So what is the big story, and why does that matter?

In a day and age when it is in vogue to bring "religious others" to the table to eat, talk and discuss, it is conceivable that the very big picture or the big story of each faith tradition is blurred or obscured or even sidelined in the...

February 16, 2015 0 2 comments

For all the steps back, the changes, and the instabilities, such small steps forward look to me like God acting in ways that should excite us.

January 10, 2015 2 4 comments

I watched a video in which the speaker affirmed that 'Isa of Islam, as the Muslim "Jesus" is called, is somehow the same as Jesus in the Bible. A closer look will reveal that this Muslim "Jesus" is what the Apostle Paul would say, is "another Jesus".

November 26, 2014 0 0 comments

As Christians who have the orders to take the Gospel to every ethnic group on this planet, we might be well advised to understand some of the attitudes that we will encounter. As we encounter Muslim believers it would be wise to understand the Islamic doctrine of al-walāʾ wa-l-barāʾ. In a...

October 28, 2014 1 0 comments

The Bible calls us to respect our neighbor and extend hospitality to him or her. Rather than using social media to increase anti-Muslim sentiment and fear, why not use it to promote peace?

October 20, 2014 1 2 comments
Discussion Topic

             With noble intentions XYZ person or group of persons proposes to engage in friendly dialogue with a member or members of religion "Q." The stated objective is often to become "dialogue partners" in order to eliminate prejudices and to come to understand the other. It is also...

September 23, 2014 2 0 comments

If someone is licensed and ordained an interfaith minister, who's ecclesiastical authority would they be responsible to?

June 9, 2014 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

The gentleman and I chatted about politics, the majority religion here, self-appointed prophets, and the greatest question of all, namely 'Who is the living God?"

The gentleman tried to furnish answers from the Qur'an which talk about Allah as the "ever-living, and the sustainer of all...

June 7, 2014 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

We often find people differentiated into categories of scientist or non-scientist when discussing evolution, as if evolution was science, and special creation was not science.  But there are many people working in science who do not hold to evolution, and yet are scientists, some with a PhD in...

April 7, 2014 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Recently, we have heard about a new movie about "The Flood" being produced.   From all accounts, it will be quite innacurate, produced by those who do not regard scripture as accurate.  The production of such a movie by non-christians for general public consumption, will still have influence on...

November 22, 2013 0 29 comments
Discussion Topic

In the relatively new push by the CRCNA to become a part of a much bigger organization (first WARC and REC, which folded into WCRC), I for one have a number of questions to which I lack answers.

My first question is this: So if WCRC (formerly WARC) adopts, say, the Accra Confession (which...

December 14, 2011 0 5 comments
Discussion Topic


<p>I have a problem. Maybe you have the same problem. Maybe you don't. Maybe you should; then again, maybe not. My problem is this: I'm wrestling with what the real implications of denominationalism ought to be.<br>

<p>Let me expand. The sad fact is that...

March 29, 2011 0 13 comments
Discussion Topic

Today I am in Argentina, where a church with whom the CRC is in ecclessiastical fellowship (the Reformed Churches in Argentina) is merging with another denomination: the Evangelical Church of the River Plate.

In this new beginning for the church in Argentina there is an opportunity to...

October 8, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

We in the Christian Reformed Church live in an ecumenical world.  While we confess our faith in Christ, we know that other Christ-followers have differing liturgical traditions, and have arrived at different theological conclusions.  Still, wonderfully, we remain one in Christ.

I invite...

August 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic
Synod 2010 said that part of the responsibility of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee (EIRC) is: • Compiling resources for the Christian Reformed Church which will guide interfaith encounters. My questions for you, dear Networker, are: What kinds of resources would be helpful for...
July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic
In its report to Synod 2009, the Ecumenical Relations Committee (ERC) said that it was beginning to talk about interfaith dialogue. The impetus for the conversation was the fact that through the Canadian Council of Churches, CRC people were serving on committees dialoguing with the Jewish...
July 15, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic
The Uniting General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) has come and gone. For many in the Christian Reformed Church, it was an intensely busy time. Since the Council was held on the campus of Calvin College, we were a primary host denomination and had responsibilities...
July 6, 2010 0 11 comments



Great article!

I believe one of the causes of differences between denominations or between christians who think they believe different things from other christians, is that deep down in their hearts, people want to be different.  They want to find a way to distinguish from others, or as scripture says, "...there must be differences to show which has God's approval..." I Corinthians 1:19.   This takes place in doctrine, in lifestyle, in philosophy, science, dress, language, and education, within the church.   This can be caused by anyone, whether educated or not, whether ecclesiastical or not.  How is this relevant to discussions about evolution?  The same things happen there.  Questions about peer review, scientific method, consensus of scientists become deciding factors for divisions.  

So, in the interest of providing a balance and another perspective, I suggest you check out the latest youtube video on, of Genesis Week, where Ian Juby explains mistakes made in paleontology with regard to mixing bones of Australopithecus and homoerectus.  (   This mixing was not discovered before the scientific paper went to peer review and so it was published, but of course it was later discovered to be mistaken.  He explains many examples of how scientific journals refused to publish papers from scientists who were later given the Nobel Prize for their scientific work;  ie.  Krebs cycle, Watson and Crick's double helix, etc.  Ironically, Darwin never wrote in a peer review journal.   So why the big emphasis on anti-evolutionists publishing in peer review journals?  He gives several other very interesting examples of the lack of objectivity of peer review journals, such as when the journals refused to publish previously published papers, even though they had not detected that they were already published in their own journal.  

Then, he explains that there are a number of peer review journals which do accept young earth oriented papers, or intelligent design or anti-evolution research.  And guess what, then we have some people ridiculing these other journals.   So it is not really about peer review, but about point-of-view.   And this gives us a clue about ecumenicity, or about reducing or removing barriers to Christian brotherhood.  The importance of motives (desire to be different, or not), the willingness or lack of it to  accept various ways of saying the same thing play huge roles.  Perhaps we should focus more on how christians are different from the world, rather than different from each other.  That might put the emphasis where it really should be. 

Having thought some more about this issue, I would like to disagree with the concept of core and peripheral.   I think that is the wrong way of looking at how we as christians can live with one another in spite of differences of perspective.   For example, Christ being divine as the Son of God, and dying for us, and our sinful nature needing redemption is core.  God having originally made man good is core.   God choosing us before we choose him is also a core concept.  But, other issues which may not seem to be core issues, such as what constitutes sexual immorality, or what constitutes theft, adultery, or murder, are still in many cases clearly indicated by scripture.  When differences on these things are dismissed because they are assumed not to be core issues, then we lose the guidance of scripture as our basis.  It is not legitimate to say that we simply have different interpretations of scripture.   On the basis of different interpretations of scripture, core doctrines are also sometimes neglected or perverted.  So I would suggest something different.

How about being realistic about what scripture is clear on and what scripture is not so clear on?   I know this can involve debate and discussion before a consensus is reached.  But in reality, some doctrines are extrapolated doctrines, and not directly or clearly given in scripture;  this includes the practice of infant baptism.  We say one Lord, one faith, one baptism as if it means to forbid a repeat baptism.   Yet, scripture clearly indicates that John the Baptist baptized with the baptism of repentance, and Jesus would baptize with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   Clearly different baptisms.  Why are we so adamant then? 

Also, what is the significance of the fact that Jesus was not baptizing, and the apostle Paul also did not hardly baptize anyone?  Why do we assume then that this sacrament is such that only "priests" can do it, when scripture gives no such indication?  Is it possible for us to separate worldly ideologies of power and ceremony from the real life of the people of God?   I don't know if I have an answer for this, but the question should be asked.

Scripture clearly indicates that women should not have authority over men in the church, in several passages.  Why are some of us  so adamant then that a church is regressive or ancient if it follows this injunction?   Is this not the same scripture?  Is this not the same writer that we claim supports "there is neither male nor female"?

Scripture gives no indication of a theological understanding equivalent to our requirements for participating in Lord's supper, yet we have made rules about it.  Why?  (and we have reduced these rules lately which seems to make sense.)

Scripture clearly indicates that the church was to cast out the immoral man (I Cor 5), until he repents.   Why do we look down our noses at those churches who impliment discipline?   Why are we more relaxed about those things that scripture is more clear about, and stricter about those things that scripture is less clear on?

We know that Annanias and Sapphira died for merely telling a lie in order to gain acceptance, while we also do not read in scripture anywhere that anyone died for baptizing or not baptizing an infant.  Nor did anyone die for preaching without a license.   So which practice then is more relevant to our doctrine?

If we used the criteria of things that are more clear in scripture, to reduce our reliance on those man-made rules and things which are outside of scripture, perhaps more unity and harmony would be possible.  It would not solve all issues and problems, but it would seem to help.


On November 29, Tjalle asked about a timeline for the flood.  I recently read an article by Dr. Carl Wieland which tells of Manetho, an Egyptian historian of 270 BC.  This historian has a chronology which adds centuries to the Biblical account.  However, it is now realized that some of the kings he put consecutively actually reigned simultaneously.  That aside, Manetho writes that after the flood, Ham the son of Noah begat Aegyptus or Mestraim, who established in the area of egypt.  He wrote that the dispersion of the tribes was five years after Noah's descendant Peleg was born.  This agrees with Genesis 10:25.   It seems that Manetho pretty well corroborates scripture in Genesis. (CMI, Creation magazine, vol 35, no.4, 2013.)

Joy, no, I have not had the time to look at the links you sent me. Some of the YouTube videos are an hour long!  But, if you can give me that link again that provides "nuclear evidence supporting a young earth", I'll make it a point in looking at it and then get back with a response.

Can I explain how the Red Sea was parted? I accept Exodus 14:21 that God "drove the sea back with a strong east wind.  However, I have some difficulty with the traditional visualization of Moses and the Israelites walking on a narrow path between two vertical walls of water (and sometimes showing surprised fish in the water).  Yes, Exodus 14:22 mentions "a wall of water" but we don't know if a "wall of water" meant the same to the readers of Exodus as it does to us. Still, it's no "biggy" to me and I won't lie awake at night wondering about those walls of water.  Likewise, can I explain the manna and the quail (Exodus 16)?  No, but I don't have to because there is no geological record to counter these miraculous events.  You see, Joy, it's all well and good if there is no physical evidence to conflict with Scriptures; it's when geological evidence overwhelmingly is at odds with a literal interpretation of - to me - less important events, we have a problem.  What puzzles me is that many Christians cast doubt on some of the scientific methods and conclusions and yet would accept the same scientific methods used in forensic studies that would help convict or exonerate a defendant.

As to your last paragraph, I have no doubt that Jesus is God, that He died for our sins, and that He rose from the death. I fully subscribe to the Apostles' Creed. 


One can easily determine approximately when the Global flood took place, from Scripture.  E.g. see Biblical timeline:

There are very interesting geological phenomena around the world.  Mountains with or without folds, e.g. the mount that you mentioned: 

There are amazing folds found around the world:

Almost without exception folds obviously occurred while still pliable otherwise instead of fold(s) the rock(s) would be all cracked up.  This definitely shows rapid formation, e.g. mountains etc. shortly after the flood.

Have you actually looked at the documentary that I recently included a link to?  It includes nuclear evidence supporting young earth.  Maybe it is time to put aside your prejudice against what the Word of God is plainly telling us.

Of course, the pyramids themselves are amazing.  Arrogant 'modern' man thinks that he is so smart.  However, exactly how the pyramids were built is still an engineering marvel.  Just because we don't understand something fully doesn't mean it didn't happen as described in the Bible.  Can you explain how the Red Sea was parted and they walked on dry land to the other side?

Contrary what you're suggesting, casting doubt on the Word of God gives sceptics less reason to seriously consider the Good News.  If you are claiming that we can't trust what the Word of God is telling us from the beginning how can you expect the sceptic to believe the Word of God relating to salvation.  Could you state from which point in the Bible God is telling us the truth?

John, a few comments: If you date the flood a few hundred years before the Egyptians built their pyramids, the larger mountains must have formed in a very short time and that presents problems with the deforming of the geological layers. If you look at Mount Rundle, you see that those particular geological layers resisted bending and remain roughly parallel to one side of the mountain.  On the other hand, exposed rock layers along the Juniata River in Central Pennsylvania show foliation in the form of synclines and anticlines.  As to stating that "water ends up under rock all time", yes, of course, there is groundwater and there are aquifers but the porosity of intact igneous rock is relatively low (0.3% for granite) and caves and caverns do not extend over large areas.  If I recall, Walter Brown has a whole layer of water, apparently devoid of any geological material and with sufficient permeability to be expelled at a great rate.  That layer of water served as a "lubricant" allowing the continents to move very rapidly without creation large amounts of heat due to friction.  My understanding of "water under the earth" is that the conventional wisdom was that the Earth floated on water and that there was a "firmament" above the water and the Earth along which the sun, moon, and stars traveled on a sort of track.  As to the expanding population after the Flood and the preservation of technology, minds better than mine have pondered this and have come to the conclusion that preserving technology by a family of eight is no simple matter. The common understanding is that Noah built the ark by himself, maybe with the help of his sons but he most likely had access to available technological resources.  If he felled the trees himself, he must have had an axe of some sort and that assumed that there was some type of metallurgy (Tubal-Cain). Noah used pitch to seal the ark and must have had a source of this pitch and equipment to smear the pitch on the ark.  Genesis 4 suggests a reasonably well developed society (tentmaking, enough leisure time to make and use instruments). By the time the flood waters had receded, the metallurgists would have died. If Noah did not know how to make an axe, he and his descendants would have had to reinvent metallurgy (I don't think that Noah would have used a flint axe but, if he had, he would have had to know where to find this flint).  In short, a literal reading of the Flood story raises too many questions to an increasingly sceptical generation and, as I have mentioned before, may in fact hinder our attempts to bring the Good News of salvation in Christ. I just hope I'm wrong.  Maybe I'm not relying on the Holy Spirit enough.



John, you raised an important point that I had overlooked, and that is the Heidelberg Catechism [HC]. You are quite correct (of course) that the HC is quite specific as to the origin of sin.  Whether or not those Q&As are as defendable as they were in 1563 may be debatable but, until the CRC changes them (not an easy task, considering Q&A 80!), one is bound to have to agree to them to remain within the CRC. In reality, I wonder how many CRC members wrestle with some of the HC Q&As and if this is not becoming a stumbling block for potential members or a reason for CRC members to drift away. 

As far as scientific fudging is concerned, experimentalists who "fudge" results tend to be found out when it is clear that the experimental results cannot be duplicated.  "Fudging" my be a strong word, as sometimes the materials are not as "clean" as they should be. I tried to duplicate an experiment that was reported in Science, using the same geological sample and was unable to get the same results.  I determined that the geological material was contaminated and that observation led me some interesting conclusions.  I cannot comment on the "same codons in DNA codes" because that's not my are of expertise.

Again, thanks for your thoughtful comments.


Re the various flood stories:

  Greetings all:

The book by Egyptologist John Currid called "Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament" along his audio series called 'Crass Plagarism' puts a lot of the other flood stories in perspective.

His bottom line?

   "In addition, and of utmost importance, is the truth that the biblical writers often employed polemical theology as an instrument to underscore the uniqueness of the Hebrew worldview in contrast to other ancient Near Eastern conceptions of the universe and how it operates. In this day and age, when a considerable number of scholars seek to diminish the originality and uniqueness of the Old Testament, this is no small thing."

   "If the biblical stories are true, one would be surprised not to find some references to these truths in extra-biblical literature. And indeed in ancient Near Eastern myth we do see some kernels of historical truth. However, pagan authors vulgarized or bastardized those truths— they distorted fact by dressing it up with polytheism, magic, violence, and paganism. Fact became myth. From this angle the common references would appear to support rather than deny the historicity of the biblical story."


Essential reading for this discussion, it seems.





Also as Scripture informs us that all the mountains were covered then one would have to believe that this is what happened if you believe it was a local flood.  See 'local' flood illustration:

This documentary provides plenty of evidence supporting the Global flood account:

The flood was definitely global.  The ark wouldn't be necessary if the flood was only local.  God could have instructed Noah to move away.  It would seem rather ridiculous to have a 'local' flood lasting 371 days. Also what about the covenant God made that involves the rainbow.  If the flood was only local, what about God's covenant as there have been many local floods since?

Genesis 9: 8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, 9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10 and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. 11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are unlikely the originals.  They could have been simply named after original.  Just as there is a city named 'London' in Kentucky; Ontario etc.  We probably do not have the same rivers today, especially after the total reshaping of the planet that took place during the flood.  As they had long life spans especially until the flood, Noah's father was born while Adam was still alive.  Noah's family might have named the Tigris and Euphrates rivers as they reminded them of what Adam told Noah's father about the original rivers.  BTW, do the current Tigris and Euphrates rivers match the account in Scripture.

Genesis 2:10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel(Tigris): that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

Tjalle, would the apostle's creed be an acid test?  Yes, for ecumenism perhaps.  But perhaps not sufficient for our promise to uphold the confessions, right?  So while we have a type of variety and divergence within the denomination, we also have promised a basic confessional perspective, which includes the Heidelberg.  Everyone who professed their faith and became a member, agreed to that, right?  The Heidleberg:

Q & A 5  Q. Can you live up to all this perfectly?   A. No.1  I have a natural tendency
to hate God and my neighbor.2

Q & A 6:  Q. Did God create people so wicked and perverse?   A. No.   God created them good1 and in his own image,2 that is, in true righteousness and holiness,3  so that they might truly know God their creator,4  love him with all their heart,
and live with God in eternal happiness, to praise and glorify him.5

 Q & A 7:  Q. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?  A. The fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise.1  This fall has so poisoned our nature2 that we are all conceived and born in a sinful condition.3

Q 9. But doesn’t God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what we are unable to do?

