Anatomy of a Church Split Part 1

Part1: How Discord Within the Southern Baptist Convention is Setting Local Churches Up for Heartache

 

Introduction

If you’re a member of a church that is a part of the Southern Baptist Convention you might already be aware that there is a big problem with churches splitting due to conflicts between Calvinist and non-Calvinists. What you might not know, is that these local conflicts are symptomatic of a larger conflict surrounding the resurgence of Calvinist theology within the convention. These types of splits have become so common that most people reading this article are likely aware of a church in their area which has endured a painful split due to this issue.  In fact, as far back as 2012 the issue had escalated to the point that a 19-member committee was convened at the annual meeting to “address the role of Calvinism in the SBC.” The committee, which included both Calvinist and non-Calvinist individuals, issued a statement one year later titled “Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension.

This statement called for Baptists to remain united in spite of our theological diversity, and reaffirmed the Baptist Faith and Message as the SBC’s statement of faith. The Baptist Faith and Message is indeed broad enough in its language to accommodate both sides of the theological aisle. Recognizing that the key to cooperating together despite theological differences does not entail ignoring that such differences exist, but treating one another with respect, and establishing appropriate boundaries while uniting to achieve our common goal, the committee included the following guidance:

“…We must celebrate the unity we share together in our common Great Commission purpose, while acknowledging and celebrating variety among us. We must clarify the parameters of our cooperation where necessary but stand together without dispute. […] We should expect all leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and all entities serving our denomination to affirm, to respect, and to represent all Southern Baptists of good faith and to serve the great unity of our Convention. No entity should be promoting Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other. Our entities should be places where any Southern Baptist who stands within the boundaries of The Baptist Faith and Message should be welcomed and affirmed as they have opportunities to benefit from, participate in, and provide leadership for those entities.”

While I agree with the spirit of this statement, I have one point of contention. Specifically, the following sentence:

“No entity should be promoting Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other.”

Since Southern Baptist Churches hold to a congregational form of governance, meaning that each local Baptist church is an autonomous body operating through democratic processes, it is my personal opinion that each church has the latitude to decide if they are a Calvinist or non-Calvinist church. This seems to have been the case historically.  In those cases, I believe it would be wrong for a Calvinist individual to join with a non-Calvinist body for the purpose of altering that church’s historical soteriological (pertaining to the doctrine of salvation) distinctions , or vice versa.

However, in churches where the membership is comprised of individuals of both doctrinal persuasions, I believe the committee’s statement is indeed a valuable guide for promoting unity. This unity is not something that will fall into place on its own. To the contrary, in these cases, the pastor shoulders the responsibility of committing himself intentionally, with practically applicable strategies designed for the express purpose of promoting unity. Neglecting to do so will inevitably result in failure.

The committee was also compelled to address a particularly alarming and increasingly common scenario in which a pastoral candidate conceals or obscures his Calvinist doctrinal persuasions when seeking a position at a majority non-Calvinist church, the committee’s statement includes the following guidance:

“In order to prevent the rising incidence of theological conflict in the churches, we should expect all candidates for ministry positions in the local church to be fully candid and forthcoming about all matters of faith and doctrine, even as we call upon pulpit and staff search committees to be fully candid and forthcoming about their congregation and its expectations.”

Unfortunately, the committee’s statement has failed to achieve the unity it was drafted to encourage, largely due to the scenario described above.  A decade later, this Calvinist/non-Calvinist conflict has reached epidemic proportions. The aim of this article is to help vulnerable congregations avoid falling victim to this type of pastoral candidate.

 

Stealth Calvinism

You see, even while the SBC leadership was drafting a document of unity and calling for pastoral candidates to practice doctrinal transparency, some Calvinist organizations were publishing how-to guides detailing strategies for “reforming” unwitting churches. For example, the well-known Founders Ministries published A Quiet Revolution: A Chronicle of the Beginnings of Reformation in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Some of their goals are laudable indeed: upholding the Baptist focus on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, actively carrying out the Great Commission, encouraging pastors to boldly preach the Word despite the fact that its truths are growing in unpopularity in secular and even some liberal-leaning Christian circles. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly get behind all of those! But, there’s a catch. Founders Ministry believes this can only be achieved by converting the SBC to Calvinism:

“Make no mistake about it. Southern Baptists are at a crossroads. We have a choice to make. The choice is between the deep-rooted, God-centered theology of evangelical Calvinism and the man-centered, unstable theology of the other perspectives present in the convention.”

The following steps are included in the section titled, “Practical Suggestions for Local Church Reformation”:

Spiritual credibility. Don’t try to reform a church until you have first earned spiritual credibility. This means you have to live what you teach in terms of holiness before you can even begin to teach it.”

Leighton Flowers (former Calvinist, Director of Evangelism and Apologetics for Texas Baptists, seminary professor, and founder of the immensely valuable podcast Soteriology 101) helps to read between the lines: “In other words, don’t tell them about your distinctives, don’t try to reform the church. You have to earn their approval first. Earn credibility first.”

Planning. Three questions should be asked, and carefully answered, before implementing change: What is the right, biblical thing to do? How should change be implemented? When should change be implemented? My advice is that you not try to do too much too soon. Many mistakes have been made by doing the right thing in the wrong way or at the wrong time.”

Priorities. The principle of priorities must be applied. You can’t change everything at once. Start with the major doctrines of the faith: God, Christ, and salvation. Don’t get hung up on secondary matters such as eschatology. Find the essentials that must be changed in your situation, and focus on those.”

Restraint. Remember the principle of restraint. Don’t tackle the whole church at one time. Choose a few men who are sincere, teachable and spiritually minded and spend time with them in study and prayer. They will help you to reform.”

These three can be discussed at once. Flowers notes, “Certainly don’t tell the pastor search committee [your doctrinal views]. You can’t reform them all at once. Get hired first…In other words, get your posse. Reform them first so they can help you reform the rest.”

Clarity. In the pulpit, don’t use theological language that is not found in the Bible. Avoid terms such as Calvinism, reformed, doctrines of grace, particular redemption, etc. Most people will not know what you are talking about. Many that do will become inflamed against you. Teach your people the biblical truth of these doctrines without providing distracting labels for them.”

Flowers cites Richard Coords response, “But why avoid those terms? If they accurately describe your theological beliefs, why conceal it?” In response to the fact that some may become “inflamed against you” if they recognize the terms, Flowers counters, “And why wouldn’t they, if their church doesn’t believe that historically?” In response to the last sentence about teaching “the people the biblical truth of these doctrines without providing distracting labels,” Flowers points out, “In other words, don’t provide your distinctives. It almost sounds like he’s instructing the new pastors to be subversive.”

Leighton Flowers’ full discussion of this Founders document is in the Soteriology 101 episode titled, Pastor Search Committees and Stealth Calvinism.

Another ministry aimed at aligning churches with Calvinist doctrine is Mark Dever’s 9Marks organization. Originally called “The Center for Church Reform,” 9Marks provides resources aimed at helping pastors reform their congregations. Their 2019 article titled, Calvinist Pastors and Non-Calvinist Churches: Candidating, Pastoring, and Moving On, provides an excellent example of mixed messaging in guidance provided to candidate pastors under bullet point number one, “Trust in God’s Sovereignty,” the author writes:

“If you’re a pastoral candidate, trust God for his placement and don’t hide your doctrinal convictions. If the church doesn’t have the theological acumen to ask you about it, bring it up with gentleness and patience. Show them how you will teach these doctrines and how important they are to you. (This will vary with each candidate and will show why one Calvinist can lead a non-Calvinist church and another cannot). Far better to ‘disqualify’ yourself in the candidating process than to receive a call to a place where theological debate will follow immediately.”

However, under bullet point number 3, “Limit the Language of Calvinism, Not the Language of Scripture,” the author instructs:

“In this article, I’ve used the term Calvinist pastor and non-Calvinist church throughout. That said, my personal encouragement would be to avoid labels whenever possible. Because labels are so freighted with misunderstanding, it rarely helps to fly the banner of Calvinism unless you’re willing to accept all the stereotypes that come with it. This is not to deny the value and need for confessionalism; it’s to say that confessionalism depends on the chance to explain from Scripture the doctrines we confess.”

Which is it? Are they instructing candidate pastors to be so clear about their beliefs that they ensure even search committees who don’t have the theological chops to know the right questions to ask understand, or are they instructing prospective pastors to avoid all tell-tale labels and wait for an opportunity to explain his distinctives from Scripture after he has been hired?

Is this an indictment against all Calvinist pastors everywhere or even Calvinism itself? Absolutely not. Reputable Calvinists roundly denounce this type of behavior. In Pastor Ron Hale’s document, Questions and Answers for Pastor Search Committees of Non-Calvinist Congregations, he distinguishes between two types of prospective Calvinist pastors:

“There are two types of Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention. Some are Calvinists with a little ‘c’ in that they have no agenda to ‘convert’ others to Calvinism. Others are Calvinists with a capital ‘C’ and possess an agenda to turn the Southern Baptist Convention toward Calvinism.”

Under the paradigm espoused by the “capital ‘C’ Calvinists,” Southern Baptist churches are being taken unaware left and right. Calvinist pastors who are able to slip past pastor search committees begin to enact the strategies outlined above in order to “reform” historically non-Calvinist or mixed congregations. Before they begin to introduce overtly Calvinist doctrine, they endear themselves to the membership. These individuals are often incredibly winsome and garner a very devoted following. Later, when he begins to introduce Calvinist doctrine from the pulpit, it is done is such a way as to avoid detection if possible.

These pastors are often very skilled communicators and are able to keep a toe close enough to the line so that, if challenged, he can easily and plausibly retreat and claim “misunderstanding.” Instead of being transparent about his beliefs with the congregation, which he knows would result in an uproar in which many would leave or call for his resignation immediately, he “nudges” the congregation toward his doctrinal direction by degrees. This shrewd strategy all but ensures that when some members of the congregation inevitably catch on to what is occurring and attempt to blow the whistle, those loyal to him will become angry. Those who caught on may be labeled as divisive individuals. At this point, the formation of factions is unavoidable, and previously strong interpersonal relationships suffer irreparable damage.

