Surviving The American Eugenics Program; The Steifel Family Story

This post is the first in a series revealing that the Political Left is only one part of the social wars ravaging our world and taking multiple forms. From Islamic Terrorism to Trump Derangement Syndrome, they are all part of the same pandemic sweeping our world; The Latter Days.

None of these things happen in a vacuum. They have long roots into the past which bears new fruit in each season. Knowing history is only part of understanding the problem.

The Progressive American Left’s bloody Eugenics program—must not—be forgotten. Over 60,000 people were sterilized for the betterment of society. It goes together with the Big Lie which is tearing our society apart today.  That is why I have recorded this painful memoir of my family history. The Steifel Family Eugenics tragedy, is the first post in the series.

The Steifel Family’s Journey Through the American Eugenics Program

My maternal grandparents, Ernest and Katie Steifel, were born and lived in Kansas until the late1950’s. Of my mother and two aunts and an uncle, only my mother escaped being sterilized by the State of Kansas. The following is the account as I pieced together over the years. Nobody wanted to talk about it.

My grandparents, Ernest and Katie Steifel were dirt-poor farmers in Kansas in the area between Salina and Abilene. One of several paths of the Chisholm Cattle Trail led past their farm. Ernest, a hard-working uneducated man, suffered from poor eyesight due to inherited congenital cataracts. In the 1920’s they had four children, (in order) Fern (my mother), Viola, Julia, and Rolland. Of the four children, all except Fern had eye cataracts from birth (an exact case-ratio of Mendelian inheritance).

In the case of Rolland and Julia, each was, what we currently call, legally blind and could only see at close distance with thick glasses. Viola could see better with strong glasses but far from fully sighted. Fern wore regular glasses for normal astigmatic reasons. Grandpa could see well enough to farm but could barely read large print (I never knew him to have glasses). In the evenings they listened to the radio, or Katie and Fern would read to the family from newspapers, the Saturday Evening Post,  Good Housekeeping, Sears catalogs, schoolwork, and the Bible. Katie often had to go to the field to assist grandpa in reading the back of seed bags and the like. He could drive a horse team but not a car.

The children attended school in a one-room schoolhouse. They were seated in alphabetical order, and being Steifels they were in the back row. Only Fern could see the blackboard. Katie asked for the children to be seated in the front of the class where they could see the board for themselves. She was told, “No, that’s not allowed.”

Steifel Children
Steifel Children with friend two years (1938) after the sterilizations (from left) friend Francis, Viola, Rolland, Julia, and Fern. Note how Rolland and Julia’s physique has been affected by the lack of hormones.

In the case of Rolland and Julia, each was what we currently call legally blind and, could only see at close distance with thick glasses. Viola could see better with glasses but far from fully sighted. Fern later wore regular glasses for normal astigmatic reasons. Grandpa could see well enough to farm but could barely read large print (I never knew him to have glasses). In the evenings they listened to the radio, or Katie and Fern would read to the family from newspapers, the Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Sears catalogs, schoolwork, and the Bible. Katie often had to go to the field to assist grandpa in reading the back of seed bags and the like. He could drive a horse team but not a car.

The real issue was that blind kids were considered deficient if not “idots” and “morons” and a drain on society. My mother recollects ridicule and scorn from the other students, excepting a few of the neighbor kids they walked to school with. As the Steifels always did, they “made do” with every situation that came their way. My mother Fern wrote down the day’s work from the board and read it to her siblings at home at night. She would help them record their homework to hand in the next day. The teacher claimed Fern was doing their homework for them, and that it was useless as they were retarded. This is regardless of the fact Rolland had a very high IQ with a phenomenal memory (almost eidetic) and perfect hearing. He could recite the day’s lessons in precise vocal imitation down to every burp, fart, yawn or laugh in the class.

One day, when my mother was fourteen years old (1936) and absent from school for illness, the other children failed to come home from school. Worried, Katie walked to the neighboring farm to see if the kids were there. The neighbor girl told Katie that the Sherriff came to school and took the three away.  Katie and the neighbor husband (who had a car) picked up Ernest and went to the school and confronted the teacher. She told them she had reported the children to the Sheriff under the State’s Eugenics Laws in place since 1913 and revised and expanded in 1917.

The Cause: Progressive Eugenics in the Rural Midwest

 

“In total, between 1921 and 1961 when the law was stricken, 3032 individuals were sterilized in Kansas.  In terms of the total number of sterilizations, Kansas ranks 6th in the United States. Many more people with mental illnesses (2,063) than people who were considered “mentally deficient” (856) were sterilized.

“From another angle, if you lived in Kansas’ …you had roughly a 1 in 718 chance of being sterilized. Men were sterilized at a higher rate than women in Kansas, at a ratio of about one and a half to one. When combined with Nebraska and Oklahoma, the southern plains region enjoys the dubious distinction of contributing roughly seven percent (4,490) of the total number of persons eugenically sterilized in the United States (~63,000). Kansas accounts for a full sixty-eight percent of those on the southern plains.

Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in 50 American States – Kansas

 

 

Unlike its neighbors to the south and north, however, Kansas passed a revision in 1917 which eliminated both the need for court approval and circumscribed the ability of those marked for sterilization to appeal via the court process. In Kansas after 1917, then, jurisdiction and decision-making authority over the girls’ bodies lay effectively in the hands of the superintendent of their institution and the (often sympathetic to the latter) state boards of examiners and probate courts. This effectively meant that there existed little recourse for those who were recommended  to undergo the procedure.
[Underline added]    Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, Phd

[This article has been removed from the web.]

