Episode 33: Standing for Authority, with Chuck McKnight

Blogger Chuck McKnight joins Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date to discuss how he became a conditionalist, and how it cost him his job at Answers in Genesis.

Rethinking Hell promotes unity within evangelical Christianity on all non-essential matters, and we take no stance on the various creation models.

UPDATE, August 19: Chuck received a job offer to work for Logos Bible Software. Thank you all for your prayers.

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  • Roy Soliman

    I’ve emailed AIG to tell them about my disappointment about this. I’ve asked them to re-employ Chuck.

    • givemhell

      I doubt that I’m the only Christian who thinks that Chuck is better off without AIG since many of us, probably the majority of us, would disagree with AIG’s teachings concerning a literal 6 day creation. Many of us would also disagree with their teaching that the world is very young and very many of us would also disagree with their teaching concerning evolution.

      It’s better to be broke than to work for a company whose main purpose is to teach these falsehoods. Because of teachings like this the faith of Christians is challenged and the atheist is led to think that the scripture does not comport with reality and is strengthened in their unjust rebellion. While there are many verses that teach against the practice of teaching falsehoods, perhaps this verse may also be of relevance in some sense?:

      ‘You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the
      blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. Lev 19:14

      I want to congratulate Chuck for his realization that the traditional doctrine of hell doesn’t comport with reality, another doctrine that trips up the atheist. I also commend him for his courage to be open and honest about what he believes about this doctrine. I know that that couldn’t have been easy for him and I applaud his bravery.

      I know that it may be hard for Chuck and for others to understand why many of us feel this way about his departure from AIG when he probably thought that he had a good thing going there. However, it doesn’t surprise me that conditional immortality, which is such an important part in the story of Adam and Eve in the early chapters of Genesis (from which AIG gets its name) should be so completely bungled by an institution that claims to defend the true view of Genesis yet doesn’t understand the most basic things about it.

      So, I can only congratulate you on receiving God’s favor in this turn of events. In His kindness He has removed you from an organization that was a waste of your talents. I mean that in a biblical sense of course. My prayer is that God keeps you and that if it His will that He guides you into a relationship with an employer that does more good than harm.

      Thank you so much for doing this episode of rethinkinghell. I know that you probably don’t like most of the things that I’ve written here but I really did enjoy listening to the podcast and I really do hope that things go better for you. You really seem like a smart guy and I hope and think that things will work out for you.

  • Craig Wright

    Chris, I was amazed to hear that you are a fan of Answers in Genesis. Highly disappointing. I enjoy listening to your podcasts and think you are doing a great job. By the way, after listening to the podcast with all your coworkers, I do think that you should get into more dialogue with universalists. You have not represented them well, even misconstruing some of their positions. May God bless Chuck McKnight and lead him to a good job. Keep up the good work, and read a lot more broadly on how to interpret Genesis 1-2.

    • Peter Grice

      Since Chris is someone who does read broadly, and carefully scrutinizes his theological views, one should probably assume that this is true for such a controversial topic. Perhaps he has even read beyond Genesis 1-2!

    • Chris Date

      Craig, please let me know how I’ve misrepresented and misconstrued universalists. I have gone out of my way to try to represent them faithfully. For example, I’ve distinguished between those universalists who promote something like outright pluralism, versus those who hold an arguably low view of Scripture, versus those who hold a very high, if not inerrant, view of Scripture, the last of those groups affirming that salvation only comes through trust in Jesus Christ.
      As for my appreciation for Answers in Genesis, I have read beyond Genesis 1-2, and I’ve read the arguments from various sides of the debate when it comes to those texts. I think it’s rather presumptuous of you to think I have not.
      In any case, as I said in the interview, Rethinking Hell does not endorse one view over the others when it comes to the various protological positions held by evangelicals, and most of those views are represented by individuals on the team.

