Scholars and the Fall...

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.  - 1Corinthians 2:12-16

Regularly, I warn academics that reason is not the one faculty of man that has escaped the Fall. To err is human, and institutions of learning both lower and higher are equally subject to this fruit of Adam's sin.

Reason and logic have been corrupted by the Fall. So, although we can say that all truth is God's truth, we must keep in mind that all man believes to be true is not. True.

The Fall's determinative impact on man's intellectual work is quite obvious to readers of Paul Johnson's Intellectuals. Again and again, Johnson demonstrates the connection between famous intellectuals' private sins...

(especially sexual ones) and their intellectual work. And although he doesn't mention Indiana University's zoologist-turned-sexologist Alfred Kinsey, it would be hard to find a better example of scholarship in bondage to sin and lies. Kinsey was a wicked sexual pervert whose research cultivated the patronage of men who were raping and molesting little children as Kinsey gathered information on those rapes and molestations. So, was the Kinsey Report true? Good? Is there any room left in America today for the word "good" relating to sexuality? Can "truth" have any meaning cut off from "good?" And can "good" have any meaning when that meaning has a firewall blocking it off from God and His Word?

When we founded Clearnote Church, Bloomington, we adopted a constitution and bylaws that began with what are known in American Presbyterianism as the "Preliminary Principles." The fourth is my favorite:

That truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness; according to our Saviour's rule, "by their fruits ye shall know them:" And that no opinion can be either more pernicious or absurd, than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man's opinions are. On the contrary, they are persuaded, that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise, it would be of no consequence either to discover truth, or to embrace it.1

Yes yes, I know I'm talking about epistemology. Being an ignorant Bible-thumper I'm not supposed to do that. Christian philosophers claim this turf. Still, please let me continue.

With John Henry Newman in his The Idea of a University, I say theology is the queen of the sciences, and that where theology is cast off her throne the other disciplines will be fatally wounded...

Alfred Kinsey cannot know truth about sexuality until he learns "in the Image of God He created them, male and female He created them." Concerning sexuality, where else would one start? Even Margaret Mead recognized Kinsey's mechanistic determinism.

Kinsey is universally respected by Scientism men who credit him with founding the scientific study of human sexuality. He has an institute named for him on the campus of Indiana University from which sexologists issue declarations concerning this and that scientific discovery about human sexuality, which declarations are then carried by the news media around the world. Yet Kinsey denied the truths about human sexuality revealed by the Word of God and his research depended upon human trafficking for its results. In what sense, then, can Kinsey's scientific declarations about human sexuality be considered "truth?"

All that appears to be reasonable is not reasonable since God created reason. Man's reason is only reasonable when it does not contradict Scripture, the reason of God written. All man judges to be logical is not logical since God created logic. Man's logic is only logical when it does not contradict Scripture, the logos of God revealed. All truth is God's truth, but not everything man believes to be truth is God's truth. Because man declares something to be true doesn't put God in a straitjacket of conformity to man's fallen judgments or declarations.

My high school buddy's dad, Arthur Holmes, was fond of saying "all truth is God's truth." It's my guess his fondness was partly because he was a philosopher and the repetition of this ditty helped to raise philosophy up near the level of Scripture on a campus where, to that point, Scripture had reigned supreme. In the years since, Wheaton academics have led the pack of Evangelical scholars seeking to pull the Bible off its pedestal, down to the level of their discipline and its sources of authority. They have lamented the denigration they suffer as scholars of this and that when Scripture and theology are viewed as the final authority.

Many of them think of Scripture as only true in matters concerning individuals' private mystical relationships with Jesus. When their Scientism conflicts with Scripture, they choose Scientism. They side with the established authorities of their own discipline. Geological strata. Genome. DNA. Fossils. Theories of justice. Carbon dating. Monetary theory. Feminist language theory. Jewish language theory. Ethnomusicology. Redaction criticism. Lexicography. Linguistics. Ethics.

Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind made him a great hero in this battle. Evangelical scholars everywhere cheered Noll on for striking a blow against the know-nothing Biblicism that he claimed prevailed at Wheaton (where he taught). Noll argued his case by pointing to the Apostle Paul's declarations at the beginning of Romans that nature reveals God and leaves man without excuse.

