So…fore warning. This is a book review of the latest Answers in Genesis (AiG) Book; “Gospel Reset”. Now, with that in mind I have been extremely critical of AiG in a past article. However, I wanted to reject my presuppositions and come at this from a fresh take. I have engaged numerous people as of late who have unequivocally supported AiG as a Godly organization. This support has opened me up to giving AiG and more specifically Ken Ham a second chance. I truly did the best I could to free my mind from expectations and look for the best AiG had to offer, especially since this was sent to thousands of churches around the country. Even so, my expectations were a book that I might disagree with but could respect for its support of a literal Genesis and a presuppositional apologetics approach. Were my minimal expectations met? Read on to see and judge for yourself.
Incomplete Gospel or Contradictory Ham?
Before diving in lets tackle the title. Instantly some people will be turned off by the title of this book and thinking it short changes the Gospel or is suggesting a “new” Gospel. Lets dispel at least part of that, Ken Ham is not suggesting that the Gospel is any different then it ever has been but he is suggesting that it’s presentation in our current culture should be different. Ken Ham’s main “argument” throughout is that american culture used to be like the Jews (with a base knowledge of scripture) and now the american culture is like the Greek culture (due to their severe lack of knowledge in the Bible). On the plus side I think some good points are made about the lack of apologetics training in churches. It was also interesting to listen to Ken’s musings about what he has seen or heard over the years. Sadly, this is where the praise comes to a grinding halt.
Despite Ham’s effort’s to stick to a constant comparison of past verses current culture he seems to frequently undermine his own analogue. For example he jokes about first coming to america to witness to the “‘pagan’ culture”. If pagan then, why the sudden change of heart now? He also uses recent surveys to point to current cultural issues, however, he fails to provide any comparison data outside of his own anecdotes and observations. His observations could be correct, but actual data to support it would have helped.
It is also troublesome that he made statements against his own research project. On page 67 of the kindle version he states, “The majority of our Christian leader have taught generations of kids and adults to believe in the evolution of life and man and/or millions of years.” However, in another AiG publication “Already Gone” (which he quotes heavily from early in the book) the survey results showed that out of 1000 participants (which were young adults who are no longer in church) only 9.5% of them had a pastor of Sunday school teacher who taught they could believe in Darwinian evolution. Only 26% had a pastor who taught that Christians could believe in an old earth. And yet a whopping 82.6% were taught that creation was 6 literal days (see link at the bottom for all the survey data). This degree of double talk and poorly put together editing choices continues throughout.
How to Throw the Church Under the Bus
Ham spends a good deal of time throwing pastor’s and churches under the bus. He goes as far as to call most pastors and churches “Greek” which he equates elsewhere in his book with evolution, compromising, and of course non-Christian. Take a look in his own words; “Because the are all really ‘Greeks’ in their thinking about this topic[Genesis]. And I fine the pastor is ‘Greek’ also because he went to a ‘Greek’ seminary. Most of these seminaries compromise Genesis in one way or another”(page 89). And why might he be working so hard to throw people under the bus? Why sales of course. When we get to his “conclusions” we fine the really this whole book is a sales pitch. There is a strong overarching theme that if your church isn’t using AiG materials then you are failing because, “As of this writing, over 10,000 churches are using this unique powerful curriculum, with pastors and others telling us it is revolutionizing their churches.” Maybe you find this statement humble…I don’t, I find it pompous.
How to Manipulate a Target Audience 101
In addition, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole book is the overall nature and some of the examples that could have been explained in more depth but instead you are left with small bites that seem to only hint at their true purpose. For example there is a illustration used repeatedly that shows 2 stack of books, a single book labeled “God’s Word” and then another stack labeled “Man’s Word. The mysterious aspect of all this is that both stacks have an american flag stuck on-top of the books. Why would this matter? The only thing I can think of is a deliberate attempt to appeal to a sense of “Christian nationalism”. On the page prior to one use of the aforementioned illustration, Ham lays into Barrack Obama’s quotes about various religious groups being a part of american culture. And he goes on to hint that Obama is at fault for many of the current culture shifts. Lastly, Ham seems to want to grab onto buzz words of the day like using “fake news” to describe school science teachings. If his insinuations are true or not is beside the point. The issue is Ham is pushing hard for this to appeal to a certain demographic.
Between the previously mentioned issues and Ham’s frequent mention of well over a half dozen other AiG resources it becomes clear that he thinks he has a cure for failing churches and it all amounts to just over a hundred pages of dogmatic young earth brainwashing and Christian “nationalist” propaganda. The few good points Ham makes are completely missed in this haphazard, poorly done brochure.
But….The Main Argument….
Even if we put all the aforementioned issues aside, because lets face it, Ham could be right, all I have pointed out are some contradictions and careful use of language to turn people in his favor. I find all this very bothersome…but perhaps you don’t. So, if that’s you lets take a closer look at Ham’s big argument. In a nutshell, America used to be similar to Jewish culture (Acts 2) and now it is more like a Greek culture (Acts 17). He purposes that similar teaching methods to those found in these chapters should apply. However, he makes a big error where his arguments falls apart. While Acts 17:26 could refer to one “man” but many manuscripts read “one blood” in the Greek. Either reading however speaks explicitly to Paul’s point…which does not appear to be “lets go back to Genesis” it instead in context appears to distinguish the Christian God and his creation of the world from the Greek creation myths. Take a look in context;
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us (Acts 17:24-27 ESV)
This is a stark cry from building a case starting with Genesis. No where does Paul dive into the fall of Adam, Noah’s flood, or even the Abrahamic covenant. Not to mention immediately following these verse Paul uses quotes from secular poets to prove his point. This is neither presuppositional or Genesis based in a strict sense both of which Ham is suggesting here. Now to be certain, Paul probably spoke much longer and we are only given the highlights of his message. However, to imply he was teaching more and differently than what we are given is a poor way of reviewing the scriptures.
If you are looking to see the AiG horn tooted to the tune of self promoting socio-political Christian nationalism them these book is certainly for you. If you are looking for the chance at the best AiG has to offer…probably not for you. If you are looking for a book on the challenges in modern culture with sharing the gospel…there are lots of other great places to look that provide real insight and not superficial garbage that dumps on poor eisegesis to “prove” it’s points. Do yourself a favor and check out Stand to Reason if you are looking for great materials on cultural engagement and modern challenges.
Answers in Genesis: Already Gone Data (https://answersingenesis.org/answers/books/already-gone/appendices/)
Stand to Reason (https://www.str.org/)