I am sorry he did not also respond in public. I think, considering the charges he leveled against me and "other [unnamed] Christians," and considering my response, he really owes us all a more open, public reply. In hopes of eliciting such a reply, I am posting his response
From Mark (9:24 AM MST):
John,And my response:
Thanks for the largely irenic response. The opening paragraphs were encouraging to read.
With respect, Proverbs 18:13 applies to situations when someone has come to a conclusion without hearing the other side. The passage shouldn't be applied to the problems we may have with your materials’ interpretations of Genesis. You see, we know what you teach and how you defend it, and thus we are not jumping to a conclusion -- which Proverbs 18 admonishes against.
Thus a book review, web review, or other public comment about a person's materials in which we might see some problems is not contrary to Proverbs 18. If we believe that incorrect teaching has been presented (e.g., death before the Fall, which has implications on the atonement/Gospel message) in a public way, and we are fully aware of the position being presented, we are not violating Proverbs 18 when we caution people not to get a particular resource.
Let's try to meet soon. For example, when your travels take you eastward, please plan on connecting through the Cincinnati Airport (a major Delta hub), and I would personally pick you up, give you a tour of the Creation Museum (just two exits from the airport), we can chat, and then return you to the airport to continue your journey.
I hope this can be arranged soon (or, if in one of my travels westward, I could meet with you). But I truly hope you can tour our museum one day soon, meet some of our staff, and communicate face to face as opposed to web postings and emails. Thank you.
Dear Mark:ETA at 6:38 AM MST, 3/1/09:
Thank you so much for replying.
Since your initial charges against me and the "other Christians" were so public, as I indicated in my email to you, I posted my response on my blog, expecting that you would continue the open dialog. It seems a bit unfair to all parties concerned that you would not continue the discussion publicly.
Therefore, I am posting your reply, and this, my response to you, in a new blog post. I will--and I'm sure readers of my blog, too, will--appreciate hearing your perspectives in that forum.
Specifically, in response to what you wrote:
As I read your reply it struck me that we must be speaking past one another.
Proverbs 18:13 applies to situations when someone has come to a conclusion without hearing the other side. The passage shouldn't be applied to the problems we may have with your materials’ interpretations of Genesis. You see, we know what you teach and how you defend it, and thus we are not jumping to a conclusion -- which Proverbs 18 admonishes against.
And that's what's got me so confused. Because I wrote what I did to you this morning precisely because, in fact, Mr. Ham and Answers in Genesis demonstrated on numerous occasions that you-all absolutely did not know what you were talking about and you did jump to [false] conclusions on numerous occasions
. . .--Unless you want to confess that the lies spoken about me and about Sonlight Curriculum were the result of malicious intent. . . .
I would prefer to assume the former rather than the latter. But if you are inclined toward the latter interpretation, I am sure I would be gratified to hear your confession in behalf of
AiG. . . .
Proceeding on the theory that there was no malicious intent, but that Mr. Ham and Answers in Genesis "simply" hadn’t yet adopted the policies you described yesterday: It was very obvious that, back in 2000-2001, Mr. Ham (and AiG) did not know what I (or Sonlight) taught; and he and AiG were jumping to [false] conclusions. Indeed, Mr. Ham and AiG "bore many [false] tales" about me and about Sonlight. And, even worse, it took numerous pleas on my part to get Mr. Ham even to acknowledge his behavior, much less to quit engaging in it.
So that's why I wrote to you as I did this morning:[H]as AiG now dedicated itself to act--as it has most definitely not acted in the past--so that it no longer (and will no longer) discuss the views or practices or beliefs or teachings of those with whom it believes it is in disagreement . . . unless and until it has, as you said, done "the Proverbs 18 thing"?Please, Mark.
[A]re you saying AiG has now dedicated itself never to "use a public arena like the worldwide web [and/or magazine articles and/or homeschool conventions and/or radio programs and/or seminars, etc.] to denigrate other Christians/ministries for [any shortcoming that AiG believes it has discovered] without first contacting those persons (or ministr[ies]) to get [their] perspectives--and thus hear all sides before coming to a conclusion (per Proverbs 18:13)-- and certainly before going public"?
When Ken Ham "warned" homeschool audiences around the United States in 2000 that I was teaching--and (even more preposterous) that Sonlight was teaching--old-earth creationism: he was speaking flat-out lies. I was not teaching old-earth creationism. I had never taught old-earth creationism. And Sonlight, a company of which I am a minority shareholder (I co-own--and co-owned back then--with my wife and our kids); and, moreover, Sonlight, presided over by my wife (who is president)--my wife who is "even today" committed to a "literal six-day" young-earth creationist interpretation of Scripture-- . . . Sorry. Sonlight wasn't even beginning a process of moving toward old-earth creationism. It hasn’t moved toward old-earth creationism even today--eight or nine years later.