Noll went on to say that this should stop departments other than Wheaton's Bible department from being relegated to an inferior position; that the book of nature (general revelation) should have something like an equivalency with the Book of God (special revelation) in pride of position at Wheaton; and that if Wheaton really began to honor the liberal arts and sciences as they honored Scripture, he and a few other famous Wheaton colleagues might finally be able to get funding to do research and write books and papers, instead of having to spend all their time teaching. (Yes, this is my own thumbnail sketch of the thrust of Noll's book. Noll would deny its accuracy, but when I'm reading, I listen carefully.)

Being a pastor to big brains, I never stop warning them not to trust in the wisdom of man. Not to give in to Scientism. Not to bow the knee to the Academy.

Instead, we must trust the wisdom of God. We must give in to that wisdom. We must bow the knee to every last word of Scripture.

Al Mohler put it well in his summary of the Nye-Ham debate:

Our sin keeps us from seeing what is right before our eyes in nature. We are dependent upon the God who loves us enough to reveal himself to us—and to give us his Word.

As it turns out, the reality and authority of divine revelation, more than any other issue, was what the debate last night was all about. As the closing statements made very clear, Ken Ham understood that fact, but Bill Nye did not.

  • 1. Fourth of the Preliminary Principles adopted by the 1788 Synod of New York and Philadelphia, 1789 General Assembly, first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., etc. 
Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Excellent post. Thank you, Tim.
Blessings,

Job 12:13-25

13 With Him are wisdom and might;
To Him belong counsel and understanding.

14 “Behold, He tears down, and it cannot be rebuilt;
He imprisons a man, and there can be no release.
15 “Behold, He restrains the waters, and they dry up;
And He sends them out, and they inundate the earth.
16 With Him are strength and sound wisdom,
The misled and the misleader belong to Him.
17 “He makes counselors walk barefoot
And makes fools of judges.

18 “He loosens the bond of kings
And binds their loins with a girdle.
19 “He makes priests walk barefoot
And overthrows the secure ones.
20 He deprives the trusted ones of speech
And takes away the discernment of the elders.
21 “He pours contempt on nobles
And loosens the belt of the strong.
22 He reveals mysteries from the darkness
And brings the deep darkness into light.
23 “He makes the nations great, then destroys them;
He ]enlarges the nations, then leads them away.
24 He deprives of intelligence the chiefs of the earth’s people
And makes them wander in a pathless waste.
25 “They grope in darkness with no light,
And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.

Boy, oh boy, did this post ever resurrect some difficult paths I trekked as a young believer! My undergraduate major was chemistry, until at the last semester I switched to philosophy because the seminary I wanted to attend said I had so few “liberal arts” courses. Horking down 30 hours of undergraduate philosophy courses in three semesters … well, I can think of a great many less unsettling things to do.

Here something ironic – the most godless, anti-Christian professor I ever studied under, the head of the philosophy department, taught most of the logic courses. He hammered us relentlessly with this: “Logic is a machine. It means nothing. It can never mean anything. Put facts into the machine and you ~may~ learn something about the world. But never because your finding is logical. You can never know anything unless you know everything.”

Now, this man rejected the claims of the only One who actually knows everything. And, so, he reasoned – correctly! – that any knowledge is fundamentally uncertain and that truth in any satisfactory sense of that word is,at best, dim and murky, and often it turns out to be false. He knew (as any reader of history will know) that one can be flawlessly logical and wrong.

So, it was this godless man, who knew he was confined to the darkness, who helped me grow comfortable with many things in the Bible which expose logicians to be fools and idiots. Things like the incarnation. Or the Trinity. Or God's sovereignty and the reality of human choice. Or many similar things in the Bible. All of them gave me fits for many years, and the most unsettling thing of all was this – the virtual worship of logic by Christian leaders for whom Holy Writ must never be illogical, self-contradictory, or anything other than perfectly, flawlessly logical.