 

1935sterilization-map
1935 Sterilization Map. Note Kansas sterilized up to 1260 people before the year the Steifel Family was sterilized. The Steifel children were not counted in any official records.

Kansas was at the forefront of the Progressive’s Eugenics movement. Several notable women, especially Dr. Florence Brown Sherborn, began a popular segment of “Human Betterment of Society” by the Fitter Families programs and contests. In the rural Midwest, it was no stretch to apply the self-evident utility in the proper breeding of livestock to that of the human family. Combined with the Progressive wave including efficiency, industrialization, and a whole slew of pseudo-scientific social endeavors, the social environment was ripe for acceptance of a positive application of healthy breeding practices among people. Yet with it came the darker side of prevention versus Fitter Families’ more positive view. While the positives for those who wished to be a Fitter Family were openly acceptable, the negative is the forceful sterilization of those who had niether the interest or ability to prevent passing on their “bad germ plasm” to the next generation.  Anna Derrell The Women of Reform: Kansas Eugenics

The following is from  A Brutal Chapter In North Carolina’s Eugenics Past

Exactly how Mecklenburg [North Carolina] came to sterilize more than any other county has to do with the way the state referred people for sterilizations. Other states left the referral process to doctors working in prisons and mental hospitals, but only North Carolina gave that power to social workers.

A lot of people were wrestling with this question back then. Some powerful elites, including heirs to Procter & Gamble, Hanes Hosiery and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, formed a group called the Human Betterment League. They published glossy brochures that said things like this:

“North Carolina offers its citizens protection in the form of selective sterilization.”

And:

“The job of parenthood is too much to expect of feebleminded men and women.”

“Morons,” the league called them. The Human Betterment League made social workers and doctors and public officials feel like humanitarian heroes for sterilizing people.

[Note: the Link in the above article is no longer accessible. This is a common occurrence in researching American Eugenics ]

The question was, who defined what was “bad” and who were those to be sterilized? Nobody then seriously questioned the involuntary castration of pedophiles, or the hopelessly mentally deficient. But what about physical defects such as blindness? The lack of controls in the revised 1917 Kansas Eugenics laws allowed local boards to make the determinations on who to be sterilized without any of what we would consider now to be due process. But in the case of my family, no such finding by a Board of Health. There is little acknowledgment that unreported sterilizations took place outside of the official records in Kansas, though other states have, such as North Carolina.

Alexandra Minna Stern “We Cannot Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear: Eugenics in the Hoosier Hartland
[Note: this Link is no longer accessible]

My two aunts (15 and 13) and my uncle (11) were taken out of school by the Sherriff. They–including my mother (16) who was home sick that day–were judged by a one-room school teacher to be a burden and detriment to society because of their “inheritable disorder” of congenital cataracts. They were removed at her request by the Dickinson County Sherriff without due process or parental notification! Within days, without being told why, they were strapped to a table, given ether, and awoke to find themselves neutered: Julia had a complete hysterectomy, Viola’s tubes were tied and Rolland castrated.

Now being a fugitive from the law, my mother was immediately sent into hiding with relatives while my grandmother quickly packed the children’s belongings into a friend’s truck. My grandfather was driven to Topeka (capital of Kansas), where they tried to find where the children had been taken. After approximately four days (and too late) they heard they were in the Kansas State Institution for the Education of the Blind in Wyandotte (now a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas).  My grandfather found a sympathetic worker who arranged for a late-night entrance into the kitchen where the three had been brought. They hobbled into the back of the truck and escaped to Oklahoma.

My grandparents had attended the Belle Springs Brethren in Christ Church (formerly the River Brethren of Lancaster County, Pa). President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s grandfather, Jacob, gathered the first Kansas based church in his home at Belle Springs soon after 1878  (My Grandfather Ernest was born (1898) a few miles from the Eisenhower homestead).  Abe Eisenhower, Dwight’s uncle, founded the Jabbok orphanage near Thomas, Oklahoma, which later became the Jabbok Bible and Missionary School (1924) (which had dormitories). Jabbok Bible and Missionary School

Jabbock Bible School 1940's
Jabbok Bible School 1940’2

With help of the church, my mother joined Viola at Jabbok while Julia and uncle Rolland went to a school for the blind (I don’t know where). Grandma Katie and Grandpa Ernie returned to the farm in Kansas, where they worked hard to support the children. It was through the generous help of the school, church, relatives, and others that made life possible for them.

Life After Sterilization

Viola went on to finish college, traveled to Europe, and married a Forest Service Officer in Oregon, eventually settling in Southern California and adopting two children. Julia married, not adopting any children. Rolland married, became a Master Piano Tuner (he had perfect pitch) and had a foster daughter.  My mother, (not having been sterilized) eventually married her Jabbok High School sweetheart, Raymond Claude Bailey from a nearby Brethren in Christ Church family, and had three children, Vivian, Lucille, and me, the baby of the family.

I and my sisters would not exist if my mother had been sterilized.

