Plain Reading Of The Text
By Detective Robert Surgenor
I am amazed at how many followers of Ken Ham believe his suggestions to just “read it as it is,” when it comes to Bible scriptures.
Here are some replies I’ve received from Ham fans when I’ve confronted them with an accurate interpretation of a scripture that Ken Ham has distorted.
“With any other theory, none of us was there. So why would we speculate in a direction AWAY from the plain reading of God’s Word?”
“I think you are making too much out of the words. If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.”
“Just because Mr. Ham reads the verses as they are doesn’t mean he changes the meaning of the words.”
Any Christian leader who teaches his followers that they should depend on the plain reading of the Word of God is either ignorant of the Bible or is deliberately deceiving his followers into believing something that is not in God’s Word.
I use this example often. Matthew 18:6 reads, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Let’s go by the plain reading of this text. It plainly says that if we offend our children we deserve to be drowned in the ocean. Anyone with half a brain who is aware that the Bible recommends spanking children for misbehavior would realize this verse means something else. Parents offend their children by making them clean their room or eat their vegetables.
We find the answer to this dilemma in the word offend. When it was translated from the original Greek text into the King’s English, certain terms had different meanings than they do today. The word offend, in the original Greek, is skandalizo. It is where our work scandalize comes from. It means, to entice to sin. This verse is saying that any person who encourages a child to sin should be punished. I arrested parents who used their child to shoplift, and charged them with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This verse is the first contributing to the delinquency of a minor law.
But the Answers In Genesis staff has been faced with questions from their followers about certain Bible passages that appear to conflict with their teachings. Then the strategy changes. Two separate techniques are used to eliminate the possibility that their audience will recognize conflict in the scriptures they are using. One, they totally eliminate that portion of the scripture that interferes with their theory, and two, change the actual words in the passage to make them fit the young earth theory.
Let’s take Romans 5:12 as an example. This verse is one of the foundations of the Young Earth lecturer’s lesson. They teach their followers that Adam’s sin is the cause of the physical death of animals. This theory is critical to their claim that dinosaurs could not have died before Adam’s fall. So the entire Answers In Genesis staff is careful to only read the first portion of the verse instead of reading the verse in its entirety.
Why not expound on the the rest of the sentence? It’s not even a separate sentence, its part of the same sentence they read! It says, “and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” The Greek word for men is anthropos, which means a human being, whether male of female. The word also means “to distinguish man from beings of another order such as animals and plants.” The death in this verse applies to humans.
The verse continues in the same sentence, “for that all have sinned.” This can’t apply to animals or plants. They can’t sin! Yet Ken Ham’s bunch continues to teach that this verse applies to all living creatures when it does not! Are we depending on the plain reading of the text? I don’t think so.
Omitting scriptures from their presentations than conflict with their theory and including only the portion that supports a young earth is common practice. Take Job chapter 40, that Ken Ham claims is describing a dinosaur living in Job’s day. The entire description of Behemoth starts at verse 15 and ends at verse 24. But the entire Answers In Genesis staff only show their audiences verses 15 through 19. That’s because they can twist the meaning of those verse so the description fits a dinosaur instead of an elephant. Verses 20 through 24 describe an elephant picking up water with its trunk, laying under the Lotus trees, and sticking its trunk through the bars of a cage, all things a brontosaurus could never do! Are we depending on the plain reading of the text? I don’t think so.
And the verses they do read from this chapter, they modify to fit their description. Verse 19 reads, “he moveth his tail like a cedar.” Let’s take the plain reading of the text. What is the text saying? It is describing the movement of the elephant’s tail back and forth as it walks, just like a Lebanese cedar tree swaying in the wind. How does Ken Ham spin this verse? He claims the creature has a “huge tail,” and an “enormous tale.”
In the original Hebrew, and in the English translation, there is nothing close to a descriptive adjective that describes a huge tail. There is not one word that describes what this tail looks like. There is one action verb, chaphets, which means moveth, that describes the action of the tail. And there is nothing in the plain reading of the text that tells us this creature has a long neck. In fact, the neck isn’t even mentioned in this passage, probably because the elephant doesn’t have much of a neck. Are we depending on the plain reading of the text? I don’t think so.