      • Craig Wright

        First of all, Peter, no need for sarcasm (the last sentence of your post). Chris, I was not being presumptuous in suggesting that you read more on the subject, only encouraging you. I appreciate your thorough and rigorous biblical research on the subject of hell, but on the podcast with the older man, the father of one of your interviewees, who was critiquing Rob Bell’s book, and which you responded that you have had conversations with universalists that you don’t get adequate answers from them, it appeared to me that you had not read adequately some of their arguments. Now, i apologize for not being specific because i don’t have the time to go over the previous podcasts and give you details. That is my fault, but I thought that you would at least appreciate some feedback. As far as AIG, they are not fully honest in how they have presented the views of Luther and Calvin, for instance, in regards to saying that they support the literal 6 day view, but don’t go on to mention that they believe that the earth does not go around the sun. Remember why the Catholic and Protestant churches, at the time, were against the position of Copernicus and Galileo; because the Bible says that the earth does not move (at least 6-7 times). AIG also does not seem to adequately deal with ANE cosmology, especially the definition of “firmament”. AIG also does present false science. i am not an expert in this, but Biologos, and several other conservative Christian scientists, such as Denis Lamoureux, Denis Alexander, and Francis Collins can answer this. Again, I appreciate your work on the rethinking of hell, but have to admit that I am flabbergasted at your support of AIG. I just want you to be aware of your support base.

        • givemhell

          You can read my previous comment on this thread to hear what I think of AIG (it isn’t positive) but what I really wanted to talk about here is what you were saying about Univeralism.

          On a recent podcast the crew at rethinkinghell has said that they would like to spend more time dealing with universalism. Relax, they’ll get around to it. Most Christians who oppose the annihilationist position are traditionalists and not universalists and there is a ton of material to work through in dealing with traditionalism not to mentioned debates to be had and conferences to be convened etc.. Rethinkinghell which has done a tremendous job of calling attention to this issue, equipping Christians to deal with the traditionalist arguments and calling traditionalists into dialog. The folks at rethinkinghell would still have more work on their hands than they could possibly deal with even if they never spoke a word about universalism and if they never got around to universalism they would be perfectly justified in doing so.

          I am personally very happy to see them developing their arguments and responses to traditionalism. These things take time.

          • Peter Grice

            Yes, and it takes more time because we are a group of volunteers with many other commitments. But we will begin a trickle of interaction with Universalism on our blog in coming days.

  • Craig, “givemhell,” and others who may share their opinion of Answers in Genesis,

    First, please remember that many of the people at AiG were and still are some of my closest friends. You are not talking about some abstract theologians here; you are defaming people I care about personally, and I do not appreciate that.

    Second, please do not assume that they are unstudied or dishonest simply because they have different beliefs about these things. I know firsthand the kind of thorough research they do in all the areas that have been listed here. A quick search on their website will show you their responses to these matters. You may not agree with the answers they give, and that’s fine, but don’t think they haven’t done their research. As for dishonesty, I know these people, and I know their character, and I’m simply not going to tolerate such a claim.

    One of the things I have most appreciated about Rethinking Hell is the gracious attitude toward those with differing views, but I’m not seeing that come across in these comments.

    • Chris Date

      Chuck, I share your sentiments, but for the record, giveemhell and Craig are not representatives of RH so whatever you make of their comments, please don’t take them as representing the project.

    • givemhell

      I showed plenty of grace to Chuck, I spoke the truth in love. I never assumed and don’t assume anything about the people at AiG being one way or another and never attacked anyone at AiG personally. What I said about AiG is something that everyone who disagrees with your views on 6 literal day creationism, etc. would agree with, that it is not true and that it’s wrong to teach things that aren’t true. I imagine that you believe the same thing about those who teach a view that you think isn’t true and if saying that AiG holds to position that is false is “defaming” them than both of you are far more guilty of defaming them than I am.

      So, here is proof that I did show grace to Chuck:

      “I want to congratulate Chuck for his realization that the traditional doctrine of hell doesn’t comport with reality, another doctrine that trips up the atheist. I also commend him for his courage to be open and honest about what he believes about this doctrine. I know that that couldn’t have been easy for him and I applaud his bravery.”

      I also said this to you in the same post:

      “Thank you so much for doing this episode of rethinkinghell. I know that you probably don’t like most of the things that I’ve written here but I really did enjoy listening to the podcast and I really do hope that things go better for you. You really seem like a smart guy and I hope and think that things will work out for you.”

    • Roy Soliman

      Hi Chuck – I recognise you’re taking the higher road here by continuing to honour AiG. However, if you’ve presented your story accurately then a very well established voice in the Christian community and to the world have elevated a policy above the word of God and that’s the disappointment I expressed to them. It is not defamation to express this disappointment to them and to ask they reconsider their policy.

