The Christian world overflows with schools and seminaries that teach the particulars of the Bible. So why did the Institute for Creation Research open its own apologetics school in 2009? For the simple reason that ICR offers an emphasis that is sadly missing in many Christian educational institutions these days—a commitment to biblical creation tenets.
ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics (SOBA) teaches biblical education and apologetics with dedication to distinctive biblical creation tenets and does so with the credibility of more than 40 years of scholarship, multidisciplinary research, and ministry experience.1 This teaching is framed by the priority that the Lord Jesus Christ is preeminent in all things (Revelation 4:11). SOBA’s Bible-honoring faculty is committed to the truth of Genesis and agrees with ICR’s biblical tenets regarding the creation account, Adam’s original sin in Eden, and the global Flood. As its name proclaims, SOBA promotes biblical apologetics, a phrase chosen to emphasize the real source of knowable truth—Holy Scripture.
Yet, SOBA is not a “classical apologetics” school. Such schools may teach what they call “Christian apologetics,” but their curriculum often emphasizes how one particular Christian says one thing about a given subject, this other Christian teaches that, and another explains it in yet a different way. In the tradition of the closed-Bible “rationalism” of the deists, classical apologetics tend to emphasize the vocabulary of theistic philosophy and spend less (or no) time using Bible concordances and interlinear Bibles in research.
Furthermore, unlike ICR’s faculty, many classical apologetics proponents are theistic evolutionists because their epistemology (understanding of truth and how to know it) is flawed. Many claim “All truth is God’s truth” and then glibly swallow evolutionary Big Bang speculation as if it were as true as God’s Word! This approach to apologetics fails because it attempts to “defend truth” before learning what is really true.
Classical apologists frequently blend the fallible findings of modern science with their biblical interpretation by equating the revelation found in nature with that provided by Scripture. But nature is not “the 67th book” of the Bible. Nature is fallen. Nature is not completely known or completely knowable. Only the Bible is a complete and perfect source of truth. Scripture has unchanging objectivity because it is composed of readable words that God selected to provide true information.
Moreover, scientific knowledge is almost always incomplete because scientists are not omniscient. Many temporal facts that are accepted as true are transitory—they change with time! Thus, what we can learn from “science” is not quality-controlled by omniscience and immutability as the truths in Scripture are. Yes, science has a purpose, but science cannot replace the Bible as God’s written revelation of perfect truth. The literal text of Scripture is inspired—it has power in it!
How is this relevant to SOBA’s curriculum?
SOBA’s training emphasizes commitment to real truth by intentionally following Ezra 7:10: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel [emphasis added].” Note the four priorities for godly educators emphasized in that verse: (1) preparing his/her heart to honor God, (2) seeking out (researching, analyzing) God’s truth, (3) personally doing (i.e., practicing) God’s truth, and (4) teaching (i.e., carefully transmitting) it to others. SOBA’s curriculum focuses on each of these categories.
Are those four priorities all it takes to teach and defend God’s truth properly? No. The teacher is the subject for those action verbs and therefore is responsible to drive the focus based on God’s truth. The teacher has no truth to teach unless and until God provides it! God must reveal “the law of the LORD.” Until He does, we don’t and can’t know it.
Biblical apologetics, therefore, start with recognizing and analyzing the perfect revelation record of truth that God has given: Scripture. Comprehending that foundation is where ICR’s SOBA curriculum begins.2
- Tenet from Institute for Creation Research. Principles of Scientific Creationism and Principles of Biblical Creationism. Posted on www.icr.org/tenets.
- This is adapted from an online lecture in a SOBA course.
* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.