A. No, God created human beings with the ability to keep the law.1They, however, provoked by the devil, 

in willful disobedience,3 robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.Are not some things in evolutionary theory outside of the boundaries of the confession of promise? 

I don't think the human sinful nature is a biological inheritance.  It is a spiritual inheritance.   But it is sure isn't it, that we do not see any perfect people without sin.  This apparently is not part of the natural variability of the human race.

As far as scientists fudging evidence, well they are not perfect either, and there is clear evidence of scientists fudging things from time to time, while we assume most do not.   However, in this case we are not talking about fudging evidence so much as interpreting evidence.   A big difference.   The bias of the interpretation looms huge.   Did you know that the same codons in DNA codes for at least two different processes simultaneously, as if it could be read in two different programs at the same time?  Fascinating, and some would say more clear evidence of an intelligent creator, rather than mere random mutations coupled with selection.  Both evolutionists and creationists see the same evidence, but the creationist says this could not have happened by the proposed evolutionary mechanisms.  It is too improbable, too absurdly unlikely.  The evolutionist says it doesn't matter how extremely unlikely, it must have happened this way.   So who is being more scientific in this case?  

John,  You're getting me "hooked" on this forum but I can't resist (well, I could, if I wanted to) commenting on your Boxing Day post.  As far as ecumenism is concerned, would an "acid test" not be the Apostles' Creed?  If a denomination or a congregation subscribes to this Creed, my guess is that we could see their members as "brothers and sisters in Christ" no matter how we feel about their interpretation of Scripture ([harrumpf], "another believer in consubstantiation. Where do they get those ideas!").  I am a member of a multidenominational congregation that is recognized by four denominations.  I don't agree with some of the tenets of some of the denominations but that does not prevent me to worship with them or work with them.  "We park our denominational differences at the door." If there were a CRC congregation within reasonably driving distance, we would probably join it.

As to the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, is not the main point of the Fall that mankind has sinned and falls short of the glory of God?  I must admit that I have had considerable discomfort with the transmitting of original sin from Adam to subsequent generations.  I suppose it is possible that, by eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam's and Eve's DNA was altered miraculously so that the "sin gene" would be propagated though the human race but it does seem a bit odd, humanly speaking, that "one slip by Eve and then Adam" led us into a predicament from which only the death of Jesus can save (some of) us. No chance for a "do over".  But, no matter how one slices it, it's obvious that mankind sins and needs redemption. (And let's not get onto the road leading to supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism!)

Finally, it's not so much as "conforming to the world" as it is to confront the evidence in the geological record (Calvin's General Revelation) faithfully. There are some Christians who believe that scientists do their utmost best to find evidence that can be used to discredit the Bible.  Unless one believes in a conspiracy cooked up by "atheistic scientists", I can't see scientists fudging their results to make a point. They would be found out sooner or later with unpleasant results as to the future of their scientific career.



Tjalle, we are getting a lot of snow here, already more so far than we normally get all winter.  Beautiful, but roads are tough to get thru sometimes.  Your question about mountain formation relative to the Tigris is a good one.  There apparently were small mountains before the flood, while the larger ones formed at the time of the flood, but I will have to research that issue further. 

Water ends up under rock all the time, regardless of bulk densities, so I don't think that is a big deal.  Porosity and volume are some of the details, but in principle it would seem to be possible.  As far as how the water got there in the first place, of course scripture says that there was water under the earth, and God created it.  It becomes circular or never ending to ask how something got there in the first place, because in our human limited understanding, it would always have to come from somewhere, regardless of where it came from, so the question would never end. 

Yes plates would have to subduct.  Creation Ministries has a different theory that the subduction we now see is simply the tail end of a very rapid subduction at the time of the flood.  Are you saying that Brown denies subduction, or simply doesn't consider it?  I would think he is well aware of subduction.  I think he also indicates that the crust stretched upward, and some of it disappeared or exploded upwards.

I believe Walt Brown talks about superheated water which is well above the normal boiling point temperature, under pressure, and considerably warmer than the 25C per km you mention.  In fact he suggests the water temp was too high to boil, since it was supercritical. 

It may be true that rock bending slowly enough can bend without fracturing, but that thought goes against common observation.  Or perhaps some rocks and not others.  Much rock fractures even without bending, simply due to contraction and expansion.  In any case, whether it fractures when it moves depends on what surface it is moving on, and whether it can move all at once.  If this surface has moderate resistance on a level surface, and if the friction causes a melting of rock then presumably the layer could move without significant fracturing.  The bending of present sedimentary rock layers in the mountains is also thought to have happened when the layers were yet soft enough not to fracture significantly, either from heat or from lack of hardening. 

The story of Babel does not seem to exactly fit into a chronology in scripture as far as I can see, but regardless, the population growth could be the same whether the tower happened later or earlier.  Noah and his descendants lived long and could have had many children, causing a quick and great increase in population.  From four couples, there could easily have been millions of people in two hundred years, especially if they were still having children when two hundred years old (and consider how long they lived).   Some rough calculations show an exponential possibility of 1.2 million people after only 80 yrs.   Perhaps not likely by our standards, but we know they began having children at 35 years old or younger and didn't even Abraham live to 175 years? 

And the same people or technology that built the ark may have found a way to build pyramids, don't you think? 

Interesting that statement, "we'll have to agree to disagree".   Do I have to agree with that?   Couldn't I also disagree on that one, hoping that we might some day agree on a few more things?  

   And I also hope you have a fruitful and enlightening 2014.   God bless.

John, now that Christmas and Boxing Day are rapidly fading into memory, it's time for me to get back into the discussion.  First, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Yes, it's possible that these rivers have been reshaped but, again, I find this argument a bit of a stretch, because they would still be in approximately the same location. As I mentioned earlier, to hold that the drifting of the various tectonic plates would have allowed that valley retain its current form (OK, the form it had during the Biblical Flood) is a bit difficult, considering that the collisions of the tectonic plates led to orogenesis (formation of mountains). 

I did look at one of the websites that deals with Walter Brown's hydroplate theory.  I must admit that his theory of the formation of the mid-Atlantic ridge is clever but there are just too many problems for me. In the first place, Brown would have to explain how a layer of water (density = 1) would end up underneath a layer of geological material (density = ~2.65).  True, an intact layer of geological material could, in principle, remain separated from the layer underneath that layer of water, but the question remains how water got there in the first place. I don't know if Water Brown has an answer for that.

Next, if a hairline crack appeared in this geological layer and caused the geological layer to split, sending all that water to the surface, why would those edges of that layer spread?  The surface of a sphere is finite and it's clever to argue that the release of water caused the astenosphere to bulge upwards and let the geological layer "slide downhill" but where would that layer slide to?  There's no room, unless one postulates that subduction occurs but subduction requires different tectonic plates. Then there is also the temperature of the water to consider (the geothermal gradient is about 25 C/km).

Then there is the question of the age of the basement rock of the Atlantic Ocean.  The rock is younger towards the mid-Atlantic ridge, consistent with a slow process of the movement of the tectonic plates away from each other, caused by magma welling up.

It should also be noted that rock is brittle and rapid deformation of most geological material wil cause fracturing. If the deformation is slow, the geological material can accommodate the stresses and can deform without fracturing.  Thus, a rapid movement of the geological layer would have created a lot of fracturing.

Finally (for now), I'm a bit surprised at your statement about time lines, that "[a]s far as the timeline for the flood or the pyramids are concerned, they differ from each other possibly by only a few hundred years, and there is debate on the timelines."  If they only differ by "a few hundred years" one has to explain how "the family Noah" was able to spread that quickly from eight people to the large number of people that managed to stick together until the Babel episode and, from which, one group moved to Egypt to set up shop, develop a technology that allowed them to build pyramids and develop a society that could marshall enough workers to get these things built. 

Summarizing my comments, then, I find arguments for a global flood weak in the face of geological and other evidence.  Maybe, in time, some scientifically defendable interpretation of the currently available information may shed more light on this topic.  In the meantime, we'll just have to agree to disagree.  There are, after all, bigger fish to fry.

Peace to you and yours in 2014


We often thing that ecumenism is just about different denominations working together, or at least getting along with each other.  I think that is partly true, but that the more fundamental issue is in which areas we can work together, and which areas prevent us.  For example, in our local ministerial, the Jehovah witnesses and Mormons are not included, while other churches (christian) are included.  There is a great deal of ecumenical attitude, but there are still limits and confessional boundaries.  

