In my previous two posts on Ken Ham’s book, Already Compromised, I outlined how Ham (and co-author Greg Hall) “set the stage” for their book by arguing that his survey uncovered some very disturbing things in many Christian colleges today. Ham shared that even though there was near unanimous affirmation among Christian colleges regarding the major beliefs of the New Testament, that wasn’t the case with beliefs regarding the Old Testament—and when Ham said, “Old Testament,” he really meant “Genesis 1-11.” And thus, the entire basis for Ham’s claim that there are Christian colleges out there that are “already compromised” is that those colleges do not hold to Ken Ham’s interpretation of Genesis 1-11.
And then, in the next post, I discussed how Ham and Hall went about trying to convince their readers that not only is the creation/evolution debate “ground zero” in the culture war that is going on in this country, but that many so-called Christian professors at various Christian colleges are actually “working for the other side” by trying to systematically destroy the faith of students. But even though Ham assures his readers that he is not questioning the salvation of these professors, he does go out of his way to call them “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” and a “lurking and growing enemy within our camp.” And, once again, the entire basis for Ham to accuse Christian professors in the religion departments of Christian colleges of being “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” and “lurking enemies” who are “strategically” and “intentionally” trying to “systematically destroy” the faith of students…is the fact that they don’t all agree with his interpretation of Genesis 1-11.
So, given that dark and sinister picture of Christian colleges, Ham and Hall ask, “What can good Christians do?” and then proceed to answer that question in the second half of their book—and that is what this post will discuss.
Pearl Harbor, Egypt, and the Serpent Who Undermines Biblical Authority
The first thing Ham and Hall do in the second half of the book is to really drive home (i.e. scare their readers) how dangerous many Christian colleges are these days. The first picture they give is of Pearl Harbor: just like the Japanese unleashed a surprise attack on America, modern liberal atheists (of whom are many of the so-called Christian professors at Christian colleges) have attacked the very Christian worldview this country was based on. And just like Pearl Harbor “awoke the sleeping giant” of America, Ham and Hall hope that the “sleeping giant” of the church will wake up and fight back against the atheist onslaught.
The second picture they give is that of Egypt during the Exodus: Pharaoh didn’t want the Israelites to go too far from Egypt, but that was exactly what needed to be done—get away from the paganism of Egypt. Similarly, Christian parents need to “go far from Egypt” when educating their children. The pictures, therefore, are pretty clear: who are Japanese and the Egyptians in these illustrations? Well, in addition to obvious culprits like Richard Dawkins and the New Atheist Movement, Ham and Hall also make clear that it is also those compromising professors at Christian colleges.
But not only are those compromising professors the equivalent of the Japanese in WWII and Pharaoh, Ham and Hall also equate them with the serpent of Genesis 3. This accusation is a favorite of Ken Ham—if someone (like a biblical scholar) asks the question, “What is the real message of Genesis 1? Can we be sure we in the modern world are interpreting the way the original audience would have understood it?” Ham says, “See there? They are questioning biblical authority! They are speaking with the voice of the serpent!”
He even goes so far as to wonder if such professors will ever face real consequences at their Christian colleges. He rhetorically asks the presidents of Christian colleges, “If someone teaches something contrary to the Bible (i.e. not how I interpret Genesis 1-11), do you have the will to fire them or publicly correct them?” (90).
Of course, asking, “What does the passage mean?” isn’t undermining biblical authority at all—it is seeking understanding and is an example of critical thinking. But asking such questions seems dangerous to Ham, so he (quite literally) demonizes the people who ask them. It is no wonder why there have been many instances of professors being fired because they do not endorse the YECist view of Genesis 1-11. Ham has done his job well by convincing many people that anyone who disagrees with him is a compromising, lurking enemy like the Japanese or Pharaoh, hell bent on destroying the Christian faith.
This is all the more ironic, given what I discussed in my previous post regarding how Ham laments the anti-intellectualism and lack of critical thinking among Christians today, particularly among the “compromising” professors at many Christian colleges. How one can accuse someone of not thinking critically, then turn around and accuse them of “speaking with the voice of the serpent” when they ask questions and engage in critical thinking—is beyond me. It simply does not make any sense. It is paranoid scare tactics.
Good Thinking…and the Age of The Earth
In another chapter entitled, “The High Stakes of Good Thinking: The Age of the Earth,” Ham and Hall discuss the importance of “thinking Christianly.” Now, much of what they say is good (i.e. To “think Christianly” is to consider ourselves the students of Christ)—but the sad fact is that they tie all of that to whether or not one believes the earth is 6,000 years old. In doing so, they make it clear that they believe anyone who is convinced of modern scientific claims of the earth being billions of years old has gone after “worldly resources for wisdom” and has proven himself to be (here it comes) anti-intellectual. According to Ham and Hall, all you need to understand science…is Jesus:
“We might think we desire the mind of Christ, but every time we seek information, understanding, or wisdom from other sources or other teachers, we betray our so-called belief in the greatest teacher who ever lived. It is time to understand that the reason we have any inclination to have the mind of Christ or think Christianly in the first place is because Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived. His comprehension about every topic of interest in the human condition is impeccable. We should want to know what Jesus thinks about any topic first and foremost” (118).
