Righting America

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Culture War Christianity, and The Joys of Damning To Hell Those With Whom You Disagree | Righting America

by William Trollinger

According to Ken Ham, Joe Biden and his ilk are “The Enemy.” As it was in the days of Noah, so it is now. And damnation is coming.

The year after Ark Encounter opened in 2016, Answers in Genesis (AiG) put out a booklet entitled A Pocket Guide to Noah’s Ark: A biblical and scientific look at the Genesis account. In this publication readers learn that:

  • The flood had to be global, because “if the flood were local, people not living in the vicinity of the Flood would not have been affected by it. They would have escaped God’s judgment on sin.” (20) 
  • “As a result of man’s wickedness, God sent judgment on all mankind. As harsh as the destruction was, no living person was without excuse.” (23)
  • “The Church has promoted cutesy caricatures of the Ark in Sunday school materials and other literature, leaving the world largely unaware of the real message of the Ark that God instructed Noah to build. The Bible explains why the modern world is willingly ignorant. It’s because they don’t want to face the reality that judgment is coming again.” (46)

This is a pretty grim story: All had sinned, and – save Noah and seven family members – all had to be drowned. As Ken Ham acknowledges, “when the secular world hears the account of Noah’s global Flood, they often accuse God of being an ogre for bringing this terrible judgment on people.” (88)

But Ham then goes on to say that these secularists miss the point that, because “the God of the Bible is a God of infinite mercy and grace,” He gave others the opportunity to be rescued from the impending watery catastrophe:

God told Noah to build an Ark to save representative land animal kinds and Noah’s family. However, this Ark was much larger than needed for just these animals and this family. Just as Noah and his family had to go through the door to be saved, so others could have gone through that door to be saved. In fact, after the Ark was loaded, it stood for seven more days before God Himself shut the door – seven more days of grace. And I have no doubt that Noah preached from the doorway, imploring people to come in and be saved. (88-89)

Let’s go with Ham’s story. Let’s accept the idea that the biblical account suggests that the Ark had room for a few (10? 20? 100?) additional passengers. And let’s accept the idea – also not included in Genesis – that Noah the Evangelist was in the Ark’s doorway for seven days, imploring folks to repent and board the Ark. 

Ok. But by Ark Encounter’s own logic, all of this is completely irrelevant. And that’s because the folks at Ark Encounter claim that there were perhaps 20 billion people on the Earth at the time of the Flood.

20 billion. All over the Earth. Noah’s preaching to them, calling them to repent? How many of the 20 billion were supposed to have heard what he had to say in that seven day span? More than this, to what end was he preaching, given that there was no way even .0000001% of the Earth’s population could have boarded the Ark?

The contradictions are blindingly, even hilariously, obvious.

And there are indications that AiG recognizes this point. 

For example, a recent AiG article has argued that, save for Noah and his little family, all other human beings were thoroughly wicked. And these thoroughly wicked people were producing more wicked people – wickedness apparently a genetic trait – and thus at some point righteous Noah and family were in danger of being wiped out. So, in an act of grace and mercy, a sad God drowned the rest of the planet in order to protect Noah’s family and to save the Earth.

This bizarre tale of genetic wickedness story definitely fits better with the notion that there were 20 billion people on Earth at the time of the Flood. There is no evangelizing, no calls for repentance. Because if you have 20 billion people on Earth, you are not trying to get them onto the Ark.

On the other hand, it is hard to imagine folks taking from this story that this God is, to quote Ham, a “God of infinite mercy and grace.” Because in this telling of the Flood story you have a wrathful God – ok, maybe He is also sad — who drowned 20 billion irredeemably wicked people who had no chance to repent, who had no chance of being rescued.  

More than this, there’s the inconvenient fact that the 20 billion would have included billions of children, infants, and the unborn. And I have yet to see AiG or its fundamentalist defenders (who have responded to our Ark Encounter article on The Conversation or on rightingamerica) comment on this point.

But all this said, the Ark Encounter’s emphasis on 20 billion drowned – 20 billion who were so evil (even in the womb) that there could not be any opportunity for escaping the divine genocide – beautifully fits Ken Ham’s culture war logic. 

The world is a binary. You are either a uncompromising supporter of laissez-faire economics (no matter what that means for people or the planet), or you are the Enemy. You are either militantly anti-abortion – even if that mother is a ten year old who has been raped — or you are the Enemy. You are either aggressively and vehemently anti-LGBTQ, or you are the Enemy. You are either a Christian Right Republican (white supremacists are welcome!), or you are the Enemy. 

And this includes you, Joe Biden.

And if you are the Enemy, the Door is shutting, and you will spend a well-deserved eternity in the fires of hell. 

But what about Jesus?

You know, the Jesus who says in Matthew 25 that our judgment will depend on whether or not we gave food to the hungry or drink to the thirsty or clothing to the naked, and whether we welcomed the stranger or visited the prisoner. 

That is to say, if it is a culture war binary, on what side is Jesus? In the Ark, or in the flood waters with the suffering?