Evolution, the age of the earth, and Cedarville University. • Noah Lantz Cedarville University's creationist approach to scientific study is unique, even among the 100+ Council for Christian Colleges and Universities to whom it belongs, an institution whose mission statement reads “To advance the cause of Christcentered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.” Advertisements for Cedarville University in magazines, such as the conservatively-oriented WORLD, flaunt the youngearth mindset embraced by our school. Recently, Answers in Genesis held a conference at Cedarville where Ken Ham and other speakers advocated young earth beliefs. Meanwhile, professors at CU are required to sign a doctrinal statement affirming their belief that the earth was created in six literal days. The suggestion that such beliefs may be misplaced with the intended reading of Scripture results in the scrutiny and/or dismissal of faculty, as seen with the unfortunate treatment of Dr. Pahl in August. These events, and the dogmatic stance with which the 6,000-10,000 year perspective on earth history is embraced on campus amidst a scientific and academic community that wholeheartedly rejects the concept should prompt a fresh evaluation of creationism and modern science. Do the tenets of this belief fall in line with basic observations of the world around us and the continued findings of the scientific community? And do science and the Bible clash over this issue, or do young earth interpretations of Scripture lead to a place of decided unreason, much like the church in Galileo’s day? To begin, let us note that the scientific community estimates that the age of the Universe stands at nearly 14 billion years old, while the age of the earth stands at 4.5-4.6 billion years old. In no uncertain terms, these numbers strongly contradict the young earth
What’s Wrong with the White Papers Why Cedarville’s White Papers fall badly short of the mark Rev. Adam Wirrig, CU Alumnus
model, which states that God created the universe roughly 6,000-10,000 years ago. The scientifically accepted age of the universe rests (mostly) on two concepts, cosmic background radiation and Hubble's Law. Hubble's law states that all objects in space have a Doppler shift proportional to their distance from earth and other observable bodies. Hubble's Law, in short, establishes that space is expanding and that objects are receding from each other. This was both the first step in establishing that the universe had a beginning and discovering its age. After all, if the universe is expanding at a measurable rate, discovering the age of its birth is as simple as reversing the clock until all observed matter winds down to a single point in space. For further research on this topic, I would recommend looking into the topics of Red Shift and the Doppler Effect by logging a search in Google. Using a young earth interpretation of scripture as a scientific basis, one would believe that the resulting date using this process would fall somewhere between the 6,000 to 10,000 year range. However, using the actual rate of expansion, one finds that the age of the universe is in the billions of years. Creationist website Answers in Genesis responds to this by claiming that the actual measure of the rate of expansion is a point of some contention among cosmologists, with dates for the age of the earth approaching nine to twenty five billion years old using differing values for the rate of expansion. Notably, both of those dates are much older than six to ten thousand years old. AiG then ascribes an arbitrary rate for expansion, admits it is completely untestable, and calls it a day—noting that "Because of the singular nature of the creation event, there is no easy way [read, no way] to verify
Released in the fall of 2011 and allegedly written by current Academic Vice-President Tom Cornman, the Cedarville University “White Papers” have proven a source of significant discussion for both current and former students of the university. Provided as a supplement and refinement to Cedarville’s current doctrinal statement, these papers, intended to aid and reinforce faith, instead show a disturbing departure from previous standards of rigor associated with the university. At the outset, I want to clarify that I write not to criticize the doctrines or beliefs presented within the White Papers. Admittedly, I do take significant issue with some of these understandings; however, the purpose of this article is not to dispute doctrine with the Cedarville administration. Rather, I want to address something which I think many, regardless of theological inclination, might find disturbing: the troubling lack of scholarship presented within the White Papers. I attended Cedarville during the twilight of the Dixon administration. There are many things I remember about my time at Cedarville. Perhaps one of the most prominent in my mind