While most of us find this strategy repugnant, many of these “capital ‘C’ Calvinists” believe wholeheartedly that they are doing the right thing in bringing a non-Calvinist church into alignment with what they believe is a Christianity that is more true to Scripture. For this reason, these men will often view those who resist their efforts to reform as engaging in persecution. This can result in the pastor doubling down and digging in, which usually serves to deepen the rift between the “factions” the pastor has created.

To illustrate this point, I refer back to the 9Marks article cited above. The article, which doubles as this Calvinist pastor’s testimony of his failed attempt to reform a church, is also valuable for the insight it provides into this his perspective of what happened at his church. Similar to the two types of Calvinists Ron Hale described above, this pastor identifies two types of non-Calvinists: non-Calvinists and anti-Calvinists. Non-Calvinists are generally respectful of theological differences and willing to unify, focusing on doctrines where we agree and the shared goal of the great commission. Anti-Calvinists, he seems to indicate, are the exact opposite: not willing to put aside soteriological differences and unite.

The author then lists the following three sources of “anti-Calvinists.” First, he lists the internet. He seems to indicate that anti-Calvinists arise due to sources of misinformation online which misrepresent Calvinism. I’m sure that can and does happen, and I’d agree that it’s unfortunate.

However, he seems not to consider that there are also numerous ministries online that charitably and accurately represent Calvinism. Some individuals who attend historically non-Calvinist churches may simply avail themselves of these resources, find that they still believe that Calvinism does not faithfully represent the teachings of Scripture, and decide that they’d prefer attend a church pastored by a non-Calvinist. Such an individual is perfectly within their rights to make such a decision, and may very well do so without any animosity toward Calvinism as a whole or Calvinist pastors as individuals.

His statements under this heading may shed light on a factor that he’s missing in the “making” of an anti-Calvinist:

“In general, pastors need to appreciate the way our heroes of old preached, prayed, loved, and stayed in congregations that were not impacted by the information age. By faithful exposition of the Scriptures, they led their people into a greater understanding of biblical truth without the intrusion of internet hotheads. Today, however, circumstances have changed, and the internet may force Calvinist pastors in non-Calvinist churches to give an account for their doctrine.”

“This doesn’t mean the internet has ruined the ‘subversive’ operations of Calvinist pastors sneaking into non-Calvinist churches. It does mean that Calvinist and non-Calvinist Christians alike will have a far more difficult time sitting under the Word of God together when both sides appeal to the nuclear arsenal of the World Wide Web.”

He seems to be clearly lamenting the advent of the internet due to the fact that it has made it far more difficult for Calvinist pastors to take non-Calvinist churches unaware, and convert them by degrees. He appears not to consider a Calvinist pastor’s goal of moving a non-Calvinist church to accept Calvinist interpretation of Scripture discreetly over time, in such a way that many will not notice, to be “subversive.” So far, it appears that one root disagreement may be that non-Calvinists and Calvinists have a different definition of “subversive.”  Calvinist pastors who agree with the view presented here would do well to respect a non-Calvinist’s view of subversion. Those unwilling to do so should look to their own responsibility in creating anti-Calvinists.

The author lists external leaders as his second source of anti-Calvinists. In this section he appears to object to individuals reaching out to former trusted pastors for information. He writes:

“In my own situation, however, these outside ‘experts’ often fed the false narrative of Calvinist pastors and their hidden agendas.”

Admittedly, I find this section difficult to sympathize with considering his own admissions under the previous heading. Again, we appear to be suffering from definitional differences.

The author’s final factor is weak relationships, which results in the loss of relationships between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. He regrets that he had not built relationships strong enough to withstand what he calls an “onslaught of internet-fed accusations.” Here the non-Calvinist may counter that if the Calvinist had been forthcoming and transparent about his beliefs from the outset, the non-Calvinist member may not have felt the need to research the Calvinist belief system independently. It should also be noted that Calvinism itself is not a monolithic group. An internet search yielding results indicating a particular Calvinist belief may not apply to a particular Calvinist, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an accurate assessment of other Calvinist’s beliefs. Again, the onus rests on the pastor to clarify his views to the congregation. He can hardly blame weak relationships for a loss of trust born of his failure to adequately disclose and/or clarify his beliefs.

Let me be clear, non-Calvinist Southern Baptists are generally not objecting here to a pastor unapologetically teaching or preaching what he believes to be Biblical truth. Rather, we object to behaviors which we find unethical: obtaining a pastor position via deceptive means with the intent to covertly “reform” a historically non-Calvinist or mixed congregation, claiming he’s being “misunderstood” while continuing to fail to provide real clarification, vilifying and labeling those who object as “divisive,” facilitating the damage that occurs to personal relationships in this process, and ultimately causing a church split. If a congregation is clear that they do not want to hire a Calvinist pastor, that boundary should be respected. If a mixed congregation is open to hiring a Calvinist pastor, he should be devoted to transparency from the beginning and committed to facilitating unity in the body.

Where Are All These Calvinist Pastors Coming From?

The answer to this question revolves around the current state of our Southern Baptist seminaries. Both Southern and Southeastern require their faculty to sign the Abstract and Principles, which is a Calvinist confession. Others only require the Baptist Faith and Message, but it appears non-Calvinist professors are still outnumbered in those institutions. It stands to reason that those individuals graduating from seminaries with all or mostly Calvinist faculty may leave Calvinist regardless of how they entered.

In Flowers’ video What Should SBC Churches Do to Combat Calvinsim?, he notes that Al Mohler, leading Calvinist and former SBC president:

“…has single-handedly done the most within the SBC to Calvinize it…because I think he has a lot of influence as to who the presidents and key leaders of the seminaries are, and the seminary presidents are the ones, obviously, who are key in appointing professors. And so when you have a key president able to appoint the theology professors in the schools, they have a huge amount of influence… Southern being the biggest, key seminary in the SBC, he [Mohler] being the president of it since the early 90s has had a lot of influence on the placement of other presidents in the other seminaries when they become vacant… That’s not to say all the seminaries have only Calvinists, but it’s becoming more and more so that that seems to be a criteria to become a theology professor in a Southern Baptist seminary… And therefore, you have a lot of young, Calvinist pastors who are going to churches who traditionally aren’t Calvinistic, and there are splits taking place throughout the nation. It happens in Texas on a weekly basis, it seems.”

A 2010 article in Christianity Today titled, The Reformer, outlines Mohler’s accomplishments and serves as testimony corroborating Dr. Flowers’ assessment of his impact. Mohler certainly made a number of positive changes, including reversing the trajectory of the Southern Baptist Convention from liberal-leaning to decidedly conservative, and cementing a high view of Scripture by re-establishing the convention’s commitment to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. However, none of these reforms require a focus on Calvinist doctrine to the detriment of non-Calvinist doctrine. Former dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Seminary, David Allen, is quoted pointing out that, “The early church affirmed inerrancy long before Calvin set foot on the planet.”  Nevertheless, Mohler’s staunch Calvinism came part and parcel with many of his actions resulting in the curtailing of non-Calvinist views as a side effect.

 

Why is Calvinism Resurging in the Southern Baptist Church?

Back in 2015, Dr. Rick Patrick, a pastor in Sylacauga, Alabama published an article titled, Demoralizing Doctrinal Discrimination, describing his feelings after attending the Southern Baptist Convention that year. He said he “felt out of place in” his “own denomination,” and listed four reasons why. First, 80% of pastor’s conference book promotions were Calvinist, some of which weren’t even Southern Baptist. Second, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) leadership posts were 100% Calvinist. Third, Send North America Conference Speakers were 100% Calvinist, and while none were Southern Baptist, they were all members of The Gospel Coalition, which he aptly notes, “excludes Southern Baptists like me by means of a doctrinal statement that is far more restrictive than The Baptist Faith and Message.” Last, LifeWay curricula promotional hype was 95% Calvinist. Patrick ended his article by stating the following:

“The usual response from Calvinists when I gingerly raise my hand and point out these glaring examples of doctrinal bias is to be scolded for my feelings of discrimination and alienation as if I were the problem. ‘Stop being so divisive!’ ‘Quit stirring up trouble and unite for the gospel!’ ‘It’s all about the Kingdom!’ ‘There is no “us” and “them.”’ ‘Who cares about this when lost people are dying?’”

I don’t think I misunderstand Dr. Patrick when I say that I doubt his problem is that he intends to be divisive. It seems to me that he’s merely pointing out that more equal representation would be helpful for unity: a goal we’re supposed to be trying to achieve. My own experience asking respectfully for such steps toward unity in my own church seem to mirror Dr. Patrick’s.

Dr. Leighton Flowers addresses this subject in his video, Where Did All These Calvinists Come From?, which I highly recommend. Flowers notes that in the 70s, 80s and 90s, Calvinism occupied a small, fringe corner.  He turns to Calvinist, Tim Challies, who has also weighed in on this question in his own short video. Challies explains that the church growth movement of the 90s and early 2000s led to the rise of a model for church growth that focused predominantly on being seeker-sensitive. While this was certainly a good goal, some of the methods employed had negative side effects. Flowers agrees, saying:

“Sometimes churches can become a mile wide and an inch deep because a focus on exegetical preaching, and theological concepts and ideas are sometimes neglected for the sake of trying to be more conducive to the lost. And there was a backlash from that movement.”

This over-emphasis on programs, entertainment, and sometimes even a watering-down of the Gospel message to the neglect of investing in the spiritual maturity and Scriptural knowledge of believers prompted Calvinist John McArthur to publish his rebuke of this phenomenon in his book Ashamed of the Gospel. Flowers notes that it was, indeed, primarily Calvinists such as McArthur, Sproul and Piper “leading the charge to fix this.” Flowers continues:

“…in with this deeper theological construct, came Calvinism. And that was very attractive to people like myself and others who were not wanting to be so focused on being user-friendly/seeker-sensitive, but really being deep, theological/exegetical, because I think that’s necessary within the church body. We need balance.”

