An Analysis and Response to Caldwell, Scott, and Adams' Material in Truth Magazine (the days of creation issue)
I am not sure that all realize the historic significance of the days of Genesis one issue, however, this is one of the most consequential single events in my thirty-six years in preaching the gospel. As an amateur historian, I am excited and privileged to be a part and a witness of the events that are taking place. As a Christian, I am saddened at the course of events, their enormity, and apparent inevitable consequences.
As some of you know, Shane Scott who is in the Bible Department at Florida College and an active teacher has advocated for years that the days of Genesis one are ages and not literal twenty-four hour solar days. In 1995, Shane Scott boldly had material published in Sentry Magazine in which he publicly advocated his doctrine. Florida College hired Shane Scott as Bible teacher about three years subsequent to the publication of his material. In July of 2000, Connie Adams wrote an article that was published in the July issue Truth Magazine, in which he expressed his disapproval and decided disagreement with the teaching of Shane Scott. Connie also expressed his deep concern over Florida College hiring and retaining a teacher who possessed such beliefs. In the August issue of Truth Magazine, C. G. Caldwell (President of Florida College, subsequently identified as F. C.) and Bible teacher Shane Scott had articles in response to Adams' July 6 article. Adams also had a responsive article in the August issue of Truth Magazine. These three articles are of great historic value in that they pertain to the most influential institution among non-institutional churches of Christ (click on "Schools among Brethren" to read more, be sure to use your browser return "back" to return to this page). During the past few months (ca. June of 2000), Ferrell Jenkins, the head of the Bible Department at F. C., has come to Scott's "defense" (read my material titled "The 'Days' of Genesis 1 (by Ferrell Jenkins) - a Review"). Since President Caldwell has now "defended" teacher Scott and maintained the school's resolve to retain teacher Scott, the school, as such, is unarguably and importantly involved in the matter. In view of the material in Truth Magazine being copyrighted, I cannot provide the full articles by Caldwell, Scott, and Adams. However, I shall provide the paramount quotations. I shall strive to be brief and accurate in my analysis and response to the three important articles.
An analysis and response to C. G. ("Colly") Caldwell's article ("The Days of Creation" - Some Things to Consider"). President Caldwell's material consists of approximately 1, 500 words that are well grouped and very articulate. Upon a surface reading, it would appear his responsive article is extremely genial and totally devoid of any aspersions.
President Caldwell makes an interesting statement in his initial comments. He refers to William D. Burgess, a former biology professor at F. C., who took the position that the days of Genesis one are ordinary days as far as length. He then states, "All of our present science faculty would concur with brother Burgess' conclusion" (pg. 6, para. 2). It is strange that Caldwell refers to the doctrinal soundness in the matter of Genesis one of the science department, when he subsequently admits that one in the Bible Department believes and teaches the liberal view of the days of Genesis one being ages or long periods of time (see my material on the days of Genesis by clicking on "The Six Days of Creation").
President Caldwell then mentions an incident that occurred during the 1999 lectures at F. C. involving Hill Roberts. Hill Roberts is known for his liberal views regarding creation and the Genesis' account. President Caldwell defends Roberts taking part in the lectures based on the fact that Roberts was not assigned a subject that would be conducive to providing Robert's with an opportunity to teach his false doctrines regarding Genesis one and two. "We did not feel that his presence would injure anyone's faith or promote his position," explains Caldwell (pg. 6, para. 3). I believe it is an undisputed fact that Roberts did take advantage of his presence and passed out material in which he advocated some of his erroneous views. It has been apparent for years that F. C. does not feel a serious responsibility to "weed out" false teachers as much as many believe the school should. The example of Homer Haily illustrates this fact.
President Caldwell freely admits teacher Scott's erroneous position on the days of Genesis one. Hear him, "It is true that brother Scott wrote an article in 1995 presenting the view that the word 'day' (yom) in Genesis 1 is used in a figurative sense" (pg. 6, para. 5). However, Caldwell insists that Scott has changed his position. " his (Scott, dm) position has changed from 1995 as he has studied and mediated on implications of various aspects of the issues involved" (pg. 7, para. 2). Notwithstanding Caldwell's claim that Scott has altered his view, Scott again affirms the days of Genesis to be ages in his article "Response to Connie Adams" (pg. 8, para. 3). In fact, at the time of the preparing of this material, teacher Scott continues to teach the world in his Web site that the days of Genesis are ages and not normal days (click on Shane Scott's present teaching ). I myself am experiencing embarrassment that President Caldwell does not know that one of his teachers in the Bible Department is continuing to teach such a liberal view of Genesis one! It is a matter of great confusion that subsequent to Caldwell stating that Scott has changed his position, Colly states "While I do not concur with all his reasoning and/or personal conclusions (present tense, dm), this teacher has a humble spirit " (pg. 7, para. 3). Would not it be wonderful if all Christians would go so out of their way (I do not mean be dishonest and contradictory) to support and defend those faithful men who teach the truth on Genesis one and all other matters?
