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Monday, August 24, 2015

An Interpretation of Salvation Army Doctrines: #2 Not a Rejection of the Creator

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We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.

I don’t think that there will be much disagreement here between my ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ Salvationist comrades. One God? Check. Infinitely perfect? Check. But when we come to “Creator” – I think there may be some friction between us.

Many (though not all) of my Salvationists comrades understand the description of God as “Creator” as a rejection of the theory of evolution. And this rejection of evolution is grounded in the particular way that they read certain portions of the scripture. So this issue is related back to the issues addressed in my response to Doctrine #1.

Noted Young-Earth Creationism proponent, Ken Ham has written, “As people accept evolution, and relegate Genesis to myth or allegory, they start to question the rest of Scripture. A rejection of the foundations of all doctrine contained in the book of Genesis logically leads one to a denial of the entire bible. Liberal theology becomes rampant (Ham, 120 -121).”[i] And this, he says, leads to all manner of evil.

But an acceptance of the theory of evolution is not an automatic rejection of God as the creator of the universe. And questioning scripture is not necessarily a rejection of the authority of scripture. As I wrote in the previous article, the laws and codes of Bronze and Iron Age cultures are not applicable to modern people, people – not at least, without interpretation, and neither are their scientific concepts (or lack thereof) suitable for the 21st century. It would be better for us to read some parts of scripture as myth (like the biblical creation stories (yes. plural.)) and to interpret them through the lens of scientific discovery. This is not a rejection or repudiation of scripture, and is not a denial of God as the Creator. It is valid application of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral with its reliance on reason and experience as well as scripture and tradition. 

Ken Ham (and others who make similar statements) are wrong to say that acceptance of the theory of evolution is a rejection of the Creator God. It is merely a rejection of one interpretation of the bible and one understanding of the Creator God. It is the rejection of a hermeneutic that refuses to acknowledge the value of interpreting scripture with the input of scientific advancement – not a rejection of God or of scripture.

(And I wouldn’t think it necessarily such a bad thing if liberal theology was a bit more rampant…)

An Interpretation of Salvation Army Doctrines: #1 Inspiration and Interpretation

[i] Ham, Ken The Lie: Evolution, Master Books, El Cajon, CA 1987.

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