Uncle Rolland is a survivor’s success story. As a boy, because he could not read, he listened to the radio for hours. He loved vaudeville memorizing hundreds of jokes and patter. He could sing and play the piano just by hearing the music once.  When Rolland graduated from the school for the blind, my mother was as a selected contestant on the (then radio) show Queen for a Day with host Jack Bailey (no relation). She won by telling the family’s hardship story of a poor-sighted farming family (nothing about sterilization of course!) and asking for her brother to have a set of piano tuning tools and go to piano tuning school. She won, and not only did he receive a complete set of premium tools, but to attend the School of Piano Technology for the Blind in Vancouver with a complete scholarship. He eventually became a top Master Piano Tuner living in Pittsburgh, PA, under contract to the Carnegie Mellon University system. He was also under contract with Steinway & Sons, traveling to other cities, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, to tune concert and artist pianos. Liberace was one of his clients whenever he came to the northeast (all his piano’s including his famed mirrored and rhinestone pianos had to be tuned when arriving at the venue). Sometimes if Uncle Rolland came to visit us in California, my dad would drive him to Las Vegas to tune Liberace’s pianos at home. Not bad for a Bad-Egg as the Fitter Families had called Rolland.

The effects of sterilization had lifelong effects on my aunts and uncles. All of them suffered from various levels of mental and physical side-effects. This is in addition to the struggles of poor eyesight. Being deprived of hormones during puberty caused many physical issues. Being forcibly sterilized is even worse on a teenager’s psyche than rape. Psychological counseling was not even thought of in those days. Much of my family’s life centered around taking care of Julia, and or one of the other’s family issues.

Julia seemed to suffer the most from depression and disability and was never able to hold a job, though she was an adept gardener. She passed away in 2013 of age-related heart failure. Rolland faired best mentally but suffered physically from a lack of testosterone. He was painfully thin with fragile bones. He passed away in 1993 from complications of a fall by tripping on an air hose on the floor of a repair shop. Aunt Viola seemed to have suffered less than the other two yet struggled in many ways other than with eyesight. She is still living in a care home, having Alzheimer’s disease. She is so sweet as every visit is “Oh, Raymond! I haven’t seen you in so long!” with a light in her eyes behind her thick glasses and a smile on her lips. It is amazing to me how positive and happy aunt Viola and Uncle Rolland were despite their disabilities. Their attitude was much that of my grandfather, who was always upbeat and positive no matter how rough things became.

My mother was very concerned about cataracts with the birth of each of us but me, especially, as I was born two months prematurely (Jan 1, 1953). I went into an incubator (which in those days pure oxygen). When I finally opened my eyes, they were clear of any cataracts. This despite the fact modern-day research has found 100% “free” oxygen can cause cataracts in premature babies and nasal cannulae are now used.

We were never told the story of what happened to our aunts and uncle even as adults. Now I look back on it and can put the pieces together on the various issues other than sight that plagued the family. When Grandma Katie died, I traveled to Idaho with Mom and uncle Rolland for the funeral. He had never talked about it, so I asked him how he felt about what happened. What he said showed how much he was like his father Ernie. I can’t remember the exact words he said, as he was wont to make jokes and asides throughout any conversation, but this is close:

 “I was born in the Depression and I’ve been depressed ever since!” (his standard joke), then, “I can’t blame anybody for it. If I did, I’d have to blame the world. As far as I’m concerned there is evil in the world and we can’t fight it. That’s the Lord’s job. We just do what we can to show his love and goodness. I forgave them a long time ago. I not mad at anybody.”

Uncle Rolland and grandpa Ernie’s attitude is the same attitude I got from my mother. Coming from the depression days and having survived everything else, their attitude was to just put their head down and survive! “We always make do!” is my mother’s constant catchphrase.

That is a laudable and very common attitude for that generation. I also agree to have a forgiving attitude as it is part of my Christian faith. But that attitude is also what has successfully allowed the Progressive Left to create and sustain the Big Lie! We are bamboozled and bedazzled by the constant lies of the Progressives.

The pain of it is, congenital cataracts are now easily fixed with laser surgery on an outpatient basis. Nobody would dare dream of sterilizing somebody on the basis of congenital diseases now. But the damage is done.

I love my family, and my heart aches for the pain they have suffered at the hands of do-gooder elites who think they have the right to maim and kill children with not so much as a by-your-leave. Abortion is an abomination, and sterilization is a form of proactive abortion! Once the Progressives lost the Eugenics programs, they turned to abortion.

Let us remember the living legacy of the more than 60,000 people sterilized for our nation’s “well-being”. It is the least we can do for my beloved Aunts and Uncle.

Next Post: Eugenics and the Big Lie

A RESPONSE TO OPEN THEISM THROUGH THE DOCTRINES OF GENERAL AND SPECIAL REVELATION

Open Theism is a result of a category error between General and Special Revelation

NOTE: This article is subject to frequent change.

This paper is specifically for analyzing the source and cause of heretical error in Open TheismIt is prepared for a meeting of local leadership in the Brethren in Christ Church. It reflects my personal view of the issues through my focus on the Doctrine of God’s Revelations

I propose Open Theism’s error is caused by a weak understanding of General Revelation, as well as a faulty interpretation of Special Revelation. It is attacking the long-settled dogma of the character of Elohim God. Open Theism speaks to an important issue but carries the results too far. Like other doctrinal controversies of the past, it presents a valid idea, but in the process takes it to an extreme. Usually, the concept becomes lost in the controversy and only sometime afterward it is once again recognized as an appropriate inclusion to doctrine.

Open Theism: Terms and Concepts

Open Theism’s main thesis is concerned with what we know, and what Elohim God1 knows. Here is a selection of quotes from articles on the internet (see endnotes).

Open theism claims to believe in God’s Omniscience by redefining it as God’s knowledge of everything that it is possible to know.