Doesn't the same thing apply when we discuss differences of belief about Genesis 1?   If our interpretation of Genesis 1 (or other passages) leads us to deny man's ultimate responsibility for sin and disobedience, or if it leads us to deny God's ability to intervene or create miraculously, then haven't we crossed the line from an "ecumenical difference" to a God denying discussion?   Given the seriousness of an evolutionary understanding of creation, and its effect on many who use it as their reason for denying a God who cares and creates, shouldn't we be incredibly cautious about "conforming to the world" in this regard? 

This was a good discussion, and difficult.   It needs to continue if we are to get at why the membership of the denomination is declining, since this is part of the issue, although not the entire cause of it.   When we make peripheral issues more important than issues which are more clear in scripture, then perhaps this is one of our problems.  For example, whether you believe in infant baptism or adult baptism, if you treat repentance and obedience cavalierly with no respect, then the issue of infant or adult baptism is not really the issue at all.  Scripture says much less about baptism (whether at youth or maturity, whether once or twice), than it does about true repentance and obedience.  Scripture says much more about adultery, idolatry, homosex, and telling falsehoods, than it does about infant baptism or about speaking in tongues.   The very fact that we have a number of churches in North America which refer to themselves as Reformed Baptists, adopting many reformed doctrines while still maintaining adult baptism, should tell us that our conclusions about the relation of election and predestination to infant baptism are not so obvious to all, and certainly not inevitable. Scripture's promise to our children is exactly the same promise to those who "are afar off", and so is somewhat of a stretch to apply to infant baptism.  So I appreciate Daniel's comments in this regard, and also Bev's comments. 

Tjalle, slowing down a conversation is sometimes a very good thing,   so a bit of a delay in answering a question is okay.  In response to your question about the Tigris and Euphrates, yes, it is possible that they are either different or reshaped.  I am aware for example that there appears to be a former river channel about five or six hundred feet underground in my area, next to the Peace River, which could have served the same function as the Peace, maybe, or maybe not, and if people had been living there, might have received the same name (although in Cree or Beaver tongue, not English).   I don't think this is an issue of vast importance. 

Your second point about evolution of groups:  I simply think the terminology is wrong, scientifically.  The people did not change into something different, no more than a cross between black labs and yellow labs might result in differentiation of offspring, which eventually could be  relatively consistent strains of black, chocolate and yellow labs.   It's just selection or differentiation, not evolution. 

Re your statements about the tree trunks.  It was quite obvious the trees did not grow exactly where they were found.  It is difficult to say where they grew, other than that they definately grew in tropical non-winter environments.  So while continental drift is a possible cause, it must have been associated with flooding and mass movement of tree trunks prior to some formation of ice and snow sheets, wouldnt you agree? 

As far as the timeline for the flood or the pyramids are concerned, they differ from each other possibly by only a few hundred years, and there is debate on the timelines.   The biblical timeline for the judges, for example, seems to indicate overlap of various judges, and apparently the same is possible for some of the egyptian monarchs.   Josephus seems also to indicate that the Israelite slaves were building pyramids, most likely out of mud bricks, rather than cut stone.   Some work with carbon dating seems to indicate up to a 400 year variability on some of the C14 tests on the older pyramids, and of course, dating the wood does not give an absolute on the pyramids, since the wood would of necessity be older.   Depending on conditions, the pyramid could potentially be hundreds of  years younger than the carbon-dated wood. 

I hope this answers your questions. 



John, I apologize for my delay in responding to your last two posts.  I've been preoccupied with a number of other projects but I have not forgotten our dialog! I will try to get back to your penultimate post but I have a few comments on your post of December 05, about a possible timeline for a Biblical Flood, be it local or global.  If we can assume that the Genesis record is sequential (i.e., at least what is recorded in Genesis 2 happened before what happened in Genesis 3, and so on), the Euphrates and Tigris are mentioned in Genesis 2. Unless one argues that these two rivers were not the same as the current rivers of those names in present-day Iraq, the events described in Genesis 2 - 6 must have occurred in that part of the world that we now call Iraq.  To then postulate that continent drifter apart after these events require that the geology of the Iraqi region has not changed even though continents drifted and mountains were created (as a result of the continental movement).  There is ample geological evidence that continental movement led to orogenesis (mountain building) but to postulate that continental drift preserved the - rather delicate - geology of the Tigris-Euphrates basin is a bit of a stretch.

But, never mind all these problems, we are still faced with putting Noah in-time-and-place.  I will grant you that it is conceivable that Noah's immediate family was "of mixed race" and that his daughters-in-law were non-Semitic or whatever Noah and his wife were.  Note that this still requires some time between Adam and Noah for the Adamites (for lack of a better word) to evolve into groups with different skin colour and facial features.

As to the tree trunks in the high arctic, this can also be explained by continental drift and old tree trunks do not have to become fossilized if they are isolated from the environment.  Some clays are very impervious to water and can seal biological material. For example, wood from tree trunks recovered from Dunnarobba in Italy retained its structure and can be carved (I've handled a piece; it looked like a piece from an old barn).

But I digress and must get back to other, more onerous, tasks. As usual, with these discussions, one topic leads to another and we can go around the mulberry bush for a long time. So, I end with rephrasing my earlier question: when did the Biblical Flood take place?  For example, xxxx BC or, if you want to put it into perspective, how long before the building of the pyramids in Egypt?

Tjalle, you earlier asked about a timeline for Noah's global flood.  An interesting youtube video by Ian Juby (Genesis Week, Episode 12, Season 3) highlighting some of the 250 flood legends around the globe, and the similarity of lineages with the biblical account would give some credibility to the fact that the flood was global, not local.   One of the accounts gives a more detailed lineage of Japheth's line  than the Bible does, and it seems some of these stories have been shown to predate missionary activity into Africa or east Asia.   In this episode, he also talks about the genetic bottleneck of mitochondrial DNA, as well as implications for other species.   His episode 13 of Season 3 describes the tropical forest debris found in the high artic, as well as the antartic.   The huge amounts of tree trunks indicate major catastrophes since the roots have been torn away, and many of these trees have not been fossilized, but merely frozen. 

The theological implications of a global flood are quite different than the theological implications of a relatively small local flood.   You can imagine what they might be.   When Israel as God's chosen people began to worship other gods, along with still offering sacrifices to Jahweh, God became angry enough to punish them, but He used other people and nations to punish them.  Then He would also punish other nations and people as well, (see Nahum on the punishment of Nineveh).  But the punishment was never indicated to be global, and did not require a 100 year boat construction project or something similar.   

Tjalle, I appreciate the tenor of your comments.   I think you are expressing your understandings in good way.   It seems that you are expressing much of the traditional understandings of sedimentation, but in a somewhat simplistic way.   For example, a global catastrophic flood would exhibit some principles similar to local floods, but given that the flood lasted a year and 17 days, it had to be much more serious and catastrophic than a mere typhoon, tsunami, or rapid glacier melt (such as Iceland has had).   Mt. St. Helens demonstrates the rapidity with which canyons can be carved and tree trunks deposited in soil in an upright position.  While you are right that various particles separate out from water at different rates, it is difficult for us to imagine what type of particles might have been in the water, and whether they were all there at the same time.   For example, some particles may have been in the water at the beginning of the flood, while others showed up a month or two later.   Particles of sand would tend to settle out within hours, while silt might take hours, and clay might take days or weeks to settle.   But limestone is likely the result of billions of shells settling and turning into calcium carbonate, and that would likely depend on when these snails and shell fish died.   Many clam fossils give evidence that they drowned (unnatural death).   The first video Joy pointed out, gives some potential clues to how these layers settled.  A book by Walt Brown "In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood"  gives some possibilities as well, which are consistent with the evidence.  

In Walt Brown's model, the movement of the continents was relatively quick, and happened at the time of the flood.   The flood and continental drift were part of the same event.    This does not really solve the problem of animal movement, since during most of the drift, the continents would have been inundated.    This is also true for the Creation Ministries model of the flood.  Some of the physics and engineering principles involved in movement, energy, and flow are described.   The video that Joy highlighted, shows Walter Veith (on Amazing Discoveries program) describing the directions of water flow across the continents at different geological layers, and gives his explanation for that in relation to the elevations and uplifts of these layers at different times.  He also explains how similar geochemical conditions are across a geological profile, which indicates that hundreds of feet must have been laid down within 30 days or less, and not over eons of time. 

It seems that sandstone, shale and limestone found in the grand canyon must have been laid down by water, based on the characteristics and flatness of the layers.  Since sediment in water tends to descend relatively rapidly, it does not give evidence of long periods of time.   If long time existed, then long time would have had to exist between layers, but it is difficult to demonstrate time from an absence of something.   That would primarily be a speculation.   Polystrate fossils would indicate that there was not a long period of time between layers. 

What about people?   If we assume that all the genetics existed before the flood, so that Noah and his wife were quite different, perhaps like a Greek marrying a Kenyan native, and their sons also married varied wives, perhaps the three wives were like a Nordic type, an Asian type, and a   Fulani type, then you could see the potential variation already existed.   All that would be required would be for a type of segregation to occur, which would be natural when the languages were confused at Babel, since people would tend to associate with those who would be most like them.   We know that human nature in groups tends to isolate or shun those who are significantly different, and this likely led to the distinction of people's more than any other cause such as environmental adaptation.   Thus we have Dene, a somewhat darker skinned type in the far north in Canada, and Nordic types in the far north in Europe.   Very dark natives in central Africa and Australia, and mildly dark skinned natives in South America and Asia. 

Your hypothesis about original sin is interesting, but inconsistent with scripture since the command to obey came before their apparent knowledge of good and evil, not after.   It seems their knowledge came about because of their disobedience, so that they knew how to disobey.   Our confessions also say that even infants are part of the sinful nature, even though they do not really understand it;  that would be somewhat different than what you are suggesting. 

John, I will accept the possibility that animals could have floated some distance on "huge floating mats of trees and organic debris" but we're talking about quite some distance even considering, in the case of Australia, the string of Indonesian islands.  But invoking continental drift is a bit of a stretch because, again, of the time frames involved. Of course, if one holds to a "Young Earth", one has to explain continental drift some other way. I forget where I read this, but postulating an accelerated continental drift would call for a much higher degree of friction and a much higher global temperature. There certainly is geological evidence that South America and Africa were at one time attached but are you suggesting that the Flood preceded the splitting up of Pangaea?  I would consider this odd in that the description of the Garden of Eden mentions specific geographical features in current Iraq.

I think that your argument about African-Americans and Indo-Chinese maintaining distinctive works the wrong way.  We are talking about Noah's children (siblings) whose descendants "evolved" into groups with distinctly different characteristics.  This "evolution" (for lack of a better word) into the current groups must have taken some time unless one assumes that the siblings were alreay quite different from each other (or that their spouses were).  And you still have not given me a time frame when the Flood happened.

The Grand Canyon shows, to me, concrete evidence of stratigraphy, where layers of sedimentary material were deposited over long periods of time.  The geology of the individual layers is quite different, indicating different geochemical conditions. For example, sandstone, overlain by shale and shale in turn overlain by limestone indicate quite different conditions. To argue that the canyon was formed by a single flood event needs to be supported by experimental evidence.  A lot of information can be obtained from sedimentation studies: large, heavier particles are deposited first from flwoing water and clay particles last (look at gravel in streambeds in fast-flowing streams in the Rocky Mountains and silt in the Fraser River near Richmond, for example).  My guess is that a global flood would not have carved these steep canyon walls but that they are the result of long-term action by the scouring action of rivers. But I digress.

As to "original sin", I have often wondered if the concept of sin did not arrive when [hu]mankind "evolved" to the point that he or she would be aware of right and wrong or that God, in His wisdom, placed Adam and Eve in a world where they were the only creatures that were given the freedom to choose between obeying and not obeying.  Dick Fischer has written extensively about this.  If we make the assumption that knowledge of good and evil is necessary to be able to sin (Genesis 3:22: “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.").  Animals cannot sin but we can (and do!).

Joy, I have not had a chance to look at the videos but I did note that the first one runs for an hour and I have other irons in the fire. Thanks for the links, though!


Joy, the first video was fascinating.  Tjalle, there are a number of explanations for how animals got to different places, partly because of movement of continents, and partly the likelihood of huge floating matts of trees and organic debris to carry them.   As far as time to repopulate, 4000, 6000 years was plenty of time for repopulation.   If Noah's individual descendants (each son and daughter pair) were unique to start with, ie., contained unique sets of genetics, then it would not have taken long for different group types to develop from single pairs, or even somewhat small but similar groups after the tower of Babel.   Interesting how the African Americans or Indo-Chinese remain distinctive when they have lived in USA for many generations, simply because they mate with similar types.   It is much easier for this to happen from small similar groups than from large variable groups.  None of these issues seem like big issues to me. 

It would seem much harder to explain geology, petrified trees, historic erosion, ripple effects, carbonate layers, separation of bark and tree trunks, and many other features, without an enormous global flood.  Grand Canyon is used as a reference because it is huge, exposed, available.   But features such as the Dover cliffs, the Rocky Mountains, Mount St. Helens, mammoths with camels in Artic ice,  Iceland flooding due to glacier melted by volcano, and huge coal mines around the globe help to explain the catastrophic nature of most geological features. 

Yes, sin entering the world is another topic, related but yet somewhat separate.   It is related in the sense of how an OEE might explain the difference between murder, and simple survival of the fittest.   It is related in how we distinguish between what is an animal instinct, and what is human disobedience to how God made us and wants us to be.   Tough one. 

Some great videos showing excellent evidence for a global flood:

A Universal Flood (

Global Flood: Fact or Fiction (

Raging Waters (


My aside about Bishop Ussher was intended to point out the danger of clergy (as well as other disciplines) going outside their expertise.

This is not the forum to debate the various geochronological techniques.  I am well aware of the pitfalls of various methodologies and the error bars associated with them. 

What I am still waiting for from you, is some sense of when, in time, the Biblical Flood occurred. From the Bible, it happened quite some time after Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. If we assume that the Biblical record of the Flood indeed was intended to state that it was a global Flood that obliterated all land-based animals, the entire world must then had to be repopulated with people and animals.  Kangaroos must have hopped all the way to Australia.  Other than a land bridge, the only (to me) plausible way is that some descendants of Noah and Mrs Noah domesticated the kangaroos and took a pair (or more) with them on a raft to Australia where they multiplied and spread out over that continent.  You must admit that this is a bit far-fetched because these descendants must have taken some koala bears as well.  But even then, the other part of the question is the time required for the descendants of Noah and Mrs Noah to spread over the entire world and "evolve" into different groups (trying to avoid "races") with their individual characteristics (colour of skin, amounts of facial hair, etc.).  I'm no biologist or geneticist and have no "feel" of the time required for these changes to occur but it would seem to me that, if one supports a global Flood, one has to come up with some sort of explanation.

On the other hand, if we accept a regional Flood that was limited to the Tigris-Euphrates valley, and "the whole world" is intended to describe only that region, we can explain the diversity in the global distribution of animals and people but, I admit, does not square with a literal interpretation of Genesis 6. That leaves us with a non-literal interpretation.

Just because I have problems with a global Flood does not mean that I have problems with the raising of Lazarus or with the Resurrection.  I do have a problem with proponents of a global Flood continue to cite the Grand Cayon as proof of a global Flood.

As to sin entering the world, again, this is a "whole other topic".


I wonder if your comment on "bishop Usher has had his day" is one reason why discussions like this are difficult.  While I agreed that age of the earth is not the primary issue, that doesn't mean it isn't important.  It neither means that I agree or disagree with YEC on that point. 

Not to put too fine a point on it about K-Ar method, but measuring a grain of rice with a yardstick which is well marked, still ought to give a reasonable size, even while it might lack precision.  We would not expect a yardstick to indicate a grain of rice is four inches in size.  An error bar of 400,000 years in a dating method is significant.   Any new rock should measure less than 100,000 years old at max.  A better reply would have been to counter with the abilities of the Ar40-Ar39 method. 

If kangaroos started from two animals, then they could have started anywhere they could have go to presumably, and extinctions on other land areas would not have been necessary....

You are right, the term evolution for separation of people's, is misleading.  There is no new species, and selection of types is merely selection, not evolution.   People are still people.   Selected wheat varities are still wheat, no matter how they look. 

I agree the bible is not a "science" book.  But that is no reason to suppose that it is not essentially accurate.   The bible is not a book about the probable, but about the possible, or even about the impossible becoming possible.  (Thus Lazarus raised from the dead).    Evolution is also entirely improbable;  some would say impossible. 

The truth that God sent His son to die for us;  highly improbable, yet it happened.  Eternal life, highly improbable, yet God's promise for us.  Did sin enter the world through man, or did God plant it into his creation?   Did God create us to disobey, or did he make us obedient originally?   Did God ask man to reject the way he was created?  Or to return to the way he was created?    Is that the choice?  

We're getting off topic here, from the Flood to evolution but I'm glad to note that you agree that the age of the earth is not the primary issue.  I guess that Bishop Ussher has had his day (a good example why clergy should stick to their trade and, to me, a good example of sphere sovereignty!).