It is also true that Calvinism as the dominant theological perspective has a cyclical pattern historically:

“…Calvinism, over the last 500 years has re-surged about once every century, and it inevitably dies back out. Phil Johnson, who is a part of the Grace to You ministry with John McArthur, a well-known Calvinist, talks about this as well, and even talks about how Calvinism, historically, tends to eat its own because as Calvinism rises in popularity among the mainstream, it attracts more hyper-type Calvinists, what some might call consistent Calvinists…Could it be that the movement itself is not sustainable because it’s not practically applicable? It’s not a tenable way of living life? And possibly not very defensible once people become well aware of the arguments and the scholars from both perspectives? Once people become more versed in how to defend their doctrines of God’s grace and mercy for all people, and actually understand why the proof texts that Calvinists use don’t teach what Calvinists think they  teach, then it’s only a matter of time before people…[realize]…there are actually very robust, deep, scholarly arguments to the Calvinist proof-texts.”

To sum up, not only does Calvinism historically surge about once a century, we are currently reaping the consequences of a decades-long, seeker-friendly paradigm often too shallow on the theological teaching to equip non-Calvinist believers to adequately respond to the arguments of the Calvinists. By contrast, these Calvinists do tend to be well-studied in their doctrinal distinctives (TULIP). When Calvinist challenges come knocking on our door, we may not even detect it until it’s too late.

How Can We as Laypeople Impact the SBC?

 I believe we as laypeople have a responsibility to let our voices be heard if we are dissatisfied with Calvinist domination and an epidemic of church splits due to attempted and/or successful Calvinist take-overs.

The first step is creating awareness about the current state of the SBC. Next, we must become educated on what Calvinism, sometimes referred to as “Reformed” theology, teaches. The next article in this series aims to give an overview of Calvinism’s TULIP acrostic as well as some hidden terms and conditions that, while generally not clearly disclosed, certainly apply. Reforming churches via “stealth” strategies requires uninformed membership, and cannot take place without that integral factor.

Next, I believe that we need to avail ourselves of the many non-Calvinist resources available in order to equip ourselves to properly articulate what we believe and why we believe it. Calvinist laypeople are generally better equipped to defend their interpretation of Scripture than their non-Calvinist brothers and sisters. Calvinist theologians churn out books by the dozen, and host a myriad of online resources which Calvinist laypeople buy and/or promote boisterously. We need to support our non-Calvinist theologians and scholars in the same way. Doing so will not only make “stealth” Calvinism a thing of the past, it will promote healthier, more edifying conversations, and unity by fostering a better understanding of each other as individuals.

Go to Part 2

 

Non-Calvinist Resources

Websites and Youtube Channels:

Soteriology 101 : Dr. Flowers has hundreds of videos ranging from short clip overviews to hours-long, deep dives into every aspect of soteriology (doctrine of salvation), to debates,  to responding to Calvinist arguments, and basically addressing any topic related to Calvinism in any way, shape, or form. This is usually my starting point for any Calvinism related query.

The Provisionist Perspective

The Bible BroDown

Trinity Radio

Bible Thinker

The Narrow Path

The Naked Bible Podcast

Ask Dr. Brown

 

Books

Popular Level Resources

The Potter’s Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology by Leighton Flowers

God’s Provision for All by Leighton Flowers

Determined to Believe by John Lennox

Why I Am Not a Calvinist by Walls and Dongell

Why Does God Allow Evil by Clay Jones

Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist by Ronnie Rogers

Does God Love All or Some by Ronnie Rogers

Once Saved Always Saved by Claybrook

Grace, Faith and Free Will by Picarilli

Christ Centered Predestination by Stephens

The Spiritual Condition of Infants by Harwood

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

 

Systematic Theologies/Multi-Volume Sets/Scholarly Level Resources

Christian Theology: Biblical, Historical, and Systematic by Dr. Allen Harwood

Systematic Theology, Volume 1, Fourth Edition by James Leo Garrett Jr

Classical Arminianism: A Theology of Salvation by F. Leroy Forlines

Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans by Brian J. Abasciano (4 vol. set)

World Pictures in the New Testament by A.T. Robertson (6 vol. set)

An Exposition of the Four Gospels by Herschel Hobbs

The Atonement by David Allen

 

Leighton Flowers’ List of Non-Calvinist Scholars/Pastors

AW Tozer

Howard Marshall

Doug Stuart

NT Wright

Gordon Fee

Scott McKnight

David Baker

William W. Klein

Grant Osborne

Robert Shank

David A. DeSilva

Bill T. Arnold

John Oswalt

Brian Abasciano (he helped with this list)

Ben Witherington III

Thomas Oden

C.S. Lewis

Craig Blomberg (not A or C, but probably leans slightly more A)

Craig Keener

Jack Cottrell

Gerald O. McCulloh (edited * “Man’s Faith and Freedom: The Theological

Influence of Jacobus Arminius”)

James Luther Adams (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)

Russell Henry Stafford (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)

Geoffrey F. Nuttall (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)

Roger Olson

Dale Moody

Paul Copan

James D. G. Dunn

Jerry Walls

Joseph Dongell

Clark Pinnock

Donald M. Lake

William G. Witt

  1. Skevington Wood

Vernon C. Grounds

Terry L. Miethe

Richard Rice

John E. Sanders

Fritz Guy

Klyne Snodgrass

Robert Picirilli

  1. Leroy Forlines

Matthew Pinson

Stephen Ashby

Chuck Smith

George Bryson

Greg Laurie

William Lane Craig

Billy Graham

Adrian Rogers

Michael Brown

Leonard Ravenhill

David Wilkerson

Bruce Reichenbach

David J. A. Clines

William G. MacDonald

James D. Strauss

  1. Stephen Evans

Paul R. Eddy

William J. Abraham

  1. Philip Brown II

Derek Prince

Jack Hayford

Gene L. Green

Gareth Lee Cockerill

James Leonard

John Wesley

Chrarles Edward White

Anthony Chadwick Thornhill

Aaron Sherwood

B.J. Oropeza

David Lewis Allen

Steve Lemke

Adam Harwood

Jerry Vines

Paige Patterson

Richard Land

Malcolm Yarnell

Bruce A. Little

Robert W. Wall

  1. Walter Hansen

Philip H. Towner

Adam Clarke

Ravi Zacharias (?)

Paul Ellingworth

William G. MacDonald

James Strauss

Philip Towner

John Wenham

Gary Habermas

Nigel Turner

Max Turner

Peter Cotterell (?)

Dave Hunt

  1. W. MacGorman
  2. Y. Mullins

Herschel Hobbs

  1. T. Conner

Frank Stagg

Fisher Humphreys

Bert Dominy

Ken Keathley

Norm Geisler

Alister McGrath

David Bentley Hart

Mike Licona

Michael Heiser

Mike Winger

Steve Gregg

 

 

 

Response to Mayo Clinic’s “Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked”

Earlier this month the prestigious Mayo Clinic featured an article on their website titled, “COVID-19 vaccine myths debunked” in an effort to “set the record straight on some of the myths” circulating about COVID-19 vaccines.” How well do their “facts” stand up against the “myths”? Well, let’s see.

“Myth” 1: “COVID-19 vaccines are not safe because they were developed and tested quickly.”

Excerpts from Mayo Clinic’s response to “Myth” 1:

“This emergency situation warranted an emergency response. That does not mean the companies bypassed safety protocols or performed inadequate testing.”

This vaccine was created using new technology based on the molecular structure of the virus that allows it to be free from materials of animal origin and synthesized by an efficient, cell-free process, without preservatives.”

“To receive emergency use authorization, biopharmaceutical manufacturers must have followed at least half of the participants in their vaccine trials for at least two months after completing the vaccination series, and the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population.”

“The safety of the COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA.”

My response:

Did the situation warrant an emergency response?

In my opinion, according to the FDA’s criteria for vaccine emergency use authorization, that statement is legitimately debatable. Why? Well:

“Under an EUA, FDA may allow the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when certain statutory criteria have been met, including that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.” (emphasis mine)

A significant number of qualified health professionals have loudly voiced concerns that existing medications that have proven to be both effective and safe treatments for COVID-19 are being all but ignored by the NIH and FDA- the now famous hydroxychloroquine protocol, and more recently, ivermectin protocol.

A large group of medical professionals have organized into a group named “America’s Frontline Doctors.” These experts have compiled an impressive case for the safety and effectiveness of the hydroxychloroquine protocol, including sections devoted to HCQ Information and FAQs and Science of HCQ. Besides the impressive efficacy data, the safety profile of this drug is of particular relevance, “HCQ has been FDA approved for 65 years and is sold over the counter in most of the world. It is the #1 most used medication in India, the second-most populous nation on the planet with 1.3 billion people.”

The anti-parasitic Ivermectin, with its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, has attracted the attention of a growing number of experts as well. The protocol developed by Dr. Marik, Professor of Medicine, and Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School was advocated for fiercely in a recent Senate hearing, “Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution,” which aired on Fox News. In one clip, Dr. Pierre Kory, Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke’s Aurora Medical Center practically begs the NIH to consider the numerous studies now available supporting this treatment option. In another clip, Senator Rand Paul questions several doctors supporting this protocol. Again, besides the compelling efficacy data, the drug has an impressive safety profile having been dosed to over 3.7 billion people globally since the 70s.

Call me overly skeptical, but I’m suspicious that these inexpensive drugs with an established safety track record are being overlooked in favor of experimental vaccine technology due to motivations that I, as a consumer, am not comfortable with. This MIT News article, “Explained: Why mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 raced to the front of the pack,” affirms my suspicion:

“Many years of research have enabled scientists to quickly synthesize RNA vaccines and deliver them inside cells.” Daniel Anderson, professor of chemical engineering at MIT and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering says, “People in the field, including myself, saw a lot of promise in the technology, but you don’t really know until you get human data. So to see that level of protection, not just with the Pfizer vaccine but also with Moderna, really validates the potential of this technology- not only for Covid, but also for all these other diseases that people are working on. I think it’s an important moment for the field.”

