Knowing the sin nature of man, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and that “men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19), we should not be surprised at the attacks an evangelistic, Bible-upholding ministry like AiG receives from the secular world. Such attacks should be expected. However, it is so sad when we receive them from people in Christendom—particularly those who say they are Bible-believing Christians and preach the gospel. Unfortunately, it happens frequently.
For instance, let me give you a recent example from our “backyard” of Cincinnati. A number of years ago, one of the profs (who has since passed on) at Cincinnati Christian University did his best to uphold the authority of God’s Word beginning in Genesis, as AiG does. But what about Dr. Jon Weatherly, professor of New Testament studies and vice president for academic affairs at Cincinnati Christian University? He earned his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees at Cincinnati Christian University, his Master of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and his PhD at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland)—see http://www.ccuniversity.edu/call/faculty/. In a recent blog post, Dr. Weatherly takes a swipe at AiG (in 2010, he also gave false witness on his blog about what we believe concerning salvation).
Dr. Weatherly writes regularly for his blog “Seldom Wrong, Never in Doubt.” Recently, Dr. Weatherly wrote a post about our Ark Encounter, in which he was very critical of the project. In the past, he’s referred to the Ark Encounter as a “global publicity stunt” that “sounds lame.”
In a more recent post on the Ark Encounter project, Dr. Weatherly expresses his doubt about the project ever being completed. While he acknowledges that the economy is not doing well and that the Ark Encounter is a source of controversy in secular society, Dr. Weatherly also writes, “But we wonder whether the hot air is starting to leak out of the Ken Ham's militant-young-earth balloon. Ham's hostility could be making him enemies as fast as it used to make him friends.” Now, doesn’t that comment seem a little hostile itself?
I just never cease to be amazed by the lack of scholarship by these professors who use their platforms to attack the biblical positions we hold at AiG. For instance, Dr. Weatherly does not explain that the Ark project is a for-profit enterprise, owned not by us but the Ark Encounter LLC of Springfield, Missouri. He probably does not cover that detail because as far as we know he never asked us and never searched out the matter; he just seems to have written on the basis of hearsay instead of doing scholarly research. AiG is raising most of its financial commitment to the project through donations (and we are building one attraction, the Ark, of nine total Bible-themed attractions). By far the bulk of the revenue for the entire Ark Encounter will come from private funding sources, and we/they are well underway with this aspect of the funding. There are also Ark memberships that are a part of the revenue raising. While we are the designers and operators of the Ark, we are one member of the LLC.
Also, the comment “Ken Ham's militant-young-earth balloon,” I believe, reveals the real agenda behind his attack. The bottom line is that he does not hold to the position on a literal Genesis as we do and seems to be mocking those who hold to a young earth and universe. Of course, if Dr. Weatherly holds to the belief in millions of years (which I believe is implied by the wording in his blog post), he is ultimately blaming God for death, disease, and suffering occurring for a very long time before Adam appeared, instead of blaming our sin for suffering and death.
It’s unfortunate that Dr. Weatherly has such a poor opinion of the ministry of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. A few years ago, hearing that he might be “agnostic” about the age of the earth and hoping to share our perspectives with him, we actually invited Dr. Weatherly to visit the museum as our guest, and he came and also gave a devotional to our staff (in 2008), which I mentioned in a blog post. He certainly knows our commitment to the authority of the Word of God and the gospel. We were friendly and not hostile in the slightest toward him.
To me, it doesn’t seem very academic of the vice president of academic affairs at a Christian university to then write condemning blog posts about the ministry of AiG and the Creation Museum, using arguments that are not based on scholarly research—and thus his readers (and perhaps the students he speaks to) do not understand the true nature of the Ark project.
The Ark Encounter is intended to be an evangelistic ministry, one that will spread the gospel to people across the United States and the world. Why would a professor at a Christian university choose to criticize such an outreach—one that will powerfully reach out to an increasingly secularized world! Surely he should be thrilled that such a project will be used to call people’s attention to the truth of God’s Word and challenge them concerning the need of salvation in Jesus Christ. Now, I don’t think he is concerned that the Ark Encounter will be a second-rate effort and thus be an artistic embarrassment for the Christian faith (he has seen the high-tech exhibits and quality of the Creation Museum for himself).
A friend of AiG read these comments by the CCU VP and professor and shared the following with us:
I often wonder about these e-guys. They're so eager to mock and scorn on the web. Even when I was an old earth, theistic evolutionist, I cannot imagine that I would have been happy that the Ark’s construction could be delayed.I pray that Christians will not be led astray by the misinformation seen in this latest Ark attack. In fact, why would any Christian want to attack an outreach—with 1.6 million projected visitors coming each year (many of them non-Christians needing to hear the saving gospel message)—that presents biblical events as real and the gospel?
What he supposes is that we are actually putting a stumbling block to the Gospel in front of folks by saying that the Bible means what it says [about the Ark and Flood] instead of saying natural science must be the ultimate authority in interpreting Scripture -- except maybe where it would also forbid miracles, the resurrection of Christ, etc. Such double mindedness (I can testify from experience) is either a prideful commitment to a position based on the esteem it has gained you, or simply the consequence of a faith that has not been fully examined. In my experience, many, many Christians, including ministers, never fully flesh out their beliefs and instead hold beliefs in unexamined contradiction. It is a failure of the Church to systematically teach doctrine and apologetics that has led us to this place.
Lastly, here is a troubling item that appeared on Dr. Weatherly’s blog post in December 2010 (and to our knowledge has never been retracted). A person described as “Tom in KY” had commented on a posting by Dr. Weatherly’s entitled “Ken Ham’s Ark Adventure,” writing, “… isn't Ham the guy that says if you don't believe in a literal 6-day creation, that he trotted out the ‘you are not a Christian/going to hell’ narrative?” How did Dr. Weatherly reply? He wrote the following:
Correct, Tom. Ham is the founder/president of Answers in Genesis, which uses various means, notably its celebrated Creation Museum in Hebron, KY, to promote the notion that either God created the world in six 24-hour days about 6000 years ago or the entire Christian faith is false. And while he may not formally affirm that people like SWNID are hell-bound for their dissent--even allowing his assistants to invite the likes of SWNID to address the organization's employees devotionally--he comes mighty close to doing so when he devotes at least as much of his organization's resources to arguing with other Christians as to promoting a theology of creation to the outside world.As you can see, Dr. Weatherly also added the false charge that we believe “the entire Christian faith is false” if you reject a young earth. Of course, we write time and time again—and declare in our public talks—that salvation is dependent on faith in Christ alone, not on the date of the earth. We often add that many wonderful pastors and theologians who reject a literal Genesis are godly people who love the Lord.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying—including for the evangelistic Ark Encounter. On this National Day of Prayer in America, we would certainly appreciate your prayerful support as ministries like AiG are challenging the church and nation as a whole to accept God’s Word as true.