Concerning your comment, "inability to date new volcanic rock with ancient methods", you may be referring to the attempt to date new volcanic rock using the Kr/Ar dating technique. No self-respecting geochronologist would use this technique; it's like trying to measure the length of a grain of rice with a yardstick.

As to land bridges and ice bridges, the presence of either would explain the movement of indigenous people from Asia across the Bering Strait to North America and the somewhat similar appearance between Oriental and North American First Nations. And, certainly, these people could have taken livestock with them.  But it's a bit of a stretch to invoke a land bridge or an ice bridge between Asia and Australia!  To postulate a global Flood would mean that the kangaroos on the Ark would have had to migrate in sufficient number to Australia and then become extinct anywhere except Australia (kangaroos are not native to New Zealand).  

I don't want to get into an argument about the definition of "race".  I accept that we all belong to the human race but we certainly look different.  My question is then one of how long did it take for the descendants of Noah and Mrs Noah to "evolve" (if you'll accept this term) into the Caucasian, Oriental, and Black groups?  Your suggestion that "it would not take long" doesn't cut it for me; I'd like an substantiated, semi-quantitative answer.  I realize that we don't have any photographic evidence but would an indigenous African have been as "black" 1000  or 3000 years ago as she is now?  It would seem plausible to me that, in isolation, groups may "evolve" in different directions and that their features start to differentiate more and more, leading from [probably] similar siblings to the wide range in human features we see now.  These differences start to disappear when these groups come into contact with each other.

How do we talk about these things as Christians?  Tough question, John.  As a scientist, I prefer to have a self-consistent explanation and, to my regret, a literal interpretation of the Bible creates problems.  That's why people have said that "the Bible is not a science book".  To me, the question is not so much as trying to arrive at a 100% concordance between the Bible and the created world but to accept the fundamental truth of the Bible, distilled in the Apostles' Creed and conveying the truth that God sent his only begotten Son into the world to die for our sins so that we will have eternal life.  To me, everything else pales by comparison.  Does it then really matter how sin entered into the world, either by an act of disobedience by a single woman and man or because God, in His wisdom created mankind with the freedom to choose? Or is it more important to accept the fact than mankind is sinful and in need of a Saviour?  Will we be judged if we have trouble with the extent of the Flood?  Will we be judged if we cause a stumbling block to unbelievers by insisting on a global Flood?

Not having watched the PBS program, I don't know what Keith Miller said but, in his chapter "Common Descent, Transitional Forms, and the Fossil Record" in the book I cited, he presents a lot of evidence of transitional forms: the chapter has 55 footnotes!  As to his claim of being an "ardent evangelical Christian", I am not about to judge him!  From what I have heard him say, I doubt if he would have any difficulties in reciting the Apostles' Creed and that would make him a Christian in my book (note that this Creed is silent on the Flood!). He certainly comes across as being "ardent" so we are left with the question if he is "evangelical".  If you accept Merriam-Webster's definition that includes the "authority of the Bible" we can quibble about which parts of the Bible need to interpreted literally and which parts figuratively (and where common sense comes in). In any case, proponents of a global Flood need to address the wide variety and distribution of land-based life forms and I am still waiting for this explanation.

Tjalle, thanks for your response.  I suppose we are all prejudiced on this topic to some extent, aren't we?  I would suggest the primary issue is not age of the earth, but rather whether evolution is possible or actually happened.   However, there are some problems with polystrate fossils, inability to date new volcanic rock with ancient methods, lack of serious erosion between supposedly ancient layers, and that absence of fossils does not mean absence of animals. 

I understand that there are many stories of ancient land bridge or ice bridge (most likely ice) between the continents, and people crossing.  Interesting also that orientals and native americans are so similar in appearance.   You wonder how long it would take for populations to differentiate and homogenize;  I would suggest it would not take long, given the right circumstances.   In the end, as Joy said, they are still all people.    We are beginning to see many examples of people today who cannot be placed into a particular so-called "race" or ethnicity.   

I have recently read a book by JC Sanford, PhD in genetic biology, who writes about the unlikelihood an impossibility of upward evolution.   The sheer number of deleterious mutations, and the impossibility of "natural selection" to select for beneficial mutations at a genome or organism level, is explained in great detail.  The book is called, "Genetic Entropy, and the Mystery of the Genome".   It is highly technical, but understandable with a bit of background understanding of DNA. 

How do we talk about these things as Christians?   Is it justifiable for evolutionists to ignore the problems with evolution just because YEC do not have an immediate answer for kangaroos in Australia?   Is it justifiable for YEC to ignore the concerns of evolutionary nuclear scientists because evolutionists ignore the problems with genetics or polystrate fossils, or lack of intermediate and transitional fossils?   We seem to be able to agree on the technology of computers, nuclear power, space ships.   On history of sociology, impact of faith, and geological and athropological history there is less agreement.   On God himself, and on scripture, there is less agreement.   What do we use as a basis for commonality on this? 

Regarding Keith Miller whose book you claim is excellent, professed on the PBS program to be an ‘ardent evangelical Christian.’ He asserted, without evidence, that there are lots of transitional forms. When questioned, he said that God chose Adam and Eve out of other humans that existed. This just shows that the word ‘evangelical,’ like ‘Christian,’ has become debased currency. At one time it meant someone who believed the Reformation (and biblical) doctrines of the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. This is not always so nowadays, and certainly doesn’t apply to Miller.

The Flood could only be a Global flood as the rainbow was given as a promise that God would never flood the whole earth again.  If it was only a local flood, then what about the promise God made as there have been many local floods since.  Also it wouldn't be necessary to have an ark if the flood was only local.

Prejudice seems to be the case regarding the scientists you list.  There are many more scientists who believe exactly what the Bible says related to origins and the flood etc. Not all scientists compromise regarding the Word of God.

In reality there is only one race, i.e. Adam's race.  As all have descended from Adam.  Science has already ascertained that actual science correlates with what the Bible says, which of course is not surprising as Almighty God is the ultimate scientist.

The Search for Adam and Eve", was a Newsweek article by John Tierney, Lynda Wright and Karen Springen. This article of January 11, 1988 stated: "Trained in molecular biology, they [scientists] looked at an international assortment of genes and picked up a trail of DNA that led to a single woman from whom we are all descended”.

Maternal mitochondria DNA is passed relatively unchanged in the female line only. Over time, mutations occur in the DNA of humans. How many mutations have occurred since Eve? How fast do mutations occur? In other words, what is the rate at which the mitochondrial DNA clock runs? If the number of mutations since Eve were known, then one could calculate how long ago mitochondrial Eve lived.

"Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock", is a ‘Science’ article by Ann Gibson. Article of 2nd January 1998 stated: “Mitochondrial DNA appears to mutate faster than expected, prompting new DNA forensics procedures..." For example, researchers have calculated that mitochondrial Eve - the woman whose mtDNA was ancestral to that in all living people - lived ... using the new clock she would have lived a mere 6000 years ago.


If you do not accept this history (Genesis) and prefer to believe that man's body developed as a result of an evolutionary process you are still left with the question of how to explain Eve for the Bible is very particular as to the origin of Eve. D.M. Lloyd-Jones 

“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Genesis 2:21-23

Luke traces the family tree down through Heli, father of Mary, mother of Jesus, through David’s son Nathan, until we read in Luke 3:38

“... Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God.” 

Therefore Adam, the son of God is related to the Son of God (our kinsman redeemer).

As Eve is related to Adam, Eve is also related to our kinsman redeemer.

"And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." Genesis 3:20

I had a quick look at that item on Youtube but, as soon as I saw a picture of the Grand Canyon when "The Flood" was mentioned, I could guess where this video was going.  Call me prejudiced, if you will.  To answer John Zylstra, we must differentiate between YEC and OEC on the one hand, and the extent of a Flood on the other.  You can have an "old Earth" and a more recent global Flood and you can have a "young Earth" and a global Flood, or either an old or young Earth and a global flood (or localized flood).  I think there is sufficient evidence to accept an old Earth with a history of at least 1 billion years (to me, a nuclear scientist, the "clincher" is the Oklo phenomenon).

Perhaps John can give us some indication when the Biblical Flood occurred. If it was a global Flood that indeed wiped out all surface creatures, there must have been a fair bit of time for the creatures from the Ark to repopulate the Earth, all the way from Turkey to Australia.  The kangaroos must have hopped all the way and drifted on logs to get to Australia. If there was a land bridge at the time, there should be some geological evidence.  Again, John should be able to cite an accepted reference.  There must also have been enough time for the descendants of Noah to move to the "four corners" of the Earth and undergo sufficient changes into the different races (Caucasian, Black, Oriental, Native American, etc).  Does this differentiation into the current races take 1000 years, 3000 years, 10,000 years, 30,000 years, 100,000, 300,000 years?  A biologist should be able to answer that question.

