Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mohler's Inconsistent Hermeneutic


Baptist Press has published a story about Southern Seminary President Al Mohler's statements to Time Magazine about creation and evolution. Mohler argues the case for young-Earth creationism in six literal days. Here is an excerpt from the BP story:

Mohler, a young-Earth creationist, says the Bible is clear about the way in which God created the earth in six days. He argues that Christianity and evolution offer opposing views of human origins.

"Given the human tendency toward inconsistency, there are people who will say they hold both positions," Mohler writes. "But you cannot coherently affirm the Christian-truth claim and the dominant model of evolutionary theory at the same time.

"... I believe the Bible is adequately clear about how God created the world, and that its most natural reading points to a six-day creation that included not just the animal and plant species but the earth itself.

"But there have always been Evangelicals who asserted that it might have taken longer. What they should not be asserting is the idea of God's having set the rules for evolution and then stepped back. And even less so, the model held by much of the scientific academy: of evolution as the result of a random process of mutation and selection."

It's obvious that Mohler's chief concern is for hermeneutical consistency. He wants to be consistent about interpreting the Bible literally. The problem with that hermeneutical approach is that it is impossible to do that and be a Baptist (unless, of course, you are Al Mohler and can define Baptist beliefs as whatever you believe. Paige Patterson himself once labelled Al the "Baptist pope").

What is consistent about interpreting the "days" in the first chapter of Genesis literally and interpreting "body" and "blood" in the Eucharist (lord's supper) symbolically? If Baptists can interpret "body" and "blood" symbolically while the vast majority of Christians interpret it literally, why can't they interpret the six days in Genesis symbolically?

I'd say that Mohler's logic is taking Baptists yet another step toward the theology of Roman Catholicism -- except, Roman Catholics have no problem reconciling creation with evolution. They have had the benefit of centuries to reflect on the errors of logically consistent theologians like Mohler who, in the days of Copernicus and Galileo, once insisted that Christianity was irreconcilable with a heliocentric solar system.

5 comments:

Dr. Mike Kear said...

"...you cannot coherently affirm the Christian-truth claim and the dominant model of evolutionary theory at the same time."

This statement is transparently false. And this from the "genius" who is teaching the next generation of SBC preachers and thinkers. With logic like his, an entire generation of Southern Baptist youth should be expected to abandon ship. But that's why Mohler also espouses removing children from the influence of science and logic in public schools.

His argument isn't just with science and logic generically, but also with a plethora of theologians whose insights and hermeneutical abilities go well beyond his.

Peace,

Mike

Greek Shadow said...

He's the perfect "Friend Purdy" from the movie Friendly Persuasion. Whatever's right for Mohler's got to be right for everyone else.

Howie Luvzus said...

D.R.---PLEASE!
If Mohler believes that the "authorial intent" of the writer of Genesis was to provide an historically and scientifically accurate view of HOW the world was created (which he obviously does) he's lost his mind! Further evidence of this is the quote highlighted by Mike.

Genesis 1 contradicts Genesis 2 in the order of creation, but the one(s) who collected the two stories don't seem to mind. Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER! The historical accuracy is not the point. The theological message is!

Last time I checked, the Bible is a theological work, not a scientific treatise (sp?). There's a whole lot of great theology that gets lost because persons like Mohler try to turn Genesis into a science book!

This whole evolution thing makes non-Christians think that you've got to turn off your brain in order to be a Christian. It ain't the dark ages any more. The Earth doesn't have four corners! I honestly think Fundamentalists get into arguments like this in order to avoid following Jesus. I know you're going to take me to task on this, but at this point--I think I'm right.

leon said...

Why do these people always base their order and time of creation on Genesis 1 and not Gesesis 2? How do they deal with the differences in order? Is Genesis 1 the correct story and Genesis 2 in error? What does that say about inerrancy?

Actually, this is the Fallacy of the Misplaced "W" -- Genesis is about Who not hoW!

Bob Ferguson said...

Well said leon: Actually, this is the Fallacy of the Misplaced "W" -- Genesis is about Who not hoW!

bob ferguson