Anderson isn’t the only one to voice excitement over the “opportunity” the COVID-19 situation has presented. In an April 2020 article by Chemical and Engineering News, Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center gushed, “They have been described as the vaccines of the future. However, they have not yet been pressure tested. The COVID crisis is a great opportunity for those technologies to be pushed.” Other sources documenting similar statements by experts can be accessed here, and here.

No matter how you slice it, this mRNA vaccine technology is brand new, has never been licensed for human use before, and sports a mere 2 months maximum of safety data- all points that Mayo Clinic concedes. There appear to be promising candidates for effective COVID-19 treatments that: 1) have a growing mountain of science supporting them; and 2) sport decades long track records of use while maintaining very high safety profiles. Why in the world are the NIH and FDA overlooking them to grant EUA to experimental vaccine technology?

The companies didn’t bypass safety protocols or perform inadequate testing?

I’m rating this Mayo Clinic claim “partially false” or at least “missing context.” This STAT article from March 2020 titled, “Researchers rush to test coronavirus vaccine in people without knowing how well it works in animals,” reports that vaccine developers engaged in both of the above when they jumped to human testing without animal trial data.

This hasty progression to human trials was embarked upon despite well-known, very disconcerting “pitfalls” of previous vaccine development attempts, including a phenomenon called “immune enhancement.” “News Feature: Avoiding pitfalls in the pursuit of a COVID-19 vaccine” by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America says:

“Researchers need to understand in particular whether the vaccine causes the same types of immune system malfunctions that have been observed in past vaccine development. Since the 1960s, tests of vaccine candidates for diseases such as dengue, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have shown a paradoxical phenomenon: Some animals or people who received the vaccine and were later exposed to the virus developed more severe disease than those who had not been vaccinated.”

Immune enhancement can be deadly- a lesson hard learned in the 60s. “Researchers at the time were pursuing a vaccine against RSV…In trials of one vaccine candidate, several children who received the vaccine developed a serious illness when infected with the natural virus. Two toddlers died.”

Despite this knowledge, vaccine developers forged ahead with human trials.

What about Mayo Clinic’s statement that “the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population” meaning, the population of trial participants? Should that make us, the public, feel safe?

A 30-year internal medicine doctor, going by the moniker IM Doc, and a group of 9 of his physician friends examined Pfizer’s safety study and offered up a review in writing. If you don’t read any other link in my response to Mayo Clinic, I hope you’ll read this one word for word. It’s titled, “An Internal Medicine Doctor and His Peers Read the Pfizer Vaccine Study and See Red Flags.” How bad is it? IM Doc says:

There are more red flags in this paper and related events than present on any May Day in downtown Beijing.”

One of the many problems he has relates specifically to the trial participant population and something called “exclusion criteria.” He explains why this is a critical issue:

“[Exclusion criteria] refers in general to groups of subjects that were not allowed into the trial prima facie. Common examples would include over 70, patients on chemotherapy and other immunosuppressed patients, children, diabetics, etc.. This issue is important because I do not want to give my patient this vaccine (available apparently next week) to any patient that is in an excluded group. Those patients really ought to wait until more information is available – FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY. And not to mention, exclusion criteria exist because the subjects in them are usually considered more vulnerable to mayhem than average subjects. From my reading of this paper, and the accompanying editorial, one would assume there were no exclusion criteria. They certainly are never mentioned.” (emphasis original)

And now we know there were exclusion criteria, not because of anything Pfizer, the investigators, or the NEJM did but because of stunning news out of the UK…In the UK on day 1 of the rollout, two nurses with severe allergies experienced anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction to this vaccine. Only after world-wide coverage did Pfizer admit that there was an exclusion criterion for severe allergies in their study.”

You can read about these anaphylaxis events here:

People with a history of ‘significant’ allergic reactions shouldn’t have Pifizer vaccine, regulator warns

The Guardian reports additional details, explaining that two members of Britain’s National Health Service “developed symptoms of ‘anaphylactoid reaction’” after the vaccine.

Another event has occurred in the US since the time of IM Doc’s writing. A “middle-aged” female health care worker in Alaska with no prior history of allergies suffered an “anaphylactic reaction” that took place “within ten minutes of receiving the first of Pfizer’s two dose jab,” Fox News reports in “Alaska health care worker suffers adverse reaction after COVID-19 vaccine.”

As a member of the public considering receiving the vaccine, it would be nice to know the exclusion criteria for trial participants. If you would not have qualified to participate in the trial, then the trial results cannot tell you anything about the safety of this vaccine for individuals like you. When Mayo Clinic says that the vaccine has been shown to be safe (in the short-term) for trial participants, they fail to elaborate on how exactly that statement applies (or doesn’t apply) to you personally.

Now, after following trial participants for 2 months they’re ready to try it out on the public and see what post-marketing data reveals. Which brings me to my next point…

Should I feel “safe” knowing that the CDC and FDA are closely monitoring the safety of these vaccines after they’ve released them to the public?

Short answer: No. Long answer: Noooooooooooooo.

A Nov 28th article in Newsweek explains how adverse effects from the new Covid vaccines will be tracked via the VAERS system, which the CDC has counted on since 1990 to track all vaccine adverse events, and a brand-spanking new surveillance system- an app called V-SAFE. Please follow along as I demonstrate why this is a slap in the face to every single parent who has ever trusted the CDC and FDA when making the decision to vaccinate their children according to the CDC schedule:

This is what the CDC says about the VAERS system:

“VAERS is a passive surveillance system: reports of events are voluntarily submitted by those who experience them, their caregivers, or others. Passive surveillance systems (e.g., VAERS) are subject to multiple limitations, including underreporting, reporting of temporal associations or unconfirmed diagnoses, and lack of denominator data and unbiased comparison groups. Because of these limitations, determining causal associations between vaccines and adverse events from VAERS reports is usually not possible.”

In 2000, the 6th Report by the Committee on Government Reform addressed the failings of VAERS in its address of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The report states:

“The quality of VAERS data has been questioned. Because reports are submitted from a variety of sources, some inexperienced in completing data forms for medical studies, many reports omit important data and contain obvious errors. Assessment is further complicated by the administration of multiple vaccines at the same time, following currently recommended vaccine schedules, because there may be no conclusive way to determine which vaccine or combination of vaccines caused the specific adverse event.”

“Former FDA commissioner David A. Kessler has estimated that VAERS reports currently represent only a fraction of the serious adverse events.”

The Congressional report above listed 5 limitations that the IOM Committees noted:

“1) Inadequate understanding of biologic mechanisms underlying adverse events; 2) Insufficient or inconsistent information from case reports and case series; 3) Inadequate size or length of follow- up of many population- based epidemiological studies; 4) Limitations of existing surveillance systems to provide persuasive evidence of causation; and 5) Few published epidemiological studies.”

The report continues by pointing out that the “IOM warned that ‘if research capacity and accomplishments [are] not improved, future reviews of vaccine safety [will be] similarly handicapped.’”

Not only that, the same report raises alarm bells that there is significant conflict of interest in this arrangement:

“Within Congress, there is bipartisan concern over dual responsibilities and potential conflicting interests in HHS drug development and delivery. Regarding vaccines, HHS conducts and encourages vaccine research on the one hand and is the lead agency with-in the Federal Government for the promotion of vaccination pro-grams. HHS also administers the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ([VICP] or the Program). Critics charge these responsibilities may conflict.”

The IOM has been telling the CDC for over 26 years that they have inadequate information (and none at all in some cases) to advise on the causal relationship between vaccines and adverse events for a majority of adverse events reported!! In a 1994 report on vaccines and adverse events the IOM stated:

“The lack of adequate data regarding many of the adverse events under study was of major concern to the committee…Although the committee was not charged with proposing specific research investigations, in the course of its review additional obvious needs for research and surveillance were identified, and those are briefly described here.”

In 2011, the IOM conducted another study examining the scientific evidence in studies available for 158 vaccine adverse effects. Again, they concluded that they had inadequate information to come to a decision:

“The vast majority of causality conclusions in the report are the evidence was inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship.”

What have we learned? VAERS is crap. CDC, FDA, and Congress know that VAERS is crap. Every time you hear a doctor say the “science is settled,” “vaccine adverse events are “1 in a million,” they are making vacuous statements with no science to back them. There is no possible way to know those things. You would think, in 30 years, the CDC would attempt to upgrade this system. Well, let’s talk about one time when they did make an attempt.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave Harvard Medical School a $1 million dollar grant to track VAERS reporting at Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare for 3 years and to create an automated reporting system which would revolutionize the VAERS reporting system- transforming it from “passive” to “active.” Guess what they found? The grant final report states:

“Adverse events from drugs and vaccines are common, but underreported. […] Likewise, fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported. Low reporting rates preclude or slow the identification of ‘problem’ drugs and vaccines that endanger public health. New surveillance methods for drug and vaccine adverse effects are needed.”

Harvard Pilgrim also thought they succeeded in making revolutionary improvements to the VAERS system. Guess what the CDC did? Completely ignored them! Stopped answering the phone or checking their emails. Just, poof! Disappeared.

“Unfortunately, there was never an opportunity to perform system performance assessments because the necessary CDC contacts were no longer available and the CDC consultants responsible for receiving data were no longer responsive to our multiple requests to proceed with testing and evaluation.”

Now we’re supposed to believe that what the CDC has been allegedly unable to do in 30 years- develop a useful vaccine adverse event surveillance system- they have suddenly been able to resolve in a matter of months via an app called V-SAFE?? Pardon me if I’m not filled with confidence.

Add the following to all of the above:

FDA staff recommends watching for Bell’s Palsy in Moderna and Pfizer vaccine recipients


The “FDA Safety Surveillance of COVID-19 Vaccines:
DRAFT Working list of possible adverse event outcomes ***Subject to change***

These are the reactions the FDA is on the lookout for in the public:

 

All in all, perhaps the Mayo Clinic and I disagree on the appropriate definition of “safe.” My definition doesn’t encompass this level of experimental technology with this short span of safety data.