Of course, it is always possible that, after a global Flood, God created new creatures and that the platypus is part of that second creation but there is no mentioning of a "second creation" in the Bible.

Finally, I find it a bit odd that CRC folk are willing to consider arguments from people with dubious scientific credentials and reject the writings of recognized scientists in its circles such as Davis Young, Howard van Til, Clarence Menninga,Terry Gray and Loren and Deborah Haarsma.  May I suggest the excellent book "Perspectives of an Evolving Creation" edited by Keith Miller and published by Eerdmans?

Bruce and others,

I realize that this discussion might be cold but perhaps Bruce or someone can answer some questions that I have.

When the CRC considers joining an ecumenical organization, are its member churches taken into consideration at all? Is there a point when differences become severe enough to be intolerable?


Ken: I trust God is in control of the lives of his people, but it grieved me when my Father died.  God is in control of his church.  I trust that.  Nevertheless, the death of the CRCNA would grieve me.

If the CRC continues down this path of politicization, it will die.  Something might yet grow from the corpse, but the CRCNA will cease to be.  You might ask how I can be certain of that.  Consider:

1) our membership peaked in 1992 at about 316,000.  It is now about 250,000 and lost about 3,000 members (net) annually over the last several years;

2) the membership that remains is on average older, having fewer children, and fewer of those children are remaining in the denomination;

3) denominations that have taken a similar path (ELCA, PCUSA, Episcopal Church USA, etc.) have all seen precipitous declines in their membership followed by years of steady bleeding at a slower rate, a phenomenon paralleled in the CRC experience since 1992, but where they had millions of members, we had thousands - we'll hit bottom before they do;

4) this decline has occurred during one of the most concerted efforts at church growth in CRC history - since 1992 we have spent roughly $160 million (about $7-8 million annually) on domestic missions (there are slightly over 100 more CRC congregations in 2011 than in 1992, despite the loss of over 60,000 members).

Interestingly, this decline in our membership dates to the final ratification of the change in the church order opening all the offices to women and to the establishment of a "Social Justice Coordinator" (later morphing into the Office of Social Justice).  It's not possible to draw a direct cause-effect line between these, but neither can I believe this is just coincidental.

I'm not aware of any "relatively new push" to participate in WCRC; I think we have been involved with its forerunners for decades.  What does seem to be new (or maybe only recently more prominent) is an extremely politicized agenda on the part of the WCRC, which seems, at least, to be dominated by mainline liberal churches. The Accra confession is a very one-sided and extremely politicized (not to mention anti-American) document that has been subjected to some penetrating critique, e.g. by Calvin College Economics prof. Roland Hoksbergen ( ) and South African economist Stan DuPlessis ( ). I agree that ecumenical organizations are important; but I'm not sure WCRC is a healthy place for the CRC to be; I'm not sure our voice would be heard, and I wonder who would be presuming to be our voice within that organization. I am not confident that every denominational agency represents the full spectrum of CRC opinion. We don't fit into NAPARC (because of their regrettable decision to expel us over women's ordination), but I don't think we belong in an organization that officially (in the person of its general secretary) claims that John Calvin would support the Occupy Wall Street movement ( ) and pushes the confessionalization of socialism. I would equally recoil from any canonization of capitalism or right-wing politics. It's the princple of the thing: What unites us: The Reformed theological tradition or some politicization of the gospel? Persons in the CRC span the political spectrum; to exercise a "preferential option" for one side or the other will inevitably lead to schism and a skewing of the church's genuine mission.

I would be very interested to know how delegates to the WCRC meetings (synods? conventions? assemblies?) are chosen and what power to address and vote they have. I have heard nothing about this.

I think your argument that "not being binding" does not equal "the CRC isn't saying anything" is a valid one.  The article is making the point that local congregations and members of the CRCNA are not bound by a decision of the WCRC and may freely disagree with it.  Only when the CRC synod ratifies that decision must they respect it and feel bound by it.  But of course you're correct in saying that people will draw their conclusions from the fact that we are members of that ecumenical organization.  Our voting representatives to gatherings of the WCRC will have the opportunity to deliberate, persuade, argue and ultimately vote on an issue and even have the opportunity to register a negative vote or submit a protest.  In that case members and journalists would be well advised to refrain from attributing to the CRCNA what the WCRC has decided despite the CRCNA's objections.  As for the adoption of Accra by the WARC, I am not totally aware of how that process went.  I'll e-mail Peter Borgdorff and ask him to weigh in, particularly when it comes to your first and second questions.  As a member of the EIRC, he would be in a much better position to respond than I am.

Henry: Thanks much for the answers.  If you would indulge me, I have some follow up questions.

First, what is the CRC's role within WCRC as to WCRC's decision making?  For example, when the WCRC adopted the Accra, which I understand it to have done in 2004 (well, WARC actually did but it seems WCRC considers itself to have inherited that), what role did the CRC play in that adoption?  Did the CRC have privilege of the floor so as to state its position?  Did it cast votes?  Something else?

Second, assuming the CRC played/plays some active role in WCRC decisions, how does it practically/logistically do that?  Does it send representatives who have voting authority?  If it does, how are those representatives selected and how to they cast votes (eg., by decisions made by a group?  by using their own judgment?) ?

Third, when you suggest that the "CRC isn't saying anything," but refer to CO Article 50c, I note the language in that Article to precisely say "decisions of ecumenical bodies shall not be binding ...".  It could be argued that "not being binding" does not equal "the CRC isn't saying anything."  To clarify by analogy, were I a member of the Democratic Party, I could quite legitimately claim that I wasn't bound by any of the platform planks the party may have adopted, but yet, other people could as legitimately say that my party membership does say something about me.  So is there some sort of generally understood, non-CO sense for what the CRC is saying when an ecumenical organization of which it is a part adopts a confession?  I do realize that question cannot be a precisely answered.  Still, it is a meaningful question for members to ask. 

I probably agree that the CRCNA, as a church institution, should not play its mission in complete isolation. My concern is that the close I look at the WCRC, the less "reformed" I see, the less "church" I see, and the more "political organization" I see.  Still, before coming to too many conclusions, I feel the need to thoroughly fact find.  Thus, my questions -- and appreciation for your willingness to provide some answers.

The CRC isn't saying anything about things declared to be true by the WCRC.  Article 50c of its Church Order is quite clear on that point when it says that "decisions of ecumenical bodies shall be binding upon the Christian Reformed Church only when they have been ratified by its synod."  Synod relies on its Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee to keep up with what is happening within the broader WCRC circles and what is officially decided by that communion and report that to the synod of the CRC.  According to the Ecumenical Charter adopted by the CRC synod, this committee plays a leading role in seeing to it that the WCRC is fully apprised of official decisions made by the CRC and in carrying on those things that are important to "exercising Christian fellowship with other denominations" and "promoting the unity of the church of Jesus Christ" (Article 50a).

I have no idea what the cost of our participation in the WCRC might be.  That's a question for administrators at the denominational building.

In general, I do think that we should not play out our mission in complete isolation from other Christian churches and, more particularly, other Reformed churches throughout the world.


Ken: I don't have an attitude, per se, about change, but I will have a perspective on one kind of change or another.  For example, if my son's behavior and demeanor becomes very angry and hateful, I'll have a particular perspective that is different from if he becomes really happy and hard working.  Both are change.  My responses/perspectives/"attitudes" will be different in each case.

The denominiation's move toward the WCRC, as opposed to in some other ecumenical direction, isn't just "change" but a certain kind of change that implies a change in particular perspectives and about particular issues.  So again, it's not just change, per se, that invokes my response.

I don't know you. I just commented on your attitude toward change. Nothing more should be implied.

Ken: You seem to regard me as defined by my feelings, asking why I am "so upset" and advising me that "change is scary" and that "it can be confusing."  I would suggest I am intentionally motivated predominantly by what I think, am not "confused" and not by feeling "so upset" or "scared."  I'm not too interested in a discussion that ignores statements made and asserts feeling states.  I just don't think those discussions get anywhere.

Why are you so upset? God is in control of his church that exists across denominations and out of buildings or insitutions. He does not need my or your help to save his church unless you feel Spirit driven to make these remarks. Change is scary and I agree it can be confusing if we don't keep our eyes looking for His footsteps.

Consider me not a fan of WCRC.  Bruce is right that "Our denomination has gone through a major change in the last number of years."  In terms of moving in the direction that the WCRC represents, again, I'm not a fan.

I certainly believe in doing justice (been a lawyer doing working for that, occupationally and otherwise, for 32 years).  What I don't believe is that Micah 6:8, which tells us to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly" should be reduced only to "do justice."