I'm sure you've run across such people. Every camp within Christendom contains a troop of pastors, seminary professors, Christian philosophers, and all their feverishly intense disciples, who cannot, who will not, listen to God's prophets and Jesus' Apostles, who twist the words of God's spokesmen, until those words are brought into complete conformity with … logic! For them, there are no paradoxes, there are no mysteries, they never ever see through a glass darkly.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if that old logic professor had read far enough in Christian rationalists to convince himself that the Christian faith had nothing to offer. Just look at its leaders!

"Reason and logic have been corrupted by the Fall."

I remember telling someone how grateful I was for the doctrine of the Fall. He looked at me funny, so I had to explain that the understanding of the doctrine of the Fall is responsible for two of my favorite worldly things: the foundation of modern science (my life's work) and the foundation of the greatest form of government in the world. Modern science began when Christians combined to curiosity of the Greeks with Christian humility and an intense awareness of the Fallen-ness of the mind and reason, requiring everything to be tested experimentally. The US Constitution was written by men who were painfully aware of how tempting power could be. They therefore placed definite limits on each branch of the federal government and balanced each with the others, balancing the whole with the power of each state and the vote of the people. An elegant, complicated structure testifying to the Founder's awareness of total depravity.

It's sad to see both institutions in the hands of men who esteem the great principles of their founding so lightly. One might even say the hands of men who despise the founding principles.

Strangely, the supremacy of scripture gets forgotten when Christian men talk about science.

I reject the position that reason and logic fell. I would instead say that man now abuses such in support of his rebellion against God and His created order.

If reason and logic had fell, then it would seem that one would be hard pressed to maintain responsibility for the evil done that one says is supported by reason and logic.

To use Francis Schaeffer's terms, what we are seeing is what happens when science, which can deal well enough with the particulars, starts speaking into the universals - something it really cannot do, and at which point it becomes scientism.

Alfred Kinsey has been dead nearly 60 years and yet his work remains widely cited, both inside and outside academia. Will Judith Reisman be able to claim the same thing, 60 years from now? Or any of us?

For certain, Thomas Aquinas has held up pretty well. But since none of us will be alive to learn if Kinsey has Aquinas' staying power, there's not a great deal of productivity in hand-wringing. But if I were to use my hands to cast my bet between these three iconoclasts, I'd venture to say that, centuries from now, Aquinas will be proudly ripping the tape at the finish line, Kinsey will be at his heels, and Reisman will have stalled somewhere around the first curve.

Bertie,

Thomas Aquinas would sign an order for the execution of the corrupters of children Alfred Kinsey adored. Of course our world cites Kinsey and disses Dr. Judith Reisman. Our world is Sodom and Gomorrah and the men of Sodom and Gomorrah are in such bondage to their sexual perversions that they consume children.

Whether God will tolerate such wickedness, and for how long, remain to be seen. But regardless of how long He allows Babylon's wickedness to grow, you and I will soon stand before His Judgement Seat where every evil thought, deed, and idle word will be brought into His light, and in HIs terrible wrath against ungodliness He will consume every man not dressed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

You, sir: flee the wrath to come. Repent and believe in the forgiveness of sins through the blood of God's perfect Lamb, the only Lord Jesus Christ.

If you comment here again, you will use your true first and last name.

Sincerely,

* * *

God bless Dr. Judith Reisman.

Actually, even in 1948 it was obvious that Kinsey's research was junk. He didn't know anything about the theory of statistics. His background was old-fashioned natural history collection and description, so he he collected sexual histories in the same way, by looking where he could find the most interesting ones (e.g., prisons, homosexual networks). In 1954, the American Statistical Association issued an official report, authored by statisticians still remembered today, condemning his work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_Reports

So Kinsey's work didn't even stand up to scientific standards at the time (though his biased motivations weren't known then). His report is a classic example of a pseudo-scientific study promoted by people who just wanted something authored by a professor that they could cite to support their political/social position.

To Eric's point, I just finished a book on the subversion of our legal system that had an entire chapter on the effect of the Kinsey Reports and those that cited them in providing an impetus to "revise" (meaning to rewrite entirely) the legal code. (The book is Betrayed by the Bench by John Stormer.)

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