Textbook Misleading Many Seminary and Bible College Students

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Revmitchell, May 22, 2014.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    Dr. Millard Erickson is one of the greatest evangelical theologians of our generation. In 2013, Erickson published the third edition of his book titled Christian Theology, which is widely used as a textbook in seminaries and Bible colleges in America and other countries. His chapter on creation is no different from his second (1998) edition, which is essentially the same as his first (1983) edition, both of which I analyzed in this article. The only difference between the second and third editions is the third’s addition of four lines of text about the “revelatory day” view of Genesis 1 (which he rejects) and one page about the Intelligent Design movement (citing the post-1991 writings of Philip Johnson, Michael Behe, and William Dembski).

    As in previous editions, under the heading “The Age of Creation” Erickson summarizes the various views on Genesis 1 and the age of the earth: the “gap theory,” the “age-day theory,” and the “pictorial-day (or literary framework) theory.” It is hard to imagine that he is unaware of the labels “young-earth creation,” “biblical creation,” or “scientific creationism” that are so widely used today by both proponents and opponents of the view. But Erickson never uses any of those and instead in this section (as in previous editions) refers only to the “flood theory” and the “ideal-time theory” thereby dividing the young-earth view into two different views.

    With respect to the (global) flood theory, he still only refers to the 1923 book by the Adventist George McCready Price. Why the continuing avoidance of Whitcomb and Morris’s epic The Genesis Flood (1961) that launched the modern creationist movement, and numerous other more recent books scientifically and biblically defending the global-Flood/young-earth view?1 In this third edition he still refers to only two young-earth creationist books: Price’s 1923 book and Philip Gosse’sOmphalos, a 1857 book which Erickson (as in the previous editions) has footnoted as being published in 1957.

    After once again affirming his non-dogmatic belief in the day-age view of Genesis 1, he again states, “The age of the universe is a topic that needs continued study and thought” (p. 352). But in the thirty years since Erickson’s first edition he gives no indication that he has done any serious study of and thinking about the voluminous biblical and scientific scholarly literature defending the global-Flood/young-earth view. It is hard not to conclude that he has deliberately avoided that literature. Why has he? After all, for this third edition he obviously did some reading of scholarly literature from the Intelligent Design movement. I suggest it is because he has uncritically accepted what the majority of scientists say about millions of years.

    It is very sad that Erickson’s widely used text is misleading many evangelical seminary and Bible college students not only in America but through translation in other countries as well. I know the director of a creation apologetics ministry in Ukraine that is working all over the Russian-speaking world. He told me the Russian version of Erickson’s text—like the Russian translation of Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology textbook—is leading many young Russian pastors astray on creation, which is why my whole article here has been translated into Russian.2
    Dr. Erickson needs to do his homework in creationist literature, repent of his erroneous teachings on creation and the age of the earth and his ignoring of creationist writings, and then he needs to do a fourth edition to his theology text to affirm faith in the literal truth of Genesis. Join me in praying that he will do so.

    http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/b...al&utm_campaign=facebooktwittergooglelinkedin
     
  2. Deacon

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    Of course "Answers in Genesis" wouldn't like Erickson's text – it legitimizes teaching contrary to their foundational beliefs. So AIG is not an unbiased source.

    I don't greatly appreciate Erickson's Systematic Theology on this doctrine. It is to terse and stunted, almost as if he didn't fully understand the implications of his writing. Yet it hits the high spots.

    I find it is common among the general systematic theology texts; perhaps a shortcoming based upon the necessity to keep the length of a text within certain parameters. To get a fuller understanding you need to read books devoted entirely to the topic.

    Here are some other authors and texts (among many) that disagree with AIG's assumptions.