      • Hey, Roy. I initially included your name by mistake. I edited my comment to remove your name, but I guess you saw it first. I apologize for that. I have no problems with what you said, and I appreciate your support. :)

        • Roy Soliman

          Cheers

  • Guest

    I do apologize for having to be upfront about this, I wish to be as polite as possible. I will make my criticism brief. Chuck claims to use pure exegesis in his analysis of scripture. I believe he is certainly being truthful in this statement. However, he himself claims that he is not a scientist, and I would appreciate that he extend the same “pure exegesis” to his analysis of the scientific record instead of approaching it with a sola scriptura framework, a form of scientific eisegesis. We should try our best to make science and scripture compatible, and that does not mean read the bible, and interpret science around it. AiG claims not to do this, but indeed they do, I have been to the museum and read most of their articles. Their claims are untenable. I personally would not support or hire any affiliate (individual or corporate) of AiG, and I am glad that although Chris also supports this organization, Rethinking Hell as an organization does not. I am sorry if this sounds insulting to anyone, I do not mean to be disrespectful, only to speak the truth. Please accept my apology. Thank you for the wonderful program.

  • theophilus55

    I do apologize for having to be upfront about this, I wish to be as polite as possible. I will make my criticism brief. Chuck claims to use pure exegesis in his analysis of scripture. I believe he is certainly being truthful in this statement. However, he himself claims that he is not a scientist, and I would appreciate that he extend the same “pure exegesis” to his analysis of the scientific record instead of approaching it with a sola scriptura framework, a form of scientific eisegesis. We should try our best to make science and scripture compatible, and that does not mean read the bible, and interpret science around it. AiG claims not to do this, but indeed they do, I have been to the museum and read most of their articles. Their claims are untenable. I personally would not support or hire any affiliate (individual or corporate) of AiG, and I am glad that although Chris also supports this organization, Rethinking Hell as an organization does not. I am sorry if this sounds insulting to anyone, I do not mean to be disrespectful, only to speak the truth. Please accept my apology. Thank you for the wonderful program.

    • Hey Theophilus, I would say that you presented your position fairly and without insult. Thank you. :) The objection you raise is a good one to consider, but I do have reasons for rejecting it.

      I am all for integrating scientific study with the Bible as long as they do not contradict one another. But when they do contradict, we must have a final authority. For me, I have chosen to make the Bible that authority. I would rather accept a scientific theory that may be unlikely than a biblical interpretation that is unsound.

      That said, we need to remember that there is no such thing as “pure exegesis” when it comes to science. Science is a process of study and learning. There is no absolute reference for what is “scientific.” The closest standard we have is the scientific method, and molecules-to-man evolution is neither provable nor falsifiable by that. Scientific theories change all the time. Scientists are all fallible humans who are heavily biased by presuppositions. And I have plenty of reasons not to place my faith in any “experts.”

      Furthermore, the Bible was given to humans by God in human language for the purpose of being understood. Scientific study, on the other hand, is a purely human process of attempting to learn things. Evolution is just the current opinion held by many (but certainly not all) scientists as their attempt to understand the past. Why would use something as doubtful as that to reinterpret the infallible Scriptures?

      • Theophilus55

        I will admit, in my life as an old earth creationist, biblical interpretation has proven to be challenging. Ultimately I put my trust in God the Son as the ultimate authority in my life, regardless of my misunderstanding of his teachings. I trust his message will in the course of my life be slowly revealed to me through the gift of his holy spirit and a life devoted to orthopraxy in faith of his ultimate creative work, the kingdom of God. Until that time, I would personally rather believe in mystery than accept the infallibility of science or the obviousness of biblical interpretation, both are very hard. Your reply was also well thought out, and I enjoy your blog. I will keep in touch. God bless!

        • I can agree with that. Jesus is indeed our ultimate foundation, even more so than the Bible. But since Jesus inspired the whole Bible, I can have full confidence in it. God bless, brother!

  • Tedford

    Great interview with Chuck McKnight! I really appreciate his insight and his heart in the the way he approaches the issues at hand, along with his call for true and honest unity in the Body of Christ. Awesome listening Chris!

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