CREATION MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL AND THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER: WHY THE MONSTER WINS

CREATION MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL AND THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER: WHY THE MONSTER WINS

© 2015, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.


NOTE: This is a companion article to our article “THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER AND THE EVANGELICAL BETRAYAL OF THE BIBLE: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied against the Trustworthiness of the Bible


Introduction

In our article “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied against the Trustworthiness of the Bible,”[1] we showed how for the last several centuries, and especially since the start of The Enlightenment, the credibility of the Bible has been under a severe and sustained attack by liberal scholars, philosophers, and skeptics who hold to naturalism.  There were (and are) three main weapons deployed in this attack:

  • Historical Criticism – the study of who wrote the Bible and when and how
  • Textual Criticism – the comparison of the extant manuscripts of the Bible to determine the text of the original autographs
  • Darwinism – the theory that all life on earth descended from an original simple ancestor through natural selection acting on random variation

Unlike Darwinism, historical criticism and textual criticism are not intrinsically opposed to the trustworthiness of the Bible, and that makes them a more subtle foe.  The problem with these is the liberal paradigm assumptions that have been incorporated into these fields; these are designed to undermine both the historical reliability of the case for Christ and Biblical inerrancy.  These liberal paradigm assumptions include late dating of the Gospel books, extreme late dating of the Gospel According to John, literary dependence, Markan priority, the Q hypothesis, and the superiority of the Griesbachian/Westcott Hort Greek text of the New Testament.[2]

Due to the initial dominance of Biblical scholarship by liberal rationalists, these paradigm assumptions have become scholarly orthodoxy and are now accepted with little or no question by most evangelical scholars and, through them, by most popular-level evangelical apologists.  Externally, clever opponents of the cause of Christ are effectively wielding these assumptions to undermine the trustworthiness of the NT,[3] and internally belief in Biblical inerrancy is disintegrating.[4]

As discussed in our companion article, it is crucial for evangelicals to oppose every head of the three-headed monster; to stop only one head while allowing the others to wreak havoc upon the Bible is futile.  Unfortunately, there are few if any apologetics ministries that are effectively opposing all three heads.

It would, of course, be fine if a ministry chose only one head to oppose and dealt only with that one head and did so capably.  In practice, however, that very rarely happens.  Most of them deal with more than one head, and even single-focus ministries often wander outside their own focus.  What happens in almost every case is that, while the ministry may do an excellent job opposing one head, they stumble in the other heads, teaching and endorsing the liberal paradigm assumptions associated with them.[5]  And so trust in the Bible continues to decline.

In this article, we will examine the teachings of the well known evangelical apologetics ministry Creation Ministries International (CMI), which focuses on the creation/evolution debate.  They reject Darwinism in all its forms and hold to a young earth of approximately 6,000 years old.  They describe their mission thus:

To support the effective proclamation of the Gospel by providing credible answers that affirm the reliability of the Bible, in particular its Genesis history.[6]

They hold to Biblical inerrancy, saying,

The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs.[7]

CMI’s core focus and core competency is scientific creationism, i.e. refuting the putative arguments from science for the theory of evolution and for a 4.6-billion year-old earth, as well as providing positive scientific evidence to support the fact that the world was designed and that it is of young age.  The majority of CMI’s staff have academic credentials in fields of science, and most of their material on scientific creationism is excellent.

When it comes to the other heads of three-headed monster, however, it is another matter entirely.  They address the issues of historical criticism and textual criticism not infrequently, and when they do, far too often their material is toxic, as we shall see.

CMI on Historical Criticism

Regarding historical critical matters, CMI repeatedly endorses the late dating of the Gospel books.  Their Information Officer Lita Cosner, for example, claims that

The accounts in the Gospels are neither the only nor the earliest evidence we have of Christian writing about the Resurrection. That honor goes to 1 Thessalonians; one of the earliest of Paul’s letters … which was written around AD 50. So we have evidence that about two decades after Christ’s death, there was a group of people who insisted He was raised from the dead, and had built a decent portion of their theology around that fact, which doesn’t happen overnight. But the Gospel accounts … [were] penned decades after the events they describe[8]

Quelle surprise; we see the nonsense about the Gospel books being written decades after the fact (they were “penned from AD 55–85,” she tells us, and naturally they “go back to early oral tradition”).[9]  The picture that results from Miss Cosner’s blithe comment quoted above is that the earliest evidence we have for the resurrection of Jesus is that a group of people who were not eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus, living in a city in the Hellenic world “about two decades after Christ’s death,” believed (sorry, “insisted”) that Jesus was raised from the dead, because they had been told that by another man who was himself not an eyewitness of the risen Jesus.

Miss Cosner repeats these claims in another article[10] in which she avers that “Paul’s earliest epistles … probably predate all the Gospel accounts,” “The Gospels are usually dated to several decades after the Ascension of Christ,” “We can trust the Gospels, even knowing that they were produced decades after the events they record,” and, just in case you missed it, “the Gospels were written decades later than the events.”  Her attempts to justify these dates, however, do not hold water.[11]

She begins by mentioning the testimony of the Church fathers, saying that “it serves as a valuable starting point when we are looking for information about the Gospels’ authors and dates,” but then she seems to downplay this testimony immediately by telling us that

Their testimony is not infallible (especially when, as in the case of the tradition about Mark, the tradition is recorded over a century after the Gospel was written).[12]

This statement is gratuitous, since no one, let alone any evangelical, ever thought to view the Patristic testimony as “infallible.

What it is, however, is extremely valuable historical information, since some of these Church Fathers had very close connections with the apostles themselves.  Papias (AD 60-130), for example, who wrote around the turn of the 1st/2nd century, made it a practice to seek out and interview anyone who had talked directly with any apostle or Gospel writer, and knew the apostle John himself.[13]  Irenaeus (AD 120-202) was a student of Polycarp, who had been a student of the apostle John.[14]

What this means is that by the standards of ancient historiography, the testimony of the early church Fathers is golden.  Naturally, liberal scholars want to downplay it dramatically.[15]  For her part, Miss Cosner allows that this testimony “shouldn’t be dismissed lightly,” but dismissing it lightly is exactly what she seems to do, for it plays no discernible part in her analysis of the dates of the Gospel book.  Had she examined this testimony carefully, as Wenham has done,[16] she would have realized that the Gospel books originated far earlier than the dates she champions.

Unfortunately, the opinions of 20th century scholars seem to carry far more weight with Miss Cosner than does the testimony of people who knew the apostles personally for, by her own account, the authority for her claim that “the four canonical Gospels [were] (penned from AD 55–85)” is “Robert Guelich, Mark 1–8:26. Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1989), p. xxxii and D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John. The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), p. 86”.[17]

The absurdity of this approach is surfaced when Miss Cosner attempts to reason her way to the dates of the Gospel books.  She writes,

There are also clues hidden in the text itself that can be used to date it. For instance, when we see a prediction in Matthew that the Temple will be destroyed (Matthew 24:1-2), with no mention of that prophecy’s fulfilment, this can be taken as evidence that the document was written before the Temple was destroyed.[18]

Clearly, Miss Cosner believes that Jesus was capable of making predictive prophecies, and that He had made one here about the destruction of the temple that had not yet come to pass at the time that Matthew (and Mark) had written their Gospel books, and on that basis she implies that the Synoptic Gospel books predate AD 70.  Yet she bases her late-dating of these Gospel books on the say-so of Guelich, who in the very reference cited by Miss Cosner argues that Mark must be late-dated because it includes a prophecy of the destruction of the temple, and implies that Jesus could not genuinely have foretold the future![19]  The inconsistency here should be obvious.

Now, Miss Cosner does not only rely on Guelich; as we have said, she makes her own attempt to reason out the dates of the synoptic Gospel books.  She appeals to “conspicuous absences” i.e., events that are mentioned in the books that are so significant that they should have been mentioned had they already happened, such as the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 “or when we see Acts end with the imprisonment of Paul in Rome with no comment about the outcome of the imprisonment, we can assume that Acts was completed after Paul was arrested but before he was martyred ( AD 64), and extrapolate back to an even earlier date for the Gospel of Luke (who wrote Acts as a sequel).[20]  However, as Miss Cosner admits, “All this evidence puts an upper limit on the date (terminus ad quem)[21] of the Gospel books, the upper limit being AD 70, which means they were written between AD 33 and AD 70.  That is correct, but there is no justification given by her for opting for the latter part of that range, nor is there any justification for doing so.

Miss Cosner is not the only CMI functionary who shows some confusion on the matter of the dating of the Gospel books.  An article entitled “Should we trust the Bible?”[22] by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati starts well, as Sarfati writes,

There are cogent arguments by J.A.T. Robinson (1919–1983), who was a liberal and Bishop of Woolwich, for redating the gospels to between AD 40 and 65.

Yet Sarfati goes on in the article to assert that

Paul wrote even earlier: the summary of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 was written in c. AD 55.

If he believes that Paul’s writings from AD 55 were “even earlier” than the Gospel books, then he has apparently rejected Robinson’s “cogent arguments.”  He has not explained why he has done so.[23]

Next, Miss Cosner hastens to assure us that dating the Gospel books “to several decades after the Ascension of Christ” is not problematic because

four different written accounts of a fairly obscure individual (by the standards of that day) within several decades of His life that agree in the major details (and allegedly conflicting accounts are never mutually exclusive) regarding His life and teachings is astounding evidence that lends credibility to what they wrote … That the Gospels were written decades later than the events does not devalue them as historical accounts; indeed, for ancient history, the Gospels were written surprisingly quickly … As CMI has pointed out before (The Nativity: Fact or Fiction?), the Gospel reports compare extremely favorably with other famous historical events that historians have no trouble accepting.[24]

What Miss Cosner thinks this proves is hard to see.  The Gospel books are supposed to be accounts of the Son of God and Saviour of the world; they cannot be compared to accounts about “fairly obscure individuals” whose biographers had only academic interest in their subjects.  Nor would it affect our lives in any way if accounts of “Hannibal (247–183 BC) crossing the Alps in 218 BC[25] or of “Julius Caesar (100–44 BC) crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC without disbanding his army[26] turned out to be erroneous or even entirely fictional, whereas if the accounts about Jesus are wrong, it affects everything.  So the skeptic will certainly find it a cause for questioning if none of Jesus’ followers bothered to write the Gospels until decades after His ministry; this certainly could be seen as highly problematic.

Nor does it help to argue, as Miss Cosner then does, that “We can trust the Gospels, even knowing that they were produced decades after the events they record, because they were written by eyewitnesses … or by people who were writing the testimony of eyewitnesses,[27] for the skeptic reasonably will ask why you should trust the Patristic evidence about Gospel authorship if you do not trust it regarding Gospel dating.  Even though the testimony about authorship is far more extensive, the cavalier dismissal of the testimony about dating in favour of the bald assertions of 20th century scholars such as Robert Guelich does tend to knock the value of all Patristic testimony into a cocked hat.

Regarding the date of the Gospel According to John, Miss Cosner presents us with another head-scratcher.  First, she avows that

dating John is a bit trickier because it doesn’t have as much of a link to the other Gospels (the Synoptics).[28]

This is a strange statement, inasmuch as, unless one holds to literary dependence among the Synoptic Gospel books – and, indeed, to a particular scheme of literary dependence – this is pointless; the Patristic evidence is clear that the order in which the Gospel books were written is Matthew, then Mark, then Luke, and lastly John.

Now, while Miss Cosner doesn’t tell us what date she favours for the composition of the Gospel According to John, we can deduce it is AD 85, since John’s was the last one written and she has already told us that she believes the four canonical Gospel books were “penned from AD 55-85.”  What is particularly puzzling is that one line of evidence she adduces regarding the late dating of the Gospel According to John is quoted from Carson and Moo, who opine that

Probably the inference to be drawn from [John] 21:19 is that Peter had by his death glorified God when chapter 21 was composed. Peter died in AD 64 or 65; dates earlier than that for the composition of the fourth Gospel seem unlikely.[29]

Now, John 21:18-19a reads,

“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”  This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God.

So this is a predictive prophecy by Jesus about the death of Peter.  If Jesus could actually foretell the future so that a prophecy recorded in a Gospel book need not have been fulfilled prior to the writing of the book, as Miss Cosner holds in the matter of the prophecy of destruction of the temple, on what possible basis does she concur that this prophecy in John 21:19 implies that Peter must have died by this time?  Especially in view of the fact that the same Miss Cosner already told us that in regard to Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of the temple,

Matthew so often cited a fulfilled prophecy that it would be an uncharacteristic omission [not to mention that the temple had been destroyed if it had in fact already been destroyed]. If Jerusalem had fallen when Matthew wrote, there would surely have been something like “and it came to pass as Jesus foretold”.[30]

These prophecies of which Miss Cosner speaks were all from the OT.  John, it should be noted, also cited fulfilled OT prophecies and he, alone among the Gospel writers, also cited the fulfillment of Jesus’ own prophecies as well (John 18:9, 18:32).  So if His prophecy about the death of Peter had already been fulfilled by the time the Gospel According to John was written, it certainly should have been mentioned.  Why Miss Cosner finds an argument of this nature so compelling regarding the dating of Matthew and Mark and completely overlooks it regarding the dating of John is difficult to understand.

The date of the Gospel According to John is also a matter about which Miss Cosner is not the only CMI functionary who has not been sufficiently careful.  In an old article[31] that CMI describes as a “classic article,[32] CMI staff member Russell M. Grigg presents a picture of the apostle John writing his Gospel book in AD 90.  When that date was subsequently challenged, Grigg defended it as follows:

First, he tries to explain away the lack of mention of the destruction of the temple in the Gospel According to John by saying, it “did not fit in to his reason for writing his Gospel, namely to prove that Jesus was the Son of God and that by believing we can have life in His name (John 20:31).”[33]

It is difficult to see how a prophecy given by Jesus that was subsequently fulfilled would not be relevant in a book written to convince people that Jesus was the Christ, even more than in Matthew or Mark.