Myth” 2: “I already had COVID-19 and I have recovered, so I don’t need to get vaccinated for COVID-19.”

Excerpts from Mayo Clinic’s response to “Myth” 2:

There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. This is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last long, but more studies are needed to better understand this.”

Mayo Clinic recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously.”

My response:

Mayo Clinic’s recommendation is perplexing considering what Pfizer says about the duration of protection their vaccine is known to offer in their “Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers”:

The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown.”

Mayo Clinic can’t tell you if the vaccine is effective past 2 months, but they feel good about going ahead and recommending that you get it.

Myth” 3: “COVID-19 vaccines have severe side effects.”

Excerpts from Mayo Clinic’s response to “Myth” 3:

COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to have short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury.”

Keep in mind that these side effects indicate that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. These side effects are common with vaccinations.”

My response:

Am I supposed to take this to mean they are safe in the long-term as well?

That’s a big part of the problem- we have nothing but 2 months worth of safety data. There is no data at all on potential long-term safety issues. Not having data on long-term safety issues does not mean they don’t (or will not) exist. In fact, this is what IM Doc has to say about Pfizer’s safety study based on his personal experience of decades in the business:

Pharmaceuticals that go bad rarely do so in the first few weeks or months. Rather, the adverse effects take months or years. It is a known unknown of not just vaccines but any kind of drug. Our pharma companies have become notorious for having inklings or indeed full knowledge that there is a problem early on, and saying nothing until many are maimed or killed. I will assume that this is the case in this class of drugs until proven otherwise. They are such deceivers I have no choice.”

What about that short-term safety data?

IM Doc is at odds with safety claims, even as Mayo Clinic applies them to the short-term data. Anaphylaxis is certainly life-threatening even though health authorities are inexplicably downplaying it when it comes to the Pfizer vaccine. He cites the comments of Dr. Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research:

“Even people who’ve had a severe allergic reaction to food or to something in the environment in the past should be OK to get the shot….1.6% of the population has had a severe allergic reaction to a food or something in the environment. We would really not like to have that many people not be able to receive the vaccine.”

Here’s how IM Doc responded to those comments in his article:

“Are you serious? Dr. Marks, have you ever seen an anaphylactic reaction? I live in a very rural area. Many patients live 30 minutes or more from the hospital. What if one of them had an anaphylactic reaction to this vaccine hours after administration, had no epi-pen and had to travel a half hour to get to the nearest hospital? There is a very high likelihood that a good outcome would not occur. Sometimes, as a physician, I simply cannot believe what I am hearing out of the mouths of our so-called medical leaders.”

His concerns don’t end with the reports of anaphylaxis. He recounts the experience of a Pfizer trial participant, who also happens to be a nurse researcher, which was published in a JAMA article:

In her story, she details her recruitment and her experience in the Pfizer COVID trial, the same one we are dissecting here. She describes in detail her experience with the vaccine and the fact that she is concerned that many patients are likely going to feel very sick after the injection. She wrote up her own reactions, and included a very troubling one. About 15 hours after her second injection, she developed a fever of 104.9. She explained that she called her reaction to the Research Nurse promptly the next morning. They recounted the response of the Research Nurse to her information as ‘A lot of people have reactions after the second injection. Keep monitoring your symptoms and call us if anything changes.’”

Yet somehow this event, which according to IM Doc, qualifies as a Grade 4 event according to the trial’s own data, and which occurred “well within the trial’s recruitment of arms as detailed in the paper,” and by law must be reported to the FDA, the Institutional Review Board, and the original investigators is somehow excluded from Pfizer’s published safety paper!

IM Doc remarks:

“This is a time-tested pharmaceutical company tactic to obscure findings that they do not want you to see. My mentor warned me about ruses like these years ago, and finding one raises the possibility that deception is in play.”

Is he making a mountain out of a molehill? He doesn’t think so:

“There are 37,706 participants in the ‘Main Safety Population’ (from Table 1), of which 18.860 received the vaccine. Let us assume that this individual was the only one that had a GRADE 4 reaction. Let us also assume that the end goal is to vaccinate every American a total of 330,000,000 people. So if we extrapolate this 1 out of 18,860 into all 330,000,000 of us, it suggest that roughly 17,500 could have this kind of fever. Now assume a 70% vaccination rate, and you get that would be approximately 12,250. I hope you now understand that in clinical medicine related to trials like this – a whole lot of nothing can turn into a whole lot of something quickly when you extrapolate to the entire targeted group. Does anyone not think that the clinicians of America should be prepared for anything like this that may be coming?”

Here are some testimonies from other trial participants:

STAT reports on 29 year old Ian Haydon’s experience with Moderna’s vaccine: “Twelve hours after receiving his second dose, he developed a fever of more than 103 degrees, sought medical attention, and, after being released from an urgent care facility, fainted in his home.”

CNBC reports on 44 year old Luke Hutchison’s experience, a couple of anonymous participants’ experiences with Moderna’s vaccine, and an anonymous Pfizer participant’s experience:

“After getting the first shot on Aug. 18, he said he felt a little under the weather for several days with a low-grade fever. He got his second shot at a clinic on Sept. 15. Eight hours later, he said he was bed bound with a fever of over 101, shakes, chills, a pounding headache and shortness of breath. He said the pain in his arm, where he received the shot, felt like a ‘goose egg on my shoulder.’ He hardly slept that night, recording that his temperature was higher than 100 degrees for five hours.”

Two other participants in the Moderna trial, who asked to remain confidential because they feared backlash from the company, reported similar side effects. Likewise, one participant in the Pfizer trial said he experienced more severe symptoms than he expected.”

Are these side effects just par for the course when it comes to all vaccines?

That’s what Mayo Clinic says. Here is Pfizer’s fact sheet for medical providers list of adverse reaction rates in trial participants:

“In clinical studies, adverse reactions in participants 16 years of age and older included pain at the injection site (84.1%), fatigue (62.9%), headache (55.1%), muscle pain (38.3%), chills (31.9%), joint pain (23.6%), fever (14.2%), injection site swelling (10.5%), injection site redness (9.5%), nausea (1.1%), malaise (0.5%), and lymphadenopathy (0.3%)”

IM Doctor, who indicates that he has had “the privilege of sitting on an Institutional Review Board (an independent entity that protects patient safety)” counters:

We are told nothing about how long these symptoms last or the amount of time at work lost. The ‘minimal side effects comparable with other viral vaccines’ in the editorial and press releases is just not consistent at all with my experience of 30 years as a primary care physician. There was universal agreement with this assessment among my MD colleagues. They had great concern about this as a matter of fact: great concern that it will cause bad publicity and decrease administration and great concern that given this already high side effect profile, it may be much worse when it gets out to the public.”

COVID-19 vaccine severe side effects don’t sound very “mythical” to me.

What of Mayo Clinic’s statement “that these side effects indicate that your immune system is responding to the vaccine”?

I submit that there is more to this wording than meets the eye. I can’t help but notice Mayo Clinic is falling in line with the guidance to make the COVID-19 vaccines’ tendency toward much more severe reactions than are typically experienced after vaccination more palatable to the public by playing semantics games. This NBC News article, “Covid-19 vaccines may have potentially unpleasant side effects” illustrates the point:

“’We are asking people to take a vaccine that is going to hurt,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. ‘There are lots of sore arms and substantial numbers of people who feel crummy, with headaches and muscle pain, for a day or two.'”

How public health experts explain such effects is important, Omer said. ‘There’s evidence that suggests that if you frame pain as a proxy of effectiveness, it’s helpful,’ he said. ‘If it’s hurting a little, it’s working.’”

If you want to feel extra manipulated, click around on this site “Guide to COVID-19 vaccine communications.” Be sure to click “The Principles” tab, then select and read each option underneath. Spoiler alert, they think it’s a great idea to have doctors reach out to “trusted” influencers in your community such as pastors, and if you’re black, your barber (yeah, that’s really in there), and school them on how to encourage you to get your COVID shot.

Add to the above, NPR’s early December piece, “And Now For An Important Message: Convincing You To Get The Coronavirus Vaccine.” “For 78 years, the Advertising Council has been helping Americans face national challenges. From Smokey Bear’s ‘remember, only you can prevent forest fires,’ to ‘loose lips sink ships’ during World War II and the 1990s campaign ‘friends don’t let friends drive drunk.’” Now they’ve been enlisted to make sure you get your COVID-19 shot.” “Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, tells NPR’s All Things Considered that the $50 million campaign will be the most significant in the group’s history. It’s ‘our moonshot moment. We’re approaching this with the size and the speed and the scale and the urgency unlike anything we’ve ever done before.’”

Myth 4: “I won’t need to wear a mask after I get vaccinated for COVID-19”

Excerpts from Mayo Clinic’s response to Myth 4:

Also, while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown whether you can still carry and transmit the virus to others after vaccination.”

Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions, such as wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and washing hands frequently, will be important.”

My response:

Read it and weep folks. Nothing but facts here. That’s why I didn’t place myth in quotes this time. This article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) titled, “Will covid-19 vaccines save lives? Current trials aren’t designed to tell us” highlights a whole host of important things you’d like to know before rolling up your sleeve for any vaccine that, well, none of these COVID-19 vaccine trials are even capable of telling you:

None of the trials currently under way are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospital admissions, use of intensive care, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus.”

Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, admitted this in an NBC “Dateline” episode and Business Insider reported on it.

Bloomberg’s “How a Covid-19 Vaccine Could End Up Helping the Virus Spread”, brings up an additional concern:

“A vaccine that protects against symptoms of Covid-19 could contribute to the spread of the disease if—and this is still just an if—the people who get vaccinated remain capable of carrying and transmitting the virus. That’s a risk that’s gotten little attention amid the deserved jubilation over a Nov. 9 report from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE that their vaccine candidate appears to be highly effective.”

How big a problem this might be is hard to say, because we don’t know for sure if immunized people are capable of shedding infectious virus.”