But, you see, it is not only the truth that Mr. Ham failed to discover the facts about my teaching and Sonlight's teaching, but it is also true that I appealed to Mr. Ham several times to please stop talking about me and about Sonlight in the manner different witnesses kept telling me he was referring to us in public. I warned him that, based on the testimony of witnesses, his comments were false and he ought not to be making them.
But when I specifically protested to Mr. Ham to stop speaking inaccurately about me, and when I told him exactly how and where he was misunderstanding and misrepresenting me, he first of all denied saying anything about me (though, as I have said, numerous witnesses testified they had heard him talk about me in public speeches at numerous homeschool conventions). Then he agreed he may have said something about me or Sonlight Curriculum "in passing," but he assured me he had not said what the witnesses claimed he had said. Things finally came to a head when a witness--a committed young-earth creationist, but a committed truth-teller as well--protested to him directly: "That is not what John Holzmann teaches!" He denied saying what she said he had. She was so incensed at his denials that she purchased a copy of the tape of the presentation she had heard, and listened to it until she found the offending statement. She then sent me a copy of the tape cued to Mr. Ham's specific comments
. . .and recounted the history of her so-far fruitless protests.
At that point, when I protested to him again, but now with tape in hand, he still refused to make amends. At least not right away. After all, he was really busy, and he was only a day or two away from having to leave for Australia, and he wouldn't be back for two or three months. He did promise, however, to do some research on the matter when he returned. . . .
I don't know, Mark! How would you respond? "What kind of 'research' do you need? Sir! I've sent you the tape. Here's what you said. It's false. Please retract it."
It took many more months, but eventually he did admit he had misspoken.
But the damage had been long done.
Happily, however, I have never heard of him mentioning me again in public.
That has been very nice.
But still, I think my questions from this morning are pertinent. And I would dearly love to get some straight answers. Because, unlike you, I don't believe Answers in Genesis acts in accord with the principles you laid out for everyone else. And I think you--and the readers of my blog--should know the grounds on which my beliefs were formed.
Let me begin with the specific claims Mr. Ham made about me and about Sonlight Curriculum on the tape my friend purchased. It was from the Gulf Coast Home Educator's Conference in June of 2000. And Mr. Ham said, specifically (transcript from the tape): ". . . Hugh Ross has an organization called Reasons to Believe . . . --He's greatly influenced the person who owns Sonlight Curriculum, by the way, who now tells you you've got to believe in billions of years. . . ."
As I noted to Mr. Ham at the time: His assertions were baseless. And inaccurate.
But moving on from the tape and the homeschool convention speeches. I mentioned this morning the matter of AiG's practice, for a while, of "warning" potential Sonlight customers away from buying Sonlight Curriculum. I said that I called the AiG office to get the story first-hand: "What are they saying about Sonlight?"
- I am not and never been a great fan of Dr. Ross. If anything, I have been critical of his work--especially his exegesis. So I have no idea to what Mr. Ham could have possibly been referring. I am aware of absolutely nothing in my view of origins that may have come from Dr. Ross.
I am willing to be friendly toward Reasons to Believe. I recognize them as Christian brothers and sisters. They have been friendly toward me and prayed for me and have offered emotional support during some very dark periods in my life. I am extremely grateful for the RtB staff's friendship. But when it comes to "influence," I'm sorry, Mr. Ham was creating a connection whole cloth from nothing.
- I am not, nor have I ever been "the" person who owns Sonlight Curriculum. Indeed, there has never been a single owner of Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. So, again, Mr. Ham was speaking without knowledge when he spoke of "the" person who owns Sonlight Curriculum. There never has been such a person. So, once more, we find he was "bearing [false] tales" (to use a phrase you attempted to use against me and others in your email this morning).
- I have never told anyone what they "have got to" believe (or, as Mr. Ham attempted to "clarify" once he finally did engage with me on the matter: I have never told anyone what they've "gotta" believe. [I will confess, the distinction between those two phrases isn't wholly clear to me. But Mr. Ham wanted to make sure I understood he was speaking in the "softer" sense of "gotta believe" rather than the "harder" "got to believe." . . . Whatever. --I don't think either phrase comes anywhere even remotely close to what John Holzmann has ever said. Certainly not about the matter of Earth's age or the mechanisms of
creation. . . .]
