On The Firing of Dr. Pahl Why diversity of thought is key to an academic community, and where Cedarville went wrong with the recent firing of Dr. Michael Pahl. • Zach Schneider and Josh Steele Few would deny that truth and discourse are both dismissal states that Dr. Pahl “is unable to concur essential parts of any academic community in general fully with each and every position of Cedarville and Cedarville in particular. Certainly, the purpose of University's doctrinal statement.” This is problematic, an educational institution is to impart truth; that goal for upon examination, nothing that Dr. Pahl taught is noble and must not be forgotten. However, a seems to contradict the text of the doctrinal statement, healthy academic environment must also be faithful in which does not even mention the historicity of Adam promoting discourse and ideological diversity- our and Eve. Article 4 of the doctrinal statement (the only range of ideas is what makes us strong. Cedarville point relevant to the Genesis account) indicates that needs to keep both in tension: as an institution of “We believe in the literal 6-day account of creation, higher education, it must ensure that what is taught in that the creation of man lies in the special, immediate, its classrooms is accurate; but as an academic and formative acts of God and not from previously community, it must insist that no truth but God’s truth existing forms of life. We believe that man was be sacred, and encourage a healthy discourse of ideas. created perfect in the image of God, that he sinned Recent events seem to indicate that Cedarville is and thereby incurred not only physical death but also drifting away from the discursive end of the spectrum. that spiritual and eternal death which is separation In August of this year, a few weeks before the from God, and that all human beings are born with a beginning of fall classes, the university fired Dr. sinful nature, and we are sinners in thought, word, Michael Pahl for the opinions expressed in his book, and deed.” After reading the book in question, it’s The Beginning and The End: Rereading Genesis’s difficult to understand how Dr. Pahl contradicted the Stories and Revelation’s Visions. In the book, Dr. doctrinal statement by any stretch of the imagination. Pahl argues that the creation stories of Genesis 1-2 are It seems, then, that Cedarville is holding its faculty ancient Israelite cosmogonies, narratives written to to an extremely rigid set of theological beliefs, far tell of the origins of the cosmos and explain why beyond that which it is willing to outline publicly. things are the way they are. As ancient cosmogonies, This is particularly problematic for an academic they are not to be interpreted as literal historical institution, which should not reject members for accounts in the modern sense, but on their own terms, minor theological differences. The guidelines for as bold alternatives to all other origin accounts of acceptable doctrine are outlined in the doctrinal their day, “describing the one true God, his work in statement, and serve their purpose in ensuring that the world, and his purpose for humanity and the teaching at Cedarville remains orthodox. Cedarville’s created order” (Pahl 2011, 12). It is important to note decision to go beyond those guidelines, without any that Dr. Pahl fully affirms the accuracy of a literal six- clear exposition of the logic behind the move, creates day creation and a historical Adam and Eve, based on a witch-hunt mentality: professors once thought they other references throughout the narrative of Scripture were free to discuss and debate matters not listed in (from genealogies to theological mentions); he simply the doctrinal statement, but this is no longer the case. doesn’t think Genesis 1-2 is the place where that doctrine is best supported. The official university statement regarding the Continued on Page 3 >
The Christian Party? Recent Republican actions seem to discredit their claim to the moral high ground in the 2012 election • Jordan Ryner Many college students, even here at Cedarville, have fallen into the trap of deifying politicians, bureaucrats, and party bosses based on what our parents, neighbors, or the media might have told us. Yet how any Christian could dub the GOP the “party of Christ” in light of character flaws including voter fraud and discrimination is beyond imagination. Christians love Republicans. Let’s face it: our brothers and sisters are quick to vote for any Republican who so much as mentions the constitution, family values, or freedom. It doesn't really matter what actions they take as long as they use the correct slogans. Issues of equality, legal discrimination, and voting rights are left on the back-burner. After all, this IS America, right? We don't have problems with inequality or voter fraud. That’s the stuff our parents worried about. Or... at least that’s what some people in the GOP would like you to think. This apathy towards voting equality has helped several Republican-led states get away with some major reforms that block