We already know that people who are asymptomatic can spread Covid-19. In fact, that’s one of its scariest characteristics…if people who get vaccinated throw caution to the winds, it’s possible they could get a lot of other people sick.”

So yeah. Not only will receiving the COVID-19 vaccine not change a single thing about your life right now as it relates to mask wearing, physical distancing, and any other COVID related restriction, you cannot virtue signal by saying that you’re saving lives by receiving it.

Myth” 5: “More people will die as a result of a negative side effect to the COVID-19 vaccine than would die from the virus.”

Excerpts from Mayo Clinic’s response to “Myth” 5:

A claim circulating on social media is that the COVID-19 mortality rate is 1%–2% and that people should not be vaccinated against a virus with a high survival rate.”

In contrast, clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have shown only short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury.”

“While some people who receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds, this is common when receiving any vaccine, and these symptoms are not considered serious or life-threatening.”

It’s important to recognize that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is not just about survival from COVID-19. It’s about preventing spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects.”

While no vaccine is 100% effective, getting vaccinated is far better than not getting vaccinated. The benefits outweigh the risks in healthy people.”

My response:

First, the “claim” about COVID-19’s mortality rate is a very good point in favor of those who fall into the age demographics which have minuscule risk of dying of COVID-19. At one point the CDC released statistics that those 0-19 had a 99.997% survival rate, 20-49 a 99.98%, 50-69 a 99.5%, and 70 and above a 94.6%. If you’re below 70, you have a very legitimate reason to not want to take any vaccine risk upon yourself. I mean, we’ve already established there is no “get it for the sake of others” angle we can sell here.

Second, we’ve already discussed why clinical trials have “only” shown short-term vaccine reactions. That’s all they’re capable of showing. We only have 2 months of data. Long term data doesn’t exist. The fact that we don’t have any data on it doesn’t negate the possibility for future long-term serious adverse effects to materialize. It just means we’ll have to wait to see them.

Third, as we’ve already discussed, the nature of the data supporting claims of “mild or moderate” short-term effects is not beyond reproach. A tiny window of post-marketing experience has already revealed an issue with anaphylaxis, which is universally recognized as life-threatening, and it seems to be occurring in an increasingly alarming number of vaccine recipients for reasons experts do not appear to be able to explain.

Fourth, it’s almost unbelievable to me that Mayo Clinic would make the statement that “getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is not just about survival from COVID-19. It’s about preventing spread of the virus to others…” when a mere few paragraphs earlier they admitted that we have no data indicating whether or not the vaccine is capable of preventing transmission.

Fifth, the Mayo Clinic makes two statements that they do not have the data to factually support. Without adequate risk data for the COVID-19 vaccines, which we do not currently have, it is impossible to know if the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. This response earns Mayo Clinic a “pants on fire” rating.

Myth” 6: “COVID-19 vaccines were developed to control the population through microchip tracking or ‘nanotransducers’ in the human brain.”

Mayo Clinic’s response to “Myth” 6:

There is no vaccine microchip, and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database.”

This myth started after comments made by Bill Gates from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.”

My response:

This one is complicated. It’s clearly worded in such a way as to make the underlying ideas sound like conspiracy theories. I have no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines were developed to control the population, so I would never claim that they were created for that purpose. And, as far as I know, the COVID-19 vaccines currently being given do not contain any such microchip tracking capability. However, if some people have gotten the idea that either are true, it’s due to the existence of troubling facts, incriminating statements from key players (Mayo Clinic tips a nod to this fact in their mention of Bill Gates’ comments), and well-deserved distrust of our public health authorities.

Population Control?

Whether or not the purpose of COVID-19 vaccines is to control the population, some scientists have been ringing alarm bells that the Pfizer vaccine could result in infertility. Dr. Michael Yeadon, former vice president and chief scientist for allergy and respiratory for Pfizer (Yeadon reportedly stepped down from this position in 2011), and German physician Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, sent a letter to the European Medicines Agency calling for a halt to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trials in the EU. Their concern is that a part of the spike protein used in Pfizer’s vaccine resembles a part of another protein which is vital for placenta formation in mammals (called syncytin-1) closely enough that Pfizer’s vaccine could generate an immune response to that protein. This would result in the inability to form a placenta.

Syncytins’ role in reproduction is quite fascinating, and the interested reader can refer to “The role of syncytins in human reproduction and reproductive organ cancers” for an in depth explanation. The question is, are the concerns regarding Pfizer’s vaccine legitimate? One fact checker says that there is no evidence for this claim. However, Dr. Yeadon and Dr. Wodarg obviously disagree, and neither can be said to be unqualified to make the judgment.

The truth of the matter is that Pfizer’s trials can tell us nothing about the potential of this vaccine to affect fertility. This document is the information that Pfizer provided UK health professionals about their vaccine. Note section 4.6 on fertility, pregnancy, and lactation:

On Pregnancy: “There are no or limited amount of data from the use of COVID-19 mRNAVaccine BNT162b2. Animal reproductive toxicity studies have not been completed. COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is not recommended during pregnancy. For women of childbearing age, pregnancy should be excluded before vaccination. In addition, women of childbearing age should be advised to avoid pregnancy for at least 2 months after their second dose.” (emphasis mine)

On Fertility: “It is unknown whether COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2has an impact on fertility.”

Note that in the version of this vaccine information document supplied to UK vaccine recipients, there is no mention that animal reproductive toxicity studies haven’t been completed, and absolutely no mention that potential impact on fertility is unknown. I consider the absence of this information in the vaccine information documentation given to the public to be unethical. Undoubtedly, this knowledge would make a difference for some individuals in deciding whether or not to receive the vaccine.

It’s also worth mentioning that Australia just scrapped one of their vaccine candidates due to the fact that a portion of their vaccine included “a small component…derived from the human immunodeficiency virus, known as HIV…” Although it was a mere “HIV protein fragment,” it was enough to cause some trial participants to produce enough of an antibody response to trip HIV screening tests into a positive result. The possibility had been considered “remote” and “medical researchers had not expected it to occur.” “’Everyone was very surprised at the unexpected prevalence of the false positive,’ Professor Murphy said.” Apparently, immune responses that experts consider to be “remote” and extremely unlikely, can indeed occur. Who would’ve thought?

If Pfizer can’t tell you if their vaccine impacts fertility, neither can Mayo Clinic. End of story.

Microchips, Tracking, and Personal Information Gathered into a Database?

Where in the world do people get the crazy idea that somebody would put microchips in vaccines? Or track them? Or gather their personal information into databases? Well, from everybody’s favorite IT guy who is for some reason all up in our healthcare and vaccine business- Bill Gates. (There are others as well, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll just focus on Gates.) If you haven’t seen Gates interviewed about all things COVID on virtually all mainstream media networks, you’ve been living under a rock. Back in March he did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session on COVID-19 and later published a piece about this session on his “Gates Notes.” In response to a question Gates said, “Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.”

When asked what he meant by a “digital certificate” he didn’t respond. However, it’s not hard to answer that question when you take a look at what Gates has been up to:

In a January 2018 Microsoft Blog titled, “Partnering for a path to a digital identity,” you’ll find the following quotes:

As discussions begin this week at the World Economic Forum, creating universal access to identity is an issue at the top of Microsoft’s agenda, and we think technology can be a powerful tool to tackle this challenge. It was last summer that Microsoft took a first step, collaborating with Accenture and Avanade on a blockchain-based identity prototype on Microsoft Azure. Together, we pursued this work in support of the ID2020 Alliance – a global public-private partnership dedicated to aiding the 1.1 billion people around the world who lack any legal form of identity.”

This Science Alert article from December of 2019, “An Invisible Quantum Dot ‘Tattoo’ Could Be Used to ID Vaccinated Kids” discusses a new technology that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding: “…researchers from MIT…[have] created an ink that can be safely embedded in the skin alongside the vaccine itself, and it’s only visible using a special smartphone camera app and filter. In other words, they’ve found a covert way to embed the record of a vaccination directly in a patient’s skin rather than documenting it electronically or on paper – and their low-risk tracking system could greatly simplify the process of maintaining accurate vaccine records, especially on a larger scale.”

In September of 2019, PR Newswire ran, “ID2020 Alliance launches digital ID program with Government of Bangladesh and Gavi, announces new partners at annual summit,” with this info:

The ID2020 Alliance is hosting its annual summit today in New York, where it announced the launch of an ambitious digital identity program with the Government of Bangladesh and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as new partners in government, academia, and humanitarian relief.”

Recognizing the opportunity for immunization to serve as a platform for digital identity, this program leverages existing vaccination and birth registration operations to offer newborns a persistent and portable biometrically-linked digital identity.”

The ID2020 website itself is highly educational. The site notes that, “The ability to prove who you are is a fundamental and universal human right.” They refer to the “core requirements of that digital ID as the four P’s,” which are: “Private. Only you control your own identity, what data is shared and with whom. Portable. Accessible wherever you happen to be through multiple methods. Persistent. Lives with you from life to death. Personal. Unique to you and you only.” The “Emerging Technologies” Tab adds that use of “biometrics” will make this possible.

The Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030) include target 16.9 which aims to ‘provide legal identity for all, including birth registration by 2030.”

In September 2015, all United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including their commitment to ‘provide legal identity for all, including birth registration by 2030.”

Also in September of 2019, Biometric Update published their article, “ID2020 and partners launch program to provide digital ID with vaccines,” and Find Biometrics published their, “New ID2020 Project to Build Biometric ID Program Around Infant Immunization.”

You can see how much financial support the US contributes to efforts such as these in this Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) summary, “The U.S. and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.”

In June of 2020, Biometric Update reported, “Trust Stamp integrating biometric hash solution with Mastercard on children’s vaccine record system:

Digital identity capabilities from Trust Stamp are now being integrated with Mastercard’s Wellness Pass solution, which it will launch in cooperation with Gavi in West Africa. Proving identity without revealing any information about it is the idea behind Trust Stamp’s zero knowledge approach to online identity verification, according to a profile by Mastercard.”