  • More specifically, what is the content of the reality of the future? Whatever it is, we all agree that God perfectly knows it … If God does not foreknow future free actions, it is not because his knowledge of the future is in any sense incomplete. It’s because there is, in this view, nothing definite there for God to know!2
  • [History] is not the situation of omnicausalism where even the input of the creature is predetermined. The open view of God celebrates the real relationships that obtain between God and his people. Real drama, real interactions, and real learning are possible because history is not scripted, and freedom is not illusory.3
  • The view of God as eternally unchanging in every respect (and thus possessing an eternal, unchanging foreknowledge of all of world history) owes more to Plato than it does to the Bible4.

Open Theism is expressing a concern for a future that is an established path already foreordained by God, rather than a developing future state.  However, Open Theism pushes that into changing our understanding of Elohim God’s essential nature. They are asking the question, What is Elohim God’s nature? Can we, as created beings, surmise from both scripture and creation, what that nature is, and how do we arrive at that position?

 These questions have already been settled long ago. The question of the nature of God is a settled dogma. Omniscience is not something we are able to discuss because of our limited existence defined by the Creation. Why is this issue coming to the fore now? What is different?

The Language of Quantum Physics

The terms used by Open Theism are, strangely enough, identical to the terms used for “reality” of quantum physics:

Possibility, potential, relationship, know (observer), decisions, pathways, past, present, future, foreknowledge, process, indeterminate, intent, reality

These words are used to describe quantum particle interactions. More than a few theologians and physicists have been examining the relationship between the quantum world and the spiritual realm. One of them, Sir Rev. John Polkinghorne (KBE, FRS) is an English theoretical physicist, theologian, writer and Anglican priest. He has written a series of books and articles on the subject5. Sir John has become an Open Theist and his writings are a critical support for Open Theism. In God of the Possible, Gregory Boyd frequently uses those terms and quotes Polkinghorne:

… emphasize how different time is from space [and] how seriously we must take its unfolding as a process of genuine becoming. The future is not already formed ahead of us, waiting to reveal itself to our exploration, as the fixed contours of a valley reveal themselves to the traveler who makes his ways through them. The future is in part our creation: its shape is responsive to our molding, as the clay is formed by the sculptor to create his irreducibly new thing, which is his work of art. If even the omnipotent God cannot act to change the past, it does not seem any more conceivable that the omniscient God can know with certainty the unformed future. 6

Polkinghorne himself, as well as others, describe the inner workings of quantum physics with entangled particles reacting instantaneously across lightyears, observers collapsing waveforms into particles and timespan depends upon the observer’s place. This leads to speculation that the very nature of the universe is dependent upon our “living” presence shaping it into the world it is. It is the possible scientific explanation of the power of positive thinking—or prayer. These quantum interactions may be the explanation for such things as ‘lucky’ people, twins having identical experiences over a long distance, prophecy, or extra-sensory perceptions (ESP).

Christians have long rejected ESP and other like-minded processes, preferring to accept a more ‘spiritual’, or perhaps angelic/demonic sources for such things. Yet there is the undeniable fact that our culture’s view of reality, as we perceive it, no longer follows the Platonic-Newtonian explanation in place for the last 400 years.  And however theologically unsatisfying it may be, there are issues of doctrine that have long been untouched that are getting attention because of it.

The nature of creation and the nature of the future are two of them. Both of these stems from the same doctrinal source: General Revelation. The Creation/Evolution conflict began in the 1800’s and is still very active. Open Theism is newly formed in the last decade. Both the beginning and the end of our existence is being challenged by what we know of ourselves from both the world around us and Elohim God’s revelation to us.

We should not be surprised it is happening now, in these latter days.

General Revelation vs Special Revelation

Again, noting the terms above that Open Theism uses. All of them refer to things that happen within the Space-Time universe that science describes.  Nothing that Open Theism describes—on the human side—is contradicted by scripture. We are limited in what we know and don’t know. We can know the past, have limited knowledge of the present, and have no knowledge of the future. And quantum physics may indeed be the process describing how creation works!

Anything we can know about our reality is limited by the creation within which we exist. There are no exceptions to this. Even Elohim God’s intervention, while not subordinate or limited to the created order, still functions within that order, or else we would not see or understand it. Karl Barth’s huge fourteen volume Church Dogmatics’ 7 central theme is that we can know nothing about an infinite almighty Elohim God without his self-accomplished revelation to his creation. This culmination of the Doctrine Special Revelation has been accepted into the Christian Church wholeheartedly.

Open Theism Crosses the Immutable Boundaries of Creation

The problem of Open Theism occurs because of a lack of teaching, especially among the clergy of the Evangelicals, of General Revelation. In my own case of my M-Div. at Azusa Pacific, General Revelation was one reading assignment in one class, while Special and Progressive Revelation were numerous sections in several classes. Both the Elohim’s Revelations is necessary to understand where and what we interpret in our hermeneutic.

Open Theism displays an inadequate hermeneutic by running their supposition from what is found in General Revelation and applying that to what is known only by Special Revelation. Note the underlined portion of Sir John Polkinghorne’s quote above:

The future is in part our creation: its shape is responsive to our molding, as the clay is formed by the sculptor to create his irreducibly new thing, which is his work of art. If even the omnipotent God cannot act to change the past, it does not seem any more conceivable that the omniscient God can know with certainty the unformed future.

Polkinghorne is crossing the category boundary between “our creation” and eternity where Elohim God exists. That boundary can only be crossed if there are extraordinarily robust proofs found in Special Revelation, the Bible.

