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Days of Creation - Response and Rejoinder

The Author's Reply to Phil Roberts
Daniel H. King, Sr.


Editor's Note: The following article by Daniel King is a rejoinder to a response Phil Roberts wrote to the material written by brother King, appearing in the December 2001 issue of Watchman Magazine. To view the initial material, click here. To read Phil Roberts' response, click here.


I read Phil Robert’s recent response to the five articles I wrote for Watchman in absolute amazement. If he is now a friend of the literal view of the Genesis account, then it needs no critics, it needs no opponents, and it needs no enemies!

It is also passing strange that everything he has accused me of, he is himself guilty of in respect both to his original lecture, and to this present brief “review” which he has written. The difference between us, as is so very obvious from his cursory response to our series of articles, is that I have shown myself completely willing to discuss these matters in a public venue, while he prefers to talk about them behind closed doors in private meetings without tape recorders or others means for verification of precisely what was and was not said. With this in mind, let me take this opportunity to renew our offer for a public discussion of these issues with one or more of the principals involved. Phil’s recent speeches and writings, along with the clear declaration of his stance on the fellowship question, now makes him one of the principals. We therefore extend the offer to Phil. If he is willing to enter into a public discussion, let us begin the process of working out acceptable propositions, terms and conditions, to that end.

In his short response brother Roberts affirms that, “I have a long history (including my classes this year) of presenting the various interpretations of the days of Genesis 1 and noting that I accept the literal-day approach as the most natural reading of the text, though I would not argue that it is the only possible interpretation. I would also add here that I do not necessarily consider a brother unworthy of fellowship for considering or even accepting an alternative interpretation, as long as he respects the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures.” When Phil tells us that he treats the literal-day approach as “the most natural reading of the text, though I would not argue that it is the only possible interpretation,” he reveals far less about his own thinking than he does in the written materials which we have cited in our articles, less also than he did in the actual presentation last summer (See Marc Gibson’s letter below), and less than he reveals to his students in his college courses (See Harry Osborne’s letter below). Either brother Roberts is confused and does not know his own mind, or he is unwilling to admit the whole truth about his approach to the Genesis account for whatever reason.

I wonder if brother Phil presents the subject of “baptism for remission of sins” in the same fashion as he does the creation account of Genesis? If he were to do so, then I assure you that no one would be able to detect a bit of difference between Phil Roberts and the local Baptist preacher! Would the parents of students at Florida College want a teacher charged with the instruction of their children who taught on the subject of salvation in this manner? If not, then why should they be happy to know that their children are being taught about the creation account in this way?

Does he present a message on "the form of baptism" in a similar manner? If he were to do this, then most people would have an extremely difficult time distinguishing Phil Roberts from a Methodist preacher. Would the parents of students at Florida College want a teacher charged with the instruction of their children who taught on the subject of the mode of baptism in this manner? If not, then why should they be happy to know that their children are being taught about the creation account in this way?

What if Florida College had a teacher in the Bible department who presented all the views of the millennial question in the identical way that Phil Roberts presents the creation account? He sets forth Premillenialism, Postmillenialism, Amillenialism and the various dispensational views as equally valid ways of reading the biblical text. He declares that none of these approaches can claim exclusive right to the truth on the matter. But, he also saves all of his harshest criticisms for the Postmillenial and Amillenial views. He gives public lectures which excoriate those ways of viewing the Bible passages involved. His students and others often go away believing him to be a premillenialist or even a dispensationalist. But when he is questioned about his teachings, he passionately responds that he is not a premillenialist, and declares himself to be a victim of misrepresentation. He says he is an Amillenialist. Would anyone believe him, save his wife and closest friends (who might believe anything he says anyway)? Dear friends, change the topic from millennialism to the days of creation, and you have a portrait of brother Phil Roberts! I ask again: Would the parents of students at Florida College want a teacher charged with the instruction of their children who taught on the subject of the millenium in this manner? If not, then why should they be happy to know that their children are being taught about the creation account in this way?

All of his declarations to the contrary notwithstanding, brother Roberts still must explain the language he used in those handouts (which thing he has refused now to do), and give a reason why the one who proof-read the material I wrote before it was published (who was in the group who heard the oral presentation) would have been left with the identical impressions this writer was given. Phil claims he did not give the lecture we reviewed, but apparently others heard in person the same one we reconstructed from his handouts. Read the attached letter from Marc Gibson, who heard the lectures firsthand and made corrections to our manuscript before it was published. How can we reconcile this with Phil’s present claim that he holds the literal-day view?

And, how could some of brother Roberts’ students who have heard his classes which deal with the creation, be left with the same impression also? (Read the attached letter from Harry Osborne, who lives in the Tampa Bay area and often interacts with students who attend at the college.) Could it be that his class presentations on this subject at Florida College, just like the one he gave at the Pickup school, lean so heavily toward the Day-Age theory and are so critical of the literal view that others are “misunderstanding” him as well?

