Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Bruce Gurd misrepresents evolutionary creationism

Recently, Christadelphian fundamentalist brother Bruce Gurd lectured the Cumberland ecclesia on the subject of evolutionary creationism. Unfortunately, his lecture grossly misrepresented evolutionary creationism (despite him consulting someone who told him his presentation was a misrepresentation of the EC view). Additionally, it advanced views at variance with traditional Christadelphian positions.

Bruce's main target was the Facebook discussion group 'Christadelphian - Origins Discussion', abbreviated as COD in the rest of this post. The following comparison demonstrates that brother Bruce's claims about what Christadelphians believe are actually contrary to what Christadelphians have both believed and taught.

1. "COD Teaches: Genesis 1 is not a literal record at all, but written to combat myths of the day." (Bruce Gurd, 2015)

Leaving aside the fact that COD does not teach 'Genesis 1 is not a literal record at all' (COD's position is merely that Genesis 1 is not strictly literal), brother Bruce seems unaware that the understanding of Genesis 1 as a polemic against pagan myths of the day was taught over 100 years ago by brother Walker:
"And, as we believe, it [Genesis 1] was given (by God through Moses), not so much to instruct Israel in cosmogony in detail, as to impress upon them the idea that The Most High God is the Possessor of Heaven and Earth (Gen. 14:22), as was abundantly proved in Israel's history. (C.C. Walker, The Christadelphian (1913) 50:348)
Likewise, respected brethren of the past have cogently argued that the creation account is not strictly literal in every respect:
"Yet it does not seem necessary to confine the allusions of this first chapter of Genesis to six literal days on the last of which man appeared. We may take that view (the literal) and yet admit an allusion to six periods of great length preceding the appearance of man, just as we do in the other direction when we speak of 'The Great Mediatorial Millennary Week of Seven Thousand Years,' the last 'day' of which is God’s Sabbath of Rest for a tired world." (C. C. Walker, The Christadelphian (1910), 47:361)
"Whilst we do not claim to know in literal detail either the time taken or the methods used by God in creating Adam, we believe that Adam came into being as the purposed result of God’s creative activity, and that he was distinct in kind from the animal world, the fishes, the birds, and the beasts of the field, this distinctiveness of kind being indicated by the scriptural record that 'God created man in His own image'." Watford Committee (Clark, Cooper, Dean, Driver, Egerton, Johnson, Smart, Tennant),‘Statement From the Watford Ecclesia’, The Christadelphian (1965), 103:543-544) 
2. "The cosmology (this is a lovely term that they like to [use to] confuse us, cosmology, the way the world is)" (Bruce Gurd, 2015)

It is surprising that brother Bruce describes the word 'cosmology' disparagingly as a term used specifically to confuse people, when it was used originally by brother Roberts, who clearly expected his readers would understand the term (perhaps brother Bruce expects his own audience is less informed):
"Revelation does not give a scientific cosmology. That lies outside its province." (Robert Roberts, The Christadelphian (1876) 13:157)
As shown previously, brother CC Walker also used the term 'cosmogony'; would Bruce object to this as well?

3. "Christadelphians Believe: That Adam was neither mortal or sin-prone before the fall." (Bruce Gurd, 2015)

Brother Bruce does not reveal that both brother Thomas and brother Roberts believed originally believed Adam was mortal before the fall. Additionally, brother Roberts originally believed Adam was prone to sin before the fall.
"It is certain, therefore, that the animal nature they possessed was essentially a mortal nature the death principle was an essential property of their nature" (John Thomas, The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come (1855) 5:159) 
"In actual nature, he was a corruptible groundling before sentence, and a corruptible groundling after sentence;" (Robert Roberts The Christadelphian (1869) 6:242) 
"The impulses that lead to sin existed in Adam before disobedience, as much as they did afterwards; else disobedience would not have occurred." (Robert Roberts, The Christadelphian (1869) 6:85) 
The fact that both brother Thomas and brother Roberts changed their position on this topic does not change the fact that they originally held this view. Are we to believe that they were not originally Christadelphians, but suddenly became Christadelphians after their change of view years later?

4. "Christadelphians Believe: That there was no death before the fall." (Bruce Gurd, 2015)

Once again brother Bruce fails to inform his audience that brother Thomas stated clearly that there was death before the fall; in fact brother Thomas said it was an integral part of the creation as originally made:
"Death and corruption, then, with reproduction, the characteristics of spring and summer, is the fundamental law of the physical system of the Six Days (John Thomas, The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come (1855) 5:159)
"Adam and Eve, and all the other animals born of the earth with themselves, would have died and gone to corruption, if there had been no transgression" (John Thomas, The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come (1855) 5:159)
5. "Christadelphians Believe: That the Scriptures are the inspired word of God spoken by holy men of God. COD Teaches: That the Scriptures are an artefact of their time, created within a community of oral tradition, and must be understood by their cultural context." (Bruce Gurd, 2015)

This is grossly misleading because brother Bruce represents COD as rejecting inspiration. COD does not believe the Scriptures are merely 'an artefacts of their time, created within a community of oral tradition'. In fact COD believes that the Scriptures are the inspired word of God, spoken by holy men of God, in the language of their day, and must therefore be understood in their cultural context. Consequently, COD is in harmony with traditional Christadelphian teaching on this point, and Bruce is not:
"The Bible does not speak in the literal and strictly scientific language of the nineteenth century, but in the language of the day in which it was written." (D. Clement, The Christadelphian (1884) 21:176) 
"Moses' testimony was given to Israel in what might be called the infancy of the world, when men did not know the extent of the earth, let alone that of the sun, moon, and stars." C. C. Walker, The Christadelphian (1913) 50.348
"…Jesus had to use for the sufferer language which was helpful to him. The sufferer had been told by those around him that his trouble was demon possession. Jesus had to deal with that fact in the process of his healing work. …It is very difficult to see what other kind of language the Lord could have used when speaking to a deluded person." H. Tennant, The Christadelphians: What They Believe and Preach (1986), 167 
It would appear brother Gurd does not speak for all Christadelphians. So, what else did he get wrong? We'll look at that in the next post.