Next, Grigg writes that

The principal affect [sic] of the fall of Jerusalem on the church was in regard to its future locality. Well before this, the early Christians in Jerusalem had experienced ‘a great persecution’ in which “all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1) … We know from Church History that later Jewish believers in Christ in Jerusalem heeded His warning in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, so that they left before AD 70, when they saw ‘the storm’ approaching.[34]

While this is interesting historical detail, it says nothing about the date of the Gospel According to John.

On the contrary, if “this early dispersal of the Christians away from the capital city, with its Jewish temple and all this stood for, was one method God used to prepare His succeeding church there for the ultimate break with Judaism that would occur with the fall of Jerusalem,” as Grigg suggests,[35] so much more would we expect John to complete that preparation by mentioning the fall of Jerusalem had it already happened by the time he was writing.[36]

Then Grigg suggests that

During his ministry, Paul of course was the principal protagonist against heresy (e.g. his letter to the Galatians). So if we take the view that John wrote to combat further heresy, it would be logical for there to have been a time gap of a couple of decades or so after the death of Paul for these heresies to have arisen and to have become somewhat established, i.e. to have become worth refuting.[37]

Truly, this can only be described as absurdFirst, Grigg has already pointed out John’s stated purpose in writing his Gospel book, in John 20:31; it is an evangelistic tract, not a refutation of heresySecond, how can Grigg suggest that Paul of course was the principal protagonist against heresy on the basis that he wrote a letter refuting a certain heresy that was threatening a church he himself had founded?  Does he think the apostles were not also combating heresy during this time, but left it all to Paul?  Third, does he really think that Paul managed to stamp out completely all heresies by the time of his death, and that nothing else needed to be done for “a couple of decades or so after the death of Paul”?

Next, Grigg commits the usual error common to popular level apologists, of simply adducing the names of scholars, as if their bald assertions prove anything.  He writes that “My chief source for the date of ‘AD 90 or thereabouts’ was Prof. E.M. Blaiklock (1903–1983), an evangelical and conservative Christian who was Professor of Classics at Auckland University,”[38] but without presenting at least some of the evidence upon which Blaiklock based his conclusion, this bald assertion is worthless.

His subsequent appeal to B.F. Westcott is more troubling.  Grigg writes,

In his commentary The Gospel According to St John, [Westcott] concludes that it was probably written “in the latter quarter of the 1st century.” In his Introduction, under the heading Occasion and Date, he cites Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius and Irenaeus, and says: “ … the fourth Gospel met difficulties which had not been and could not be realised till after the fall of Jerusalem. In like manner it met difficulties which had not been and could not be felt till after the preaching of St Paul had moulded the Christian society in accordance with the law of freedom.” (p. xxxviii).[39]

Now, this certainly implies that it is on the basis of the testimony of Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, and Irenaeus[40] that Westcott reached the conclusion that John wrote “after the fall of Jerusalem.”  But Clement, Eusebius, and Irenaeus say no such thing; these and other cited Fathers collectively affirm that the apostle John wrote this Gospel book; that it was the fourth one written; that John was urged by his friends to write it; and that John lived to an old age.  But none of them says that this book was written late or that it was written in AD 90 or that it was written “after the fall of Jerusalem.

On the contrary, the reasons Westcott recounts for his late dating of the Gospel According to John are rather troubling.  First, there is his personal feeling:

No one can read the fourth Gospel carefully without feeling that the writer occupies a position remote from the events which he describes.  However clear it is that he was an eye-witness of the Life of the Lord, it is no less clear that he looks back upon it from a distance.[41]

He tries to justify this “feeling” by arguing that

One plain proof of this is found in the manner in which he records words which point to the spread of the Gospel beyond the limits of Judaism.[42]

Even if John is trying to draw attention to that, the Gospel had certainly spread “beyond the limits of Judaism” by AD 64 and so in no way supports a date after the fall of Jerusalem against the date of AD 64.  Nor it is clear that there is anything in John’s book that points to the spread of the Gospel “beyond the limits of Judaism” more than, say, Matthew 8:11-12 or 28:19.  Westcott’s argument, then, is simply worthless.

Westcott’s next argument is truly troubling.  While he acknowledges Jesus’ promise to His disciples to send them the Holy Spirit who will guide them into all truth, Westcott opines that

Even if Christ had already made known all things (xv. 15), there was need of the long teaching of time, that His disciples might master the lessons which they had implicitly received.

The record of these appeals to a future growth of knowledge can admit of only one interpretation. In dwelling on such aspects of Christ’s teaching, it is clear that the Evangelist is measuring the interval between the first imperfect views of the Apostles as to the kingdom of God, and that just ideal, which he had been allowed to shape, under the teaching of the Paraclete, through disappointments and disasters.  Now at length, on the threshold of a new world, he can feel the divine force of much that was before hard and mysterious.[43]

So according to Westcott, the Holy Spirit did not guide the disciples into all truth, no, not even when Matthew, Mark, and Luke were writing their Gospel books.  What is found in those books is somewhere between their “first imperfect views” and John’s current perfect understanding – so the teachings in those books are imperfect or at least severely lacking.  Grigg can insist until the cows come home that Westcott was “a staunch defender of biblical inspiration,” but Westcott’s views are clearly not consistent with inerrancy.

Nor does Westcott stop there.  He tells us that as the Gentile congregations had been established “on the basis of St Paul’s interpretation of the Gospel[44] and following the destruction of the Jerusalem Paul’s interpretation of the Gospel apparently needed a “historical basis, so now in the latter quarter of the second century AD,

by the record of the more mysterious teaching of the Lord, in conexion with typical works, St John has given a historical basis for the preaching of St Paul.[45]

At best, this implies that the other apostles didn’t get it right, until Paul and then John set them straight.  But it sounds suspiciously like the suggestion of liberal scholars that Paul invented the Gospel he preached out of his own imagination, and that John subsequently invented a historical basis for this invented Gospel.

This, of course, dovetails perfectly with the party line of both liberal scholars and Muslim apologists, who assert that Paul, who was not an eyewitness, “interpreted” the Gospel according to Hellenistic ideas and then his interpretations affected the writing of the Gospels, so that you get exactly the sort of evolution Westcott argues for here.  Despite Grigg’s quixotic claims, there is no way to reconcile such teaching with either inerrancy or divine inspiration, and it is difficult to think that CMI “being awake and aware” would endorse such balderdash.

While Westcott’s bleat can – and should – be safely ignored, Grigg has one more trump card to play, insisting that

The Church Fathers are most persuasive evidence for the date of John, and they unanimously ascribe a later date to John, written when he was a very old man.

Now, this sort of claim is widely maintained by evangelical scholars and apologists, but it is simply not true.  While there is testimony that John lived to an old age, the tradition that he wrote his Gospel book at an old age is so weak that it should be discounted.

The first to suggest that John wrote at an old age was Epiphanius (c. AD 315-403).  Not only is this testimony very late, but “Epiphanius combined this with the confused statements that John’s banishment took place ‘under the emperor Claudius’ (!) and that he prophesied under that emperor ‘before his death.” (Haer.51.33)[46] – which hardly inspires trust in the reliability of Epiphanius.  His claim is next passed on by Georgius Hamartolus in the ninth century AD, and then still later in the “Papias legend.[47]  So there is in fact no reliable testimony among the early Christian writers that John wrote his Gospel book at an old age. 

Where the idea came from that the Church fathers “unanimously” assert that John wrote when he was very old is not clear, but that the claim is bogus is abundantly clear.  Grigg’s promotion of the late dating of the Gospel According to John to ca. AD 90 is thus without foundation and is not consistent with the actual evidence.

In sum, then, while CMI professes to have no official stance on historical critical issues, and in the past there did seem to be some diversity of opinion among their writers, their material now seems to be uniformly promoting the late dating of the Gospel books.  Although they have not addressed such issues as Markan priority, literary dependence, or the existence of Q, their late dating of the Gospel books on its own is a serious apologetic shortcoming.

CMI on Textual Criticism

CMI’s teachings on textual criticism are also toxic.  They have clearly swallowed the Griesbachian/Westcott-Hort model in toto.  This is made very clear by Lita Cosner, who states,

Through textual criticism (also known as “lower criticism”) Bible scholars can analyze the minor variations in these copies to discover which variant was original. These efforts result in texts such as the Nestle–Aland and United Bible Society Greek New Testaments, which combine the most reliable variants from the manuscripts to give us the closest possible match to the original text.[48]

This is particularly curious, inasmuch as CMI sees their mission as “calling the church back to the authority of the Word of God beginning from the very first verse.[49]  They unambiguously assert that “The Bible is God’s word to us—every single word inspired by God.[50] and that “every word (in the original autographs) is the exact word that God wanted there for all people for all time.[51]

It is supremely ironic, then, that CMI embraces a text-critical methodology that guarantees that one can never knowevery single word inspired by God.”  It is ironic that they actually affirm that “every word (in the original autographs) is the exact word that God wanted there for all people for all time” while accepting a text-critical theory that maintains that God has failed to keep every word that He wanted for all people for all time, so that some of those words are no longer available to us.  CMI champions the Nestle-Aland Greek NT text, which Lita Cosner tell us is only “the closest possible match to the original text,[52] and not the “exact” words of the original text.  One wonders how these CMI functionaries missed the fact that the Nestle-Aland editors openly tell us that

The text shared by these two editions was adopted internationally by Bible Societies, and following an agreement between the Vatican and the United Bible Societies it has served as the basis for new translations and for revisions made under their supervision. This marks a significant step with regard to interconfessional relationships. It should naturally be understood that this text is a working text: (in the sense of the century-long Nestle tradition): it is not to be considered as definitive, but as a stimulus to further efforts toward defining and verifying the text of the New Testament.[53]

Why CMI doesn’t realize that the idea that “every word (in the original autographs) is the exact word that God wanted there for all people for all time” is utterly incompatible with the textual theory they endorse is difficult to understand.  Yet embrace it they do.

Most of CMI’s pontifications about text-critical issues are done by Miss Cosner, though when others do touch upon it, they show that they are in agreement.  For example, Andrew Kulikovsky writes, “the principles of textual criticism suggest that the ‘more difficult’ reading is preferable,[54] thus endorsing the most insidious of the canons invented by German rationalist J.J. Griesbach, the one designed to guarantee that wherever there is a choice between a variant that introduces an error into the original text and one that does not, the former will be selected.[55]

Meanwhile, Jonathan Sarfati repeats the nonsense that “Only about 1% of the variants make a difference in meaning, but even so, no doctrine depends on a disputed passage,[56] which, as we have seen, is not true; certainly the doctrine of inerrancy depends on whether the original reading was the one with an error in it or not, so this at least is a doctrine that depends on the disputed passages.

Furthermore, Sarfati repeatedly recommends Daniel Wallace’s teachings on textual criticism.[57]  Wallace, the wannabe Martha Stewart of textual criticism for evangelicals, is completely wedded to the Griesbachian/Westcott-Hort method and, not surprisingly, holds an outré understanding of inerrancy, as we have seen.[58]  Recommending Wallace for learning about textual criticism is equivalent to recommending Dr. Hugh Ross for learning about the age of the earth.

Predictably, Miss Cosner denies the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11), asserting that

The adulteress story is almost certainly not original and thus should not be included, at least in John (it may have originally been part of Luke).[59]

In fact, the Pericope Adulterae is indeed authentic (original to the Gospel According to John).[60]  Furthermore, the ludicrous suggestion that “it may have originally been part of Luke” was floated by liberal scholars as a way to undermine the trustworthiness of the NT,[61] and it is distressing to see a CMI functionary pass on this claim uncritically.

Equally predictably, Miss Cosner denies the authenticity of the ending of the Gospel According to Mark, that is Mark 16:9-20,[62] although there is even less basis to deny this than the Pericope Adulterae, and although this denial of the authenticity of the last twelve verses has been used with such devastating effectiveness against the credibility of the resurrection of Jesus (which was, after all, the raison d’être for this denial, as we have seen).[63]

Sarfati, too, denies the authenticity of this passage, saying,

many of the same scholars regard the last few verses of Mark as equally un-original (as do I and some colleagues …)[64]

To support his case, he refers readers to an excursus written by Lita Cosner,[65] which is her most detailed defence of her view in this matter.

Quelle surprise, we find that Miss Cosner’s case does not stand up.  All she offers is the standard liberal boilerplate that is taught to every bright-eyed, bushy-tailed tabula rasa who enters seminary; it goes into their ears and subsequently out of their mouths and pens without anything so demanding as actual independent critical thinking getting in the way.  Let us demonstrate this by examining her case point by point.

Miss Cosner begins by telling us that

The uncials Sinaiticus and Vaticanus both end Mark at 16:8.[66]

This is true, but what she does not tell us[67] is that there are about 1,800 known manuscripts of the Gospel According to Mark extant to the very end of the book, and Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are the only two that omit the last twelve verses[68] – and it is statistically impossible for a secondary reading (if Mark 16:9-20 were such) to gain such a dominance among the manuscripts.[69]

Nor does Miss Cosner tell us that Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are exceedingly corrupted manuscripts.  As Dean Burgon pointed out long ago,

Codex Vaticanus omits words or whole clauses 1,491 times in the Gospel accounts alone and is “disfigured throughout with repetitions.”  Codex Sinaiticus “abounds with errors of the eye and pen … On many occasions ten, twenty, thirty, forty words are dropped through very carelessness. Letters and words, even whole sentences, are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately cancelled; while that gross blunder …. whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause preceding, occurs no less times than one hundred and fifteen times in the New Testament.”[70]

In addition, in the early 20th century, Biblical scholar and textual critic Herman Hoskier did a careful comparison of these two codices and found more than 3,000 significant disagreements between them in the Gospel books alone,[71] which actually exceeds the number of times they agree with each other.[72]  Thus, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus should never have been afforded any credibility as authorities on any texual matter by any serious scholar; they were championed only because they gave liberal scholars what they wanted, a way not only to introduce errors into the “original text” of the NT but, as we have seen, a pretext for dispensing with the historicity of the resurrection entirely.