An Abusive Atonement The flaws of penal substitution Blake Hereth, CU Alumnus What we think of the atonement reflects what we think of God. If we think the atonement is designed to heal our emotional wounds, for example, we probably think God is interested in our emotional healing. But how should we think of the atonement? If God has revealed to us the nature of the atonement, we should allow that revelation to shape our understanding of it. 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. But this need not halt critical reflection on the atonement, and so I will consider the atonement on other grounds. Arguably the prevailing view of the atonement among Cedarville students and professors is satisfaction theory. In its most basic form, satisfaction theory proposes that (a) there is some moral problem with human beings, (b) that moral problem requires either that human beings pay for their sins with death or that an innocent substitute pay for them, and (c) Jesus freely decided to be that innocent substitute for at least some human beings. I will assume the truth of the following theses, which will guide my
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Democrats from reaching the polls. To give their candidates a wee boost, state legislatures around the nation have set up new laws to restrict youth, minorities, and immigrants from voting. What do these new laws look like? Several Republican states have enacted new requirements that require voters to present a valid ID when they arrive at the voting booth. These laws may seem innocuous, but there are two gaping problems. First, there is little evidence that voter fraud is occurring in the status quo. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to commit voter fraud by pretending to be someone else. And second, voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise minorities and individuals in low-income communities. Many government-issued photo IDs do not qualify under the new laws (like student IDs issued by public institutions, or even veteran’s IDs). And many individuals don’t have the ability to easily get the requisite ID; city-dwellers and students often have no need for an expensive driver’s license. Indeed, if similar voter ID laws were passed in all 50 states today, over twenty million Americans with the right to vote would be disenfranchised. The GOP has announced their stance, and it’s “vote for us or not at all”. Democrats aren't immune either; both parties have a lot of work left to do when it comes to dealing with voter fraud. Even President Obama will tell you that we have a long way to go to end “business as usual” in politics. However, the GOP’s scandals are a reminder of how Republicans should not be placed on a pedestal as the “Party of God” or the “Christian choice” this November. ♦
A CEO and a Priest Walk into a Bar Consumerism and spiritual disciplines • Josiah Sleppy It is almost an axiom now that we will be met by advertising wherever we go. A trip to the mall, driving on the highway, watching television, and surfing the web all host their respective advertisements, ready to spin clever slogans and brand you a loyal customer of your favorite manufacturer. We adapt to this constant barrage of competing marketers. Some may balk at the consumeristic habits of our culture and dedicate themselves to living simply, buying locally, and breaking the system. Others may choose to participate in the cultural buying spree, but carefully designate where every dollar goes, following the saying, “Every dollar is a vote.” The debate over which, if either, of these lifestyles is more effective will continue. We expect that our culture is consumeristic. What is frightening is when the church becomes so. Historically, the church has put great emphasis on the spiritual disciplines. A short list of these usually includes prayer, personal study of the Scripture, fasting, solitude, and service. Of course, there are many more practices that could be considered spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are normally regarded as critical to a Christian’s growth; perhaps more significantly, they are critical to the health of a community of Christians. Practicing the disciplines not only efficaciously makes individuals into the types of people who represent Christ, but also makes the church a unique community. Joining the great cultural sales event by marketing and selling these disciplines is akin to casting aside the identity of the church. When I walked into chapel on August 29, I was expecting a common exhortation toward some behavior, or an exposition on a familiar Bible passage, or possibly even a piece of wisdom that I could think on and apply. Instead I was met with a sales pitch. I heard advice about what method to use to approach God and the overwhelming advantage of having a prayer journal with four columns and three rings. I was walked through the steps to setting up such a prayer journal, being told that we need answers to prayer in order for prayer not to be futile. Finally, I was told that I could buy a nice prayer journal after chapel for ten dollars. How convenient. I am sure that many people would be helped by having a prayer journal. This does not lessen the fact that one can pick up a perfectly functional notebook for fifty cents or less. We are all tired of televangelists shamelessly getting rich off of naïve followers. There’s no serious debate over whether that behavior is wrong. Perhaps, however, a more pressing problem is the consumeristic mindset we easily shift into. The life of the church should be a radical alternative to the cultural zeitgeist. When we market various aspects of the Christian life as products and services, we cheapen the meaning of our practices. If we expect to purposefully engage the culture, we cannot make identical movements with it. Even the calendar we live by is