Gareth Genner, Trust Stamp co-founder and CEO, explains in an interview how the company’s Evergreen Hash technology uses biometrics without taking on the risk of spoofing or a data breach that he says come with standard biometric implementations.”

And also from Biometric Update, the following November and December 2020 articles:

Biometric health passports discussed by tech firms and governments as COVID-19 vaccine approaches”:

Immunity passports are currently being considered in Chile, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and the U.S., according to Zac Cohen, Chief Operating Officer at Trulioo…As the world gets closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, the idea of an immunity passport will continue to be explored by governments and tech firms alike.”


India mulls digital voter ID before assembly elections next year.” Can you think of any reason why this might appeal to American voters?

Philippine biometric ID registration on good footing as authorities eye Step 2 start.”

Integrated Biometrics reveals its fingerprint scanners may kill COVID-19 at ID4Africa event conclusion.”

Elyctis to deliver 550 ID BOX One biometric ID card readers to Senegal healthcare facilities.”

Digital identity all-star team appointed as new Turing Institute International Advisory Board.”

Discussion even made its way to Bloomberg: “Biometric Tracking Can Ensure Billions Have Immunity Against Covid-19.”

Mayo Clinic is probably correct that “microchip” is not the appropriate terminology for referencing the technologies that are directed at some form of biometric digital identification that can be associated with vaccines in various ways, whether as delivery systems, or other correlations. However, the statement that the technology hasn’t been implemented in any manner is not accurate. Internationally, this type of technology is already seeing use, and the clearly stated goal is for this technology to revolutionize global individual identification. This will obviously include databases with personal information. As far as I am aware, Mayo Clinic is correct that this is not currently being implemented in COVID-19 vaccines in any way. It should, however, at least be on everyone’s radar as a future possibility. It’s certainly not a crack-pot idea with no basis in reality, which is how Mayo Clinic wanted to frame it.

Myth” 7: “COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA.”

Excerpt from Mayo Clinic’s response to “Myth” 7:

Injecting messenger RNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the messenger RNA soon after they have finished using the instructions.”

My response:

My understanding is that this is the majority view among experts with regard to mRNA vaccines. However, there is one DNA vaccine candidate being developed by Inovio, which was set to head into phase II trials in November 2020. DNA vaccines are recognized to have the possibility of altering a recipient’s DNA as the study, “The dangers of DNA vaccination,”published in Nature in 1999 documents:

After injection, some DNA may persist and reach distant sites. Although the amount of DNA uptake by distant cells is not large, it is unlikely to be zero. Moreover, DNA injected intravenously into pregnant mice reaches fetuses. If after vaccination DNA is taken up by fetal or germ–line cells, immunological tolerance may be induced in the progeny (and descendants) of the vaccinated individual.”

That is not to say that there is unanimous agreement that mRNA vaccines cannot alter DNA. Dr. Doug Corrigan has written one such article in dissent from the majority view titled, “Will an RNA Vaccine Permanently Alter My DNA?” According to Dr. Corrigan’s “About Me” page on his blog he has the following credentials:

Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a master’s in Engineering Physics (concentration: Solid State Physics), and a bachelor’s in Engineering Physics (concentration: electrical engineering.)”

As a NASA Graduate Fellow , I worked with NASA on a series of material science microgravity missions that were conducted aboard the Space Shuttle, and I conducted research with Oak Ridge National Lab on new materials in their Solid State Physics Division.”

I switched to life sciences and went into Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I started a biotech company that developed new tools for discovering drugs to combat drug resistant forms of HIV.”

I also am an avid innovator, and have developed concepts for new medical devices, 3D printing technologies, cellular assays, nanotechnologies, sensors, new materials, etc— I have competed against a pool of 350,000 engineers and scientists from around the world and won commercial licenses for further development of 30 of these technologies. For these awards, I was named a Super Solver for 2 consecutive years.”

I’ve confirmed several of his credentials here in this article from a local news source and here in this Oak Ridge National Laboratory publication.

Dr. Corrigan notes:

“This concern about genetic modification is normally answered by the following argument: RNA will not permanently alter your DNA because it is a temporary molecule that quickly becomes destroyed in the cell, and because it is fundamentally different than DNA. RNA does not integrate into DNA, and RNA doesn’t remain in the cell permanently because the cell destroys the RNA relatively quickly. Therefore, there is no potential risk of an RNA vaccine genetically modifying a person’s genome.”

After an explanation of how mRNA vaccines work, Dr. Corrigan goes on to detail why he disagrees. I encourage the interested reader to take a look at his concerns. He concludes his article with a bit of common sense advice I believe we’d be foolish not to take:

“My professional opinion is that since RNA vaccines are a new mode of delivering vaccines, they should be tested for 5-10 years to demonstrate that genetic modification is not a major concern.”

Myth” 8: “COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.”

Mayo Clinic’s response to “Myth” 8:

These messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccines were not created with and do not require the use of fetal cell cultures in the production process.”

My response:

Notice that Mayo Clinic restricts their negative answer to mRNA vaccines. That’s because it’s not even debated that some of the other COVID-19 vaccine candidates were indeed developed using fetal cell cultures from aborted babies- those from AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson for example.

When it comes to the mRNA vaccines, I still consider Mayo Clinic’s “fact” to be misleading and in the newly in-vogue fact-checking language, “missing context.”

Some of the most trusted watchdog organizations for the use of aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines, the Charlotte Lozier Institute for example, have recently declared that neither Moderna or Pfizer used aborted fetal cell lines in the design and development of their vaccines, but did use the HEK 293 cell line (from an electively aborted baby in the 70s) in their testing. Moderna’s data is published here in Nature and Pfizer’s data is published here on bioRxiv.

When it comes to the claim that Moderna didn’t use HEK293 in its design process, it turns out that declaration isn’t entirely true, and is based on a technicality. The Catholic World Report explains:

Scientists not from Moderna had initially made DNA vectors with the gene sequence of the spike protein, and injected them in HEK-293 cells to produce the spike protein. The HEK 293 cell line is derived from a baby who was aborted in the Netherlands in the 1970s.”

The production of the DNA vectors was studied and evaluated by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the University of Texas, who determined that the spike protein was a good candidate for testing. Moderna was not involved in the DNA construction, nor was it involved in the evaluation of the construction.”

Dr. John Brehany, director of institutional relations at the NCBC, told CNA in July that while Moderna thus has some association with the use of cell lines from elective abortions, it is not responsible for that use, and its vaccine was not produced using HEK 293 cells.”

So, since Moderna wasn’t directly involved with the development of the DNA vectors with the gene sequences of the spike protein they used, Catholics consider this degree of distance from actual participation in sin an appropriate separation to be declared morally acceptable. I’m not Catholic, and at the end of the day, no matter what caveats you put on it, Moderna’s vaccine is involved with the HEK 293 cell line from a murdered baby. Pfizer’s appears to at least have a connection in testing as well.

If you’re not comfortable with that, you’ll cringe to hear what they do to mice to be able to test COVID-19 vaccines on them. NPR’s “Mouse Hunt: Lab Races To Grow Mice For COVID-19 Research” reports:

Laboratories across the world are gearing up to develop vaccines that can stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. They’ve got the funding; they’ve got the talent. But they don’t have the mice.”

“…researchers can’t use ordinary mice. That’s because the coronavirus doesn’t make mice sick. Humans have to genetically engineer them to be susceptible to the virus.”

Wait, what?

This FDA contract document obtained by CNS News explains that aborted fetal tissue is necessary to create these “humanized mice”:

The Government intends to solicit and negotiate directly with Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) Inc. and no solicitation will be issued. The objective is to acquire Tissue for Humanized Mice. ABR is the only company that can provide the human fetal tissue needed to continue the ongoing research being led by the FDA. Fresh human tissues are required for implantation into severely immune-compromised mice to create chimeric animals that have a human immune system. This human immune system allows us to test biological drug products for safety and efficacy. This is necessary because these drug products do not bind non-human species drug targets.”

The Federalist reported, “Pro-Lifers Arrested For Protesting San Francisco Hospital Transplanting Aborted Baby Organs Into Lab Rats.”


On the other hand, Washington Post ran the article, “Trump ban on fetal tissue research blocks coronavirus treatment effort,” bemoaning the Trump administration’s ban on fetal tissue research, “The inability of the Montana lab, part of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to pursue these experiments on the coronavirus is the latest example of disruptions to scientists’ work caused by the administration’s restrictions on research involving fetal tissue.”

For these reasons, I rate Mayo Clinic’s response “missing context” for their over-simplification of the topic resulting in the misunderstanding that aborted babies played no role in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines we have.

Conclusion

While I understand that most people consider Mayo Clinic to be a highly reputable source (and I’m sure they are in the context of some other subject matter), when it comes to their “debunking” attempt of the topics addressed in their COVID-19 vaccine article, my confidence in Mayo Clinic to give objectively reliable, factual information could be described as “mythical.”

 

 

 

William Lane Craig Takes the Wind from Old Earth Creationist Hermeneutical Sails

While I have a huge amount of respect for William Lane Craig, there was not much doubt in my mind that I’d be disappointed by his conclusions when he announced his intention to turn his attention to researching the most plausible way to interpret the text of Genesis 1-11. After all, one of his most notable apologetic arguments is the Kalam Cosmological argument which capitalizes on the currently accepted secular scientific theory of the origin of the universe- the Big Bang. My suspicion that Craig would dismiss the Young Earth Creationist interpretation turned out to be well founded. What I did not expect, however, was the blow his conclusion would deal to two of Old Earth Creationists’ most celebrated defenders: Hugh Ross and John Walton.

 

William Lane Craig


Craig’s long awaited scholarly opinion was delivered in Part 27 of his Defender’s Class on the subject of Creation and Evolution, which was the summary and conclusion of the hermeneutical section “on the exploration of creation and evolutionary theory.” Dr. Craig explains that he has surveyed “quite a range of alternatives available to the Bible believing Christian which have been advanced by evangelical scholars” in the previous installments of his class and has concluded that he finds two to be the most plausible:

“It seems to me that the two most plausible interpretive options are the literal, Young Earth Creationist interpretation and the mytho-historical interpretation. Of the two, I find the mytho-historical interpretation to provide a better genre analysis of Genesis 1-11 for the reasons I have stated and therefore to be the better of the two options.”

Let’s unpack what that means.

What is hermeneutics?

I like the simple definition Tim Chaffey gives in his article for Answers in Genesis, “How Should We Interpret the Bible Part 1“:

“Hermeneutics (from the Greek word hermeneuo, which means to explain or interpret) is the branch of theology that focuses on identifying and applying sound principles of biblical interpretation.”

Of course, things can certainly get complicated quickly once one delves into how the various principles of hermeneutics are applied to correctly interpret Scripture. But the point is, hermeneutics is primarily a textual consideration of how to interpret Scripture. Outside influences such as that of modern science are of no consequence. Or, at least, they shouldn’t be. Ironically, Craig agrees with that sentiment in his answer to a questioner titled “The Historical Adam“:

“There is an almost irresistible tendency to allow science to guide our biblical interpretation. This sort of interpretive approach to Scripture is often called ‘concordism.’ Beginning with what modern science tells us about the origin of the world and mankind, we approach the biblical text and read that science into the text, or, at least, read the text in such a way that it comports with modern science. The flaws in such a hermeneutic are obvious…”

Of course, the irony is Craig’s discussion in this very lecture, that he gives the mytho-historical interpretation greater weight due to the consideration of scientific evidence which he makes clear he accepts as irrefutable fact.

Is Dr. Craig open to the YEC Interpretation?

One might assume that Dr. Craig would be open to considering what he views as the 2nd most plausible interpretation of Genesis 1-11 as, in fact, the correct interpretation. Not so.

For example, in response to one audience member who astutely mentioned that many of the conclusions of modern day science are based on models that offer predictions of the past rather than testable, repeatable, and observable results, Craig answers:

“What I would say is, in light of modern science, history, and linguistics the literalistic interpretation is falsified. So, one isn’t assuming that it’s false. Rather, it’s saying that in light of the evidence we have, it’s been falsified. There was no world-wide flood a few thousand years ago that destroyed all terrestrial life.”

On creation science in general and the theories presented in some of Dr. Jonathan Sarfati’s work in particular, Craig states:

“This is crank science and Christians should not be attracted to it.”

Despite his glib and misguided remarks directed at creation science, I view Dr. Craig’s hermeneutical assessment of Genesis 1-11 as a boon for Young Earth Creationists if used in the proper way. Specifically, within the context of apologetic defenses of the young earth interpretation over and against the old earth interpretation.

What are the ramifications?

How many of us have heard Christians who take an old earth interpretation of Scripture say something like, “Sure I believe in the Big Bang. I just know who banged it!”, and the evolutionary theory equivalent declarations? Truly, on an extremely superficial level those statements may seem to work. But, that’s the problem. They quickly unravel when one begins to thoughtfully read Genesis 1-11.

Many Christians who make these remarks don’t realize the conclusions that must follow if one has any intentions of attempting to maintain a logically consistent view of Scripture. The Big Bang and Evolution come with baggage that render them diametrically opposed to the biblical creation account which teaches that: Adam and Eve are the literal progenitors of the human race, the global flood destroyed all terrestrial life on earth other than Noah, his family, and the animals on board the ark, and the origin of all the world’s languages was the confusion of language at Babel- just to name a few.

Proponents of the Old Earth Creation view go to great lengths in an effort to harmonize these Scriptural historical events with the secular scientific view that claims to have debunked each one of them as an impossibility. Craig spent the first 26 installments of his series discussing these interpretive efforts. He doesn’t have a very high view of most of them. Citing his “The Historical Adam” article again:

“I suspect that many of the outlandish interpretations of the opening chapters of Genesis (e.g., so-called ‘functional creation’ or the day-age theory) are motivated by the dread fear that biblical theology pursued independently of modern science would reveal that the Young Earth Creationists are right, and, hence, the task of the systematic theologian becomes hopeless.”

The common refrain of all these theorists can be summed up in this quote from the esteemed Norman Geisler which I am citing from another of Chaffey’s articles:

“It seems plausible the universe is billions of years old…there is no demonstrated conflict between Genesis 1-2 and scientific fact…a literal interpretation of Genesis is consistent with a universe that is billions of years old” (Geisler 2003, 650) (emphasis mine)

And therein lies the rub! Old Earth Creationists want to affirm a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 while also affirming billions of years and all the conclusions of modern day secular science. Many Christians are effectively lulled into complacency by the assurances of some of our most well respected and trusted theologians that one can comfortably affirm them all. It is this notion that Dr. Craig’s conclusion has intellectually quashed. The result should be a reality check to fans of the interpretation methods of Hugh Ross and John Walton.

What does Craig have to say about the methods of Ross and Walton? Suffice it to say, he doesn’t mince words.

Contra Ross

 

Hugh Ross

Ross proposes that the text of Scripture can be understood to refer to a local flood event. Referencing Ross’s book “Navigating Genesis,” Craig sums up this view, then gives his response:

“Ross argues that the flood was intended to be merely a local flood in Mesopotamia. I am like our previous questioner [a young earth advocate from the audience] though here who said that the language of Genesis 6-9 just doesn’t seem consistent with a local flood. It talks about how all life under the heavens was destroyed. And the picture there is that the world is returned to the primordial state of Genesis 1 verse 2 where it was covered by this primeval ocean, and then, as you were, creation begins anew with Noah and his family afterwards and the animals on board the ark. So, as much as I would like a local flood interpretation to be true I just can’t convince myself that it is the correct reading of the passage…”

And that’s not all. Craig considers attempts such as Ross’s to localize Biblical events to be a literalistic attempt to “save the truth.” He explains:

“Now again, it’s very interesting. What the literalists often do is to try to localize the phenomenon in order to save it…’Oh well, there wasn’t a world-wide flood, it was a local flood. It isn’t the origin of the world’s languages [Babel], it’s really just that the people at that Babylonian ziggurat had their languages confused’… So, I appreciate the motivation. I feel it myself! I want to affirm that these stories are true, but I don’t think you can save the truth by the device of trying to interpret them as merely local events. As our friend…said, I don’t think the language of the narratives are going to permit that…This is a consistent hermeneutical pattern. You try to save the truth by localizing it. And I’m not persuaded that’s legit…”

To summarize in comic book lingo:

 

 

 

Seriously though. Ouch. But, this is an echo of what YECs have been saying all along about the OEC mishandling of the text of Genesis 1-11.

Contra Walton

John Walton

Craig explains that in Walton’s book, “The Lost World of the Flood,” he and his co-author Tremper Longman reject Ross’s interpretation in favor of the view that the author of Genesis was intentionally employing the use of hyperbole and exaggeration in these accounts for effect. Walton and Longman argue that the initial hearers would have immediately understood the author’s point and easily recognized his intended use of literary device due to the obvious outlandishness of the events. He gives the example of the ark which, due to its sheer size, would have been an impossibility for Noah to build.

To this explanation Craig replies:

“Now, I’m not persuaded that Walton and Longman are right in saying this is mere hyperbole. That seems overly simplistic to me…”

Craig delves deeper in his Reasonable Faith podcast John Walton’s view of Genesis, Part 2 in which he explains:

Walton’s view…is that Genesis 1 does not describe God’s bringing into existence these various objects and organisms over the course of the six-day creation week. Rather, he thinks it is merely the specification of certain functions for the objects and organisms that have been there for an indeterminate amount of time that already exist.”

“On Walton’s view, if you travel back in time in your time machine and came out during the creation week (however long ago that was) you wouldn’t see anything coming into existence. The dinosaurs, man, the sun and the stars, they’d all be there just fine, be an ecosystem that was working, and nothing spectacular would be happening…”

Of course, YECs will object that this is just not the way the text reads at all. Craig wholeheartedly agrees:

“…this view of Genesis 1 is enormously implausible because it would require us to take as literally false all of the statements about the primordial darkness, the primeval ocean, the emergence of dry land from the ocean, the Earth’s bringing forth vegetation and fruit trees, the waters bringing forth sea creatures, the Earth bringing forth animals, God’s making man…They have to be reinterpreted in some sort of functional way, and it seems to me that that is enormously implausible…I’m simply saying that this is not the way the text reads on the surface. It’s incredible to read it this way. So the proponent of the functional interpretation would have to have some enormous proof here that we’re to think that only functional interpretation is involved here…I don’t think there is any such proof.”

What does this supposed anthropocentric function add to their scientific functions? The vegetation served the terrestrial animals as food. The sun served to divide day from night, just as Genesis says, to mark times and years and seasons and so forth. It’s not clear to me that these things weren’t already functioning in these ways.”

After addressing additional shortcomings of the view, Craig concludes by urging caution to those who are tempted to adopt Walton’s functional interpretation:

“…you’ve got to be careful…You are hooking your star to a very idiosyncratic and widely rejected interpretation of these Genesis narratives, and one that is not only unjustified but I think enormously implausible.”

Where Does This Leave Us?

In almost all scenarios, one of the most compelling evidences to the accuracy of an argument is the corroboration of a hostile witness. When it comes to the literal, Young Earth Creationist interpretation of Genesis 1-11, William Lane Craig fits the bill of ideal hostile witness. He is certainly qualified to weigh in on the issue, yet no one could confuse him for a proponent or even sympathizer of the Young Earth Creationist interpretation. It wouldn’t even be exaggerating to say that he is reviled by it. Moreover, Craig expresses multiple times in his lecture that he empathizes greatly with the motivation OECs feel to harmonize Scripture with the modern day secular interpretation of scientific evidence. However, when it comes to the task of rigorously examining the hermeneutical possibilities the text presents, he is honest enough to admit that popular old earth theories such as those proposed by Ross and Walton are just not legitimately convincing. Therefore, Craig’s conclusion adds significant weight to the YEC counter to the common OEC claim that hermeneutical approaches which read long ages into Genesis 1-11 are equal or superior to the plausibility of the YEC straight forward accounting of time presented in the text.