Nor does Miss Cosner tell us that even if we ignore the previous point, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are nevertheless not trustworthy witnesses for the omission of Mark 16:9-20.  The scribe of Codex Vaticanus left an entire blank column between Mark 16:8 and the beginning of Luke (which is the only place in the entire NT where he left a blank column), and this indicates that he knew that more material followed 16:8 but he did not have access to it.[73]  In the case of Codex Sinaiticus, the original pages containing the end of Mark and the beginning of Luke were removed and replaced at some later time.  The size of the letters in Mark were increased in an apparent attempt to avoid leaving a blank column, which indicates that Codex Sinaiticus did originally include material in this Gospel book beyond Mark 16:8.[74]

So Miss Cosner has left out some rather important information.  Of course, none of these facts are taught in seminaries, which simply pass on the standard Griesbachian/Westcott-Hort nonsense.

Miss Cosner’s next argument is that

Both Clement of Alexandria and Origen seem ignorant of the longer ending (though there are indications that Irenaeus knew of it), and Eusebius and Jerome claim that it is missing from most of their manuscripts, too.[75]

Here, she seems to have been misled by some rather disingenuous claims.

Now, the way this is written implies that Clement, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome are to be considered witnesses against Mark 16:9-20, but should they?  Why, in fact, should we think that “Clement of Alexandria and Origen seem ignorant of the longer ending”?  It is true in their extant writings they never comment upon this passage, but that does not mean they were ignorant of them.  No church father comments on every single portion of Scripture.  By way of illustration, we have no recorded comment about the entire last chapter of the Gospel According to Matthew from the selfsame Clement of Alexandria!  Unless one wants to argue on this basis that Matthew 28 is not part of the original gospel, he ought to admit that this sort of “evidence” is fatuous.

In fact, we should note here that even the UBS Greek New Testament, which cited Clement of Alexandria and Origen as witnesses against Mark 16:9-20 in their 3rd edition dropped them from their 4th edition.  So citing Clement and Origen as witnesses against Mark 16:9-20 is no longer an option; this argument is passé.[76]

Furthermore, Eusebius didclaim that [Mark 16:9-20] is missing from most of [his] manuscripts,” but that is not tantamount to asserting that he thinks it is inauthentic; it is only a comment on the state of the manuscripts that he knew.  (Jerome says something similar, but he seems simply to be passing on Eusebius’ earlier comment.)  In fact, Eusebius elsewhere takes pains to show that Mark 16:9 does not contradict Matthew 28:1,[77] something he would not feel a need to do had he thought the former to be inauthentic.  Jerome, for his part, quotes two verses from the long ending in his writings[78] and, most significantly, included it in his Latin Vulgate, though he was careful to exclude everything he thought inauthentic.  The only fair-minded conclusion, then, is that Eusebius and Jerome are both witnesses for the long ending, not against it.

Now, Miss Cosner concedes that “there are indications that Irenaeus knew of [Mark 16:9-20],” but it is much more than that.  Irenaeus, who wrote ca. AD 180, actually quoted Mark 16:19, writing,

Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: “So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Against Heresies 3.10.5)

Let’s emphasize this: Irenaeus quotes from this supposedly inauthentic passage and explicitly states that this quote comes from near “the conclusion of his Gospel” – and he does so a good century and a half before Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus were produced.

So there is no question but that Irenaeus not only “knew of” the long ending, but he accepted it without any apparent question, or expectation that any of his readers would dispute him about this.  That is rather more than simply “indications that Irenaeus knew of it,” isn’t it?  In fact, it proves that Mark 16:9-20 was in the manuscripts of the Gospel According to Mark that were used and accepted by the church in Irenaeus’s day a century and a half before Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus.  Apropos to this, it should be noted that Irenaeus was a student of Polycarp, who had been a student of the Apostle John himself, so we should consider Irenaeus to be in a very good position to know such things.

It is difficult to see how Miss Cosner overlooked this, just as it is difficult to see how she overlooked the fact that Tatian included Mark 16:9-20 in his Diatessaron (ca. AD 175).  Nor is it easy to understand how she missed the fact that there is quite a number of church fathers who witness to this passage before the fourth century, including Tertullian and Hippolytus in the early third century.  Inasmuch as all of this evidence predates Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus – and by a significant amount of time – it is clear that the external evidence is conclusively in favour of the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.  All that the two corrupt manuscripts and the testimony of Eusebius (and Jerome, if it is independent) show is that at some later point, in the late 3rd or early 4th century, a copy of Mark came to drop the last twelve verses (perhaps by accidental loss of the last page, though Lunn makes a strong case that it was deliberately excised due to “the influence of Alexandrian Hellenistic philosophy” or “the influence of a second-century Egyptian Gnostic-Christian teaching”)[79] and then this copy gave rise to a small number of manuscripts that also omitted that passage.  It is most likely that it is this phenomenon that gave rise to the “two variants added on after 16:8,[80] which in any case are irrelevant to the question of the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.

We do not need to spend a lot of time discussing Miss Cosner’s next assertion, viz. that “the most common argument against Mark ending at 16:8 is that the last word of 16:8 is γάρ; gar, meaning ‘for’. However, recent articles in the scholarly literature have shown that γάρ frequently ended a sentence or paragraph[81] – since this is not the most common argument, nor has it been for a long time.  As N. Clayton Croy points out,

a flurry of articles in the first few decades of the twentieth century addressed this question, many of them offering grammatical parallels for Mark 16:8. These articles established beyond any doubt that sentences and paragraphs could end in gar.[82]

The “most common argument” in this matter is the testimony of the external evidence – which, as we have seen, is decisively in favour of authenticity.

Miss Cosner’s final argument is embarrassing.  She insists that

The long ending seems cobbled together from the other Gospels and Acts; Mary Magdalene is introduced in verse 9 as if for the first time, but she was featured earlier in the chapter. The Road to Emmaus appearance is taken from Luke. The appearance to the Eleven and the Great Commission are similarly from the other Gospels. The driving out demons could come from one of the commissioning of the disciples, and immunity to poison and snake bites could be an allusion to Paul’s survival of the snake bite in Acts. The command about Baptism has frequently been mishandled by some who commit a logical fallacy. So there is no material in the long ending that we don’t have elsewhere.[83]

First, the fact that “there is no material in the long ending that we don’t have elsewhere” does not make it “seem” to be “cobbled together from the other Gospels and Acts.  Since all four Gospel books are telling the same historical facts, we would expect to find that most or all of the details of one event in one Gospel book would be found in the others that describe the same event.

Would we challenge the authenticity of, say, Matthew’s account of the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 9:13-21) because there is no material in it that we don’t have elsewhere?  Would we suggest that “The departure in a boat is taken from Mark; the healing of the sick is taken from Luke; the call to send the multitude away is taken from Mark; the description of the food is taken from Luke; etc.”?  Would we challenge the authenticity of Matthew’s account of the calling of four disciples (4:18-22) because there is no material in it that we don’t have elsewhere?  Obviously, the answer is “no”!  By the same token, this line of argument against the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 is simply ridiculous.

Furthermore, since Mark’s account of the resurrection/post-resurrection is the shortest in the four Gospel books, we would expect to find little or no material that is not found elsewhere.  However, we do have some.  None of the other accounts mention Jesus telling His disciples that they will cast out demons, and it is blatant special pleading to claim that it was inserted from “one of the commissioning of the disciples”.  And it is a farce to suggest that “immunity to poison and snake bites could be an allusion to Paul’s survival of the snake bite in Acts”; this would be ludicrous enough if only the part about taking up serpents were included in Mark, but to suggest that Paul surviving a snake bite parallels “if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them” is truly over the top.

Now, it may indeed be that “The command about Baptism has frequently been mishandled by some who commit a logical fallacy,” but that is irrelevant to the question of the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.  In fact, Miss Cosner may here be herself committing a logical fallacy, that of argumentum ad consequentiam.[84]

Finally, Miss Cosner repeats the oft-levied but nebulous charge that it is problematic that

Mary Magdalene is introduced in verse 9 as if for the first time, but she was featured earlier in the chapter.[85]

What does she mean by “introduced”?  Is it that her name was mentioned in 16:9, after already being mentioned in 16:1?  Why should that be a problem, seeing that she is also mentioned by name in 15:40 (her first appearance in this Gospel book) and 15:47 and 16:1 (which is the very next verse after 15:47)?  Are 15:47 and 16:1 also supposed to be considered inauthentic on that basis?  And the subject matter of 16:9 does require that she be explicitly named.

The only possible cavil in this matter that would not be totally incoherent is to ask why Mark chose 16:9 to tell us that Jesus “had cast seven demons” out of her.  But if Mark had mentioned this fact in 15:47 or 16:1, one could raise the same objection against these verses.  In fact, this objection only makes sense if a Gospel writer must give all facts about a person the first time he mentions that person, and is not allowed to supply additional information later – which requirement, in fact, does not make any sense.  Mark chose to tell us that fact in 16:9, which shows us the depths from which was delivered the first witness to see the risen Jesus, which seems very fitting.  The idea of denying the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 on the basis of this argument is absurd.

So, what have we seen?  Although there can be no rational doubting of the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 as the evidence in favour of it is decisive, liberal scholars have long insisted that it is not authentic, as such a claim is a crucial element in their attempt to discredit the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.  The arguments against this passage that they have adduced are clearly fatuous, yet evangelical scholars for some reason have surrendered Mark 16:9-20 to the liberals.  It is regrettable that CMI goes along with this, with Lita Cosner blithely averring that “the long ending of Mark … is not original,[86] and Sarfati following suit.[87]

In sum then, on the second head of the 3-headed monster, CMI is part of the problem, not part of the solution.  They have accepted and are passing along the liberal paradigm assumptions that were incorporated into textual criticism in order to undermine the inerrancy of the NT.  It is passing difficult not to conclude that CMI is to textual criticism what Dr. Hugh Ross is to the age-of-the-earth issue.

CMI and Inerrancy

Creation Ministries International professes a clear and strong belief in Biblical inerrancy, as they make clear in their Statement of Faith, point (B) Basics, 1:

The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority, not only in all matters of faith and conduct, but in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science.[88]

In fact, they adopt a presuppositional approach to apologetics. According to their Statement of Faith, point (D) General, 6:

Facts are always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information. By definition, therefore, no interpretation of facts in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.[89]

Managing director Dr. Carl Wieland states that CMI is “a ministry built around the presupposition of the inerrancy of Scripture. Hence the ‘set in stone’ nature of that presupposition in our SOF [Statement of Faith].[90]

CMI’s application of this approach is shown, for example, in their article “‘Out of Africa’ theory going out of style?”[91] in which Daniel Anderson, after discussing “The skeletal remains of an early modern human … [d]ated at ‘38,500 to 42,000’ years old on the evolutionary time line” that were found in China writes

Creationists, on the other hand, look to the infallible eyewitness account of Genesis to establish a scientific and historical framework for dating past events. Therefore, the latest Chinese human fossil is not 38,500–42,000 years old, nor is Mungo Man 40,000–62,000 years old. These ancient, fully human fossils should be more accurately dated to less than 4,500 years ago, after the global Flood and the dispersion of people groups at Babel.

Anderson points out that divergent dates are obtained by scientific methods for both Mungo Man and Mitochondrial Eve, but he does not show that none of them is correct, nor does he adduce “scientific” evidence to support his date of “less than 4,500 years” for these ancient fossils.  To Anderson, the “infallible” testimony of the Bible is sufficient for this claim.

This is consistent with what Dr. Jonathan Sarfati writes elsewhere:

One of the main points of CMI’s presuppositional approach is that the Bible should be the magisterial authority. As a Christian, I would have thought that you would have agreed with Christ who said “Scripture cannot be broken” … it would be improper for a Christian to allow the Bible to be relegated to the backburner, as it were, in a discussion about creation.[92]

Now, all this sounds very good, and CMI certainly holds to this view rigidly – in matters bearing upon creation.  And no doubt they are sincere in their insistence that inerrancy applies to all that the Bible teaches about anything.  Nevertheless, their acceptance of liberal paradigm assumptions in historical criticism and textual criticism has induced them to embrace views and teaching that are simply not consistent with their stated high view of divine inspiration and inerrancy, even though they may not realize it.  While, as Sarfati says, “the Bible should be the magisterial authority” in all matters, one has to wonder whether the “magisterium of Bible scholars” is de facto treated as more authoritative by CMI functionaries in matters of historical and textual criticism.  There certainly seems to be a very noticeable double standard.  An example follows.

On the basis of their presuppositional approach, CMI holds that the Earth is about 6,000 years old, even though the Bible doesn’t say this directly. This age is determined indirectly, from the chronogenealogies in Genesis. On this basis, it is not possible to pinpoint the exact age of the earth; it can be anywhere from 5,400 years old to 7,680 years old.[93] Still, if the Bible is correct, then the Earth cannot be more than 7,680 years old.

CMI holds single-mindedly to this claim, even though it is hard to deny that the large majority of evangelical scholars hold to an old earth and to some sort of accommodation with evolutionary theory, and that percentage continues to grow.[94]  That does not alter CMI’s view in any way; on the contrary, they publicly rebuke any scholar who holds to any such view, including, inter alia, Dr. William Lane Craig,[95] Dr. Norman Geisler,[96] Dr. John Lennox,[97] Dr. John Ankerberg,[98] and R.C. Sproul, Jr.[99]  (This last one is noticeable because Sproul rejects evolution in all its forms and holds to a young earth.  However, he thinks plants died before Adam’s sin, and that is error enough for CMI’s Sarfati to launch a blistering attack on him.)

So to CMI it does not matter how many evangelical scholars compromise with Darwinism or an old earth; they will remind those scholars that

no interpretation of facts in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.[100]

The Bible is the magisterial authority, and let God be true but every evangelical scholar a liar.  And CMI’s position here is absolutely correct.

And yet we see a completely different standard when it comes to matters of historical criticism and textual criticism.  In these matters, the magisterial authority certainly seems to be not the Bible but the magisterium of evangelical scholars.  Consider the case of Lita Cosner’s article “An unconvincing case for pseudepigraphy,”[101] published in CMI’s Journal of Creation, which addresses the question of who wrote 2 Peter.