    Mark Driscoll (Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, 2010)

    …one’s view of the date of creation should not be the litmus test for Christian faithfulness. Within Christian theology there are open- and closed-handed issues. Biblical authority is a closed-handed issue. Christians receive what the Bible actually teaches as truth from God to be believed and obeyed. Regarding creation, anyone who claims to be a Bible-believing Christian must reject such things as the atheistic evolutionists’ claims that there is no God and that creation is not a gift but rather an epic purposeless accident. Nevertheless, Bible-believing Christians, as we will explore in this chapter, can and do disagree over the open-handed issues, such as exactly how God made the heavens and the earth, whether the six days of Genesis 1–2 are literal twenty-four-hour days, and the age of the earth. These sorts of issues must remain in the open hand.

    Millard Erickson (Christian Theology, 1983)

    “...[T]heistic evolution views God’s later creative work as occurring through immanent means. While this view is able to handle quite well the scientific data, it has some difficulty with the biblical account of creation. And any view that is to be acceptable, given the understanding of the Bible and of general revelation adopted earlier in this volume, must be in accord with both the biblical data and the scientific data. More adequate is the position termed progressive creationism. According to this view God created in a series of acts over a long period of time. … This view fits well the biblical data. “ (383-384).

    Carl Henry (God, Revelation, and Authority, 1976)

    Creation doctrine has taken several forms. Some expositors eager for harmony with contemporary science differ little if at all from versions of theistic evolution that give full scope to the miraculous in expounding the creation-days or ages of Genesis. Progressive creationism, a view popular among many evangelical scientists, can therefore also be considered a variety of theistic evolution, yet one which holds that major steps in developmental advance have resulted from fiat creation that sporadically penetrated long ages of comparatively gradual change.
    Scientific creationists are charged with going beyond the express teaching of Genesis in some respects and of violating established scientific results in others.

    Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology, 1994).

    ”Both ‘Old Earth’ and ‘Young Earth’ Theories Are Valid Options for Christians Who Believe the Bible Today.” (p298).


    Norman Geisler (Systematic Theology, Volume 2, 2003)

    “There are numerous ways that one can account for long periods of time and still accept a literal understanding of Genesis 1-2. That is, one does not have to give up the normal historical-grammatical way of interpreting the Bible in order to embrace these views. Therefore, there is no necessary conflict between Genesis and the belief that the universe is millions or even billions of years old.” (646).

    Answers in Genesis presents a popular, easy to believe theology that doesn't really answer the questions of todays thinkers.

    Rob
     
  3. evangelist6589

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    Somehow I thought you did a copy and paste because it sounded too scholarly for you to write. But anyways while I disagree with Erickson on the issue, his systematic theology is not really about this debate. In seminary where I read his second edition cover to cover, we ignored his views on this issue, but focused on what we agreed with. I also read BB Warfield whom has questionable views on the issue, and also Gleason Archer. Should we separate from these men Mitchell because of their creationism views?
     
  4. evangelist6589

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    Really???? It presents what the Bible says and besides its not just AIG that holds these views. Have you read the book "The Battle for the Beginning"? Can you refute the arguments made in that book?
     
  5. Deacon

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    Yes, I've read MacArthur's "Battle for the Beginnings".
    Nothing new there .... it's a sorry rehash of old arguments that have been discussed over and over again.

    Rob
     
  6. Greektim

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    1) I'm not sure, but I would venture to guess that his syst theo is not as popular as it once was. The broadly evangelical syst theo is Grudem's. And there are more pouring out every day. Like I said, though, I'm not sure. Seminary profs choose textbooks based on their own preference.

    2) It is just a syst theo. It can't cover in detail every single view and it certainly doesn't have to coincide with your view.

    3) I will most certainly not pray and ask that he repents. No more than I will pray and ask that you repent. Diversity is good for the body. It keeps us on our toes, reading, studying, and honing our blades (iron sharpens...).
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    This reveals that you did not actually read the whole article. He addresses this.
     
  8. evangelist6589

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    How often do you read articles or books in full?
     
  9. evangelist6589

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    Grudems in undergrad level and Erickson i grad level.
     
