ultimately, He will set all things right.
While I was in these two meetings, Sharla was in sessions with Dr. Georgia Purdom, who talked about biblical womanhood and answers that give hope in times of tragedy. She said that these were both REALLY good sessions. You’ll have to hear the details from her.
After dinner, we heard from Ken Ham again, this time on how to impact today’s culture. He stressed that the best way to have a positive effect is to stick to our guns and not become like our culture. That’s what the Israelites did, and it got them taken away into Assyria. Then Judah did it and got taken away to Babylonia. Instead, we need to stick with a clear biblical worldview in every area of our lives, and not try to separate our lives into “spiritual stuff” that we learn about from the Bible, and “real stuff” like history and astronomy and geology, that we go to secular sources to learn about. When we do that, we start losing our young people in droves. The latest Barna survey shows that 2/3 of churched children say that they will stop attending church as soon as they are able! And the biggest reason that they cite is that people in the church say that they believe the Bible, but then they say that the creation history isn’t really true – doesn’t have to be taken literally; and the same with Noah’s flood. The kids then decide that since these things aren’t true, then the rest of the Bible (including the stuff about Jesus) probably isn’t either. So they turn away from the Bible and toward the secular education system to learn “the truth”!
Dr. Whitcomb came back and talked about the fossil record, how it was formed, and what it means for us. It’s amazing to see the difference between the secular model of fossil formation and the Biblical model. The secular model has dead things laying around for years while they get slowly buried by dust and volcanic ash and river sediment, repeated over millions of years. The Biblical model has nearly all of the fossils being formed during the Great Flood of Noah. A global flood would be absolutely able to lay down the thousands of feet of sediment in a year, instantly burying aquatic and land animals, keeping them from rotting, and then infiltrating their bodies with minerals to fossilize them. There is abundant evidence that this kind of thing is very likely, especially shown in the Mt. St. Helens eruption (which was pretty small scale, compared to the global flood and all of the volcanic eruptions that were going on at that time). Scientists watched as 1000 feet of sediment layers, thousands and thousands of layers, were laid down in a few hours, and then as a canyon was cut through those layers by rapidly flowing water in a few hours. A canyon was cut by that same water through solid rock in just 3 or 4 days! So we can see in miniature there what was likely to have happened during and after the flood.
The last speaker of the day was Don Landis, the chairman of the Board for Answers in Genesis. His basic thrust was that if we put Adam at the end of millions of years of death and suffering as evolution would have it, then the biblical statement that the sin of Adam brought death into the world is false. It would also make the death of Jesus unnecessary, and the promise of eternal life futile, because if death wasn’t caused by sin, then forgiveness of sin can’t do anything about death. Very interesting.
There is one other pastor from our district here, Guy Cooksey from Myrtle Creek. We had lunch with him and his delegation.
There are not pictures for today, just because it wasn’t that kind of day. Should have some tomorrow. We’re both very tired, and have to be up early, so we’re headed to bed!
Good night and God bless.