Immediately we must note that the fact that the apostle Peter authored 2 Peter is even more clear than is the young age of the Earth, inasmuch as it is not determined indirectly but is explicitly stated in the inerrant word of God: “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ …” (2 Peter 1:1a). And, lest anyone suggest that this was a different Simon Peter, the author tells us that “we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:18). Therefore, by CMI’s standards, previously described, Petrine authorship of this epistle should be non-negotiable; any suggestion that the apostle Peter did not write 2 Peter should be summarily dismissed as a non-starter.

Yet this is not what we see in Miss Cosner’s article.  On the contrary, she tells us that “Even evangelicals Carson and Moo acknowledge that ‘for no other letter in the New Testament is there a greater consensus that the person who is named as the author could not, in fact, be the author,’[102] and lists some interpretations of facts that weigh against Petrine authorship.[103]  This certainly seems to grant that there is a viable possibility that Peter was not actually the author of 2 Peter, and one must ask how this comports with CMI’s position that “no interpretation of facts in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.

Instead of reminding us that the Bible is inerrant and therefore Peter must be the author of this epistle, Miss Cosner simply gives us a quote from another evangelical scholar assuring us (though without any actual substantiation for this assertion)[104] that one can believe that Peter wrote 2 Peter without “‘sacrificing one’s intellect’,[105] which, I take it, is somehow supposed to set our minds at ease about this.

Miss Cosner then reminds us that “2 Peter was eventually accepted by the fourth-century councils[106], after which she proffers a handful of rather weak arguments[107] not for Petrine authorship but against the skeptics’ arguments.[108]  Finally, she reassures us that there is a “growing number of evangelical scholars who strongly affirm biblical inerrancy.[109]  This latter claim is not even remotely true – in fact, the opposite obtains[110] – but even if it were, is the authorship of 2 Peter not determined by what the inerrant Bible says, but by a majority vote of scholars?  How is this approach not substituting the authority of a magisterium of scholars in place of the magisterial authority of the Bible?

In fact, Miss Cosner does not plainly state even her own conviction that the apostle Peter must have written 2 Peter.  What she does say is that

The evidence might be construed to point against inauthenticity … However, Ehrman’s book only succeeds if one is determined to ignore the growing number of evangelical scholars who strongly affirm inerrancy. As Ehrman argues, their theological stance does inform their arguments about the canonical books, but no more than Ehrman’s stance informs his.[111]

So according to Miss Cosner, the defenders of Petrine authorship have a bias, but so do the deniers of Petrine authorship – and they also have the weight of the evidence on their side.

And she is in more trouble still, for she avers that Ehrman’s book succeeds except for the “growing number of evangelical scholars who strongly affirm inerrancy.”  But since this putative “growing numberdoes not actually exist – on the contrary, there are very few evangelical scholars left who do affirm meaningful inerrancy[112]does that mean that we should consider Ehrman’s book indeed to have succeeded?

It is interesting that when there is a question related to creationism, Miss Cosner boldly says,

If one holds, as we do at CMI, that the Bible is completely true no matter whether it is making statements relevant to history, theology, or science, then it is perfectly appropriate to treat a clear pronouncement of Scripture as conclusively proving the point.[113]

So why is this standard not applied to matters of historical criticism?  Why do we not hear that the “clear pronouncement of Scripture” in 2 Peter 1:1 that this epistle was written by the apostle Peter settles the matter?

Is it at all conceivable that CMI would respond to a serious argument for an old earth made by a growing number of evangelical scholars by saying, “for no other area of investigation is there a greater consensus that the Earth could not, in fact, be young”?  Would they then list reasons why that argument is good, and then tell us not to worry because Dr. [insert scholar’s name] tells us we do not have to sacrifice our intellects if we believe the Earth is young, and that there is a growing number of evangelical scholars who strongly affirm a young Earth[114] – all while leaving on the table the idea that an old Earth is a viable option?  Of course not.  So why is it acceptable to do that in the case of historical critical matters?  Or matters of textual criticism?

Nor is this the only time we see CMI falling far short of their stated embrace of inerrancy.  Because their functionaries have accepted the Griesbachian/Westcott-Hort approach to textual criticism, they believe that the original reading of Mark 1:2 is “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way.’[115]  Now, inasmuch as “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way” is not written in Isaiah the prophet anywhere (it is written in Malachi 3:1), this is a clear and undeniable error.[116]

CMI, as inerrantists, have to find a way to explain away this error, and they resort to the dodge about alleged “Jewish copying conventions, which are not errors even though they may not comport to the Chicago Manual of Style.[117]  In fact, they try two different ways to use these alleged “Jewish copying conventions” to avoid the error.  Andrew Lamb of the Australian branch of CMI suggests that “The Jews often kept all the Prophets on a single scroll, and so would often cite the most prominent of the prophets[118] while Lita Cosner from the American branch baldly asserts that

It was standard Jewish practice to string more than one prophet together and only cite the one that was making the main point.[119]

Even Jonathan Sarfati resorts to this sort of dodge to try to explain another supposed error, in Matthew 27:9-10.[120]

The immediate problem with this approach is that there was no such Jewish citing convention, in either of the forms CMI suggests.[121]  CMI has not checked this matter carefully enough.  However, there is a more worrisome problem, as well.  CMI, as we have seen, is committed to Biblical inerrancy. They repeatedly insist that

The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs.[122]

They certainly cling tenaciously to this view in matters of creation, rejecting any idea that God accommodated His words to the thought processes of ancient peoples in such a way that they say something that is not factually true.  CMI functionary Andrew Kulikovsky explains this at length:

Broadly speaking, the doctrine of inerrancy identifies Scripture as true and without error in all that it affirms, including its affirmations regarding history and the physical universe.” … Indeed, many scholars who claim to be evangelical have either rejected this doctrine outright, or have redefined it to allow for errors in historical and scientific references …

[T]here is now a growing trend among evangelicals to redefine inspiration and inerrancy to allow for errors when Scripture speaks on matters of history and science. Inerrancy is limited to truth concerning spiritual and moral matters. For example, Bernard Ramm, under the influence of German higher critical thinking, was convinced that ‘language of accommodation’ contained errors

While it true that an infinite God must in some way accommodate Himself to finite human ways of knowing in order to reveal His nature, law and Gospel, this does not imply the loss of truth, nor the lessening of Scriptural authority. Accommodation occurs specifically in the use of human words and concepts, and refers to the manner or mode of revelation, not to the quality and integrity of the revelation itself. It is adaptation to human finitude, not accommodation to human error. Communication directed at mankind may involve less precision, but imprecision must not be confused with error.[123]

Now, this all sounds so nice, and CMI would certainly not tolerate any claims of cultural accommodation in the writing of Scripture that would result in any of its “assertions” not being “factually true.”  For example, Kulikovsky flatly (and rightly) rejects Paul Seely’s suggestion that Genesis 1 “reflects the cosmology of the second millennium BC” and that while its theological message is true, the actual statements in that chapters are not factually true but were “a temporal concession to people of that time.[124]  So, clearly, CMI would certainly not tolerate any claims of cultural accommodation in the writing of Scripture that would result in any of its “assertions” not being “factually true.

Or would theyLet us revisit the matter of Mark 1:2.  The reading championed by CMI as being that in the original autograph of the Gospel According to Mark (and remember that CMI insists that the Bible’s “assertions are factually true in all the original autographs) states that the sentence “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face” is “written in Isaiah the prophet,” and as we have seen, this sentence is manifestly not written in Isaiah the prophet.

Is this simply a matter of “imprecision, as a “CMI-supporter” cited with approval by Sarfati fatuously suggests, saying,

Can we say that the Bible is true even though it is imprecise with some of its statements? For example, Matthew attributes a quote from Zechariah to Jeremiah in Matthew 27:9. Isn’t this an instance of imprecision?[125]

In a word, no.  CMI shows that they understand that “imprecise” does not mean “wrong” but simply “not exact; Kulikovsky writes,

the approximate value of p (pi) is 3 is no less truthful than saying it is 3.1415926535897932384626. Both values are approximations but the latter is more precise.[126]

However, saying that pi is 27 is not an approximation, but an error.  In Mark 1:2, “Isaiah” is not an approximation of “Malachi”; it is an error.[127]

The fact that this is undeniably an error is not difficult to show:

  • Is “it is written in Isaiah the prophet” an assertion?  YES.
  • Is the sentence “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face” written in Isaiah the prophet?  NO.
  • Therefore, is the assertion that this sentence is written in Isaiah the prophet factually true?  NO.
  • If this assertion is not factually true, is it an error?  YES.

So CMI, who insists that the Bible’s “assertions are factually true in all the original autographs” has championed a reading that they accept as being in the original autograph that is not factually true.

And how does CMI attempt to explain away this error?  Cultural accommodation.  That’s right, folks, cultural accommodation.  The Jews, we are told, had a practice of ascribing quotations to people who didn’t make them; they made attributions that were not factually true.  But, hey, that was their culture, so if such a thing is in the Bible, that’s okay.  Really?  Are we supposed to believe that if that was their culture, then God accommodated to it by putting factually untrue attributions into His inerrant word?  That it’s not really an error if everyone was doing it?

Nonsense; Lamb’s plea that “there is no error in following the citation conventions of the day rather than 21st-century practices[128] is absurd; if the conventions of the day involve making errors, then following those conventions also involves making errors.  Or does CMI want to explain why “When the Bible says ‘day’ it doesn’t really mean ‘day’; it really means a long period of time” is worse than “When the Bible says ‘Isaiah,’ it doesn’t really mean ‘Isaiah’; it really means ‘the whole collection of the prophets’ or maybe it means ‘Malachi and Isaiah’”?

What is truly noteworthy here is that CMI utterly rejects this sort of approach when it comes to matters of their core competency, scientific creationism, and the claims of “science falsely so called,”[129] but they seem open to it in the matter of textual criticism.  Strange, indeed.

We should note that to this point in time, CMI has done this sort of thing very rarely.  However, even once is too often;

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)

I remind them of their own standard:

We at CMI choose to proclaim and defend the proposition that the Bible does not just contain “some truth” but that it is infallibly true in its entirety, including wherever it makes claims relevant to science and history. (If we suppose that it contains e.g. 99% truth and 1% error, then the whole presupposition breaks down, because who knows which are the parts that are true and which in error?)[130]

Another problem concerning CMI and inerrancy is their willingness to lend credence to people whose stance on inerrancy is diametrically opposed to that of CMI.  Most notable among these is the librarian James Patrick Holding, founder and president of the on-line Tekton Education and Apologetic Ministries.[131]

Now, CMI seems to understand that evangelical scholars and apologists are increasingly abandoning the doctrine of inerrancy.[132]  Kulikovsky tells us,

Indeed, many scholars who claim to be evangelical have either rejected this doctrine outright, or have redefined it to allow for errors in historical and scientific references. Francis Schaeffer described the denial of biblical inerrancy as “The great evangelical disaster”.[133]

He goes on to say rightly that

there is now a growing trend among evangelicals to redefine inspiration and inerrancy to allow for errors when Scripture speaks on matters of history and science.[134]

Now, there is no question that James Patrick Holding is part of this “growing trend.  Consider his own testimony:

I have learned a great deal – and refined significantly the way I look at the issue of inerrancy. I believe that the original manuscripts of the Bible were produced inerrant, but it is my discernment that many, many believers today have a view of inerrancy that could not possibly have been that of that of the writers of the Bible. They fail to account for differences in the way ancient persons thought, acted, or perceived the world … we ought to judge by the standards of the day in which the Bible was written … The question that must be asked is, Would this be regarded as ‘inerrant’ by the standards of those who originally wrote the text?[135]

This view is clearly very different from CMI’s.  As Sarfati explains, “Creation Ministries International is well known for accepting the Bible as God’s written Word, and thus without error[136] and again “we can never stress enough that our starting point is Scripture, the written Word of One who was there and knows everything and never errs or lies.[137]  According to the CMI Statement of Faith,

The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs.[138]

The root of the difference in these views is clear.  CMI rightly focuses on the fact that the Bible’s ultimate author is God, which means “error” is determined by God’s view of truth, not those of time-locked, culturally bound people, and that makes the Bible qualitatively different from any other book.  On the other hand, it is difficult to see how, in the view espoused by Holding, the Bible is different from any other ancient book, or how divine inspiration enters into the picture at all, other than perhaps as a boilerplate imprimatur added at the end after all manner of errors have been accepted into the Bible – as long as such errors were allowable “by the standards of the day.

CMI’s view of inerrancy is what Holding derides as the “traditional” view of inerrancy maintained by an obscurantist “old guard.”  According to this librarian, this view of inerrancy is “dangerous, misleading, and obscurantist in that it will result in a view of the Bible that is not defensible or respectable.[139]  Does CMI not see this as a problem?  Does CMI really think they should be promoting such a teacher?  Yet they do! 

Let us consider a few examples of Holding’s approach in action.

Matthew 27:52-53

As we have elsewhere discussed, evangelical scholar Michael Licona claimed that the events detailed in Matthew 27:52-53 (viz. the resurrection of the OT saints) never actually happened.  Norman Geisler took Licona to task for this claim, arguing that what the Bible asserts in this passage did happen in real space-time, and not only in Matthew’s imagination.  Holding viciously attacked Geisler for this.[140]

Now, according to CMI, the Bible’s “assertions are factually true,” and the Bible clearly asserts that after Jesus died on the cross,

the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52-53)

Yet Holding viciously attacked Geisler for insisting that this assertion is “factually true”; the librarian tells us that the assertion in Matthew 27:52-53 is notfactually true” but simply poetic language.  Does CMI not see this as a problem?  Does CMI really think they should be promoting such a teacher?  Yet they do!

Matthew 27:5 

Of course, Holding does not need Licona to “dishistoricize” the Bible for him; he’s quite able to do that all by himself.  Regarding the supposed contradiction in the NT accounts of the death of Judas, we note that Sarfati writes,

Mt. 27:5 says that Judas ‘hanged himself,’ while Acts 1:18 says: ‘ … and falling headlong, [Judas] burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.’ … A plausible scenario is that Judas hanged himself on a dead and dry branch … a strong gust was strong enough to break the branch; the body hurtled down the chasm onto one of the many jagged rocks and burst open.[141]

Here, Sarfati seeks to show that the statements in Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18 are not mutually exclusive, and he does so because the Bible asserts that both events happened, and inerrancy means that these events therefore happened.

