Dr. James F. McGrath is the associate professor of religion at Butler University (Indianapolis, Indiana ). This university is home to the Clergy Letter Project founder, Prof. Michael Zimmerman—an atheist who gets pastors to sign a letter supporting evolution and organizes pastors to have a special “Evolution Sunday” in their churches. Among other courses, McGrath teaches a course on science fiction and religion, as well as religion and science.
In a recent blog, Dr. McGrath states:
What Ken Ham and others like him have done is to give Christians a way that they can feel that they are in fact doing this, standing up for their faith, by standing up for pseudoscience, instead of taking a stand for the things that really ought to distinguish a Christian: love for enemies, concern for justice, bringing together those whom society divides along lines of race, gender, status, and much else.In a moment, we’ll look at Dr. McGrath's “false Gospel” claim.
That is really all that the pseudoscientific, anti-Christian movement known as young-earth creationism is: an attempt to distract from the fact that Christians aren't treating the Bible as the Word of God, taking it literally, or doing any of the other things Ken Ham and others like him claim to stand for – not when it comes to the Bible's teaching about economic and social justice, concern for the poor and oppressed, renunciation of wealth, and most other matters of practice. And so young earth creationism deserves to be labelled as what it is: not merely "bogus science" but also a false Gospel.
Recently, I wrote a blog outlining the poor unscholarly article written by Butler University’s atheist professor, Dr. Michael Zimmerman, where he quoted from an article of mine, but was very deceptive in cutting a quote short and taking another statement totally out of context to make false accusations against what AiG teaches. If you haven’t read this blog posting, I urge you to do so.
Well it seems that this kind of bad research exists on both ends of the campus at Butler University. Dr. McGrath shows the same lack of scholarly research, making outlandish claims in his attempts to malign me and Answers in Genesis.
I have written many times on this blog over the past few years, and we have stated in many articles in our publications and for our website making it very clear (as I do when I speak at conferences) that the gospel is not conditioned upon the age of the earth. In fact, I am beginning to realize more and more it is not that people misunderstand this about us, but it is people like Dr. McGrath and others like him who continually make this false accusation in their attempts to get people to think incorrectly about what we teach.
The Bible makes it clear (e.g., John 3, where Jesus explains to Nicodemus that a person needs to be “born again,” and Romans 10:9 that states, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved”) that salvation is conditioned upon faith in Christ and not the age of the earth. Though, We do help people understand that the message of the gospel does come from the Bible; thus, the question as to the authority of the Word of God is a very important one. While believing in millions of years doesn’t affect a person’s salvation directly, there is no doubt that it does affect how others’ (e.g., children, students they teach, etc.) view the authority of Scripture. If a person has to reinterpret the clear teaching of Scripture to fit in millions of years (e.g., reinterpreting the days of creation), this clearly undermines the authority of God’s Word. As a result, there are increasing numbers of people who then reject the gospel that is dependent on the Word of God being true and authoritative.
Answers in Genesis does not teach a “false Gospel.” This is an outlandish false accusation. Actually, I wondered what Dr. McGrath really believes concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ. I found this entry in his blog March 17, 2010 that gives some insight into what he really believes:
So why am I a Christian? A short answer would be that it was within a Christian context that I had a life-changing religious experience. But given that I do not espouse Biblical literalism and inerrancy, some might ask whether I am still a Christian, and my answer would be that taking the whole Bible seriously is certainly no less Christian than quoting it selectively while pretending to believe it all and take it all literally.After reading that, I confess, I do not know what Dr. McGrath believes about the gospel. It certainly does not sound like orthodox Christianity to me. Sounds to me like some intellectual assent to some aspects of Christianity, but he gets to pick and choose the parts he likes. There is no hint in what he has written that he understands or believes what it means to be truly born-again, trusting in Christ alone for salvation, recognizing our sinful lost state and that “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Also, he says nothing about Jesus Christ—let alone about Jesus Christ as his lord and savior. Given the context of what he says, it's clear that he likes the social justice tradition of Christianity and that's why he calls himself a Christian (Matthew 7:21-23 and Ephesians 2:8-10).
I find very helpful an answer to this question that Marcus Borg has also articulated. I am a Christian in much the same way that I am an American. It is not because I condone the actions of everyone who has officially represented America, or that I espouse the viewpoints of its current leaders. It is because I was born into it, and value the positive elements of this heritage enough that I think it is worth fighting over the definition of what it means to be American, rather than giving up on it and moving somewhere else. In the same way, the tradition that gave birth to my faith and nurtured it is one that has great riches (as well as much else beside), and I want to struggle for an understanding of Christianity that emphasizes those things. And just as my having learned much from other cultures is not incompatible with my being an American, my having learned much from other religious traditions doesn't mean I am not a Christian. Christians have always done so. Luke attributes to Paul (in Acts 17:28) a positive quotation from a poem about Zeus . . .
Why am I a Christian? Because I prefer to keep the tradition I have, rather than discarding it with the bathwater and then trying to make something new from scratch. When we pretend that we can simply leave the past behind and start anew we deceive ourselves: just look at the way China worshipped its 'Communist emperor' Mao with all the devotion and spectacle they offered to earlier ones. Even an atheist is in dialogue with the past, willingly or unwillingly. That is why . . . atheists differ depending on what sort of faith they have cast aside.
And to give you another example of this academic’s approach to scholarly articles, here is a spoof he wrote recently (April 1) in another attempt to openly mock Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum:
Creationist Restaurant Shut DownBy the way, our restaurant has never been shut down, except for a few days when we renovated it to fit in more people because the museum and restaurant are so popular!
According to reports, health inspectors today shut down the restaurant at an unspecified creation museum. The creationism-themed restaurant had previously been given a warning when the restaurant's "Crocoduck Burgers" were tested and found not to contain meat from any known animal.
Today's closure drew attention to the restaurant's practice of serving foods on which e. coli bacteria had been not merely allowed but caused to grow to dangerous levels. The restaurant's manager, who may face criminal charges, said that this practice was aimed at increasing popular awareness of the e. coli's irreducibly complex flagella, one of the marvels of intelligent design.
The museum's chief director, however, opined that the restaurant's closure might be for the best. "I have long been concerned that some visitors to the museum might mistakenly interpret their vomiting and diarrhea as a reaction to the exhibits, rather than the restaurant," he said.
Just think about it, Dr. McGrath is associate professor of religion at Butler University! Perhaps his chair should be renamed: “associate professor of anti-Christianity at Butler University.”
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(Acts 26:17-18) the Gentiles, unto whom now I send you, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
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