Open Letter

Observations on the Article by Brother Ferrell Jenkins
entitled, "Connie W. Adams, Shane Scott, Tim Haile, Miracles, Truth Magazine, and the CD"

Bill H. Reeves

 


(Editor's Note: This article is a review of Ferrell Jenkins' article, noted in the title. You may, for context, wish to read Jenkins' article first. In fact, brother Reeves specifically requests that you do so, and suggests that you print out the article for comparison as you read his review. The article can be accessed by clicking here.)


Much of the article is directed to the ones named above, and, of course, they can (have or will) speak for themselves. I will direct my remarks to such matters as evasive attitude, and tactics, used by brother Jenkins. His article, he says, is "about some inconsistencies, even hypocritical conduct I have observed recently". Well, "thou art the man" (2 Sam. 12:7).

  1. Complaining about what he calls "A New Criticism" in the Open Letter signed by 67 gospel preachers, he says, "If Hill Roberts taught evolution at Florida College in Feb., 1999, I said I disagreed with it in my speech (Feb., 2000). That should clear me. 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. There is no teacher at Florida College who believes or advocates a naturalistic origin of the universe".

    Brother Jenkins begins his evasion of the real issue, which he calls "A New Criticism". No one in this controversy has ever even remotely accused any brother of believing and advocating evolution (although admittedly, attention has been brought to the fact that some are using arguments made by atheistic and theistic evolutionists, specially in reference to the inanimate part of the creation). No one has accused anyone of believing that the universe had a "naturalistic origin"! Let our evasive brother disprove this by citing the words of those who have so accused our brethren of such. All of us in this controversy know, agree, and affirm that Jehovah God is the Origin of the Creation. The issue is over the length of the days of Genesis 1, as relates to the six days of creation, and over whether or not natural processes were utilized by God over vast lengths of time, before, during or between the six days of creation, in the development and formation of the inanimate part of the creation, to bring all to the state of the universe as we know it today.

    "There, I said it again", says brother Jenkins, repeating the exact statement about "naturalistic origin". He could repeat it a thousand times, and a thousand times he would be misrepresenting the issue! The issue is not over the "origin" of the Creation, but over some brethren giving uniformitarian explanations for the development and final formation of the earth to make it suitable for man's occupation! All such talk about origins involving evolution is a smokescreen, an evasive tactic.

  2. Then, in his article, another evasive tactic follows: "I suppose this is why it was important for me to denounce a CD that is said to have contained material that advocated the theory of evolution. Let's buy into this line of reasoning for a while and see where it leads". He then shows us what he "found in Truth Magazine" (an advertisement of Burton Coffman's CD, and what in particular is erroneously taught therein in reference to 1 Cor. 7:15).

    Brother Jenkins hopes that his readers will not see his evasive tactic. In the first place, no one has called for him to "denounce a CD", but for his simply warning that there is unscriptural teaching on that particular CD, inasmuch as it was distributed on the campus of Florida College during Hill Roberts' presentation of other material (to which there has been no objection of which I am aware) during the Lectures of 1999. The close association that one would naturally make between Roberts' lectures, and the contents of his CD, demanded the expediency that the college officials make a statement to disassociate themselves from the admitted false teachings on the CD. This is all that the "new criticism" was requesting on that particular. It could have been done in simple fashion, and long ago, but to date it has not been done! Brother Roberts used the strategy of speaking only the truth during his verbal presentations (and with admitted expertise) but of advocating his false doctrines on the Creation by means of the "silent" CD distributed before and after his lectures.