But not according to Holding.  The librarian tells us that best answer to this supposed contradiction is that the event asserted in Matthew 27:5 never happened.

Holding points out that “Matthew’s unique words ‘departed’ and ‘hanged himself’ are found in combination” in the account of the suicide of Ahithophel  in 2 Samuel 17:23 (in the Greek LXX),[142] and Jesus applied Psalm 41:9 to Judas and there was a “rabbinic interpretation” that this verse applied to Ahithophel.[143]  On this basis, Holding actually asserts that

Matthew is indeed alluding to the traitor Ahithophel in this passage, and is therefore NOT telling us that Judas indeed hanged himself, but that Judas fulfilled the ‘type’ of Ahithophel by being a traitor who responded with grief and then died. Matthew is thereby making no statement at all about Judas’ mode of death.[144]

In his accompanying video, Holding explains that

Matthew is doing a form of imitation by alluding to the traitor Ahithophel. He is therefore NOT telling us that Judas indeed and literally hanged himself but that Judas enacted an imitation of Ahithophel by being a traitor who responded with grief and then died. What does that mean in turn? It means that Matthew is making no literal statement about Judas’ mode of death.[145]

Had there been quotation marks in Koine Greek, insists Holding, Matthew would have written 27:5 as “‘And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” and “that literally it would have meant this: ‘And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and died a death worthy of a traitor like Ahithophel.’[146]  (Why, in the absence of quotation marks, Matthew didn’t write “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and died a death worthy of a traitor like Ahithophel” if that’s what he wanted to say is something the librarian doesn’t explain.)

So while CMI insists that the Bible’s “assertions are factually true, and the Bible’s statement that Judas “departed and went and hanged himself” is indubitably an assertion – and one that is clear and easy to understand – Holding glibly asserts that Judas did not in fact hang himself, and we should instead see this “assertion” as just an allusion to the death of Ahithophel.  Does CMI not see this as a problem?  Does CMI really think they should be promoting such a teacher?  Yet they do!

Acts 9:7 and 22:9

It is alleged that there is a contradiction between the account in Acts 9:7 of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus and the account of the same event in Acts 22:9. Acts 9:7 reads “And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing (ἀκούω) a voice (φωνή) but seeing no one” whereas Acts 22:9 reads “‘And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear (ἀκούω) the voice (φωνή) of Him who spoke to me.’”

The usual explanation given by evangelicals is that ἀκούω should be translated as “heard” in Acts 9:7 but as “understand” in Acts 22:9.  As John MacArthur puts it,

Since Jesus spoke only to Paul, only he understood the Lord’s words. His companions heard the sound, but could not make out the words.[147]

Alternatively, it could be pointed out that, while Acts 9:7 is part of a narrative and inerrancy demands that events happened exactly as described, Acts 22:9 is part of a record of Paul’s recounting of the event, and inerrancy only requires that Paul actually said what is recorded; it does not preclude the possibility that Paul remembered wrongly or, indeed, had never found out what his companions had or had not heard.

Holding does mention these possibilities, but he doesn’t stop there; he has another suggestion.  He tells us that

another way to look at this is as an intentional contradiction designed to magnify Paul and put down the importance of his companions. This aspect would find parallels in Greco-Roman rhetorical methods … ; This is in line with the suggestion from E. P. Sanders, in his book The Historical Figure of Jesus, that Luke may have intentionally made the stories different, and Wright‘s comment in The Resurrection of the Son of God that the differences are “best explained by Luke’s following a hellenistic convention of style according to which variation in a narrative lends interest.”[148]

He then tries to buttress this by quoting flaming liberal scholar E.P. Sanders:

The author of Luke/Acts could have told the same story the same way, but that would not have been as good a narrative. Like many other authors, both ancient and modern, he disliked repetition; like other ancient authors, he would change events in order to avoid it.[149]

So, according to CMI’s very favourite librarian in the whole wide world, the “God-breathed” words of Scripture include “intentional contradictions inserted by the authors of the autographs of the NT.  IntentionalContradictions.  CMI insists rightly that if the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God, then all of its assertions must be factually true, but according to Holding, the Bible can have assertions that are not factually true; they are factually false and the writer intentionally falsified them for the trivial reason of making his narrative more interesting.  But that’s okay, the librarian tells us, since there are “parallels in Greco-Roman rhetorical methods.

Does CMI not see this as a problem?  Does CMI really think they should be promoting such a teacher?  Yet they do!

I think we have seen enough to understand Holding’s view of inerrancy.  It cannot be seen as anything other than an absurdity.  It allows for – and indeed, seems to prefer – all sorts of factual errors in the Bible – and that is not “inerrancy.”  We are not living in Alice’s Wonderland, where we can say with Humpty Dumpty “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”  Inerrancy means “no errors.”  Period.  It means that all of the assertions of Scripture are factually true – not poetically “true,” not apocalyptically “true,” not although-it’s-an-error-it’s-not-an-error-because-people-in-those-days-all-made-sorts-of-error-so-it’s-not-an-error “true,” and not yes-it’s-a-contradiction-but-it-was-intentional-to-make-the-narrative-more-interesting “true.”

Yet despite the fact that the librarian’s view of inerrancy is utterly incompatible with CMI’s view (and, indeed, cannot be considered compatible with any meaningful definition of inerrancy), Holding has become a “go-to” guy for CMI.  Not only has CMI published many of his articles on both their website and in their journal,[150] they also frequently direct their readers to Holding’s website, www.tektonics.org, for additional, more detailed information about topics related to historical and textual criticism.  One may as well direct people to Dr. Hugh Ross’ “Reasons to Believe” website, www.reasons.org, for more detailed information about the age of the earth.

CMI is truly engaged in a Grand Guignol.  They believe in Biblical inerrancy.  They recognize – and decry – the fact that “many scholars who claim to be evangelical have either rejected this doctrine outright, or have redefined it to allow for factually untrue statements in historical and scientific references,[151] which latter is clearly what Holding does.  They lament the fact that “there is now a growing trend among evangelicals to redefine inspiration and inerrancy to allow for errors when Scripture speaks on matters of history and science,” which, as we have seen, is exactly what Holding does.[152]  CMI bemoans this redefinition of inerrancy – while extensively promoting a man who aggressively does this very thing!  “Asleep at the switch” doesn’t seem to be nearly strong enough to describe what CMI is doing.

What Is at Stake

The theory of evolution has from its very beginning been a dangerous foe of Christianity and has done great harm to the faith of so many.  CMI has done, and continues to do, great work in opposing this head of the three-headed monster.

However, there are three heads of the monster; Darwinism is not the only enemy or even the most dangerous one.  The impression one gets, though, reading through CMI’s material is that the theory of evolution is, in fact, at the root of the entire attack on Christianity.  It almost seems as if everything was hunky-dory until Hutton and Lyell in the late 18th/early 19th century began to promote the idea of “deep time,” and it was then that things began to fall apart.

Kulikovsky, for example, discussing the rejection and redefinition of inerrancy by evangelicals mentions the influence of “Semler and his contemporaries” and of “German higher critical thinking,” but nevertheless suggests, following John D. Woodbridge, that evangelicals who are giving up inerrancy are doing so because

they believe that if the Bible is only infallible for faith and practice, then it cannot be negatively affected by evolutionary hypotheses … This is essentially another way of saying that Scripture is always wrong when it contradicts modern scientific conclusions.[153]

So the erosion of inerrancy is motivated first and last by the reaction to Darwinism.

But who was this Semler?  Johann Salomo Semler (1725-1791) was a German rationalist and liberal scholar; in fact, he was known as “the Father of German Rationalism.”  According to the Encyclopædia Britannica,

He was the first to deny, and to offer substantial evidence supporting his denial, that the entirety of the text of Old and New Testaments was divinely inspired and fully correct. He challenged the divine authority of the biblical canon, which he reexamined in order to determine the sequence of composition of biblical books, their nature, and their manner of transmission. From this work he drew a crucial distinction between an earlier, Jewish form of Christianity and a later, broader form.[154]

Semler was also a pioneer of the liberal school of textual criticism, the heirs to which were, inter alia, Griesbach and Westcott and Hort.  It was Semler who invented the lie that the Byzantine text type was created as a recension by Lucian of Antioch in the early 4th century, thus setting the stage for the discarding of the vast majority of the NT manuscripts, which are, in fact, the best manuscripts.[155]

The salient point here is that Semler died in 1791, sixty-eight years before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species.  Clearly, the assault on the credibility of the Bible was under way long before Darwinism became a factor.  It began with the depredations of “higher critical thinking” expressed in historical criticism and textual criticism, and it was these that set the stage for Darwinism.  Indeed, without the damage caused by the historical and textual critics, Darwinism may never have been accepted.

And yet, to CMI, it all comes down to evolution.  The influence of “Semler and his contemporaries” is mentioned but its effects ignored; the redefinition of inerrancy is motivated not by the attacks on the historical reliability of the Gospel books or by the insertion of errors into the “original” text, but only by the desire not to be “negatively affected by evolutionary hypotheses.”  The effect of “German higher critical thinking” on Bernard Ramm, we are told, was to convince him that “Scripture is always wrong when it contradicts modern scientific conclusions[156] – though “German higher critical thinking” had nothing to do with modern science.[157]

This sort of idea permeates CMI’s thinking.  Scott Gillis, COO of the American branch of CMI, for example, draws attention to “the alarming departure rate” of children raised in Christian families, who are leaving the church and the faith in droves.[158]  The root of the problem?

One of the major reasons is that all we ever hear is the evolutionary story of billions of years of deep time being presented as an accepted and irrefutable “fact” of science.[159]

The solution?  Why, CMI material, of course: “Creation magazine, our foundational resources and a consistent diet of our Bible-affirming resources.[160]

Calvin Smith, a speaker with the Canadian branch of CMI, also decries

the loss of young people from churches … two thirds (more in many cases) of our “churched” young people [are] falling away.[161]

Smith avers that

the Bible’s history was at one time the ‘meta-narrative’ that the west rallied around … Within the last one hundred years, a radical shift has taken place in all of these areas. What could have accomplished such a profound change?[162]

Smith then answers his own question:

Years ago a new grand explanation was introduced under the guise of “science” that changed everything … As unobserved events like “millions of years” and Darwinian evolution were taught as the true history of our planet, people began to see the Bible in a new light. It was no longer seen as real history and therefore authoritative and grew less influential.[163]

Here, too, we see the rote CMI answer: the problem began with the theory of evolution.  The hundreds of years previous to the coming of Darwinism during which the credibility of Jesus and the Bible was eroded by historical criticism and textual criticism, thus setting the stage for the acceptance of Darwinism?  It is as if it didn’t happen.  People only “began to see the Bible in a new light” when deep time and “Darwinian evolution were taught as the true history of our planet.[164]

Perhaps the best example comes from another article by Scott Gillis, in which he talks “about the culture we are trying to reach with the Gospel.[165]  He tells us that

There are hordes of people out there with questions, such as, “Is God real?”, “Does He love me?” and “Is the Bible really true?” But … they are drowning in a massive sea of secularism, as the mainstream culture promotes evolution … it seems like an endless evolutionary tsunami taking them in the wrong direction. If they are taught that evolution is true, and that “science” has disproved the Bible, then they are being swept out farther and farther into a sea of hopelessness.[166]

It certainly seems that to Gillis all questions about the reality of God and the truth of the Bible come down to evolution and nothing else.

And then Gillis tells us that

the tide is changing. Many people have been rescued by the Savior. This is because today we have more information available to answer people’s questions about evolution than at any previous point in the church’s history.[167]

At any previous point in the church’s history?  Is he serious?  Has Gillis overlooked the fact that the Bible has been under attack throughout most of the church’s history, while evolution has been a foe for only the last 8% of the time of church history?  It is as if all other challenges pale into insignificance; only evolution matters.

This is not to say, of course, that CMI does not recognize that there are other problems,[168] but somehow it is always evolution that is the root of the problem, the one factor that seems to dwarf all others.

But is that true?  Is evolution the factor that overwhelmingly leads young people to abandon Christianity?  It is important to find the right answer to this question.  Fortunately, Ken Ham and Britt Beemer have done the work that allows us to find that answer.  Ham is also a leading apologist in the field of creationism as “the president, CEO, and founder of Answers in Genesis-US and the highly acclaimed Creation Museum[169] and the author of numerous books.

Wanting to know why young people were leaving the church in such large numbers, Answers in Genesis (AiG) arranged to have a statistically valid professional study done by Britt Beemer, “the chairman of America’s Research Group and as a leading marketing research and business analyst expert, Britt Beemer specializes in studying human behavior.[170]  The results and a discussion of this major study were published in book form in 2009.

As a creation apologist, Ham naturally emphasizes the devastating role of Darwinism, but it is what this study shows that is truly interesting.

Beemer’s study surveyed one thousand young people who had left the church.  Of these, 44% said they did not believe that “all of the accounts and stories in the Bible are true and accurate.[171]  They were asked what made them begin to doubt the Bible.  Two options related to evolution were given: “Science shows the world is old” and “Evolution proves that the Bible is wrong.[172]  The first was chosen by 14% of respondents and the second by 4%.  So the total of those who began to doubt the Bible because of evolution is 18%.[173]

This is less than the 24% who selected “It was written by men – the sort of thing that is being emphasized by CMI’s favourite librarian, who is promoted by CMI and aped by CMI in such things the problem of Mark 1:2.

Another 15% chose “The Bible contradicts itself and 11% chose “The Bible has errors[174] – and the Bible does contradict itself and does have errors, if the Griesbachian/ Westcott-Hort text is accepted as the original text of the NT, for that methodology was created to insert errors and contradictions into the text, and this it has been done very successfully.  This is the methodology and the NT text that is championed by CMI.

