Passing the Mantle (IX: ICR, For Such a Time as This)
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
PART IX: PASSING THE MANTLE
For the past eight issues of Acts & Facts, outgoing president of ICR, Dr. Henry Morris, my father, has outlined the history of ICR and its present status and policies. God's hand of blessing is obvious to all. Seven of the articles discussed specific events or items, and the last gave a summary report of all aspects of the ICR ministry over these 25 years.
The next several issues will give my perspective, as incoming president, on various features and how I envision ICR in the coming years.
Let me say, first of all, that no dramatic changes are planned. The graduate school, the seminars, the workshops, the research, the publications will remain. However, each can, and will, with God's help, be improved and extended.
The most important aspect of ICR that will not change is its commitment to Scripture-inerrant and authoritative in all areas. I feel very strongly that a Christian must fully submit to Scripture, basing each decision on its teachings. In the scientific realm, one must interpret all scientific observations in light of Scripture and never twist Scripture to fit the opinions of some scientists, as is so common today. Specifically, this means that I, and ICR under my leadership, will continue to hold to the vital doctrines of recent creation in six literal days, "very good" at the beginning; Adam's rebellion and fall which resulted in the curse of decay and death on all of creation; and the global flood of Noah's day.
Another aspect of ICR which will not change is our approach to fund raising. We have chosen to be low-key, simply reminding readers through Acts & Facts of the ongoing need and allowing the Holy Spirit to direct individuals to give. And He has blessed. We seldom have any extra, but He always supplies. ICR has never gone into debt (except for our building and land which were paid off in five years) and will not do so. Each of our 25 years has ended in the black, and although many research projects and outreach avenues remain unfunded, we will not go ahead of the Lord. A few of our projects have been funded by designated gifts, and such will continue. We proceed as He supplies, and we sincerely thank the many supporters of ICR for being the vehicles through which He supplies.
In general, we could identify ICR's mission as that of discovering truth about the creation, both through serious scientific research and careful Bible study, and then communicating it. Many creation organizations have recently sprung up with dissemination of creation information as their primary purpose, and we welcome their partnership, but ICR includes the gathering of information in its mandate, and this must not cease. Ways to increase research must be found.
The communication of this truth must both continue and, for people are hungry for the gospel of creation. Our nation needs it as society continues to fall prey to the consequences of evolutionary thinking. Thus the books, videos, radio programs, etc., will continue and will soon be joined by a home page on the "World Wide Web."
A less recognized aspect of ICR's work, which must continue, is that of returning science to its rightful God-glorifying role. Properly understood, true science always supports Scripture. We must continue to exalt the Creator by the study of His creation.
For the rest of this issue, let me tell you something of my background and testimony. As you know, I was born into a Christian home where the word of God was obeyed and taught on a consistent basis. At an early age I accepted Christ as my Savior and experienced several memorable answers to prayer over the following years. I have never doubted from that day to this that I was a child of God.
There were, unfortunately, several years of rebellion and rejection. I chose to blend in with the college crowd of the 1960's, and upon graduation with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1969 from Virginia Tech, where my father was on the faculty, I took a job with the city of Los Angeles Public Works Department, primarily interested in worldly pleasures.
Thankfully, the Lord never ceased calling me back to Himself, and more than anything else, used the search for Noah's Ark to get my attention. Individuals involved in the Ark search contacted me on several occasions, knowing of my father's interest in such things, mistakenly assuming I had the same commitment. My interest in the search grew as my knowledge grew, and I was accepted as a member of an expedition to Mt. Ararat scheduled for August, 1971, but it was canceled when permits were not wanted. In preparation for this expedition however, I began reading the Bible. Much to my surprise, it made real sense!
Disappointed by the aborted expedition, I joined a Holy Land tour in October of 1971, sponsored by the Bible-Science Association, which included three days at Ararat. Here God continued His calling, and I knew He both wanted me and wanted me involved in the search. The tour continued to Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel, where I saw the many evidences that the Bible can be trusted.
But it was at Calvary and the Garden Tomb that I fully answered God's call, recognizing the mighty work He had accomplished there and the claim He had on my life--a life which has not been the same since.
By this time ICR had been founded in San Diego, and an ICR sponsored expedition followed in 1972, under my leadership (on which I was struck by lightning at 14,000 feet!). Even though the Ark was not found, the story of the search and God's miraculous protection was used to bring ICR much attention in those early years. Offers to speak were so numerous that in January, 1973, I joined the staff of ICR and Christian Heritage College as college recruiter. Other less exciting search efforts followed in 1973 and 1974. During this period my knowledge of and faith in God's word blossomed. Two books were written on the search, Adventure on Ararat, 1973, and The Ark on Ararat, co-authored with Tim LaHaye, in 1975.
In the fall of 1975 I enrolled at the University of Oklahoma in the Geological Engineering graduate program, obtaining the M.S. degree in 1977 and the Ph.D. in 1980, specializing in coal utilization and the mechanics of rock folding and fracturing. In September of 1977 I married the former Dalta Eads, a godly woman on the staff of the Baptist Student Union, and now the mother of our three wonderful children. I was offered a faculty position at O.U. in 1980, continuing there until 1984, during which time I became quite involved at Wildwood Community Church, serving in many roles, including elder. Almost every summer during this period I was involved in teaching at ICR/CHC or ICR sponsored research on Mt. Ararat. (Many ask if I intend to return to Ararat in the future. While I maintain an active interest in the search, I feel my 14 trips to Ararat/Turkey are enough. Actually, the region is so unstable these days that travel there is extremely hazardous. But if the right opportunity came along . . . .
Another research project of some note involved the alleged discovery of human and dinosaur footprints in the Paluxy River, central Texas. Having been nominally involved since the late 1960's, I undertook a major role in 1975 from nearby Oklahoma, culminating in a summary book, Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs, and the People Who Knew Them, in 1980. This book was withdrawn in 1985 when further research called the original interpretation into question. Research continues, but I am of the opinion that the evidence is, at best, ambiguous and unusable as an anti-evolutionary argument at the present time.
In June, 1984, I joined the geology faculty of ICR full time and have since had a part in every aspect of the ICR ministry, including field research (several more Ararat expeditions and others), debates, graduate school teaching, seminars, radio/TV/video, book authorship, administration, etc., as well as Acts & Facts and Days of Praise production. God has allowed me to gain a working knowledge of and appreciation for every facet of ICR.
In the next article in this series I will discuss the current ministry at ICR and plans for its expansion.
In closing, let me express my deep appreciation and love for my father, Dr. Henry Morris. God has mightily used him over the years, especially these last 25 years at ICR. His wisdom, his writings, and his spiritual leadership have placed ICR on sound footing. His legacy will long be felt and I am thankful to have benefitted from his life and godly example.
I am thankful also that he is not fully retiring. He will remain on staff full time until July, then (possibly) will cut back to half-time. His wisdom will be accessible, Lord willing, for years to come.
* Dr. John Morris is President of ICR.