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Women as Leaders Flaws in Cedarville attitudes towards women • Zach Schneider On October 29, 2012, Cedarville held their semi-monthly questionand-answer session in chapel, with Dr. Brown and Pastor Rohm answering a selection of student questions about the university, Christianity, and more. At the end of this particular chapel, Dr. Brown sent shock waves across Cedarville’s campus with a surprise announcement of his resignation as president, effective at the end of the year. This event was the only thing most students remembered about the chapel, and rightfully so; the transition is certain to be a lengthy and detailed process. Lost in the hubbub, though, was a particular question that captured my attention a few minutes earlier. A student asked Pastor Rohm and Dr. Brown which character trait they find to be most wanting in contemporary Christian men. Pastor Rohm fielded the question, stating that he found most men to be lacking in the ability and particularly willingness to be a leader. He continued by saying that it’s “not new for me to get up here and say how thankful we are for women who have taken leadership positions because guys haven’t stepped to the plate.” The latter sentence really caught me off-guard. I don’t intend
this as an attack on either Dr. Brown or Pastor Rohm, both of whom have taken strides to help and empower women during their time at Cedarville, but the implication that women are only capable as “backup leaders” to fill in if a capable man is not available is both demeaning and unbiblical. Sadly, this particular statement seems reflective of a widespread attitude on Cedarville’s campus: the mindset that men are “supposed” to lead and women are not. While this attitude is common among evangelical Christians on the whole, Cedarville as an academic institution and a Christ-centered community ought to be at the forefront of challenging oppressive restrictions. The attitude of male-only leadership subtly begins at the administrational level, with gender restrictions on student leadership positions like chaplain. Women may run for the position of women’s ministry leader (a leader who, as the name suggests, is tasked with handling details of ministry to campus women), but only men may run for the position of chaplain, which comes with the privilege of teaching the campus in chapel throughout the year. The implication is clear: women are qualified to teach women, but only men are qualified to teach both men and women. This attitude towards women continues within the student body itself, as expressed by many stereotypes about Cedarville students and relationships. For example, many women (especially those in the education or Bible departments)
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An Essential Atonement
In defense of satisfaction theory • Daniel Grahn In the October 2012 edition of Cedarville's independent journal, The Ventriloquist, Blake Hereth argues for a second look at the Christian doctrine of atonement through his article, “An Abusive Atonement”. While it is appropriate for any scholar to reexamine the tenets of his faith, this review must be undertaken with care. Mr. Hereth’s article, while thought provoking, does not adequately consider the scriptural support for a satisfaction model of the atonement. Let’s walk through these faults as we seek to evaluate and understand the doctrine of atonement. As we prepare for this journey, let’s take a moment to gather our equipment. The primary tool we will be using is the Bible. Consider the centuries of time, myriads of men, and gallons of ink used by God and scribes to carefully and faithfully transcribe this document. The effort placed into preserving these ancient words should guide the weight which we place upon their arguments. Thus, the truths contained within are the themes of our faith, the principals by which our lives are lived, and the axioms upon which our arguments rest. Secondarily, we will be using our logical faculties. We are created, after all, in the imago dei with sentience, love, and reasoning as proof. Although we may not be able to fathom all the depths of doctrine, we would be foolish not to try. Third we will be using the traditional wisdom provided to us by many scholars throughout the years. Fourth we will be using our own experiential evidence. If you are uncertain why these four pieces of equipment were chosen, consult a theologian on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Ready? Good! Let’s embark. As Mr. Hereth correctly states, the preeminent view among Cedarville students and professors is satisfaction atonement. According to satisfaction theory, all men are inherently indebted by their sin, an infinite insult against a righteous and just God (Leviticus 5:17, James 4:17, 1 John 3:4, Genesis 2:1-17, James 2:10). The only just recompense for this debt is death (Romans 5:12, Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23). The only way that God could reconcile us to himself is by satisfying this debt. If here were to forgive without payment one of two conclusions must be reached: sin is not an offense to God or God is not just. The first is contradicted by scriptures such as Proverbs 6:16-19, Psalm 5:5, 11:5, and 68:21; the latter is refuted by Genesis 18:25, Deuteronomy 16:19-20, Psalm 37:28, 99:4, and Romans 3:26. I understand that this slough of scripture, which has not drained the source, may be difficult to sift, but the intent is to show that there is abundant scriptural defense of satisfaction atonement. If you prefer a shorter summary: 3b By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3b-4, emphasis added) Here is where Mr. Hereth begins to diverge from the path of orthodox doctrine. Despite the above, he states “While some believe they recognize a theory of the atonement