The one thing which is almost always consistent about those who teach doctrinal error is that early on in the reviews of their efforts, those who oppose their teachings are said to be guilty of “misrepresentation” and they themselves are always hapless victims of “misunderstanding.” In the early stages of the spread of error there is little sympathy for it. Its advocates are loathe to declare themselves publicly. Few people are able to detect how far out they have gone until the ground is sufficiently prepared for their eventual “coming out of the closet.” It is not until years later that sleeping brethren begin to awaken to how far some people have gone in their “Journey Toward Jesus,” or whatever they call their own particular spiritual pilgrimage.

Brother Roberts may attempt to turn the tables and place the blame on myself and others like me if he would like, but this entire present controversy really falls back upon him. I did not initiate an attack upon Phil Roberts or his views. Phil initiated an assault upon my writings. He is the one who wrote those handouts. He is the one who delivered those messages. He is the one who is doing all he can in his speeches and lectures to make plenty of room in the hearts and minds of the Lord's people (and especially the students at FC) for these competing views of the creation, posited by his brother Hill and those like him, and at the same time attempt with all of his might and mane to poke holes in the literal approach to Genesis 1.

But now he says he actually holds to the literal view! Sorry, but his claim rings pretty empty to me. All of the evidence, except for his assertion, is on the other side of the case. A brief denial, along with a declaration that he does not intend to discuss the matter further (“Beyond this clarification, it does not seem expedient to respond to arguments made against a lecture that, at least as described in Dan’s articles, I did not give”), provides us with no reason whatsoever to ascribe to him the view he says he believes.

Unfortunately, I also am quite confident that it will do precious little to calm the disquiet that many others feel after having read the extensive quotations which we provided from his charts and handouts, and which he steadfastly refuses to explain. Phil’s own words are the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head -- not our review of them.


Statement Regarding Phil Roberts’ Teaching on Creation
By Harry Osborne

Though I had hoped for changes at Florida College leading to an unambiguous defense of the literal interpretation of the Bible’s creation account, I have been disappointed to see a continued defense of those teaching a non-literal interpretation of the creation account and a denunciation of those upholding the literal interpretation. Phil Roberts has clearly exemplified this approach. Last summer, brother Roberts spoke at a series of classes meeting on the Florida College campus which was arranged by Harry Pickup, Jr. In that class, Phil publicly attacked those who wrote the “Open Letter” exposing the error taught by his brother, Hill Roberts. Having authored the “Open Letter” together with Dan King, I would have hoped that Phil would discuss his charges with me before making his attacks in a forum to which I had no access. (I had discussed my objection to his brother’s teaching directly with Hill before dealing with it publicly. I also privately expressed my objection to the erroneous teaching on this issue by others at Florida College before publicly reviewing such.)

The fact that Phil Roberts aimed his assaults at those who uphold the literal interpretation of creation while defending those who reject that literal interpretation makes clear who he sees as deserving of censure. I might add that brethren Buddy Payne and Dan Petty, members of the Florida College administration, were both present at the aforementioned series of classes. I approached brother Petty about the reports of Phil’s teaching and asked to discuss it with him. To this point, he has not responded.

Reports from Phil Roberts’ freshman Bible class have been consistent with his actions in the summer series. Though I am not a student in his classes, several reports from those in his class have related his repeated statements regarding “difficulties” with the literal view. I was specifically asked about the presentation of “difficulties” wherein the literal account of creation seems to be at variance with supposed scientific data suggesting uniformitarian change of the physical universe over vast amounts of time not consistent with the literal interpretation of creation. The consistent report has been that Phil concentrated upon the “difficulties” of the literal view without aiding students to resolve those “difficulties,” but rather used those unresolved “difficulties” as the basis for a plea that our fellowship should not be affected whether we believe and teach the literal view or a non-literal view. (Those non-literal views are presented as optional interpretations.) Though the administration of Florida College is aware of Phil’s teaching on this issue, he continues in place to teach the same classes in the future. How very sad it is that a class which should build faith that “the worlds have been framed by the word of God” would instead foster seeds of doubtful difficulties which question the Bible declaration that “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Heb. 11:3; Psa. 33:9).


Letter From Marc Gibson, Dated 12-11-2001

Dan,

Interesting statement by Phil. He indeed did say in the class that the literal day position is the “natural reading” of the text, but he showed us every reason why we should not be convinced that it is the absolute truth taught in the passage. He argued against the literal day position as being the only possible interpretation of the passage. It is just one of several positions argued by scholars and brethren. When I presented him with the major argument from scripture that confirms the literal day position as the truth (Ex. 20:11), he said that it was not convincing enough to prove the literal 6-day position as the exclusive truth. Nobody can absolutely say what Genesis 1 means. None of the arguments given for the literal day position, or supporting scriptures, are convincing enough to settle the issue of what Genesis 1 teaches as to the days of creation. I can attest to this being his consistent teaching at the Pickup school.

                Thanks,
                Marc

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