Scholars and the Fall...

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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 big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!