laid out in Scripture, I cannot honestly claim that. I do not discern any clear biblical teaching on the atonement.” Admittedly, proving a theme does not exist in scriptures is decidedly harder than the opposite, but the preceding scriptural support and the following quotations from well-respected theologians shows the integral role which satisfaction atonement plays in salvation. Throughout the Old Testament this was always the idea of a sinoffering– that of a perfect victim; without offense on its own account, taking the place of the offender; the transference of the offender’s sin to that victim, and that expiation in the person of the victim for the sin done by another. (Charles Spurgeon) The purpose of our holy and righteous God was to save his church, but their sin could not go unpunished. It was, therefore, necessary that the punishment for that sin be transferred from those who deserved it but could not bear it, to one who did not deserve it but was able to bear it. (John Owen) What about our own reasoning and experience? In the third paragraph of “An Abusive Atonement”, which I will not summarize here, Mr. Hereth makes an argument that like cases should be treated alike. This derivation is the crux of the subsequent arguments. He claims that Jesus should not have intended the agony of the cross from himself because he would be alike to man. The primary fault with this argument comes from the assumption that Christ and man are like cases. This is not the case. Instead of finding Christ in the same state as man, we find that he is pre-eminent to all of mankind (Colossians 1:15-23). Being first in supremacy is not the only difference between Christ and man. Christ did not sin, had no sin nature, and he was fully God (as well as fully man). These are just a few of the many reasons why Christ is not a like case with man. However, to examine the rest of the
Continued on Page 4 > Faces of The Ventriloquist Zach Schneider, editor/webmaster ♦ Jordan Ryner, asst. editor Tommy Graves, staff writer ♦ Josiah Sleppy, staff writer
White Papers (con’t) is the phrase: “Quality stamped all over it!” It’s a phrase most anyone who was around Cedarville in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s would recognize. It was Dr. Dixon’s mantra of how we should approach our work(s) as ambassadors of Christ. In other words: nothing should be done tritely, nothing should be done in a shabby format. Instead, all things should be done with the excellence and quality which we would wish presented to our Lord. Though the Dixon administration is almost a decade removed from the university, I like to think that such rigorous standards are not. Sadly, I find little reassurance in the recent White Papers. It would seem, at least to my understanding, that the intent of the White Papers was and is to clarify, refine, and most importantly, underscore several of Cedarville’s doctrinal views. Unfortunately, they seem to approach such serious topics with, at best, glancing blows. From the concept of God’s omniscience to creation and the doctrine of justification, the papers treat their topics with glaring brevity and, in many cases, a lack of scholarship which is disturbing. One does not sum up the concept of divine creation in two pages and two footnotes. Neither does it seem right to summarize the concept of justification in two pages and four footnotes. Consider, if you will, the myriad of arguments in which the church has historically engaged over justification alone in the past 2,000 years. From Pelagius and Augustine, to Calvin and Servetus, this simply isn’t a topic which can nor should be summarized in two pages. Again, I’m not attacking what is said within the White Papers; I’m attacking what is NOT said and what seems to be missing! Mind you, as one who is engaged both in pastoral ministry and theological education, I’m aware that there are often concessions to make when speaking to what might be termed a “layman’s” audience. There is a constant balancing act in terms of accessibility and specificity when one engages such an audience. Thus, I’d like to offer several brief suggestions to the author(s) of the Papers: 1) If you’re going to use all those Bible references... At the outset, I want to clarify: I have no beef with using the Bible to prove theological points. I believe in the Bible. I believe in the Bible’s truth and authority. I believe in its relevance to our theological lives. I also believe that each part of the Bible tells a story and holds a story behind it. Thus, when you simply list chapter and verse without providing context, history, and other supports, it only serves to cheapen the actual truth and authority of the Bible to your argument. In essence, it would seem that you have prooftexted, or “cherry-picked” scriptures of your own choosing to support your case. I’m not saying that those texts can’t support your case, but let the texts speak for themselves by telling your readers what they say and, most importantly, why they say what they do. 2) Don’t hold back! As I said, there’s always a balancing act when addressing a layman’s audience. However, I would argue that the audience at Cedarville is really anything but “layman.” A Cedarville audience attends chapel five days a week (at least in theory). They’re involved with churches. They attend Bible studies. They work in an environment which is saturated with theology. Therefore, I don’t think it’s too much to say that they can handle more depth and insight than a Sunday-school class might. I’m not saying you should expect them to grasp Aquinas’ Summa in its original Latin, but I think they can handle much more than you’ve given them. Additionally, if the purpose of the Papers is to clarify Cedarville’s doctrine to facultytrained scholars, if not all theologians- they can certainly be expected to grasp more than the theological milk that the White Papers present. 