Answers In Genesis encourages their followers to depend on the plain reading of the word, as long as the plain reading supports their theory. But on occasion, Ken Ham has been faced with the need to explain away scripture that conflicts with the young earth theory, and he cannot defend his theory without changing the meaning of the Word of God.
In those cases, Ken Ham has concocted some of the most ridiculous interpretations of scriptures that I have ever seen in my years of studying the Bible. For instance, Ken Ham is faced with a dilemma in Genesis 2:17, when God warns Adam of the penalty of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It reads, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Surely die is twm muwth, which means to be executed. God promises Adam that if he ate the fruit, he would die that day. Adam ate the fruit. He didn’t physically die that day. Ken ham insists that Adam’s sin is the cause of all physical death, but this verse appears to show that God was not talking about physical death. So Ken Ham teaches that the term “surely die” in Genesis 2:17 means that the “process” of death started, and that Adam would eventually die down the road someday.
Ken Ham is either totally ignorant of what Genesis 2:17 says, or he is trying to deceive his audience. Now he is encouraging his audience to not depend on the plain reading of the text, which states that Adam would die the same day he ate the fruit. Ken Ham has also included animals and plants in with this curse. But Adam didn’t physically die that day. So this verse cannot be referring to the physical death of anything. So Ken Ham has to make up an explanation for this verse so it doesn’t totally destroy his claim that Adam’s sin is the cause of the physical death of animals.
The Answers In Genesis staff, and other Young Earth teachers, are the only group that falsely teach that “surely die” is describing a slow process of death. The term surely die is the Hebrew word muwth used twice, but in Hebrew, it doesn’t mean “dying you will die,” which is one of the silliest explanations of this verse ever invented! In the context used in this verse, the Hebrew language is saying that when Adam ate the fruit, he would positively die, or unequivocally die. The two Hebrew verbs used together make the result emphatic, without question. For Ken Ham to defend his theory, he is forced to change the definition of this term.
He would also have of change the meaning of Exodus 21:12, where we read about the death penalty for murder. The exact same literary structure is used in Exodus 21:12 as it is in Genesis 2:17. It states, “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.” Surely put to death is also muwth used twice. And this verse doesn’t mean the penalty for murder is a long drawn out process. If it did, the penalty for murder would involve a person starting the process of dying and eventually dying years down the road. Are we depending on the plain reading of the text? I don’t think so.
These actions are unconscionable. When it comes to scripture twisting, the staff at Answers In Genesis are professionals. And when providing a false interpretation of a word doesn’t suit their needs, they blatantly change the word.
In the account given in Genesis chapter one there are two separate and distinct words used describing God’s work.
The first word used is created, which in the original Hebrew, is bara’. It means to create something out of nothing. The second word is made, which is `asah. It means to fashion out of existing materials. And at the end of the sixth day, in verse 31, God states, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” That, is the plain reading of the text. But Ken Ham changes the word. In every one of their presentations, the Answer In Genesis teachers state, “And God saw every thing that he had created, and, behold, it was very good.”
Again, verse 31 does not say that everything that God created was very good. The whole staff at Answers In Genesis ignores the plain reading of the text and actually change the words in the Bible in order for the scriptures to fit their theory. They would love for verse 31 to say that everything God created at the end of the sixth day was very good, but that’s not what the Bible says. So they change the word. Are we depending on the plain reading of the text? I don’t think so.
So when you hear a Young Earth Creationist claim that they depend on the plain reading of the word when it comes to Biblical doctrine, you can be sure of four things. One, they misunderstand what the plain reading really says. Two, they are unaware of additional scriptures that have been deliberately omitted. Three, they believe a false interpretation of a word that Ken Ham has provided them. And four, they are unaware that an actual word has been replaced with another word. In other words, if they have listened to Ken Ham, they have no clue what the Bible really says.
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