Accepted Biblical doctrine informs us that Creation is “out of Elohim God” but is a separate yet fully dependent existence. Though it owes its existence to Elohim, it is not of Elohim. The line from immutable infinite eternity to the creation has no reciprocity.  Likewise, the Spirit-Realm is a part of the created realm, though it is inaccessible to us unless we are born again and have the Spirit of Elohim in us.

The existence of Elohim God in his eternal being cannot be limited by anything within the created order. Anything within what we call “Space-Time” (including the unseen spirit realm) does not have any effect upon Godhood, excepting for the limits of the kenosis of Jesus 8

The Omniscience of the Godhood cannot be lessened. If one is concerned about what the Father knows about an unformed future as he has already experienced within the Kenosis of the Son! No further crossing of the boundaries of doctrine need be admitted. It is already accomplished through the human existence of Yeshua Jesus!

The logical boundary between these two categories is strong. Because of the quantity and quality of proofs, any arguments to the contrary must exhibit an abundance of both primary and secondary proofs. Nothing less should be allowed to overturn any change to Elohim God’s character as we hold now. Open Theism does not display any such quantity or quality of proofs as to overturn existing doctrine of Creation or Elohim God’s character.

Traditional pan-Christian doctrines, long held since the 5th-century9 need the nuanced interpretation of Open Theology.

A Trinity of Revelations

Elohim God’s purposes are fulfilled through three Revelations, or perhaps, two revelations which include a process. Understanding the relationship between these three gives us a framework for interpretation which Open Theism violates.

  • General Revelation: Includes only the Physical Realm of “Seen” Space-Time
  • Special Revelation: Includes the existence of Elohim God through the Bible, his only Son, Jesus, and the existence of an “Unseen” Spirit-Realm.
  • Progressive Revelation: The process by which Revelation proceeds.
    • General, via what we can see and experience. What we surmise of Elohim God comes through appreciation of the seen creation. It does reveal a rudimentary revelation of Elohim’s power and existence to all who are open to see it.
    • Special Revelation, via the process of inspiration to Old Testament writers, the actual intervention of Elohim God as recorded in the scriptures, the incarnation of Jesus and the recording of the New Testament, and the personal experience and writings of following generations receiving and living with Holy Spirit inside us.

This diagram is a Trinitarian relationship between Elohim’s existence and the Creation. Creation is the triangle of both the Spirit-Realm (unseen) and the Physical-Realm (seen) anchored within the I AM himself.

A Trinitarian View of Creation based on John 3:1-21 as applied to Genesis 1:1-4

Elohim God has tailored his revelations according to the type of realms involved. General Revelation is strictly limited to everything within the physically seen realm. Adam was given the job to care for and “rule over” the creation: In other words, to make use of it. All the processes and functions of General Revelation are available for us to observe, test, theorize, retest, and gain cogent answers—and use! STEM10 (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are the result of “to subdue and rule”. The results are to be used for “…the glory of God and helpmeet to man”11.

STEM methodology is a progressive one, which we have developed ourselves. Elohim God did not give us any special information on the creation. We have no E=MC2 to explain light in Genesis. No scientifically accurate descriptions of the earth, sun or stars by the Prophets. No mathematic formulas in Numbers. No hydrogen-deuterium fusion in Deuteronomy.

  • The center I AM is the source of all existence. It exists within, but not part of the Eternal Infinity of the Godhood himself.
  • The left-side boundary, Physical-Realm, is General Revelation.
  • The right-side boundary, Spirit-Realm, in which Special Revelation is revealed by Holy Spirit.

The fullness and purpose of both Revelations can only be seen through being Born Again leading us back to I AM in the center of all.

Special Revelation

However, General Revelation is also totally silent on things of art, music, relationships, values, spirituality; all the aesthetics of life. These things must come from another source entirely. This is where Special Revelation is required.

The Creation is a superior category of reality containing two smaller sub-categories composed of the physical and spiritual.  Their relationship can be framed by the five basic questions of existence: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. A logical rule is that a lesser category can never define the greater. Thus our physical reality is dependent upon Special Revelation for its meaning, and both are dependent upon Elohim God’s purpose and plan for creation as a whole.

General and Special Revelation Relationship Chart
General and Special Revelation Relationship Chart

The problem erupts when we fail to see this critical boundary between the two. Biblical interpretation requires us to recognize and hold the difference between what we ascribe to the each. As soon as we assign a physical process to an existential question of Why, we violate the boundary between the two.

Revelation in Conflict

This is what happens when scientists or mathematicians use STEM tools to explain Why the Big Bang occurred. It also happens when Young Earth Creationists take the Genesis account literally. They are using Special Revelation to answer a STEM science process of How it happened. This diagram illustrates the conflict zone between the two revelations where the heresy of Open Theism and the Creation wars are occurring.

The Poisoned Tree of Logic

Open Theism is making assumptions jumping from what we can know of our own realm, the physical, the observations of what we experience, and that of the Godhood. Back to Polkinghorne’s quote which is used as a basis for Open Theism:

If even the omnipotent God cannot act to change the past, it does not seem any more conceivable that the omniscient God can know with certainty the unformed future.

This is where Polkinghorne makes a major error with the underlined portion of his claim. What he is saying is that he (a human) cannot conceive of a god who cannot know with certainty the unformed future.

He has crossed the boundary.  As others have noted, he has violated Romans 1:25 “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (NASB)

The poisoned fruit concerning the omniscience of God rolls downhill from there. Just as the logical categories flow from superior to subordinate, so Open Theism affects the meaning of the Atonement. It limits Yeshua Jesus in his eternal immutability, it stifles Holy Spirit’s comfort and assurance. It destroys Prophecy. It poisons the very fruit of the Tree of Life and the River of Life which heals the nations.

A Lesser God

If nothing else, Open Theism shows lack of imagination. This is incredible in that they are able, as Sir John Polkinghorne, to imagine quantum particles interacting instantaneously across lightyears and waveforms collapsing when observed. Yet those things have all been proven through STEM, based upon Elohim God’s creation! Sir John (84 yrs.) should know better! Other prominent STEMians and theologians have made grave errors in their waning years.

Our world is calling for a bigger god! One who holds in his thoughts, every possible interaction of every quantum particle, at every Plank Moment12 across the existence of every quantum, particle, atom, element, molecule, chemical, material, plant, virus, germ, animal, human, planet, star, galaxy, galactic cluster, super-cluster, dark matter, and brane, for all past, present, and future.

What does Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Immutable, and Sovereign mean? As Thomas Aquinas argues in Summa Theologica 13, by definition, you cannot lessen mutability, or all other Omni-characteristics become meaningless.

Elohim God by any other definition is a descriptive category deity—and idol. One who certainly does not deserve our worship, honor, or trust our life with.

Open Theism is a heretical attempt to redefine our understanding of General Revelation. It is certainly an attempt to address felt-needs. Our own lapses in the careful but firm teaching of unpopular or uncomfortable doctrines have led to a loss of discernment in the polity, and open Biblical error.

Judgment: Open Theism by its very name is Heresy.

Since Open Theism is poisoned from the root of all other arguments, no matter how delicate or nuanced fail. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the first test of humankind, is illustrated by Open Theism overreaching into the realm of Godhood.

Therefore: By the above described doctrinal, philosophical, and logical arguments, Open Theism has subordinated Elohim God to another god—ourselves.

Open Theism by its very name is Heresy.

The Good with the Bad

I like Open Theism’s expansion on Free Will. That Elohim God has allowed us to form our own future. That he is not predetermining our actions and reactions. We are indeed free and able to function as loyal—or disloyal—as we decide. Otherwise choice through love or betrayal is meaningless. Their arguments for the meaning of life as a free agent is valid. It helps remove us from deeper ties to a Reformed predestination. And it accurately describes what we observe in the world around us.

If interpreted properly, a Developing Future which Open Theism espouses gives us even deeper ties to the world around us. It gives new power to Prophecy showing that our own sinful actions drive the world to the brink of utter destruction where “…none will be saved but for the remnant.”

I also agree with Sir John Polkinghorne’s view of how the physical quantum world works. I agree with STEM explanations of how the world around us works. Sir John’s view of recent decades of quantum physics research, is giving us a richer, deeper view of the relatedness of everything. It is called Relationality 14.

Relationality proposes that since everything came out of the Big Bang (regardless of cause) then all quantum particles in existence (which make up every atom) are entangled with another somewhere else. Everything is related and can be affected by everything else in one form or another. As I explained above, things we have always rejected as ESP, even the spirit world and prayer, and faith as revealed in scripture can be explained—as to how it works as far the mechanical mechanism which Holy Spirit uses or Satan and demons misuse for their own purposes.

Yet I reject the godlessness most of the STEM community embrace as they seek an answer to existence without Elohim God. While they likely are correct in discovering the How, they completely fail in the Why. Sadly, I reject Sir john’s theological ends when I have found so much of his science, up until his embracing Open Theology, to have been uplifting and an honor to Elohim God.

Yet, I fear that, like so many other issues like Global Warming, the good may be thrown out with the bad. The rabid liberal-progressive socialism attached to the statistics of Climate Change (not the fake ones!) has poisoned it for many. Likewise, the fight against Open Theism will give a stink to the Developing Future concept.

The Creation/Evolution debate is also connected to our weak Trinity of Revelations. Evangelicals particularly tend to hold to a literal reading of Genesis. Yet STEM consistently validates the mechanisms of the world. The dichotomy between what we know about the world in everyday life and what we read in Genesis is hard to balance.

How do we reconcile this? The YEC, Young Earth Creationists, with peripheral supports, such as The Creation Institute and the Ark Encounter, teach a corrupted form of STEM that is not factually, logically, philosophically, or Biblical supported (through a faulty hermeneutic)15.

Only in the last two-hundred years has the church interpreted the entirety as a physical How telling and not as Why telling. Prior times did not even think of it as having two separate meanings. The fact it existed was enough, they were interested in why they were there, and what their place was within the scheme of things. As John H. Walton and others note, we automatically backfill our interpretation into the past16.  Their hermeneutic of Special Revelation is so strong that General Revelation is nearly non-existent.

The boundary hopping of the YEC arm of the church is doing what Open Theism is doing but from the opposite direction.

Our doctrine of Revelation must be applied as the progressive doctrine it is, or Open Theism and Creation/Evolution will estrange us from our Evangelical calling to engage the world with Truth and Light.

Conclusion

Open Theism is offering poisoned fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We are responsible to chop it down. But at the same time, we dare not just remove the error. We must feed and prune the rest of the doctrinal orchard in a responsible way. The Evangelical, and Brethren in Christ Churches have never been ones to really care for doctrine in any strong way. We prefer to be more relaxed and open. But if we don’t labor in the orchard, it will wither and die.