    In the second place, brother Jenkins purposely confuses the circumstances of the CD's distribution, with error that appears in published works and CDs that businesses, like Truth Magazine (and, the Florida College Bookstore, which brother Jenkins could just as well have used for his illustration) sell. There is no parallel whatsoever. How desperately brother Jenkins is thrashing about! He believes (or, at least is "inclined to think" that he does) that the six days of Creation in Genesis 1 are literal "six periods of 24 hours each", but he is not going to expose the falsity of brother Roberts' CD which denies that Genesis 1 so teaches. He is simply going to take the stance that businesses (like Truth Magazine, and I'll add Florida College Bookstore) sell products containing false doctrine, so for that reason he is not obligated to expose the false doctrine of Hill Roberts, although he was a featured speaker on the 1999 Lectureship. Everyone buying a book from Truth Magazine and from the Florida College Bookstore expects the possibility of finding material therein which might be in error, but when speakers are used at the Lectures, who aside from their lectures personally distribute false doctrine on the campus, people are not likely to be so on guard. Once the matter was brought to the attention of Florida College personnel, it was expedient that said personnel disassociate themselves from the false doctrine advanced on the CD, and thus assure the many, concerned, long-time supporters of Florida College that they do not approve of it. But that did not, and has not, happened. Rather, articles have been published on brother Jenkins' web site, complaining about what he calls the "new criticism" and using writers such as Tom Couchman, and Hill Roberts, in defense of Florida College's posture in the matter. It makes one wonder on whose side Florida College is! True friends of many years of Florida College are being lambasted (principally by brother Jenkins) while Couchman and Roberts are being used on brother Jenkins' web site as a defense. Strange, indeed!

  3. Brother Jenkins' article brings up the matter of miracles, and whether or not they are instantaneous. Others are, or will be, writing on this particular subject. But, what is brother Jenkins' point in all this? He is hard to follow. I keep reading his article over and over at this point, and again find him thrashing about. He wants to make the 67 signers look bad in inconsistencies. He complains that they believe all miracles are instantaneous and he agrees that "most of the miracles of the Bible are". He even states that "The creation of the inanimate universe was instantaneous (Gen. 1:1)", and that "I agree that the miracle of Mark 2 was instantaneous".

    Brother Jenkins is all over the place on this matter of miracles. On the one hand he wants to "make it clear that I think there is sufficient evidence in Genesis 1 for me to conclude that the 'days' are literal, solar days". So, the miraculous of the six days of Creation did not take billions of years to operate. This is, of course, the truth set forth in Ps. 33:9. Yet, he immediately affirms that "There is good biblical evidence that day 7 may not be a literal 24-hour day". The whole purpose of denying the instantaneous nature of miracles is to get billions of years into the "formation" of the inanimate part of the creation. What else could be the purpose? The argument goes like this: Most miracles in the Bible were instantaneous. Some are not. So, the miracles of the creation account were ongoing for billions of years. But, where's the proof? It is someone's ipse dixit, and denial of the obvious teaching of such passages as Exod. 20:8-11; Ps. 33:6,9; Mark 10:6.

    Brother Jenkins tells us that there is "sufficient evidence" in Genesis 1 to conclude that the days are literal, solar days, and we 67 signers of the Open Letter certainly agree, and we wonder why it is not sufficient for Couchman, Roberts, et al. But then in the same paragraph, brother Jenkins affirms that "there is good biblical evidence" for the 7th day, the one following the Creation (Genesis 1), as a day not being a literal 24-hour day. Does brother Jenkins accept this "good biblical evidence"? Is this what he believes as a result of this "good biblical evidence"? Where does he stand? Or, maybe he is saying that in spite of "sufficient evidence" and of "good biblical evidence", we can all believe what we want, and there should be unity! Shades of Carl Ketcherside (who from decades ago promoted the idea of unity in diversity)!

  4. In our brother's article (see his paragraph entitled, "Could Truth Magazine Give Away Coffman's CD?"), he then favors us with a list of rhetorical questions which, in his judgment, simply cannot be answered by the signers of the Open Letter without engaging themselves in self-condemnation. "My, My!" he says. According to him, we signers have really woven a web for ourselves! Let's see.

    Businesses, whether a publishing company, or a college, certainly can give away any written material, or CDs, which they desire to distribute. The circumstances of what is given away, and the purpose of such free distribution, is always stated or implied. Brother Jenkins knows that there is neither problem nor inconsistency here. He tries to equate such with what happened on the Florida College campus with Hill Roberts' free distribution of his CD which contains false doctrine and denial of plain, Bible passages. Because of the obvious association of the college's having used him as a featured speaker (4 different hours scheduled for his presentations), with his free distribution of his false doctrine on the CD, many good brethren immediately saw the need for the ones who arranged for his lectures to make it clear that they do not agree with his false doctrine, or, if they do agree with it, to say so. Anything "webby" about this? Only in brother Jenkins' mind.