When I called, no one suggested even a hint of doubt about AiG's knowledge of what Sonlight's future development plans were with respect to its science and/or history curricula related to origins. No. When I spoke with Dave Jolly, he was more than happy to tell me that AiG was warning people to stay away from Sonlight "because Sonlight is changing all of its curriculum to teach from an old-earth perspective." Somehow, he knew! (Y'know. Kind of like your comment this morning about how "Proverbs 18:13 applies to situations when someone has come to a conclusion without hearing the other side" but that doesn't apply to Answers in Genesis because you-all "know what [I--or Sonlight] teach[es] and how [I or Sonlight] defend[s] it, and thus [you know you] are not jumping to a conclusion." --The arrogance of such claims to such absolute knowledge blows me away, Mark! Proverbs 18:13 applies to everyone else, but not to you and your organization?)
The problem is, Dave Jolly had no idea what he was talking about. Because Sonlight was not in the process of "going old-earth," and, even today, it has not transitioned in any way into teaching any kind of old-earth perspective. And if it has, my wife, the president, would dearly love to know about it!
I know Sonlight doesn't teach origins exactly the way AiG would prefer. But it is by no means an advocate of old-earth creationism nor of evolution!
So, once more, I believe my questions from this morning remain valid, and I would dearly love to hear your reply:Beyond expressing your discomfort with how you believe I and, apparently, others behaved ourselves over the last two days,Thanks so much!
. . . [I]f this is so,
- Are your pleas also a declaration of a change of heart and change of policy on the part of AiG with how it treats--and plans to treat--those with whom it believes it is in disagreement? I.e., has AiG now dedicated itself to act--as it has most definitely not acted in the past--so that it no longer (and will no longer) discuss the views or practices or beliefs or teachings of those with whom it believes it is in disagreement . . . unless and until it has, as you said, done "the Proverbs 18 thing"?
Put another way, are you saying AiG has now dedicated itself never to "use a public arena like the worldwide web [and/or magazine articles and/or homeschool conventions and/or radio programs and/or seminars, etc.] to denigrate other Christians/ministries for [any shortcoming that AiG believes it has discovered] without first contacting those persons (or ministr[ies]) to get [their] perspectives--and thus hear all sides before coming to a conclusion (per Proverbs 18:13)-- and certainly before going
public"? . . .
- I would sincerely appreciate learning from you how AiG works these things out in practice. I mean, for example, how do you make sure you have contacted your presumed opponent? How much time do you give him or her or them to respond? How many rounds will you go with him/her/them in private before bringing the issue out into the public
sphere? . . .
If Answers in Genesis has established those kinds of policies and practices, would you please share them with us? Truly. I cannot guarantee I will adopt all of them myself. But I think your open leadership and guidance in these matters could--pretty much as you implied by your email--go a long way toward revolutionizing relationships among Christians for the good.
I have now sent Mr. Looy the following email follow-up to the above:
I feel badly that I didn't reply to your suggestions about meeting face to face, nor to your gracious offer of hospitality if I'm ever in the Cincinnati area (or can arrange to get there!).
I would be delighted to meet and talk with you--or anyone else at Answers in Genesis--face to face whenever the opportunity affords itself. That will be great.
I don't often get out your direction. I do occasionally fly further east, but I have yet to have had Cincinnati serve as a hub for any flights I have taken. I will, however, keep your offer in mind. I hope you will keep your suggestion in mind as well: that if you're ever in the Denver area, you will look me up so we can meet. I think that really could be profitable for the Kingdom. (At least I hope and pray it might be.)
I want to comment just a bit more on some of the things I said late last night.
I recounted a part of the history of AiG's behavior toward me and toward Sonlight primarily because it seemed, for some reason, that you were unaware of it. You spoke so strongly--in public--about what you perceived as my (and others') failures toward you. Your protests "just" seemed so ironic; I wondered if you could help me overcome that deep-seated feeling that you were attempting to hold me to a much--much--higher standard of behavior than that to which you and your organization seem(ed), to my mind, to demand of yourselves. And I wondered (and wonder) why.
And, if you believe AiG does not hold itself to a lower standard, I was hoping (and still hope) you will help me understand.
You said, apparently in justification of some of your organization's comments about me or about Sonlight (I do not know specifically which comments you might have been referring to, since none of those I specifically mentioned fit the description)
. . .--You said, "a book review, web review, or other public comment about a person's materials in which we might see some problems is not contrary to Proverbs 18. If we believe that incorrect teaching has been presented . . .in a public way, and we are fully aware of the position being presented, we are not violating Proverbs 18 when we caution people not to get a particular resource."
All right. I'll "buy" that. But/and/so
. . .I don’t understand why that "exception" doesn't apply to my comments, in my web log review of AiG's inaccurate presentation of Spurgeon's sermon. Obviously, not only did I believe that "incorrect teaching ha[d] been presented in a public way," but you agreed.
So if Proverbs 18:13 does not apply to you and to your firm under those circumstances, on what grounds do you demand that I and other unnamed Christians should apply it to ourselves? It just doesn't make sense.
Well. I think you understand my concerns. And I look forward to hearing back from you.