3) Tell the whole story! I understand that institutions such as Cedarville are, on occasion, loathe to engage opinions which might challenge or disprove their own. To be frank, get over it. Be Christ-like and tell the truth, knowing that if the Holy Spirit makes your argument for you, you have nothing to fear. Engage the rich history of the subjects you’re talking about. Engage Barth on the doctrine of God. Engage Westermann on creation. Engage Tilich or Niebuhr on justification. Heck, if those 20th century theologians seem too much, at least engage the theologians of the Reformation! Engage the history of your church! Mind you, I’m saying “engage,” not “agree;” there’s a large difference. The arguments you are trying to summarize have vexed the church for centuries. If you truly want to educate those to whom you write, don’t just tell them what to believe! Tell them why this is the orthodox belief in comparison to other standards! 4) About the title: “White Papers” I live in the United Kingdom. Over here, we hear of white papers all the time. White papers are meant to be authoritative and exhaustive. In fact, they’re usually issued to high-ranking officials of government to help detail all the pros and cons of a sensitive subject. Hopefully, by now, I’ve detailed how the white papers of Cedarville University fail to live up to the standard set by their peers. As an old friend would say: “If you’re going to call a
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Leaders (con’t) are said to be working towards their “Mrs. degree”- attending college just so they can gain the skills needed to be a good housewife. Others are seeking their “ring by spring”- only attending college to find a man to marry. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either of these courses of action (although there may be wiser ways to achieve the desired results); the problem comes, as many an annoyed education major can tell you, when these stereotypes are indiscriminately applied to all women. Indeed, though, many women are majoring in education because they wish to lead classrooms or help individuals in poor situations to achieve better standards of living, just as many women are majoring in Bible because they want to lead a church congregation. To assume that women in these positions are training for housewifery is to assume that they’re somehow incapable of desiring more. The mindset that women are not capable of leadership (or less capable than men) is problematic for a few reasons. First of all, it flies in the face of what Scripture teaches on the subject. Throughout the New Testament, Paul insists that Christians make us of whatever spiritual gifts they’ve been given, without regard for gender (1 Peter 4:10-11, Galatians 3:28). Am I really expected to believe that woman are wholly ungifted as leaders? The talents of the women around me, as well as the talents of countless women leaders throughout history, seem to decry any possibility of that. Indeed, if gender stereotypes are assumed to be true, women often possess some of the most rare characteristics of excellent leaders: empathy and compassion. So then, should women suppress their talents for leadership? It seems that to do so would be for women to shut down a gift that could and should be used for ministry. The objector will likely point to verses in the Pauline epistles as warrant to limit the leadership roles that women may serve. While the length of this piece does not permit a full examination of relevant verses, suffice it to say that each epistle must be interpreted in the context of its intended audience: a particular church or reader. For example, one commonly cited passage is 1 Corinthians 11, which indicates that a woman’s “head” is her husband. However, the Greek word for “head” (kephale) does not imply authority but rather implies origin (i.e., woman was created from the rib of man). Indeed, the same word is used to describe Christ’s relationship to God in verse 3, but we don’t take it to mean that there is an imbalance of power in the trinity! Another popular passage is 1 Timothy 2:11-15, in which Paul advises Timothy not to allow women to teach. However, 1 Timothy on the whole was written as a personal letter to Timothy in response to a few problems, including false teaching. Since women in Timothy’s culture were almost entirely uneducated, it was likely that they were perpetuating the false teaching in this particular context. Indeed, it seems unlikely that Paul would condemn all women teachers, since in 2 Timothy 4:19 he sends his greetings (and no accusations) to Priscilla and Aquila, female ministers who taught a wayward man in Acts 18:26. While there are other passages of this nature (into which brevity does not allow me to delve), none express universal condemnation of women as leaders when correctly interpreted.
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Galileo Rises (con’t) this alternative history for the Hubble constant."1 Light from cosmic bodies is an immediate testament to the age of the universe. Unseen by the naked eye, however, is cosmic background radiation. The existence and discovery of cosmic background radiation is a testament to the power of the scientific method. First predicted by astronomers in the late 1950's, and promptly discovered in the following decade, cosmic background radiation is the "heat" leftover from the "baking" of the universe many years ago. Its existence and temperature give us another way to gauge how long it’s been since the creation of the universe by measuring the rate at which it is cooling. Again, the dates derived from such measurements do not measure in the thousands of years. They measure in the billions. AiG responds to cosmic background radiation not by questioning its existence or the validity of its measurements; oddly enough, AiG challenges how exactly the temperature of the body became uniform, a challenge which effectively does nothing to back up the position of a young earth, nor challenge the validity of dating the universe based on CBR!2 Taken together, these separate measurements for the age of the universe arrive at remarkably similar dates--roughly 14 billion years old. While these measurements will undoubtedly grow more accurate as the precision of the tools used to measure them increase, they will remain much older 6,000-10,000 years old. The accuracy and common sense underlying these measurements are precisely the reason why the Big Bang model remains, by far, the most scientifically accepted model for the creation of our universe.3 The field of geology and its research into the fossil record and the formation of strata also offer overwhelming evidence that the earth is billions of years old, and a basic knowledge of such sciences is what convinced me, coming from the young earth perspective taught to me in both college and high school, that my beliefs were undeniably wrong. For example, the types of strata found in the Grand Canyon (which is often used by creation scientists to “refute” concepts held by evolutionary scientists) contain an organization of fossils and a diversity of rocks that make its formation in a singular flood event—the only method proposed by youngearthers to form these phenomena--impossible. North America has layers of ash between strata from volcanic and meteoric activity that could not have been formed in a flood event. Sadly, an elaboration of these topics is beyond the scope of this article. However, basic research on any of these topics is widely available in accredited journals and articles on the internet. The resistance, singularly from small conservative Christian circles in North America, to the concepts of Evolution and the Big Bang bear an uncanny resemblance to the Catholic Church’s denial of the Heliocentric model of our solar system advocated by Galileo in the 1600s. Using a literal interpretation of Scripture as their basis for scientific thought (Psalm 93:1, 96:10, 104:5; 1 Chronicles 16:30; and Ecclesiastes 1:5), the Church arrived at the conclusion that the earth was the center of the solar system and stationary. To them, the thought that such an interpretation of Scripture was wrong was heresy, and treated as such. Galileo was able to determine that the earth was, in fact, not stationary, and rotated around the sun. He advocated the idea that such scriptures were to be interpreted from the human author’s point of view—and indeed, to our view, from this small orb in space, the sun does move around our planet! The Church was unwilling to accept his research and put Galileo under house arrest for the rest of his life. They attempted to remove his ideas from public and scientific discourse. Today, we recognize the podium of ignorance from which the Church judged Galileo for what it is. Yet, Christianity’s credibility in the scientific community was irreparably damaged. Conservative circles’ vocal protests against the teaching of Evolution and basic science stand alongside the Church’s treatment of the Heliocentric Theory four hundred years ago. Dr. Pahl is dismissed for suggesting that certain portions of Genesis shouldn’t be read literally. Fundamentalistbacked lawyers take school systems to court for solely teaching Evolution. AiG fights tooth and nail against scientific progress. Yet, there is no verse in the Bible that teaches that the earth is thousands of years old. Ideas— evidence, basic observations of the world around us—to the contrary are labeled as unbiblical and falsely refuted by a few propagators of ignorance, whose teachings of pseudoscience are consumed by a choir eager to hear their message. Will we learn from the Church’s treatment of Galileo and accept reasoned scientific research and basic observations of our Universe, or will we stand in judgment of the scientific community, the same way the Church did four hundred years ago? Our ability to learn from the past will affect our testimony to a scientifically-enlightened world. ♦ 1:
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v9/n1/hubble http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v25/n4/light-travel-time 3: http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/ 2:
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It seems apparent, then, that to limit the role of women is to unnecessarily limit the effectiveness of the body of Christ. How can we maximize our leadership if we automatically halve the pool of available leaders? How can we most effectively serve if all men must be leaders and none servants? Is the body of Christ male or female? I would contend that each individual must use their God-given talents to their fullest ability if we are to live out our call in the Great Commission. Additionally, there is a human cost to the alternative; what type of message does it send if a woman skilled in leadership is told by the community that her talent is unacceptable before God? To tell any individual that use of their gifts for the ministry of Christ is somehow sinful or unwelcome seems asinine, and certainly contrary to Paul’s repeated petition for Christians to encourage and build up one another. I would like to issue a pair of challenges. To the reader: reconsider your interactions with the women in your life. It’s true that not all women (nor all men) are truly gifted with leadership. But be cautious with your joking and your words. If your sister in Christ is gifted in teaching, encourage her to teach; don’t tear her down by insinuating that her teaching should only take place in the home. And if your brother is not gifted in leadership but rather in service (or any other area), encourage him to practice his gift for the ministry of Christ, rather than shaming him for his shortcomings. And to the administration: consider the ways in which your policies shape the treatment of women on this campus. If the most gifted preacher at Cedarville happens to be a woman, why should she not be chaplain? To deny her the ability to even compete for such a role damages the body by restricting certain members and sends the message that certain talents are unacceptable to God when found in certain individuals. Rather, let us all “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) by promoting the cultivation of spiritual gifts wherever and in whomever they may be found. ♦
arguments we will give Mr. Hereth the benefit of the doubt and consider the cases alike as we continue. Mr. Hereth examines two potential reasons for why Christ would die to save us. The first involves an inherent worth in man while the latter says that the sacrifice was motivated solely by love. The first argument here is invalid since orthodox theology is clear that there is no inherit value in man. As stated by the Westminster Catechism, God chose to save us “out of his mere good pleasure” (Ephesians 1:45, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Mr. Hereth correctly states that if there is no value in man, it is out of love which God saves us (Ephesians 2:1-10). Treating like cases alike, he claims that God should have the same love directed towards himself and thus not intend the punishment of sin for himself. Furthermore he states that to intend a mistreatment of yourself is just as “morally objectionable” as intending the mistreatment for others. Let’s remember here that God is the ultimate standard for morals. He defines what is morally right and wrong by his actions and character. The example which we see in the Bible, of self-sacrifice for another’s good, therefore cannot be morally wrong. In fact, we are exhorted in Philippians 2:1-11 to, “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Christ has given us an example of self-sacrifice as a moral tenant. In all ways we are to consider others greater than ourselves. Look at examples from history. People such as Mother Theresa, Joan of Arc, Nelson Mandela, and countless soldiers have sacrificed themselves for others. According to Mr. Hereth these people were committing a moral wrong unless they were sacrificing themselves for someone better than themselves. If this is the case, then why would we revere and honor them! Finally, let us examine the purpose of the cross. If Christ’s death did not absorb the punishment for our sin, then what was the purpose? If it was merely a moral example, then why did it need to be death? Without atonement, the Cross is meaningless. ♦
Solution online: www.theventriloquist.us/puzzles/november_2012
White Papers (con’t) ‘spade’ a spade, it had darn well better be an actual spade!” In sum, I think I can say that I understand the original intent of the White Papers. I cannot, however, support the way in which they engage their topics. These papers speak to topics which demand serious and robust engagement, both because of our rich church history and our calling to follow Christ. It is my hope that, in light of such failures, Cedarville will shelve these current White Papers and instead work to clarify their beliefs and ideals in ways which demonstrate that they truly have “quality stamped all over them.” ♦ Editor’s note: The Cedarville White Papers may be read or downloaded in their entirety as a PDF on The Ventriloquist’s website at: http://www.theventriloquist.us/misc/ White_Papers.pdf