important to consider. Take Christmas, for example. Certainly the consumerist saturation of Christmas has been decried enough for us to be quite familiar with it. Even so, our gift giving does not often take the form of simplicity and symbolism. What was once a poignant picture of Christ giving himself to humanity, this sharing among a community, has become a major capitalistic project. Brands and products get thrown in our faces, and the time of celebration of Christ’s incarnation becomes a celebration of production and enterprise. Our culture has a calendar. Each time of year is marked and slotted with a new theme to adorn the constant sales event, and the church molds its worship around this cultural calendar. What if we chose to reject this calendar? What if we chose to follow the church calendar instead, one that would define us not as consumers but as worshippers? Organizing our year around the times of incarnation, denial (Lent), burial, and resurrection would profoundly affect our thinking about life and choices as consumers. It seems that we are trying to live as Christ lived. That is, at least, the claim of most Christian individuals and institutions I know. Cedarville University is certainly no stranger to this concept. Christ, however, was not concerned with having money or a luxurious lifestyle. Perhaps our infatuation with consuming things and branding ourselves is a deterrent to living as Christ did. Perhaps God would be more pleased with us giving away our possessions to the poor than selling Christian t-shirts and hardcover prayer journals and tickets to Christian conferences. When I think about what I need in life, most of the products being advertised during Christmas do not come to mind, nor does a pretty four-column journal. I would encourage all who associate with Christ to carefully consider what their consumer choices are saying and how their lifestyles organized around a particular calendar are affecting the efficacy of the church. The Christian community’s interactions with the culture depend on it. ♦
Faces of The Ventriloquist Zach Schneider, editor/webmaster ♦ Jordan Ryner, asst. editor Tommy Graves, staff writer ♦ Josiah Sleppy, staff writer
An Abusive Atonement (con’t) discussion of satisfaction theory: (d) if another person has some property P and if having P means I should treat that person in way Q, then if I have P, then I should treat myself in way Q; (e) if I love another person and loving that persons means I should want her to be treated in way Q, then (if I should love myself in at least an equally good way) I should want myself to be treated in way Q. What d and e assert is that we should treat like cases alike, that we should treat morally identical (or similar) persons in morally identical (or similar) ways. Assuming these is unproblematic, since they are initially plausible and obvious enough to require little by way of ‘motivating’ argumentation. Jesus finds us valuable enough to save, or at least potentially valuable enough to save. Some Christians believe that there is something good in us (e.g., the imago dei, sentience, rationality) which prompt God to save us. Presumably, however, that same good is in Jesus himself (Jesus is God, which is at least as valuable as having God’s image; Jesus can experience pain; Jesus is rational), in which case God should be prompted to save even Jesus from the fate we would otherwise experience. Other Christians believe that only some future good that we do not yet possess prompts God to save us – typically, the character of Christ. But then Christ has that same character already, so for the same reason Christ should be saved from a terrible fate like the cross. Alternatively, God’s decision to save us has nothing to do with our actual or potential moral value. Yet it remains true that God saved us because he loved us (we know not why), and it is also true that God should love himself, and his love for himself should be at least as strong as his love for us. Thus, God should love himself just as much as he loves us, and therefore not intend for himself the horrors of the cross. These conclusions are incompatible with c, for according to c Jesus intended to face the horrors of the cross; he intended that horrible fate for himself for our sake. Yet d and e show that Jesus should not have done this, since if Jesus had intended his own torture and death, then he would have failed to treat like cases alike; he would have mistreated himself instead of us, loved us instead of himself (or more than himself), etc. But it is just as morally objectionable to intend your own mistreatment as it is to intend the mistreatment of others, just as objectionable to intend a miserable state of affairs for yourself as it is to intend it for others. Of course, we would not ordinarily infer that “c did not occur” simply because “c is morally wrong.” (Another example: We do not infer “murder never happened” because “murder is wrong.”) Divine persons, however, are in a special class: they never act wrongly. Assuming that Jesus is divine, it follows that Jesus never does wrong. If d and e are real moral obligations, then failing to act in accordance with d and e is morally wrong. From these two facts it follows that Jesus always acts in accordance with d and e, and that entails that c is false. Since c is a central pillar of satisfaction theory, it follows that satisfaction theory is false. Some might think that each of us should be willing to surrender