In sum, 50% of the departed Christians who began to doubt the Bible did so because of issues related to historical and textual criticism, and only 18% because of issues related to Darwinism.

Those who said that the Bible contains errors were asked what those errors are.  Here three options broadly related to Darwinism were offered: “The Bible is wrong about the young age of the earth,” “Genesis has been disproved by science,” and “There never was a global flood.”  The first was chosen by 10% of respondents, the second by 5%, and the third by 2%.[175]  So a total of 17% thought that Darwinism proved that the Bible was wrong.

That is fewer than the 22% who cited “Alleged contradictions[176] – you know, like in Mark 1:2 in their NIV or ESV Bibles.  It is fewer than the 18% who cited “The writers made mistakes[177] – ooh, like in Mark 1:2!  Another 2% said that “Miracles do not occur,[178] as historical critics have maintained.

So 17% of the departed Christians think that the Bible is wrong because of the claims of evolution, and 42% think it is wrong because of the claims of historical and textual criticism.

The upshot of this data is clear: CMI is wrong to think that it is evolution that is the overwhelming Number One enemy facing Christianity; historical criticism and textual criticism, which are more subtle, are clearly more dangerous.  And it is in these two latter areas, as we have seen, that CMI is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

So Satan gets double value with Darwinism.  Not only does it mislead people, but it also entices Christians to focus upon it as the most important head of the monster, even to the exclusion of the other two.

Next, is CMI winning?  Is “the tide” changing, as Scott Gillis claims?[179]  In a word, no.  Their material on creationism is very good, but it is not winning the battle.  Gallup has been surveying Americans on the issue of origins since 1982, and this is what they have found:[180]

The first noteworthy thing is that, despite the efforts of CMI, AiG, and other creation apologetics ministries, belief in six-day, young-earth creationism[181] has essentially held steady for the last thirty-two years.  On the other hand, belief in atheistic evolution has more than doubled in that time.  In 1982, belief in all forms of creationism led belief in atheistic evolution 82% to 9% (with YEC at 44%); by 2014 it was down to 73% to 19% (with YEC at 42%).  It is difficult to imagine, then, that CMI and the other YEC apologetics ministries are winning.

Of course, we cannot know what would have happened had it not been for the work of these creation apologetics ministries; the situation may well now be much worse; the good work of these ministries should not be devalued.  At the same time, it is worth noting that CMI expends quite a bit of effort opposing theistic evolution.  Belief in theistic evolution, which had held steady at around 38% from 1982 to 2011, has since dropped noticeably to 31% – but those abandoning it are not moving to YEC, as CMI advocates, but to atheistic evolution.

It is also interesting that, despite the efforts of CMI and others, even familiarity with creationism has dropped among the general public.  According to Gallup,

significantly fewer Americans claim familiarity with “creationism” than did so seven years ago. In 2007, 86% were familiar, including 50% who were very familiar. Now, 76% are familiar, with just 38% very familiar.[182]

Even more significant is what is happening among Christian leaders.  As John Bloom reports,

On the release in 2006 of Francis Collins’s Language of God, a bestseller by a respected evangelical scientist who advocates theistic evolution (or “evolutionary creation”), a campaign was launched to establish theistic evolution as the default conservative evangelical position, in place of more traditional creationist views. With Collins as the initial vanguard through the BioLogos Foundation, and thanks to generous funding by the Templeton Foundation, many scientists and theologians (generally from those Christian colleges and universities where theistic evolution quietly had become the accepted teaching position) have felt empowered to take this view from the campus classrooms to church pulpits and Christian bookstores.[183]

Unfortunately, it seems clear that the arguments of CMI and other YEC ministries are not so much rejected by the magisterium of evangelical scholars as they are simply ignored.[184]  Something so obscurantist as YEC is simply a non-starter.  And this is the same magisterium of evangelical scholars that CMI enthusiastically appeals to as the arbiter of matters of historical and textual criticism.  It does not seem to occur to CMI to wonder whether scholars who are so wrong about creationism should be trusted on other matters.

So much for the general public and evangelical scholars.  If there is one group that should be a natural constituency for groups such as CMI, it is evangelical homeschoolers.  Surely they would be rock-solid on YEC, especially with all of the helps provided by CMI.  Yet according to The Atlantic’s David Wheeler there is a “rising number of homeschool families striving to reconcile belief in God with today’s scientific consensus.[185]  Meanwhile, “homeschool pioneer” Susan Wise Bauer tells us that

there are a lot of younger evangelicals who have come to a different way of understanding Genesis, while still holding [on to their] evangelical roots.[186]

While “numbers on the trend are hard to pin down,[187] this movement “has attracted the attention of at least one publisher – Christian Schools International[188] which indicates the numbers must be substantial.[189]

It is hard not to conclude, then, that CMI is losing its battle.  That is not surprising, however.  On the contrary, it is inevitable.  CMI, as we have seen, takes a presuppositional approach.  As Lita Cosner says,

If one holds, as we do at CMI, that the Bible is completely true no matter whether it is making statements relevant to history, theology, or science, then it is perfectly appropriate to treat a clear pronouncement of Scripture as conclusively proving the point.[190]

It is because of this presupposition that CMI believes in six-day young-earth creationism inasmuch as that is what the Bible teaches.  As Ken Ham wrote,

why should Christians believe in the six literal days of Creation? Because of the words of Scripture (“In six days the Lord made …”). The real issue is one of authority—is God’s Word the authority, or is man’s word the authority?[191]

That is the substance of CMI’s insistence upon YEC.

But if one takes this approach, then it is incumbent upon him to be thoroughgoing in his insistence that “the Bible is completely true” and therefore inerrant, and, lamentably, we have seen that CMI falls short of that standard.  Miss Cosner, commenting upon the growing demand by evangelical homeschoolers for evolutionary teaching materials, warns that

When parents endorse statements that allow Genesis to be taken “nonliterally, too often children simply hear, “You don’t need to believe the Bible.” And is it surprising that many children heed that message and leave the church altogether?[192]

But by the same token, when apologists insist that Mark 1:2 contains a factually untrue assertion but that’s okay because that’s the way Jews cited in those days, too often children simply hear, “Some of the assertions in the Bible are factually untrue.”  It makes no difference to the child whether the apologist can convince himself that a factually untrue assertion is not factually untrue if other people in those days were also making the same sort of factually untrue assertions.  All he hears is that not all of the assertions made by the Bible are factually true and therefore do not have to be believed.  Then when the apologist insists that we have to believe the assertions in the Bible because they are all factually true, he cannot be taken seriously.

But what if CMI did win?  What would happen if CMI and the other creationism apologetics ministries did win?  What would happen if CMI could finally offer irrefutable proof that the theory of evolution is impossible and that the earth cannot possibly be more than 7,680 years old, proof so strong that even the evolutionists had to accept it?  What if the atheists and secularists, try as they might, could not come up with another naturalistic explanation of the world and the life in it?  What would happen?

Answer: The scholars and intellectuals and other opinion makers would simply revert to the Deism which they had held prior to the coming of Darwinism.  They would concede that there must be a god who had created the world and started life, but he had “left town,” no longer involved with or caring about what he had created.  They would blithely continue to destroy the credibility of the Bible through historical and textual criticism, as they had long been doing before Darwinism.  People might concede that there’s a god out there somewhere, but He is obviously not the God of the Bible, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Darwinism would simply have been an intellectual blip in history, ultimately unimportant, as unbelief continued to spread like wildfire.

But what if those who are battling the liberal lies of historical and textual criticism won?  What if they could prove that the Gospel books are inerrant, early testimony to the fact that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and Saviour and proved it by fulfilling ancient prophecies, doing miracles, and actually rising from the dead?  What would happen then?  The answer should be obvious.

So it seems Satan actually gets triple value with Darwinism, not double.  Not only does it mislead people; not only does it also induce Christians to focus upon it as the most important head of the monster, even to the exclusion of the other two; but it is such that even if it were defeated, the campaign against Christ would not be materially altered.

Conclusion

There has long been a three-headed monster at work undermining the credibility of the Bible, these heads being historical criticism, textual criticism, and Darwinism.  They must all be fought if the reliability of the Bible is to be maintained.

CMI is an apologetics ministry that battles the third head, Darwinism.  In this area they do excellent work.  They do not simply follow scholarly consensus but think critically about the claims made by Darwinists and those influenced by them and do careful research, so that they are able to skewer faulty paradigm assumptions and factoids.

If there is a shortcoming in this area, it may be that they have overestimated the importance of Darwinism relative to the other two heads of the monster,[193] though this is perhaps not surprising; there is much truth to the old saying, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”  This does not, however, detract from the value of their work against Darwinism.  Had CMI restricted itself to battling this head, all would have been well with them.  But they did not.  Increasingly they have chosen to pontificate in areas of historical criticism and textual criticism.

Tragically, while CMI’s battle against Darwinism is so well done, it is a different story when it comes to the other two heads of the monster, historical criticism and textual criticism.  In these areas, careful thinking and research is far too often replaced by a ready acceptance of evangelical scholarly consensus.  Strangely, they understand that the overwhelming majority of evangelical scholars reject or redefine inerrancy to accommodate Darwinism and they oppose that, but it does not seem to occur to CMI that scholars who are so wrong on Darwinism may be equally wrong on matters of historical and textual criticism.  No, on these matters there is an unseemly deference to the magisterium of evangelical scholars.

The result is that CMI accepts and passes along liberal paradigm assumptions in historical criticism and especially textual criticism which are used by the enemies of the cause of Christ to undermine the credibility of the Bible, which cause more young people to leave the church than does Darwinism, and which effectively end the doctrine of inerrancy.  That this should be done by a ministry that sincerely believes in inerrancy simply compounds the tragedy.

The final score then, when CMI meets the three-headed monster: Monster 2 CMI 1.

Epilogue

In 2013, Calvin Smith, a CMI worker from the Canadian office, posted an article on the CMI website in which he likened the struggle for Biblical inerrancy to a famous battle from Canadian military history, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought April 6-9, 1917, during World War I.[194]  Vimy Ridge was a critical point along the German lines, a high ground that had resisted all British and French efforts to capture it for years.  When the task was given to the Canadians, General Sir Arthur Currie mounted what Churchill later called “the most perfectly planned and perfectly executed operation in the whole war” and captured the ridge within three days.

Smith uses Vimy Ridge as an analogy in the creation/evolution debate.  He avows that

In the battle over biblical authority, there is a key position that is critical to hold against the enemy’s attack, and that position is (surprisingly to some) the age of the earth.[195]

He elaborates:

Biblical authority is about the trustworthiness of Scripture and ultimately rests on whether the Bible actually means what it plainly says. Because the Bible actively teaches against millions of years and rather plainly teaches a young earth timeframe, any Christian that holds to a long age timeframe does so by saying that the Bible doesn’t have to mean what it plainly says (and therefore concedes biblical authority).[196]

If this is true, then Smith is in trouble, for CMI has already told us, inter alia, that the Bible doesn’t actually mean what it plainly says in Mark 1:2 and that it may not mean what it plainly says in 2 Peter 1:1 (though they graciously concede that you can believe what it says here “without sacrificing one’s intellect”),[197] and they have given a platform to a librarian who teaches that the Bible doesn’t mean what it says in Matthew 27:5, may not (and probably does not) mean what it says in Acts 22:9, and may not or does not mean what it says in Matthew 27:52-53, and who viciously attacks Norman Geisler for insisting that inerrancy requires that Matthew 27:52-53 does mean what it says.  So if the authority of the Bible “ultimately rests on whether the Bible actually means what it plainly says,” then CMI may as well give up; they have already given away the store on that.

Now, let us turn our attention to another great battle in the annals of Canadian military history, one that makes for a more apropos analogy: the Battle of D-Day.  On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched the greatest amphibious assault in history on the coasts of Normandy, France, in an attempt to establish a beachhead on the western part of the European continent, from where they could begin the drive eastward to conquer the Nazi forces.

In a carefully coordinated assault, the armed forces of three nations invaded Normandy at five different beaches.  The Americans attacked at beaches codenamed Omaha and Utah, the British attacked the Gold and Sword beaches, and the Canadians attacked at Juno Beach.  Although the three nations were working closely together, each had its own mission, targets, and tasks to perform.  The success of the joint effort required each to accomplish his own mission.

Now, suppose that at some point during the operations, the Canadians had contacted the British commander, saying that they were having problems and had a request to make.  The British commander replied that his men had their own mission, which required all of the effort and resources, and they could not spare any to aid the Canadians.  The Canadian commander responded that they were not in need of any help; however, they had found the that British, as they were carrying out their operation, were inadvertently leaving weapons lying about that the Nazi defenders of Juno and of Omaha and Utah had acquired and were using against the allies of the British.  “You don’t have to help us,” the Canadian commander said.  “You have your mission and we have ours.  Carry out your mission.  All we are asking is that you not make our mission more difficult by giving weapons to our enemies.  After all, they are your enemies, too, and if we fail so, ultimately, will the entire cause.”  What would have happened had the British commander ignored that request?

The analogy should be clear.  Omaha/Utah represents the battle against historical criticism, Juno the battle against textual criticism, and Gold/Sword the battle against Darwinism.  CMI is carrying out the battle against Darwinism well, but they are providing weapons to be used by historical critics and textual critics against the credibility of the Bible.  We are not asking them to abandon their own mission or even to help us.  All we are asking is that they stop making our task more difficult by giving weapons to the enemy.  Is that too much to ask?


Footnotes

[1] See Tors, John. “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied against the Trustworthiness of the Bible” at https://truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible/.

[2] See ibid. for details about these.

[3] See Muslim apologist Shabir Ally’s case at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQbwdhwQmmc as an example.  A summary is posted at https://yearningforislam.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/christianity-explained-a-lecture-by-shabir-ally/.

[4] See Tors, “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible,” op.cit., for details

[5] A notable exception is Wilbur Pickering.  His focus is textual criticism, and his material is by far the best available in this field.  (Indeed, he is one of the very few evangelicals who have not fallen into the thrall of the Griesbachian/Westcott-Hort approach.)  He touches on historical criticism only occasionally, when it intersects with textual criticism (and then his material is good), and, as far as I’ve been able to discover, he avoids Darwinism completely.

