"I Believe," by Floyd Chappelear

by Jere E. Frost

September 15, 2000

     "I believe" were Floyd Chappelear's first two words of the message he posted on August 28 on Marslist. He stated two beliefs:

      (1) He believes the "entire creation controversy is a tempest in a teapot," which is to say that it is much ado about little. It is a small matter to him whether one believes the Genesis account means exactly what it says.

      (2) He believes the " the framers of the petition were operating out of a desire for power and not principle." In saying this, he reveals far more about himself than he does about the "framers of the petition." The framers and the signatories said nothing about the persons of those who do not accept Genesis one at face value. The whole matter focused on was what Genesis one taught, with a willingness to affirm their understanding and to oppose the philosophy that changed "days" to "eons."

     He impugns the framers' motives. He is in a most personal measure an "accuser of his brethren." He does not confine himself to disagreeing with their action. He "believes" they acted "out of a desire for power." I wish he had seen fit to exegete Genesis one and thereby still the tempest instead of rendering this uncharitable judgment against his brethren.

     If Floyd is correct in reading their minds and judging their motives, he is obliged to clearly lay the incontrovertible evidence before us, or else lay hands on the rest of us that we may also read their minds. Otherwise we only have his surmising for it. And right or wrong, without incontrovertible proof his grievous beliefs and insinuations are "evil surmising," and he has joined rank in this regard with that great "accuser of our brethren."

     He says the "framers" were part of the group that produced the "questionaire creed" of a few years ago. Wrong. They were not. But even if they were, so what? The signed petition is not parallel, for it is not a creed in any objectionable sense.

     Apparently our brother really does not understand what is wrong with a "creed," or with the difference in a creed in an honorable sense and an evil sense.

     The word "creed" simply means "belief." Remember, he began his post with, "I believe." That is tantamount to saying, "My creed is," for its exact meaning is "I believe ..." It is convoluted logic to oppose someone else's believing something when you yourself begin the discussion by saying, "I believe ..."

     Everybody who believes anything has a creed; what they believe is, by definition, their creed (their belief). No one can properly or reasonably object to this. I do not object to the fact that Floyd believes something; I only object that his belief is so judgmental and presumptuous against his own brethren.

     But as to creeds in an evil sense, it is in one singular aspect. It is not that a man or group believe something. No. It cannot be otherwise. Everybody believes something. It is evil in and of itself when, and only when, the belief of a person or group becomes the standard. From that point on, the creed, as a standard, can be quoted to settle an issue. It has become an authority. In that sense, the Christian's creed is the Bible.

     My conclusions (beliefs) as to what the Bible teaches are not the standard for anyone, not even for myself. We are all forever obligated to go back to the book and cite book, chapter and verse (and not simply the conclusion that has been reached) for anything and everything we teach. Someone might say, "What you are teaching is a creed." Well, yes, that is true, in the sense that what is being taught is a belief. But it is not true in the evil sense of the phrase. What I, we, they or anybody else teaches is not the standard. In that sense, only the Bible is the creed, that is, it alone sets the parameters for our faith and practice.

     As for seeking power, kindly note that neither the framers nor the signatories are offering a paper, school or any other instrument of power. They are not proposing to send anybody anything; they are simply saying to brethren, whom they credit with sincerity, that they disagree as to a basic point of doctrine and are willing to debate it from the Scriptures. What's wrong with that?

     Only Floyd is proposing to send everybody something. He alone has taken the occasion to raise an underwriting to distribute a paper (his paper). I find it strange that those who offer no instrument of influence and power are accused of seeking power by the one who is offering an instrument of influence and power.

     That said, I would be clear that I do not accuse my brother Floyd of seeking power in an evil sense. I only accuse him of confusion and illogic. I trust that he is sincere as to motive, but he is wrong in his evil surmising regarding his brethren.

     Finally, let me deal with the question, "What's the beef?" Since no one in the controversy believes in evolution, Floyd wants to know what the beef is.

     My dear brother, the beef is that God's word is rejected on the one hand and trivialized on the other. The Florida College triumvirate (Colly Caldwell, Ferrell Jenkins and Shane Scott) openly and admittedly have no conviction that the beginning of the creation -- the origin of the world -- took place in six days made up of evening and morning. The Bible says it did. To some of us, that is important and vital. That's the beef.

     Some of them say they personally believe in a six literal days of creation, but that we should tolerate differing views. Its sort of like their saying they believe adulterers should cease their adultery, but they will tolerate Hailey's doctrine to the contrary. That is "unity-in-diversity" and it trivializes the truth. And that's the rest of the beef.

by Jere Frost

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