WCRC represents a worldview where any suggestion or mention of mercy is angrily rejected as racist, sexist, ___ist denial of rights.  That perspective is warped and unbiblical.  WCRC loves to condemn all other thinking but its own when it comes to political or economic thinking, but if you ask exactly what their thinking is, you get the same nebulous, ambiguous mantra that roughly translates into old-school liberation theology that was prodominantly Marxist in its orientation.  Hello Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, except now updated to add green movement mantras.

Beyond that, the WCRC represents a coalition of folks who in fact know very little about political or economic theory but insist they do by their incredible broad brush decrees of condemnation, thinking that wraping condemnations in an abundance of religious language replaces the need for substantive knowledge about what they are condemning.  Certainly, the WCLRC condemns some things that clearly and obviously need condemning (no knowledge about much of anything required).  But the incredibly arrogant, broad stroke condemnations (eg., rants against neo liberal economics) are in fact little more than sit-in mantras.

The RCA has lost half its membership in 30 years.  The not-so-long-ago split in the CRC probably opened the door to this sort of "major change [in the CRC] in the last number of year."  I pray the CRC will seriously re-think this direction before it too succumbs to this oh-so-high-sounding irrelevance.


    I hope you take this the correct way, you are exhibiting wisdom of the Spirit. I know the Spirit well and you my friend are walking with him. I am not a Pentecostal but I look for Spirit in most conversations. Just remember you have to the correct motive for Him to work and you must remain humble. God bless you



Thanks for the affirmation, again (I take it as a compliment to sound reformed--at least trully reformed). The problem (as always) is that we're in the "already/not-yet", isn't it? This maybe the kind of thing that many of us say, but for all of us (no less me) putting it into action within our congregations is another thing.

This is especially easy to notice with the position statement that Bev mentions earlier on in this forum, but it's also visible in the current synodical study on children at the Lord's Supper. In that study the recommended wording that they are putting forward to Synod is that "all baptised members" may participate in the Lord's Supper according to age and ability. Notice that, technically (whether the study committee intended this or not) it means that conceivably a church could allow children as young as those who can eat bread and drink juice (more or less just after they've been weaned) if they've been baptised, but children who've been dedicated by their parents, but who are in otherwise an identical position are not technically allowed to even be considered for participation.

I know it could be argued (pretty successfully in most cases, I grant) that parents who believe in "believer's baptism" only probably wouldn't want their children to participate in Lord's Supper before they themselve get baptised. On the other hand, I can (as a Pastor) conceive of a situation, for example, where parents have had some sort of traumatic experience related to an inappropriate application of infant baptism (or teachings surrounding it, or some other thing) and might not be willing to risk forcing a similar experience on their children, but who might be fine with having their kids (who express their love for Jesus) participate in the Lord's Supper.

I don't mean to nit-pick, or split hairs or whatever, but my point here is that, though my conclusions might sound "reformed" they are not really being applied (especially on that internal denominational level that I keep talking about) in the way that they should.

Anyway, that's all I'll post for now. I need to make some popcorn for my son's 7th birthday party! ;-)



Regarding your conclusion, that summary sounds Reformed to me!


Well...maybe one of our aromas is the almond family, ie a study on the almond branch in scripture, it's interesting...that's what Aaron's rod was, an almond branch because when it sprouted, there were almond blossoms and almonds (Numbers 17:8)...the candlesticks were designed with almond blossoms as the cups (Ex. 25:31; Zech 4:2), and when God asked Jeremiah what do you see. and jeremiah said a branch, it was from an almond tree (Jeremiah 1:11)...  anyway, an interesting possibility about our denomination...

I have read the '73 and the '09 reports on pentecostalism from synod.  and I am very grateful for the forward motion these represent...Praise God, we no longer officially endorse cessationism...although i do run into it still, with a flat out "God doesn't do that anymore" response to some "supernatural" testimonies.  God's working on me to honor these godly believers even though we are on different pages (or on different "wave"lengths) in regard to how the Holy Spirit is working today.

In regard to high praise...I do feel this has been an aspect we have missed, and to support that, just look up Ps.149:6 in the NIV and in almost any other version, and note the difference.  Another scripture regarding praise, that I'm digging into the various translations on, is Ps. 22:3...the NIV is unique, as far as I can tell, in how it translates it...  Through this focus on v3 (PTL!), I have also gained beautiful insight into Jesus suffering on the cross through this psalm during this Lenten season, since Ps. 22 is a messianic prophecy.  I wouldn't have been digging into it to the level I am, other than I was working on further insight on v3.

So, yes, the LORD is working on my heart, for the areas where I am not in one accord with the denomination I am in, to respect the authority of the denomination, but yet to be honest about issues/concepts/doctrines I'm struggling with.  I sense that He doesn't want us glossing over these areas anymore, but refining them - sharpening each other.  There is much gold in the CRC, but there is refining that needs to be done to consume the dross.   Are we willing to go through the refining, are we even willing to admit that we need refining?  Do we even want to be refined, or are we pretty comfortable with how things are?

God is connecting across denominational lines, just this morning someone shared a beautiful testimony on this in their life. 

Praise God!


<p>Thanks for all the replies everyone!


<p>@ Bruce: I hear what you're saying about our particular flavour and aroma, and I would agree with you that, on an inter-denominational level we are definitely acquiring that kind of good aroma. I think that we're not all the way there yet, but things like the Reformed/Catholic dialogue on the sacraments and the revision proces for Q&A 80 in the Heidelberg Catechism bode very well for our future in that regard.


<p>My questions have more to do with how we treat fellow believers from other traditions who come to worship with us. In this day and age when we are encouraged by the denomination (and rightly so) to start "counting to one", and when more and more people search out congregations based more on things like what sort of mission activities the church participates in, etc., and less and less on the nuances of doctrine (I'm not talking about the big stuff--people still care about that), then how should we respond to these "new" people in our midst?


<p>Is it really right for us to say: "You cannot be a member of our congregation because you don't believe in infant baptism."? Or, "You can't be an elder in the church because you believe in the possibility of a second blessing."? What if these people hold these convictions genuinely, but are willing to submit to the teaching of the church and not to "promote" or "indoctrinate" others with their beliefs within the community, but are willing to present fairly what the church believes instead? 


<p>For ministers there is room for a "gravamen" or some such thing (which is a whole 'nother discussion), but what about for people who would normally be perfectly suitable for serving as elder or deacon or Sunday school teacher? Where's the room for them?


<p>@Bev: Thanks for your encouragement. Let me encourage you. I don't know where you're from, but here in Ontario there are many people who wrestle with these types of questions. My congregation is not the only one. Many ministers and church leaders wrestle with this type of question on a very frequent basis. Some congregations that I'm aware of seem to have abandoned any sense of a reformed identity and have basically "masked" themselves as non-denominational, community churches. Other congregations have taken a "harder" line and have not allowed people in membership or in leadership depending on their beliefs about relatively non-central things. And many other churches fall somewhere in-between. Ours falls currently somewhere in-between, in that we allow membership, but we don't allow certain leadership roles for people who believe differently than us in terms of (for example) infant vs. believer's baptism.


<p>As far as our "fear of the Holy Spirit" goes, I can understand where you're coming from, and there are some folks in our congregation who feel the same way as you. I also understand the historical and theological context for others' "fear", as you put it. Again, this is an issue where there's legitimate room to say (IMHO) that there is not an ABSOLUTELY clear answer to some of these questions. We've wrestled with it as a denomination, and our "official" doctrine has come a long way (I'd encourage you to read the study reports on "3rd wave pentecostalism", if you haven't already). The practical living out of that doctrine is a different story for many of our congregants. But in the meantime, how can we create room for each other--for those who are essentially "cessationists" and for those who are essentially "3rd Wave Pentecostals"?


<p>@Peter: Thank you too for your comments! I would agree with what you've said on so many fronts. I do think that sexual orientation is a significant part of this discussion as well. We have people (as do we all) who are homosexual and/or who struggle with what a proper biblical understanding of this issue is. In the past the church (as a whole) has had a pretty lamentable history of dealing with sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. Still today there is not really a general recognition among Christians that sexual orientation is perhaps not quite as clearly black and white as maybe we once thought it was, and that there's a possibility that, no matter what viewpoint we have we might possibly be wrong...and that perhaps we ought to make room for each other in this too.


<p>I guess I'm suggesting that there must be a different way altogether:


<p>1.) Teach people what we (as Reformed Christians) believe.


<p>2.) Acknowledge to our own people (in addition to other denominations) that we don't believe that we have an absolute corner on the truth, but that this is the best we've been able to understand His revelation so far.


<p>3.) Allow for membership and leadership, provided the potential members/leaders acknowledge humbly that they too do not have an absolute corner on the truth and that they will not undermine the teachings of the church by proseletyzing others, etc.


<p>Blessings, everyone. Thanks for contributing your thought. I appreciate them as I explore and seek to follow Him.


<p>in His service,