  5. Let us look at brother Jenkins' paragraph, entitled "Could Florida College Sell Hill Roberts' CD for $39.95"

    Yes, dear brother, businesses, like Florida College, may stock and sell what they want. It is understood that the reader is buying and using the products at his own discretion. Yes, Florida College could rent space in the Publisher's Display to "both brother Roberts and the Guardian of Truth bookstores", because the people visiting and doing business with the displayers would be acting at their own discretion. Given the present controversy over Roberts and his known false doctrine (which even brother Jenkins rejects), whether or not it would be expedient for Florida College to rent space to Roberts, is another issue. They might choose to do it with specific disclaimers. But would Florida College rent space to the Southern Baptist Convention, or to the Papacy of Rome, or even to businesses run by institutional brethren? Of course not, because of the obvious association there would be with known promoters of false doctrine. The Publisher's Display feature is understood to be for the general advertisement of businesses run by "faithful" or "conservative" brethren (who on different issues, not involving fellowship, might have disagreements). Would Florida College rent space to brethren promoting Premillenialism? Instrumental music in worship? The Community Church concept?

  6. The long list of examples which brother Jenkins composed, concerning different items advertised for sale in Truth Magazine, is designed to show some perceived inconsistencies on the part of the brethren who signed the open letter, since they are in agreement with its contents. There is no inconsistency at all; this has been explained already as we noted that what businesses (such as Florida College Bookstore) sell, and the circumstances surrounding the lectures of Hill Roberts and his distribution of his CD which contains error, are not parallel in the least. I need not go over that again here.

    We observe just here that this whole article by brother Jenkins is an exercise in diversionary tactics! He is frantically trying to keep his readers off the real issue, which concerns the six days of creation, Genesis 1, by giving us page after page of "some inconsistencies, even hypocritical conduct". And, what would all that prove, except that some brethren are inconsistent and even hypocritical? Would it justify Florida College's (a) keeping a teacher who believes and teaches publicly that the six days of Genesis 1 are not literal, 24-hour, consecutive days, (b) using Hill Roberts to lecture while distributing false doctrine on campus by means of his CD, yet not repudiating that false doctrine on the CD, and (c) allowing the head of the Bible Department to tolerate the teaching of false positions, regarding the creation days of Genesis 1, without exposing the falsity of them?

    Parents are not sending their children to Florida College in order that they might hear different "views" or "options" concerning Bible doctrines, without any denunciation or refutation of that which is false. They are sending them, in particular as respects the Bible courses, to be taught the truth, while also learning to recognize false doctrine on certain Bible subjects. They are not being sent in order for the teachers to act like the humanistic-styled "facilitators, conveners and co-discoverers", terms used by the humanists in avoidance of the term "teacher" (a term which implies absolute truths to be taught as authoritative). If parents simply wanted their children to be exposed to all forms of ungodly doctrine pertaining to the Creation, they would send them to ACU.

    Bible courses at Florida College have always included material on premillenialism and institutionalism, and other "isms", giving the students different "views" held and passages employed, while at the same time giving the students Bible refutations of the false positions or doctrines. This is the education of the Florida College that we have always supported. Now, one of its Bible teachers, brother Shane Scott, after he teaches on the Creation, says that "on the exam in which I test the students over the material in Genesis 1, the question I ask is this: 'Choose one of the four interpretations of Genesis 1 and defend it'". Where is the denunciation and refutation of error being taught on Genesis 1? Which other error will be next to receive this new kind of treatment in the Bible courses? It's later than we think!

  7. The last two sections of brother Jenkins' article, Where It All Leads, and, What Will Truth Magazine Do About This?, are a continuation of his dodging of the issue and his employing of diversionary tactics. No, neither Truth Magazine, nor Florida College Bookstore, will "stop advertising all of these books and CD's". Brother Jenkins knew that before he asked his question, and he also knows why, but he is hoping that his readers won't discern his sophistry in evading the real issue at hand, which has been laid out to him repeatedly in plain language.

    The thrust of his article is to get people's minds on brother Jenkins' perceived inconsistencies and hypocrisies of good brethren, and off the real issue. This is a carnal tactic, and as such damages the credibility of our brother whom we all have admired in the past. His diversionary course of action in this controversy, and some of the language and implications used at times in reference to his brethren who are sounding a genuine warning, make no contribution to resolve the issue at hand, and no doubt are causing many good brethren to be disconcerted and left wondering.

