Suppose a company, representing itself as Christian, hosted a homeschool convention featuring prominent Christian speakers and as is typically done, set up a large venue for vendors to present and sell their homeschool curriculum and wares. Suppose further that one of the speakers and vendors teaches apostasy and sells homeschool materials propagating the false teachings. Another Christian speaker and vendor talks on the topic of the increasing problem of compromise and false doctrine within the church and cites to the apostate vendor and his curriculum. In short, one speaker criticizes another vendor for teaching and selling false doctrine.
What if anything would you expect the convention host to do?
Would your answer change if the host had a policy against filtering the viewpoints of vendors and speakers?
I would not expect the host to ban the critic and continue hosting the apostate. Of course, I would be and was mistaken. In this case, the critic was Ken Ham who criticized the teachings and curriculum of Peter Enns and BioLogos. The convention host is Brennan Dean, Great Homeschool Conventions. In the real life story, it was not enough for Mr. Dean to ban Mr. Ham from further speaking engagements. Instead, he permanently banned the entire Answers in Genesis ministry from appearing as a vendor at any future conventions hosted by Mr. Dean’s company. Fire the critic, ban his ministry, and protect against criticism (and depressed sales) of the false doctrine. You can’t make this stuff up. See detailed article, to include Mr. Dean’s midnight email to AiG announcing his edict here.
Dr. Enns is Senior Fellow of Biblical Studies for The BioLogos Foundation, which views Christ and scripture as follows:
If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, John wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons.
See here. Dr. Enns openly teaches that the Old Testament does not provide a reliable or accurate account of origins. He explains,
When it comes to the science/faith discussion, the presence of the cosmic battle motif in the Old Testament should send us a strong signal: don’t expect the Old Testament to inform, let alone guide the scientific investigation of origins. If we approach the Old Testament expecting from it a “literal,” “historical,” “accurate” account of creation, we will (1) misrepresent reality in the name of faith, and (2) miss the theology that the biblical authors were so intent on putting there.
See here. Dr. Enns teaches that the Creation account in Genesis is simply a metaphor and that Adam did not exist; Adam is a metaphor for the nation of Israel. See links to Enns’ BioLogos teachings here. Dr. Enns’ homeschool curriculum reportedly dissuades parents from teaching their children about sin, grace, or the Old Testament. See here.
For years, Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis have defended the integrity, reliability, and relevance of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. I agree with this and serve the AiG ministry. Many families homeschool precisely because they also believe this and the public schools are prone to undermine such a worldview. When it was announced that Mr. Dean and his company GHC were banning Mr. Ham and AiG, there was an outpouring of protest. In hours, hundreds of people posted gracious words of support and encouragement on Mr. Ham’s FaceBook page and criticized GHC on their FB page. This morning as hundreds of posts turned to thousands, GHC disabled and deleted all comments on their FB page and posted an “explanation” on their website. They claimed that actually, they agreed with Mr. Ham’s “position,” but disagreed with his “spirit.” See here.
There are a few problems with Mr. Dean’s attempt to justify his suppression of Mr. Ham and AiG. Foremost, neither Mr. Dean nor anyone else at any point during the prior convention or thereafter approached Mr. Ham or any of the leadership (or anyone lese) at AiG to discuss this “spiritual” problem. In his midnight email, Mr. Dean accused Mr. Ham of divisiveness and of defaming the convention and “other speakers.” See here. It smacks of post-hoc rationalization. Does the Bible support addressing a “spiritual” problem via a midnight email and then refuse to return calls to discuss the allegations? Is that “spiritual”? Second, Mr. Dean provides nothing to substantiate his accusation and public defamation of Mr. Ham. Third, even if Mr. Dean’s slander were true, how would that justify permanently banning the entire AiG ministry as a vendor. Are AiG’s books, movies and curriculum “unspiritual”? Hardly. Mr. Dean’s explanation lacks content and merit.
What is nearly certain is that Mr. Ham’s criticism of Dr. Enns adversely affects sales of Dr. Enns’ new homeschool curriculum. Dr. Enns’ curriculum is published by Peace Hill Press, the publishing arm of The Well-Trained Mind. Peace Hill Press is owned and operated by Dr. Susan Wise Bauer and her family. Ms. Bauer is the corporate Vice President. Mr. Ham’s criticism is not good business for a major homeschool vendor and a prominent speaker within the homeschool community. It appears to me that Mr. Dean made a decision to protect vendor sales at his conventions. Ken heavily criticized many compromisers of Scripture. Mr. Dean’s midnight email explanation only took issue with Ken’s criticism aimed at other vendors though. It’s Mr. Dean’s right to make this decision to protect his sales forum and vendors. He should not, however, dress this decision up in “spirituality.”
Mr. Dean attributes his decision to his “board of directors.” Yet, neither his midnight email nor the subsequent public accusation this morning against Mr. Ham identify these individuals. If Mr. Dean is going to invoke the decision and judgment of others, they should step out of the shadows and acknowledge their role.
I think Mr. Dean made a business decision to ban Ken Ham and AiG. The market should respond accordingly, to both the banning of Ham/AiG by Mr. Dean’s GHC and to the decision by Peace Hill Press and Dr. Bauer to publish Dr. Enns’ homeschool curriculum. In the end, we should remember to pray for each other – to include for Mr. Dean, Dr. Enns and the folks at PHP – and do our best to honor Christ while defending and debating the centrality and reliability of Scripture.
Related: Great Help for Compromisers
UPDATE June 10, 2011: Answers in Genesis Board of Directors’ Statement on Allegations by Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc.