Open Letter

Response to Ferrell Jenkins

Tim Haile

 


(Editor's Note: This article is reprinted from the Gospel Anchor web site, with permission. The URL for the Gospel Anchor web site is: http://www.gospelanchor.com. It is a response to the article written by Ferrell Jenkins, entitled: "Connie W. Adams, Shane Scott, Tim Haile, Miracles, Truth Magazine and the CD." Jenkins article can be read by clicking here. The reader is encouraged to read that article in connection with this one.)


Where Does Brother Jenkins Stand?

     Brother Jenkins has had several great opportunities to clear the air and tell us exactly where he stands on this issue. Instead, he is continuously shifting the issue to something that it is not. I find the course of this controversy very interesting considering the fact that my original concerns were not over brother Jenkins' views at all! I was concerned about those of Hill Roberts and Shane Scott. Whether he intended this or not, brother Jenkins' actions have done nothing but shift attention away from the teachings of Roberts and Scott and focused it on other things. It appears as though Jenkins has thrown himself on the proverbial grenade in an effort to spare these men. This course of action may have succeeded in drawing fire away from Roberts and Scott, but it has also weakened brother Jenkins' own position. It has caused him to use questionable methods and arguments. It only creates confusion.

     Before his latest writings on this subject I was confident that brother Jenkins accepted the truth of six, literal and consecutive days of creation, however, I now have serious concerns about his understanding. Through all that he has said on this subject I have yet to see where brother Jenkins has plainly acknowledged that the earth was created in six, literal, 24 hour, consecutive days. For example, in his lecture on "The 'Days' of Genesis 1," brother Jenkins stated the following:

     This statement has satisfied some; however, I find three things wrong with it:

     1. Brother Jenkins failed to specify "consecutive" days in his statement of belief. This is quite significant seeing that many "Gap" theorists believe the creation days were literal days. The problem is that they also believe millions of years were sandwiched in between those days. This lack of specificity and clarity is also seen in brother Jenkins' recent debate proposition. In his recent article, "The Creation Controversy and Florida College," he proposed, and promised to affirm the following:

     In view of the current controversy, it would be difficult for me to believe that brother Jenkins simply failed to consider the inadequacies of this proposition. What kind of "days" were these, brother Jenkins? Any "Day Age" theorist would also affirm your proposition! Furthermore, did vast periods of time exist between each one of these days, or were they consecutive days? You see brother Jenkins, you have not been clear at all. Surely you are familiar with the present efforts of some to redefine the words used in Genesis 1. Surely you are aware of their attempt to ignore the rules of language and interpret the Genesis creation days as "figurative!" It is absolutely essential that we properly define our terms when discussing this matter, and especially when throwing around debate propositions. Failure to do so will result in confusion and misunderstanding.

A Better Proposition:

     Since brother Jenkins' proposition is so vague that anyone on either side of this controversy could affirm it, I would suggest the following improvements. Simply add the terms "literal," "twenty-four hour," and "consecutive," to the proposition, so that it reads as follows:

     Brother Jenkins, if you really do have great faith in the Genesis creation account, and if you really want brethren to know where you stand on this issue, you will not object to my modifications of your proposition. You should approve of them. If you will sign the revised debate proposition I will gladly moderate for you. Perhaps then, Shane Scott and Hill Roberts would be willing to sign in the negative, and the debate will be on! Let's do it! Truth will most certainly prevail. I'm ready - are you?

     2. Brother Jenkins said he was "inclined" to believe that the creation took place in six, twenty-four hour days. I found this rather strange. Is brother Jenkins merely "inclined" to believe in baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? Does he just lean toward that view? Is it a mere preference? Brother Jenkins, you have failed to address this subject with your usual precision and clarity. Being "inclined" toward a particular position is not the same as being convinced of it. Your claim to believe in six, literal days of creation is severely weakened by your indeterminate phrase. I can't tell what you believe about the days of creation.

     3. After stating that he was "inclined" to believe in six literal days of creation, brother Jenkins went on to say that he recognized that there are "problems" with this view. What "problems?" Moses certainly didn't have any "problem" with the view that the creation occurred in six, literal and consecutive days (Ex. 20:9-11). Isaiah and David had no "problem" with the view that all things were created "suddenly" (instantly) at God's command (Isa. 48:3; Ps. 33:6-9). By stating that there are problems with the literal view of the creation account, brother Jenkins attempts to remove the Genesis creation account from the realm of things that may be certainly believed. Brother Jenkins, I was wondering how you would respond to the fellow who says, "I recognize that there are problems with the view that baptism is for the remission of sins?"

Shifting the Issue

     In his article, "Connie W. Adams, Shane Scott, Tim Haile, Miracles, Truth Magazine and the CD," brother Jenkins attempts to shift the issue to a host of other matters. Rather than plainly stating his position on the days of creation, he alleges hypocrisy on the part of others and launches attacks against them. I shall examine these shifts in the remainder of this article.

     1. Brother Jenkins shifts the issue from the days of creation to the whole package of the theory of evolution. He wrote, "I had no idea that anyone would ever think I had ever entertained any idea of the truthfulness of the theory of evolution of either the animate or the inanimate universe." Brother Jenkins, your acknowledgment that you had "no idea" that anyone would ever think such provides no clarification of the matter whatsoever!

     2. Brother Jenkins shifts the issue from the development of the universe to the origin of the universe. The following statement immediately followed the above quote. The statement falls short of providing any explanation, and it actually raises more questions. Jenkins wrote:

     That's great brother Jenkins, but we aren't discussing origins! Both Shane Scott and Hill Roberts believe the universe had its origin with God. Have you not read? We are discussing, not the origin of the universe, but its development! We are discussing whether or not the days of Genesis one accommodate any of the views that would allow for a slow, uniformitarian development of the universe. I say they do not. Shane Scott, Tom Couchman and Hill Roberts say they do. What do you say?

     3. Brother Jenkins shifts the issue from the days of creation to the practices of publishing companies. At least four times in his article, brother Jenkins either quoted, or made reference to a statement that I had made in my July, 2000 Gospel Anchor article entitled: "Why I Signed The Open Letter." Brother Jenkins fairly provided the context of my statement, and I reproduce it here for the reader's convenience:

     The statement that brother Jenkins was especially fond of was my statement that "The presence of their name indicates their approval of the materials published in their paper, unless otherwise stated." Though he fairly quoted me in context, yet he has lifted my statement from that context and applied it to things I never intended. In context, my statement applied to religious articles that are published in gospel papers. Though editors and writers may disagree among themselves over inconsequential matters, yet differences over matters of faith cannot be ignored. Those editors, who publish and sign their names to magazines disseminating soul-damning error, will be held accountable for their failure or refusal to expose and repudiate that error.

     My statement, that Jenkins so frequently referenced, was never intended to apply to Book Retailers. Bookstores are businesses that are set up to provide a service and turn a profit. No reasonable human assumes that the store's owners, managers and workers agree with everything that is said in every book they sell. These stores make no claim that all of their literature "speaks where the Bible speaks and is silent where the Bible is silent!" Furthermore, it is also generally understood that no doctrinal compromise occurs when a gospel paper sells advertisement space to a bookstore. These advertisements do not necessarily imply agreement on the part of gospel writers with every teaching contained in every book that the store sells. It has been my experience that Christians, including myself, will often purchase false materials for the purpose of learning our opponent's arguments and thus sharpening our teaching skills. Truth loving individuals understand that truth shines more brightly when contrasted with error. Christian operated bookstores may sell such material for this express purpose. They merely provide a service.

     Brother Jenkins lifted my statement from its context, and wrongly applied it to Truth Magazine's practice of advertising religious materials in their paper. Some of these books and materials contain error, and brother Jenkins did a fine job of demonstrating this by his references to various errors contained in the Coffman Commentary CD. As I have already observed, bookstores have the right to sell, and Christians have the right to purchase religious materials, even when they contain errors. Because of his imagined equation of gospel papers with bookstores, brother Jenkins misapplies my statement. He misuses my statement in his attempt to apply it to the practice of a magazine selling advertisement space to bookstores.

     Brother Jenkins pointed out that Truth Magazine Bookstore sold the Coffman CD for $39.95, and he asked if it would be all right for the Florida College Bookstore to sell Hill Robert's CD for $39.95. Yes, it would be right. Like Truth Bookstore, the FC Bookstore is in business to sell reading materials. Purchasers will make their own decision as to what they buy and why they buy it. Naturally, we would hope that no Christian would ever purchase an erroneous book or CD for the purpose of assisting the false teacher who wrote that material! 2 John 9-11 warns against Christians deliberately assisting those who "bring not the doctrine of Christ."

     4. Brother Jenkins shifts from a discussion of the days of Genesis 1 to a discussion of the age of the earth. Brother Jenkins just cannot stay on track. Rather than joining the biblical discussion of the nature of the Genesis 1 days, brother Jenkins constantly switches to a discussion of the age of the earth. My policy has always been to first consider what God has said on a given subject, then attempt to harmonize all other considerations with those divinely revealed facts. Honest Bible students are not concerned about how old the earth is; they are concerned about whether or not the "Gap" and "Day Age" theories are scriptural. Whether or not we reach an accurate conclusion does have some bearing on our estimation of the earth's age. Those who hold an unscriptural view of the days of Genesis 1 will generally conclude that the earth is billions of years old. Those of us who accept passages like Moses' comparison of the days of creation to the days of a normal solar week (Ex. 20:9-11), are forced to conclude that the earth is much younger than this. However, the apparent age of the earth is not our first concern. Our primary concern is whether or not we believe what God tells us.

     5. Brother Jenkins shifts one's uncertainty as to how old the earth is to an affirmation of the "Gap" theory. I must say that even though he has not done this to me, I was very much disturbed by Ferrell's repeated charges that Jere Frost, James P. Needham and Don Martin "hold the Gap theory" of creation. All these men have done is to state that we do not know how old the earth is. From this statement, brother Jenkins extracts the notion that they accept the Gap theory! Ferrell appears to be compiling a list of alleged "Gap" theorists. He has also mentioned Foy E. Wallace, C.R. Nichol and R.L. Whiteside as taking this view. Actually, the only view they articulated was that they did not know how old the earth was. Brother Jenkins unilaterally defines this as the gap theory. Seems that Ferrell only defines terms when he wants to and in the way he wants to!

     Brother Jenkins liked another of my statements enough to twice quote it. I wrote, "Let's be consistent, brethren. It is 'inexcusable' to practice the very thing that you condemn in others" (Rom. 2:1). Brother Jenkins has complained about his treatment by others. Perhaps it is time for brother Jenkins to look in the mirror. His entire article was nothing but a witch-hunt for inconsistencies and an effort to use those alleged inconsistencies to pit good brother against brother.

Conclusion

     Throughout his article, Brother Jenkins relied upon my comment that a signature on a document is generally construed as constituting approval of that document, unless otherwise stated. Brother Jenkins' heavy reliance upon my quote comes back to haunt him, for in his article he quoted the false teaching that Coffman does on the creation and the miracle of Mark 8:22, yet he never stated his disagreement with this teaching. Brother Jenkins' name and a copyright insignia are found at the end of the article. Brother Jenkins, surely you remember my statement that you so frequently reproduced:

     Where do you stand, brother Jenkins? Do you agree with Coffman on the days of Genesis one?


email this author at timhaile@mindspring.com






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