by Dr. Terry Mortenson
Answers in Genesis
In 1978, 307 Christian leaders and scholars gathered in Chicago for what became known as the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI), which met many times over the next 10 years. They sought to defend the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture in the face of the growing liberalism in the church. As a result, they published the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” (CSBI) and the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” (CSBH).
These documents recognized that “the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.” They affirmed that the Bible was without error in all that it teaches including history and science and insisted that scientific hypotheses about earth history could not “properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.” They also explained that we should interpret Scripture according to its literal, normal, grammatical historical sense. They clearly stated that “Genesis 1–11 is factual, as is the rest of the book.”
The sad thing is that most of the 307 scholars and leaders who signed those documents on inerrancy and hermeneutics and a great many inerrantist scholars and leaders both before them and still today didn’t or don’t believe Genesis. They have used evolutionary scientific hypotheses about earth and cosmic history to overthrow what Scripture plainly teaches about creation, the age of the earth, the Flood.
How could so many inerrantists then and still today affirm the ICBI statements and yet hold to one of the old-earth creationist views? It was because problematic wording in Article 20 of the CSBH:
We further affirm that in some cases extrabiblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations.
Many things claimed to be scientific “data” are actually interpretations of data driven by anti-biblical assumptions. God’s Word clearly teaches that He created in six 24-hour days about 6000 years ago and destroyed the world with a global Flood at the time of Noah. We cannot fit millions of years into Genesis, if we use sound principles of interpretation.
We are seeing a massive rejection of biblical morality in America because so much of the church and her inerrantist scholars have rejected the history in Genesis and have allowed what the scientific majority says about the history of creation to override the truth of Scripture, thereby undermining its inerrancy and authority. For more on this vital point, consider my DVD lecture “Inerrancy and the Undermining of Biblical Authority.”
Dr. Terry Mortenson has an MDiv and a PhD in the history of geology and is well-informed on the relationship of the Grand Canyon, geology, and Scripture. After serving with Campus Crusade for Christ for 26 years (mostly in Eastern Europe), he joined the staff of Answers in Genesis in 2001 as a speaker, writer, and researcher. A revised version of his PhD thesis was published as The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology—Before Darwin. He also co-edited and contributed to Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth, which gives an in-depth biblical, historical, and theological defense of young-earth creation. Terry has lectured on creation and evolution in over 25 countries and has been on many trips through the Grand Canyon.
Terry’s knowledge and passion for helping people see the connection between Biblical compromise and the age of the earth are obvious both in and out of the Grand Canyon. He says, “I know I’m a real creationist, because my wonderful wife, Margie, and I have eight kids and a growing number of grand-kids.” Terry is also an associate member of the Canyon Ministry Board of Directors.