our own interests before we surrender the interests of others. I should be willing to die for you instead of letting you die; you should be willing to die for me instead of letting me die; etc. I suggest that we are permitted to do these things only if there is a real moral difference between us, such that it is objectively better (in some sense) for me to die rather than you, or for you to die rather than me, or for me to be tortured rather than you, or for me to love myself less than I love you, and so on. Yet we see that this simply cannot be true, since the only way for me to sacrifice myself instead of you is for me to have less value than you, and the only way for you to sacrifice yourself instead of me is for you to have less value than me. We cannot both be right; it cannot be that I have less value than you and that you have less value than me. This response, then, is incoherent. Where do we go from here? The atonement is a central Christian doctrine, and because it is true it is also true that Christ’s death saves human persons and that there is some explanation of how our salvation is accomplished. If satisfaction theories are false, then they do not properly explain the truth of the atonement, so we need look elsewhere. But to where should we look? I will provide a brief summary and evaluation of four major alternative theories and then gesture toward my own inclinations. Moral influence theories are distinct from moral example theories, but the share the primary emphasis of Christ as divine moral teacher and example. According to these theories, Christ came to redeem humanity by offering us a powerful illustration of divine love, which humans imitate to be saved. Christus victor theories hold that the atonement serves as a means of overcoming the powers of sin and spiritual darkness. Some recapitulation theorists argue that Christ ‘injected’ ‘Human-ness’ with his own righteousness, and thereby ‘injected’ each and every human being with righteousness. Others argue that Christ was the first to enjoy resurrection from the dead, and that the atonement is a promise of resurrection to those who trust in Christ’s teachings. Ransom theories posit Christ as a payment to the devil in exchange for the freedom of humans. On this view, the devil had ensnared human persons and consequently gained rights over the destiny and course of their lives, and Christ offered his own life to the devil as payment. Christ thereby comes to have those same rights over human
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Creation v. Evolution
Firing of Dr. Pahl (con’t) Indeed, two of Dr. Pahl’s colleagues in the Bible department used the book in question as a required text in their own classes. Should they now fear for their own careers? Can the remaining professors feel free to research and publish when their work might contradict some unstated opinion in the invisible baggage of the doctrinal statement? This atmosphere is poisonous to genuine exploration and discussion of the Scriptures, because there’s no longer any understanding of what is okay and what is off-limits. If Dr. Pahl can be fired for his orthodox handling of the biblical text in The Beginning and the End, no faculty members are safe. Perhaps most disturbingly, the University statement on Dr. Pahl states that his “orthodoxy and commitment to the gospel are not in question, nor is his commitment to Scripture's inspiration, authority and infallibility. He is a promising scholar and a dedicated teacher, and he will be missed by his colleagues and students.” Why, then, would Cedarville want to fire a professor worthy of such praise? In spite of the accolades, “the University has determined this decision to be in the best interests of its constituency at this time.” Academic discourse is essential to the health of every institution of higher education. Furthermore, for a purportedly Christ-centered institution such as Cedarville University, commitments to orthodoxy, the gospel, and Scripture are undoubtedly even more valuable, but these things were not enough to save Dr. Michael Pahl. According to the official statement, the administration and trustees have decided not only to silence academic discourse, but to put the University’s doctrinal statement and its “constituency” above orthodoxy, Scripture, and the gospel. Unless other unstated and even more nefarious motivations were at play, Dr. Pahl would still be teaching at Cedarville today. To elevate a doctrinal statement, much less its unstated aspects, over orthodoxy, the gospel, and Scripture is to value the opinions of man more than the Word of God itself. We as a community must demand better of our leaders. For God’s Word and Christ’s testimony, we need an assurance of core doctrines through adherence to the doctrinal statement, but we must never sacrifice the freedom to explore the wonders of the Scriptures with an open mind, a willing heart, and a firm commitment to our community of fellow believers that overcomes our petty differences with the love of Christ. Instead of relieving men like Dr. Pahl of their teaching duties, we should be affirming them and joining with them in their work for God’s kingdom. ♦ Editor’s note: Dr. Pahl is bound by a nondisclosure agreement as part of the terms of his severance package. As such, The Ventriloquist did not speak with Dr. Pahl when writing this article. All non-public information was obtained from reliable but necessarily anonymous third-party sources.
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Where the contemporary evangelical response to the question of evolution goes wrong • Tommy Graves Answers in Genesis is coming to campus for a conference, and its goals are lofty: “Answers in Genesis and Cedarville University are partnering together to host a conference that points a generation to God, where Scripture is our truth, is our foundation, and is our alone authority.” They hope that by defending 6-day creation, our generation can return to God. Is it possible, though, that taking a strict position on the origins debate is misguided? Could Answers in Genesis’ work be pointing a generation away from God? I think it is doing just that. Sending the message that the Bible and nature clearly explain 6-day creation also sends the message that to believe in the Bible (or to consider Scripture “our truth”), one must believe in 6-day creation. Those who deny 6-day creation are then excluded from Christianity. Answers in Genesis and Ken Ham recognize that the issue of evolution can damage relationships with Christ. In a blog post titled “Christian Colleges and Compromise” Ken mentions how many Christians in our generation are leaving the church over the origins debate. He states:
However, by and large, most churches have failed to teach generations creation apologetics so they will not be led astray by the world’s false teaching. This became very clear from the research detailed in the book Already Gone, where we documented why so many young people are leaving the church when they become adults.
Ken believes the problem is that churches haven’t properly taught “creation apologetics” to young people in the church, so when they encounter the claims of evolution they have no tools to deal with it. They cannot reconcile the clearly biblical 6-day creation view with the overwhelming evidence for evolution. Is the problem, though, that the creation apologetics haven’t been taught? Or are there deeper problems? The origins debate has two distinct branches – two battlegrounds in the war. The first battle is against the scientific view of evolution. In this battle, 6-day creationists are trying to show that evolution is inconsistent with evidence and that 6-day creationism provides a better model for origins. The other battle is against biblical interpretation that shies away from explicitly endorsing a 6-day creationist view. This battle has the 6-day creationists mostly requiring that Genesis 1 be interpreted literally. Other interpretations, in their view, demean the authority of the Bible. Both battlegrounds have done (and continue to do) great violence to those outside of Answers in Genesis’ positions. The scientific branch of the debate has caused more damage; it has resulted in people being excluded in the church. For that reason, I will only focus on the scientific battle in this article. Recall that Ken Ham is worried that Christians are leaving the church because they haven’t been taught how to fight off evolutionary ideas. What if we have been taught these “creation apologetics”, though, and they simply aren’t effective? Take, for instance, the argument that the second law of thermodynamics proves that evolution could not increase the complexity of organisms. This argument was taught to me in my Christian high school by my Bible teacher, my biology teacher, and my physics teacher, all who used information supplied by Answers in Genesis. The Answers in Genesis website provides a list of numerous resources supporting this argument.1 But it’s well known that the second law of thermodynamics only relates to the general tendency for entropy to be produced in closed systems, and in fact Answers in Genesis has a more recent article stating that Christians shouldn’t use the second law against evolution.2 If our generation is walking away from the church because we can’t reconcile evolution and Christianity, Answers in Genesis has no one to blame except itself. For years it produced article after article that consisted of nothing more than pseudoscience and creation propaganda. When young Christians encountered the real theory of evolution – not the straw person that was taught to them in their church or Christian school – they saw the power and enormous amount of evidence backing it up. They were then faced with a choice: Christianity or evolution? And they chose evolution, as it appeared more rational. In addition to turning Christians away from Christ, the origins debate can block atheists from ever getting to Christ. A common perception of atheist evolutionists is that to be Christian, one must reject evolution. The scientific community at large, however, believes that evolution is fundamental to all life sciences. It is supported by a vast amount of evidence and is consistently affirmed by new findings (like the human genome project). For the typical evolutionist, giving up evolution would mean lying to oneself about the nature of our planet. If they think that to be Christian
