Robert D. Decker is professor of New Testament and Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.
In 1981 the state of Louisiana passed a law which requires balanced treatment for creation science and evolution science in public school lectures, textbooks, and library materials. The result has been a long legal battle. The case now has reached the United State Supreme Court. Christianity Today (January 16, 1987) reports:
Louisiana has waged a dogged defense of the law over the last five years as four federal court decisions ruled it unconstitutional without holding a trial. The Supreme Court represents the state’s last chance to save the statute.
Wendell R. Bird, a creationist legal scholar who served as special counsel for the state of Louisiana, denied that creation science is a religious doctrine. He stressed that the law sanctions only the teaching of scientific material.
“Creation science means the scientific evidence for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences,” Bird told the justices. “. . . The teaching of the Bible as part of the implications of the statute would be unconstitutional.”
Inquiring into the religious nature of the law, Justice Antonin Scalia asked if it “requires teaching of a personal God.” Citing the big-bang theory as an example, Bird told the court, “the term creation is often used without any concept of a creator.”
Bird said lower courts simply determined “out of thin air” that creationism is exclusively a religious concept and, based on that assumption, voided the Louisiana statute for having the unconstitutional legislative purpose of promoting religion. He asked the Supreme Court to send the case back to be tried in a lower court, where experts could show creation science is scientific.
Under close questioning from several high court justices, Bird noted that lawmakers probably had a variety of reasons for enacting the law. He conceded that “undoubtedly some legislators had a desire to teach religious doctrine in the classroom.” But he argued that the statute’s predominant legislative purpose is promoting fairness and academic freedom by including an alternative scientific view in public school curriculum.
Jay Topkis, a New Fork attorney associated with the American Civil Liberties Union, argued against the creation science statute. He quoted a dictionary definition of the word “creation” as an “act of creation or fact of being created . . . by divine power or its equivalent.” Creation requires a creator, Topkis argued, and creationist teaching involves religious doctrines that are inappropriate for public-school education . . . Topkis asserted that creation science means “basically the fundamentalist point of view.” And he criticized Bird for creating nonreligious meanings for the term . . .
To deny that creation science involves religion or that it requires a creator is ludicrous. The Bible tells us: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1). The Bible also denies any possibility of evolution. (cf. Hebrews 11:3, II Peter 3:4-7) This great truth we understand only through faith, (Hebrews 11:3).
It is also true that evolution is religion. It involves “belief” in its theory of the origins of the universe. That “belief” is unbelief in God and His Word. It is on this basis that Bird and the state of Louisiana ought to be arguing the case. Both sides are from this point of view less than honest.
The debate over the biblical roles of women and men continues. Nearly every denomination is affected by this issue. Christianity Today (January 16, 1987) informs us that:
The Thirty-eighth annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), held in suburban Atlanta, was officially titled “Male and Female in Biblical and Theological Perspective.” But Aida Besancon Spencer, of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, dubbed it “the battle of the lexicons” in her response to discussion of a paper by University of Minnesota classics scholar Catherine Kroeger. Kroeger’s paper was titled “The Classical Concept of ‘Head as ‘Source’.”
Gilbert Bilezikian, of Wheaton College [ILL.], and Wayne Grudem, of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, joined Kroeger in debating the meaning of kephalee, the Greek word normally translated “head” in such Pauline statements as
(“the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man. . .”) and
(“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church . . .”).
Grudem and other traditional interpreters suggest that in New Testament Greek, kephalee carried the connotation of authority, as in ancient Latin and Hebrew where head can mean “boss” or “chief.”
Since not all languages use head as a metaphor for authority, Kroeger, Bilezikian, and other feminist interpreters suggest kephalee means “source,” as in English usage where the source of a river may be called its “head.”
Kroeger also documented the ancient view of the head of the human body as the source of bodily moisture, including tears, mucous, and semen. Indeed, semen was thought to be produced in the brain and to run down the spinal column to the genitals. Thus the head was considered to be the source of life.
Kroeger applied this notion of head as “source” to Paul’s assertion that man is the head of woman, commenting that the biblical phrase reinforces the Genesis story of the creation of woman from the substance of man. This contrasts with pagan notions that the gods perpetrated a sneaky trick on man by making woman from inferior material. Kroeger called the teaching that man and woman were made of the same substance “a positive affirmation of heterosexual marriage,” since the low pagan view of women led some ancient philosophers to consider the love of boys to be superior to the love of women.
In his response to Kroeger’s paper, Grudem noted the time lapse between the writing of Paul’s epistles and the comments of Greek-speaking church fathers that Kroeger had quoted to support her understanding of kephalee. Grudem also cited a number of Greek dictionaries [lexicons] that do not support Kroeger’s interpretations.
The debate over kephalee was further heated by Bilezikian’s presentation, which attacked a previously published paper in which Grudem used a computer to search an exhaustive listing of ancient texts for occurrences of kephalee. According to Grudem, his search of 2,336 sources showed 49 instances where kephalee referred to a ruler or person of superior rank. Grudem’s sources included nonbiblical writings as well as ancient Greek translations of the Old Testament. Bilezikian examined each of the 49 instances, arguing in each case that kephalee meant either source or the physical head of a human being or animal . . .
Aside from anything else, the concept “head” in I Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5 clearly connotes authority. I Corinthians 11 must be understood in the context of chapters 12, 13, and 14 which plainly teach that women are to “keep silence in the churches,” (I Cor. 14:34), Ephesians 5:23 is the ground for the command of verse 22: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Why should wives submit to their husbands if the latter have no authority over them?
To what lengths will the feminists go to make the Bible say what it does not say!?
The same issue of Christianity Today carried an interesting item in its column, “Reflections” under this title:
Worship . . . fits right into the consumerism that so characterizes American religious life. Church shopping has become common. A believer will compare First Presbyterian, St. John’s Lutheran, Epiphany Episcopal, Brookwood Methodist, and Bethany Baptist for the “best buy.” The church plant, programs, and personnel are carefully scrutinized, but the bottom line is, “How did it feel?” Worship must be sensational. “Start with an earthquake and work up from that,” advised one professor of homiletics. “Be sure you have the four prerequisites of a successful church,” urged another; “upbeat music, adequate parking, a warm welcome, and a dynamic sermon.” The slogan is, “Try it, you’ll like it.” Duane W.H. Arnold and C. George Fry in “Weothscrip” (Eternity, Sept. 1986)
What a “far cry” this is from the biblical truth concerning the marks of the true church (the pure preaching of the Word, the proper administration of the sacraments, and the exercise of Christian discipline) so aptly summed in Article XXIX of the Belgic Confession of Faith! From the church displaying these marks, “no man has a right to separate himself,” says the Confession.