[6] “About Us.” Posted at http://creation.com/about-us

[7] “What We Believe.” Posted at https://creation.com/what-we-believe.  See also Sarfati, Jonathan. “The authority of Scripture.” Posted at http://creation.com/the-authority-of-scripture; and Kulikovsky, Andrew S. “The Bible and hermeneutics.” Journal of Creation 19:3 (December 2005), pp. 14-20. Posted at https://creation.com/the-bible-and-hermeneutics

[8] Cosner, Lita. “The Resurrection and Genesis.” Posted on April 10, 2009. At https://creation.com/the-resurrection-and-genesis

[9] ibid.

[10] Cosner, Lita. “Gospel Dates and Reliability.” Posted on April 25, 2009. At http://creation.com/gospel-dates-and-reliability#txtRef4

[11] Miss Cosner tells us in this article that “The dates I cited in my article are somewhat mainstream / conservative estimates for the authorship of the Gospels (and from major in-depth commentaries).”  Simply following such sources is not a good idea, given the pervasive influence of liberal paradigm assumptions in evangelical scholarship.  Independent critical thinking is what is needed.  CMI clearly understands that in the matter of creationism, in which they certainly would not follow “mainstream” thought or “major in-depth commentaries,” almost all of which meld Genesis with evolutionary theories.

[12] Testimony about Mark is given by Papias around the turn of the 1st/2nd century, so it is as early as that about any other Gospel book, and is not “recorded over a century after the Gospel was written.”

[13] Historia Ecclesiastica 3.39.3-4.  For the date of Papias’ writings, see Wenham, John. Redating Matthew, Mark & Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992, p. 122.

[14] Adv. Haer. 3.3.4; Historia Ecclesiastica 5.20.4,6-7

[15] “[T]here is an effort on the part of some modern scripture scholars to belittle the testimony of the early Christian writers” and this is done “‘without a shred of evidence to support their suggestions.’” (Perumalil, A.C. “Are not Papias and Irenaeus competent to report on the Gospels?” Expository Times 91 (August 1980), p. 332)

[16] Wenham, op.cit.

[17] Cosner, “The Resurrection and Genesis,” op.cit., Reference 3 (Bolding and underlining added.)

[18] Cosner, “Gospel Dates and Reliability,” op.cit.

[19] Guelich also asserts, wrongly, that the Patristic testimony about the dating of Mark is divided.

[20] Cosner, “The Resurrection and Genesis,” op.cit.

[21] ibid.  Technically, this should be terminus ante quem.

[22] Sarfati, Dr. Jonathan. “Should we trust the Bible?” Creation 33:1 (January 2011), pp. 32-36. Posted at http://creation.com/trust-the-bible

[23] Interestingly, in the past CMI seemed to be more open to earlier dates for the Gospel books.  In “How Did We Get The Bible?” (Creation 23:4 (September 2001), pp. 26-29. At http://creation.com/how-did-we-get-the-bible), authors Dan Lietha and Stacia Byers assign the dates AD 37 to Matthew (which is too early); early 50s to Luke (too late), 50s to Mark (too late, and wrong order), and 65-69 for John (slightly too late), though they do not explain the basis for these dates.  Meanwhile, “Daniel Anderson” (a pseudonym) also cites John A.T. Robinson’s “strong historical, textual, and logical evidence for dating all of the gospels between AD 40–65” but does not later reject this for no reason (“Darkness at the crucifixion: metaphor or real history?” Posted on April 6, 2007. At http://creation.com/darkness-at-the-crucifixion-metaphor-or-real-history).  But these articles are now rather old.

[24] Cosner, “The Resurrection and Genesis,” op.cit.

[25] ibid.

[26] ibid.

[27] ibid.

[28] ibid.

[29] ibid.  She is citing Carson, D.A. and Douglas Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.

[30] Cosner, “Gospel Dates and Reliability,” op.cit.

[31] Grigg, Russell M. “John … the creation evangelist.” Creation 14:1 (December 1991), pp. 43-44. Posted at http://creation.com/john-the-creation-evangelist

[32] Grigg, Russell M. “Date of John’s Gospel.” Posted at http://creation.com/john-gospel-date

[33] ibid.

[34] ibid.

[35] ibid.

[36] Westcott suggests something similar to what Grigg proffers, but he and Grigg both miss the fact that if John was interested in highlighting this supposed final break with Judaism that was occasioned by the fall of Jerusalem, then he certainly should have explicitly mentioned that fall.

[37] ibid.

[38] ibid.

[39] ibid.

[40] Indeed, Grigg tells us that “Irenaeus’ testimony is most significant, since he was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John himself.”

[41] Westcott, B.F. The Gospel According to St John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1882, p. xxxvi (Bolding added.)  It is trivially easy to disprove Westcott’s claim that “No one can read the fourth Gospel carefully without feeling that the writer occupies a position remote from the events which he describes.”  I have read the fourth Gospel carefully and I do not feel that “the writer occupies a position remote from the events which he describes.” Q.E.D.

[42] ibid.

[43] ibid., p. xxxvii

[44] ibid. (Italics added.)

[45] ibid., p. xxxix (Bolding and underlining added.)

[46] Robinson, John A.T. Redating the New Testament. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976, p. 257.  Claudius ruled from AD 41 to AD 54.

[47] ibid., pp. 257-258

[48] Cosner, Lita. “The ‘gender neutral’ Bible: Emasculating Scripture for political correctness.” Posted on September 10, 2009. At http://creation.com/gender-neutral-bible-translations

[49] Mortenson, Terry. “But from the beginning of … the institution of marriage?” Posted on November 1, 2004. At http://creation.com/but-from-the-beginning-of-the-institution-of-marriage

[50] Lael Weinberger (interviewer). “Creation and Redemption: A Conversation with Albert Mohler.” Creation 33:1 (January 2011). Posted at http://creation.com/albert-mohler-interview (Bolding and underlining added.)

[51] Ham, Ken. “A low view of Scripture.” Creation 21:1 (December 1998). Posted at http://creation.com/a-low-view-of-scripture (Bolding and underlining added.)

[52] Cosner, Lita. “The ‘gender neutral’ Bible: Emasculating Scripture for political correctness.” Posted on September 10, 2009. At http://creation.com/gender-neutral-bible-translations (Bolding and underlining added.)

[53] Nestle-Aland Greek-English New Testament. 27th edition. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994, p. 2

[54] Kulikovsky, Andrew S. “Scripture and general revelation” TJ 19:2 (2005), p. 26, available at https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j19_2/j19_2_23-28.pdf

[55] See Tors, John. “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism (in Manageable, Bite-Sized Chunks)” at https://truthinmydays.com/a-primer-on-new-testament-textual-criticism-in-manageable-bite-sized-chunks/

[56] Sarfati, Jonathan. “Should we trust the Bible?” Creation 33:1 (January 2011). Posted at http://creation.com/trust-the-bible (Bolding and underlining added.)

[57] ibid., and Sarfati, Jonathan. “Who wrote Isaiah?” Posted on November 8, 2011. At http://creation.com/isaiah-author-date.  Miss Cosner also recommends Wallace (Cosner, Lita. “Politicizing Scripture: Should Christians welcome a ‘conservative Bible translation’?” Posted on December 24, 2009. At http://creation.com/politicizing-scripture-conservative-bible-translation

[58] See Tors, “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible,” op.cit.

[59] Cosner, “Politicizing Scripture,” op.cit. and Cosner, Lita. “Newsweek attacks belief in scripture.” Posted on January 8, 2015. At http://creation.com/newsweek-response

[60] Tors, John. “A Call for Serious Evangelical Apologetics: The Authenicity of John 7:53-8:11 as a Case Study” at https://truthinmydays.com/a-call-for-serious-evangelical-apologetics-the-authenticity-of-john-753-811-as-a-case-study/

[61] Tors, John. “Examining the Claim That the Words and Expressions of John 7:53-8:11 Are More Lukan than Johannine” at https://truthinmydays.com/examining-the-claim-that-the-words-and-expressions-of-john-753-811-are-more-lukan-than-johannine/

[62] “… the long ending of Mark, which is not original,” Cosner, “Politicizing Scripture,” op.cit. and Cosner, “Newsweek attacks belief in scripture,” op.cit.

[63] See Tors, “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible,” op.cit.

[64] Sarfati, Jonathan. “Islam, testimony, and the Trinity” Posted on May 27, 2012. At http://creation.com/islam-testimony-trinity

[65] Cosner, Lita. “Excursus: How did Mark end his Gospel?” attached to Bates, Gary and Cosner, Lita. “Is the whole creation fallen?” Posted on March 8, 2011. At http://creation.com/whole-creation-fallen

[66] Cosner, Lita. “Excursus,” op.cit. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[67] She does concede that “The other manuscripts contain the longer ending, but are on the whole much later than the major ones cited above,” though the full impact is unclear without the actual numbers.  And to say that the others “are on the whole much later than the major ones cited above” doesn’t give a fair picture.  Codex Washingtonianus may date to the late 4th century (Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. Third, Enlarged Edition. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 56), and Codex Alexandrinus dates to ca. AD 400 (from Lunn, Nicholas P. The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014, p. 25), so they, at least, are not “much later” than the two corrupt manuscripts championed by Miss Cosner.

[68] Pickering, Identity II, op.cit., p. 163.  The newest editions of the Nestle-Aland (28th edition, published in 2012) and the UBS Greek texts (5th revised edition, published in 2014) continue to list a third manuscript that omits Mark 16:9-20, the 12th-century minuscule 304.  However, Maurice Robinson has pointed out that this manuscript is a mix of quotations from Gospel books interspersed with copious amounts of commentary, and the end of the work seems to be missing.  He concludes that “MS 304 should not be claimed as a witness to the shortest ending … [I] would not choose to cite this MS as a valid witness for a Markan ending at 16:8.” (Citations from Lunn, in ibid., p. 34)

[69] Tors, “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism,” op.cit.

[70] Burgon, John W. The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark Vindicated Against Recent Critical Objectors and Established. Oxford and London: James Parker and Co., 1871.

[71] Hoskier, Herman C. Codex B and Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment. 2 vols. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1914.  After finding so many differences in the Gospel books alone, Hoskier did not bother checking the rest of the New Testament books.

[72] Pickering, Wilbur N. The Identity of the New Testament Text. Revised edition. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980, p. 218, f.n. 68

[73] Pickering, Identity II, op.cit., p. 166

[74] ibid.

[75] Cosner, “Excursus,” op.cit.

[76] Miss Cosner’s article was posted in 2011.  The fourth edition of the UBS Greek New Testament was published in 2001.

[77] Burgon, John W. The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel of St. Mark Vindicated against Recent Critical Objectors and Established. London: James Parker, 1871, p. 144

[78] ibid., p. 106

[79] Lunn, op.cit., pp. 336-355.  It should be noted, of course, that Gnosticism and Christianity are fundamentally different, so that there is no such thing as “Gnostic-Christian”; Lunn should have worded this better.

[80] Cosner, “Excursus,” op.cit.

[81] ibid.

[82] Croy, N. Clayton. The Mutilation of Marks’ Gospel. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003, p. 47 (Bolding and underlining added.)

[83] Cosner, “Excursus,” op.cit.

[84] Unless this comment is meant to warn of possible adverse consequences resulting from accepting Mark 16:9-20 as authentic, it has no purpose and is completely out of place in the paragraph.

[85] ibid.

[86] Cosner, “Politicizing Scripture,” op.cit.

[87] Sarfati, “Islam, testimony, and the Trinity,” op.cit.

[88] “What we believe.” Posted at https://creation.com/what-we-believe (Bolding and underlining added.)

[89] Bolding and underlining added.

[90] “Carl Wieland responds” to kyle b., in “Readers’ comments” to Kulikovsky, Andrew. “Common errors made by deniers of a young Earth” Posted on August 28, 2012. At http://creation.com/common-old-earther-errors. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[91] Anderson, Daniel. ‘Out of Africa’ theory going out of style?” Posted on May 2, 2007. At http://creation.com/out-of-africa-theory-going-out-of-style.

[92] “Christian chemist’s assumptions lead to accusations” First posted on July 11, 2005, last updated on November 18-19, 2006. At http://creation.com/christian-chemists-assumptions-lead-to-accusations. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[93] Hardy, Christ and Robert Carter. “The biblical minimum and maximum age of the earth.” Journal of Creation 28:2 (2014), pp. 89-96

[94] Bloom, John. “The Lost World of John Walton.” Christian Research Journal 38:3 (2015), p. 58

[95] Sarfati, Jonathan. “William Lane Craig’s intellectually dishonest attack on biblical creationists.” Posted on September 17, 2013. At http://creation.com/william-lane-craig-vs-creation

[96] ibid.

[97] Catchpoole, David. “‘Billions of years’ makes Christians dumb (and atheists loud). A brilliant way to muzzle Christians: Get them to believe in long ages” Posted on April 23, 2013. At http://creation.com/billions-of-years-christians-dumb

[98] Mortenson, Terry. “But from the beginning of … the institution of marriage?” Posted on November 1, 2004. At https://creation.com/but-from-the-beginning-of-the-institution-of-marriage

[99] Sarfati, Jonathan. “R.C. Sproul Jr blunders on plant death: another theologian who needs to do his homework.” Posted on February 11, 2015. At http://creation.com/r-c-sproul-jr-plant-death

[100] “What we believe.” Posted at https://creation.com/what-we-believe (Bolding and underlining added.)

[101] Cosner, Lita. “An unconvincing case for pseudepigraphy.” Journal of Creation 28:2 (2014), pp. 42-45.  Her article is a review of a book by Bart Ehrman in which he denies that the apostle Peter wrote 2 Peter, as well as claiming that certain other NT books are also forgeries.

[102] ibid., p. 44. Bolding and underlining added.

[103] She ignores the most significant argument, the difference in Greek style and vocabulary between 1 Peter and 2 Peter.

[104] It seems to have become accepted among evangelicals that simply quoting a bald assertion of a scholar actually proves something.  Without at least some genuine evidence, it in fact means nothing.