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Creation v. Evolution (con’t) means to deny evolution, then they will certainly not be interested in being Christian. Ken Ham holds that one can be both a Christian and an evolutionist – but the force of Answers in Genesis’ arguments undermines that belief. There is also a third way in which the origins debate does harm in the sciences. Creation scientists often complain of being discriminated against in the mainstream scientific journals. Evolutionists refuse to take the claims of 6-day creationists seriously. They generally assume that 6-day creation is an inherently flawed model, so any papers detailing scientific study within a creation framework are automatically discredited. Creation scientists are doing serious work in science, however, and they deserve to have their findings heard. If Answers in Genesis would give up the war, creationists would certainly be considered more credible in the scientific community. Remember how Answers in Genesis for years practiced pseudoscience. As it turns out, the views that Answers in Genesis espoused have worked their way into many Christian circles. In doing so, many evangelical Christians have seen is as their duty to take part in the war. Evolutionists have thoroughly debunked many of the claims that these evangelicals made. Therefore, in their minds creation science is automatically bad science. But if Answers in Genesis stops indoctrinating Christians into thinking they are conversant with contemporary issues with evolution, creation scientists might not be so quickly dismissed. They might then be able to publish in scientific journals and make significant progress in creationism. It seems clear to me that giving up the public debate for 6-day creation would do nearly everyone a huge favor. Christians should be concerned about their public image, and demonstrations of ignorance in scientific matters can damage that image. Mainstream evangelicals need not feel threatened by evolution (or if they do, they can let people who are knowledgeable and passionate about the issue defend creation instead of clumsily trying to do so themselves). Think of the possible benefits of scientists suddenly having the doors to Christianity opened to them. Perhaps some of them will convert, take creation more seriously, and contribute great work to the 6-day cause. ♦
An Abusive Atonement (con’t) persons, and decides that those who do as God desires will spend eternity with God. Merit theories understand Christ’s life and death as worthy of reward. Some merit theories see Christ’s perfectly obedient life as itself worthy of reward, and in particular the fact that Christ went beyond all moral duty to seek, cherish, love, and heal the lost. Having done this, the Father offered Christ a reward, and the award was (some of) humanity. Each model has its own worries. Moral influence/example theories struggle to explain the uniqueness of Christ’s life and death, as there are many moral examples and influences. Christus victor emphasizes Christ’s work as overcoming sin and darkness, but it is unclear why that suggestion is theoretically helpful. We know Christ did accomplish human salvation; what we want to know how he did it. The explanations offered seem reducible to some other atonement theory, which suggests that ‘Christus victor’ is an unhelpful classification. Ransom theories run afoul of the criticism I have offered in this paper, since they represent Christ’s death as an intentional payment. Merit models show Christ’s life as worthy of reward, which is true, but on that model it is unclear why Christ’s life and not the life of some other saint was necessary to merit the salvation of human beings. Granted, Christ was the only moral agent (other than the Father and the Holy Spirit) to be completely morally blameless, but it is arguable whether and why that perfection is required. Further, it is arguable whether the perfection must be found in only one person, or whether the combined virtues of various saints can merit human salvation. I am attracted to a moral influence theory in which transformative divine love, present at Golgotha and ever since, and not the historical particularities of Christ’s earthly life or their cumulative factuality, achieve every salvation. This divine love is revealed through conscience, through the sacraments, through the scriptures, through experience, and (most clearly and dramatically) through the Incarnation. While there are certainly various moral examples and moral influences, they are moral only thanks to the divine grace and love within them. This means that other persons exemplifying goodness are exemplifying divine goodness, and that there are no cases where someone exemplifies goodness without divine influence. I therefore escape the objection by denying that there even are other moral examples that are not divine in origin. ♦
Crossword Solution online: www.theventriloquist.us/puzzles/october_2012