    Can he expect discerning brethren to continue to accept his headship of the Bible Department at Florida College as long as his strongest stance on the six days of the Genesis creation account is expressed in these words of his: "I'm inclined to think"? His plea for tolerance of opposing views on the Creation question, and for avoidance of being "crisis-minded", as relates to the Creation issue, is putting him into the "unity-in-adversity" camp. Where will all of this take the college very shortly? No wonder dismay has taken hold of so many!

Apart from the above observations which I have made on brother Jenkins' article, I would like to conclude my remarks, sounding a warning against the very possible invasion of Modernism in our ranks in this day and time.

One of the principal tactics of classic modernism is the sowing of doubt in the mind of the opponent. Modernists ask: "Can we be sure that ....? Are there no alternate explanations? Can we afford to be dogmatic about ....? Is there any need to create a crisis here? Do not highly educated and respected persons believe that ....? Then, different "views" are presented as equally valid or possible, but no rejection of any is presented. Those who insist on the "traditional, fundamental, literal, etc." position are depicted in a bad light (among other things, they are portrayed as inconsistent and hypocritical, detractors employing vehemence), while those who hold to the "enlightened, scientifically-approved" position are praised. Toleration is pleaded by Modernism, which means toleration of error, but in the final analysis, no toleration of truth. Inclusiveness is pleaded, but once the majority sides with those in error, the opponent will be included no longer.

Modernists write their own definitions. Although they deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave, every Easter they preach on the resurrection! But, what do they mean by "resurrection"? They mean that, when a person incorporates in his life the spirit or disposition of Jesus, that is Jesus "resurrected" in that person!

So it is that when some brethren claim to believe in the six days of the Genesis Creation, what they mean by that is that those days are to be understood according to their definition of "days", which involves great lengths of time according the geologic time-table.

I see the first steps of classic modernism being taken among us. After a few more funerals of old-timers, then "brilliant young minds' (as Ketcherside was want to say) will take over, numerically, and the rent will become a rupture without remedy! Later, brethren will ask: When did it all start?

We all know that our educational-system today is run by humanists and their promotion of "self-esteem". One state I know of requires, at the beginning of the school year, that the teachers read a statement to the children which says that no child shall be obligated to answer a question put to him by the teacher. No one is to be embarrassed at the chalk or marker board in this new educational-system. We see the "dumbing-down" of America as tests standards are lowered to make it easier for students to display good grades. Students no longer have to earn their grades, and teachers are not allowed to insist, in a way to which the students would object and complain, that they do so. Many times test-answers are supplied with the test, and then the questions at test-time are simply shuffled. This godless philosophy demands that the teacher recognize that the student is always right. He can beat up on a teacher so badly that he has to be hospitalized, while the student must be allowed to shortly return to school as if nothing had happened. These are things that are becoming commonplace in our public schools. The present educational climate is turning out students with good grades but little or no education. This we do not want to see happen to Florida College.

We urge President Caldwell, specially inasmuch as he, in his duties as an educator, must associate in the circle of this above-mentioned philosophy, that he assure us with strong affirmations, and in no uncertain terms, that strict discipline among the students will always be administered under his administration, that there will always be strict testing and assessments of the students, that teachers always will be upheld in their enforcement of such tried and tested rules of education, and that there will be no toleration of presentation of views on biblical matters which are false without there being also a denunciation and refutation of the false views. Such characterized the Florida College of the past; let us all be assured that nothing has changed. We urge our brother to tell us that the college, under his leadership as President, will fold before it will succumb to the policies of this-world Academia. This is not asking too much, specially since "we are brethren" (Gen. 13:8).

If anyone portrays me as being at enmity with Florida College, or as a "detractor" using "vehemence", he lies. Was not my wife and I honored publicly just a few Lectureships back for having sent more children (8) to Florida College than any other parent? Did not two of my grandchildren graduate from Florida College this year? Am I become someone's enemy because I speak the truth? Please, my plea is only that the college continue in the future with the good name it has had from the beginning, staying its course, regardless of pressures from culture, humanism, and erring brethren. I have not the least desire that brethren Shane Scott nor Ferrell Jenkins, nor any other, be dismissed from his post. I, and a host of others, want only that the school stay its previous course! I am everything to Florida College but a "detractor"; I am a long-time friend of the college that I have known in the past. Its detractors are those who would loose it from these moorings to chart a different course!