[105] Cosner, “An unconvincing case for pseudepigraphy,” op.cit., p. 44

[106] ibid.

[107] For example, as I’ve pointed out Miss Cosner does not engage the most significant argument against Petrine authorship.

[108] Cosner, “An unconvincing case for pseudepigraphy,” op.cit., p. 44

[109] ibid., p. 45 (Bolding and underlining added.)

[110] The precipitous decline in belief in inerrancy among evangelical scholars has been so well documented and obvious that it is difficult to see how Miss Cosner overlooked it.  See, for example, Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach’s Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation for a who’s who of evangelical scholars who have abandoned inerrancy.  (Geisler is one of the small minority left who holds to inerrancy – yet ironically he believes the Earth is billions of years old.)  See J.P. Holding and Nick Peter’s Defining Inerrancy: Affirming a Defensible Faith for a New Generation, which attacks Geisler’s book and in which the authors assert that “the perception of ‘inerrancy’ offered by the old guard is dangerous, misleading, and obscurantist in that it will result in a view of the Bible that is not defensible or respectable.”  (Holding, by the way, is one of CMI’s “go-to guys” for matters of historical criticism.)  Meanwhile, Daniel Wallace rejects what he calls “a magic wand approach” of treating the Bible “like a modern scientific and historical textbook that’s letter perfect” (in Strobel, Lee. The Case for the Real Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007, p. 74).  Wallace says he believes in inerrancy, but his definition of inerrancy is not “having no errors.”  Bruce Metzger rejected inerrancy outright.  It should be noted that Metzger and Wallace are CMIs “go-to guys” for NT textual criticism.  Refer also to G.K. Beale’s The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism.  Anyone who thinks that increasing numbers of evangelical scholars are embracing inerrancy has not been paying attention; what evangelical scholars are doing en masse is discarding inerrancy outright or redefining it so that it no longer means “the quality of being totally free of any sort of mistake.”

[111] Cosner, Lita. “An unconvincing case for pseudepigraphy,” op.cit., p. 45 (Bolding and underlining added.)

[112] Tors, “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible,” op.cit.

[113] Cosner, Lita. “Can we ‘conclusively’ say that dinosaurs were created on Day 6?” Posted on December 29, 2012. At http://creation.com/dinosaurs-day-six (Bolding and underlining added.)

[114] This is also highly doubtful.

[115] See Tors, John. “Why Is There an Error in Mark 1:2 in Your Bible: Another Example of the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible” at https://truthinmydays.com/why-there-is-an-error-in-mark-12-in-your-bible-another-example-of-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible/

[116] In fact, the original reading of Mark 1:2 starts with “As it is written in the prophets,” so there is no error.

[117] Lamb, Andrew. “Does the Bible teach error?” (Feedback 2007). Posted at https://creation.com/does-the-bible-teach-error.

[118] ibid.

[119] Cosner, Lita in “Errors in the Bible?” Posted on March 13, 2010. At http://creation.com/claimed-bible-errors.

[120] Sarfati, Jonathan, in “Readers’ comments,” answer to “Ian B., United Kingdom” on February 15, 2013, in Smith, Calvin. “Is there a universal way Christians should interpret the Bible?  If there is, what does Genesis say?” Posted on February 5, 2013. At http://creation.com/is-there-a-universal-way-christians-should-interpret-the-bible

[121] For details, and for the correct answers to these supposed errors, see Tors, “Why There Is an Error in Mark 1:2 in Your Bible,” op.cit.

[122] “What we believe.” Posted at https://creation.com/what-we-believe (Bolding and underlining added.)  This statement is repeated verbatim in a number of CMI’s posted articles.

[123] Kulikovsky, “The Bible and hermeneutics” op.cit.

[124] Seely, Paul. “The First Four Days of Genesis in Concordist Theory and Biblical Context.” Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith 49:2 (1997), p. 95, cited in ibid.

[125] Sarfati, answer to “Ian B., United Kingdom,” op.cit.

[126] Kulikovsky, “The Bible and hermeneutics” op.cit., f.n. 50

[127] Nor is “Jeremiah” an approximation of “Zechariah” in Matthew 27:9.  For the explanation of this supposed error, see Tors, “Why There Is an Error in Mark 1:2 in Your Bibles,” op.cit.

[128] Lamb, op.cit.

[129] 1 Timothy 6:20 (KJV).  Interestingly, CMI asserts that Christians “definitely” should not say that “The phrase ‘science falsely so called’ in 1 Timothy 6:20 (KJV) refers to evolution.” (“Arguments we think creationists should NOT use.” Posted at http://creation.com/arguments-we-think-creationists-should-not-use.  No stated author or date of posting.)  The author claims that “The original Greek word translated ‘science’ is gnosis, and in this context refers to the élite esoteric ‘knowledge’ that was the key to the mystery religions, which later developed into the heresy of Gnosticism.”  This is wrong.  Gnōsis is the most common word for “knowledge” in the NT, appearing 28 times elsewhere, and it is always a positive thing.  There is nothing whatsoever in the context of 1 Timothy 6:20 that would suggest a reference to “élite esoteric ‘knowledge’ that was the key to the mystery religions,” as CMI would have it, nor any reason to take it in any other way than how it is always used.  Furthermore, the unnamed CMI writer seems to have missed the fact that if gnōsis in 1 Timothy 6:20 referred to “élite esoteric ‘knowledge’ that was the key to the mystery religions,” then it would be false by definition and would not need to be described as “falsely so called.”  So 1 Timothy 6:20 certainly applies to the theory of evolution, though it is not restricted to that.  It would also apply, for example, to the liberal paradigm assumptions of historical criticism and textual criticism.

[130] Wieland, Carl. “Could recent creation be true, but not Christianity? Responding to a person who believes in recent creation, but not in the Bible’s message of salvation.” Posted on September 12, 2009. At http://creation.com/who-is-the-creator

[131] http://www.tektonics.org/  CMI has an entire page on their website for Holding, whom they describe as “a librarian, freelance researcher, and the founder and operator of Tekton Apologetics Ministries.” (Posted at http://creation.com/james-patrick-holding)

[132] “Seems to” only, because, as we recall, Miss Cosner asserted that there is a “growing number of evangelical scholars who strongly affirm biblical inerrancy” (Cosner, Lita. “An unconvincing case for pseudepigraphy,” op.cit., p. 45)

[133] Kulikovsky, “The Bible and hermeneutics” op.cit. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[134] ibid. (Bolding and underlining added.)  Kulikovsky wrote this in 2005, and the trend has accelerated since then, which underscores the fact that Lita Cosner’s claim, cited earlier, that there is a “growing number of evangelical scholars who strongly affirm biblical inerrancy”.  See Tors, “Why There Is an Error in Mark 1:2 in Your Bibles,” op.cit.

[135] Holding, James Patrick. “Why We Cannot Have Inerrant Bible Copies.” Posted at http://www.tektonics.org/gk/inerrancy.php (Bolding and underlining added.)

[136] Sarfati, “Using the Bible to prove the Bible?” op.cit. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[137] Sarfati, “More or less information?” op.cit. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[138] “What we believe.” Posted at https://creation.com/what-we-believe (Bolding and underlining added.)

[139] Holding, James Patrick and Nick Peters. Defining Inerrancy: Affirming a Defensible Faith for a New Generation. Tekton E-Bricks, 2014. (Self-published e-book)

[140] For a detailed account, see Tors, “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible,” op.cit.

[141] Bott, Michael and Jonathan Sarfati. “What’s Wrong With Bishop Spong? Laymen Rethink the Scholarship of John Shelby Spong.” Last updated on February 7, 2007. At https://creation.com/whats-wrong-with-bishop-spong

[142] Holding, James Patrick. “The Death of Judas Iscariot.” Posted at http://www.tektonics.org/gk/judasdeath.php

[143] ibid.

[144] ibid. (Bolding added.)

[145] Holding, James Patrick. “The Death of Judas, A Contextual Study: Part 1.” Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=233&v=Ado78pyEGIs (Bolding and underlining added.)

[146] ibid. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[147] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville, London, Vancouver, and Melbourne: Word Publishing, 1997, p. 1676.  The justification for this, according to Carson et al (Carson, D.A., Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris.  An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, p. 218, f.n. 15), is that “this difference is probably signaled by the shift from the genitive τῆς φωνῆς (tēs phōnēs, “the sound” [NIV]) in 9:7 to the accusative τὴν φωνὴν (tēn phōnēn, “the voice” [NIV]) in 22:9, although the significance of the change is debated.”  Wallace, though, shows that this distinction based on the different grammatical cases used is unsustainable. (Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996, p. 133.)

[148] Holding, James Patrick. “Paul’s conversion: Contradictory accounts?” Posted at http://www.tektonics.org/lp/paulthree.php (Bolding and underlining added.)

[149] ibid.  Holding is quoting from Sanders’ book The Historical Figure of Jesus, p. 388. (Bolding and underlining added by me.)

[150] See “James Patrick Holding, M.L.S.” Posted at http://creation.com/james-patrick-holding

[151] Kulikovsky, “The Bible and hermeneutics” op.cit.

[152] Of course, Holding insists these are not errors, but if factually untrue statements are errors, then these are indeed errors.

[153] ibid.

[154] “Johann Salomo Semler: German theologian.” Written by: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. At http://www.britannica.com/biography/Johann-Salomo-Semler

[155] Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. Third, Enlarged Edition. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 115

[156] Kulikovsky, “The Bible and hermeneutics” op.cit.

[157] If anything, perhaps CMI can see in this the fact that it is historical criticism that paved the way for the acceptance of Darwinism.

[158] Gillis, Scott. “What percentage is acceptable to you?” Posted on January 16, 2014. At http://creation.com/percentage-acceptable

[159] ibid.

[160] ibid.  There is much excellent material on creationism produced by CMI, but regrettably it is infused, as we have seen, with toxic material on historical criticism and textual criticism, along with promotion of apologists who redefine inerrancy to allow errors into the Bible.

[161] Smith, Calvin. “A tale of two fish: What happens when society teaches its young people that atheism is ‘science’?” Posted on September 26, 2013. At http://creation.com/tale-two-fish

[162] ibid. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[163] ibid. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[164] ibid. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[165] Gillis, Scott. “The tide is changing …” Posted on January 14, 2014. At http://creation.com/tide-changing

[166] ibid.

[167] ibid.

[168] Lita Cosner mentions, in passing, “The Da Vinci Code,” “non-Christian cults,” and “supposedly historical television show[s] that asserts that the Gospels are pieces of propaganda, that the early Church suppressed literature that did not conform with their narrow views, or that Christianity was copied from various pagan religions.” (Cosner, Lita. “Who has an answer? Providing real answers may arrest the hemorrhage of young people from the church once they leave home.” Posted on August 27, 2009. At http://creation.com/who-has-an-answer.)  She does not mention such attacks as the claims of late dating of the Gospel books, extreme late dating of the Gospel According to John, and the denial of the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 – all claims that CMI endorses.

[169] https://answersingenesis.org/bios/ken-ham/

[170] Ham, Ken & Britt Beemer with Todd Hillard. already gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009, p. 26

[171] ibid., p. 107

[172] ibid.

[173] ibid.

[174] ibid.

[175] ibid., p. 108

[176] ibid.

[177] ibid.

[178] ibid.

[179] Gillis, op.cit.

[180] Table from Newport, Frank. “In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins” Posted on June 2, 2014. At http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/believe-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx

[181] The full wording of option 3 was “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”  Of course, this could include gap theorists and others who posit an ancient earth combined with a recent creation of man.

[182] Newport, op.cit.

[183] Bloom, John. “The Lost World of John Walton,” Christian Research Journal 38:3 (2015), p. 58. (Bolding and underlining added.)  Interestingly, while Bloom thinks Walton’s approach in the book Bloom is reviewing “is far too radical,” Bloom himself professes to “have a great deal of empathy for Walton’s intentions: to present Christianity in a manner that does not create a conflict between science and the claims of the Bible, and especially not to lay any particular creation model as a stumbling block in front of the cross.” (ibid. Bolding and underlining added.)

[184] This applies to the group as a whole; obviously there are some individual scholars who hold to young earth creationism.

[185] Wheeler, David R. “Old Earth, Young Minds: Evangelical Homeschoolers Embrace Evolution.” The Atlantic. Posted on March 8, 2013. At http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/03/old-earth-young-minds-evangelical-homeschoolers-embrace-evolution/273844/ (Bolding and underlining added.)

[186] Zylstra, Sarah Eekhoff. “A New Creation Story: Why do more homeschoolers want evolution in their textbooks?” Christianity Today 57:4 (May 2013), p. 16 (Bolding and underlining added.)

[187] ibid.

[188] Wheeler, op.cit.

[189] “The CSI science curriculum clearly presents science from a Christian perspective, but does not attempt to discredit the theory of evolution. The content presents God as the author of all of creation, no matter how he did it or when he did it.” (ibid. Bolding and underlining added.)

[190] Cosner, Lita. “Can we ‘conclusively’ say that dinosaurs were created on Day 6?” op.cit. (Bolding and underlining added.)

[191] Ham, Ken. “The big picture” Creation 23:2 (March 2001), pp. 16-18. At http://creation.com/the-big-picture (Bolding and underlining added.)

[192] Cosner, Lita. “Homeschooling parents demand evolutionary textbooks: What’s in your child’s science textbook?” Posted on June 13, 2013. At http://creation.com/ct-evolution-textbooks

[193] As indicated by the data compiled by Ken Ham & Britt Beemer (op.cit.)

[194] Smith, Calvin. “Charge the hill: Taking back the high ground of biblical authority.” Posted on January 29, 2013. At http://creation.com/Charge-the-hill

[195] ibid.

[196] ibid.

[197] Cosner, “An unconvincing case for pseudepigraphy,” op.cit., p. 44.  Miss Cosner does not even state clearly that she believes in Petrine authorship of 2 Peter.  Even if she does, she certainly concedes that it may not be Petrine, so she is making it clear that the Bible could be wrong in 2 Peter 1:1.

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