President Caldwell attempts to focus attention away from the teaching of Scott and places the emphasis on the person of Shane Scott. " this teacher has a humble spirit, a tender heart, and a sincere desire to know and teach only the truth of God. Shane has great potential for good in the kingdom of God. He has a commitment to the Word that cherished both the content and spirit of Truth," wrote Caldwell of Scott (pg. 7, para. 2). Caldwell then says of Connie Adams, "brother Adams freely admits that he does not even know Shane Scott, and yet he has determined that employing him is inexcusable" (pg. 7, para. 3). President Caldwell's comments suggest that one must personally know a person before declaring that the person is teaching error, based on the public teaching of the individual (click on "Who is a False Teacher?" to read more).
Caldwell states of teacher Scott, "I think that is the kind of teacher our brethren want for their children" (pg. 7, para. 2). I do not know of anyone who has sought to belittle the character of Shane Scott. I believe Caldwell's statement to be a serious indication that President Caldwell lacks the ability to be discerning, selective, and a leader of such an institution as Florida College. It is all right if a man deny such a basic and foundational biblical truth, as the Genesis' account of creation just as long as he has admirable characteristics, is this what Colly is saying? People send their children to F. C. because they think they will not be subjected to the erosive liberalism that characterizes many colleges, only to now learn that F. C. is defending one of their teachers who denies the Genesis' days of creation! Caldwell insists that Scott has not taught in his classes at F. C. what he has taught elsewhere, "Furthermore, he does not advocate a figurative interpretation in his classes at Florida College" (pg. 7, para. 1). In view of Colly's manifest confusion at exactly what Scott is presently teaching, how much confidence can one place in the assurance that Scott is not actively teaching his liberal views in the classes at F. C.? After all, Colly said Scott has changed positions (even though he later in his article concedes Scott has not changed) when Scott himself says he has not (his responsive article) and his teaching continues in his Web site! Such is confusion in the extreme!
Many believed, including this writer, that when it became fully established that Scott was determined to continue notoriously teaching damnable error on Genesis one that F. C. would apologize and dismiss Scott from the faculty of F. C. Many are shocked that this has not happened. Moreover, there is even greater shock that the head of the Bible Department, Ferrell Jenkins, and now the President of F. C. himself are defending and retaining teacher Scott. Even if Scott is not now actively teaching his views in the classes at F. C., he certainly is not teaching the truth on this basic Bible subject. Also, Scott is well known for his doctrinal deficiency in this matter; hence, his reputation alone bespeaks error. The student of history only needs to be aware of the history and current status of Abilene Christian University to predict the future of Florida College, unless there are immediate changes in the administration of F. C.
An analysis and response to Shane Scott's article ("Response to Connie Adams"). Teacher Scott's responsive article consists of about 600 words. Scott began by explaining the circumstances surrounding his 1995 article in Sentry Magazine. Such facts are interesting but do not change the error taught therein. In fact, Scott states, "It is also true that in my article I said the 'days cannot be literal' and that they 'must be ages'" (pg. 8, para. 3). Scott continues, "What I meant by this is that these conclusions are the logical consequence of the factors I raised in the article." Scott does say, "Those statements should not be interpreted to mean that I think I have all the answers about this topic, or that I think my position is flawless, or that I believe anyone who disagrees with me is a heretic. Indeed, at the end of my article I allowed that the literal day view may be correct, though in my opinion it is not the best interpretation" (Ibid.). Scott's statements do not negate the teaching even now found in his Web site that the "days cannot be literal they must be ages." Teacher Scott's explanations are tantamount to equivocation and double talk.
Scott states, "I would not have written the article in Sentry unless I knew a 'counterpoint' article would have been presented as well" (pg. 8, para. 5). A number have been concerned for years at the philosophy of "you are right and I am right; lets agree to disagree" that has been emanating from F. C. Some have been warning brethren that much of the unity in diversity plaguing churches today can be traced back to the too often found teaching issuing from some at F. C. President Caldwell and Ferrell Jenkins, the head of the Bible Department, are clearly disseminating unity in diversity on basic and important doctrinal matters.
Scott defends his teaching about the days of Genesis being ages by saying, " the viewpoint I expressed has been held by very conservative brethren throughout the history of the restoration" (pg. 8, para. 6). What a feeble justification! Moses Lard reportedly did not believe in the biblical doctrine of "hell;" does that mean it is permissible for one to hold such a view today?