If it makes our interpretation messy, then we are in a no better place than our church forefathers during the Jesus Wars over the Trinity17. And like them, it may split our denomination.

To this task, let us labor diligently in the orchard of Elohim God.

 

 

BiC Consultation on Open Theism 5/20/18 New Guilford BiC Church

Audio link of Consultation on Open Theism, New Guilford BiC Church 5/20/18

An Allegheny Conference Consultation on Open Theism took place on Sunday evening 5/20/18 at New Guilford BiC church. Present were Bishop Rob Patterson and National Director, Alan Robinson. Present were about fifty pastors, church board members, leaders, and interested individuals from the Cumberland Valley area. The New Guilford BiC gym was seated with 13 round tables.

Open at 6:00 pm

Rob Patterson introduced the topic and the method of the consultation, Powerpoint slides lead us through the various forms that our beliefs can take. The page below was distributed.

Open Theism Consultation Worksheet

Alan Robinson represented the Committee on Ministry and Doctrine. He showed slides (to be uploaded later).

[some photos of slides coming]

  • Orthodoxy: What we believe
  • Orthopraxy: How we behave, what we do
  • Orthopathos: What motivates us, feelings or passion.
  • Dogmas an essential belief: “a hill to die on”
  • Doctrine is a negotiable belief: “open for discussion”
  • Distinctive as not essential, and open to an individual church’s Orthopraxy or Orthopathos.

Both Rob and Alan emphasized the BiC’s Incarnational approach which keeps a “slim” manual of doctrine that is open to various distinctives based upon the varied roots of our denomination.

A discussion was held around each table. One person recorded the discussion, and another reported the results to the group.

The reporters’ attitude ran from a reserved intellectual response to one of emotional concern. The majority believe Open Theism is either a doctrine or a dogma (those who understood the difference) that was not suitable for the BiC. Changing the long-accepted attributes of God is not appropriate. Other comments indicated a majority thought the other concepts of Open Theism are too undefined and flexible to be of value. General agreement was that Open Theism had too many other faults as well, thought changing God’s attributes was beyond the pale.

Question and Answer period followed. Rob and Alan answered questions.

One question was about a report on Open Theism that was five years or so old. That report had felt Open Theism (at that time) was not anything to be concerned about, so it was tabled. Yet that document has become ammunition for grave concern that leadership is not handling the situation. Alan Robinson explained that the consultation we are in is the beginning of the process and that the prior CMD meeting was correct at that time.

A question on the use of a reader that contained essays on Open Theism in the Core Courses was discussed. Alan said the book was a collection of papers on a number of different doctrinal issues including Open Theism. They were to read the book, then discuss what was or was not appropriate for the BiC.

The question was asked about the encroachment of Open Theism in the educational aspects of the church. Messiah College’s professors that espousing doctrines that are opposed to BiC doctrines.

Closed with prayer around 6:20 pm.

I walked the floor afterward listening to conversations. A few people spoke of distrust of the leadership, that the answers and response were disingenuous. Many seemed to think the leadership was genuinely concerned. A number responded with “There is General Conference coming up and a change is needed.”

Please contribute in the comments or email and I will amend as necessary.

Ray Bailey

A Trinity of Revelations

Three Revelations of God portrayed as lightning bolts hitting planet earth.
Three Revelations of God

A Trinity of Revelations from God

God’s Three Revelations are Critical for Living in Today’s World.

There are three long-standing revelations from Elohim God; Special Revelation which we know as the Bible, General Revelation which is creation, and Progressive Revelation which is the method by which God reveals the other two. Without a firm understanding of how these three work together, we stumble into error and misinterpretation of the Scriptures!

Much of the current conflict between what we believe in Scripture, and what we know from living in our modern world is due to poor teaching. God’s word is so much deeper than the simplistic focus on salvation and living right. We live in a complex world full of explanations of life that are corrosive and divisive. Without understanding the deeper plan of Elohim God, we reduce our ability to function in this modern world.

Chart of Revelations
Relationship of God’s Revelations

This chart is my graphical representation of how Elohim God reveals himself to humankind. His methods take the form of his Trinitarian being. The plan comes out of Father YHWH’s design. The physical domain is through Yeshua Jesus “by his hand.” And Holy Spirit “inspired” the message to men throughout the creation of the Bible.

This means that all three aspects of revelation must function in this manner, or we lose our ability to properly interpret and properly apply the Bible.

Our current cultural war over Scientism versus Christianity is generated by a lack of an understanding of how the “supernatural” message of Special Revelation is embedded in a book we can read. The Bible itself is constructed with the languages, world-views, and material devices of General Revelation. This leads to difficulties in interpretation.

Likewise, Open Theism is a heresy in understanding the boundary between what we can know as human beings within General Revelation, and what God reveals to us through Special Revelation.

Only a robust teaching of the full three-part doctrine of Revelation can stem the degradation occurring in the Evangelical portion of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Progressive Revelation – From the Father’s Plan

The Plan, through Progressive Revelation, is how he chose to reveal himself to us. Before Genesis 1:1-5, he had his design in place, envisioning the process by which all subsequent works would unfold.

Genesis and the following books were inspired to and compiled by the prophet who “Spoke with YHWH face to face” and was the “humblest man” to ever live. Being the author of the first five books of the Bible he had insight into the operations of YHWH’s plan.

Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD (YHWH) our God (Elohim), but the things revealed (by YWHW) belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”

All revelation is YHWH’s to reveal as he will. And the purpose is that we may observe “the word(s) of the law”, which we now know is Yeshua Jesus “The Word” (John 1:1).

Yeshua Jesus, while instructing Nicodemus on cosmology, (John 3:1-21) explained three parts of this process. He describes both the “seen” (physical) and the “unseen” (spirit) domains. Then at the center of the of the description, he reveals father YHWH’s purpose and process.

 John 3:12-15 “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  (13)  “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.  (14)  “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;  (15)  so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”

Until the New Testament, we did not understand the actual mechanism of YHWH’s Revelation. In the Gospels and Letters, there are many didactic passages explicitly explaining the process of Both General and Special Revelation.

Special Revelation

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Yeshua Jesus himself is the culmination of Special Revelation, He was personally present as “The Light” of creation (Gen 1:3-4). All things physical came out of his hand (John 1:1-5). Then Progressive Revelation began through Holy Spirit through the inspiration of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17), foreshadowing Yahshua (Joshua – Heb: salvation will come) in the Old Testament. Then at the appropriate time, as recorded in the New Testament, Yeshua Jesus comes as the final step in Special Revelation.

This outlines the three reasons for Elohim God’s methodology. He created a world for us to live in-we are not disembodied spirits. He gave his “unique” son, in physical form, to live out the salvation message already delivered by Holy Spirit in the Jewish Tanakh (Old Testament). And finally, that everlasting life is the desired result. Each of these three steps is embodied as the Revelations, each according to its own type and purpose.

The progression of Special Revelation is easily seen in reading the scriptures. Each book gives us a series of narrative stories or diary entries that illustrate a new part of the message or fills in the details of a previous one. From that, we can grasp that the Bible is the vessel of Special Revelation that we would not know in any other way than if God revealed it.

General Revelation

The progressive nature of General Revelation has been more difficult for us to grasp. For most of history, major changes in cosmology (understanding our reality) come in millennia-long development cycles. Yet, in the last two hundred years, we have gone from horse-power to the outer reaches of the solar system, from pen and ink to digital electronics.  We can read the earliest of ancient writings to calculating the first instant of creation. Never has the shift occurred so rapidly which such radical change.

Daniel 12:4 “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase” .

A result of this leap into the latter days is a lag in updating our doctrine of General Revelation. The discovery of our reality has increased beyond measure at a breathtaking speed. Prior theologians had hundreds of years to work out changes in doctrine.  Yet our doctrinal statements and teaching of General Revelation remains rooted in long past centuries.

Elohim God did not give us a special inspired understanding of our physical domain.

Genesis 1:28 “God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Starting with what we can see, hear, feel, manipulate, and think over, humankind has eventually come up with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). STEM methodology is a progressive one, which we have developed as part of our character as instilled in us by Elohim God. It is how we understand the physical realm.

Contrary to what many Christians are searching for in scripture, there is no E=MC2 to explain light in Genesis. No scientifically accurate descriptions of the earth, sun or stars by the Prophets. No mathematic formulas in Numbers. No hydrogen-deuterium fusion in Deuteronomy. No special Biblical revelation of the physical realm outside of what our own eyes and brains can grasp. A that is the purpose of General Revelation: for us to discover our own world as Elohim God planned and created it.

All of Christianity is involved with this shift. The Catholic Church, having long experience (especially with the Enlightenment and Galileo) has more experience with understanding General Revelation (see here). Protestants, especially our more conservative Evangelical churches, are the most reticent to engage in this process. As a result, there is a lag in our doctrinal understanding.

The Conflict Zone

Revelation in Conflict

Our doctrinal conflict is most public in the current Creation debate. But it has occurred throughout the ages wherever the church struggles with General Revelations.

Note the block at the bottom of the chart. This is the conflict zone. It is where we draw the line between what we know of this world and what we “believe” the Bible says about it. It comes down to our interpretation of Scripture in relationship to our knowledge of his world.

All of the so-called “errors” of Scripture are in this conflict zone. Most conflicts with General Revelation is some obvious aspect of the Biblical record that has been questioned by science, archeology or other studies. Most come from misunderstanding the Bible as an Ancient Near-Eastern religious text in format. These are on the left side of the conflict zone. Others attack Special Revelation such as the “impossibility” of a deity intervening in the universe, represented by the right side of the block. One of the biggest church conflicts was the two-hundred-year war over the “substance” of Jesus’ body in the Trinity (Jesus Wars).  It covered the entire zone from both sides.

Most of us are involved in a particular skirmish without understanding the ground we are fighting over. Without knowing the ground upon which we fight our doctrinal battles, we fail our mission and calling. Special and General Revelations are both Progressive in nature.

Three Together Makes One

Just like our trinity Elohim God, so the three Revelations work together, each in their own way, to bring a fullness to both domains of our existence. As we can observe in both the physical cosmos and the Bible, repeating patterns reinforce each other until there is no mistaking the message.

We have ignored a robust General Revelation for too long. We are now forced to reconcile with the virile and exhaustive proofs of STEM. We must rise to the occasion in bringing the power of the Special Revelation to that of its partner.

It has been left to our generation to this task. In these latter days, it is necessary for us to revitalize our Evangelical fervor and strike into the ground we have allowed to slip to the evil one. And the tactics of creating “fake science” to bolster an improper interpretation of our origins texts are doing us, and Elohim God, no favors.

Substantially revised 3/19/18
All Scriptures NASB unless otherwise noted