  10. Deacon

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    Re: young earth creationism - I've heard similar statements made by those that disagree with it (perhaps even made them myself :tongue3:).

    Poor Ken is so caught up in the issue that can't see the forest from the trees His ministry/business model can't adapt to different viewpoints.

    Rob
     
  11. Greektim

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    They are pretty much the same. Hint: look at the page numbers. The choice is up to the prof. I guarantee, Grudem uses his textbook in seminary. Most of these guys to set out to write an undergrad or grad level syst theo. Now I will grant, Grudem's popularity has give it a popular level readership. But it is a seminary text.
     
  12. preachinjesus

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    Just when you think AiG couldn't get any sillier. And here we are...
     
  13. Aaron

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    in the same vein of the OP:

    http://creation.com/giberson-unmasked

    ...my belief in God is tinged with doubts and, in my more reflective moments, I sometimes wonder if I am perhaps simply continuing along the trajectory of a childhood faith that should be abandoned. As a purely practical matter, I have compelling reasons to believe in God. My parents are deeply committed Christians and would be devastated, were I to reject my faith. My wife and children believe in God, and we attend church together regularly. Most of my friends are believers. I have a job I love at a Christian college that would be forced to dismiss me if I were to reject the faith that underpins the mission of the college. Abandoning belief in God would be disruptive, sending my life completely off the rails. I can sympathize with Darwin as he struggled against the unwanted challenges to his faith.
     
  14. evangelist6589

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    True and correct. At BJU I was told Grudem was undergrad and Erickson was Grad. I looked briefly at Grudem's there and own a copy (in digital form) and have looked at it a few times. I think Erickson's is deeper, however Grudem's is Reformed.
     
  15. Deacon

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    I must have lent out my copy of Grudem, I can't find it! uggh - I can't remember who!!!
    Its value lies not only in the theology text but in the citations to other systematic theology texts at the end of each section.

    The opening post article chastised Erickson for not mentioning Morris', The Genesis Flood in his book.

    While "The Genesis Flood" is still popular and still in print, it contains peculiar and incorrect interpretations based upon faulty ideas (e.g. the word study of 'firmament' and the canopy theory). A wise student should only use it as an historical artifact. A comparative study between young-earth ideas offered in the book and those of today would show wide divergence. Ken Ham and Dr. Terry Mortenson should know this.

    Erickson on the other hand, was a student of Bernard Ramm, author of "Protestant Biblical Interpretation", a widely used hermeneutical textbook in years past.
    Ramm coined the term, "Progressive Creationism" in his book called, "A Christian View of Science and Scripture" (1956). I have two copies (one is a first edition) that I cherish. (won't lend those out!)

    While his science portions are dated, Ramm's approach to resolving the conflicts between science and scripture have left a mark on the way seminarians are taught to approach scripture today. This is reflected in Erickson's work.

    Rob
     
    #15 Deacon, May 22, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2014
  16. quantumfaith

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    :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:
     
  17. quantumfaith

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    :thumbs::thumbs::applause::applause:
     
  18. quantumfaith

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    :applause::applause::applause:
     
  19. quantumfaith

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    Rob, I have been reading Salihammers book, Genesis Unbound. Thought I would not share his positions totally, I am really intrigued by what so far seems to be a major "vector" of his thoughts.....the "mis-translation" and understanding of "earth" (eretz). I really like his covenant connections with "the land".
     
  20. Deacon

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    John Sailhamer's ideas sure are intriguing.
    He taught for a short time at the former Philadelphia College of Bible, not far from where I live (now called Cairn University).
    I have a short book that I keep next to Sailhamers Genesis Unbound called, A Promised Land for a Chosen People; the good land and the good life (1979) by Gordon Ceperley, also of PBU.
    I don't know if the two of them interacted but if have a feeling that Ceperley's discussion of "the land" influenced Sailhamer (or Sailhamer influenced Ciperley).

    IMO, Ciperley's booklet is not a must read, it just seems to support Sailhamer's ideas.

    Rob
     

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