Scott makes the final plea as follows: "These opportunities (teaching at F. C. and preaching for churches, dm) have afforded me the chance to build a track record of responsible preaching and teaching, a record which stands in sharp relief to brother Adams' assertions, and one I am happy to stand behind" (pg. 8, para. 8). As we shall see, the only issue Connie Adams raises is the matter of Scott's teaching on Genesis one. Again, Scott is using a diversionary and deflective tactic. Good and sound teaching in some areas do not negate damnable teachings in another area! (Cp. James. 2: 10, 3: 1.)
It is important to point out that nowhere in "Response to Connie Adams" does Shane Scott indicate repentance for teaching error on Genesis one. Also, in this writer's opinion, Scott does not exemplify the "humility," "tender heart," and "a desire to know and teach only the truth" that Colly said is characteristic of Scott, whom he knows so well. The gist of Scott's article is all of this commotion is Connie Adams' fault, I am guilty of nothing!
An analysis and response to Connie Adams' article "Response to Brethren Caldwell and Scott." Connie Adams' response to Caldwell and Scott is about the length of President Caldwell's article (ca. 1500 words). Connie began by complimenting Caldwell and Scott, "Both brother Caldwell and brother Scott replied to my July 6 article in good spirit " (pg. 9, para. 1). Adams then mentions the reference brother Caldwell made to the character of brother Scott. "While all that may be true," writes Adams, "it evades once again the point of criticism None of that changes what has been taught in the public record" (pg. 9, para. 2). Adams then answered the charge of not having personally contacted Scott by saying, "Brother Scott is concerned that I have never contacted him personally 'though he knows who I am and where I work.' I felt no need to contact him personally about something he has openly taught. It is where he works that gives me cause for concern about what he has openly taught" (Pg. 9, para. 3).
Connie points out that according to Scott's own admission, Scott has not changed his view on the days of Genesis one. "Our brother Scott said, 'At the end of my article I allowed that the literal day view may be correct, though in my opinion it is not the best interpretation.' So, he is of the same opinion still and that is why I am concerned about where he works," wrote Adams (pg. 9, para. 6).
Brother Adams then turned his attention to the influential position teacher Scott holds at F. C. "But if the teacher is unsure about some of this (reference to Scott's views on Genesis one), where does that leave the student?" (pg. 10, para. 1). He further explains, "Classes that leave vital issues up in the air with a scattering of alternative views are dangerous" (pg. 10, para. 2).
Connie asked the important question of "We ask brother Caldwell if he knew brother Scott's views on this matter before he came to Florida College. I did. So did a number of others. Why were these views not known in light of the 1995 article? Why that was not more of a concern baffles me" (pg. 10, para. 3).
You recall that brother Caldwell said of Scott, "I think that is the kind of teacher our brethren want for their children" (pg. 7, para. 2). To this brother Adams responded thus: "No, brother Caldwell, with all due respect, that is not the kind of teacher this brother wants for the children and grandchildren of his friends, nor for his own" (pg. 10, para. 3).
In the conclusion to "Response to Brethren Caldwell and Scott," Adams attempts to re-establish the real focus. He wrote, "Brother Scott says his track record stands in 'sharp relief to brother Adams' assertion.' I have not heard bother Scott teach or preach as others whom I know have. I offered no criticism of any of that, not even an 'assertion .' My criticism was aimed directly at what he taught in the Sentry article and at the school administration for employing a teacher to teach Genesis, among other things, who holds such a view " (pg. 10, para. 4). Brother Adams displays manifest fairness when he wrote of F. C., "Had they said (regarding the Hill Roberts incident), 'We goofed and should have known better' then I, for one would have said, 'Forget it and move on.' I am confident others would have as well. But couple the defensive stance taken about that with the attitude taken about the presence of brother Scott as a Bible teacher and the ignoring of the real complaint while raising side issues, and that only aggravates the problem" (pg. 10, para. 4). Connie closes with words of regret at having lost confidence in the school and not being able to continue his promotion of F. C.
In conclusion, history tells the sad story of the corruption of every school among brethren, regardless of their singular desire to stay in their place and provide a service for Christians that does not compete with local churches (providing secular education for young people in a respectful atmosphere). Most colleges have ended up in church budgets, church affairs, and in power exertions and struggles. Florida College has remained true to its pledge to stay out of church budgets. However, the signs of corruption in other areas are now very visible to the discerning. I personally continue to reel in shock that Ferrell Jenkins and Colly Caldwell have taken the positions they have relative to the Scott Shane matter. Brethren and concerned readers, it is later than we think! (To read more about the teaching of Hill Roberts, click on the following external link and read some good material by Tim Haile: Hill Roberts )