I don’t know about you, but of course I want to understand as clearly as I can what Jesus says in the Scriptures. I just think that perhaps saying Jesus’ “comprehension of every topic of interest is impeccable” might be going just a tad beyond what the Scriptures themselves actually say. Of course, if you know anything about Ken Ham, you know full-well why he makes that claim: there are a handful of times Jesus refers to something in Genesis 1-3. So therefore (according to Ham), since Jesus refers to Genesis 1-3, and since he is “the smartest man who ever lived” (as well as God), and since his comprehension of every topic is impeccable, therefore, that must mean Genesis 1-3 is literal history: “Jesus said it, therefore it must be true!”
Of course, Jesus didn’t say “The earth is only a few thousand years old,” and nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus had “impeccable comprehension” about every topic under the sun ever. And (as should be obvious to anyone who thinks critically), merely referencing a passage does not mean one is automatically affirming that given passage is historically factual. Or let me put it another way: even if, when we get to heaven, God says, “Yes, the entire universe really is only a few thousand years old,” the claim, “Since Jesus references Genesis 1-3 means the universe must only be a few thousand years old,” still is logically incoherent and nonsensical.
Or in other words, coming up with a convoluted and illogical claim is neither an example of “good thinking,” nor of “thinking Christianly.”
The Worst Option…and Pharisees
By the end of the book, Ham and Hall tell their readers, “…perhaps the worst option for a student is going blindly into a so-called ‘Christian’ college that is compromising the authority of the Word of God” (i.e. those that don’t agree with the way we interpret Genesis 1-11. Everything in the New Testament is good, and let’s be honest, we really don’t care about anything from Genesis 12-Malachi; but man, don’t go to those supposedly Christian schools that don’t think the entire universe is 6,000 years old…that’s a ticket to hell!) (138).
And then (again, the irony is rich), Ham and Hall equate these Christian colleges with Pharisees who “were hiding behind their religiosity. It was the religious leaders that [Jesus] called the snakes and the vipers” (139). What Ham doesn’t realize is that the Pharisees were essentially the “far-right ultra-fundamentalists” of their day who objected to how liberal Jesus was by doing things that violated God’s word. They demanded clear guidelines and rules, and even made up their own rules that went beyond what the Torah actually said. So if these Christian colleges are truly as “liberal” as Ham says, then equating them with Pharisees doesn’t make sense.
If you’re going to equate the Pharisees with someone, equate them with people who obsess over the literal letter of the law, who don’t put up with any ambiguity or questioning, who make up their own claims that go far beyond what the Bible actually says, and then who make those made-up claims the very foundation of their faith, and proceed to condemn anyone who doesn’t submit to them as “compromisers” and sinners. Simply put, compare them to Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis.
Ham’s Final Appeal to Students
Near the end of the book, Ham and Hall dispense their advice to any students who might read their book. They tell students that they had better be prepared to do their own thinking: “Thinking Christianly is hard work [Yes, that is very true!]. The easy way out is to let others inform you about how you should think” [i.e. not unlike what they have precisely tried to do in this book!] (150).
In addition, they tell students that even if they go to a Christian college, they had better “keep their guard up wherever they go,” because, “In many situations, liberal professors are more personable than staunch conservatives who comes across as closed-minded and impersonal” (156). I find such “advice” ironic and hilarious. Not only is it obvious that their definition of “liberal” is “anyone who doesn’t agree with us about Genesis 1-11,” [Newsflash—that’s not what “liberal” means], but they are, in effect, admitting that the kind of people they prefer are close-minded and impersonal.
A “Plea for Unity”
In their final chapter, Ham and Hall issue a “plea for unity” among Christians. Of course, as is clear throughout the book, their idea of “unity” is to make sure all those “compromising wolves” get fired. Why? Because those kinds of “so-called” Christian educators have “compromised” the biblical truth about geology, astronomy, anthropology and biology. And Ham and Hall are convinced that “this is…the area where the world’s attack against the gospel of Jesus Christ is most heavily pointed” (163).
Sadly, I have no doubt that Ken Ham really believes that “the world” is trying to discredit the gospel by claiming the universe is 14 billion years old. That should tell you something: Ham believes the gospel is chiefly concerned with giving us historical facts about a young earth. Just look at the name of his organization: Answers in Genesis. Make no mistake, despite the occasional lip service Ham gives to Jesus, 95% of his time and energy is devoted to spreading his own “gospel” of a young earth, and then condemning anyone who questions him.
I’m pretty sure that Paul would say such a “gospel” is no gospel at all.
Whenever I write a critique of Ken Ham, inevitably I will get an occasional comment, like, “You really have it out for Ham!” I want to make one thing clear: my biggest problem with Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, and YECism as a whole for that matter, isn’t that they believe the universe is only 6,000 years old, or that they believe Genesis 1-11 is conveying history. Those things can and should be discussed and debated. I have numerous friends and acquaintances who don’t fully agree with me on these issues, but we talk about and discuss them—and in the process of doing so, we are able to find common ground as to what really matters and what truly is important.
My biggest problem with Ken Ham is the fact that he has made YECism the foundation for Christianity and the gospel, and he is actively going about spreading and encouraging division among Christians over his singular obsession with Genesis 1-11. This very book, Already Compromised, is Ham’s clarion call for division within the church—and it is as divisive and hateful as it is nonsensical and illogical.
In my final post about Already Compromised, I will share some final thoughts and observations, as well as discuss what Ham put in the appendix to the book: buckle up—the ride is going to get really bumpy.